Friday, February 29, 2008

i feel cooler

when listening to rakim.

check new tracks over at soul bounce.

"it's nothing" and "hip hop"

oh wow i'm such a nerd

ooooh finally! i figured out how to hide some of the long stuff so my first page isn't so cluttered! yay me.


the academy fails us again

and denies an incredible scholar and activist, who happens to be a woman of color, tenure. the women's studies @ univ. of michigan is the offending party here. if you know of prof. andrea smith's work and are interested in supporting her with your words, find information after the link.

why is education in this country so treacherous?

Statement of University of Michigan Students and Faculty in Support of Andrea Smith’s Tenure Case

On February 22nd, 2008, University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA) issued a negative tenure recommendation for Assistant Professor Andrea Lee Smith. Jointly appointed in the Program in American Culture and the Department of Women’s Studies, Dr. Smith’s body of scholarship exemplifies scholarly excellence with widely circulated articles in peer-reviewed journals and numerous books in both university and independent presses including Native Americans and the Christian Right published this year by Duke University Press. Dr. Smith is one of the greatest indigenous feminist intellectuals of our time. A nominee for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Smith has an outstanding academic and community record of service that is internationally and nationally recognized. She is a dedicated professor and mentor and she is an integral member of the University of Michigan (UM) intellectual community. Her reputation and pedagogical practices draw undergraduate and graduate students from all over campus and the nation.

Dr. Smith received the news about her tenure case while participating in the United States’ hearings before the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Ironically, during those very same hearings, the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decisions that restricted affirmative action policies at UM specifically were cited as violations of international law. At the same time, there is an undeniable link between the Department of Women’s Studies and LSA’s current tenure recommendations and the long history of institutional restrictions against faculty of color. In 2008, students of color are coming together to protest the way UM’s administration has fostered an environment wherein faculty of color are few and far between, Ethnic Studies course offerings have little financial and institutional support, and student services for students of color are decreasing each year.

To Support Professor Andrea Smith: The Provost must hear our responses! Write letters in support of Andrea Smith’s tenure case. Address email letters to ALL of the following:

* Teresa Sullivan, Provost and Executive VP for Academic Affairs, LSA,
* Lester Monts, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, LSA,
* Mary Sue Coleman, President,

Voice your ideas on the web forum at

To Support Women of Color at Michigan and the Crisis of Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies:

Attend the student organized March 15th Conference at UM!!!!

Campus Lockdown: Women of Color Negotiating the Academic Industrial Complex is free and open to the public.

Speakers include renowned activists and scholars Piya Chatterjee, Angela Davis, Rosa Linda Fregoso, Ruthie Gilmore, Fred Moten, Clarissa Rojas, and Haunani-Kay Trask. For more information and to register, visit:

• Smith is author of the following books:
o Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide
o Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely
o Sacred Sites, Sacred Rites
• Smith is editor and/or co-editor of the following anthologies:
o Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology
o The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial
o Native Feminisms Without Apology
o Forthcoming on theorizing Indigenous Studies
• She has published 15 peer reviewed articles in widely circulated academic journals
including American Quarterly, Feminist Studies, National Women’s Studies
Association Journal, Hypatia, Meridians, and the Journal of Feminist Studies in
• Smith is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards from organizations such as the Lannan Foundation, University of Illinois, Gustavus Myers Foundation, Ford
• Smith was cited in the U.S. Non-Governmental Organization Consolidated Shadow
Report to the United Nations
• A co-founder of Incite! Women of Color Against Violence and the Chicago chapter
of Women of All Red Nations, she has been a key thinker behind large-scale national
and international efforts to develop remedies for ending violence against women
beyond the criminal justice system. As a result of her work, scholars, social service
providers, and community-based organizations throughout the United States have
shifted from state-focused efforts to more systemic approaches for addressing
violence against women. In recognition of her contributions, Smith was nominated
for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
• As of June 2007, Professor Smith’s book, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American
Indian Genocide (2005) had sold over 8,000 copies. Three-fourths of these sales
have gone to college and university courses. In addition, the leading Native studies
organization, Native American and Indigenous Studies Association organized a
special panel about this book at their last annual conference (2007). The international impact of Conquest is evidenced by its reprinting in Sami (Sweden) and in Maori Institutions in New Zealand; by Professor Smith’s invitation to participate in an academic workshop in Germany based on the book; and by the book’s frequent use in Native Studies classrooms in Canada.
• She has also played a key role in contributing social-justice based research, teaching, and community building at the University of Michigan.
• Under Andrea Smith’s mentorship, a large number of undergraduate and graduate
students have grown as intellectual members of the UM’s campus community.

• Her intellectual work contributes to the fields of Native American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, Religious Studies, and American Studies.
• Smith is jointly appointed in the Program in American Culture and the Department of Women’s Studies at Michigan.
• The Program in American Culture gave a positive recommendation for Smith’s tenure, while the Department of Women’s Studies gave a negative recommendation. After the tenure recommendations were released from the two departments, the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts reviewed the tenure file and also gave a negative tenure recommendation.
• She is currently the Director of Native American Studies at Michigan.

letter and info courtesy of la chola.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

take back the mic

sharing our voices

who's in?

how much does a hit on a black fetus cost?

h/t to feministing on this one.

i don't know, but i guess we can ask Autumn Kersey, Vice President of Development and Marketing at Planned Parenthood of Ohio.

She agreed to take funds from a donor earmarking his/her funds for the aborting of black fetuses. According to the article below, Kersey "chuckles nervously."

i feel nauseous right now.

Article here, along with transcript of phone call.

this is definitely an interesting spin to the "pro-choice" movement...

"diversity training"- what's the point?

so part of my job involves training educators in the use of the curricula created by my org. i travel all over the five boroughs, visiting different afterschool programs that use our stuff. the trainings usually involve some combination of icebreakers, "identity" activities, a pedagogical mini-lesson, and an overview of the structure of the actual curriculum. we call our work "diversity" education, and because we deal with issues of identity, participants generally react to our work as "diversity training."

most of the time, these trainings are not hard. the icebreaker does in fact break the ice; participants have "moments of understanding" around the identity activities, thinking about ways in which they are privileged or not; everyone gets the pedagogy and the structure of the curriculum.

and then there are the other times, when things don't go so well.

how do i judge whether something is a success? to be honest? i only think a training is a success if i have what i feel is evidence of the participants having confronted their privilege.

