What do you know for SURE....

So every time I come home, I read all of my mom's O Magazines. I love them. I don't knwo why I am so super obsessed with it, but I must admit that I love "What I Know for Sure" page at the back where Oprah shares her pearls of wisdom. So I am thinking lately about the few things that I know for sure... keeping in mind that sure means without doubt. And the list may be small, but there are a few things that I know for sure and I would like to know yours.

1. Sometimes love is not enough to make a relationship work.

2. You have to forgive yourself in order to be happy.

3. When people show you who they are you should believe them the first time. (totally stole that from Oprah and Maya, but that is definitely true)

4. Life is hypocritical.

A Girl's Prayer*

Trust no nigga, fear no chic
eat no pussy, suck no dick 
boys is playaz and aint on shit 
so play your role and be the baddest bitch. 


* this was found on the floor in my classroom. Written by one of the future leaders of America. 
** added for comedic effect

Words of Advice

I realized today that I need not ever solicit advice from anyone.  You know why? Because I don't ever take it. Not ever. I mean I listen. I go back and forth, I say ooh yeah that's something to think about and then I do the same ish I was about to do anyway before the hours on the phone or text. I mean cause think about it..  yeah you can learn from other people's experiences and mistakes and whatever, but I'm the kinda person that is gonna follow my gut. Even when my OWN head is saying do or don't do something.. I still go with my gut and hope for the best. LOL.   I only take advice when I call someone just to confirm my gut any damn way.  

People have given me good solid advice, tried and true, based on their experience, common sense and morality.  And I have followed some of this wonderful advice.. only to realize that it definitely doesn't work for me, after weeks of thinking awwwww.. but She is such a good person and it totally worked for her.. I should just keep trying this.. cause it's going to turn out fabulous. Only for my gut to be telling me.. Stop doing this dumb shit now.. 
So i am not accepting your advice anymore.. 

Don't give it to me. i dont want it. I'll continue to make my own f-ups and pick up the pieces as I go... 



So I just watched the interview with Beyonce on Oprah...  And she was likeable, she had a few jokes and some personality and she seemed like kinda cool.. Sooooo I am just adding that... still wack for Sasha Fierce.. but I must say she gets 3 cool points. 

Beyonce.... is WACK

I am... Sasha Fierce is a wack concept.  Maybe I am the only one that thinks that its super lame when celebrities have alter egos.. I mean Mariah lamed herself when she introduced Bianca, her evil dark-haired twin.  I mean come on.. the lamest thing on earth was watching Mariah fight Bianca in a boxing ring on stage.  Sing dammit, just sing. Okay, celebs.. we get it, no one understands who you are. Interviews don't really encompass the many facets of your fabulous personalities, but let's get real.  Do you really need to create a different identity in order to feel "free?" 

  Let's think of my impressions of Beyonce pre-Sasha.   I would say... Aaah Beyonce can sing and dance her ass off, but she is quite the dimwit and I think her interviews are milquetoast and drab. I'd rather watch paint dry while saying my multiplication tables, then watch an hour long interview with her.. because sometimes the light just isn't on.  But that isnt a difference between Sasha and Beyonce.. I mean everyone has that dichotomy don't we.? 

I am a teacher, so what I do for a living greatly differs from the cussing, dirty dancing, drinking chica you may run into on the weekend or heck, any time after 4:10.  But there is no need to separate those into  Kamaria and  Tequila Sunrise!   I mean  it's just lame.  Janet Jackson gives fake blow jobs on stage, but takes as soft as a baby doll in interviews.  Our favorite comedians, all admit to having the darkest pasts and saddest personalities on earth.  Beyonce is a dimwit, who was blessed to have a killer voice, banging body and amazing dance technique.  We don't need to separate the two. 

So while I love me some Beyonce, I give this new development a Womp! Womp!!  

They are at it again...

Red Lobster has ANOTHER round of commercials.. .and I almost cannot HANDLE IT!!!   Woodfire Grill. succulent scallops, lobster and shrimp served hot off the grill dripping in butter... who can say.. Oh yeah Red Lob, I don't want that!  I'd just like to eat these damn tacos  I made or order a pizza.   Nooooo. So I am trying in this economic crisis to keep my costs down.. but RL always puts a damper in my plan.  But I might just be able to make it.. if I focus on the good eatin of Thanksgiving.

