Toxic Relationships That We Love

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I am sure we all have some experiences of being involved in toxic relationships that were difficult to get rid of. Not by force, but because we actually LOVED those relationships. I know it may sound crazy to love something that is not good for you -the truth is we do it every day. From what we eat to the things that we do to our bodies. This has been an area of my life that held me captive for a long time.

Sure, I asked myself over a thousand times “why do I like being a part of these toxic relationships?” Now when I mention “relationships” I do not mean just romantic but friendships as well. Whew! Not only did it take one, but about three toxic relationships later when I was able to understand why I did. Believe it or not, it was because of hope. I had…

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Forgiveness and Healing

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Deciding to Forgive

One of the hardest things that I had to face as an adult is forgiveness. When I think about how hard it is, I ask myself why it is worth it? The things that we face in life at the hands of others can be painful; however, to gain healing requires us to forgive. As I am writing this post, I am reminded of how long it took and will take me to forgive people for failed investments in relationships, betrayal, dishonesty, just to name a few. For me, it was a battlefield between keeping this fiery anger or gaining healing. Yes, it is easy to say go for the healing, but there was something about holding on to the anger that I felt was necessary. Anger taught me a lot about myself. It showed me how invested I am in relationships, that I have resilience…

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Creative Writing: Smoke, Fog & Haze

By Mr. Westbrooks

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A 12-minute, cursive free-write for a “Write Club” activity that we did during an English Department professional learning community (PLC) meeting. This is what was birthed in my mind and transcribed from my all-purpose composition notebook onto a blank WordPress post. To maintain the organic essence and integrity of my uninterrupted and free-flowing thoughts, no edits or additions have been made.

But first, the prompt: 

Smoke, Fog & Haze: Write about not being able to see ahead of you. 

I’m moving. Where am I going? I’m not sure. If I’m walking, I see my feet and the immediate ground in front of them, but if I pick my head all the way up and look forward, I can’t see a damn thing ahead of me. I’m squinting my eyes like the woman on the meme that’s been virally circulating Twitter and Instagram. You know the one where the caption goes…”Me trying to see which season it’s gonna be outside today.”

Even though my visibility is low, almost non-existent, I keep moving. Straightforward? Diagonally? I’m not sure, but I’m moving. I’m moving slowly, because I can’t afford to misstep. Like Ferris Bueller, I can take a nasty spill down some stairs and subject myself to further school absences…Have a nice day.

The sad thing about it is that I have a feeling…deep inside of me that the path I’m pacing…is a path I’ve walked before. It should all be familiar, but it remains to be a mystery. Is it brand new? Or, am I simply not trusting the process, following my inherent intuition? I think it’s the latter.

I look down, see my feet and the ground…look up, can’t see a damn thing. This is the consequence of having sight but no vision.

Sight No Vision

Fight For Your Right To Speak!

Asiatic Kween Mind

Peace family, friends, and fellow Kings and Queens!

Earlier today I was watching a video in regards to a new Senate Bill that has been passed by the California Legislature, and Senator Richard Pan, regarding to our 1st Amendment Rights of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press. And what I was hearing really made me feel some kind of way! It is referring to Senate Bill 1424. Allegedly we will be limited to what we say on our social media pages, and other public AND private forums including texts and personal emails in regards to the government and other officials! I went onto the California Legislative Information website myself to see if the video was just going above and beyond what was really being said. And here’s what I found;

[SenBill1424]: It was introduced February 16th, 2018 and amended March 22, 2018 (9) By Senator Richard Pan, of California…

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For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood: A Reflection

By Mr. Westbrooks

Emdin-ForWhiteFolksWhoTeachintheHood-663x1024Around this time last year, Dr. Chris Emdin delivered the keynote message on the topic of culturally relevant pedagogy for the Drop the Mic conference held at the Newark Museum. He had copies of his book For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too available for purchase, and it was a title that was already on my reading wish list, but unfortunately, he ran out of copies before I could get mine. I knew I could purchase it anytime, but owning an autographed copy was a rare opportunity.

Fast forward to August of this year during our training/PD week. One of my administrators got copies of For White Folks for all of the teachers in our sub-department. Upon completing it last weekend, I tweeted a picture of the cover and mentioned Chris. He promptly replied (which I wasn’t expecting) and suggested that we discuss what I read. To prepare for our conversation, I decided to organize my thoughts on paper/screen before we engaged in our build. Here are the key takeaways that I plan to bring up in my talk with Chris and implement in my own practice. The following topics don’t reflect everything discussed in the book. In an effort to not overwhelm myself or spread myself too thin, I narrowed down the book’s topics to the five themes or practices that resonated with me the most and that I was willing to immediately put into action.