"okay, so what?" you say. you're shrugging your shoulders right now, i know.

but the "so what" is that i think there's something to be unpacked there. like, why is it that i think forcing people to confront privilege is so necessary in the role that i play? and is that my job? is that my place, to go around asking people to recognize the privilege in their race or class or gender expression? is my need for the validation of their exploration about me or them?

i'm working on a lesson on race for a project right now, and it got me thinking. when we talk about identity, and try to shed a light on the structural nature of social identity, what is our goal? i know that consciousness is the first step towards acting for social change, but somehow i don't think that my job, as described by my boss, is to bring about social change in the lives of afterschool educators. i don't know that the two hours i spend with said educators is really even a viable place or time to undertake such a task. i don't know if i'm even really sufficiently trained to do that.

a few days ago i trained in brooklyn. the student population of the afterschool program is predominantly asian and eastern european. i, the black woman with a big afro, stood in front of a room of 6 white people (one a fairly recent immigrant from italy), and listened while they danced around the identity activity i placed in front of them. when i asked for reactions to the exercise, three of the six people stated that they were annoyed by the exercise, because "none of these things {race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, ability, first language, biological sex, the list goes on...} really matter. i'm just a person. if anything, i see myself as american."

two of the other people stated that it was interesting, because the only thing on there that they ever thought about was age. one, the italian immigrant, said first language was important to her, because she only recently became comfortable with english and is "really glad it is now her first language." this came after a few of her peers spoke about the fact that they never think about first language, because english is so easy! it just rolls off the tongue!

so i tried to unpack, to push. i really did. but no one wanted to go anywhere. anytime i started to talk about privilege, eyes started to wander and doodling commenced. it was really frustrating.

and that, i guess, is why i wonder if it's my place to struggle against all of this at all. if i want to keep my job, at least. because at the end of the day, if the evaluations aren't great, i hear about it. if people feel bullied, or bad about themselves, at the end of the time they spend with me, i haven't "done my job."

it makes me wonder about the role of diversity training, and the end goal. sometimes it seems that making people feel better about themselves while giving them a chance to feel better about the "strange" people around them, is the only real goal.

argh. this is so not my thing.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

just in case you're wondering what my saturday will be like...

it will involve "the brother from another planet."

just fyi.

don't don't don't DON'T

don't you...forget about me... as you walk on by, as you walk away...

largest baci ever...

ah, perugina. i almost forgot about you. but now that i have eaten six of you in the space of as many hours, i pledge never to forget again.


what will NCLB mean in 2008?

i dunno, and after a long debate last night, i'm not sure i'm ready to start to even think about it. my pal r. l'heureux lewis, though, ruminates upon the subject over at the root. check it out: "Please Leave it Behind."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

my pessimism is being conquered...slowly, slowly

h/t to grassroots mom @ daily kos for this carefully researched post. granted, i am lazy and could have done this research myself, but it is nice to encounter an obama supporter who has the time and the energy to show us all the truth of the absolute importance of obama winning the democratic nomination.

over the last few weeks i'd gotten past my initial obama-love and started to worry about what happens after he wins the nomination. what happens when something goes wrong, and this groundswell of supportive americans has to look past what is so often referenced as being his strength, his "charisma," and have to begin to deal with barack obama as a person? a fallible human being? i'm a bit timid at heart, and these risks always scare me. i'm worried for him.

i realize now that i have to rely on him, and me, and us, to take some time to educate ourselves on the issues and be prepared to work with and for our country.

grassroots mom's post "i refuse to buy into the obama hype" helped me get there. it's long, but really informative. readup!

Monday, February 25, 2008

i feel kinda bad for whoopi

the comments on this article hurt my feelings

article here, on the need to increase faculty and grad student diversity @ stanford.

racist, dismissive comments here.

maybe i don't want to go to stanford after all.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

a play about home

i will never forget the day in middle school when there was a big story in the news about violence in liberty city, and jojo adams asked me if my dad was okay, cuz wasn't he a drug dealer or something? liberty city is notorious in the media story of miami's black community, and trick daddy and the like have definitely not done anything to clarify the situation. my story of liberty city is, admittedly, borne out of never living there, yet being called upon to be an educator (as jojo's comment so clearly illustrates). all i know about liberty city is this:

liberty city is where my great-grandparents lived, in a little yellow house that my family filled once a year with peas and rice and red velvet cake and conch fritters. we never lingered long, but the dark coziness of aunt scriven's living room never ever felt unsafe to me.

my father was never a drug dealer. neither was april yvette thompson's dad. and those truths are part of why i want to see thompson's new play, liberty city. i think i'll be buying sunday matinee tickets for sometime in march. anyone interested?

oooh mr. cupcake, you're so yummy and misshapen!

final messy product. mm mm good!

so i decided, as my sunday afternoon challenge, to do a remix on us vs. food's buttercream quickie.

for my version, i decided to try to make cupcakes and use a minty dark chocolate in the cake. i used the same buttercream recipe (um, SO easy and light and tasty)! the choice of the cupcake "format" interesting one, considering the fact that i don't own a muffin pan. you will see the folly of my decision to "wing it" manifest itself soon enough :). join me on this culinary journey...

i could smell the coffee, mint, and chocolate flavors all at once...

i should have found a freaking muffin pan. but hey, the shapes give the "cupcakes" character, yes?

this is the one freaking cupcake that turned out the right way...

these are some of the ones that didn't...

mmm, vanilla buttercream...

a few notes on the final product:
the cupcakes are moist and super-chocolatey, and the mint flavor really shines through. my friend jackie was delighted with the mintiness, and the buttercream is a nice, not-too-heavy accompaniment. also, the crazy oval shape feels all gourmet and shit, right?

thanks, us vs. food, for the great idea...

Saturday, February 23, 2008


really awesome documentary currently looking for screening spaces.

black lesbian women speaking out. check out the myspace page for lots of great clips.

lake jewelry

i received my latest etsy purchase in the mail today, and i have to say, i am pleasantly surprised.

i love buying handmade and supporting independent artists/artisans, but buying from etsy is risky...sometimes it would seem that the artist used a "magic" camera while photographing their goods, and created an image that is completely unlike the product i receive in the mail.

lake, though is a different story. the blossom vines earrings i ordered arrived, and are just as beautiful as i hoped.


check out etsy for more cool finds...

god i'm sad i don't have tix to the apollo

this weekend. i will NOT see the roots. tear.

my heart continues to break as i listen to the stream of the new single, "75 bars," over at Soulbounce.

i'll leave you with one of my forever favorites:

Friday, February 22, 2008

um have campus newspapers always been hotbeds of racist bullshit?

well, maybe.

this very astute young man apparently is interested in teaching his asian peers a lesson. satire can be funny, sometimes. sarcasm can be funny, sometimes. plain stupidity is never really funny.

"if it's war the asians want..."

good ol' max actually shares his email address at the end of the article. feel free to share your thoughts.

school's response/statement...

one more link

women in hip-hop in cuba!

if you want some cuban hip-hop sounds, hit me up. papa humbertico, epg&b, anonimo consejo, hermanos de causa...

i'm your hookup.

hip hop ed- it matters!

city on a hill press has something to say about hip-hop in schools, and the power of our on.

Education to a Brand New Beat

By Elizabeth Limbach

It’s a Tuesday morning in Inglewood, California, and Ms. Gray’s 5th grade class is talking about Nas.

“It’s almost like he’s being hypocritical,” one student articulated. “I know that he has made songs that are really positive, talking about how black people were kings and queens, and now he’s wearing this T-shirt.”

The previous day, the rapper had shown up to the 2008 Grammy’s with the word “nigger” boldly written across his chest to promote his forthcoming album of the same title. And, despite their youth, these fifth graders asked some heavy questions about the superstar.

“They [were] asking me if he understands the effects it would have on black youth who would see it, and how people all over the world might now think it’s OK to call him this,” said teacher Salina Gray. “I thought that was really profound for 10-year-olds.”

