Monday, September 19, 2016

PUBLIC SCHOOL INTEGRATION IS NOW PUBLIC SCHOOL GENTRIFICATION

A post I put up here: http://www.yophillyed.org/real-stories/public-school-integration-is-now-public-school-gentrification/

I was on a Twitter Chat the other day in light of the backlash from the article in the Inquirer written by Kristen Graham. The post received much reaction to what was supposed to be a feel good story. A lot of the reaction was disappointment, anger, and a feeling of neglect. Ms. Graham wrote an article detailing the experience of a white couple who chose a traditional district school over a charter school. While this may seem harmless as you read this, it’s important to note that this couple is white and they moved into a predominately Black neighborhood, which is why this appears to be a feel good story. Long story short, the article and couple were hammered on social media because there was a lack of regard for race and economics in the article. It was very neglectful and some felt it was disrespectful to the families that live in this community in Southwest Philadelphia.
I joined in on the moderated chat which I’m sure left out some very strong opinions and voices on the matter. In the course of this chat, the wife, Jill Scott, kept responding to me and others with this tone of integration. She said people can choose to attend a district school to help with integration. I proceeded to roll my eyes every time I felt she used that word because I don’t think she even understands what that word means in low-income Black neighborhoods. She mentioned how it is better for the community and for schools. I don’t think she really understand that integration is now White people’s word for gentrification.
Now this may come off as harsh but let’s really unpack this. When we look back in history there were many attempts at integration of people of color into predominately White neighborhoods and White people ran for the hills (suburbs). This is called White Flight. It never fails. However, conversely, when white people begin to “integrate” into poor Black neighborhoods, there is no Black Flight. There is systematic Black Eviction. Whether on purpose or by happenstance, this is what happens. We have seen this before in cities like Chicago with the Cabrini Green housing project and here in the Northern Liberties located in North Philadelphia.
So when I hear Mrs. Scott say that integration is best for the schools, while that may be true, she just does not get it. If integration was best, there would never have existed the idea of White Flight. But that isn’t the case. Most white people are not moving into poor areas of Philadelphia to be martyrs for someone else’s child, at the risk of their own child not being where they need to be in their educational journey. Integration, in this day, intentional or not, is gentrification.
Systematically, it gets more and more difficult for poor people to remain in their neighborhoods when white people begin to move there. The schools, which may have been low-performing, may begin to take shape and become better schools for all who live in the neighborhood. More resources become available and stores in the neighborhood become more costly than what residents before were used to. In turn, because of the “upgrades”, longtime residents become displaced because they can no longer afford to live in the communities they grew up in.
And is there a plan of true integration to make sure that this doesn’t happen? Not really. While these families are advocating and securing better things for the neighborhood and schools, they do it on behalf of themselves and not so much the community. It’s almost an air of “be happy you have this now.” It’s unspoken but the message is passing through the community. These newcomers aren’t talking to the families who presently live in these neighborhoods when the advocacy ideas are in formation. They aren’t inviting the current residents of these communities to sit at the organizing table. So changes begin to take shape in spite of the longtime residents instead of for them. So again I say, “Integration is now White people’s word for gentrification”.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Alton Sterling: What They Destroyed...

I went to bed last night  after seeing the heinous video of Alton Sterling being destroyed by the Baton Rouge police. I was so tired from the night before my emotions and my ability to really take in what I had just seen were impaired. I woke this morning refreshed and renewed. I turn on the news and I see that in a matter of hours, this story has blown up. My emotions and my ability to comprehend and process wheat I had seen the night before are now at full strength. I kept reading post after post about the outrage and the pain people in the Black community were feeling. I get to work and I see the replay of the son and mother's press conference. I see the pain in the eyes of a son who will know the depths of pain that the daughter of Eric Garner felt. I cried. I couldn't hold it in any longer. The pain of seeing another black man destroyed was just too much. But that is not all they destroyed.

First things first, they destroyed another Black body. As I watched the video, I can't help but sympathize with his body and be full of sadness at the way they literally beat and destroyed his Black body. First they shot him with two Tasers. He did not go down. They proceeded to tackle him with a blinding force that I'm sure caught him off guard. His hands are up and one of the officers attempts to tackle him to the ground. Then he is slammed on a car. He is then wrestled on the floor with his limbs being contorted in ways that I'm sure were causing him great pain. He is then pinned to the ground with all freedom being taken from the movement of his body. Then, finally and sadly, they removed the life from his body. I watched that video burning with anger, overwhelmed with sadness, and numb with the fear of not knowing if I will ever be able to trust the police with concern for my Black life.

