This kind of beautiful…

Vivid visions of just me. 

Wrapping my arms around myself and encountering my own brilliance without the thoughts of your companionship trickling through. 

Your otherness typically feels so warm and compliments me so well, it’s almost as you follow the circuits of my mind. 

I can call and stay on the line…I don’t speak and you know exactly what to say. 

Although, you certainly don’t complete me, I am my own person, this I am certain. 

My own desires and thoughts flow through me a tad differently. It’s like I am a river and we connect when I enter your basin. 

Deep within, I know I don’t need you, but I want you to accompany me throughout some of my life. For now, I want you to be a part of my routine—to say the least. 

I want to be your sunshine, but it is if you are on a blinding, uneasy ride. This moment in time, you are lost and unsettled, I must let you climb. 

This is necessary, but who wants to be alone? I don’t think this world was made for us to always be in solitude.

Sometimes we need to meet and connect like the river and the sea–let’s be an estuary. 

Rich and free, I hope to meet you again and feel your warmth like my favorite tea. 

Or my favorite food, melting within my dark soul, enlightening my world. 

For now I’ll wait and worry less about others, meaning you. 

I’ll try to be this kind of beautiful…

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Happy First Day of Kwanzaa!!

Hello all! Today is the first day of Kwanzaa!! The journey begins…

FullSizeRender-5Tonight we lit the black candle that represents the people that trace their heritage to Africa .  First, I asked my boyfriend “Habari Gani?” which is Swahili for, what’s the news? He answered, “umoja,” and then shared a relfection. Then, it was my turn and his cousin was over so he also shared in the celebration. My boyfriend and I reflected on what unity meant to us and what we can do in our community to promote more unity. This was a difficult question for my boyfriend and I. We ended up reflecting for almost an hour. We live in a pretty broken down community that can easily push one to give up hope because of how our neighbors treat others and what we see on our block. We came down to the conclusion that we will focus on creating unity in our own family and let our positivity extend to those we encounter daily. We always make time to greet the bus driver, store clerks, etc in our community and we will continue to do so. Little things like this will allow us to not convert to an individualistic state of mind.

If you didn’t know the day 1 principle is‪#‎UMOJA‬ (OO-MOE-JAH) it means unity to strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation and human race. Our action is to build a community that holds together.

The seven candles are called Mishumaa Saba, which represent the Nguzo Saba (each of the 7 principles). The red candles represent our peoples’ struggle and the green candles represent hope.

Since my boyfriend and I don’t have children the two ears of corn(‪#‎muhindi‬) represent the children of the community, the ‪#‎mazao fruit/crops-represents the communities’ productivity. 

I made a #homemade #Kinara, which is the candle holder. I could not afford a wooden, traditional one and I went to over 15 stores to put this together!! It was so difficult finding green taper candles and impossible to find a black taper candle! Therefore, I used the candle pictured above. My hope (green) candles were shorter than my struggle (red) candles, so I found taller candle holders. I think it came out wonderful! It only cost me $20 to put it together 🙂 I strongly suggest if you cannot afford a Kinara, make one yourself.

Since I could not find a straw mat, I used a yellow and red ribbon to represent the Mkeka (or mat) which is symbolic of our tradition and history and therefore, the foundation on which we build. In addition, the Kikombe cha Umoja (The Unity Cup) is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity which makes all else possible, is not displayed. I will upload it in the next blog when I light our next candle 🙂

Have an amazing evening and #HAPPY KWANZAA!!

***(I found a lot of info from officialkwanzaawebsite.org and kwanzaalights.com***

 

 

She

He told her “you’re the kind of girl you read about in books.”

But how could that be?

When she thought that that she did not have the looks

To be thought of as She

She thought herself more like a wildflower blown by the wind

With chaos in the universe

Living in a world with a wealth of sorrow

How could she have such a force?

Then she realized she was a girl far from shallow

Her depths deeper than the ocean floor

Maybe she was like the girl he read in books,

She was she, and she was sure

That she had the power to change the war…

He did not matter

He wasn’t as lovely as the words he spoke

In a world that seemed to be getting sadder

She had to fight, bring upon a light

Help all, climb higher and higher up the ladder

She was she, and that was all she could be.

 

Sins

Sins of great means
Makes you feel like the feighn

The sin brings pleasure
Not one can measure

So you go out and sin
For your internal happiness
Never eternal

For you know it brings much turmoil
That will make you feel far from royal

I sieze the day
When my sins will be weighed
And I’ll be able to say
My sins flow
Through the river bend
Never losing
For sins are choosing
To become a better human

Sinful desires
Sinful mistakes
I can’t preach to the choir
But not all sins are forgiven
But, we keep livin’
Until the last song ends in a lake

Non-White Elementary Student’s Experiences with White Middle Class Teachers

Young Non-White children from high poverty backgrounds being taught by White middle class teachers have different experiences in the elementary classroom. Being that classrooms are becoming more diverse nationwide it is important to understand if all the children are benefiting from their elementary teachers. Gary R. Howard (2006), the author of “We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know” explains to readers, “The growing presence of diversity in our public school population is the face of our future” (p.3).  Non-White children can gain both a negative and positive experience from having a White middle class teacher teach them, but it is important they  receive the most positive experiences. This blog post aims to bring a brief awareness to readers about both the positive and negative effects of having White middle class teachers teach non-white students from high poverty backgrounds.