Gray is one of the many teachers across the country who uses hip-hop in the classroom to engage students, most of whom are generally disconnected from the standardized curriculum.

A growing number of hip-hop educators, scholars and activists are currently uniting in a budding hip-hop education movement to counter this disengagement.

Concrete figures on the movement may be nonexistent, but the sheer variety of grassroots and community-based hip-hop education organizations and quantity of available hip-hop lesson plans reveal the trend’s growing size. And while these groups and individual teachers are separately scattered from coast-to-coast, they share the common goal of empowering youth through hip-hop culture.

Hip-Hop Education 101
Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit,
Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit,
When water boils, a liquid becomes gas,
Gravity makes rain drop down fast,
Now you know science, so don’t ever say, ‘I can’t’
Now it’s time to say the Science Chant
— excerpt from “The Science Chant” by Dr. Ron Kelley

Hip-hop education manifests itself in the classroom in as many ways as it appears in popular culture. From math raps that teach multiplication to giving the option of presenting a book report as a hip-hop song, the possibilities are endless.

The practice utilizes the four traditional elements of hip-hop culture — DJing, MCing, breakdancing and graffiti — in one of three educational approaches: as a hook to get the students interested in a lesson, as a tool for teaching the disciplines, and, thirdly, as a subject in and of itself.

In her 13 years of teaching, Gray has found that hip-hop is an invaluable way to get her students invested in their education. Not only as a means of teaching curriculum, but also as a platform for discussing the myriad of social, political, economic and personal issues that are packed into hip-hop culture and reflect the larger society.

“Hip-hop is a vehicle to talk about very complicated facts of society in a way that they understand and are interested in,” she said. “We talk about misogyny, patriarchy and racism. Then we’ll bring in a song and deconstruct it, and the students are able to point [them] out.”

Using popular culture in the classroom is nothing new. Most educators behind this movement were using hip-hop in their classes long before they found one another and united in the cause. And while few here in small town Santa Cruz may be aware of its mounting presence in inner-city education, it is becoming increasingly popular in K-12 classes, after-school programs, prisons and youth camps throughout the country.

Thanks to the recent efforts of numerous non-profit, community-based and national organizations, individual teachers now have the help of a legion of hip-hop educational resources, from lesson plans and student workbooks to teacher training courses and conferences. Even the New York Times, PBS and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame offer hip-hop lesson plans.

The New York-based hip-hop Association (H2A) recently published the Hip-Hop Education Guidebook: Volume 1, the first all-encompassing set of hip-hop lesson plans that cover all subjects and meet education standards.

Martha Diaz, H2A president and founder, found the inspiration for the education initiative (H2ed) from her years of using hip-hop as a teacher in the Bronx. After putting on three H2A teacher-training summits, Diaz saw an opportunity to make hip-hop education into a tangible reality for other educators.

“We realized there were some amazing lesson plans out there,” she said. “Educators were rocking it all over the world and we needed to show that, so we self-published the book that would highlight the best ones and prove that it can be used in the classroom, standardized and everything — you won’t get in trouble for it.”

The guidebook’s lessons range from an activity for middle school students that uses break dance moves to teach the muscle groups to one for high schoolers entitled “Who Runs Your Streets? Introducing Democracy, the Electoral Process and Government Into the Classroom.” The latter intertwines Eminem’s politically focused music video “Mosh” with a study on the Declaration of Independence and the writings of Frederick Douglass.

In addition to using hip-hop to cover core subjects, Diaz believes it has great potential for teaching violence prevention, social skills, entrepreneurship, community organizing and to help develop artistic talents. She attributes these many possibilities to the multi-cultural, multi-generational and multi-ethnic identity of hip-hop, something that is often overshadowed by current, mainstream perceptions of the culture.

“It isn’t what people think it is,” Diaz said. “It is a part of the culture for a reason. It is our role in educating the community in how to use hip-hop in a positive way in the classroom, after school and for community development.”

Answering Cries for Help: While programs like H2ed and D.C. based hip-hop Education Literacy Program (HELP), which Gray employs, seek to remedy the lack of engagement in inner city classrooms, they are still only addressing the problem from within the system — a system that may need to be radically changed before these groups of students are properly incorporated and cared for. Gray, along with most hip-hop educators, recognizes this.

“Historically, and even currently, urban public schools, which pretty much means schools where there are black and brown youth, were not designed with the notion of creating analytical thinkers who were going to go on to become the next wave of local leaders, entrepreneurs, etc,” Gray said. “A lot of schools are basically warehouses that shuffle kids from grade to grade, preparing them to become low-income wage earners and some would even say criminals.”

Tricia Rose, hip-hop scholar, author and professor of African Studies at Brown University, cautions against seeing hip-hop education as a means in itself for solving this education crisis.

“These are all strategies for managing disenfranchisement and lack of education,” Rose said. “Whatever we can do is great but we can’t put a Band-Aid on the fundamental problem; hip-hop can’t fix the fundamental problem.’”

While this may be true, the efforts of hip-hop education can help to soothe the current educational estrangement of urban students. According to those mobilizing the movement, students are marginalized mainly by what the system doesn’t do: the curriculum does not cover their histories, cultures or communities, and the teaching staff often does not reflect the student body. Not surprisingly, then, these students find spaces outside of the classroom, such as hip-hop culture, much more relatable.

Baba Zumbi, perhaps more commonly known as Zion from the Oakland-based underground rap group Zion-I, realizes the authority the hip-hop industry has over youth. As a former second and third grade teacher, Zumbi recalls that the young students’ loyalty already lay with hip-hop and not with their education.

“They would come in every day with the latest Usher song or Bustah Rhymes or whoever, and they’d know every lyric,” he remembers. “And I’d be like, ‘How do you know that song, but when I give you this piece of paper on something we’ve been doing for two weeks straight you don’t want to do it?’”

He soon realized that embracing hip-hop as a means of education would be the most effective way of changing this.

Andrew Landers, a special education teacher at Wadleigh Secondary School in Harlem, New York, agrees that school and education are falling far behind in the scope of students’ main influences.

“Where I live there are a lot of other things at the forefront of the child’s universe other than education,” Landers said. “There are problems with the family, or problems right in front of you on the street all the time. When there is so much else going on, [it is hard when] you are trying to get your students excited about something.”

Landers, who is now the co-director of H2A’s education initiative, started using hip-hop to find something that would make his students, many of whom are what he calls “reluctant learners,” feel like education was something they were a part of.

“All the students I’m working with love hip-hop, so in that form I was using hip-hop as a way to spark interest and create educational moments,” he said.

As something familiar, interesting and packed full of culturally relevant meanings, Landers says that hip-hop allowed his students to bring what they knew and cared about into the classroom.

“[Hip-hop education] is showing respect for the student’s life and interests, which is something they desire and don’t get a lot of.”

Hip-Hop Education, a community-based organization in Chicago that works with youth to create positive hip-hop music, believes that music, and hip-hop especially, can help to keep children on the right track.

Sabrina Wiggins, CEO and co-founder of the organization, said that programs like hers must be more widely implemented in order for this to happen.

“We want to try to get in to the school systems, and some of the juvenile systems as well, because they need our help right now,” Wiggins said. “They’re crying out for our help and no one is really there to help them at this point.”

