Monday, December 29, 2008

Let the search begin.

I am in the process of looking for a place. I am probably not going to really get focused on the search until the spring of next year. I have been looking on line to see what options are available and to know what's out there. The way it looks is some of these houses will still be on the market when I get ready to buy. I am debating on if I should buy a condo (which is more than likely new developments) or if I should get existing property. Some of the properties are the same price, but I have to see which has better amenities.

I like this house. There are six (6) bedrooms, one full bath and 2 half baths. I think I may be able to get a grant from the bungalow association (They preserve historic bungalows in Chicago). I am also trying to get money from the City of Chicago and the Board of Education.

This house is in the historic Chatham neighborhood. My daughter is not too keen on the home and neither am I. I think I like the neighborhood more than the house, but that's not a reason to buy a house.

This is a commercial building that I could use for income property. I think there are four units in the building. I know this was abandoned mid the rehab process. I am not too keen on the area, but I'll have to do a drive by to check it out. I am not too sure if I want to be a landlord.

I am not going to make a hasty decision. I know I'll get a good deal. All of the properties here are around the same price. I am definitely going to pray and ask God to show me the place for me.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Now that Christmas has come and gone...

This time of year can be a joyous one if you have people you love around you and you want to share it with them. I am so glad that Christmas has come and gone, you just don't know. I do think Christmas is so overrated and that is due to the media. People run out and get into debt buying gifts for one day. People use this time to volunteer as soup kitchens and shelters. Why don't people do this stuff all year? I don't know, maybe it's because during the Christmas time, we feel guilty. Now, explain this to me: How do you feel guilty about people who are less fortunate and then turn around and spend money you don't have on people you probably don't give a rat's patootie about? Talk about foolishness.

I want to offer some suggestions for people to consider doing consistently: Find a family that is less fortunate than you and adopt them. This year I got a 'Letter to Santa' from the post office and it was truly wonderful to see the expression on a stranger's face when I delivered items to them. Think about this: Many of us have our own personal Christmas every day. Most of the stuff we buy is not needed.

My next suggestion is volunteer at least once a month if possible. I think we get so consumed with our own personal lives, we forget about others until the Thanksgiving/Christmas season. I think many of us are rearing a bunch of selfish little brats who think of no one but themselves. Oh, but how can we expect our children to do something different if we haven't shown them. A little less selfishness and more selflessness.

The final suggestion I have is, learn how to purge. I know many of my friends have clothes and shoes they never/rarely wear. Get rid of that stuff. I am constantly checking my closet for things I can get rid of. I am not talking about the garbage you don't want, get rid of some of that good stuff. I read or heard somewhere that you should get rid of your "favorite" or "best" items. Once you do this, you will receive something better and an abundance of it.

My prayer for the New Year is that people learn how to become a better giver.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I was tagged by ShopGirlChicago Here's what you're supposed to do:
1. Link to your tagger and list the rules
2. List 7 random facts about yourself
3. Tag 7 people (make sure you check back and see what they say)
4. If you're tagged, play along and pass it on!

Here are my 7 facts:

1. I HATE going out with cheap people.
2. I am working on fulfilling my destiny.
3. I can be brutally honest.
4. I am not the most affectionate person.
5. I love shoes.
6. I collect fans.
7. I like nice ink pens.

Here's my tag list:


United States of Anthony

Keeping up with the Huxtables

Semi-Hipster Homeowner


Nails by Patrice


Friday, December 12, 2008

Update to the men situation

Alright, I have been neglectful when it comes to the updates on men who have called themselves interested in dating me. For those of you who have been living under a rock the past few days, the Governor of Illinois (affectionately known as G-Rod) was arrested a few days ago and since then, Illinos has been on the map. Well, I decided I am going to take a cue from him and use monikers for people as I blog. So, instead of me saying "I'm going to call this person Joe", they will now be referred to as "Person of Interest (PoI)" and a number will follow.

So, "Person of Interest #1" is someone who claim(s)/(ed)to have an interest in me but felt pressured (not sure from who. I think it was his family. He made a choice that didn't have a direct affect on me, but it made me question his parenting and decision making skills. I think part of his decision had to do with him being selfish and possibly being irresponsible. I actually like(d) him. (It's probably closer to past tense now.) Age: Mid-40's Marital Status: Never married Offspring: 1 Family: I met them and there seems to be a mutual liking (hence the pressure).

UPDATE #1: I spoke with him last night and he put his sexy voice on (that's what he called it)but to me it sounded more like I was expecting someone else. I initiated the phone call to let him know how my classes were on yesterday. (He sent me a text message a week ago asking me about my day and I told him about one of my classes that has been giving me the flux since the beginning of school.) I saw him on Tuesday because he stopped by for something unrelated to me. He was checking me out because he told me my hair was still looking good even though it was almost time for me to get it done.

"Person of Interest #2" is someone who has been around for some time and there has always been chemistry between us, but the timing is always off. We have been good friends and always have each others back. I like him but I don't think the romantic feelings are still there. If they are, there are some other issues I have with him. Age: Mid 40's Marital Status: Divorced Offspring: 1 Family: I met one brother. Mom has heard about me, never met.

UPDATE #2: I spoke with him Thursday morning to tell him about my steppin class. (He was supposed to teach me.) I just called to rub it in his face about him not fulfilling his end of the bargain.

"Person of Interest #3" is someone who I met a few years ago. Seems to be nice, but has some issues with offspring. A little bit too clingy for me. Thinks we should have fallen in love, gotten married and had a baby and called it Nate (if it was a boy). Age: Mid 40's Marital Status: I don't believe he has been married, but he did shack-up with someone Offspring: 2 Family: Never met them and I don't plan on meeting them.

UPDATE #3: I spoke with him the day after Thanksgiving and he told me how one (if not both) of his daughters held a party when he was at work and their friends cleaned him out. I always told him he needed to spend more time with them when he's off, but what do I know? I'm just the 800 lb gorilla in the room. We also had a conversation about how I don't feel like I should have to tell an adult male who thinks he is a man how he should treat a lady. I told him that most men are not ready for a lady like me (same thing I told Person of Interest #1)

"Person of Interest #4" is someone I met a few months ago. I can tell this person is interested but there a few reasons why I wouldn't consider dating him. One is he has a small child (smaller than I'm willing to be bothered with).The other reason is, I think the best way to put it is there will be a conflict of interest. Age: Mid 30's Marital Status: Unknown Offspring: 1 small child Family: Never discussed this

UPDATE: I enjoy talking to this person and he seems nice. He would probably be a good catch if I was willing to deal with a small child. It wouldn't work because of the conflict of interest.(No, he did not date anyone I know.)

"Person of Interest #5" is someone I've known for a few years. We've gone out a few times and that's pretty much the extent of it. He is nice, but ALWAYS has to be right or a know-it-all. He will do whatever I ask, but I can't stand his know it all attitude. Age: Early-Mid 40's? Marital Status: Divorced Offspring: 1 known (I think there may be more) Family: N/A

UPDATE: I went out to lunch with this individual a few weeks ago and I now realize why I wouldn't consider dating him seriously.

Now, I don't talk to all of this people on a regular basis. They call in spurts. I may only talk to one of them consistently. What baffles me is how they make these absurd assumptions that I want them. I may have felt that way at one point, but for the most part that chapter of my life is closed.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What in blueblazin is wrong with these students?

When people go to school to become a teacher, the majority of the stuff taught does not prepare you for the classroom. Yesterday, I gave my students an open book test on Huck Finn. I had been telling them to make sure they read if they hadn't already done so. Now, a lot of my students claim they would pass an open book test if given one. I kept telling them they wouldn't because they would spend the majority of their time looking for the answers because they didn't read. Now, I watched many of them and they had just started reading yesterday. It was quite comical to me because some of them think they can outsmart the teacher.

My third period class has 20 boys and 10 girls. About 8 of the students are special education students. There is supposed to be a provider in there everyday for them, but sometimes I don't see one. I now sometimes the special education teachers say they are in meetings with parents, but I'm not too sure about that and I don't think it is legal to not come in the class. Anyway, my issue is with the regular education students. There are about 7 or 8 of the boys who like to act out and feed off each others negativity. Yesterday and the day before I had to step out of my element and meet them on their level. I don't like to do that, but it seems like that is the only way to really get their attention. I should have mentioned that this tomfoolery has been going on since the 2nd or 3rd week of school. I've calld homes and the situation hasn't improved.

One of the boys called himself trying to insinuate that he could be with my daughter in a sexual manner. My friend who teaches at a different school said I should have written him up. I told her, I don't operate like that. I said some less than stellar things about him and his momma. For those of you who don't know, that's the ultimate no-no when it comes to Black students. All of the other kids in the class were like "Whoa, she went hard" which means I really got him good.