Speaking of the holidays.. anyone wanna see A Christmas Carol with me? 

No on Prop 8

One of my students, who rarely does any work, or moves any brain cells or grows any dendrites, has been totally engrossed in a project as of late.  She is organizing her classmates in support of the Day of Silence to protest Proposition 8.  When I asked her what exactly she was making a poster for and collecting signatures about, she clammed up and said "Ooooh 8 is nothing, its in support of November 8th in California."  Ummm that doesn't make sense.   So she finally said, It's in support of gay marriage.  I said oh okay, carry on.  

She has 40 signatures now, and in the midst of all of my frustration about Prop 8 in Cali and the homophobic idiots I encounter every single day down here in the Bible Belt, maybe a Bible verse is speaking the truth:  And a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6 

So that was a little silver lining, and it definitely makes me hopeful. 


I think the sexiest thing on earth is intellect. Words create fantasies that I lose myself in The stimulation of your words as they caress my ears scintillate my mind. My body arches and my knees get weak as polysyllabic words sends vibrations down my spine. This conversation began with a good morning and ended in multiple eargasms.

Proposition 8

Anyone can tell you that on Election Night, I was walking on sunshine. I was so excited and joyous, so proud and amazed that I called my family and just screamed things like "We Did it!" "Oh my God!" "I Can't Believe it!!" I hugged strangers, I danced in the streets of downtown Atlanta, I went to a club and danced to Live Your Life by T.I. I rejoiced in a moment that I know we can never forget. Victory was ours. I went to sleep and had happy dreams, a nice peaceful slumber because I had laid my burdens down.

I woke up early Wednesday morning, simply because I was excited to be alive, and remembered that Obama was not the only thing on the ballot on Election Day. I went to the NYTimes website and after smiling at a picture of the 44th president, our first Black president, I scrolled down only for my heart to sink. Proposition 8 was passed in California, passing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state, overturning the Supreme Court ruling that has led to thousands of same sex couples exchanging legally protected vows.

Prop. 8 won with a margin of 52.5 percent in support to 47.5 percent against the measure. Not a landslide, but it doesn't really make a difference. Same sex couples in California have been stripped of their equal rights, which helps to close the door to similar measures passing in other states. Maybe the most troubling part to me is that exit polls show that 70 per cent of African Americans were in favor of the proposition to ban same sex marriage.

Many of the supporters claim that this amendment is necessary to protect traditional marriage. African Americans have the lowest marriage rates of any race in the United States and the highest rate of families headed by a single parent. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/healthymarriage/about/aami_marriage_statistics.htm, but I imagine that by allowing same-sex couples to legally marry this would plummet even further and reak more havok in the fragile family structure of African American families. I understand the church's right to do as they please, and I guarantee, I don't want to marry in your church. But just like other little girls, I dreamed of getting married, and I don't think that the populace should have a say in its legitimacy.

I am always confounded by how African Americans so easily use religion as a tool for bigotry, forgetting the way it was used against us for centuries. Understanding that we were a threat to the family structure of whites, to the morality of their communities because we were beasts and less than human. We were 3/5 of a person for goodness sakes, and now we stand proudly in discriminating not against some other group but against each other. I simply hope that one day my Black family and friends will recognize that I am no less Black that you are, I am no less human than you are and my love is no less real that yours. When you support injustice aimed at the LGBT community, or maybe fags and dykes are the words you prefer, you are disenfranchising me.

And if you strongly disagree, I am more than willing to listen to why I deserve less rights than you...


Today, I woke up super early (for a Saturday) and drove out to the airport to a Habitat for Humanity build.  When I got there, I realized the house was already built, and they just needed us for landscaping..  It rained yesterday so, I got up close and personal with the mud. Mud is really heavy.. but we were there for a reason.   I don't have my own house and I think the former me would have been a little jealous, or at least wishing I had a house too.. but today at the dedication of the house, with the family and friends gather of the three new homeowners I was so happy to be a small part in their American dream..  

