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#StudentsforSelma…P-TECH Goes to SEE SELMA!

Due to the enormous generosity of husband and wife team Bruce Gordon and Tawana Tibbs, GOOGLE, Info, Viacom, and Paramount Pictures, my entire school, Pathways in Technology Early Collge High School (P-TECH) will have a private screening of SELMA on Friday January 23rd, 2015 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Rose Cinemas–the first-of-its kind!

On behalf of my Principal, Mr. Rashid Davis and the entire P-TECH faculty, staff and student body, we cannot begin to THANK our sponsors enough!  From a simple inquiry came a gift of epic proportions and a chance to learn the steps pioneering Civil Rights activists took to gain equal rights and justice. This movie is a true American story about how African Americans have reponded to adversity even when it did not appear to be possible.

I am proud of them–on Friday, P-TECH will honor them by watching their story.  Please read the Paramount Pictures Press Release included in this post!

Directed by Ava DuVernay and produced by Oprah Winfrey, this movie chronicles the historic marches of Selma, Alabama that ultimately led to the crucial legislation that protected the voting rights of American citizens, The Voting Rights Act of 1965.


Z is For Zora!

Happy 124th BIRTHDAY Zora Neale Hurston!! I celebrate Ms. Zora on every birthday! So should you! Check out this post from last year.

ThePoliDay Report

“Moon’s too pretty fuh anybody tuh be sleepin’ it away.” 

Nothing has ever brought me more joy than watching more shooting stars than I can count, seeing a moon that looks like a big, round, orange gumball waiting for me to grab it, and books!

“I did not just fall in love. I made a parachute jump.”

The first book I ever wrote was made of a cardboard front and back cover that had been covered in blue and white contact paper. I had punched three holes on the side of the book, and in addition to the contact the paper that my mother had purchased, she had also picked up some of the brass fasteners that would help me keep my book of a few pages together.  If you asked me to gone away lakerecall what the book was about in its entirety(nature was interwoven somewhere), I probably couldn’t tell you…

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Top Five

Over at The PoliDay Report we are still ringing in the New Year!

I was treated to a movie today by my Sorority Sister, Lateefah A. and her sister Tanisha A. (My Tanisha!)–Top Five.

It was one of those days to do some much-needed catching up. While we didn’t have an official “Top Five” our conversation just naturally went in that direction. We discussed the top five things most women talk about: men, food, fashion, the future (marriage, finances, and other fun things), and careers.

In this movie starring Chris Rock, he is a comedian and movie star about to be married, but has had his share of life’s struggles, is trying desperately to rebound and reshape his life, and to produce products with which he’s happy. While the trailers that have been shown regarding this movie would have one to believe this movie is simply about ranking musical, movie, etc. interests, those scenes are somewhat insignificant compared to the greatest part of the movie–in fact I was able to walk away from the movie with a definitive declaration that Chris Rock is indeed genius. The take-a-way in this movie for me was all about how we determine order and establish priorities for the lives we want to live and the product (s) we are willing to offer the world. Clearly I won’t reveal anymore about the movie and you will just have to go see it, I did find, however that it was a fitting choice of movie given the New-Year-Resolution-phase of life we’re all in right now.

As we move forward in the year 2015, each of our “Top Five” becomes more about defining what’s right in our individual journeys rather than what others believe is right for them. There will be many set backs and downfalls, but one thing is certain, the sun will rise again to create a new day and new opportunity. As we are fortunate enough to rise along with it, we will have the chance to create our “Top Five” in whatever genres of life we see fit and however we would like to see them appear.

What’s your Top Five?

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Today is January 1st and it is quickly winding down to make room for day two! Two thousand fourteen taught me many lessons, but I think the greatest lessons I have learned have been lessons of self. In quiet spaces, and often loud ones (I live in Brooklyn), I have learned to be purposeful in reflecting on my thoughts and my actions. In doing so, I have uncovered some uncomfortable truths, but I have also learned how much I really like many elements of who I am.

What I know for sure is that I am a passionate thinker and an avid reader. I am intrigued by the news of today and mostly by the news of yesterday and many, many days before. I know that history makes me happy and that I become an insatiable chatter box about certain periods. I have also learned that I have a deeper commitment to securing a better future for the people in this nation because my heart is wired that way.

Over the Holiday Season, I have looked back at pictures I have taken with pioneers like Congressman John Lewis, Comedian-Activist Dick Gregory, and Freedom Rider Hank Thomas, and it is clear to me that our paths have crossed because they have passed the torch. To me.

As we confront issues of persisting racial injustices and police brutality and community violence, I have a role to play in eradicating it. In 2015, I am ready for the handoff.

Go see Selma on January 9th, 2015!

Happy New Year!

Is America Being Black-Maled?