According to the National Center for Education Information in 2011, 84% of public school teachers are White. On the other hand, the US Census Bureau reports as of 2008 that 43% of students in public elementary schools are Non-White. That is almost half of a teacher’s classroom and the number of Non-White students is steadily increasing. This means that the majority of White teachers have the responsibility to reach out to both White children and Non-White children. It is important to reach Non-White students by letting four very important principles guide one’s work when teaching. Howard (2006) writes that these four principles are, “Growth in multicultural awareness is possible. Growth in multicultural awareness is desirable. Multicultural growth can be observed and assessed. Multicultural growth can be stimulated and promoted” (p. 102).  It is important to point out what multicultural awareness is. Multicultural Awareness in my opinion is a greater understanding, sensitivity, and appreciation of the history, values, experiences, and lifestyles of groups that include, but, are not limited to: race, ethnicity, gender and socio-economic status. Therefore, White teachers should engage and believe in multicultural growth in order to connect with the children. This helps the children feel comfortable with one another and their teacher. Multicultural awareness can also change an educator’s perspective positively. How, you may ask? It can help an educator gain greater self awareness and greater self awareness of others. This self awareness can lead to developing better interpersonal skills, promote harmony and healing between different groups and able to live in a more multicultural world. If educators believe in multicultural awareness it  can be enthusiastically promoted in their teachings.

Not all White teachers feel it is necessary to relate through multicultural awareness with their students and do not choose to relate to their class in this manner. This semester in my field work experience I had the opportunity of working with a Brooklyn native, White 1st grade teacher in her 50s or 60s. She is a teacher of a first grade class in Brooklyn, NY. In an interview with her, she states, “I am the teacher, I do not have to relate with the children’s cultures. In the beginning of the year I don’t ask where they are from,  it doesn’t really matter.” It was quite shocking to hear that she does not care to relate to the children’s cultures. This can cause a teacher to be culturally insensitive to a child’s demeanor in a classroom. One time there was a child who was misbehaving and she explained to me, “I don’t understand why Black people do not believe in therapy because their child needs it.” It is interesting how this teacher claims not to care about children’s culture, but makes such statements. It is sad that she uses stereotypes against the child’s parents which can affect how she views the child.

On another occasion this teacher discussed with me how an African American parent was late to a parent teacher conference and said, “It’s not my fault they live in the projects and have no sense of time.” My jaw dropped when she made these statements because I feel she had no place to single out an entire race because of their lateness or because of their beliefs. If she chooses to become more aware of her class’s culture maybe she would think differently. However, as she states, she does not care to learn anything about their cultures. I find this is sad and cannot understand why she teaches at such a school with such a highly diverse student population. Without her realizing it, it affects the way she talks to the children and even her expectations of the children because they are Non-White. Since the teacher feels negatively towards the parents it affects how she deals with the child’s work. For example, we were putting together books and she saved a child’s book for last to do because she wanted to forget it about. She did this because she cannot stand the parents, she even said “we still have time to ruin this child’s work!” Her attitude towards the parents should not affect how she treats any child’s work! This behavior can appear as if she she doesn’t believe in her Non-White student’s work. She even calls one of her African American students disgusting because of behavioral issues. This same African American student is in the highest reading group, but the teacher explains to me that she has made no growth in her reading because she came in the classroom a high reader. This makes me wonder if it was because the teacher has negative feelings for this student and if she purposely intended not to challenge the student. The teacher needed to believe in her and help her grow regardless of her negative attitude towards the child. This negative attitude doesn’t show that she believes in the child’s ability of succeeding.

It is vital for White teachers to understand that beliefs determine outcomes. White teachers have the duty to set the same high standards and high expectations for all their students. This belief that Non-White students can exceed in higher standards and expectations when the children are in elementary school, can benefit the children for the rest of their lives because it provides a foundation for the students (Howard, 2006). All children need to be believed in because it challenges them for the betterment of their education and lives. When a child is Non-White and comes from a poor background it is a teacher’s duty to teach them to the best of their ability because it will affect the students for the rest of their lives. Lisa Delpit (2012) writes, “For children of poverty, good teachers and powerful instruction are imperative. While it is certainly true that inequity, family issues, poverty, crime, and so forth all affect poor children’s learning opportunities, British educator Peter Mortimore found that the quality of teaching has six to ten times as much impact on achievement as all other factors combined” (p. 73). When children are in elementary school they will be strongly affected by their learning  because elementary school is where they learn the foundations before they move on to higher levels of education.

To conclude, I believe teachers should want to teach a multicultural audience. When deciding to teach they should understand that their students may not be from the same culture as them and look forward to relating to them as much as possible. This is why I am grateful that Kingsborough promotes multicultural awareness. In my education courses these past two years, they have taught us to promote this awareness, regardless if your classroom is located in an urban or suburban area. We have to have the passion to want to promote this! As Howard (2006) mentions, “Teaching is a calling, not just a job” (p. 125).Teachers should want to teach their students regardless of race, to want  their students to learn and love learning as much as they do. It’s a journey of commitment to make an effort of giving all children the wealth of their own intelligence and future success. Non-White children can have a positive learning experience with White teachers, as long as White teachers believe in becoming multiculturally aware and not judging his or her students. I am a product of being taught by White teachers at a young age and I feel there are teachers who teach us all equally, for this is why I am able to write today. It is important that all teachers aim to help all students equally so we can all be productive members of society, regardless of race.

 

References

C.E. Feistritzer. (2011, July 29). Profile of Teachers In The U.S.2011. [Education Week]

Retrieved from

http://www.edweek.org/media/pot2011final-blog.pdf

Delpit, L. (2012). “Multiplication is for White People” Raising Our Expectations for Other

People’s Children. New York, NY: The New Press.

Howard, G. R. (2006). We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know. New York, NY: Teachers

College

United States Census Bureau (2008).

School Enrollment. Retrieved from

http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/school/cps2008.html

 

-written May 2013