The program works with young children to create positive alternatives to mainstream music. They write and record songs that discuss serious issues like 9/11 in a child-relevant manner, but also instructional raps about remembering to “Buckle Up” and brush your teeth.

“’The Toothbrush Song’ was created for my youngest daughter,” Wiggins explained. “When she gets up in the morning, she sings along to that song and knows ‘okay, I need to brush my teeth.’”

*“The Kids Just Don’t Know”*: As a junior high school teacher in Oakland, California, Jamal Cooks began to realize that his students, although they whole-heartedly identified with hip-hop, actually knew very little about the culture or history.

“The kids don’t know,” said Cooks, who is now a PhD Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University and creator of the online teacher resource bank, hip-hop Circuit. “It’s important that if you call yourself a hip hopper, if you see yourself as being a part of hip-hop culture, [you have an] understanding about its history and where it came from, and that it was about a socio-political movement of a group of people.”

Thus, hip-hop education, when done properly, also encompasses lessons on its history, roots and pivotal figures such as Afrika Bambaata, KRS-One and Public Enemy. Teachers also rely on positive modern day examples, such as Lauryn Hill, Common, Talib Kweli and Kanye West, to promote conscious hip-hop to their students. Cooks, who has even used Will Smith when working with elementary school children, explains that educating kids on the positive powers of hip-hop would not only provide them with better influences and perspectives, but also lend toward a brighter future for the genre.

“If they understand the history of hip-hop, I think they can respect hip-hop culture a whole lot more,” Cooks said. “The next hip-hop artist is hopefully going to be the kids coming out of my classroom, [so] hopefully [hip-hop education] can impact the future generation of hip-hop artists.”

“Hip and Hop is not just music/ Hip is the knowledge/ Hop is the movement” –KRS-ONE

In the day and age of No Child Left Behind and high-stakes testing, administrators and older teachers are rarely willing to teach anything that doesn’t correspond directly to standardized tests. hip-hop educators are also facing opposition from those who are reluctant to stray from the canon or hesitant about their ability to teach hip-hop.

Cooks is determined to deconstruct this last reason, which he cites as one of the main myths about hip-hop education.

“[There is] the perception that if you do hip-hop in the classroom, the teacher has to come in with their pants sagging and Timbaland boots, and that’s not what I’m saying,” Cooks said. “I’m saying allow the students an opportunity and a space to bring in a piece of their lives, a piece of their identity, which could be hip-hop, into the classroom.”

Educators including H2A’s Diaz and Landers agree that the movement needs the legitimacy of studies and research to be more widely accepted by administrations. H2A will be publishing a report on effectiveness later this year, from which Diaz expects positive results. She is confident that current hip-hop education and activism will make visible differences in the future of hip-hop culture.

“All of these seeds that everyone is planting will create a whole new generation of youth that are leaders,” she said. “It’s not cool to be dumb anymore, hang out on the corner and smoke blunts. It’s cool to have the latest technology, its cool to know world issues, it’s cool to know our history. So we are cultivating this new generation and hopefully we will have created future hip hop ambassadors.”

These future ambassadors, local leaders and next generation hip-hoppers still have a lot working against them in the current educational system. Until larger education issues are addressed, the hip-hop education movement will continue to fight for the academic success of disengaged youth.

Cooks, who maintains a sense of optimism characteristic of the movement, has a hopeful vision for the future of inner-city education that hip-hop could help generate.

“I want to be able to walk into any classroom across the country, especially in urban, inner-city areas, and see kids wanting to learn and excited about learning,” Cooks said. “If it comes up on test scores, fine. But more importantly, if that makes that kid come back the next day because they’re excited to be in a class, or if something they talked about in a hip-hop song allowed them to be able to make a good decision outside of school, to be able to get out of that situation and make it back to school the next day, to me those are most important things.”

i could watch this movie over and over again

i was looking over old posts and it's still just so great. sonj can't find the bootleg tho...does anyone have the hookup? :)

barack the vote

i'm up to go to the gym. yes, i know it's 5 a.m., but i had to get up and erase some drunken posts (appletinis are $5 until 9 on weekdays at moca, AND they have the best chicken tenders EVER) about obama and my ex and haters and cake (wtf, right?!) from last night. god, i'm a weirdo sometimes.

anyway, i went to a debate-watching party last night and i left the party, fell asleep, and woke up this morning feeling really pessimistic. i don't know what the root of my pessimism is, so i'm going to try to figure it out here.

things i know:
  • i love barack obama. i like his presence, i like his position papers on his website (well enough), i like his wife (and want to be her one day).
  • i trust michelle more than i trust barry. i think this comes from my general distrust of men? and i think it's weird that it carries over into politics. but then the personal is political, right?
  • i don't trust america. i don't trust this nation to elect the right candidate for the right reasons.
  • i don't trust politicians. i feel that there is always spin, and i hate spin. i like straight talk. i am pretty straightforward in my life, which sometimes doesn't serve me too well, and i think that's why i like michelle. she seems to be about straight talk, even when people don't want to hear what she has to say.
  • i know that my viewpoints are way too far left to be represented by an "electable" candidate in this country.
all that being said, why can't i let go of this negativity? maybe i just want more, like kameelah does. or maybe i wish i could have real hope. i dunno. off to the gym to try to shake it off.

random side note: why did i see one of lisa turtle's old outfits at H&M on wednesday? crazy!

sunday afternoon baking challenge

buttercream quickie, thursday night smackdown style.

i had the pleasure of actually trying a piece of this cake this week, and i can say it's one of the most heavenly things i've ever encountered.

you have been notified. alter your sunday afternoon activities accordingly. :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

one ferry, three men, lots of anger

**sorry, long post!**

i took the staten island ferry and to and from SI today for work. both trips started calmly, with my head buried in reading material, and both ended with me in the midst of a good amount of anger. the first time (on the way there), i scribbled a poem in the back of the book i'm reading, almost running into the two men that inspired its writing (it needs revision, badly); the second time (on the way back), i wrote a blog post angrily on the margins of a piece of paper i found in my bag. i'm going to share both pieces here.

i don't know what's up with me and anger lately. there's something, though, about constantly feeling like me and mine are being openly dismissed/used/abused by others that just makes my blood boil a little bit. i bite my tongue, i don't fight, but my silence doesn't erase my anger.

i write my anger, and hope that it will resolve itself.

tears of rage, or
my brother always says i cry too easy

90 miles,
they say

two white(?) men.
the Staten Island ferry.

90 miles?
yeah, yeah
90 miles from Miami to

so close, they get
and their feet are

yuk, yuk.