After this class, I went to the programmer to let him know how difficult this class is and something has to be done. I never have had to do this and this is the first and last time I will have to do it. I wrote down the students' name and what they do. The principal went around and found all of them and spoke to them personally. They said the work is too hard and they didn't know how to write a paper. I never knew this because the act a plum fool in class. She also told them if she hears anything negative from any of their teacher's they are out of the school.

I am so grateful the principal supported me on this issue. When I was speaking with my other friends who teach, they express the same sentiments as I. They had to step out of their element with some of their students as well. I guess it is in the air. I am wondering why/how some of these students can act foolish all of the time. It's like they are never serious about anything. It is my prayer that they get it together real soon.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Today my daughter and I went to a few open houses. I got an e-mail from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) housing office. There were two developers who are selling some of their properties at an auction. I am not financially prepared to make this purchase as of now, but I wanted to see what was available. There are a certain number of properties that the developer will sell regardless of price. Now, I know some of you may say that's great. I thought so also, but my concern is people who don't need the property may get it.

For those of you who don't know, people who work for the Chicago Board of Education and other City offices, are required to live in the city. Now, I know some people who scheme and lie about this, but I don't want to take that risk. Believe it or not, people have lost their jobs for living outside of the city. Nonetheless, I actually like living in the city and working for CPS. What I don't like is the price of "affordable" housing. I don't know about many people, but my salary does not allow me to afford this "affordable" housing. I think the City of Chicago and the Board of Education should work closely with these developers and management companies to offer better deals just for city employees. My sister lives in Virginia and her county offers educators (I think military as well) discounts on everything. Now, why can't/doesn't Chicago offer a program like this? I think certain apartment complexes in Virginia set aside a certain number of apartments for educators. I don't think the educators are required to put up a security deposit (if so, it's discounted).

Maybe I am asking too much, but I want to purchase a townhouse/home/condo for my daughter and I. I don't want to spend my entire paycheck on housing. I also want to live in a decent area. Am I asking too much?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How may times do I have to tell you to STOP calling me?!

Here's the deal: This guy I'll call Joe (he, he) keeps calling me. Now he and I dated (at least I thought so until he said differently)for about 3-4 years. He was always very evasive about some things. I have learned in my lifetime that sometimes it's better to sit back, shut up and watch how things unfold. Well, about four years ago, we stopped all communication with each other. Frankly, I was tired of him and his inability to show me how much of a priority I was to him. Well, just recently I saw him and his family at church (I guess it's his wife and son) and since then he's been calling me. Now, I had to ask him where did all this renewed interest come from because it wasn't like we were in a relationship or anything. Now when I reminded him of that he got all beasty (crazy) and was like what are you talking about. I don't think people realize that words can be very powerful and hurtful and sometimes we don't realize the foolish things that may have come out of our mouths because we have matured or been humbled. Anyway, he was upset that I reminded him of this comment. I mean come on, how can you go out with an individual for some years and spend time together, but not call it a relationship? What was it?

Anyway, I keep telling him that nothing is going to happen, there are no romantic feelings on my behalf and even if there were some, Joe made his decision a few years ago and I accepted it. He chose to be with someone else and I respected it because he could give me the things I desired. Why would I want to entangle myself in that kind of tomfoolery? I just don't get men sometimes. When they have a situation that may not be the perfect, they go elsewhere looking for something better. Then once the wool is removed from their eyes, they want to come crawling back. That's just plain ol' craziness. What is really comical to me is it seems like Joe had realized that he probably made a decision that wasn't the best and now he is regretting it.

To the fellas, when you have a woman who is into you and "you're just not that into her" don't come calling her years later thinking that you can have her back. For the most part when a woman is finished with a man, that's it. If that relationship is dead, she isn't going to resurrect it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beautiful Black

I purposely waited to blog about President-Elect Obama. I believe he is going to make some changes; however I want to caution many people to remember that he is a man. I think a lot of Black people are looking for him to be their savior.

In order for change to take place, we must be willing to work towards it. This means we must get up out of our comfort zone and make some things happen. It is my prayer that this change inspires many Black males to be a father and not just a sperm donor or a part-time/no-time fixture in their child's life. It is also my desire that the Black family becomes united again. There was a time when momma and daddy were at home rearing their children. Now it's momma or grandma going it alone.

I also hope that the Obama's will bring back the style that Blacks used to have. If you look at pictures from the 50's and 60's (maybe the 70's) when Black people went places they were so sharp they had to walk sideways so they wouldn't cut you. What happened to those days? I remember when people used to dress up for weddings, funerals, church, and other events. It is a rare thing to see people dressing for anything. I am wondering how we became so lax? Why do people go to work looking like they are going fishing? Why do young girls think it is acceptable to come outside with a rag tied around their head? Don't they realize they are perpetuating the stereotypes about Blacks when they continue to do these things?

I know First Lady in waiting Obama is going to bring that class back to the American women. I hope they aren't at the pond fishing and they miss it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Addendum to the stupid things men say and do

Yesterday I went to church. My sister and daughter was with me. I saw this guy I used to date there with his family. My sister didn't think the child was his but my daughter and I thought so. I had seen him a few weeks ago but he had come late and left early so I did have an opportunity to speak with him. Well, after I had seen him, I sent him a text message saying so but he didn't reply until Thursday of that week. He wanted to let me know how much of an influence I had on his life. During this conversation I told him I had seen him at church and he told me he was a member there. We got to talking and I explained to him how I had been visiting different churches. He told me if I wanted company give him a call the night before. Now, I am wondering how is he going to go to church with me and he has a family.

Well, I think he and this woman had on wedding rings. I couldn't really tell, but it looked like it. I was wondering if it was real. (He was the one who got me the cheesy gift for Christmas and cheapened it even more by trying to pass it off as something it was not.) Now that I think about it, this occurred about 4 years ago and shortly thereafter I stopped seeing him. This child looks like he is about that age. Hmm.... Maybe that is why he got the cheesy gift, to get rid of me to be with the other woman. Does he really think I'm that stupid?

I don't know why men can't or won't be honest with women. It tickles me when they say stupid stuff like "I didn't know how to tell you" or "I didn't want to hurt your feelings". Well, jackdonkey, when you don't say anything you make the situation worse. I also think men must understand that women don't have these fragile ego's like them. We might be hurt and disappointed, but we are resilient and we will bounce back. A lot of the times we are way too good for them and we have enhanced their lives more than they have enhanced ours.

Ladies, we should be thanking these guys when they relieve us of our headache. We should have an obituary, sympathy card and thank you note ready to send to them when it's over. We need the obituary to let them know that this relationship is dead and there is not possibility of it ever being restored. The sympathy card is to get him through his time of bereavement. The thank you note is to thank him for killing the relationship so the person God has for you can come into your life.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ethnic Notions is more than a notion.

I rented a movie from the library titled "Ethnic Notions" to use with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I didn't watch the video prior to showing my students. I had planned on doing it, but I went knitting on Wednesday evening.

Today we finished watching the video and it was very powerful for some of the students. The documentary traces the history of the stereotypes of Blacks in America. Many of my students did not understand how these images of mammy, sambo, uncle and others came about. They also did not know/understand why Blacks were portrayed with very dark skin (i.e. the minstrel shows), as aggressive brutes, and in a savage manner. We had an opportunity to discuss the video and some of the students got it while others seemed totally lost.

I had to explain to them how some of the stereotypes projected in this video are still perpetuated by Blacks and they think it is entertaining. I gave them a few examples of show that they could relate to that perpetuated some stereotypes about Blacks. One of the shows was "The Wayans Brothers" with the two youngest brothers, Shawn and Marlon. I believe Marlon is the youngest brother and he was portrayed as an aloof young man. A few of the students didn't understand how that perpetuated a stereotype and I had to let them know that it supports the theory that all Black men are stupid.

I also told them about "The Parkers" which portrayed Nikki Parker as this highly sexual being chasing after a man. I also explained that this stereotype is still projected when they watch music videos. I also told the students that when they come to school fighting, they confirm the stereotype that Blacks (especially men) have this strength and they don't know how to articulate themselves so they result to fighting.

The last thing I let them know was that the image/perception of children was that they were unkempt. Their hair wasn't combed and they didn't have on any clothes when they left the house. Now, most of the students wear clothes to school, but they don't always comb their hair. I also explained to them that if someone knows nothing about them or Blacks and have been exposed to the images on the televison, they will believe what the idiot box (i.e. television) has shown them. If the students continue to perpetuate these images, the perception will never change.