One woman was an administrative assistant who had a 9 month old daughter and I teared up as she said how happy she was to be able to have her daughter's first Christmas in their first home. Another woman was a dental assistant who was moving in with her fiance and was so overwhelmed that she could not make it through her words. And the last man was a man from the Sudan, who had just received word that his wife and daughter would get their visas on Tuesday so they can join him here from Kenya.  

A church in Cascade sponsored the project, and they gave each family four tokens towards their future. First they received a loaf of bread to symbolize that no one in the home will ever go hungry. Second, they each got salt, so that they lives will be filled with flavor. Third, they got sparkling wine (non-alcoholic womp) so that they would always have joy and levity.  Lastly, they got a dollar, so that no one in the home would ever be without money.  I felt the joy and wished those things for them too. I envisioned them all moved in with furniture, enjoying the peace of the woods behind them, and the security of a home of their own.  In a time of economic frailty, it felt really good to help someone grow their roots and achieve their dreams.  I know that I am getting one step closer to mine. 

Being Thankful for Nothing.

I must say, this whole financial madness has been quite confusing for me.  We are in a repression, going to another Great Depression, The Dow is up, the NASDAQ is down. Asian markets plummet.  I don't know what any of this really means. but I do know that for once, not having much is turning out to be a good thing! I have no stocks rising or falling, no dollars lost in the Dow or the NASDAQ, the closest I have been to the stock market is the Stock Market Game in 8th grade, where we won, but had our victory taken away because we didnt actually invest all of our money.... Well my grandma grew up in the Depression, my mother still hoards canned goods, so I didn't want to take a chance at losing all of my money in any gambling..  

I haven't checked to see if my retirement benefits have been affected, but either way I am not going to be touching that for another 20 years.    It is simply a relief to not have to worry about this.  I am so sincerely sorry for those people, especially retirees who have no idea what to do without the dividends they have been living on for 10  years. I find it shameful that so many people have been laid off from companies large and small, because of a mess that they did not have a hand in creating.   And for once I am grateful just to have a job that I know is not going anywhere... I am sincerely grateful that it is one that I love... and even if we don't get our 2.5% raise in January as expected.. I'll be glad to trade it off so that no one else finds themselves unemployed... 

PS I am also grateful that gas is under 2.50!!  Woohoo. 

What's on your mind?

Change we can believe in - 1st draft

Obama brought us hope. I guess it something we lost along the way. I watched the movie Hairspray and it reminded me of yesterday. A yesterday I wasn’t privileged to know where we as Black folks lived, worked, prayed and learned together.

Yet prosperity brought a disconnect. Desegregation brought disintegration of our sense of community and sense of pride that made sure we all had each others back. But now the American dream has changed working together into crabs in a barrel. And I can’t point the finger anywhere until I point it at myself first. Those same streets that seemed and felt familiar 15 years ago, now feel like foreign land. You know the precautions you take when you travel abroad, knowing that they prey on tourists. I feel the same way in many streets in black neighborhoods. Places that used to be haven, sacred ground for my mother and her family, now feel like a danger zone.

So I’m looking for a change of heart that I can believe. One that doesn’t have me looking over my shoulder every time I walk down a black street. I feel my pulse quicken when I see some black men walking towards me. Not suited Black men, like Barack, who scream the success of the Great Black Hope. I try to stop my anxiety from rising because I know that this may be that same black man, he just changed into his play clothes.

Knowing that my brother, father, cousins and friends are the same kind of Black men, still flashes me back to the terror of have a gun pointed at me and a friend. The audacity of getting stuck up for our purses by some of our kin.

But I still can’t shake it. I’ve lost that hope and I’m not sure how much change I believe in. I see little black boys and girls everyday that are at the bottom of the bell curve, up against the wall of high stakes testing and promotional requirements. I wonder how many of them will leave school without the skills they need, and how many people will care if they don’t succeed? Would I care if that girl who got stuck up wasn’t me and if I wasn’t paid to teach these kids 13 year olds how to read?

