Either you are the best at what you are doing, or you are doing something that no one else is doing. Either you are the  Genesis or you are the Genius!

– Good Karma

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Easy to fail – #BlackGenius

Newark, New Jersey Educator, Tyree Barnes continues his “End of the Year Rant” with his 8th graders with a verse entitled “Too Easy to Fail”. Watch below. Like, comment, and share with your friends. #GoodKarma

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In Search of Solutions (pt.1)

Rarely do I take to social media to address these types of situations. I firmly believe that the proof a man’s faith rests in his actions not in the volume of his voice. With that being said, I too, am conscious of the need for loud voices to get points across.

However, with the recent unnecessary, heartless and illogical publicized murders of Black Men and Woman at the hands of police, I would like to share a perspective. You are free to agree, disagree or feel nothing at all. They are my thoughts.

I applaud the people that have decided to take some type of action to move communities of color forward as a result of the recent murders. However, the fact of these murders are condemning evidence that we – communities of color, poor black and brown adults and children, have not moved as far along as we thought. We are still strapped in the same shackles of our predecessors and fighting for similar rights.

In the spirit of solutions, I would first like to address the economics. It is true that Black and Brown people have tremendous economic purchasing power. But because we as a community are not directing that purchasing power to the shops, stores, institutions and organizations that have our best interest, we literally allow our muscle to generate wealth for other people and their families. (Not a stretch from what physical slavery was just a few hundred years ago.)

In the spirit of solutions, I would also like to address “ISAIAH WASHINGTON CALLS FOR 24-HOUR BOYCOTT“. Again I applaud the solution based mindset, but I fear that the practicality will not meet the goals or needs of Black and Brown communities. What are those goals anyway? Do we want officers prosecuted? Do we want community policing by citizens living in our own communities? Do we want public agencies to have a population that resembles the population of the people that they represent? Whatever the goal is, we together need to decide it and fight to ascertain that. Throwing random darts in the dark my hit someone, but the person you hit might be on your own team.

Also, what’s the alternative to the recommendation made by Mr. Washington? How can we deter people from working (and essentially eating) without giving them an alternative? I love Andre 3000’s reference to this topic on Rick Ross’ Sixteen song. Andre states,

“I feel right at home, y’all sitting right at home

All Kelly green with envy while I’m jelly beans descending

Into the palm of a child, looks up at mama and smile

With such a devilish grin, like “where the hell have you been”

She yelling that selling’s a sin, well so is telling young men

That selling is a sin, if you don’t offer new ways to win

A dolphin gon shake his fin, regardless if he gets in

Or out of water, most important thing for him is to swim”

In my opinion, he is comparing the idea of selling drugs as an essential ingredient of survival in the hood. I grew up there. I’m not saying he is correct, but will not say that he is wrong. In the previous line he also states that if selling drugs is a sin, it is also a sin to tell young men not to sell drugs if you do not offer them an alternative. Now, I will say that this is indeed something that I agree with. If you are going to tell people to not work, shop, or participate in the social fabrics of society – they should be offered an additional alternative. A great example of what this looks like is the Birmingham Bus Boycott. (Birmingham, Alabama)
Normally, when the boycott recommendation is made, it is made alongside the Birmingham Bus Boycott of 1955. Initiated by the Great Rosa Parks and eventually led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. They carried it out to much success I might add. However, it is often neglected to be mentioned that during those boycotts people pulled together and carpooled because they refused to use public transportation. Black Taxi owners also charged less to transport people back and forth to work. Black leaders brokered deals with insurance agencies when they were threatened with car insurance companies pulling the policies of these people carpooling. There was strategy, goals and tactics. In short, the people found a way to protest economically, insuring wounds to their defined enemy with as minimal interruption to the needs for survival and stability by those participating in. A 24 hour protest does not ensure the people get the changes that they need, it merely makes a statement that will likely receive press but, in the end, no action (of substantial change) will be taken upon.

Just think about it. This boycott had all of the making of a Political uprising, and what they were able to accomplish was not something that is comparable to end racial profiling, intentional murdering of Blacks and Browns or even the prosecution of those that were carrying out such acts. They were only able to desegregate the buses. The next Day Dr. King’s house was fired upon, a young black girls was jumped exiting the bus, there was a sniper attack on a bus where a pregnant woman was shot and churches were bombed. With all of their strategy and tactics, they were only able to desegregate the buses and the rest of Montgomery remained in turmoil.