The next thing police destroyed was another Black family. In this day and age where we are crying for the return of the Black family, we saw another Black family destroyed today. Yes, they will have their mother always but who knows the effect of this crime, because that what it is, and the lasting aftermath this will have on the family. Watching the son cry at the news conference crying, " I want my daddy" says all that needs to be said about how much he meant to their family. What they did was make that family incomplete. They left them vulnerable to be a part of another racist joke. They put that family in a case study of another family that has to grow up without a father and its effect. In some of these studies, we should really talk about how many of these single-parent households have been destroyed by the police.

The last thing, for the sake of the length this post, that was destroyed our Black peace yet again. I could go on and on but I will highlight this by quoting a few friends on FB:

"‪#‎AltonSterling‬ if you need to watch a video of police assassinating someone to sympathize with the ongoing struggles of a people who have suffered most from centuries of genocide, senseless killings and brutalities by excessive force....I question you. This country is not going to be satisfied until black people completely RISE UP. Enough. ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬" - Rashida Olayiwola

"I am sitting here with tears having not only watched that video but the press conference where his son broke down...I got two boys and this is crazy" - Talae Perry

"...this is tiring" - Kevin Davis

"#brianjohnson- Sometimes u gotta look at your name in a hashtag to know you're no different from Alton...it's him today and could be YOU tomorrow" - Brian O'Neal Johnson

"My heart is heavy.. Being Black is exhausting some days. Today is one of those days. I can't watch the video. I refuse. O literally don't have the mental or emotional capacity to process. Me not watching is an act of self-love. Each day I'm going to prioritize self-love, because I live in a world that constantly tells me I'm no worthy. I love myself so that I can love my community. My community is need of all the love, in all its iterations and manifestations. - Precious Alexandra

...thank you for taking a look into My Thoughts...










Thursday, June 23, 2016

I Think I Like Me

Have you ever stopped, sat down, and thought about your life? You ever thought about the person you were when you were younger? Maybe even 6 months ago? You ever thought about some of the decisions you made? You ever thought about some of the beliefs that you had? Do you feel the same about those beliefs now as you did then? Would you make some of those same decisions now?

Anyone who knows me very well knows that I think very highly of myself, at times to a fault I admit. To the point where some may call me arrogant, an ass, self-centered, etc. Some of those are fair from time to time. Anyone who knows me knows that if you are my friend, I'm down for you no matter what. I can't say I will always be a perfect friend but truly, if you need me, I will make a way for you. I digress. Anyway, I was sitting thinking about my life a few years ago. I asked myself this question: Would I hang out with myself 5 years ago? Hell, a year ago. I sat long and hard about this and my answer was a resounding: NO.  I look back at myself the and the decisions I was taking with my life. The direction I was going. The way I viewed things in my life. The way I viewed things of this world. I really wouldn't want to be my friend, let alone kick it with me. I tucked a lot of it away so many wouldn't see. But those who did, I'm sorry. I really am.

"Life is about growth and evolution. Life is about treating people well. Life is full of joy and pain.   Life is a process. You should be looking to do better than what you were doing yesterday." I mean that when I say that. That should always be on the forefront of our minds. Progression and self-improvement. Whether it is spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, etc. I have progressed my life in some areas. I want to get to a point where I wouldn't want to hang out with me 5 years from now. Not because I was doing something wrong but because the person 5 years from today SHOULD and WILL be better. I want my 5 year self to thank my present self...thank you for taking a look in to My Thoughts...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

This One is for LeBron

LeBron James. That name rings so many volumes in America today. Good volumes for some and bad volumes for others. These days, it seems like more bad ones. I can honestly say, I feel for him on this one. He has been made to be public enemy number one in sports and the man has not committed a crime. The way people spew so much hate for him, you would think he is an ex-con getting a second chance in life. He did nothing wrong to anyone. The ONLY people who could have legitimately disliked him would be any basketball fan in the state of Ohio and maybe Miami now. The way he left Cleveland was just all bad but he came back and redeemed himself.  The guy has been called LeBitch, LeBrick, or any other vile variation of his name. He has been called arrogant, which I can't see. He has been called a cry-baby, no more than any of those paper soft Golden State Warriors stars/divas. He said something a while ago that I HOPE HE STILL STANDS BY, “All the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal. But they have to get back to the real world at some point.”