But even if NCLB is repealed what will really change? Will these kids gain the critical thinking skills they need to be the leaders we dream of them becoming? Or more importantly, will they begin believing in themselves for a change? Or do they cling to their labels as Level Ones- the bottom of the bunch- because they have heard them for so long? Somehow that change feels so strange, because we are raising a generation that feels estranged, lost from the goal of the American dream, boys calling themselves goons in one breath, the next whining about childish nonsense to me.

The change I believe in starts outside the White House and off the campaign trail. It doesn’t include urban professionals hosting fundraising parties so we can get drunk for a good cause every once in a while. The change I believe in starts in every home, in every family and in every one. Everyone who has letters to put behind our names, making it our duty to help someone forge that path for themselves. It begins by volunteering in your community and outside of it too. That change is the hard change, the change that requires more than putting a check in the mail or waiting in line on a Tuesday to vote.

This is the change we must not just believe in, this is the change we must be. We must be change agents, not for the next 4 or 8, but for the next four hundred and eighty years so that we are just as outraged by a person going hungry in the land of milk and honey, as we are about the cover of The New Yorker or any other BS they do or do not on TV. Every step is important and so is every choice that we make, so make sure you make sure that everyone you know is register to vote. Are you?

For the Seafood Lover in Me.

I watch a lot of TV, and most commercials I am able to watch for a little entertainment and keep it moving.. in fact a lot of commercials I do not even watch, because I always have 2 or 3 shows on deck. Except for those evil advertisements that begin with an ocean and then phase to a cracking crab leg, with butter drizzling off the juicy crab meat.. then fades to sizzling scallops sliding onto a plate with the juiciest tender rock lobster tail you've ever seen in your life.. They continue to show you perfectly blackened fish and shrimp and buttery garlicy scampi that pulls me close to the commercial.. because I think that somehow I will be able to taste the food if I get close enough, the same way I thought that if I looked hard enough at the bottom of the TV I would be rewarded with a small peak below the waist during the D'Angelo video. These sinfully delectable commercials make me not even consider my account balance and search frantically for my keys and purse so I can rush out to the nearest Red Lobster because Lobsterfest, ShrimpFest and SummerFest are always for a limited time only and can I live with myself if I live without the taste of those scallops and crablegs on the tip of my tongue... I dont think so.

Back to my roots

This summer I decided to take on the task of researching my family tree, because my family is kind of old. My mother had me when she was 30, her mother had her when she was 42, and so funerals are not so much a rarity in my life. I've seen both grandmothers pass, an aunt and two uncles and in a much more unexpected way, my father as well. So I knew names, and I have childhood memories of these people, but unfortunately time didn't give me the blessing to really pay attention to those stories of where we came from. I heard Rome, GA and Mississippi, but never had those huge family reunions that a lot of black folk have that give them that link to the past.

Drawing more branches on the family tree was both a thrilling and devastating experience. I found names and places, aunts and uncles that I've never heard of and people who worked hard and went to school. I found out that my great great grandfather knew how to read after slavery. In fact, looking back to 1837, I did not find anyone on my family tree who didn't learn how to read and write and that was a joyous surprise. I found fun names like Lula, Jones, Anna Belle and Wallace, they worked as farm hands, tilemen, coal workers and students. I found myself searching through the census and finding the places they lived and googling them today... calling my mother to plan trips down South.

After I hung up the phone with my mother, I sat and looked at the tree, looked through names and documents and soon found myself devastated. Devastated that this history had been hidden from me. Not just the history of my family, I could forgive the repression of my individual limbs. I was sad and angry that those thousands of people who were freed from slavery are not remembered as hardworking men and women who valued education and hard work. Those survivors of slavery who became free and then worked hard to leave their children in a better place than they were. I think of my grandparents who during the Great Migration came to Chicago and became coal miners and tile workers, my grandmother who became a nurse. That is the legacy I wish we all remembered of the Freedmen.

We hear historic stories of individual African Americans who were educated and made great strides at the beginning of the 20th century, but unfortunately we see what the did as out of the ordinary, as if the rest of the Black families were shucking and jiving and eating watermelon. Or maybe we dont take the time to think about them at all, because they have been successfully erased.