The last thing I am going to mention about stereotypes is in my freshman class, we were looking at this website about advertising. There was a quiz about tv and reality. One of the questions asked something about how many times does and actual police officer fire his gun in the line of duty. I think the options were once a week, month, year, or none of the above. The answer was none of the above. Police officers actually rarely use their guns in the line of duty. This new student says" That's not true, they must not go to Black neighborhoods, they use thier guns all the time if you run away." I had to explain to him that that is a stereotype that he has believed.

I am not sure if my sophomore students really understood "Ethnic Notions", but I hope it resonates with some of them. I think the reason many of them didn't really get it was they have been inundated with these stereotypes for so long, they don't know anything else.

Author tags:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The stupid things that men say (and do)

I was speaking to a friend today and he and I talk on a regular basis. We have this joke that he is my FB (fake boyfriend). Well, a couple of months ago he purchased a new luxury vehicle. We always share our good and bad times, so I told him to stop by so I can see it. Today, I teased him about how he hasn't taken me for a ride in this new car and he said when he had come by, I was on my way out with my FB. That sparked my latest rant.

I was telling him how I have men interested (so they say) in dating me, but they are not ready for me. I know from other men I have dated (that realized after the fact) what type of woman I am and my worth. Well, I proceeded to rant about how men think because you are a single woman and they are a single man, you automatically want to get married (to them). I had to tell him that I think it is nice that these men think highly of themselves, but who said I wanted to marry them? Now, don't get me wrong, I would like to get married one day, but I want it to be for keeps. I am not going to marry any ole' body who comes along. My friend politely told me that [maybe] my standards are higher than most women and [maybe] I intimidate these men.

I don't know if my standards are high but I think after you reach a certain age, you should be a man of your word. (The same goes for ladies.) I think after you reach a certain point in your life, the foolishness should stop. I don't feel like I should have to tell a man that I like to go out every once in a while. I also don't feel like I should have to tell a man that I like to smell flowers while I am breathing. I also don't think I should have to fight to get a man's time. I should not have to tell him everything that I like to do. I think he should take the time to figure it out if he is truly interested. I think these are things that he should know and understand. I also don't believe I should settle for second best. I work to provide a life for my daughter and myself. I am trying to get some things going for me so I don't necessarily have to work hard my entire life and I don't have a lot of time for stress.

Just the past few weeks, I have gotten calls from guys I haven't spoken to in months/years. One guy told me how he didn't realize how much I had helped him to become the person he is today until after I stopped talking to him. This was the same dude who got me a less than stellar gift for Christmas. If it is the thought that counts, he was truly thoughtless. I told him thank you for allowing me to hear this while I am alive (you do know most people don't share these thing until someone dies)and he really made my day. (I think he did that because I sent him a text message[that he claims he didn't get] after I had seen him and his family[some girl and a child] at church that Sunday.)

Another guy called me and he is too busy trying to get me in his bed he can't clean his house. Now, don't get me wrong, everything I own doesn't have a place, but I don't have crap all over the place (you moved into over a year ago) and call myself tyring to have company. I don't mind a little paper, but when there is paper where furniture should be, something is wrong. Also, when your dishes haven't been washed in over a week and you have a dishwasher, you living nasty.

Then, I had one guy to act a fool because we were supposed to get together and he called to cancel/reschedule at the last minute. Now, I am flexible, but don't act like I don't have a life. He got mad because I had plans for later and he pulled a "B" move and didn't answer my calls. Then he said "He was feeling pressured". I am not sure how when he cancelled on me.

(This happened a while ago, but I had to throw it in.) I also had this one guy try to pretend like he was something he was not. He was trying to be a baller and a shot caller. He invited me out and told me my daughter could come. We rode out to Schaumburg with him and we got something to eat on the way back. Now prior to this, he was trying to act like he had it going on. So I decided we would go to Shaw's Crab House because that and Pompeii's were the only places I noticed. Well, he ordered some gumbo and was picking at it with his fork, only eating the shrimp out of it. He kept on saying to us to get what we wanted, so my daughter (who knows little about being modest) ordered calamari for an appetizer, her entree was shrimp and scallops and we shared a creme brulee for desert. My silly daughter told me that when the check arrived, the guy eyes got real huge. She did wait until a few weeks later to tell me. I laughed so hard. My daughter asked me if I had spoken to him lately and when I told her no, that is when she shared his facial expression with me. She also told me that she probably busted his wallet and he shouldn't have told her to order whatever she wanted.

Now, I say all of this because I had to get this rant off my chest. I like to go out and I also like to feel appreciated every once in a while. I don't think I should have to tell a man who is supposed to be grown these things. I think he should try to get to know me to see what I like. The guy who gave me the cheesy gift, obviously didn't know me that well. We had dated for a few years (at least I thought) and he still got me something that was not me. I wonder why guys do things like that? This guys would always call me and I would be in one of my favorite stores, Target. Logic says that he should have gotten a gift card to that store, but he didn't. I also had a guy to buy me some products from Bath and Body Works. Now he got a fragrance that is not my favorite and a product that I don't use. Now, I did appreciate that gift more than I did the other gift. I just think that gifts are personal and if you don't really know a person in that manner, gift cards or cash is always good.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Breast are Fine

I just wanted to update everyone on my lastest appointment. My breast are fine. I had an ultrasound today and they look good. I have to go back in 6 months, but I feel a whole lot better. I will keep you all updated.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Same-sex unions affects everyone.

Today, I went to visit a church in the South Suburbs. This church is located in Tinley Park, IL. During the service, there was a video clip about Proposition 8. This is designed to protect the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Now, this post is not about who should and should not be allowed to marry, but it is about the video clip. In this clip, there was a couple in MA (I believe) whose 5 year old son (kindergarten) was given a book about same sex unions. The parents were concerned that the public school distributed this information to their child without their notification. Long story short, the school said since same-sex marriage was legal in the state, they did not have to tell the parents about it and they were free to discuss this issue at any time with any public school age child.

Now, you are probably wondering what does this have to do with me. Well, this issue is a topic in which both presidential candidates have spoken out about in their campaigns. Now, the concern is also with your local legislators. It is important to know how they stand on this topic. I am not in favor of anyone in the school teaching my child about same-sex marriages and homosexual relationships. It is my understanding that the book (I can't remember the title) is already in Illinois schools.

This video clip taught me something I didn't know. If same-sex unions are legalized, educators may be forced to teach this in their classes whether they agree with it or not. I am not sure if I am comfortable with this being forced upon small children at such an impressionable age. Now, what people do in their homes is their business; nevertheless, I just don't know if I want someone teaching my child about homosexual relationships and they probably don't understand male/female relationships.

I hope people will take think about this as they cast their votes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is there hope for the future?

I pose this question because another young high school student was shot and killed on the bus this past Sunday. She was not the intended target, but nonetheless her life is lost. This young girl attended the same high school as Blair Holt (who was killed on the bus last spring). I wonder what is really going on in the Black community? It is so sad that many of the young children I teach will probably die before they reach the age of 25.

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with the inclusion teacher in one of my classes and we were trying to figure out what is going on with the students and why they are so apathetic. One of things we discovered was for many of the students we teach, high school is as good as it gets. There will be no college graduations, wedding showers, weddings, house warming parties and things of that nature. There may be a baby shower, but it won't be a grand event. We also realized that many of them won't accomplish much in life because of the people around them. I want to believe that they will overcome, but it is hard when you are fighting with generations of a poverty stricken mentality. Never before in my life have I encountered a group of people who don't see anything wrong with being poor and receiving government handouts. When I was growing up, we were poor and wore hand-me-downs (from a neighbor). My parents didn't receive government assistance (I don't know if they didn't qualify of if it was an issue of pride). We were what you would consider the working poor, nevertheless, we overcame and wanted to succeed.

A lot of my students don't see anything wrong with public assistance and are quite proud to say they receive it. I don't want people to get the wrong impression, I am not against people receiving government assistance; however I am against people becoming dependent upon these services. I think the system is partly to blame for this. When people are in school trying to better themselves, they usually don't qualify for assistance. Now, if it is supposed to "assist" people in a time of need, why can't they get this help? It seems like it is designed to create dependency. As a result, a lot of people and their families remain on public assistance for years with no hope/intention of ending this dependency.

