Category Archives: Education

Why Aren’t More Black People Boycotting the NFL?

“If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity” – Albert Einstein

I really love football and here’s why:

Reason #1 – My Brother

When I was a kid, my brother only kind of liked me as his sister (as many other older brother and younger sister sibling relationships) and for me, I could get his attention… paying attention to Football. He taught me the game which is why as a woman, I know more than the average man, usually.  He was practicing to be the coach he is now, explaining to me the different positions and the purpose that they serve, why some coaches prefer 3-4 defense over a 4-3 defense, among the many other reasons why I love to watch the game.

Reason #2 – My Grandma

I never was much for dresses, make-up or girly things like my grandma, and she somehow was all of those things, but also fell in love with the game of football. She always wanted to talk about Football my whole life.  As my grandmother became sicker with cancer, Football was about all she would talk about with any kind of joy (and she loved the Browns, go figure). One of the last pictures of her smiling was when she was in the hospital and the Browns paid the patients a visit. (Yes, there are people who actually get excited about the Browns).

My Grandma passed away in 2016, and for last year’s football season (2016-17), I watched more football in a season than I have ever watched in my entire life. Looking back on it, I definitely felt somehow closer to my Grandma watching all things football, and thoroughly enjoyed it. What I find interesting is that many fans truly believe football play has weakened and it has, but it’s still so fun to watch. Unlike Baseball and Hockey, where I have to be there to truly enjoy, Football still reigns supreme as the best sporting event that you can watch on TV, and the in game experience is like none other. I should probably go to a Soccer game in Europe, but until that happens, this is my firm belief.

So enter this year’s opportunity to boycott the NFL. I made the case about why Football is so important to me. I am not the protesting type, because I usually see all the sides of an argument. I can be empathetic to a fault. Ask my friends when we talk about boy problems. I can always see it from the guy’s perspective and rationalize their stupidity. So all summer, I thought long and hard if I wasn’t going to watch Football. It started off with me not watching the draft, but that’s was by accident, but it probably was a tale tale sign. So I didn’t pay attention to training camps or preseason game talk, but I hadn’t made up my mind. When Colin Kaepernick got cut that was no surprise, based on the coach they hired, but when he started to get passed over for backup job after backup job, I really started to feel uneasy.

For those of you who know athletes who aren’t famous stars, you realize a number of players on teams that never play much or at all, they are on team rosters and get a paycheck! In Football, with the quarterback position, a couple of back-ups are a must. Ask my beloved Colts when Peyton Manning was out for a whole year. Teams need quarterbacks that rarely play and Kaep made it to the Super Bowl folks, and his numbers last year weren’t the worst in the league, actually not that close either. The uneasiness got stronger, and I didn’t know how I was NOT going to boycott the NFL.

There comes a point in life where you should realize that what you believe in and what you do about it matters. BECAUSE I love football and the NFL, it makes me more disappointed that NFL owners are unwilling to give a job to a person who was simply exercising his freedom of speech rights. Here’s the thing, I get that they don’t care. It’s a business. He’s hurting their pocket book. They don’t care about the elevation of thoughts and ideas, especially not this one. But I do. 

Colin Kaepernick wanted to highlight a very important issue, one that should matter to all people, but the fact that it doesn’t is actually irrelevant. If it were a different issue such as pro-life, pro-choice, the environment, 2nd amendment rights or if it was any issue that took dollars from their pockets, NFL owners would be uninterested as well. But there is nothing more American than our right to be free. Free to say what we want, live the way we want, believe what we want. This “American” game of Football is asking us to choose money over our hearts and minds.

So when I see black people unwilling to boycott Football for something they “care” about, because the players need to boycott first? Say what? Only with their boycott would something actually happen. Come again? How easy is it to sit back, and just take Football in as entertainment without any regard to what it’s saying about you and your black body. How many of us would lose our job from boycotting a football game? 

 We can keep lying to ourselves, but the NFL is saying to us, “We” are good for the football field, but not good enough to speak our mind. You are not only condoning Colin Kaepernick not getting a job, you are condoning the ability of the institution of Football in keeping us small minded, and similar to a slave.  Actually, not a slave at all, a black person watching a minstrel show. Yes, a MINSTREL SHOW.  Your body is free, but your mind is still enslaved. The black NFL players are the main characters in the show, and you are literally rooting them on.  Just maybe if we stopped watching, some would stop playing. The truth is we don’t believe not watching will have an effect, but why are we so unwilling to try.

