African American Literaries

#BlackExcellence: Alice Walker Pens Beautiful Poem For Jesse Williams — HelloBeautiful

Source: Walter McBride / Getty Jesse Williams’ recent BET Awards speech on Black liberation and racism woke up America and garnered new fans–including famed writer and activist Alice Walker. The Color Purple author inspired by the Grey’s Anatomy star, she wrote a powerful poem and posted it on her website. Here It Is addresses the…

via #BlackExcellence: Alice Walker Pens Beautiful Poem For Jesse Williams — HelloBeautiful

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Ivory Toldson Taking the Lead in Educating Black Students | Harbari Gani, America!

Dr. Ivory A. Toldson declares himself the “myth buster” when it comes to researching the implications of racial biases on the education system serving Black students. He supports this claim by debunking well-worn biases and treading new ground that few within that system approach for solutions.

Black students are the most challenged population in America’s education system. They are examined through a kaleidoscope of negative stereotypes accumulated over 400 years and are fortunate to have a champion like Ivory Toldson, former Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Howard University Professor changing the tides.

In his new position as President and CEO of the Quality Education for Minorities network, Toldson will have the opportunity to expand his research, providing educators across the nation with resources to strengthen minority education goals.

As a newly free agent, Toldson stretches his wings serving as the keynote speaker for the National Education Association Conference on Minorities and Women’s Conference on Racial Justice and Education, Closing Plenary. Toldson understands present research processes and practices are made toxic by societal and personal biases, but he offered jewels enabling educators and administrators to reached beyond these borders with his “10 myth busters” for your edification below. He says,

“…these are what I call the 10 biggest lies that I hear about young, black males. And the reason why it is important to understand that they are lies is because these are often used as the excuse for why certain people in our field aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do for our children.

Number 1 — There are more Black men in prison than in college.

  • In fact, right now there are more than 600,000 more black men in college than in prison.

Number 2 — 50% of Black boys dropout.

  • Most people believe that because of their interpretation of some very popular reports, including the Shot Foundation‘s report with a looked at graduation rates and not dropout rates. You have to understand the difference between graduation rates and dropout rates in order to interpret that report responsibly, but the true dropout rate among black males as characterized by the National Center For Educational Statistics is right around 12%. Now, that is nothing to clap about, but when we look at a room full of Black males and we think that one of them are going to drop out, that is not the type of perspective or mentality we want our teachers to go into the classroom with.

Number 3 — Black boys can’t read.

  • Now, most people are identified as non-readers because of our standardized tests. There are all kinds of reasons why a student who may be able to read functionally won’t do well on a standardized test, and if we don’t understand those reasons and just use these blanket indicators from the NAEP exam to say what percent are not proficient, and then interpret proficiency as their lack of an ability to do the things we need them to do in the school, then we are not going to exercise the best practices when we work with the students.

Number 4 — Black youth of today are more violent than any generation in history.

  • When in fact, crime among Black youth escalated in the 80’s, reached its peak by the mid-1990’s, has been going down since the late-1990’s, and this is generation of youth is the least violent of any generation of youth since before the 1960’s.

Number 5 — One in three Black boys will serve time in prison.

  • In fact, most of the reports that have claimed this have never looked at Blackmales as they exist right now. They use projections. The article that most people cite or the study that most people cite is by someone named Thomas P. Bonczar that did something called the “Double-Decrement Life Table” that looked at the year someone was born and then projected their odds of going to prison. He did this report over 10 years ago, and the only group of cohorts that had a one in three chance were those who were born a year before he wrote the report.
  • So, in other words, he was looking at 2-year-olds and saying they would have a one in three chance of going to prison based on what he thought would be an escalation in the crime rate, not a de-escalation, which is what we actually got.

Number 6 — Black boys are at a natural disadvantage because most are from single-parent households.

  • I have written two articles in this regard, but the summary of those articles is it doesn’t matter the composition of your household. It matters who your parents are. It matters the value they place on education, their engagement with the school, the socialization of their child to the academic environment,and it has nothing to do with who is in their bed.

Number 7 — Black students purposely underachieve because they associate being smart with acting white.

  • Now, there is a lot I can say about that, but I have written an article on it. You can see the evidence. That is not true. And in fact, among Black girls, most of the strongest surveys show that Black girls actually have the highest regard for education than any other group of students out there. And in fact, there is a lesser known function that has been constantly found in the literature, and that is called the “Attitude Achievement Paradox.” That is the fact that in most survey research Black students actually show a higher attitude about the abstract notion of education, but their achievement is not measuring up to that.

Number 8, Black males are avoiding the teaching profession.

  • Again, I have written an article about all of these. You will get the link soon. When you look at young, Black males who are college-educated, teaching is actually the number one profession. So you ask, why is it less than 2%? That is because we are only 5.5% of the population. Of that 5.5%, only 17% have at least a bachelor’s degree, and among those who go on to get their degrees in education — and this is a little-known fact, but it is in the report that I have written — Black males are more likely than any other race group to be promoted out of the classroom into administration.