Finally, as an educator, I know the difference between time on task and time off task. I do not allow my students to spend time off task. There are no fights, there are no crimes, there are very little arguments and there is a whole bunch of learning happening. That learning is essential given that a vast majority of Black and Brown communities are under-educated – I mean 2-3 grade levels behind where they should be. Can I afford to not go to work tomorrow? Well, I have a salary, so I will get paid, but more importantly, how can I let my students down, by not going to work tomorrow. (I believe that there are a host of others who are torn between these very two ideas about work in just a few hours. However, I do not speak for them. I am only giving my perspective. But I encourage you to ask teachers of color and school administrators of color if they agree that somethings needs to be done and if they are still going to work tomorrow. Ask EOF counselors and professors responsible to helping students make a change in their lives and in the world, if they will go to work tomorrow.)

In closing I say, if we are already divided on the idea that some of us will go to work and some of us will not, in an act of protest, can this strategy actually be effective? Businesses can run in the red, and their owners can stimulate them from the profits earned in prior years. There is no quick fix to this problem. It is ingrained in the very fabric of this country and the only changes that can come about are structural changes.

We need to go to work.

We need to go to work organizing our communities.

We need to go to work growing ourselves.

We need to go to work attaining Power.

Power respects power and nothing else. When the power structure is threatened by your absence of participation in it, or willingness to accept mediocre from it, only then will they begin to address your concerns. That can’t happen in 24 hours.

That only happens when communities are built. Schools are thriving. People have jobs. Needs are met. And people are generally happy. Those people will fight to see the indictment of a killer of a black man or woman, albeit a police officer, pope or anyone else because that person threatens the life and lifestyle. And on the contrary the structure would feel compelled to indict that person because they don’t want to risk losing all that your people and community are contributing to the system. At that point, you have power.

 

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Racist Power > Black Power

“If a white man wants to Lynch me, that’s his problem. If he got the power to Lynch me, that’s my problem. Racism is not question of attitude, it’s a question of power!”

-Stokely Carmichael

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This quote immediately puts me in the frame of mind of what is power and what are those steps that one must take to be able to attain power. Are those challenges to gain accesses to the same levers of power equitable? (Education) Are some people more likely to attain power? (Statistical Analysis) Why and how? (History and Tradition)

Black people and all people of color, or people who feel that they are being positioned as inferior due of their race, need to seek the Power of Racism! In comparison to Black Power, the powerful phrase coined by the great Stokely Carmichael, the power of Racism is worth much more and is a greater resource at this moment in history.

The purpose of Black Power is to empower us, Black people, and protect us from Racism. The power of Racism is built on disenfranchising Black people, and all people of color. The difference is, Racism has the structural support to enforce its ills. Black Power, albeit extremely successful at the local level, does not have the structural support to support prejudices, biases, enforce the discrimination of people, take away rights or neutralize the power of Racism – which is the ultimate goal. Racism has all of the above mentioned advantages that Black Power seek. If we had these abilities, we too would be able to do nonsense things such as discriminate and disenfranchise people, but more importantly, we would be able to neutralize the structural racism, empower those discriminated against and create a better world.

With all that has been going on in the world recently, both published by the media and unpublished, it’s not hard to see racial tension in today’s world. Recently, I walked through the streets of Washington DC and I physically experienced a poem that I was never able to write on my own. As I walked and observed one of my favorite American cities, I watched 3 black boys sitting on a make shift stoop to my right. You could tell that they were just hanging out, not bothering anyone. They seemed comfortable, as if they were doing something that they did often. Who knows? However, on my left side, there were 2 white police officers walking towards me. All 3 groups crossed paths at the same time and there I was standing dead center. I found myself stuck in the thought of irony- if you believe in that type of thing.

In an unfamiliar neighborhood, I asked myself, “Who should I be afraid of? The black boys to my right or the Police officers to my left?” The moment passed in slow motion. The black boys looked at the police officers with a silent, lingering face of disgust. Their facial expressions and tracking of the officers walk proved the lack of satisfaction with the white officers. Their decision to not confront the police officers, concluded that they were not in a position, nor did they believe that they had the power to initiate such an interaction about the current events. On my other side, the fidgety walk of uncertainty by the police officers was slightly masked by their conditioned walk of confidence – the out-poked chess. The police officers avoided looking at the black boys, and that was the proof that they were just as nervous as the boys were. Indeed, there is an extreme racial tension within the community.