  1. Cogenerative Dialogues

The cogenerative dialogue is the idea that teachers collaborate with students to implement positive changes in the classroom. The structure Chris describes involves selecting a small group of four students from a variety of skill levels and behavior types to meet with the teacher for a brief time either during lunch or after school. During these meetings, the students would voice their opinions on what issues their class was facing and what needs to be done in order to make it better. I’ve always asked my students for feedback, but maybe I’ll switch up the style a bit and obtain my feedback in this small group, invitation-only structure. That’s a question I need to ask Chris: If I’m carrying out the cogens, am I only receiving feedback from the participants in the cogen?

As teachers, most of our direct feedback is coming from administrators and other teachers, but the students are the ones affected most by our classroom experience. We can gain valuable insights and take our classes to the next level by listening to what they have to say. Kids hold nothing back too. They will tell you the truth!

  1. The Black Church, Pastor and Rapper Aesthetics

For Black church Sunday services, there’s always a program with an order of events or agenda that the attendees follow. However, the service often goes off schedule when someone catches the Holy Spirit, or when the pastor “gets excited” durin

g his sermon and start to freestyle. To an extent, it’s acceptable for our classrooms to be similar. Some of the best learning moments happen when you allow students to break away from the lesson plan (script) to ask questions or make comments that are not directly related to the topic at hand.

If a teacher is moved, he or she can exhibit the speaking styles of the Black pastor, namely the call and response technique as a method of engaging “neoindigenous” (urban) youth. Rappers do the same thing, and Jelani Cobb’s comparison of Black pastors and rappers in his book To The Break of Dawn is reminiscent of this notion.

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  1. Aesthetically Appealing, Relevant and Welcoming Spaces

How can you expect students to feel welcomed, to learn, and to express themselves fullyand openly if the appearance of the classroom isn’t appealing? I’m aware of the importance of this, but I admit this has been a challenge for me with acquiring the resources to make my classroom look poppin,’ and that includes both the a

ctual materials to decorate and the time.

My arrangement of the desks into a semi-circle and the posting of my drawings that I did for my college art class and a picture from my last Reisling-influenced Paint and Sip class helped to somewhat make the room feel less like jail and traditional school. I’ve also set up my graffiti wall, which was an idea I got from the book. I couple of students have signed it already, and I have a poster of Nas and album cover stickers from my homie Tenn Stacks. It’s a start until I can get some more items.

  1. Context and Content: Community Involvement and Participation

Chris has a vignette in the “Context and Content” chapter about how a basketball game with his students led to further invitations to his students’ cultural contexts outside of the classroom, and how participation in those contexts resulted in a transformed classroom. The students are surprised and appreciative whenever I show up to their games and events. Within the last two school years, I’ve attended football and basketball games, track meets, a few art shows, and a law debate. In a less formal setting, my students have seen me shopping or walking around downtown. I want to take it to the next level, so I can start receiving invitations to events that are outside the school-sponsored extra-curricular activities.

Educators and education leaders often discuss the importance of building relationships and how that affects the students’ academic performance and social-emotional well-being. You can’t talk about building relationships and not talk about stepping out of the school building into your students’ cultural contexts.

  1. Teacher Perceptions

Perception is everything. It should be the first thing that teachers check, but why is it number 5 on my list? Our assumptions, preconceived notions, and attitudes about our neoindigenous youth will reflect in how they see themselves and what they can achieve. My perceptions and expectations of my students are high, but I must question if my students are aware of that, or if I need to be more explicit with my students about my perceptions of them. Or, can they tell just from my vibes?

Final note: You can know all of the pedagogy and everything about lesson plan designing, but Chris points out that it is the non-instructional pieces that are the game-changers, which I appreciate that the most about his book. If only school districts and administrators placed more value on these factors.

Nick & Chris

 

IRMA: The Unnatural Disaster

Asiatic Kween Mind

Early this a.m., I was watching the news and saw the newscaster explaining yet another hurricane. Tis the season! They were explaining how it could hit the East coast at a category 5 level. Yes, we’re talking worse than Hurricane Harvey! And it got me thinking. So I decided to do some research.

A few weeks ago, maybe a little over a month actually, I was in YouTube and the they were coming up with a conspiracy that something big will happen after a tropical storm around Sept. (23)rd, 2017. And immediately I started thinking of Numerology. 23/5, coincidence? Allow me to explain.

In numerology, five is a number of life and nature. In Hebrew number five means seizure and contraction. (Amongst other things) Due to the attributes of two and three, twenty three is a number of duality, charisma, communication and society. Twenty three has the ability to use…

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The Fall Of The Black Household

Asiatic Kween Mind

One day, someone posted a question asking what happened to black love. It didn’t take me more than 5 seconds to give my answer… “It died when Women’s Liberation & Black Feminism started.” Yes, I’m sure you’re thinking what do i mean by this. Maybe you’re telling yourself that it was for the greater good of black women. But, at what cost? Let me break it down the best way I can.

Women’s Liberation, aka The Feminist Movement, has taken a toll on not only black women (who followed suit) but the black family. That wasn’t for us, but they made it about us and turned us away from our own men. They created a sense of extreme dependency.. They had us say things like, “I don’t need a man for anything.” Really think about how that sounds!

Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being single. Or having…

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