In the end, who’s making the money?  The same people that made money on the minstrel shows. You go right ahead, and not boycott, and continue to watch irregardless of what the game is saying about us.  One of my favorite reminders from the good ole book:

“My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? (2Kings 5:13)

If we cannot skip a season of football, do we really believe we will give up more for justice? for black lives? for equality?

No matter how much I love Football.  I will no longer watch the minstrel show.

M/P

Check out from Max Kellerman:

https://twitter.com/shadowleaguetsl/status/908721297215119360  

Live in the Moment. Learn From History. Forge A Better Future.

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“The mere imparting of information is not education” – Carter G. Woodson

As I look up quotes about the future, there are a lot of people who say it in several different ways, but the gist is ….”Don’t look to the past or worry about the future…. live in the moment.” You know those quotes that I am talking about don’t you?

Because you can’t change the past and you can’t predict the future, and so on, so it’s best to just go day by day. But the way these days are going since Trump’s inauguration, it’s been really hard to not worry about the future. You have supporters, in my opinion, blindly agreeing with anything to an absolute fault, and then you have angry non-supporters, in my opinion, who literally think we are the verge of WWWIV. Is it me or does that not seem like an exaggeration?

So today, I decided to bump thinking about right now, I want to think about the past.

Not necessarily looking into “better days”, but it is Black History Month. In my 3 years of blogging, I have never written a “black history” post. To some extent, writing about black history is over kill in February and I prefer to mention or write about past leaders and heroes when it is relevant to things going on and not just in a particular month. And people make this argument all the time. That black history should be celebrated every day or incorporated throughout the year in American History.

However, there is a place for separating out a time to celebrate black history just as it is important as to have a museum completely dedicated to black history. It is important for others, non-blacks, to learn our history, but it’s about more than that. The celebration of black history reminds black people that their lives matter, not to sound cliché. That years of slavery which completely ripped our families apart and tore our identities from us simply based on the color of our skin was wrong, and that we are meant for more.

Now, I am sure there are some people, even black people, who are out there thinking I shouldn’t focus on the negative. That we have “overcome” and “arrived” so dwelling on the past doesn’t improve anything.

So yeah….

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When people, and by people I am actually talking about experts, talk about trauma, there is this thing called generational trauma that we know is handed down, from generation to generation. When we look at Black Americans, this trauma didn’t stop at slavery. We haven’t had 200 years to “get over” it.

….Reconstruction happened…

…Jim Crow happened….

….The Civil Rights Movement happened….

…The crack “epidemic” and the mass incarceration of black lives happened…

….Then the first Black President happened….

I am just going to stop there, because we are still unpacking the last 8 years of the Obama presidency and what impact that will have on Black Americans. (i.e. Police and Race relations, the rise of hate groups, etc. )

Talk about some serious ish, and check this though… this is just a few of the popular and national things that occurred. Who knows of the struggles and successes that happened across America from the back woods to the larger cities? The role of the church, sports, the rise of the single parent household, and the list goes on. Because of these major events, we often talk about the resiliency of Black Americans to go through so many ups and down and still accomplish amazing things. So for me…learning about the lives of scientists, artists, writers, educators, athletes, mathematicians who broke barriers… I am here for it EVERY February. It’s cathartic. Because as a reminder for those who don’t understand, every time that I am mistreated or terrorized, because of the color of my skin, the trauma comes back to me subconsciously. That there is something about me that is wrong about the color of my skin, not because I believe it, but there will always be people who believe it and act on it.

For every mistreatment I experience, I am not being beat, harassed or killed but my ancestors experienced it in a way I could never know or imagine. Which means I started this blog all wrong about not being able to deal with the present. I can’t even begin to imagine what my ancestors had to go through day in and day out.

So yes, you can imagine if I feel this way about myself, I am very tired of people complaining about Trump all day and all night. It really is not accomplishing anything. Like at all.

