Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

27Aug/150

THE JOURNEY: “Knowing History, Knowing Self: Howard University President Wayne Frederick Talks with Dr. Greg Carr”

dr carr and HU president dr wayne frederick

From Howard University radio station, WHUR...

On this episode of The Journey, President Wayne A. I. Frederick talks with Dr. Greg Carr, Chair of African American Studies at Howard University.  They explore the joy of learning, the importance of understanding historical context and the promise of a new generation of scholar-activists.  (Originally aired on Sunday, August 23, 2015)

Click to listen to the 15-minute conversation.

25Aug/150

With Its 100th Episode, Larry Wilmore’s ‘Nightly Show’ Has Found Its Voice

From NPR last week..

Though Larry Wilmore had always hoped to be a performer, his early career was as a comedy writer. He wrote for shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and In Living Color, and created The Bernie Mac Show. He moved in front of the camera as The Daily Show's "senior black correspondent" in 2006. So when Stephen Colbert endedThe Colbert Report last year, Comedy Central tapped Wilmore to host the replacement show.

The Nightly Show premiered in January. In the beginning, Wilmore struggled to hit his stride. "People are holding your feet to the fire immediately," Wilmore tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It was so difficult those first couple of months. I mean, you're just in the middle of the storm, just trying to figure out how to do the show."

Wilmore is a self-proclaimed nerd — and proud of it. He practices magic, loves space and cites Woody Allen and Monty Python among his comedy influences "It used to be that the black comic figure had to have this bravado and always showed strength," he says. "Now there's a comic figure where it's okay to just be a nerd and be black."

He brings that sensibility to The Nightly Show, where he has to find the comedy and the outrage in the often tragic events of the day. When it comes to the incidents of violence between police and African-Americans that have dominated this year's headlines, the host is unequivocal:"The fact that we live in a world where black people have to strategize so they're not brutalized by police is insane," he says.

(August 19, 2015)

24Aug/150

Our Charge is the Reawakening of the African Mind – Asa G. Hilliard III / #GoodSpeechEndures #BacktoSchool

As many thousands of children head back to school today, we must pause and remember that the schooling process is not a neutral process. It is a process made up of and guided by very deliberate policies, procedures, lesson plans, instructional materials and assessments to measure understanding and retention.

We must be clear that this mix of policies and processes have been designed over time by people with a clear idea about what education is supposed to do, and what it is supposed to produce. Also be clear that the mix of policies and procedures varies from one place - even one institution - to another. This suggests that different places, and for sure different institutions, have different ideas about what the educational process is intended to do, who it is intended to do it for (and with), and rationales for why.

As we send our children to school today, and for some of us, as we go with our children to school today, we have to be asking these questions.

Dr. Asa G. Hilliard, III, remains one of our great African / African-American educational exemplars, pushing us to ask these questions. More importantly, Dr. Hilliard provided much guidance in helping to answer the same questions. In the book, SBA: Reawakening of the African Mind, Dr. Hilliard helps us to understand not only the brilliance of our ancestors and their conceptions of education and human socialization, but he also helped to lay down a pathway allowing us to reconnect to that brilliance.

So here's to Dr. Hilliard's great influence, and also to our collective recommitment to helping our children and youth - and by extension all of our community - take control of the educational and socialization forces that guide our children and families.

Asa G Hilliard - Charge is Reawakening the African Mind - Good Speech Endures

14Aug/150

Remembering Curtis Mayfield – A Musical and Cultural Legend!

Yesterday was a special day in the history of Black music.  It was on August 13, 1990, that our musical legend Curtis Mayfield was injured and paralyzed during a concert performance in Brooklyn, New York. Mayfield was a groundbreaking artist on many levels, and provided many songs that would be anthems of that and future generations.

Today I'm interrupting my brief blog and social media vacation to share just a few of Curtis Mayfield's many musical gems, as a tribute to the legacy he left us in both musical artistry and in his advocacy and social commentary.  His music, and the urgency it spoke of then, is just as timely today.

Remembering Curtis Mayfield...

Remembering a legend...

(the official website)

31Jul/150

Addressing the College Readiness Challenge in High-Poverty Schools – June 2015

CLASP - RB - Poverty and Schools - June 2015

A new report developed by Rhonda Bryant, and published by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)...