What also bothers me about this is oftentimes people who do not earn a lot of money qualify for various grants and financial aid if they want to go to college and many of them don't take advantage of these programs because of the negative people around them or for lack of ambition. I knew a girl who was receiving public assistance and she enrolled in cosmetology school. Public Aid paid for her school (in full) and purchased the books and materials she needed (curling irons, blow dryers and other hair care items). Why did she drop out of the program? Maybe it was the people around her discouraging her or just laziness? I don't know. I don't get it; if the people around you will talk about you if you do well and if you don't do well, so what's the harm? I say if they are going to talk, let it be for something good.

I want to believe that my students will be successful, but I am having a difficult time buying into this philosophy when they don't do any work or come prepared. I think America has dumbed down education to the point of no return. At the beginning of each school year, I have my students to write down their goals for the year. Most, if not all of my students said the same things: (1) get to school on time, (2) pass all of their classes, and (3) stay out of trouble. Now, maybe I am crazy, but those seem like things you should be doing. I guess if no one is checking behind them, then what the hey! I know for some of them these may actually be a difficult thing to accomplish, but when 95-97% of my students told me this, I am beginning to think that these are home issues. what happened to a student wanting to make the honor roll or be the best in his/her class? Maybe it is because coonery and buffoonery still exist and many of my students have bought into the theory that fools get paid.

I guess it comes down to a few things: (1) America is the blame for this lack luster attitude and social dependency. I think many students don't see anything wrong with Section 8 housing, free lunch, food stamps and/or medical cards when they are wearing the latest designer shoes and clothes, have big screen televisions, and cable or satellite television service. Oh, I forgot to mention they have the latest cell phones and IPOD's. It baffles me that students have all of these items and no dictionary, books or computer in the home. Where are the priorities? When will parents begin to re-focus their priorities and get children the things they need? I also want them to start parenting their children.

Many of my students don't have a clue about things that happen outside their communities. They don't think these things affect them. Well, they can and probably do. I have tried to encourage my students to pay attention to the presidential campaign because in four years, they will be eligible to vote for the next president. If they are not aware of some of the issues taking place now, they won't be aware in four years. They need to know what candidate is going to fight for the poor and which will say to hell with them because they are a burden to society.

I try to be optimistic, but I am having a difficult time seeing the glass as half full. I know it is not all of the student's fault, but when will the parent's accept responsibility? I saw my parents working a job where there was not room for advancement and I didn't want that type of life. I also believe my community environment played a significant role in this as well.

I have often voiced my concerns about the lack luster attitude parents and students have as it relates to students and the educational system. I have noticed that most of my students who don't see anything wrong with receiving these government "benefits" (that's what they think they are), maybe it should be tied/linked to their attendance and performance. I think if the government told parents that their government checks were based upon their child's attendance and performance in school, maybe their attitude and actions will change. I know it may sound extreme, but think about this, when you are late for work, sometimes you get docked for this. Now, if a person paycheck is docked for coming late, why shouldn't these government checks get docked?

Friday, September 19, 2008

To scoop or not to scoop?

I've noticed in recent days a number of people walking their dogs with no pooper scooper or bag in sight. I've actually seen some people walk away after their canine has pooped and left the treat in someones grass or on the sidewalk. Now, I had a pooch and we had to put him down a few years ago. I always carried a bag and a piece of newspaper for when he would poop. After a while, I had gotten so good where as I would set the paper down and he would poop on the paper. All I had to do was roll it up and put it in the bag.

I don't understand why people want to leave their dog's feces lying around. I think this is rude and inconsiderate on all who do this. I don't know if this occurs in all neighborhoods, but I know I am tired of seeing it in mine. I wish I was able to give people a ticket for leaving these things behind. Maybe I should pick up their dogs poop and put it on their doorstep. I don't know what the answer is and maybe you can help me out. What should/could be done to make others more mindful of leaving their dogs "treats" for others to step in and take home with them?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dream Big.

I've been back to work for two weeks now and so far it's been pretty good. I have one section of freshmen and 4 sections of sophomores. I really like the sophomore curriculum because everything we do is related to the American Dream and is it attainable for all. Last year when I taught this unit, I really had a good time with the students. many of them got into what they desire and how their parents and other family members are the ones who might prevent them for accomplishing them. When it comes to my students, I am brutally honest with them. I let them know that no one owes them anything and they need to learn how to work hard for what they want. If they desire to attend college, they need to start investigating things about the school they want to attend. They should know what the required ACT score is for admissions.

This past week, my students were to read an article in their workbooks and answer some opinion based questions about the article. What I have come to realize is many elementary school teachers focus so much on what the book says instead of teaching students to become independent thinkers. I am having a difficult time with getting them to think for themselves. Many of them did not answer any of the questions because they were concerned with getting the question wrong. I keep stressing to them that there is no way they can get something wrong when it asks what do you think.

I also gave an assignment that required the students to write down their goals for this school year (personal and/or academic) and their expectations for the class. Many of them had the same goals: come to school/class on time, pass all of their classes and stay out of trouble. Now, I know you are probably thinking like me, they should already be doing these things, right, wrong! You'd be surprised to know that many students miss so much school and no one is checking up on them. I have students in my class that have missed a week and we've been in for two weeks.

Throughout this school year, we are going to work on a dream book. All students are required to have a scrapbook or binder to hold all of their contents. It is my desire that my students learn to dream big. Many of them have been in classes and schools where the expectations have been lowered. A lot of my students complained when I posted the grading scale for them. I modified it a little from the Chicago Public School (CPS) suggested scale. For the CPS scale I think 75 and below is an "F". I changed mine to be 70 and below. I had to explain to them that when/if they go to college and they have had a grading scale where 90-100 is an "A", they are not going to be able to compete with other students where their grading scale was 95-100 is an "A". If my students earned all 90's, they truly earned a "B". I also told them to expect more from themselves. They can earn these grades if they do the work. Many of them refuse to do the work because they have had low expectations their entire lives. Some of their teachers truly don't expect them to make it and their parents definitely don't believe it. When they encounter a teacher who does expect them to do more, they think that teacher is being hard on them.

I am trying to get them to Dream Big! I want them to have higher expectations for their lives. I also want them to be realistic in their goals. I think the biggest challenge is many of these students come from low income/poverty stricken families and in those type of communities, progress is often shunned. When you want to do better, the community looks down on you because "you think you are better than them", but as soon as you make it, they will have their hands out looking for you to save them. Many of my students want to be professional athletes and rap artists, but they are not doing anything now to get there. They don't realize that they should be on the school sports team (no matter how lame they think the team is) in order to get noticed. A lot of them want to be in the limelight because they watch television and it appears like the people in the limelight have it all. I keep trying to tell them that these people need managers, attorneys, and producers. Those people get paid and oftentimes it's before the artist gets paid. All they see is the person who they believe is "getting paid". It is sad, but so true.

This brings me to another issue. This past Thursday in the Chicago Tribune, there was an article about paying students for getting good grades. An 'A' is $50, 'B' is $35 and 'C' is $20. The students will get 1/2 of the money upfront and the rest when they graduate. They are eligible to get this every quarter, but if they receive an 'F' they can't get any money. I have an issue with this because I think it undermines everything I am trying to teach my students. I want them to know that their reward comes when they don't have to work a minimum wage job. How can I get them to understand this when people want to pay them for earning good grades? In my opinion it is similar to giving teachers money for "merit" pay. I think when money is involved, it can cause some to do some unscrupulous things.

It baffles me to think that education has gotten to this point. I know when I was in school, I got good grades because my parents expected me to do so, not because I thought I would get some money for it. I know what it is like to grow up without having. We wore hand-me-downs and received commodities (government food). We didn't buy name brand foods all the time. I know what it is like to be without. I don't know if my parents didn't qualify for food stamps, but I know we didn't get them. I qualified for free lunch. I know exactly what my students are experiencing, however I think the biggest difference is my parents worked jobs. They expected us to get a job when we were old enough and maintain decent grades. My sisters and I did it and I think we are better people for doing so.

Our experiences taught us how to get an education to better ourselves. It is nothing against our parents because they did a wonderful job in rearing us. They also did what they felt necessary for us. What they did do is instill in us a good work ethic and the desire to go to college. I am still in the process of dreaming big. When I look at my current situation, I often say "this can't be as good as it gets." I am always trying to figure out a way to set higher goals and accomplish them. I think this dream book activity is going to be a great thing for all. I hope my students really take the time to put their all into it. I really want them to Dream Big.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bright lights and plenty of food! Cha-ching.

This past Friday, I took a trip (my first one) to a local casino across the border. I had to drop something off at my friends house and we went to the dinner buffet at the casino. Now for those of you who don't know me, I am not a gambler. I prefer to spend my money on constant things like shoes, clothes, dinner, etc. Well, I must admit, the food is good. I am now a believer when the "saints" say they go for the food. I know some of them eat and play the slots, but the food is worth the trip.