Number 9 — Black men are underrepresented at institutions of higher education.

  • The nation has 12.7 million Black men who are 18 years and older, and we make up about 5.5% of the adult population, and 5% of those who are in college. Where we are underrepresented is the most competitive colleges. So, those colleges with selective admissions criteria have an underrepresentation of Black students. And those that have open admissions criteria, like community colleges, have an overrepresentation of Black students. And that is largely because a lot of the factors these students talked about earlier, especially a young lady who says she was advised to go to a community college when she clearly had the academic credentials to go to Michigan State.

Finally, Black men are a dying breed.

  • Now, one of the things we have to understand is that when we are in a nation that only refers — only uses the terms breeds, endangered, and species for black men and animals, then that is a problem. But in fact, black men have an increasing representation in the population. Our numbers are growing. White males, their numbers are decreasing. Now that doesn’t mean either one is in danger. But when all we are doing is using these types of terms to deal with humans, then we are dehumanizing them. “

~ Conference on Racial Justice and Education, Closing Plenary (Video)
More on Ivory Toldson Leaving White House Initiative on HBCUs Post – Higher Education

On – Melissa Harris-Perry’s mistake was that she didn’t “own her masters” | Blavity

Our greatest frailty – pimping someone else’s ride. Whether you have a booth in a flea market or a record label – own it. The prevailing dialogue for the weak, especially during the economic downturn has been jobs. But between the rhetoric has been the plea for Americans to become what they once were – creators, builders, and owners. “… the importance of legally owning your work” has never become more important for especially minorities.
The greatest shame to me is that Melissa Harris Perry bit into the same poison fruit that most of our relish. We have been trained to pimp the master’s ride and be glad – even boast because we are riding in the front seat.
Oprah Winfrey owned a portion of and eventually all of what she helped to create during her decades-long run on ‘Oprah.’ She turned its success into the OWN network. The co-founder of Blavity, Morgan Debaun, OWNS this site and everything that happens to it. Alexa von Tobel, founder of LearnVest.com OWNED her product and sold it for $250 million.
The poorest African American should have learned going to the corner store and supporting people who do not look like or respect us, – the power of ownership. But access is access we say. For the 20th century – yes. For the 21st Century – no. We should pledge that from now on, every job should lead to ownership.

Source: Melissa Harris-Perry’s mistake was that she didn’t “own her masters” –

#MLKNOW Brings Out Chris Rock, Harry Belafonte, & More To Honor MLK | News One

2016 MLK Now

Blackout for Human Rights, Riverside Church

Click on the Link Below for the performances in the entirety.

Blackout for Human Rights and The Campaign for Black Male Achievement

On the week that would have marked the late leader’s 87th birthday, social justice groups Blackout for Human Rights and The Campaign for Black Male Achievement celebrated Dr. King’s legacy and more with MLK Now at the legendary Riverside Church in Harlem, New York. Monday night’s event highlighted historic speeches by civil rights heroes like MLK, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Sojourner Truth, and Shirley Chisholm, recited by Lin Miranda-Manuel, Andre Holland, Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, and civil rights icon Harry Belafonte.

Source: #MLKNOW Brings Out Chris Rock, Harry Belafonte, & More To Honor MLK | News One

Ferguson and beyond: how a new civil rights movement began – and won’t end | DeRay McKesson | Comment is free | The Guardian

DeRay McKesson, like most of our young protesters, has had to have a thick skin during the past year. He has been the subject of many attacks surely aimed at the #BlackLivesMatter movement and is now referred to by some journalist and agencies as a “professional protester.” Now, Yale University is giving this new civil rights activist and chronicler a platform to show that he is more than any of the disparaging symbols forced on our conscience.

Those that have not supported McKesson, nor championed his energy during the many protests against Black genocide held around the country, may have to rethink all of what they have heard and seen. What lies behind the mask?  
If not for Twitter and Instagram, Missouri officials would have convinced you, one year ago, that we simply did not exist. Or that we were the aggressors, rather than the victims. That we, and not they, were the violent ones.

But social media was our weapon against erasure. It is how many of us first became aware of the protests and how we learned where to go, or what to do when teargassed, or who to trust. We were able to both counter the narrative being spun by officials while connecting with each other in unprecedented ways. Many of us became friends digitally, first. And then we, the protestors, met in person.

Social media allowed us to become our own storytellers. With it, we seized the power of our truth.