And maybe we are lucky because ignorance is bliss, if you don't know how great your legacy is, then you dont have to live up to anything and if you attain mediocrity, then you have done better than half of the images you see of African Americans. In a world focused on material wealth, we understand the disadvantage African Americans have because due to oppression and discrimination, we have not been able to amass enough wealth to pass it down from one generation to the next. But we unfortunately have allowed other to dismiss what we do have, and that is a sense of determination, pride and purpose. The determination of our ancestors to do better, to put on step in front of the other and make a way for our families when every obstacle was against them. And they did it! If our individual history was not stolen from us, I think that for us to succeed would not be an aberration, it would simply be expected, because throughout the years, we always have.


Yesterday, I was at Office Depot. Trying to run in quickly so I could make it home in time of American Idol (Mariah Carey night you know... and you know MC can SANG) So I pop in, scour the aisles for what I need and, after weighing my options... I scurry to the line. There are 3 people in front of me, and one person working. So this is not going to be a jiffy, but it shouldn't be long.. great 8 mins to Idol, I can JUST make it home.. By the time I did the minutes math on my cell phone, the person in front of me is walking to the register...

YES!! I am not going to miss ONE second of Mariah Carey BLISS!!!

Aside: Okay everyone who knows me KNOWS that I am an official Janet Jackson fan... everyday all day.. but I also have a huge infatuation with MC.. for 2 reasons..
1) Senior year in high school, my friends and I cut 2 days of school to meet her at the now defunct Virgin Megastore downtown.. One day to get the Bracelet, another day to get the CD signed.. and I MUST admit.. Mariah Carey is one of the most beautiful people I've ever seen in person.. She actually does glow.. there is a kind of golden aura around her that just makes pulls you in, and
2) I saw Mariah on the Rainbow tour and when I tell you she puts on the best show ever.. not so much the dancing or the performance. but she sings better than the CD, better than anything...
So I HAVE to get home to see MC...
And I'm going to make it... One more person.. Her ink and paper are all rung up.. we are outta her.. I'm inching a bit closer to the register when BAM!!! Out of nowhere... she pulls out a .....
Surely, she must have pulled this out just to keep track of her account when she uses her debit card..
But to my shock and dismay, she begins writing a check.. I was in utter disbelief, like when I saw someone listening to a Discman in the airport, or when I used a disposable camera and my little cousin was in awe that she couldnt see her picture NOW, or if I was to open a box of Always and find a sanitary belt (For more info.... http://www.mum.org/belts.htm). There are just some things whose time has come and gone... and then randomly you see a checkbook, or a portable CD player, or a rotary phone, an answering machine or a closeline.. and think
what century are we in ANYWAY!!!
Then to make matters worse, I hear her ask the cashier, "Wait, what store is this??" She had the nerve to not even write out the check while she is waiting in line so she can just write in the price at the register... This woman's refusal to step into the new millenium is making me late to Bask in the Glow that is Mariah Carey... and then next register opens... and I make my purchase....
a brand new phone for my land line and 25 feet of phone cord...
Because you know there are some things that never go out of style :-)

Accent? Never

Okay.. so people always tell me my accent is SOOOOO crazy.. and I profess.. people in Chicago do not have an accent.. what are you talking about?? New Yorkers have accents, varied from Brooklyn to Long Island to ethnic enclaves that influence one with an island flavor... Atlantans have an accent, that ranges from Georgia Peach to Gutter South.. Philly has an accent that is unmistakable around the world.. And I hear random ass people with crazy accents that make me questions what backwoods area they are from.. Some who revel in the ignance like Lil Jon with his faking ass, and Trick Daddy who loves to be hood and UGK who all make money off of it all..