July 17th. August 5th. August 9th.

Eric Garner. John Crawford III. Michael Brown.

All Black. All dead by the hands of Police Officers.

None of their killers were indicted.

Since these killings occurred (and even before), more Black men and other non-white men (and women) have been killed by police officers. The institution of policing has decided it is just too risky to “apply the law” to the fate and futures of Black men and the others it reportedly fears. Instead, this institution has opted to rely on antiquated, non-transparent justice. In each of the aforementioned cases, there has been widespread departmental and institutional cover-up, the mishandling of evidence, discrepancies in witness testimony, and convenient, in-house remixing of policies and procedures. The institutional accomplice absolving killer cops of criminality is the Grand Jury–a clandestine and ubiquitous entity that has netted a zero and three return for justice.

Repeatedly, these secret jurors have decided that in the midst of the evidence collected by state’s prosecutors and District Attorneys, none of the evidence has even been strong enough to charge the officers involved with a crime. In each of the Grand Jury proceedings, none of the jurors have been able to hear all of the evidence because the defendants, now made to look like the perpetrators, are all defenseless and dead.

Why is America being Black-Maled?

Black men, no more perfect or flawed than any other men in the United States of America, are the nucleus of America’s fears and the targets of police officers’ guns. It’s as if Black men are to blame for everything wrong with America and white men are the reason for all of its rights…even when these white men, acting as police officers, are in the legal and moral wrong, indicted or not.

The latest police shootings have been committed by young, mostly white officers not fully vested in their careers, and who all seem to use the same two excuses for shooting Black men–“accidental” and “fear.” But, we know fear is not accidental; rather, it is a learned emotion under which to hide after being taught a particular racial and gender demographic is not valued and is prone to criminality. America is Black-Maled today for the same yesteryear and historical reason–systemic, institutional and structural racism.

It is rampant, metastasizing, and stifling.

And, America’s future will not survive unless we make urgent changes now.

Black men, killed every 28 hours, are being forced to pay a debt to society they owe no more than the rest of us; and, they are hunted down like “hogs…in an inglorious spot” by bullets they cannot outrun in order to settle this mounting tab.

They are also young, like 18-year old Michael Brown and 12-year old Tamir Rice, who never had opportunities to declare careers. But, regrettably they were both given the equal opportunity of death from a police officer’s bullet.

We can no longer continue Black Male-ing America because when we do, we fail terribly.

This nation, my nation, through the use of grand juries that will not indict killer cops, is attempting to manipulate the feelings of our society by presenting killing as the the only lawful solution for indifference when one is Black and male. Morbidly, the message also being communicated is that Black men are not suited to walk this Earth and breathe its air. America incites us to hate and fear them and justify why justice should elude them. The overall verdict forced upon us is that Black men are not even worthy of justice. Therefore, I appeal on the basis that, when regarding Black men, there is but one truth I hold to be self-evident, #BlackLivesMatter!

YOU are a Target and YOU are a Target…Black Teens 21X More Likely Shot

I almost wish there was a way for me to become desensitized to all of the reports inundating my timelines on various social media about the plague of police brutality, ONLY because I would like a piece of mind and a break from the madness and sadness the reality of police brutality creates.
But, that’s not to be. And, I will keep posting.

I wish that every time I engaged in a conversation about #MichaelBrown it did not result in the other person responding with “but…” followed up with a comment about Michael Brown’s size or his previous shoplifting (yeah that pissed me off, too) or the fact that Black people “need to do this” and “they need to do that” or how much fear looms in the act of being a police officer.

At the end of my day, and in my final conclusion, I remain adamant that he/they did not/ do not deserve to be shot dead and neither did / do any of these other cases in which unarmed civilians, like 12-year old Tamir Rice, have been killed by overzealous and fraught-with-fear police officers.

Rudy Guiliani chides Black people by admonishing that we stop making white cops shoot us, but the statistics in the ThinkProgress article posted below seems to say that white cops are truly targeting Black people because there is a “Fear of a Black Planet.”

Read it for yourself.


“You can‘t LEAD the people if you don’t LOVE the people. You can’t SAVE the people if you won’t SERVE the people.” Motto of the Tavis Smiley Foundation, Youth 2 Leaders


Barnes and Noble, September 2014 NYC

On Thursday, September 11th, 2014, I sat in an audience of people—friends, supporters,  and employees of Tavis Smiley—in  New York City’s Union Square Barnes and Noble for the signing of his seventeenth and latest book, The Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Year.

While on the stage underscoring his level of commitment to his work, he called my name, told the audience I worked with the young people in his foundation—Youth 2 Leaders—and led me in completing the motto of the foundation.  I was in the notes section of my iPad trying to take down his most salient and thought-provoking points (there are so many all the time) so I was initially caught off guard, but I fell right in line with him in reciting our motto.  Tavis responded, “See? She understands it. That’s what this work is all about.”