The recent deaths of Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and countless others have led to the ongoing discussion of racism and a “white” power structure is at the forefront of the conversation. My response to it all is: seek the Power of Racism. NO, I am not saying that you should become a racist – that would be stupid. However, I am proclaiming that if we wish to have justice the way that we yell in protest about, march and post on social media about, then we must have the same power as those that are refusing us justice. If it is racism that we are seeking to unshackle ourselves from, then we must have the same levels of power that those supporting racism. We must have at least the same power of the structures that uphold the ideology and preferences of racism.  Attaining that power renders us effective, not racist.

You read stories all the time of how slaves were not able to read. Why? Slaves were not able to write. Why? Slaves were stripped of their native tongue and not able to speak to the whites as equals. Why? The ability to confront the opposition as an equal neutralizes of the Power structure that is unjustly carrying out the oppression. You may want to compare that lack of educational opportunity to the educational opportunities offered in today’s schools.

Today we can read, write, speak to white people as equals and we still are fighting for justice in America. What are we to do? We are to seek the power of Racism. If you are from a community like the one where I grew up or it is practically impossible for you to be racist. Until you have the power to do that, you cannot neutralize the Power of racism.

Racism is a structural thing. Racism denotes that you not only have a personal bias and/ or prejudice, (I think we all have them in one way or another) but you also have the power to structurally enforce that prejudice through systematic discrimination, violence, and the denial of civil rights. I don’t know about you, but the people in my community may have the personal biases, but we do not have the power to structurally enforce our biases or deny other people their rights. Therefore, we can’t be racists. And that’s why the power of racism is much more powerful and much more useful than the amazing, well respected and life altering Black Power! We should continue to march and raise awareness. But we must more  actively seek positions of power and leadership. In these positions, if we cannot raise our people to the stature that we wish, we can at least neutralize the forces against us – the ones assisting in building the barriers to our success as a people, a community, a society and a better world.

Now, I know that the response to this article will be along the lines of, “we can never have the level of power of those that deny us justice” and “you are disrespecting the legacy of The Black Panther Party for Self Defense” or other derogatory means, in an effort to avoid actually listening to my argument, but I encourage you to look just a little deeper to understand a young brother.

If I design a system, there is no way that you can convince that system to benefit you more than it can benefit me. I designed it! And when I designed it, I had two objectives in mind.

 

  1. Make me the winner every time, or as close to every time as possible.
  2. Ensure that this system lives and carry out these two objectives.

 

The system is designed for the sustaining of the system, just as your biological system is. You are designed for self-preservation at your very core. Do you believe me? Ask any serious drug dealer about politics, law and order, or what it takes to run a business. I am sure that 8 out of 10 have an in depth understanding of how they all work. From social influence, to start-up capital, to credit and controlling the neighborhood through positive imagery. They may not use the same language, that’s produced by years of study at the University, but the ideas will match. The question now becomes, “If these drug dealers understand these concepts, why aren’t they applying the knowledge instead ruining their lives by dealing drugs?” My response is simple yet again. When the drug dealer began, it was because of the need for food, clothing and shelter, the basic needs. The system will do whatever it has to do to ensure it’s survival.

In other words. They are using Black Power – responding to the situation at hand. Reactive. If these “drug-dealers” were able to harness the Power of racism, which would put them as an equal and not as an inferior to their counterparts, they would have never elected to become drug dealers in the first place. They may just be CEOs of fortune 500 companies, of the latest tech guru, or maybe the President of the United States. You see the difference?

 

I digress.

 

With the tools and access that we have today, we can maneuver through the system in a way that no other generation of people have been able to. We can make the system benefit us. That’s half of the battle. What’s the other half? Well, the other half has to do with populations. I learned this cool trick from following Politics. In Politics you either have people, or you have money, but you can’t have both. This is why Politicians have endorsement deals with one another. The winner of every election either has the grassroots support in a large quantity, or they have the money that will convince other politicians with large followings to support them, thus gaining the other politician’s population of supporters. If ever any of these men were racist, this would be an example of wielding the power of racism to ensure that they accomplish their goals, whatever they may be. The power of racism is proactive approach, the power of Black Power is a defensive one, responding to situations as they occur. (This is just one example) Am I still wrong for wanting to attain the power and ability to be a racist? Not to be a racist, but to harness the same power as those that are racist.