As I sit here and write this piece, families across central and south Texas are experiencing raids from Federal immigration agents. Parents, who are here illegally in the country, do have some rights and have children in this country who are legal citizens. It’s hard not to see the correlation between these families and my ancestors. Separating children from their parents is an irreversible trauma that Black Americans are still dealing with so of course I wouldn’t want another family to experience this. Now, I know being in this country illegally is not ideal. I am not really here for that either, just like many other Americans, but we have to go about this is in a better way. We have to be better. The scariest part is that people are just denying that it is happening for no other reason than they just don’t want to believe the truth.

You can read about it here, here and here.

When you separate families, you never know if they will be reunited. History will be lost. Identities forgotten. Something that only Black History couldn’t magnify more by the stories of countless black heroes who don’t know their history.

A man, born a slave, freed upon emancipation, worked in salt furnaces and coal mines in West Virginia for several years to earn money. In 1872, he made his way east to Hampton Institute, a school established to educate freedmen and their descendants, where he worked to pay for his studies. In 1881, the Hampton Institute president Samuel C. Armstrong recommended this to become the first leader of Tuskegee Institute, the new normal school (teachers’ college) in Alabama. He led the institution for the rest of his life, more than 30 years.

This was Booker T. Washington. My favorite black history story. Attending Tuskegee University will always be the best years of my life. Being Black. Surrounded by Blackness. Learning enough Black History to last a lifetime. But there is a line in his famous book, “Up from Slavery”, that can be seen as insignificant, but rings a harsh truth to our history:

“Of my ancestry, I know almost nothing.”

As many other slaves who were free and forced to begin a life in a land stripped of their identity and heritage. It’s important to celebrate and learn our history, because for many of us, it is all the history we’ve got. And to build a better future, we must know our identity, who we are, to forge a better future.

M/P

Media, Do Your Damn Job

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“Education is our only political safety. ” – Horace Mann

The first presidential debate happened.

I went to bed uninspired, and woke up with a burning fire in my chest.

I sort of want to rail on Trump and say how I was actually impressed with Hillary, but I am going to say that I am really mad at the media. (I can’t help it ya’ll.) They really do have the capacity shape and change minds and do it in a non-partisan way, but they refuse to just spit facts.

I think that even if people think the media tends to lean to the LEFT (with the exception of Fox News and a few others) the reality is at the end of the day, ALL media just simply cares about making its viewers happy.

When the debate was over, there was no commentator on the channel that I was watching that made any clear references to the errors and blatant misquotes by Donald Trump.

Tom Brokaw at least pointed out that both candidates avoided giving solid answers during the race discussion, but we didn’t expect much from an old white man and woman about race. I did however expect someone to be like, did you hear some of the errors he said in his talking points?  Instead, we got a lot of “he kept his base tonight” or “Trump is held to a different standard”. Well, no shit Sherlock, because you all are holding him to a different standard too and refusing to be more critical in the job that you all have been foolishly given.

The reality is the general public, who probably didn’t pay attention in history class or go to law school, may not understand how big of a deal that not only was Trump promoting a practice, “Stop and Frisk”, that is discriminatory, but it really is not THE REASON violence and crime went down in New York City.

Not to mention throughout the debate there were clear instances in which he did not articulate an identified plan and seemed ill informed about topics. Not an exaggeration or a bias. I know that I have had more in-depth conversations about trade than his one broken record about our “jobs cannot leave”. We get it. That resonates with everyone, especially those of us, who know people who lost jobs in America for their industry moving overseas.

I was sitting at home in complete shock. But more frustrated at how the media really didn’t harp on his clear errors as soon as the debate was over. Maybe people would’ve just turned their TV off and that’s okay. It’s better than not critically analyzing the debate in it’s entirety.

Although there might have been a ton of people tuning in for the debate, everyone is still competing for first place for viewership, and to me it shows.There needs to be real discussion that Hillary was informed about topics, and her being informed makes her seem like a politician which apparently is what everyone wants to avoid.This is why Trump won the Republican primary, because he didn’t sound like a politician. But SOMEONE needs to remind people that there comes a point where you need to be polished, have solid points and share them. Being President is not about sound bites and one liners that sound good.

I am glad that Hillary made it clear that the world and their leaders are watching and I am sure that they are laughing at us. There are people who don’t understand how important our relationships around the world matter with TRADE and the ECONOMY. All they really care about is stopping “those people” from coming into our county.