Obviously, he doesn't play for the Miami Heat anymore but the message still rings true. I have a friend who will remain nameless, Chaston Montgomery, who always finds a way to hate on LeBron James. Sometimes I feel he says things just to agitate people. I can admit, he gets under my skin at time. But after this NBA Finals in which LeBron stayed true to his promise, no one can really ever give him guff ever again. He brought his team down from 3-1. He put the team on his back and did something that was reminiscent of the Boston Red Sox coming back from a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees. It felt all but over when Cleveland went down 3-1. When they won game 5, there was still the linger of they can't win in Golden State. That game LeBron and Kyrie Irving put the team on their backs and dropped 41 points each. Game 6. I was scared that Golden State would again pop champagne in the locker room of the Cavaliers. King James said no! Strapped the team on his back for ANOTHER 41-point performance, including 18 straight points for Cleveland. How great is that?!?! Game 7. Can The King close? A huge block on Iguadala, a triple-double, and huge shot from Kyrie Irving sealed the deal. The Cleveland Cavaliers had won their 1st NBA Championship.

It started with a promise from LeBron just two short years ago. And he stayed true to his promise. The emotions, ugly cry, on his face were powerful and yet, heart-warming. LeBron James made true to his promise! I'm proud of him! He is the best basketball player of this era hands down! Many can say Kobe was and that would be fair. But for me, Kobe wouldn't have been able to bring this team back from these odds. LeBron did what he has done on every team he has been on: made everyone around him better and made them believe in a new possible. Richard Jefferson expressed this sentiment best: "I owe my entire basketball career to him. I’ll give you a little walk down right now. I lost the national championship game to Duke, then I lost two straight NBA Finals, then my third year we lost to Detroit after being up 3-2 and they won the championship, then I lost to Miami and they won the championship, then to top it off I went to the Olympics and we were the worst team of all time. My whole career has been so, so close. Then I had a stretch of six to seven years where you become a little bit of a journeyman. To be able to get on a team and walk in with a guy that says he’s going to be able to carry you and bring me here, I owe everything, every shot, every play, everything I’ve ever done to that man."

Well done LeBron. Mama, there goes that man!


Friday, June 3, 2016

My Greatest Enemy is My Inner Me

My greatest enemy is not some person who loves to run their mouth about me. My greatest enemy is not there person who hurt my feelings in some way that I still haven't recovered from. My greatest enemy is myself. I think that goes for everyone.
We all have a tendency to work so hard against ourselves. Why do we do it? I have no clue. It's so counterproductive and so dumb but we do it over and over again for a multitude of reasons. I do it a lot to myself as well. Telling myself lies which become truths because I let myself be conformed to these malicious thoughts against my own self. We all let these things happen. It manifests itself in a variety of ways. In our self conflicts, family conflicts , weight loss, school , relationships, etc. The hard part about is the enemy it knows where exactly to hit us.
But the good thing is we know everything about our enemy. That little voice in our heads that kills us can be transformed into a great supporter. Myles Munroe said this: "It takes just as much faith to believe you are going to fail as it takes to believe you will succeed. You might as well use that faith properly." We have to learn to do that at all times...thank you for taking a look into My Thoughts...

Friday, May 27, 2016

Are You Willing to Change?

That is a very difficult question for many to answer. Many of us want to say that we are willing to do what it takes to change our lives when needed until we really see what all that change requires. Many of us are scared of what the change actually means. We are scared of how the change will turn our world around. Sometimes that change means building new habits, stepping out on faith with no guarantees, let go of old habits, letting some new people in, or letting some old people go. A life without change is a costly one. All change does not have to be dramatic changes. It could be small things that can be the difference between a good life and a great life. But friend, reader, passerby, etc change is inevitable. Positive or negative.

"Only idiots refuse to change their minds." Have you been the idiot before? Lord knows I have. I let my refusal to change and evolve cost me a lot. It has cost me money, people, my sanity, my happiness. Out of all of those, losing people hurts the most. I feel that everything else can be fixed because you have more control over the other things. People, you can't control. I lost some very good people in my life because of my refusal to be a better person. I had an opportunity to change my thought process many a time, and I didn't. Then when you look up and you finally change yourself, it's sometimes too late. DON'T BE AN IDIOT. Listen carefully and pay attention to the signs. You may value money more. You can lose that as well with a mind that positions itself in a false sense of invincibility. Don't do it. It ain't worth it.

"You cannot change what you refuse to confront." This is simple yet powerful. If you aren't willing to admit that something is off and it needs your attention, you'll be stuck. I loved to gamble. Well, I won and lost a lot. Lost more than I won. Needless to say, I made things so much harder on myself. I alienated some people who cared for me and pushed them away. I chose not to confront the issue. Me. I let it run its toll and man, what a mistake. When I looked up, I felt reduced to nothing. Turned to dumb habits. Again, I pushed some people who actually wanted to help away. Almost cost myself my gig. Finally, when I looked up and so many things I had were gone, I knew it was time. Don't refuse to confront things because when you finally come up for air, what you went in with will most likely be gone. Again, some you can recoup. Other things, nope!