Paradoxical? Controversial? Stupid? A game? Maybe, but I have heard all of those words used to describe life at one point or another. So what’s so different about the idea of wielding the power of racism? It is paradoxical. Life is paradoxical. How many of the paradoxical lines listed below have you used to describe life? …

  1. The guy that chases behind all of the girls all of the time, is wanted by none of the girls want to be with him. 
  2. The more available something is, the less you will want it
  3. The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know
  4. The only certainty in life is that nothing can ever be known for certain
  5. The only constant is change

The paradoxes in life are the things that keep the balance. They neutralize each other. You need rest in order to work hard right? Yielding the power of racism, and not becoming a racist is the lever that ensures that you nor your people become victims of racism. “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?” (I love that line!) Nothing! If we want the justice that we yell about, we need to move from yelling about it, to building its actual structure. The immovable object is there, what role will you play in building the unstoppable force?

The World Is Yours!

The Purpose of Education

Education is the most important industry to be involved in. It is the space where the next leader, tech genius, and inventor will all travel before he or she blossoms into amazing they shall be.As far as I’m concerned, education will only do one of two things for us as a society and as a people. It will either give students the tools to promote and continue the current structure of society. Or education will give people the tools and resources to change the current structure if society for the better.
We call one of these two indoctrination and the other education. I assume you can decipher which is which. 
When we think about the time in history when public school was created, we see industrialization. A time of factories and steam powered everything was the way of life. Factories and steel had overtaken the world. In preparation to meet the future needs of more workers coupled with the need for people to provide food and shelter for their families, we see the decision makers of society taking action. They created public education. They created the future workers. Every recognized member of society would have the opportunity to learn -and for free. At least that was the pitch giving to the general public. More importantly is the curriculum from which they would learn. You guessed it. It’s specifically those tools needed to promote and turn the wheels of industrialism. Namely, they are taught to carry out the status quo. 
In the last few years, education has become a major topic of discussion and investigation. There are many reasons for the national debate. However, the main reason that this has come to the forefront and the national stage is not one built entirely on the strategy and knowledge of the puppet masters. Nor is it the complete uprising of people trying to reclaim the system. Both of these are a part of the dynamic change that’s occurring across the world, the other and main reason has more to do with the setting, and less to do with the inhabitants. 
  
The current form of education was designed for industrialization, built an models on the wants and needs of industrialization. The truth is, industrialization is a thing of the past. With its passing away, those things built and designed in its image shall do the same. As a result, bye bye to the traditional way of educating society. 
People have always wanted to change the system, but with this truth, the advantage goes to reforms and change. Most people will be resistant. That’s human nature. Most people are resistant to change. Even if that change is for the better. They will naturally resist. Most people also pay $50,000 for a Car that they leave parked all day, while they work at a job that they hate, to pay for the house that they leave unoccupied all day so that they can raise a family that they don’t spend nearly as much time with. That’s not human nature. But the majority of the population cope with it just fine and the will resist changing from it.

The passing of the Industrial Age and the birth of the Information Age has created an entirely new market. This new market is a global one not bound by the boarders of countries or geography. They are international. There are MOOCs and online universities. There are apps for grading homework and apps that solve the math problems once you take a picture of the problem. I send my students 4 minute video clips on every topic that we study in the classroom for their assistance during HW. Charter and other alternative schools are popping up everywhere and students spend more focused time on the digital world than they do in the actual classroom. It’s debatable if they learn more in the classroom or on the Internet. 

It’s a different world, and the same tool can’t be used to solve the old world’s problems. Those that are most capable and able to solve the problem should be the ones to do so. In this case, those that are most In tune with a digital society. The only way that we can solve the problems of today and prevent some of the problems of the future is to find those people most equipped, and to pair the wisdom of the past generations, the elders. We need to out the wisdom with the know how. 

To you Millennials I say, “You are the know how. We must earn the wisdom of the elders. The world is yours!”