90 miles.

as a tear of rage
seeped out of my eye,
i neglected to share
that cuba is 90 miles from
key west,

and when they
shouted out
the aryan nation
as the only
to miami's
i didn't say
that the problem is
ignorant bigots like them,
wearing 9.11.01 tee shirts.

i didn't say that
i'd prefer
wet feet
ignorance and hatred

i didn't say
that our country
was built with
wet feet,
or that

it would seem that
along with
drying feet
shrinking brains and narrowing

i didn't insult the
accent or

i didn't make
sweeping generalizations
about the group of
i believe he most resembles.

i didn't blame him and
his "kind"
for my lack of
comprehensive health insurance
or my
$60,000 in
student loans.
i didn't expect him
to understand
my tears
or my

there are just so. many. things. i
didn't say.


why is it that black middle aged men so often consider my body their property? at least once a week i am confronted with men old enough to be my father commenting on/trying to touch/eyeing my black female body.

there is something in their attention, too, that is about my youth. the way they comment and gesture suggests that i am, at once, their daughter and their concubine, simultaneously innocent and deviant.

today, one man decided that his avenue to interaction with me would be schooling me on manners. after he sat next to me, staring at me for a number of minutes, i yawned without covering my mouth. i felt warmth near my cheek, and i realized he had raised his hand to almost touch my face! "cover your mouth when you yawn," he said. "you're so pretty!"

i gave him the stinkeye and went back to reading. after assuring me that he wasn't "trying to teach me anything," he decided to model the correct yawning "procedure" with his newspaper. i asked him to leave me alone and promptly called my mother, telling her loudly that there was a crazy man next to me. he continued to stare openly and smile creepily throughout the (too long) SI ferry ride, and to place his coffee cup as near my thigh as possible without actually touching me. he protested when i rose to move away.

why do men, black men who are supposed to be supports in my community, alternately ignore and abuse this idea of me? i can't get the attention of an educated black man under 35 for my life, but granddaddies are in large supply for the position of fetishist.

i don't understand what is both so alluring and off-putting about me. is it my independence? my unwillingness, as one friend put it a few weeks ago, to "pretend to be weak"? is it my personality? my expectations? because none of those things are on display. i don't know how to erase myself enough to lose the attention i don't want and to gain that which i so desire. to be honest, it depresses me to think that i will never be fully attractive to the men that are most attractive to me as myself. it depresses me to think that in order to find a life partner i have to deny parts of myself. it depresses me to think that i either have to give up on finding love, or be willing to define love as old men touching my face without permission on a ferry, or young men cheating on me and refusing to call what they feel love. youth breeds man-boys unready for relationships, and age breeds man-boys who want 25 year olds like the woman i am now, "ripe and fresh."

ugh. what a freaking day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

a few thoughts on cuba (kinda)

i grew up in miami, florida in a section of town called carol city. carol city was mostly black. some caribbean, but lots of african-americans too. carol city sat right next to opa-locka and hialeah. opa-locka was mostly black as well, while hialeah was known to be largely latino (i didn't know the term latino at the time, and the assumption, at least in my family, was that most, if not all, latinos were cuban, so we said hialeah was cuban. i have no idea if that is actually true.)

i went to school in two major areas, neither of which was my own neighborhood. i went to school first in aventura, a section of north miami beach about 20 minutes from my house. the school i attended had a gifted program. in order to get permission to attend the school, i took an i.q. test at the age of four and then had to go in for a one-on-one interview. i had to prove my worth to a very kind woman named ms. hagan, who told me i was very bright and helpful, and buzzed around like a little bee. that interview sealed my fate. if i had not impressed ms. hagan, i don't think i would be where i am today.

i then went on to win a scholarship to a prestigious private school in 6th grade. throughout my middle school and high school years, i was surrounded by the cuban privileged, people who chanted "castro no, cuba si!" in p.e. i heard stories of houses seized and midnight flights to new york city from havana, tales of jewels left behind.

it wasn't until i was in college that i realized that cubans could be black, too. this was not from a lack of understanding of the caribbean, mind you. but there was something about the way that cuban rafters were always allowed to stay, and haitian rafters were always sent back, that suggested to me that cubans were always lighter and "righter" than people like me. my family was lucky-- our relatives lived in the bahamas, and coming to america always seemed easy enough, as long as they went back to nassau eventually and only spent their time here scrubbing floors/laying concrete/curling hair. my cousins would come through for year or two, sleep in an extra room, on the couch, convert the garage, while they made some money, and then they would head back, never to really be seen again.

i went to college in california. it was there that i learned that all latinos are not cuban or brasilian or ecuadorian or puerto rican or colombian. not all latinos ate black beans and white rice and danced samba and merengue and hicieron lechones in the backyard. it was in california that i ate my first tortilla and had homemade salsa for the first time. these were not things "we" did. it was in california that i got the crazy (according to my family and friends back home) idea to study abroad in cuba. i decided to see if things were really as bad as everyone said they were.

what i learned in cuba changed my way of seeing. i don't agree with everything fidel castro has done, or, even, the length of his rule. there is also something to be said about the people that remain in a country that has been neglected by the rest of the world for so long as a result of our american bullying. there was structural inequity in the capitalist cuban state that, as a matter of course, transferred into the revolutionary state in certain ways. there was no mistake about who was left behind to suffer at the hands of a capitalist, cold-war usa. i will only say that more current cuban nationals look like me than did any of the kids i knew back in miami.

i wrote my grandma a postcard from havana. it pictured three cuban girls in school uniforms. i told my grandma that i couldn't believe what i saw.

"cuba could be our country, grandma," i said. "i see you and me all around."

cuba could my country. and for that reason more than any other, i hope this transfer of power is simple and sound. i hope my friend yordis is released from prison, and that the embargo is lifted. i hope that the capitalist world will not take advantage of a country of young people that are so naive in so many ways. i hope those people who could be my people survive.

si se puede?

more color of change action-- sign the petition!

Dear Friend,

Voters in places like Atlanta, Brooklyn, St. Louis, and Inglewood have made clear their choice for president: Barack Obama. So why are some members of the Congressional Black Caucus threatening to use their power as "superdelegates" to undermine those votes and nominate Hillary Clinton?

Voters should decide elections--not politicians. And members of the Congressional Black Caucus should amplify the political voice of their constituents, not silence it. I've joined in demanding that the CBC to listen to the voters; let's tell them to vote with the people, not against us:

Voters in almost all the districts represented by the CBC have chosen Obama, helping him win more delegates than Clinton. But only some delegates vote based on the results of primaries. A fifth of the delegates that will vote at the convention -- and decide the nomination -- are "superdelegates" that can technically vote however they like, regardless of what the voters say. These superdelegates are members of Congress, senators, governors and Democratic party insiders. In a contest this close, they have the power to overturn the will of voters, and decide the outcome.

In 2000 and 2004, CBC members stood up to defend the rights of Black voters that had been disenfranchised. It would be a disgrace for its members to now undermine the votes of Black people in their districts. Rarely have Black voters across the country been so unified behind a particular candidate; if CBC members vote against their constituents, it will diminish the power of Black voters in a historic election that could result in our country's first Black president.

It will take courage and conviction for CBC members to break with back-room politics and stand up for democracy. But we must demand it. Please join us:


Monday, February 18, 2008

pass it on- i'm one of the "activist educators"...


Conscious Women Rock the Page: Activists Team Up to Publish Curriculum that Uses Hip Hop Fiction to Explore Social Issues and Promote Political Action


To support educators who wish to use hip hop fiction in their classrooms to explore social issues and promote activism among their students, four women have teamed up to publish a curriculum entitled Conscious Women Rock the Page: Using Hip Hop Fiction to Incite Social Change (C♀RP.)