For nearly 20 years (I first met Tavis Smiley when I was 19 years old), I have been a student of Tavis Smiley.  I have learned that he is deeply committed to the growth and development of all people, and particularly to Black people.

“I believe if we make Black America better, we make all of America better.” Tavis Smiley

I can appreciate the unapologetic resolve in that premise.


Fail Up Book Signing, 2011 NYC

For ten (10) years, he provided a platform for many of our community’s intellectuals and cultural critics; and, they gained national notoriety from their inclusion and involvement in the State of the Black Union symposiums. As a spectator and as an attendee, I would look at the panelists and think to myself, “If Tavis Smiley included this person, they must be something!”

Tavis has always been my barometer of intellectual excellence and my go-to example of critical curiosity and inquiry.  And, he fits perfectly into the cast of leadership. Through the publishing of books such as the Covenant with Black America (2006), and my all-time favorite, Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure (2011), Tavis has consistently provided an entry point for Black communities into discussions of politics and socio-economic growth. While his vocabulary is impressive and vast, his approach to giving our community the wings to fly in areas that sometimes compromise our esteem, has been practical, doable, and enumerated in a way that keeps many of us from getting lost or resorting to the comfort of believing our inability for doing better is because of not knowing how.

March 2014, Georgia

March 2014, Georgia

What I know for sure is that Tavis Smiley has always done what he has publicly said he would.  I respect that on his imprint (Smiley Books), he publishes books that help to guide our ways of thinking about issues.  Through media outlets in television and radio, The Tavis Smiley Show is what he uses to package his voice and his truth, on his terms.  I also know that Tavis is personable, engaging, loves Black people, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

I like Tavis Smiley!

At his young age, Tavis Smiley has done so much and he has not nearly tipped the scale in the more to come.

Happy 50th Birthday, Tavis Smiley!

Remembering Michael Jackson: There Can Be But One King

When Oprah Winfrey asked Michael Jackson, in a sit down interview on his Neverland Ranch, what he believed was his purpose on our great Earth, he responded,

“To give in the best way I can through song and through dance and through music…I mean, I am committed to my art. I believe that all art has as its ultimate goal the union between the material and the spiritual. The human and the Divine. I believe that to be the reason for the very existence of art. And, um, I feel I was chosen as an instrument to uh, just give music and love and harmony to the world.”

It almost makes you want to weep that this purposeful man is here no more. But, just as soon as the tears of sadness begin to swell on the edges of the lines of my eyes, they crest and fall with the same joy of watching a Michael Jackson performance hearing one of his many great songs and feeling a magic all his own–the Michael Jackson magic.

Michael Jackson Magic

Michael Jackson Magic

Born today on August 29th in 1958, Michael Jackson quickly became the star of nine (9) siblings. Even as a baby he had his own special magic, but it was written that way. The Divine Creator had already cast Michael Jackson as the king…of all artistry. He just had to study his lines and perform them well each and every time he was given the opportunity.

And he did.

As a five-year old child, he stood in front of his brothers and adoring audiences and belted out maturely written songs. With every breath of his tiny frame he rocked and swayed, and kicked and spun. He perfected his art through constant practice while growing as the lead singer of the Jackson 5 and as the mega solo star that transfixed all generations. Through the lyrics of his songs he sang about love and solutions to making our world a better place.  He was political and social and helpful and loving and he had conviction in his artistry.  For 45 years, he was the headliner with the starring role and the audience was still ready to watch the show and to join the cause.

Whether Michael Jackson knew each of us individually or not, he crafted a personalized experience for the millions of us. That was the Michael Jackson magic.

The smiles Michael Jackson shared when he spoke about his family suggested that his journey to the physical world had been birthed in the marriage of the material and spiritual worlds. His family offered him a love that was tangible–they could hug and hold him. But his fans offered him a love that energized his spirit. Whenever we showed up, he showed out by proving he had learned the lines the Creator had written for him through song, dance, and music.

When we make it to this world, there is already a script and a role for each of us to play. We have to be willing to learn our lines and to play our parts because everyday is the dress rehearsal when we know our purpose.

Thank you Michael Jackson for learning your lines, knowing your purpose and filling us with the Michael Jackson magic for 45 years.

Happy Birthday!

Remembering W.E.B. DuBois

IMG_2579One of the best and brightest minds to ever walk the Earth, W.E.B DuBois, died today in 1963 at the sage age of 95, the night before the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28th, 1963.

With his thinking cultivated in his family’s experiences and formally in the trailblazing HBCU, Fisk University, DuBois was later able to attend Harvard University where he earned another bachelors degree and became the first African American to receive a PhD from this school.