More than half of all public school children live in low-income families. As the number of poor children has risen, so has the number of children who attend high-poverty schools. According to 2012 data, the most recent available, 1 in 5 children attend a school where at least 75 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch—up from 12 percent just 12 years ago. Concentrated poverty is most prevalent in urban areas, where 34 percent of students attend high-poverty schools. Given the racial/ethnic makeup of our nation's urban centers, many of these students are children of color.Students in high-poverty schools lack the supports needed to become college ready, according to a report from CLASP. Course, Counselor, and Teacher Gaps: Addressing the College Readiness Challenge in High-Poverty High Schools analyzes the nation's 100 largest school districts, focusing on "high-poverty schools" (where at least 75 percent of students live in poverty) and "low-poverty schools" (where 0 to 25 percent of students live in poverty). The report identifies major gaps in school resources and their impact on youth.

The highest-poverty schools lack resources and supports, making postsecondary preparation very challenging. These schools have the least skilled teachers, offer a less rigorous curriculum, and provide limited or no access to schools counselors. Consequently, students in high-poverty schools are less likely to enroll in college or training programs that lead to viable careers. Those who do enroll often need remedial academic support, creating financial barriers.

CLASP's report details specific resource disparities in the nation's 100 largest schools districts:

  • 14.5 percent of teachers in high-poverty high schools are in their first or second year, compared to 9.5 percent in low-poverty schools.
  • 88.5 percent of teachers in high-poverty high schools are certified, compared to 96.5 percent in low-poverty schools.
  • 69 percent of high-poverty high schools offer physics, compared to 90 percent of low-poverty high schools high schools.
  • Only 41 percent of high-poverty high schools offer calculus, compared to 85 percent of low-poverty schools.

Disparities in education for students in high-poverty schools cannot continue. The U.S. must provide each child with a quality education that prepares them for college and careers. If we fail to do so, students and families will remain trapped in poverty, low-income communities will suffer, and the nation's economy will be placed at severe risk. There are many opportunities at the federal, state, and district levels to address this problem with systemic, sustainable policies. We simply need to act.

- See more here.

30Jul/150

#BlackLivesMatter Co-Founder Makes Clear the Movement’s Mission and Efforts

The ways in which Black lives are taken with impunity does not make sense. To be alright with this, and to not be moved to action in stopping this, is to not be human.

Fox News Host Bill O'Reilly accused #BlackLivesMatter members of wanting to tear down the country, and a new report reveals the Department of Homeland Security has been keeping tabs on group members. Co-founder Patrisse Cullors joins HuffPost Live to respond.

Originally aired on Wednesday, July 29, 2015.
(approx. 18 mins.)

29Jul/150

Myrlie Evers-Williams: Advice For Young African Americans

Wisdom and perspective from our elder. A powerful 1 minute clip.

Realize that there's another generation coming behind you, and you/we owe it to them to do our part.

29Jul/150

“I Don’t Believe Sandy Committed Suicide”: #BlackLivesMatter Co-Founders Speak Out on Sandra Bland

There is no turning this movement back. The current generation of young people are disgusted with the often-blatant demonstration of racism and white supremacy, especially (although certainly not exclusively) as it's manifested in law enforcement interactions with Black women and men throughout the country.

Young people today are creative, expressive and increasingly clear about the more sophisticated ways in which racism masks itself in seemingly race-neutral institutional policies and practices.

The emperor really doesn't wear any clothes, and young people aren't willing to go along with the current racial arrangement.

History is unfolding every day, and we must choose to be a part of the continuing struggle for justice.

The discussion below is from Democracy Now , on Friday, July 24, 2015.

Part 1 -- approx. 22 mins.

As a Movement for Black Lives Convening is set to take place this weekend in Cleveland, we discuss the case of Sandra Bland and many others who have died in the custody of law enforcement with the three founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. Patrisse Cullors is the director of Truth and Reinvestment at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California, and the founder of Dignity and Power Now, a grassroots organization in Los Angeles fighting for the dignity and power of incarcerated people and their families. Alicia Garza is special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. And Opal Tometi is executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Part 2 -- approx. 23 mins.

We continue our conversation with the three women who co-founded Black Lives Matter. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi talk about immigration, LGBTrights and their own personal experiences with hyper-policing. "We think that our actions, our behaviors, our everyday trying-to-get-by, shouldn’t be criminalized," Tometi says. "I’m really looking for an agenda that looks at safety for our communities beyond policing."

28Jul/150

Sandra Bland Laid to Rest; First Black Judge in Waller County Demands Sheriff Resign over Her Death

The discussion below is really interesting. In this interview, DeWayne Charleston, the first African American judge in Waller County, Texas, shares far more perspective about the historical context of Waller County and their current sheriff, Glenn Smith.