Then while watching Making of the Band 4, I heard some shit I've never heard before, that dude Will.. and I'm like this dude right here talks crazy as hell... the way his voice comes out all flat and shit.. what the fuck is he on.. I mean come up, enunciate your words.. where the hell is this dude from I'm asking, when my homie asks.. "Is he from Chicago?" OHHH FUCK! Yes.. it all of a sudden sounds familiar.. the same way Kanye says "rhyme" and "time" real crazy.. the same way none of my friends can say "car" and it just comes out as "cah" the same the same the same.. ACK!! That is what I sound like.. fucking crazy.. DO people think I am illiterate when I talk... do they assume that I am one wagon away from sharecropper?? and then i remember.. Maybe yes Killa, but thankfully.. your mama put you in white schools so you could assimilate.

Yes!! The tension left my shoulders, my blood pressure slowed... talking white aint such an insult after all :-)

Customer Service

I would like to do a comparative study of customer service in the United States and in Paris, France. My thesis, they both suck but for different reason.. Check it out.

By day 7 in France, I didn't even want to eat out because it took so long to get a meal. You sit and wait 20 mins for a menu, 30 mins for water, 2o mins for the meal and then 50 mins for the check.. next thing you know the whole day is done... and you are hungry again cause its been so long since you ate by the time you get the change back.. The French just dont so much give a fuck that you have somewhere to go, or anything at all to do with your afternoon or your life. You are supposed to savor the flavor, enjoy the meal and all of that, the company the wine and if that means that you wait 20 mins to get salt for your underseasoned entree.. So be it.. THIS IS FRANCE!!!! Joie de vivre!.. something like that... so at day 7, I took it back to the states and ate pomme frites (well actually these cool potato wedges that they offer in Europe) at Mickey D's.. which actually still took bout an hour.. but ya know.... at least there was no server to deal with.

On to the States! The first day back from France, I was sooo excited to have someone ask me how my meal was going!! No i didnt need anything, in fact, everything was superb.. but its good to know that you care! So you are now thinking.. im crazy and I am not even making a point.... Aha!!.. keep reading..

This gripe is not about my fabulous and friendly service workers on the Main Line in PA.. NO NO NO.. its about that bitter ass black lady that works behind a desk in every city in America, who acts like her job is the most important fucking thing on earth! Wednesday some co-workers and I head to Ballys Fitness Center to work out. As a part of the National Body Challenge, you can get 8 weeks free with the pass. So, I forget my pass on my desk, but my homie who had been there just the day before and did not need the pass. The lady behind the desk said "Oh, you dont even need this you are in the system already."

So I get there, and I am in the system and they want me to meet with the fitness coach.. "Oh no lady, I'm just trying to go to the ab class."

"Oh no honey, I you HAVE to talk to the fitness coach and you HAVE to take the tour."

"But I know where everything is and I have already set my fitness goals, so I think I'll just head up and work out!" Certainly she will let me go, because after all working out is FREE, so i'm not taking anything.. i'm simply saving her coworkers the hassle of touring me around utterly pissed off.. Oh NO!.. She consults the other bitter ass black lady who says, "OH NO!! SHE GOT TO HAVE THE PASS!! HAS TO HAVE IT!"

I lean toward them and swallowing my rage utter, "But I'm in the system and Bally's has called my home, I know i'm there."

BABL 1 says, "Well, they called you but they THOUGHT you were going to bring in the pass!"

So I call my other friend who is coming to meet us, to grab the pass off my desk and bring it.. and there i sit in the lobby for the next 45 mins, that I could sweating up a storm and lowering my risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes.. But i'm sitting there looking at dumbass BABL 1 and 2, who ask me a couple time each if I found my pass. I want to respond, but I find it hard to scream at a woman my mother's age and say, "NO BITCH!! and instead of harassign me, you should waddle your ass up them steps and onto an elliptical." But for real.. all jokes aside, how do you weigh 200 pounds at 5'2" and you work at Ballys?

So I finally get my pass, and she doesnt use any of the information on it. .She looks at it, tucks it in with my guest pass and with a few taps of the computer and that piece of paper I am in..

Now, you may read me as a BABL who should have brought her pass to get in... but I ask in simple business sense... If your goal is for me to join your gym. In other words, spend my dollars there in exchange for a service, why wouldnt you just let me in and tell me to bring the pass tomorrow. After all, you can get a one day guest pass at Bally's for FREE.. the Pass I have is FREE so I wasn't getting away with anything! But with their sassy black attitudes, they could no let a chica slide (oooh that was the perfect place for the N-word!)