When we arrived at the casino, it was around 5p. As we walked through the casino, I looked around and saw many people who looked like they had just gotten off work. It didn't seem like these people were leaving corporate jobs. I also saw many seniors. Some of these seniors were in wheel chairs, had oxygen tanks and other debilitating conditions. Now, I got to thinking, you are sick and in a wheel chair and you are at the casino playing the slot machines.

This visit got me to wondering, how many people in this casino have lost their homes due to foreclosure or are in the process of losing their homes? I know many of these people probably have past due bills. It really saddens me to see these poor people (and I mean poor) throwing money away. I know a lot of these individuals probably just got paid and took their entire paychecks to the boat. It looked like some of these people were/are living paycheck to poor check. I am confident many of them probably took the shuttle bus there. You do know that a lot of these casino's send buses to nursing homes and designated bus stops to pick up patrons. I know they used to charge a fee (maybe $5) but I'm sure if you don't have it they'll let you go through.

My friend won a few dollars and after that occurred, there was a lady who sitting at the machine to the left and she got right on that same machine trying to win some money. I guess these people don't know that these machines are designed for the house to win. I remember watching one of the news shows some years ago (20/20 or Dateline) and there was a man suing a particular casino for his gambling addiction. When it came down to it, it was discovered that the agency that was supposed to monitor the makers of the slot machines was working together to rig the machines. If a machine was supposed to pay out 1:10,000, they might fix it where it was 1:100,000. Towards the end of the segment, the host made a comment about this flawed system and posed the following question: If this is taking place in the gaming industry, what other industries are affected by this? I guess one will never know.

My hope and prayer it that these people wake up and smell the cocoa beans before it's too late and they are sitting on the curbside.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Chicago's School Boycott

There have been a lot of discussions about the plan to boycott school today. It was started by Rev. Senator James Meeks. This boycott is to draw attention to the inadequacies in school funding in Illinois and other areas. I understand the purpose of the boycott, but I have to question the timing/motives. For those of you who don't know, Chicago teachers and other city employess must live in the city. I don't have a problem with that at all, but there are many educators who live in the city, work for the school system but they send their children to private schools. Now, I know it is probably a bit much to ask people to send their children to a public school, but my question is this: How can you expect others to buy into a school system when the educators who have been hired to educate our children don't send their children to these schools? Now should I no longer have faith in this system? If the 'teachers' don't send their children to these schools, why should others? It makes me question the teachers heart. Maybe this system is good enough to pay your bills, but not good enough to educate thier children. Isn't that like an oxymoron?

Another issue raised is how many of the legislators don't send their children to public schools. Once again, I ask, how can you ask others to support a system when the lawmakers, the same ones you have elected don't support public education? A few years ago, I was watching a news program with a legislator(I think he's was from Georgia)who had moved into a different district and there was a stipulation that stated all students must attend the neighborhood school. This neighborhood school was a poor perfoming school. Well, the local school board decided to make an exception for this man and his family and allow his children to attend a "better" school. This legislator said no. If the school board says his children has to attend the local school, then that's where they will go. I could not believe it. Someone with a position of power and chose not to abuse it.

The final thought I have on this issue it this, Rev. Senator James Meeks children are not in public school and have never been in public school. One of the representatives (Mary Flowers) who supports this boycott, sent her daughter to school. Now, I ask again, how can we ask others to buy into a system when the people organizing this boycott don't?

Critics believe children should not be involved/used for political gain. Nonetheless, how can you invoke a change if children are not involved? The last time I checked my history books, the Little Rock Nine were teens when they integrated Central High. Now, I also ask this question, how do we prepare our children to fight for a cause if they are never shown what to do or given an opportunity to do so? If I am not mistaken, when those students had a sit in at the Woolworth counter, they were college students.

Many of the school officials and legislators were pushing for the students to go to school, well let me tell you, I had a good number to show up, unprepared! When I asked them, they said "they didn't know they were going to need pen and paper to do work." Excuse me, but what is the point in coming to school if you are not prepared to do any work? So, all of this hoopla about going to school was a bunch of hogwash if you ask me, but who's asking.

Overall, there were students and their parents who did participate in this boycott. I applaud them for it, but my question is this: What happens after the boycott?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Did Barack rock the house?

This is the first time that many Americans, Black or white have followed an election in depth as they have these past 19 months. Who would have thought that the time would come when a Black man would be nominated as the Democratic Presidential Candidate. August 28, 2008, is a day that I, like many other Americans will never forget. This date will be kept in my memory bank with other significant dates such as my birthday, my daughter's birthday, the day my grandmother died and the day I put my dog to sleep. You might have some dates that are important to you as well. August 28, 1963 is also a date that was monumental. It was the day that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.gave what is probably his most famous speech. When Dr. King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, it is possible that he knew this day would come. I have heard his speech many times and I think some of the lines we all remember are the lines in which he wants his children to be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. I think last night, Dr. King and others who have transitioned on were looking down on this momentous event. Words can't express the way that I feel. Now when my students and other children of color express their desire to become the president, I can actually believe that this is attainable.

I also want to pay homage to Hillary Clinton. I think she was very successful in her bid to become president. I think the primary election has shown girls all around the world that the sky is the limit. Throughout the primary election, I realized that this was something I had never witnessed and I was glad to be a part of history. At first, I didn't really care who won because it would have been monumental either way, but now I can honestly say I am glad that Barack Obama won. I think this nomination has shown the progress Americans have made, but I think it is also a reminder to let Black people know that our fight is just beginning. I think this election will get nastier as time goes on, but I want Black Americans to realize that we've only just begun. We need to keep Mr. Obama and his family covered in our prayers on a daily basis. There are still some people who do not like him because of the color of his skin.

As it relates to the qualifications of becoming president, last time I checked there were only 3 requirements: (1) the candidate must be at least 35 years of age (2) a natural born United States citizen and (3) a permanent resident of the United States for the past 14 years. So when all of these people keep saying he is not qualified, is hogwash. How many presidents were truly qualified when they took office? How does one become qualified? George Bush was in his first term when September 11 occurred. Was he qualified to handle that? Three years ago to this day, when Hurricane Katrina happened, President Bush was not qualified to handle that. Now, will someone please tell me, how does one get qualified to handle these types of situations?

Allow me to share a little bit of history with you courtesy of my good friend Ronn Jonze, fellow alum of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo.:

1. When white people wanted to build a nation what did they do?

What did they do?
They went to Africa and enslaved Blacks to turn the
country into an agricultural powerhouse.

2. White folk wanted to make Washington D.C. A great city. What did they do?
They used a Black to design the city and Black labor to
build it.

3.White folk wanted to explore the western USA .
What did they do?
Lewis and Clark took a Black slave with them to negotiate
with the Indians.

4.White folk wanted to end the Civil War.
What did they do?
They freed the slaves who helped win the war.

5.White folk wanted to take San Juan Hill. What did they do?
Teddy rushed up the hill, got in trouble, and was rescued
by Blacks who took the hill.

6. White folk wanted to take the middle and western USA from the Indians.

What did they do?
They sent the Buffalo soldiers to protect the settlers
and to fight the Indians.

7. White folk wanted to raise cattle in the mid west.
What did they do?
They hired cowboys to do it (Yes, most cowboys were Black.)

8. White folk wanted to explore the North Pole.
What did they do?
Adm. Perry took a Black guide along to get him there. The guide reached the pole before Perry.

9 White folk wanted to make the USA armed forces better.
What did they do?
Truman integrated the military.

10. White folk wanted to improve college and pro sports and
make more money doing so.

What did they do?
They integrated sports and built larger stadiums and
arenas and tougher golf courses.

Now, White folk want a new president to straighten out
the Bush mess.



Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Is this truly a recession?

In the past few months, many people have been saying the country is in a recession. I wanted to know what truly defines a recession and if the United States is in one. According to a recession is a period of general economic decline; specifically, a decline in GDP for two or more consecutive quarters. I didn't know if this had occured, so I thought, let me check and see what others have said about this topic. I went to Wikipedia and this is what I discovered:

"A recession is a contraction phase of the business cycle. In the USA, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) defines it more broadly as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales."[1] Newspapers often quote the rule of thumb that a recession occurs when real gross domestic product (GDP) growth is negative for two or more consecutive quarters. However, not only is this a flawed measure that fails to register several official (NBER defined) US recessions, the quotation has been taken out of context from a 1974 New York Times article that listed a number of rules of thumb, the rest of which have been ignored [2]. A sustained recession may become a depression."