C♀RP is based on three hip hop novels praised for their treatment of substantive issues from race relations to dating violence in a genre often criticized for glorifying street life and perpetuating stereotypes. The curriculum contains over thirty lessons which are appropriate for use in middle school classrooms through university campuses. The novels upon which C♀RP is based are:

That White Girl, the debut novel of JLove, inspired by her own coming-of-age as a young White woman in Denver in the 80s which included becoming a graffiti artist and joining the local Crips.

The Sista Hood: On the Mic by E-Fierce is the first in a four-part series about four girls of color at a San Francisco high school who bond across their differences in race, class and sexual orientation through hip hop.

Picture Me Rollin’, the second of three novels by Black Artemis, brings a feminist twist to the “felon-come-home” tale as it follows a young Latina who is obsessed with Tupac Shakur in her uphill battle to rebuild her life.

C♀RPcontains lessons on multiple subjects and disciplines including English, social studies, ethnic studies, race relations, women’s studies, criminal justice and health and sexuality to name just a few.


is a collaboration among four women known in socially conscious hip hop circles: Jennifer “JLOVE” Calderón, author of That White Girl; Elisha “E-Fierce” Miranda, author of The Sista Hood; Sofía “Black Artemis” Quintero, author of Picture Me Rollin’; and Marcella Runell Hall, co-editor of The Hip Hop Education Guidebook. They have also enlisted a diverse team of activist educators to design lessons. The activities in C♀RP spark discussions on issues such as race, gender, class, sexual orientation and more.


Conscious Women Rock the Page
will be available in late March 2008.


The creators Black Artemis, E-Fierce, JLove and Marcella will release the curriculum and demonstrate a sample lesson at the annual Women, Action and the Media Conference in Cambridge, MA, March 28-30, 2008. For more information about the conference, visit the WAM! website.


Committed educators are always searching for ways to strike the balance between meeting students where they are yet bringing them to a higher level academically, socially and even emotionally. As a result, many are incorporating hip hop in their lessons from using rap songs to teach metaphors and similes to looking at the recording industry to impart lessons in economics.

Street lit – often called “hip hop fiction” – is immensely popular and credited for getting reluctant students to read. However, conscientious educators hesitate to use it as it frequently glorifies street life and perpetuates negative stereotypes. Whether they are middle and high school teachers, after-school program facilitators, community activists at grassroots organizations or college professors, C♀RP is a curriculum for educators who want to introduce popular media in their learning environments to engage their students on meaningful social and political issues, facilitate their empowerment, and inspire them to take action.

That White Girl, The Sista Hood and Picture Me Rollin’ each possess a commercial sensibility that will appeal to students of all backgrounds yet also raises substantive issues in a non-didactic manner. That makes these novels ideal for classroom use. C♀RP shows educators exactly how.

a few things i love

  1. the truth campaign's commercials

  2. justine and joey's (maybe pretend?) happy marriage on run's house

  3. these sneakers

Sunday, February 17, 2008

"rapping" presidents (sad face)

this is so stupid i'm annoyed that it even exists. presidents with "rappers'" hands rapping about a car deal. funny this is being launched in the midst of black history month. arrrrgh. all they need is the presidents in blackface to more clearly marry BHM and president's day. i guess i'm just thankful that they poo-pooed that idea.

tavis smiley who?

okay, okay, i have to admit something. i know it's going to come across as yet another betrayal of my "blackness," but i have to get this off my chest.

i don't give a flying fuck about tavis smiley. :/

i have never seen a "state of the black union" address, nor am i likely to see one at anytime in the near future. i haven't listened to ol' tavis' radio show, and i haven't read any of his books. i'm pretty sure neither of my parents has watched one either, and i would be willing to bet that none of my aunts, uncles or cousins has ever boosted old tavis' t.v. numbers. why, then, can't he get the fuck over himself? why is he making a stink about barack having better things to do with his time? what is the purpose of the show? to whom is it speaking?

these shows are a way for the shortlist of black talking heads to have the same conversation many engaged citizens have already had (more thoughtfully and with more nuance) in the blogosphere/over sunday dinner/at church/over gmail chat. these t.v. spots really just serve to further mask the diversity of thought within the black community for the (mostly white- this is the united states, people) journalists who watch these shows to provide them with soundbites for their articles and opinion pieces. they also serve as a way for the black news machine to further indoctrinate a u.s. black community that, like the rest of this country, has been taught to take its opinions from the media.

tavis. dude. move on.

one thing about this campaign that i really appreciate is the way that it is bringing a huge number of people to the political "table." i am really excited about that. i just wish that our modes of communication and the gathering places for political discussion could find a way to be more appreciative of that engagement. i wish that we could find ways to galvanize this unprecedented level of interest among u.s. citizens into ways to have local discussions that are then shared across the nation in a way that allows us normal people to be heard. i think the new debate formats- mtv, youtube, etc.- are the right start, but they aren't really very accessible for the over-40 crowd. my dad is probably never going to sit down and email a question in to a youtube debate. but he would probably be willing to organize a group of churches to get together and discuss the issues over a potluck dinner. i dunno. i think there must be some way for us, in 2008, to figure out how to bring all of this together.

for someone with a deeper analysis and less snark, check out jimi izrael and/or melissa harris-lacewell (smart lady crush!) at the root.

post-buffitude brunch

mmmm buttermilk biscuits...

i needed to use the remainder of the buttermilk i bought last week for the chocolate cinnamon bread, so i decided to make myself a somewhat fattening brunch today post-gymathon.

YUM. scrambled some eggs too, before consuming the final product:

good eats.

still sick to my stomach...

there was another school shooting this week, this one involving three black women.

it wasn't covered in the new york times.

read more here:
Essential Presence: I can't wait to get my ass off a college campus


the planet fitness on 126th and lenox opens tomorrow morning at 7:00. i will be there, ready to become buff. soon after i will be here, ready to do some challengHering. gotta love the gym.

workout music:

Saturday, February 16, 2008

conscious women rock the page!

that's the name of the curriculum i've been spending so much time on for the last few months! we are winding down the production process, and the curriculum is going to come out in march.

2008 ~ Year of the Hip-Hop Woman!

Coming March '08
Conscious Women Rock the Page:
Using Hip-Hop Fiction to Incite Social Change
A one-of-a-kind curriculum

by: JLove, Black Artemis, E-Fierce and Marcella Runell Hall

check out the writers' websites for more information on their work. they are an incredible group of women doing good things for the world!

computer burn

finished formatting curriculum, and my eyes feel like they're going to fall out of my head. cannot wait to finish editing and i can go home and clean the bathroom?

i can't believe this is my "grown and sexy" life...

friday night=

...a long walk along 14th street hour at the strand, and buying 4 books for less than 25 bucks (including a yummy soup cookbook! comfort food, anyone?)
...a manicure
...potato skins and drinks with two smart people in a diner
...more drinks at perks
...getting glared at for over-exuberance in the magic johnson theater
...good time spent with a friend.

not a bad night. not a bad night at all.