"Don't be afraid to change. It can lead to a new beginning." This is the exciting part if you stay committed. Victory in this process is commitment. Commit yourself to the new beginning and the betterment of your life. It's not ignoring what leads to the change because that is your fuel! It's using what lead you to this point and going after what is yours! Maybe it's more money, a new relationship, building a new experience, etc! It can be so exciting. Don't be scared. Not all change is exciting. It can be leaving a job you felt comfortable, a bad relationship, moving to a new home with no friends or family. But go for it. Be willing to make the change. You will be better for it. And if it's a change that isn't done in haste, more than likely, you'll be OK. Don't make a change quickly cause something bad happened and use that to drown your feelings about it. I can almost guarantee it won't. In time, maybe. But in the short term, don't fool yourself. I see people leave jobs in anger or hurt, go elsewhere and be miserable. I've seen people leave other people and still haven't worked out their feelings. I have done it and it rarely ever worked out for me. I'm sure we all have at one point. In the public, it's all fine and dandy. In private, our minds take us places. It happens. But change positively.

"Be strong enough to sacrifice what you are doing now for what needs to be done." Be strong enough to leave your place of comfort. Bad experiences can change good people. Bad experiences can make you into someone you don't want to be and the refusal to change will be painful. Regret, regret, regret will set in. So do yourself a favor now and be willing to change....thank you for taking a look into My Thoughts...


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Be Your Biggest Fan

Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves - or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth. - Ayn Rand

I think that everyone is born with something special inside them. We are all born with something inside of us that could be used to serve the world in some form or fashion. And some of us need our gifts to be cultivated. I believe I have gifts that I already know what to do with and some gifts I know need to be cultivated in me through experience and mentorship. But all that mess means nothing if I don't believe in my own potential. And that is a problem with many of us. We fail to believe in our own potential of being great.

Most people let their greatness be foiled in their own minds sadly. Most people detonate the bombs on their own potential. It's pretty sad. Negativity impedes intention. It gives excuses to complacency. The potential that we have in us can be killed with all that negativity. I'm looking in my own workplace as of late in my own experience. The pain of going into that office was whooping on me. I gave myself all reasons as to why I was not going to give it my best that day. I complained more and more. That wasn't my style either but the more I let negative thoughts creep in, the more I let that negativity out on display. I lost focus on what's important. And also I let my gifts, which served me well earlier in the job, go to waste. I stopped working on myself and my growth.

If you believe in your potential, stick with doing it. If you grow your potential, you will definitely go places. Stop waiting on the perfect opportunity and start working on you right now. Life should be a constant interview. Putting your gifts on display at all times.  Believe in your potential and keep working at it to establish your greatness! I plan to again at my job. I want to show them.that potential they saw in me was no sham. I got this. You got this...thank you for taking a look into My Thoughts...

Monday, February 29, 2016

I'm the Problem. I'm the Solution

I said this on Facebook the other day, " The hardest thing for unhappy people to do is: Make Changes". That is such a true statement in itself. Many of us, don't want to execute the change that could be the difference in our happiness.

We sadly dwell in our unhappiness and settling more often than what we need to in life. Why do we do that? It seems unfathomable that we would subject ourselves to that level of complacency but we do it far too often. I have always said my greatest enemy is my inner me. That is the truth. How many times have we told ourselves what we can't do? Do you catch yourself just being the least hopeful about your situation while everyone around you believes in you?

Sometimes our problem is that we talk a lot about what we want for our lives and our future but haven't exactly taken the steps to get there. I blogged about this earlier, about how we settle into our comfort zones. I know that I settled in mine in a few areas. I nearly lost some things that meant a lot to me because of it and rightfully so. I got complacent in my success and there is no security in comfort. Sounds weird right? Again there is no security in comfort. Comfort can make you weak. Comfort can ruin ambition. When you're uncomfortable that's where you dig deep and make demands of yourself to be better.