Now having read that, I still didn't know if we were in a recession. One of the main reasons for this is many experts often don't agree upon an universal definition of what a recession truly is. If you asked some economist about a recession and depression, some of them may be confused or give very different answers. Based upon the first definition I provided, it is very difficult to actually determine when this "recession" began or ends.

According to the second definition, the NBER uses various factors to determine if the country is in a recession. These factors include wholesale retail sales, employment, real income and industrial production. Sidebar: What is fake income? The NBER also considers when business activity has reached its peak and starts to fall until the time when business activity bottoms out. When business activity starts to peak again it's called an expansionary period. According to this concept/definition, the average recession lasts a year.

After reading that, I can now see how the "experts" can/will disagree on what a recession truly is. I'm leaning more towards the experts who believe a recession is close to a depression. I don't think we have truly entered a recession. I believe some indicators will be the inability to do some of the most basic things that might be taken for granted. For example, maybe you would shop at a huge super/discount store and buy household items in bulk, when you are unable to purchase a large quantity of necessities and you have to cut back, we are in a recession. I beg to differ that the United States is in a recession because so many people spent a lot of money to see the movie Dark Knight. How can the economy be in a recession when this movie was in the number one spot for weeks?

I guess it goes back to the amount of disposable income one has to spend and if one person has $100 in disposable income and another has $1000, the person with the $1000 might not think things are bad.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is chivalry dead?

Is chivalry dead? I have heard this topic debated and I don't think there has ever been a definitive answer. I found this "Code of Chivalry" courtesy of Please tell me if you think chivalry is dead or if some of this stuff is non-existent.

The Art of Courtly Love
From The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus
Marriage is no real excuse for not loving.
He who is not jealous cannot love.
No one can be bound by a double love.
It is well known that love is always increasing or decreasing.
That which a lover takes against the will of his beloved has no relish.
Boys do not love until they reach the age of maturity.
When one lover dies, a widowhood of two years is required of the survivor.
No one should be deprived of love without the very best of reasons.
No one can love unless he is propelled by the persuasion of love.
Love is always a stranger in the home of avarice.
It is not proper to love any woman whom one would be ashamed to seek to marry.
A true lover does not desire to embrace in love anyone except his beloved.
When made public love rarely endures.
The easy attainment of love makes it of little value: difficulty of attainment makes it prized.
Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved.
When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved his heart palpitates.
A new love puts an old one to flight.
Good character alone makes any man worthy of love.
If love diminishes, it quickly fails and rarely revives.
A man in love is always apprehensive.
Real jealousy always increases the feeling of love.
Jealousy increases when one suspects his beloved.
He whom the thought of love vexes eats and sleeps very little.
Every act of a lover ends in the thought of his beloved.
A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.
Love can deny nothing to love.
A lover can never have enough of the solaces of his beloved.
A slight presumption causes a lover to suspect his beloved.
A man who is vexed by too much passion usually does not love.
A true lover is constantly and without intermission possessed by the thought of his beloved.
Nothing forbids one woman being loved by two men or one man by two women.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What happened to television?

Growing up, my grandmother used to call the television the "idiot box." It wasn't until I got older that I understood why she referred to it as that. If she called it the idiot box then, what should we call it now?

I want to take you back down memory lane. On our first stop, we are going to go visit Mike and Carol and their six children. For those of you who don't know who they are shame on you. The Brady Bunch was the family everyone watched. (At least my friends and I watched the reruns.) I don't ever recall anything really bad happening to them. Sure they had some minor mishaps, but nothing major.

The next stop on this ride is with that racist Archie. You got it, I am talking about All in the Family. It is unbelievable that this shows first telecast was January 12, 1971 and the last one was January 25, 1992. I know, I couldn't believe it either. When I have seen epsiodes of it as I got older, I was baffled as to how he remained on the air for so long. Nevertheless, many of us watched because there were not many shows that had Black actors/actresses in them (i.e. George and Weezy).

We are going to stay on the East Coast and visit the Drummond Family. Over all, I enjoyed Different Strokes and I don't have too many bad things to say about it. It is unfortunate that many of the shows stars had/have substance abuse issues. I loved it when Arnold was being bulled by "The Gooch." I thought that was hilarious. This is one of the few classic shows that I thought was pretty good.

The next stop on our trip is one of my all time favorite sitcoms. I am not sure if I like the family because the show was set in Chicago or what. This family of 5 live in the housing projects and was always struggling to make ends meet. (Maybe this is what made the show a little bit more enjoyable.) I am talking about "Good Times" with Florida, James, J.J, Thelma and Michael. I really like Michael because he was always trying to uplift his family and show them a different perspective on a situation. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Willona and Bookman. I thought Willona was very beautiful and she was always very stylish. I remember when Penny came on board. She was just so darn cute and lovable. It was so sad that her mom was physically abusing her. I think that is one of the first shows I remember seeing an issue such as that being portrayed. This family struggled and when they thought they finally was going to make it James had died. Many Black people cried because it felt like they lost someone close to them. Isn't it amazing how you could connect with a television show and never met any of the actors.

My final stop is with the Huxtable Family. This family was a middle/upper middle class family who realized the value of an education. I have often heard many younger Blacks who grew up without a father figure in their lives refer to the good doctor as their television dad. It was truly refreshing to see a family with educated parents stressing the importance of education and had the means to help their children get it. I also like the fact that the grandparents (Anna and Russell)played an important part in their children and grandchildren lives. I think The Cosby Show showed America that Black people can/will/are successful. When the spinoff show "A Different World" began, it really did a wonderful job of highlighting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's). This is and will probably be one of my favorite shows for a long time. I haven't gotten all of the seasons on dvd (hint, hint) but I'm working on it.

I know there are many other wonderful and not so wonderful shows I may have missed. I only selected a few to show how television evolved. I didn't have a rhyme or reason to how the shows were selected, I just picked them. If you have some favorite or not so favorite shows, please share them. My purpose in this post was to see if there are any current shows that may stack up to these shows. I really can't say there are, but I could be wrong. For those of you with children, what television shows do you watch with your child and really enjoy them? I've been trying to think of some, but I'm stumped. Everything I think of is not child friendly. Somebody help a sista out!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How smart are you?

I received this quiz and I thought I'd share it with you all. Please take it and let me know how you scored.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Educate or else pt. 2

Ok, I am not sure if many of you have heard this but the Rev. Senator James Meeks and Rev. Ira Acree along with other Chicago area ministers are calling for Chicago Public School (CPS) students to stay home from school on the first day of school (September 2). The reasoning behind this is the deplorable condition of many CPS schools. He is wondering why some school districts in Illinois get more money to spend per student than others. Some school districts receive $18,000 oer student whereas some get 1/2 of that. Well, of course there are many critics to this, but I ask if no one is trying to invoke a change, when will they? Are we supposed to sit here and wait for someone to do something?

Now, having said that, I was watching Oprah today and there was a show about the state of the public school system in America. (I know the show was a rerun, but the information is still relevant.) There were two young guys from the D.C. area who were disgusted with the condition of their school. They took pictures and somehow Anderson Cooper did a special and the school was featured on it. Now this school was about 15 minutes from the Capitol Building and looked wonderful on the outside. When you got to the inside of the school, it was horrible. Shortly after that show, the school district approved money to make repairs to the school.

Now back to this school boycott, why is it that people want children in schools that aren't working? Also, why send the child to school and they aren't going to do their best? I know people believe children learn at various rates (I don't argue with that), but how can a child learn if they don't bring materials to and from school? I don't get it. All of these school officials and some of the politicians are fighting for these children to go to school, but make it a place that is inviting for the children.

Allow me to paint a picture for you, you need to use the restroom (really bad) and you go to and their is no toilet tissue, what do you do? Or, there is toilet tissue but you don't have any soap or hot water to wash your hands. Can you imagine the fecal matter you are now carrying around? Or let's just assume the toilet tissue, soap and hot water works but the restroom is disgusting. There are feces on the toilet (that seems like it's been there for a while) and tissue/paper all over the floor. Do you still want to go to this school?

Ok, we are out of the restrooms and we are now entering the classroom. There might be new desks or some that are decent. If you don't have any decent desk, be glad you have enough for everyone to sit in. As soon as you enter the classroom, your teacher has to assist with clearing the hall. This may take up to 5 minutes. Once this is accomplished, it's going to take another 5 minutes to ge the class under control. Once the class is under control, you might have to figure out how to regulate the temperature in the class. It may be too hot/cold. If it is too hot, their is not an air conditioner to turn on to cool off the room. If it is too cold, you can't adjust the heat. Now how are you supposed to work under those conditions?