i'm sorry but this movie was so much fun

okay, so there were the usual fucked up representations of difference, this time most offensively in the form of a young japanese woman whose accented "exchange student" english made sonj and i cringe every time, but there is something about a movie that represents the breadth of hiphop culture in the world. the acting was horrible and the script horribler;), but we saw a different face of the breaking community come out- not as something weird and nerdy, but as the crazy underdog! when was the last time you saw a multiracial crew break it down on camera? (um, never?) and, of course, the dancing was wiiiiiiiiiillllld!!!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

and staceyann chin is no joke

my electable parts




and Mike

The names ring nursery like a rhyme

children's games
singing/rain/talking the same old/same old

are the ideas any different
the bodies/newer/shinier than Bush

everybody looks better than that neanderthal

next to him
I would look good for President

now that Hillary has put a little titty in the politics
I could run

Barack painted me skin and in
not too dark though

we still got troubles
wayyyy down south

the parts of me
Black and female wrestle inside

my body is split
right down the middle

my dyke self supports the world being ruled by a woman
the night/shades of me

wants little black boys to stop aping
hip hop
idols/with nothing to worship but records calling me

this bitch don't take that from nobody

and certainly not a man
looking to make his dick bigger
or harder

or whatever he thinking

if the lights are low enough
and the woman is fine

she can call me anything/anytime

but back to these elections
these fast talkers promising my black woman self

the world

they will give me

wonder what they will do
with their Black/female back pressed cruel
against some republican/special interest wall

wonder how tall they would stand then

winner takes all
delegates divvied up from light blue to dark blue

my father is Chinese
living in Jamaica

he proudly told me
he is republican

and I don't know what to do with that knowledge

not that it matters
he will never vote in America

the gulf will feed our arguments
give us something to speak of

when we speak
Obama will come up

he will knock at Hillary
and I will do my best

to act like it ain't nothing but normal

gay and Black
woman and immigrant

ain't nutten normal
about me and my split parts

torn as I am

never have I been this significant
in the United States

Black women walk invisible in supermarket aisles
nothing for my hair in the pharmacy

on your shelf
there is nothing for my mother's skin

and though I am glad you cannot sell me much

I resent
your ignorance

your disappearing of my parts

your constant silencing of me
unless you need me

for some voting block where you can again
divide the women
from the Blacks

the Latinos
from the rest of us

as long as we not rich and white
we can be separated from the pack of what is important



break my heart with this choice of which part of me

may reflect me from that place of power
which one

chose one
and my first choice was the white blond-dropout
talking all about poverty

but poor people
have never been the subject of any public conversation
unless they steal something

none that I listen to lately
in these times we need

and maybe I should go to a Barack rally
hear him speak without a screen between us

how do you choose
from folks you ain't never seen

either way
parts of me may find themselves

or woman

seated in the white house

history is in the making

I say
history is making itself known

and I am just as prone to write it down
that I am able to watch

and talk politics with my prodigal maybe father
and pontificate
and take a crap on the ideas that seem like shit

for now I am just listening
late night TV in Chicago

and I am just here

watching the ancient dance of men and power
struggling to survive a woman

and a debonair man with my skin

In Chicago/in New York
I am listening America
Let me know when you've finally let me in

and if poetry isn't your thing...

elizabeth hines, at alternet.

okay, for another direction entirely

i'm REALLY EXCITED about the black comedy experiment. i love funny people, but i get tired of the def comedy jam circuit. i also like black people. i am also black.

anyway, the festival looks awesome, and i'm buying a weekend pass. if you're cool you'll consider purchasing a pass as well.

i only hope the dude for whom i left a drunken message a few weeks ago 1) isn't in the festival, and 2) hasn't worked me into his act... :D

sick to my stomach

Death Toll Rises to 6 in Campus Attack

Thursday, February 14, 2008

VDay/ my sister is fucking awesome

i got one valentine's gift today, and i have to say that it's better and more unexpected than any other gift i've received.

a little background: i, being a complete and utter idiot, managed to deafen myself early last fall by misusing q-tips. i had a wax blockage, people! i couldn't hear! i had to go to the clinic and the doctor banned me from using q-tips ever again! pathetic, yes?

anyway, now you will understand my awesome gift...

siblings rock. :) happy valentine's day, my friends.


i don't know clarence, but he sounds just like my brother in his podcasts. funny, a little random, smart. worth checking out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

i'm sorry, but can i just say

that the "multicultural" band (complete with black lead singer and asian musician) in this hillary song-ad doesn't really cut it? not only does the tune sound like a jingle for a mattress company or shitty radio station, but the the entire audience is white! there aren't even any discernible latinos (hillary's power voters, supposedly) trotted out for their spot in the token's limelight!

i don't know who created this video, but it's not helping. jon secada or whoever produced it (and no, i'm not hating on jon secada, he used to come and perform at my elementary school every year) has nothing on it's almost as damaging as the john mccain anti-choice montages. there's nothing people hate more than a bad imitation.


i've had an intensely busy few weeks and i feel behind. like there are emails to be answered, calls to be made, plans to be brainstormed, ideas to be caught on paper.

and it all keeps flying by, without me.

tonight is supposed to be catch-up night- writing back the nice people that wrote me congratulatory emails last week; calling the friends i have communicated with solely through text messaging, facebook, and emails for the last two weeks; fleshing out some/any(!) of the crazy ideas i've had over the last few weeks, scribbled here and there and on this blog; writing and addressing thank you notes to people who have taken time out of their schedules to hear my words.

but all i want to do is sit on the couch, drink some wine and watch pbs.

i need some inspiration. so, to lucille clifton i go:
you come to teach
and to learn

you do not know
anothers lesson

pay attention to
what sits inside yourself
and watches you

you may sometime discover
which when
which which
which when, which which. these are the questions i ask. now to pay attention.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the practice

what does it mean to do "good work"? when is our work just what it is? when can we be satisfied with our practice as educators?

these are questions that i ask myself constantly, trying my best to chart the right path. i'm smack dab in the middle of my twenties and i am still unsure of direction. sometimes i think things are taking shape, but then i lose focus and things blur. it's hard.

i have a funky idea knocking about in my head. i'm just wrapping the hip-hop curriculum now, and i'm thinking that i'd like to start my own project next. maybe something to do with bringing black (or third world/us?) feminist literature/work/artistry to the K-12 classroom? ways to bring all the great literature and ideas to which we are so often not exposed until college into middle school and high school? not sure what it would look like, but i'm kind of obsessed with the idea. maybe a collection of reflections of teachers (male and female, of-color and not) who have tried to push students to confront white supremacist capitalist patriarchy in the classroom using the work of women of color, a la rethinking schools?

dunno, dunno, dunno. but if you read this and think you might be interested, holler back.

a quote from michelle obama (god, she's smart):

“I realized that gnawing sense of self doubt that lies within all of us is within our own heads. The truth is we are more ready and more prepared than we even know. My own life is proof of that.”