Source: Ferguson and beyond: how a new civil rights movement began – and won’t end | DeRay McKesson | Comment is free | The Guardian

John Mercer Langston

Black Then | Denied Admission To Law School Because Of His Race, This Man Passed The Bar & Helped Establish The First Law School At Howard University

At fourteen [John Mercer] Langston began his studies at the Preparatory Department at Oberlin College. Known for its radicalism and abolitionist politics, Oberlin was the first college in the United States to admit black and white students.  Langston completed his studies in 1849, becoming the fifth #African American male to graduate from Oberlin’s Collegiate Department.  Denied admission to law schools in New York & Ohio because of his race,John studied law (or “read law”,as was the common practice then) under attorney and Republican US Congressman Philemon Bliss; he was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1854.

John Mercer Langston

John Mercer Langston | BlackThen.com

Source: Black Then | Denied Admission To Law School Because Of His Race, This Man Passed The Bar & Helped Establish The First Law School At Howard University

Obama Awards Bayard Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom | BillMoyers.com

Congratulations, Baynard Rustin!Baynard Rustin

Honoring Rustin with the Medal of Freedom tells us something about how far America has come as a nation in the past 50 years. After all, he had four strikes against him. He was a pacifist, a radical, black and gay. Controversy surrounded him all his life.

via Obama Awards Bayard Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom | BillMoyers.com.

Ta-Nehisi Coates and a Generation Waking Up – The New Yorker

Brit Bennett’s review of “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, for The New Yorker magazine, is the best I have read so far. Bennett writes from an African American Feminist perspective drawing clean lines between what it means to be black and female in America. You can expect classy and exact references examining the relationship of black authors to black women, the black father to his son, and their relationship within the scope of institutional racism.

My favorite paragraph from Bennett is as follows:

 As a child, I once heard that slavery was worse for black men than black women, because black men were pained by their inability to protect the women they loved. In this retelling, black women’s pain is incidental. The systemic, relentless rape that black women endured is only meaningful because of how it hurt black men. I believed this for a time, in deference to the black elder who told me, until I realized that trauma is not a competition, that there is no better or worse; there is only pain, and a woman’s pain is equally worthy of mourning.T. Coates|New Yorker Mag 2015

Bennett’s piece opens:

The night Trayvon Martin’s killer walked free, I stood outside a Los Angeles movie theater, in line to watch “Fruitvale Station.” Maybe I would’ve picked a different movie had I foreseen the verdict, but I was young and hopeful, and I believed that someone would be held accountable for snuffing out a seventeen-year-old’s life. Instead, I blinked back tears as a well-meaning white woman approached—she couldn’t believe that verdict, she said, the injustice of it all. I didn’t want to hear her disappointment. I didn’t want to be a conduit for her guilt. I wanted to understand how a jury could determine that a child’s unarmed black body posed more of a threat than a grown man with a gun.

via Ta-Nehisi Coates and a Generation Waking Up – The New Yorker.

Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow” – 2013 George E. Kent Lecture – YouTube

In 2013 the author of the New Jim Crow in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander, foreshadowed the current protests, violence, and the racially-biased and hyperbolic media rhetoric surrounding it all. Listen to how even Alexander lived in denial as most professionals comfort themselves. The benefits of social media is that we are able to readily observe everyone’s complacency in the growing drama as we victimize the victim, support the manufactured policies that create a caste of the unseen, unwanted, and cast aside; or worst – remain silent.

Published on Mar 15, 2013

Michelle Alexander, highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, Associate Professor of Law at Ohio State University, and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, delivers the 30th Annual George E. Kent Lecture, in honor of the late George E. Kent, who was one of the earliest tenured African American professors at the University of Chicago.

The Annual George E. Kent Lecture is organized and sponsored by the Organization of Black Students, the Black Student Law Association, and the Students for a Free Society.

via Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow” – 2013 George E. Kent Lecture – YouTube.

Toni Morrison interview: on racism, her new novel and Marlon Brando | Telegraph

“This world is interesting and difficult,” she would say. “Happiness? Don’t settle for that.”

This particular article by Gaby Wood tributes Morrison like no other I have read. It reminds me why each time I read one of Toni Morrison’s novels, it felt as if I held my breath until the last page. We all know that is impossible, but the world she creates within her texts redefines the past, present, and future. There are no spaces for outsiders or interruptions. I read “A Mercy” in two days, dry-mouthed, sleep-deprived, but never abandoned.

Morrison’s take on race and spaces have never been secret within the pages of her books. Like truly talented individuals, she is blunt, unforgiving, unyielding, and delivers at every turn – just what we need our leaders to aspire.

Toni Morrison

she wrote from the point of view of little black girls in her first two books, of 17th-century slaves in Mercy, of a child killed by her mother to save her from suffering in Beloved. She combined the metaphorical stories of her grandparents with the facts on the ground, and arrived at what she calls “imaginative resistance”. To tell a tale, you have to pick up its pieces, she once suggested, comparing storytellers to Hansel and Gretel. “Their momma doesn’t want them. They leave a little trail. That trail is language.”

via Toni Morrison interview: on racism, her new novel and Marlon Brando – Telegraph.