Although, I am not a fan of Hillary, I really wish I had the opportunity to choose between Kasich or Rubio (maybe even Cruz, I know scary) AND Hillary, their knowledge and experience hurt them on the campaign trail and it is scary that it could factor into whether Hillary will win or not. Because sounding like a politician, i.e. having real answers, is apparently a bad thing.

People, other than those on Hillary’s campaign, need to remind people that if they want to “make this country great again”, you actually have to know how to run the country. But who is holding Trump’s feet to the fire besides Hillary supporters?

Everyone who has a pen and pad, laptop or a voice, needs to speak up.

If you cannot prepare for a Presidential debate, which he clearly didn’t, then how are you going to prepare for meetings for our country?

I hate meetings with a passion, but when I am in charge of one, I prepare for the meeting, draft my talking points, and I can speak off the hip just as good, if not better than most, but that’s not the point.

Trump is a second-rate boyfriend getting first-rate attention. He ain’t even trying to win our heart, and he just knows we’re not paying attention to see his errors and you are going to love him anyway even when you shouldn’t.

And for those who actually care and like political debate, I am happy Hillary had to run against Bernie Sanders. She is more polished than when she debated Bernie, but it is unfortunate that we will not have more policy discussions in this presidential race unless we get a moderator with some major kahunas. Hillary will not be able to fully express her vision and it be questioned intelligently as any good politician should have to do.

I am sure many forget that Mitt Romney kind of won the first debate in 2012, because Barack Obama phoned in that day and sounded like a law school professor with his long-winded answers. Many Americans felt that he was acting like he had the next election in the bag. It was debate two that America was reminded of who Obama was. Mitt forced him to come with his A game after a good showing in the first debate. Hillary’s policy and standings will not be challenged and that worries me too. Her responses on race weren’t good enough to me, but they sounded better than Trump trying to promote Stop and Frisk.

Media, it is our responsibility to do our job. Ask questions, educate, commentate and question some more. The WSJ published an excellent article about what debate used to be, check it out here. It kind of makes me think about the role of media used to play.

I don’t want a biased view. I want a job well done.

Do your damn job. (oh, and everybody Vote)

M/P

You Really Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know

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“True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know” ― Confucius


I am a firm believer that with hard work and dedication you can accomplish just about anything that you set your mind to; it’s that optimistic gene. Optimism is just one of those things that you are born with or you’re not. You kind of can’t help it, and although, a pessimist never annoys you, you don’t quite know what their issue is with just about everything. Don’t Worry, Be Happy, right? Not quite.

What I mean to say is that I am firm believer that with hard work and dedication, the right resources, tools, and mindset, you can accomplish just about anything. See the slight difference? A lot of people choose to believe that hard work and dedication is enough to overcome obstacles such as poverty and a very difficult background, and I’m going to take a little time to disagree.

In a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted in April 23-27, 2014, asked, “ Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Because of the widening gap between the incomes of the wealthy and everyone else, America is no longer a country where everyone, regardless of their background, has an opportunity to get ahead and move up to a better standard of living.” (source) 

The majority of the poll (at 54%) agreed with this statement. Do you know why? “After adjusting for inflation, the average income of the top 5% of households grew by 38% from 1989 to 2013. …By comparison, the average real income of the other 95% of households grew less than 10%.” (Source). This is a direct quote from Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, from about a week and a half ago in her somewhat untraditional speech as the Federal Reserve chairperson. “Ms. Yellen offered extensive evidence of increasing income and wealth inequality, offering a number of figures to support her case, including lots of data from Federal Reserve’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances. The report began in 1989, and was most recently conducted in 2013 and published last month”.(Source).

I understand why she used her platform to address such an important topic, because there are too many people who don’t believe the widening income and wealth disparity has the potential to hurt the economy. Yes, people should care and help the poor and impoverished, because it is the right thing to do. BUT we are also reaching a point, not helping the less fortunate reach a modicum of success, will affect the middle and upper middle class. And every one at least agrees that America cannot survive without the middle class.