Let's just assume that the temperature is just fine in the classroom and the desks are brand new and shiny, however, there is a problem with rodents and roaches. I mean the roaches and mice come out like they are trying to learn something. Maybe the teachers should teach to the roaches and mice, they're always there.

I think America has misplaced values. We pay athletes millions of dollars and many of them are uneducated. If we are taught in school that education is the way to go and it will pay off in the end, how true is this for all? I mean, why would a child want to go to school to better him/herself and they can live off a pipe dream of becoming an athlete of musician. If we reall want children to buy into this education dream, we have to make it better for all. We can't keep separating schools based upon the haves and have-nots. I think children in urban and rural areas suffer the most when it comes to education.

I also think educators need to be paid a fair sarting wage. I think the minimum starting pay should be at least $75K. Now, I know some people may not agree, but allow me to pick up my brush again: Remember when I told you about the restrooms, rodents, etc.? Most often than not, the educator has to or chooses to provide these things for their students. God forbid if there is a female educator, because she will provide personal products for the young ladies. Sometimes these young girls don't have the means to get these items or they don't keep any in their lockers.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the cafeteria. Most of the time the food is not worth eating. It is not quality, wholesome food. The fruit/veggies leaves much to be desired. If you want a salad, it's iceberg lettuce, a cucumber and tomato. I know many teachers often bring snack for their students because the food in the cafeteria is not good or they have run out of food. So when you find and educator who says he/she is not compensated fairly, they aren't lying. I mean in what other profession do you know of that employees have to provide the majority/all of their materials/supplies to get their job done? I mean, most offices provide ink pens, staplers, computers, printers, ink, fax machines and things of that nature to perform the necessary task.

I guess America is too busy trying to fight battles that doesn't concern US and we can't even take care of our own. The sad reality to all of this is, the majority of the people who make the decisions regarding school funding either don't have children in school, their children are in private schools, or they don't have children. It is time for America to place a value on education and not entertainment.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Race does matter.

I was approached by a friend (Amy Fuji) to write this post (for Open Salon) and I am really not sure how to approach this subject. It stemmed from a reply I wrote on Neilpaul’s topic “Black versus White, or Why I’m lucky to be White.” Amy suggested I write about my experiences as a Black woman in a white world and she would write about being a white woman working in a predominately Black environment. I strongly urge you to read her counterpoint and leave messages for both of us.

I am an educated Black single mother who lives on the South Side of Chicago. If you check the stats, by all means, I should not have a college degree. I should have at least two additional children (by two different men), living in some type of housing development and receiving public aid. Oh, I should have dropped out of high school a long time ago. Well, the reality is this, when I had my daughter, I had completed high school and two years of college. I left the hospital on my 21st Birthday. Some people will say that I beat the odds, but some days I am not too sure.
I am in the process of looking for a home and I often wonder will I be able to achieve my American dream. What most white people don’t realize is, my dream is slightly different from their’s. I am not looking for a white picket fence with 2.5 children (how do you get .5 children, one will never know) and a dog or cat. That is not my dream. My dream is to be able to purchase a nice, affordable home in a decent neighborhood. I would like to get married one day, but the sad reality is many Black men are reluctant to take this step for a variety of reasons. Some of them are fear; fear of failure, fear of commitment, and fear of what their friends will say. Then there are some guys who are afraid of marrying a woman who has an education and earns more than he does. You do know there are more Black men in prison than enrolled in college, so the likelihood of me marrying an educated Black man is slim.

I am a strong proponent and supporter of higher education and just because I want my daughter to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) does not mean that I am racist. I know the world is not completely Black. I’m sorry, but I am reminded of that on a daily basis, whether it is directly or indirectly. I think a lot of white people mistake me wanting to be around people who look like me as being unrealistic but it's not. Well, let me tell you this, I know the world is not completely Black and this is not why I am an advocate for HBCU’s. I think the media does a good job of portraying Blacks in a negative light and I think it is important to young children to see otherwise. You do know it was illegal for Black people to get an education and this is how HBCU’s came about. Shame on me for wanting to support these institutions of higher learning, because someone thought enough of future generations to start a school. When many white people sit around the dinner table and discuss their children’s future, I wonder how many of them mention institutions such as Howard University, Hampton University, or Clark-Atlanta University. I also believe that if a lot of white people won't send their children to the public school with my child, why should I pay for her to go to school with them?
I don’t think many white people understand what it’s truly like to be a minority. Oftentimes, I feel like the man in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. This unnamed character walks around and is socially invisible to others. See, if you have never experienced something like this, you will never know how it feels. Even if you think you’ve experienced it, imagine if you had to live your entire life feeling invisible. It is not a good feeling and there’s nothing you can do about it. There are times when I am with my white counterparts and they are discussing people/things that I know nothing about or is not relevant to me.

Now as it relates to careers, I have seen countless qualified Black people passed over for promotions and given some lame excuse for it such as"we don't promote within" or "you are over qualified for this position/program." I get tired of people discounting affirmative action and other programs designed to give minorities a chance. Don't mistake my point, I am not suggesting that people be promoted based soley on race, but I do think that there should be some type of opportunity given to qualified minorities. If my personal experiences hadn’t shown me otherwise, maybe I would say eliminate it. When Michelle Obama made the statement about this being the first time in her adult life she was proud to be an American, many white people got mad. Well let me tell you why I understood Mrs. Obama’s plight. Many Black people have to work extra hard to prove ourselves to others. When I turn on the news and read about white police officers being acquitted for killing Black people, why should I be proud of that? When I know I am not welcomed in certain neighborhoods in 2008, why should I be proud of that? How about the many times I have been shopping in a predominately white mall and I am followed around like I am a criminal? Or, the sales clerk ignores me completely? Should I be proud of that? Dr. King had a dream that one day his children would be judged by the content of their character and not by skin color, but how often does that really occur? I get tired of people saying race doesn't matter, but it does. If it didn't matter, people wouldn't say "race doesn't matter."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What do Black people have?

Today I was talking to my sister and she asked me when did this hair salon become a braid shop. I told her that it has been there for a while. That one question sparked another discussion about the number of braid shops that have come into the community. Then we got to thinking about the number of other minorities who have come in to the community and gotten a lock down on every industry.

The Asians (Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese) have come in and taken over the nail industry. There used to be a time where Black nail technicians worked in the beauty shop alongside the barbers and hairstylists. Now, trying to find a Black nail technician is a rare thing. (Trust me I know.) I know why this is becoming increasingly difficult. Black nail technicians can not and will not compete with the Asian nail shops. First, that isn't their competition. The Asian nail shops are competing with each other. Think about this, if there are nail shops within a few blocks of each other, they will try to out do each other to get you in their chair. Also, we want to look good, but we are not willing to pay the price. Many of my friends who still service clients have a few clients who see the quality of the work they receive, but still feel like they should be paying less.

The next industry is the beauty supply stores. Many of them are owned and operated by Asians also. They have changed the way we do hair in the Black community. Now many of the hair care companies for Black people are owned by foreigners. It is really baffling to me how people with a different hair texture than mine can really tell me about my hair and provide products for it. I am not saying it is impossible, it's just crazy.

Now, I like a greasy spoon every once in a while. There is nothing like a Gyros with a little extra sauce or Italian beef dipped with hot peppers. Every time I enter one of these establishments, the person behind the counter is foreign. Some (if not most) are Arab or Pakistani. The Middle Easterners also have most of the gas stations on lock down. I can't find too many gas stations owned by anyone else.

Of course, the Africans and Jamaicans are holding down the braid shops. Everytime I turn around, there is a braid shop on every corner.

I am always amazed how the foreigners are allowed to open businesses and so many of them when many Black people get laughed out the bank door before entering. I am not knocking anyone's hustle, but let's get real here. If this is the land of opportunity, everyone should have a chance to prosper.

The caucasians have investments, sports teams, media, and just about every other outlet you can think of. They hold the majority of the nation's wealth. Any outlet you can think of and it is probably dominated by caucasians.

Now to answer my question "What do Black people have?" Well, I'll tell you what we have. We have the street corners, prisons, and dropout rate on lock down. When it comes to other races, we rank top in those areas. We also have a higher number of fatherless children and the highest infant mortality rate. We also have the crime on lockdown (see that's how we got the prison
s on lock down). Then you also have to consider that fact that Black women are contracting HIV/AIDS at a higher rate that any other ethnicity. We also have the economic spending on lockdown. Black people hold 2% of the nation's wealth but spend 98% back into the economy. So, think about this: for every $100 Black people receive, $98 goes back into the economy and $2 is kept. This is why you will have a Black people living in the housing projects or subsidized housing and there is a HUGE big screen television in the house. You can afford to have that, but won't work to become self-sufficient.