Monday, February 11, 2008

the roots? at the apollo?!

too bad i don't have $41.50 for much of anything this month :(. and considering that i saw the roots thrice last year, i should probably get over it.

but the apollo?!?

oh, also, if anyone is interested in attending "amateur night at...," holler at me. 11 bucks. wednesday nights. you and (the crazy person who is) me. let's do.

what privilege do i have?

answer: a lot. before i even complete this "privilege meme" that has been circulating (and which i picked up from what tami said via racialicious, which originated at social class and quakers), i know that i will stepping forward quite a bit.

i am an african-american woman who was born to two "upwardly mobile" black professionals who themselves came from what would be considered the black upper crust in their towns of origin. not doctors and lawyers, mind you, but highly regarded people in their communities. my grandaddy on my mom's side was the first black mayor of his town (this is especially impressive because he was an ex-con). my grandaddy on my dad's side was the contractor that built much of grambling, louisana (go tigers!). i have privilege up the wazoo. my family had to work for it, harder and probably for longer than our white counterparts, but i have it.

what does this mean? i dunno, but it reminds me of the exercises i used to facilitate in college (PDAC, stand up!). go figure.

my "meme" below.

and yes, i'm a month late on this, but i don't care. i wanna!

Father went to college
Father finished college
Mother went to college
Mother finished college
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
Were read children's books by a parent
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
Went to a private high school
Went to summer camp
Had a private tutor before you turned 18
Family vacations involved staying at hotels
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
There was original art in your house when you were a child
Had a phone in your room before you turned 18
You and your family lived in a single family house
Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
You had your own room as a child
Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
Had your own TV in your room in High School
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
Went on a cruise with your family
Went on more than one cruise with your family
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

so i've had a chance to think about this a bit more, and what i think is most interesting about this privilege exercise is what is left out. for every relative i have this is an attorney, physician, or lawyer, i have at least one who works for UPS, is a high school or college dropout, or is sick with an illness that will probably kill them, even though it shouldn't. i don't want to go into a lot of "excuses" for the privileges i have, but i do think that this exercise, and others like it, do little to usefully complicate discussions of power and privilege. it was interesting to think about these markers of "class," i guess, but i'm not sure what it really tells me about the things i have access to that are important. as usual, what interests me more is where these things intersect with markers of other aspects of my identity. that checklist might take awhile to put together. anyone have any suggestions?

Sunday, February 10, 2008


tina turner at the grammy's.

her duet with beyonce was pretty awesome too...

sunday afternoon treat

chocolate cinnamon bread, recipe and photo courtesy of baking bites.


i was supposed to go out to dinner tonight to celebrate my successes, but i canceled because of a prior engagement, and now i'm too lazy to attend the prior engagement, so i baked. (ahhhhh, now it all makes sense, right?)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

this is one of those moments

when i could really use a boyfriend/best friend/acquaintance/guardian angel who is a major hip-hop head.

i am not a hip-hop head. far from it, i was raised in a household presided over by two very well-meaning african-americans hell-bent on making their children successes in the most textbook definition of the term. that meant we played string instruments, worked our asses off to get transfers and scholarships to schools in better neighborhoods, and spent the majority of our free time in church and/or church-sponsored events. my father didn't allow us to listen to normal radio stations, and once, upon hearing billy joel or someone say "damn" in a song on the lite station, i was no longer allowed to listen to that either, which was my last-ditch effort to stay in touch with the world outside of faith vision bible fellowship and our house on 175th terrace. while i am a hip-hop fan, those 14 years lost have hurt my knowledge quite a bit. there's only so much you can learn at dances at college and by hanging out with the "right" people and pretending to mouth the words they're all singing at the top of their lungs. :/

(hopefully you got a chuckle out of that last paragraph, i know i'm laughing my ass off at the pitifulness of my life. god, what a mess i am.)

anyway, now i'm working on a hip-hop curriculum, and my lack of actual hip-hop knowledge is coming back to haunt. i haven't felt this uncool since the freshman year office of black student affairs retreat! (sagehens, holler if you hear me!)

well, off to some hip-hop websites to find some street cred...

challengHer--> joy 1, fear 1

so this past week's challenge, facing my fears, is a draw. i feel like i made some progress, but obviously cannot definitively say that i'm going to stop being such a chicken for good.
my wins:
  • accepting a new position, both at work and for future work (that sounds confusing i know, but it makes sense if you know me). i swallowed all of my worries about the future and decided to let my gut lead me. i think that the decisions i've made will help ensure that those resolutions i made for the new year don't become just hollow words.
  • attempting to conquer my fear of reaching out. i made progress in my attempts to make new friends this week, which is one of those things that is really hard in new york. everybody has so much to do, all the time, that adding a new face onto the roster is often not a top priority. i also am chickenshit, and afraid of rejection, even from new friends! i need to make more friends, though, so i'm pushing that notion with a few people. i am "courting" (isn't that an awesome word?!) two new friends, one female and one male. needless to say, the female push is easier than the male one- inviting a man out platonically is always subject to awkwardness and misunderstanding, at least in my experience. that one i'm still working on. my new female friend, though, is great. we're gonna hang out and talk about writing! yay!
fear's wins:
  • i didn't even attempt the headstand at yoga yesterday! i am such a lily-liver. :(
  • i'm still afraid, i think, to dream big for myself. i think my dreams are always small ones that i know i have a good chance to achieving. i am only confident in those aspects of myself that are readily and regularly supported by people around me (as long as those people are in positions of authority). my friends' and family's support, while wonderful and important to me, does not translate into confidence any more than my own beliefs. i figure they love me, and therefore have to think i'm good at things. i felt more insecure this week than i have in a long time, and it leaves me always second-guessing my worth. and that's shitty.
so, the challenge for this week:
  1. make a list of three big dreams
  2. interview for the summer part-time position of new york city teaching fellow advisor (long title, i know) and nail it
  3. yoga! and try the headstand!
  4. keep fending off the fear, at all costs
  5. oh, also, if i see a hot guy on the train checking me out, i'm going to smile, goddammit. fuck the bullshit! :D
until next time...


so i've decided to start a sort of post feature on saturdays because i feel that my blog, while intermittently interesting, doesn't have focus. so *challengHer* posts, from now on, will be my attempt to focus my thoughts a bit, like "sunday shine" over at a daughter's geography, or "five for friday" at the beautiful struggler.

in *challengHer* posts i'll be reviewing my attempts to rise to the challenge in the previous week, and challenging myself with something new for the week to come. keep an eye out!

Friday, February 8, 2008

may i be happy

was the mantra for yoga practice tonight. i am so glad that my beautiful friend tati decided to make yoga class part of her birthday party tonight! there is nothing like yoga to settle the mind and the body. as i have gotten out of practice with yoga i've forgotten the transformative nature of the practice-- i walked in exhausted tonight, and full of nerves, and walked out rejuvenated and stretched but tired and sore, all at the same time.

the incredible change that comes over the body during a yoga session is unbelievable-- your last downward dog is nothing like the first, your last chattaranga is a 180 from the first, the three closing oms feel like you're speaking a different language than when you opened the session. for $18, you can change your life!

yoga tonight even embodied my challenge to myself this week. i, historically a fearer of inversions, did a shoulder stand tonight. SO proud of myself, and when i released my legs i felt a million times stronger. shoulder stands aren't that hard. they aren't. but i am a coward in a lot of really nonsensical ways (hence the need to face my fears!). my stand wasn't the straightest or the most intricate, but i tried and i felt liberated of the fear that i'd somehow be hurt for good by trying. letting go of fear, that's what it's all about.

so i bought another class, to be used sometime within a month. i'm thinking friday yoga might become a practice of my own.