So the solution is simple: Make changes. Some people say, "I'm afraid of change. Or I don't take change well." Well work through it because what you're doing now isn't working! We are our biggest barriers in life sometimes and I know that drives us nuts at times. I know it does to me when I get my head out of my ass to realize it. Change isn't easy by no means, but what do you lose by trying something different? We all can be the answer to our problems if we are willing to change...thank you for taking a look into My Thoughts...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Red Flags

The color Red. When we think of the color red, we think of it being the color of passion. Think about it. When we see women in very provocative/sexy red dresses, eyes and loins become excited. A lot of lingerie is red. On Valentine’s Day, there is so much red on that day. Hearts are red. Roses are red and are seen as the typical flowers to be sent. But sometimes the red means something else. Stop. Do not pass go. Something is wrong to the point you should not try and pass this point. That is the red we often try to ignore in life. Those red flags.

Why are we so afraid of those red flags in our lives? Could it be those red flags mean you have to stop this route to your desired destination? Possibly. Honestly, people hate to acknowledge the red of halting or correction. Yet, we have a tendency to blitz through those red flags and signs because we want it our way, on our terms. Often times that is a mistake. Red sometimes means you need to be saved from yourself.

Let’s look at it…

Some people in our lives are trying to show you the red flags. There will be some people who will come in our lives who we don’t want to believe are not good for us so instead we ignore all the red flags. Big mistake. You have to look at the red flags and address them. It will help guide your decision making on how/if you should move forward with your relationship. I am a firm believer you should confront those red flags early with the person. I think you should give the other party an opportunity to correct/change what gives you pause. There are extreme cases you just say 2 fingers: Peace! As I said, there are some red flags we have to acknowledge. Acknowledge this person may not need to be in your life. Not because they are a bad person, and they may be, but because the pain of this relationship may be a bit too much. You could catch yourself hurting all the time at the very things which gave you pause from the beginning. Please, don’t do that to yourself. Be strong and walk away. You won’t see it now but you have done yourself and that party the biggest favor.

Sometimes the job you are trying to show you the red flags. We have jobs where we are feeling under-appreciated and we are not growing. Those are red flags you MUST pay attention to if you plan to grow yourself into a better person over all. I have been at jobs where I’m like, “why am I doing this?’ I know I need the check but seriously, I am not going anywhere. Particularly, a few years ago, I left a job I loathed. I knew I wasn’t passionate about it. The job I left it for was so great. I made more $$. I got to display talent and learn some newer ones. That job lost funding and I ended up back at the previous one. I told myself maybe I could like it a bit more now that I know the ropes. The same red flags that made me leave smacked me right in my face in week 2 of me being there. For 4 months daily, I applied to new jobs and interviewed for ones I didn’t get. I knew if I stayed there too long, I would never be where I am today. I work a job which has afforded me to live in two cities, let me be part of real strategy building, makes me feel appreciated, and cares about the places I want to grow in.

I could ramble on about more scenarios but it’s unnecessary. Just be sure to be sure you are looking at the red flags in your life. Confront them. If there is nothing you can do to make them go away when it’s in the control of another party, then move on. That is in your control…thank you for taking a look into My Thoughts… 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

It's the Principle of the Matter

OK. I am trying to be a man of more principle. I think we all would like to view ourselves as people of principle. At least I hope. And those principles are the things that drive our decision-making, good or bad. Because of my principles in regards to the treatment of Black people, I can not and will not under any condition endorse nor vote for Hilary Clinton. The sins that the Clinton committed towards Black people are just too much for me to ever endorse her for anything.

I assume many of you have read the wonderful piece by Michelle Alexander at this . If not, go ahead and read it. She is well-known for her book: The New Jim Crow. In this recent piece written by Ms. Alexander, she clearly articulates as to why the Clintons have done little to NOTHING to earn the loyalty of the Black vote. Please read it!!

Look, let me say this. If you want to vote for Hilary because you feel she is the best candidate, I totally understand and support you exercising your democratic right to vote. After all, it is your choice. I just know for me, I can't do it. I cannot bring myself to support a Clinton when I think about how their policies have ravaged Black people. They are not the worst of human beings. I'm sure of that. I will not demonize them as people but I very much hate the policy they put in place which has done so much harm to Black people, men in particular. They made deep cuts to programs which have left the Black race reeling even years later. How many young boys to men had their futures snatched from them? Then saying they can't be educated in part of "rehabilitation" for their crimes? 

Yes, in recent years they have apologized but what have they done to make it right? President Barack Obama at the NAACP conference last year talked heavily about sentencing reform. The Clinton should have been campaigning across the nation in an apology campaign with real steps and policy to make amends. Hilary does address this in her campaign but she has no real policy. Just ideas like many people running. 

Read Ms. Alexander's piece please. As I said, it's a matter of principle as to why I will NOT vote for Hilary. Apologies are cute and all but usually followed with progressive steps and ACTIONS to make it better. I have yet to see the latter...thank you for taking a look into My Thoughts..