I'd like to say this is unbelievable, but it's clearly not. This seems entirely consistent with the gradual picture that is evolving of the really racist space in which Sandra Bland met her death. The brazen racism and intimidation that is depicted in numerous accounts of people's encounters with the power structure in Waller County has to be illegal.

I just hope the Justice Department opens a Ferguson-style investigation into the power center in this county, even if only to do justice to Sandra Bland's memory and the many other folks who have experienced the racist and heavy hand of "the law" in this place. The growing evidence, I should add, is that the same should be done throughout the country.

As for Mr. Charleston, this brother's remarks and perspectives are important to hear and consider.

Hundreds gathered Saturday to remember Sandra Bland at the suburban Chicago church she attended for decades before moving to Waller County, Texas, where she was set to begin a new job but was then discovered dead in her jail cell after a traffic stop escalated into an arrest. The 28-year-old African-American woman’s family members stood before her open casket as they continued to dispute law enforcement claims she hung herself with the liner of a trashcan. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Bill Foster have sent letters to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling for a federal investigation into Bland’s death. We go to Texas to discuss the history of racial profiling in Waller County, and police relations with the African-American community, with DeWayne Charleston, who served as the first African-American judge in Waller County, Texas. He also responds to how Bland was arrested and the investigation into her death has been handled, and calls on Sheriff Glenn Smith to resign. Charleston is the author of "The United States v. Waller County, Then Me."

From Democracy Now; Monday, July 27, 2015

Approx. 20 mins.

27Jul/150

Bill Cosby, Drugs and Rape Culture – It’s Really Not that Complicated

Until now, I've not really weighed in on the Bill Cosby fiasco. I've talked with friends and family about this craziness, but haven't felt compelled to share any reflections in this space.

I should start by saying that I never considered Cosby a role model in real life. I watched and really liked both The Cosby Show and A Different World when I was growing up, and have since introduced both of my children to both of these shows in recent years. They both knew about Fat Albert since their earlier childhood years.

Cosby's talent and storytelling skills are undeniable, and allowed him to make significant contributions to the entertainment industry, and American society more generally, for many years.

But that's the extent of my admiration for him. And for the most part, that's always been the case. I also used to mention Cosby as an example of the way more of our entertainers should support Black institutions, the way Cosby has done over the years with HBCUs. However, I was less likely to defend that, even, after he started bad-mouthing and condemning Black folks who didn't meet his standard of respectability.

Black folks have never needed to be chastised about responsible behavior. We still don't, although it still gets politicians and other public figures easy points in the broader white media and public.

So what about the most recent onslaught of rape allegations against Bill Cosby? First, it should be noted that these aren't new allegations. For whatever reason or reasons, they've just gotten more traction and media/public attention in the last year or so. I do wonder why, but that doesn't cloud my assessment of the behavior, whether he did it or not.

But more generally, I think I'm just not as surprised by this. Whether he admitted to actually drugging one or all, even the consideration of using drugs to aid one in having sex with someone is unacceptable. The behavior we're talking about here is rape. Preparing in advance to do so makes it premeditated. That would make someone who does so a predator. Having sex with someone who has not given consent, at that moment and throughout the experience, is rape. There are no fine or blurry lines. The lines are pretty bright and clear.

Can people make false allegations of rape? Sure, and it can have devastating consequences. Is it likely that all of the women in this most recent Cosby drama are making false allegations? I don't think so.

But we don't have to intellectualize this but so much. Let's make it personal. Would my initial reaction to my daughter, her mother, or my own mother be that they are lying, if they mentioned being raped in this way? Absolutely not. I'd be outraged, and gunning for the person's head. It's really not that complicated. And our idolizing of any public figure shouldn't complicate this.

Whether it be Bill Cosby or anyone else, all of this is disgusting and unacceptable. There are no qualifiers.

Having said this, I'm no more disgusted that Bill Cosby is involved in this than I would be if my next door neighbor was. In much of the media storm, it's hard sometimes to decipher whether people are more upset that at least some of this appears to have actually happened, or that it was their sacred saint 'The Cos' who may have been involved. The issue for me is not that Cosby may have done it, the issue is that any one in this world would do it, and that it happens far more frequently than most of us think.

On a number of levels (mind, body, spirit) rape is one of, if not the, most egregious interpersonal violations one can commit against another person short of murder - and yes, it's far more likely to be women who have been violated in this way.

We must end the culture that encourages and/or condones rape. At a minimum, this whole episode should be a reminder that all of us, especially men, have way more to do to end rape culture in this country (and throughout the world). This includes us holding one another accountable.

The victims of rape, especially women, cannot carry the sole responsibility for ending rape culture.

We must stop the rapist behavior at its source.