One of the ideas that continue to the current climate of the wealth/income disparity is the notion that anyone no matter where you come from in America  can reach a certain level of success; those golden days are gone. What I find surprising is that many of the people who over emphasize that anyone can take the road out of poverty are people who themselves, pulled themselves up from their bootstraps, and don’t understand why everyone else or others are struggling more and more in the current economic climate.

What people fail to understand is diversity or more plainly is that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT. But Americans can be rather selfish and egotistical. If I can do it, so can everybody else?

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People are different and come from different backgrounds, have different parents and experiences. Two children from the exact same parents, with similar upbringing and experiences, can end up very different. I think it’s insulting, as if people want to stay in a place where they cannot do better for themselves. Now wait, there is a segment of the population that is lazy, doesn’t care, and wants others to do for them forever, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT THEM. But people who don’t understand the nature or nurture of raising a child miss the point.

A few years ago, I was a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and my little sister in the program told me one day that she wanted to be a teacher, but that she was only going to work for about 3 years, because she has this back injury from when she was 9. That girl was A okay. Here I was talking to a ten year old who already knew that saying you have a disability (even though it’s not a real one) could get you out of work was disheartening. The harder part is not being able to explain to her that this “mindset” that she was taught by someone she so desperately loves and tries to win their affection is wrong.  In that capacity, I felt helpless, all I could do was try to show her a different way.

Why is this important? As James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer Riley wrote, in their Washing Post opinion piece, “Getting more poor kids into college won’t fix income inequality”, they make that the debate by the time kids make it too college, it’s too late. The major problems plaguing the K-12 education system are hurting our children’s possibility of overcoming income equality. (Source). Now, I agree that the kids cannot be raised by the school system, but if you’re surrounded by laziness, lack of hope, or simply have parents who don’t know how to help, school may be the only point of access to provide a child with a light to want and dream of more. So if our school systems are ineffectual then the possibility of changing generational curses of poverty seem to get further and further away from us. I only saw my little sister twice or three times a month, I could only show her so much; our schools have to better for our youngest children.

I am a daughter of an amazing teacher, she would be amazing by the world’s standards, because she literally won almost every teaching award possible, but what makes her truly amazing are the things she did, and continues to do are outside of the classroom (and she’s retired). I would call my Mother, the “Queen of Social Capital” for poor and underserved populations. What people fail to realize is the lack of social capital that a person/child has, can make a difference where they end up on the totem pole. The definition of social capital is the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively. But it is so much more than that, you have to first know the relationships and the network before you can begin to use it, and if you don’t know, you cannot function properly and succeed. I call my mother the Queen, because she grew up poor and reached a certain level of success, so she can relate to others who are born in a similar background, and help navigate them through the difficulties of being poor, making it through the K-12 school system successfully, and eventually college.

Now do I think it’s possible think all teachers have the capacity to do this? Not one bit. And in some communities, like Austin where I live, there are great non-profit organizations that help kids and their families obtain access to help their kids succeed. But in my mind, we need to better arm adults to improve themselves, recreate ways in America where you can improve your situation and pull yourself up from your own bootstraps, because I like that idea, but we can’t say pull up, if the bootstraps are not there.

I’ve mentioned in other posts about the never-ending, never-seems-like-they-are-going-to-fix it public assistance programs, or minimum wage problem. Not enough Americans are sitting down to discuss their differences and find a solution to this problem. But I think there’s more to it than partisan politics, I mean no one would be a loser for fixing social programs, and I believe that at the end of the day the democrats and republicans are not as far off from each others as they think are. Maybe they are, but the real truth is that “the policy preferences of the wealthy (average income over $1 million annually) vary widely from those of the general public.” – (source) . Money has seeped so far into the political system, interest groups drive many of Congress’ decisions. But pointedly, most legislators, judges, or people with influence are all rich. So unless they are truly empathetic, what is their real understanding for creating policies or reform for social policies that could really make a difference for the people. The way elections work it is hard for a person from the middle class or upper middle class who is educated to run for office.

A person who struggles to overcome the hurdles of poverty sometimes just doesn’t know exactly what to do during that journey is the same to me as a rich bureaucrat who doesn’t really know how to actually IMPROVE the system and combat wealth inequality. So please go vote, but in the next two years, let’s see if we can bring REAL change makers to the ballot.

M/P

Please comment and Share your thought! Let’s get the conversation started.