There are so many other areas that we have on lockdown, I don't have enough time to address them all. The last one I will mention is self-hatred. Some of this self-hatred as well as other issues is not the fault of Black people. It stems from that "Plantation Baggage" that is still plaguing us. You do know that lighter Black were allowed in the house and they were treated a little bit better than the darker Blacks. The lighter Blacks were a result of ol' massa raping the Black women. This treatment started the division between Blacks. Lighter Blacks have and sometimes continue to receive preferential treatment over darker skin Blacks. As I write this, I think about how the media believes "Halle Berry" is so beautiful. Well, is it because she has features that resemble white/European features. What about Angela Bassett, Sanaa Lathan, Gabrielle Union, Nia Long, or Regina King?

I hope one day Black people will wake up and realize that in order for us to become successful, we have to unite for the common good. We won't support one another for anything because we are afraid that someone else will advance before us and that can't happen. We also need to learn how to love self. I think a lot of the issues facing our community comes from slavery. I know some people will say, we need to stop focusing on slavery, but it is a part of history that can't be erased. When the slaves were on the auction block, the men were separated from their families. I think that was the beginning of the fatherless child. It continued on when Black women started receiving public aid, that further perpetuated this situation. If you remember the movie "Claudine", the mom was reluctant to get married because that had an affect on the amount of aid she would receive. As a result many Black men would live there but when the aid workers came around they would leave. Eventually they would take up with another woman and father more children and the cycle would continue.

Ok, I digressed. I really pray that Black people will realize what is going on with our race. The downside to this is the people who need to hear these things are never in the right arena to hear them. Even if they are, they really don't know how to work towards changing.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Educate or else

I am truly disgusted with the education system in America, particularly in Chicago, Illinois. The majority of the schools are underfunded and no one seems to care. Illinois ranks 49th out of the 50 states as it relates to school funding. What is really interesting is this, the legislators aren't really concerned. The Rev. Senator James Meeks (Illinois) just made an announcement on Fox News Chicago about the first day of school. He is calling on parents to keep their children out of school and board buses to go to these affluent suburbs like Winnetka and enroll in schools there. The whole point is not to discourage or take away from these schools, but it is to tell the legislators that it is time out for this inadequate funding. One of the schools New Trier just received approval from the state to rebuild its school and this will cost about $1 billion. Oh, the other discrepancy is New Trier spends about $18,000 per student and most Chicago Public Schools (CPS)receive 1/2 or less of that per student. The average ACT score at New Trier is 27 and in CPS it is 13.

I can't really imagine legislators thinking that there is nothing wrong with this picture. I read an article in one of the newspapers about a week ago and it was talking about the legislators voting themselves a raise. Let's get real here, you want a raise for what? Is America really serious? If our legislators don't do anything soon, I think the situation will get worse. Right now, Black males have a 1 in 4 chance of going to jail, whereas white males have a 1 in 23 chance. Prisons are bulit based upon the reading scores of minority males (specifically Black and Spanish speaking) in the 3rd grade. What this basically says is "Read or go to jail." I know in Illinois, most prisons spend a minimum of $20,000 to house a prisoner for a year. Will someone please tell me why Illinois will spend at least $12,000 more to keep a child locked up with no possible chance of truly being rehabilitated (if that was the case there wouldn't be so many repeat offenders)? America needs to wake up and smell the cocoa beans. When you have children living in deplorable situations and the possibility of them changing their situation seems hopeless, why should they want to go to school? When the most successful person in their neighborhood is the local drug dealer or pimp, why should they go to school? The street life is has more to offer than the classroom.

I wish the legislators and administrators would come into my classroom unannounced. I want them to see the horrible desks in my room. I want them to hear the things I have to hear on a daily basis. I want them to go into the restrooms that are lacking toilet tissue and working hot water. Can you talk about the germs/feces that the students are spreading around. I couldn't imagine wanting to do work when I look at the facility.If the facility is run down, what message are we sending to our students? I try to make the room as aesthetically pleasing as I can, but sometimes it is difficult. I make signs of positive quotes by famous/notable people to try and encourage my students. Sometimes they read them and most times they don't.

Now, I'm no rocket scientist but it looks like something is wrong with this picture. It seems like Illinois is living in 1958 and not 2008. I can't believe this is happening. Shoot, who am I fooling, I can believe it. Everyday when I go to work, I am reminded of the inadequacies in education. It is crazy. I get tired of people placing the blame on the teachers. WAKE UP CALL: I am only as good as the resources available to me. Just imagine if we were having a relay race and the person who finished first won $1000. The race isn't fair if you have running shoes and I don't. I feel like that is how many of the public schools in Chicago and other urban areas are. Now on most days, I really like teaching; however it is difficult for me to want to stay in a profession that is not taken seriously. I think it is unfair to punish the students because of the decisions their parents may have made.

This past school year our focus was on the American Dream and is it attainable for all. Everything we read pertained to people either coming to America or already living in America trying to make their lives better. Some of the books read were "A Raisin in the Sun", "The Jungle", and excerpts from "Fast Food Nation." We also read a number of articles relating to this topic. One article read was written by Gregory Mantsios and it is titled "Class in America: Myths and Realities." This article discusses how the economic opportunities afforded to one varies by class. The writer gives an example of three young people who all start out with similar dreams for their lives but their socieoeconomic status dictates their future. Most of my students didn't know that the economic class they are born into pretty much is an indicator of their future. The three people showcased had very different opportunites afforded to them because of their parents socieoeconomic status. It is unfortunate that this is the harsh reality.

This article also discussed how poor white people have better opportunites than poor Blacks or Spanish speaking children. A good number of poor whites live in middle-class areas and are able to reap the benefits of a middle-class lifestyle. As it relates to people of color, they often don't have those same opportunities afforded to them. I had a client who once told me that her sister was able to receive public assistance and she was able to complete school and eventually get off of it. I know for a fact when a lot of Black people try to get or keep public assistance while in school, they are often denied. This tells me that the system is designed to set minorities up for failure.

I know some of you may be wondering what does this have to do with the school funding situation. It has a lot. If the legislators and administrators would put the student's best interest first, some of this tomfoolery will end. The truth of the matter is this: All students will not go to college (for whatever reasons). We need to stop fooling ourselves. The administrators keep cutting fundamental vocational programs with the false pretense that all kids will go to college and graduate. The current graduation rate for CPS students is for every 100 students going to college, only 6 will graduate and out of the six, only 3 will be Black males. We will need painters, carpenters, plumbers, hairstylists, mechanics and other trades that are being eliminated from many of the vocational programs. The fashion program was just closed. Now let me ask you this: Don't you wear clothing on most days? I know you wear them at least 4-5 days out of the week (depending on your work week). If you choose not to wear them, that is a choice, but when you leave your house you have them on.

Another issue I have with the government is they offer programs for white teachers to come and teach in the inner city for 3-5 years and in exchange they will either repay/forgive most of your student loans. Now you might think this sounds like a good program, but the downside to this is many inner city schools lose teachers almost every year. Oftentimes these teachers are planning their escape before they get into the school. In my opinion, this is just another way to hold poor students back. I am not suggesting that all the teachers that take advantage of these programs are not the best, but a good number of them are. Some of them don't really teach and they participate in social promotion (just passing kids) because they don't believe in these kids. The ones who do care often get burned out because of poor administration.

For those of you who wonder how teachers become bad, just go into any of these schools and observe what is going on. There isn't a whole lot of instruction, just a whole lot of frustration. It comes from every angle. The students come to school carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They might be on the verge of getting put out, maybe someone is touching them inappropriately at home, most of them come to school hungry. There are a myriad of more issues these children face and no one really know how to address it. The teachers are frustrated because they are trying to teach a class and there are so many distractons. The administratuon wants teachers to do so much paperwork. If you are at a school like mine, you will come to know what's important. I do have a few books for all teachers to read and if you have a heart for children, they will truly change your way of thinking/teaching. The first book is "The Failures of Integration: How race and class are undermining the American Dream" by Sheryll Cashin. The second book is "Black Students, Middle Class Teachers" by Jawanza Kunjufu. Last, but certainly not least, "Keeping Black Boys out of Special Education" by Jawanza Kunjufu.

Although I recommend these books for educators, anyone should read them if they are truly concerned with the way the education system is headed. Even if you don't have children/grandchildren in school or if your children go to private school, you still pay taxes and a small percent of your taxes go to fund schools. For those of you who don't think this has no bearing on you, it does. If it doesn't have an affect on you now, it will later.