Now this is definitely not the first time that I have met a BABL. She works at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and makes you go back to the end of the line when you lose your number because she HAS to have that or its not fair, even when she knows you've been waiting there for an hour. I've her behind desks in schools, doctors offices, stores, banks, any place where folks act like the customer no longer comes first. I've met them everywhere... and they are the reason why I'll tell my kiddies to go to college because I guess when you make 6.45 an hour, there is no choice, but to be bitter.


My class, 3:00pm January 14, 2008.

Me: Tomorrow is Martin Luther King's Birthday.

Student 1: No!!! It's next Monday that's why we ain't got school!!!!

Me: No, tomorrow is his actual birthday. Monday is when we observe it.

(they dont need to learn because they "know" everything..whatever. Then i realize, I probably shouldn't have said "observe".. that's what confused them).

Student 2 has his hand up.

Me: Yes

Student 2: Teacher, if I do something good, like if i'm great like Martin Luther King, can I have my own holiday...

Me: Possibly, but there have been alot of great people, and very few of them have holidays. Well national holidays. Lets see if we can name them. Can someone tell me one?

Student 1: JESUS!!!!!

Me: LOL yes.. anyone else

Student 3: Abraham Lincoln

Me: Yes, any others.

Student 4: George Washington

Me: Anyone else.. we have Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

Student 5 Hollers: YOU FORGOT THE CARVER!!!
(my eyes roll so far into my head.. and ignore the comment.)

Me: Can anyone think of any other Americans who we celebrate with national holidays?


Me: No

S2: well someone is born on Labor Day!

Me: you are right. someone is born everyday.. that doesn't make it their holiday.

Me: Okay.. let me help you all out. .what about Columbus Day? Who is that in celebration of?

All: Christopher Columbus!

S7: Who is that??

Student 8 (adamantly): DUH!! HE FOUNDED COLUMBUS, OHIO!

I pause, then it registered.. I turn to my co-teacher and repeat the student says while hysterically laughing.. I get up and leave the room. My ignorance quotient has officially been reached... Or so I thought..

When I return, students are still discussing the merits of Mr. Christopher Columbus.
I take my seat once again.

Me: someone tell us what Christopher Columbus did... Student 9..

Student 9: He discovered America.. well he didn't discover it cause it was people already here, but you know he was the first one over here...

Me (happy that SOMEONE has a clue): Exactly!!

Student 5(looks at me with such sincerity): Is he dead?

Me: No, but I wish I was.

The End.

Epilogue: I teach 7th grade.

F the N word.

Last July the NAACP hosted a funeral for the N word, attempting to take it out of the American lexicon, and particularly the vernacular of African Americans. The most prominent civil rights organization hosted this funeral as a symbol to the rest of the world that we are no longer using this word. I understood the purpose, but I admit, when I saw Julian Bond walking down the aisle following an actual casket, I thought that the old heads had gone mad. I called my mother and asked what she thought. She applauded the movement, and scoffed at my indignance. because I understand the nuances of the word, and its place in history and in comtemporary culture. I have never arged that "nigga" is somehow better than "nigger", but frankly there is nothing wrong with black people creating their own rules, and it by no means gives white people the excuse to follow suit. We agreed to disagree.

So I continued my life saying, "Nigga please!" "Look at this nigga right here." Even randomly referring to white folks as niggas, cause they just acted so damn crazy and trifling. And I was cool with that. I debated Imus' use of nappy headed hos, and pretty much subscribed to the "I can say it, but you cant" I've even challenged my students to think about their use of nigga, among other words, and what that means about them and what it says to others. Not to encourage them to act one way or anotehr, but simply to understand and be able to participate in the discussion.. And my life was wonderful, until...