As a sociologist, Dr. DuBois dedicated his life to Black excellence through education. While he was certain that freedoms could be limited, suppressed and even taken away, one thing he knew that could never be taken was a person’s education.

He knew what he knew.

He knew Black people in the United States of America lived and navigated two worlds–a Black and questionable America and a White, less-forgiven one, too. He said so in his book, The Souls of Black Folk.  In fact, it’s as if incidences like the shooting death of teen Michael Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri and all of the other acts of unjustifiable crime committed against Blacks by others, is DuBois’ research coming back to haunt us.

In his scholarship, he knew Black people were capable of doing whatever our minds could fathom, and college degrees were our manumission papers.

He knew what he knew.

As the Crisis Magazine editor, founder of the Niagara Movement, and co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), DuBois was determined to show America that education was the equalizer of all other man-made inequities.

After a relentless pursuit, Dr. DuBois gave up his American citizenship in 1961 for the remainder of his life to be lived in Ghana. He became friends with similar brilliant minds and was honored at his funeral by Ghana’s First President, Kwame Nkrumah.

May the soul of W.E.B. DuBois forever rest in eternal peace and paradise.

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Remembering Nat Turner

Stevie Wonder’s album, “Hotter Than July” naturally evokes the question, “what’s hotter than July?” 


August is hotter than July. Below is a list of historical August events:

  • African Americans began our traverse into slavery on August 20th, 1619 (see our post called “Standing on Bones, Part I).
  • Fourteen year-old Emmett Till was lynched by Southern racists and brothers, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam  in Money, Mississippi on August 28, 1955.
  • The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was held in Washington DC. on August 28th, 1963 and its 50 year commemoration was greatly celebrated for a new generation of young people to become connected with its importance and legacy.
  • Freedom Summer concluded in August of 1964.
  • The Watts Riots took place in August of 1995.
  • Black August, a practice that began to honor freedom fighters and revolutionaries Jonathan Jackson, George Jackson, William Christmas, James McClain, Khatari Gaulden, and survivor Ruchell Magee, began in California’s San Quentin prison following the killing of George Jackson during a rebellion on August 21st, 1971, is still one of our nation’s largest disturbances among Black Liberation circles.

Nat TurnerAlso on this day, August 21st, 1831 the man regarded as “The Prophet” by other enslaved Blacks, Nathaniel “Nat” Turner, waged the Nat Turner Rebellion.  Born on October 2, 1800, Nat Turner had been born into slavery in Southampton County, Virginia. Unlike most enslaved Blacks of his time, Nat Turner was taught to read by his owner’s son.  It was his ability to read that turned him to a deeper reading and understanding of Christianity. The ideas that had been taught to enslaved Blacks during slavery that supported slavery, were contradicted when Nat Turner read Christian doctrines; and, he actually came to the belief and understanding that Christianity condemned slavery.  An eclipse of the sun represented a sign from God to Turner that it was finally time to change the condition of Black people held captive by the institution of slavery.  In 1830, Nat Turner has been sold to Joseph Travis, and when he saw the eclipsing sun’s color change, he took that as a final sign to move forward with his insurrection.

Nat Turner had recruited seven (7) others to assist in his efforts and they killed all members of the Travis family first. They also killed fifty (50) more whites. In total, Nat Turner’s efforts only attracted the assistance of seventy-five (75) others–enslaved and free Blacks.  When the state militia received information about what was happening under Nat Turner’s leadership, they were determined to suppress it.  Nat Turner and his team were outnumbered by more than three-thousand (3000) militiamen.  In 48 hours, the Nat Turner Rebellion was suppressed.  One of Nat Turner’s men had been killed and the rest were taken into custody.  For two (2) months, Nat Turner was able to elude police, but he was eventually caught.  He was tried for murder and insurrection.  Six (6) days after his trial, he was executed and some two-hundred (200) other innocent enslaved Blacks were murdered.

Many people hail Nat Turner as a hero for the stance that he took in attempting to rid America of slavery.  Others have labeled him a fanatic preacher.  While his actions did not stop slavery, the Nat Turner Rebellion was indeed a turning point in the savage institution of slavery.  Southern slave owners inflicted even more harsh and severe punishments on their enslaved populations–overall the state of paranoia among whites nationwide was intense.  Some abolitionists, however, used the Nat Turner rebellion to heighten their efforts to help end slavery.

The discourse over how right or wrong Nat Turner’s actions were will forever be debated, but what can never be debated is that Nat Turner ensued action that he felt would provide him the best quality of life.  Since he believed in the Bible and believed in its condemnation of slavery, Nat Turner followed the sign he believe had come from God to change the condition of other Blacks and for himself.

Much of what happens in history is never pretty, especially when it involves the subjugation of others.

How will we remember Nat Turner?