No more Smart People (from GK2 “The World is Yours”)

  
In my profession, it’s easy to find things to complain about. With so many moving parts, one inadequate activity can lead to the next, causing a snowball effect. Of all of those things, the one that bothers me most is a specific thought process. It’s a rationalization. It bothers me most when I encounter a kid and they have the audacity to tell me that they cannot do something, because they’re not smart. I feel the same way when I get that response from adults too. It hurts me. It actually hurts society as well when many people do not think this way. For whatever reason, they just believe this fallacy. Maybe someone shattered their dreams as a kid. Or took the opportunity to discourage them instead of breathing life into them. They may have had a bad experience in the classroom. They may have been criticized or judged based on not knowing something that their peers understood to be fools play. But for whatever reason, they considered themselves and maybe considered by others, to be “not smart”. The causes can be a range of things, but the result is the same – they perceive themselves as not being smart. But the result of this thinking, of this mind-set is a crippling one. It’s a result that diminishes all future opportunities to come. Because of this mindset, many of these people live lives never maximizing their potential, never fulfilling their genius and never really living a life of fulfillment. 

I’ve been lucky enough to believe the opposite. The truth is I have been called smart so many times that if I didn’t believe it to be true, I would consider it an option. Even when I was a child and my siblings picked on me, they did so in saying that I was smart. Sometimes, so smart that I was stupid, but smart none the less. I mean, the good comes with the bad and I have also been called many other things synonymous with not so. The fact remains though, I do have some level of intellectual capacity and other people have recognized it.

Don’t believe me? Here are some things that I often think about. Compare them with your regular thoughts. Are we similar in this regard?
When communication speeds up, the world becomes smaller. Look at the printing press. Look how it changed the world. 

We see the same thing happening with the development of transportation. The car, train and plane all forever changed society. 

Continuing this trend, the pay phone, cell phone, email, and text message all reshaped the world. The emoji has made significant contributions in the past few years as well.

All of these things have not only changed our lives and the world around us, it’s changed us. It changed our attention spans, patience levels and even the physiology of our brains. 

I know other things too. Like the brain can’t distinguish between real life and imagined reality. One study showed that athletes performing an athletic task had mirroring brain functions of athletes just visualizing the same talk in their mind. The brain couldn’t tell the difference. 

If schools could accurately determine mans purpose in society, wouldn’t they do a better job of preparing them for it?

I also know that 2 out of every 3 students that can’t read by the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Pretty sobering statistics huh?

I think a “smart guy” is living up there somewhere.
Unfortunately for my ego, and fortunately for all of us, the reality is, none of those things make me smart. Not even the questions. I truly believe that the questions are more important than the answers, but even the questions proposed above, result from a gathering of factual information and intelligence. And the fact that I may have some questions that my peers do not, proves that I either have more information than they do or I’m simply focused on different things. I’m sure that someone somewhere knows more than me and I am also sure that you too can learn those things in a blink of an eye. With the development of the Internet, information is free and with the development of technology, that free information is at the disposal. It’s literally waiting to be summoned by you. You have access to it at any moment. 

I recently went to a lecture on the city with an author and an employee of the new social media craze “Snapchat”. They talked about a host of things but what I found to be particularly intriguing was when they talked about modern libraries. The two jointly found it fascinating that kids were visiting cellphone and computer stores at alarming rates. They weren’t visiting to make a purchase, they were visiting to update their Facebook statuses and check their emails. They were visiting to access the world’s information.

Are these children smart for capitalizing on such an opportunity?

I’d say that they are smart. I’d also bet that the creators of theses brick and mortar stores nor the developers of the products predicted that this would be a phenomenon .

What I have found out is smart is not a thing that you have or that you don’t have. The brain is a muscle and it must be used in order to be improved. What proves the intelligence that many people have determined that I have, is the same thing that the students inside the cellphone store are using. It’s the thing that is incorrectly being viewed as “smart”. That thing is the ability to look at these seemingly isolated ideas, outside of their intended purposes, connect them and do so in a way to accomplish a specific task. In the case of the students, uploading a Facebook status and staying connected to an ever connected society. In my case, being able to pull together the details of this article, thus proving to you that smart is not a thing, and the proof of intelligence is only in the actions and creations you bring to life. 

The world is truly yours, you have to first believe it yourself.