Until... while reading the "Who you callin a...." series from the July 2007 issue of Ebony Magazine, with my students one of them said.. "Ms. Shauri, I am a nigga. Nigga, nigger, whatever.. I am a nigger." I sat on the desk stunned. My mouth dropped open as quickly as my heart sank. I was looking into the eyes of children shaking their heads in agreement, who didnt understand. I heard myself saying nigga hundreds of times in such a casual way... thinking that there was no problem. Understanding the old folks who were offended, but thinking I was adept enough to handle the greatness of the word. And maybe I am... but I cannot contribute to a world that encourages children to not only use the word, but use it as an identifier.

I am a nigger.

Ima a nigger.
u r a nigger

i am a nigga.
I'm a nigger.
We are niggers.

It was my AHA moment. The moment where you know your life can never be the same. The minute when your soul has been changed, adn what was once okay is no longer acceptable. I hated myself in that moment for contributing to an epidemic. The epidemic of black people who misunderstand themselves. How can we expect them to rise above, when they see themselves as Niggers? Can they possibly beat the odds, when they see themselves as primarily the same way as those who enslaved, lynched, raped, beat, disenfrachised us? And as an educator, what am I to do about it?

I dont know. But I know whwat I can do about me... So I said Farewell to Nigger. Because a nigga is not who I see in any of us.

Parle vous francais??

NO! But I sure did take my black self to France!!!! Not on some James Baldwin, Leotyne Price, Marian Anderson stuff. I wasnt looking for artistic freedom or an escape from the racial oppression of the United States. I was going to be a tourist!! To "oooooooooooooooooooo and aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" my way through Gay Paris (shut up). And I saw it all.. and this will be the first of my ignant rants that I dont need anyone to check me on about how politically incorrect they may be or how close minded I am... I got it.. generalizations and stereotypes are unfair to everyone... moving on...

1. The French are fucking rude! Not in a cuss you out way that I find ignant black folks to be rude. Or the "Psssssst.. Ay Girl" way I find niggas on the street to be. Or even in the roll your eyes, suck your teeth way that make me despise my students. They are rude in the.. sure I'll say "si'l vous plais" and "merci beaucoup" "monssuier/madame" all friggin day.. But they will also damn near wanna kill you if you dont speak french...and then will scoff when you confirm you are an american.."Of course." as if every Chinese, English and Romanian tourist that comes to the friggin City of Lights comes with a fluent French tongue! ahhh But that wasn't even the worst.. Whatever.. I will point to the menu or let Joanna do the talking.. God Bless the US of A!! The worst was the bumping.. the constant bumping of people into me as I walked down the street.. Rush hour in Manhattan is no less busy than on the Champs Elysees, yet somehow my fellow Americans (for the most part) respect my desire to have total control over the movement of my body parts and refrain from pushing, shoving, tapping, touching, fondling (that happened) me in every street, avenue, restaurant, line, etc. And without even the "my bad," "excuse moi" "sorry".. its hard to not be bitter...


You look up and see the Arc de Triomphe and realise you are in FRIGGIN PARIS FRANCE!! My grandparents moved to Chicago to make us a better life, well. Their parents moved to give them a better life cause it was the teens and they were just tots... but the Great Migration was truly great for our family. Growing up during the Depression, while my grandmother raised her five children, she always made sure they had tons of non-perishable goods "just in case" and so my mother has cabinets full soup, sauces, beans, pasta etc.. and so do I.. every cabinet is full in my tiny one bedroom.. because I don't ever wanna run out either. But standing under the Eiffel Tower, I am far away from the war rations and canned goods that have influenced our Copeland sensibilities. My grandmother couldnt go to college, because despite her scholarship, they didnt have money to send her down to Atlanta, but there I was on the other side of the ocean, seeing things that she had only read about or seen in books. I think I might be the American Dream. I didn't have any bootstraps to pull, but my grandmother clung to hers hard, giving my mother a wonderful upbringing, making her a first generation college graduate. I can only imagine the excitement my grandmother felt when my mother made the Copeland's college grads.. and there I was making us international... So it meant alot to me to be there, and to trailblaze because my mom took it one step, and I am taking one step further... and it just gives infinite possibility to mine...

And here's to more Frenchies bumping into me, and getting bad sleep in one of those boxes in Japan, eating new things that are really bad.. and doing big things to live my American Dream.

To Be Continued...