Wednesday, November 23, 2011
What I didn't have a full grasp of when Isaiah was born five years ago was that there's a little bit of lag time before I get to drop all this wisdom on him. While we spent plenty of quality time together in the pre-walk, pre-talk days, if I didn't have any milk when it was feeding time, then I was useless. If he fell, there were times when only Mommy's bosom could settle him down. Watching football with Dad came a distant second to watching "Shake It Up" with Mom. As we reach birthday number five, however, the balance of parental contribution is starting to move back towards the middle.
Most days I'm up and out of the house before the rooster hits his snooze alarm. While this means little sleep for me, it gives me the chance to get back home before Lil man goes to school or meet him when he gets there. On the days where he asks me to take him to school or when he runs to tell his teacher that I've come to visit, I know that he's glad to have me around and that my effort is appreciated even though he promptly tells me to go back to work when he's done with me. Every exuberant greeting affirms that the foundation is being laid so that when he needs me for more serious issues, he knows I'll be there. I've got too much to share with him not to be.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I can't believe it is already time to pen the now annual "Celebrate My Marriage" blog, but here we are at year 9. I am happy to say that I am actually home to pen the blog this year as opposed to being at work on a pool deck somewhere as I have been for at least three anniversaries. I look forward to a great date night with the Mrs. as we take in Anthony Hamilton and Jill Scott at the Gibson Amphitheater. Let me now get on with the annual message as it has truly been a banner year for the Carrolls.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
It was important for me to put together this message because the response I often get from people when I tell them about my doctoral studies is one of surprise. "Oh my gosh that's incredible", and while I'm humbled to have reached this milestone, the message that I want to share with all of you is that my journey is not in any way incredible or special, but instead the inevitable outcome when you match passion with a strong support system. My own network consisted of parents, who were career educators with advanced degrees, teachers like Lois Hamilton in 1st grade and my doctoral sherpa, Megan Franke who never let me rest on my laurels, swim coaches, church deacons, fraternal brothers,
and parents of peers who taught me discipline, maturity, and respect. If education is to return to prominence in this country, it will not just be the result of some miracle policy, but instead from everyone taking an active role in the support network of one or more students. My fellow graduates, as we celebrate the completion of our programs today we must not shy away from the responsibility of making a mark on the field of education by impacting the lives of students on a daily basis. We live in an increasingly skill-based economy, so with that in mind, our research and our practice need to reflect the best of what is working to engage youth in learning and developing literacies that will be useful in a global context.
This preparation is no easy task in schools that more and more look and operate like prisons. Financial resources are being misappropriated or not appropriated at all, students are being bullied in new and complex ways, and the pressure to meet standardized test benchmarks only grows. Not to mention that "Last In First Out" policies, which sacrifice talented young teachers for more veteran educators, are a reality. What's at stake however is more sobering. The private prison industry is booming, and the demand for future prisons is being determined by elementary test scores. Add to this that graduation rates in CA for Black and Hispanic males hover around 50% and that dropouts are almost 4x more likely to be arrested and it becomes evident that our schools are doing a better job producing future inmates who can be exploited as a cheap labor force than future leaders.
As an early career educator, this is a challenging context to enter, but you must remember that you are not alone. When it all seems so overwhelming, that you are ready to quit, I encourage you to remember what you have built here. Remember your friend, Paolo Freire and his dedication to the oppressed, or Sonia Nieto and her ideas for educating youth from differing ethnic backgrounds, John Dewey who believed in the public school as a community anchor, or W.E.B DuBois who outlined the blueprint for what Black children in particular need educationally. Remember the network of UCLA professors who have prepared you, and that they are forever a part of your network.
When I received my BA and was looking to become a teacher, after realizing that I was hard-wired to be an educator and that pre-med was not for me, I immediately enrolled in a Masters program while also working as a teaching assistant. A couple years into the program, I got my first lead teaching position, and there was a part of me that said, "You accomplished the goal, forget the rest of that Masters program. How much debt are you willing to take on for this?" But the support system, said “Keep going, there's a bigger plan for you.” When I moved to California shortly after finishing my Masters, I applied to UCLA because I had fallen in love with the work Danny Solorzano was doing around Affirmative Action in education. I wanted to have an impact on education on that level, and Dr. Solorzano was even gracious enough to sit down with me. When I got my rejection letter, part of me said "Well maybe you're just supposed to be a teacher, the work of the classroom is fulfilling enough" But again the support network kept pushing. And then I met Megan Franke, and when she said apply again, I listened. So when I tell you that to develop and maintain a support network in education is vital, I speak as one who has benefited and continues to benefit from those relationships. Not only have I been pushed and held accountable by my support network, my advisors were the same ones who worked with me when Isaiah Obiesie Carroll entered this world in November of my first year as a graduate student. I can honestly say I would not be here if I had been left to my own devices because I would not have been able to see what the big picture held. At the end of the day, education is about relationships that turn into communities where learning is the outcome. I wish you all the best in entering, creating, and sustaining such communities with the support of your networks.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Then my heat start workin' I'm-a rob me a person
Thursday, April 28, 2011
"See, nigga first was used back in the Deep South Fallin out between the dome of the white man's mouth It means that we will never grow, you know the word dummy Other niggas in the community think it's crummy But I don't, neither does the youth cause we em-brace adversity it goes right with the race"
I remember as a first year teacher laying the song for my first class of HS Seniors so that they could understand the tension over the use of the word, and as I examine the lyrics almost a decade later, I realize that the definition that Q-Tip put on himself and the Black "youth" of embracing adversity (read: negativity) because it goes hand in hand with Black people is limiting. It is a nod to the idea that Black people have always been and always will be the oppressed. This is a notion of Blackness that I would never want the five year-old to have, and it is a notion that I try to get the high schoolers I work with to resist because embracing negativity limits aspiration. It's the negativity that creates the stinging sensation like the "Open neck no respect" slap, and it's what Mos Def so eloquently rhymed about in Mr Nigga:
"They stay on n***a patrol on american roads And when you travel abroad they got world n***a law Some folks get on a plane go as they please But I go over seas and I get over-SEIZED London Heathrow, me and my people They think that illegal's a synonym for negro"Whether the commentary comes from Mos Def or Chris Rock, the negative connotation to the N-word is never far away. So when it comes to fighting against racism, that endeavor becomes more difficult when it appears that Black people are more than willing to indulge in self-hate through music and other popular forms of expression. Most ethnic groups have similar derogatory terms that they grapple with, however, few words have the same historical legacy of hatred attached to them as the N-word, and we therefore need to let it go. There are more than enough other words in the lexicon to describe the ignorant, and the N-word doesn't need to be one of them. You can't name me one song that is enhanced by the use of the word, and while I don't advocate for erasure of the word from historical texts like Uncle Tom's Cabin, which we use to provide context for the word's sordid history, I don't think the word needs to continue to have a life in some of our most cherished art forms. Perhaps if more people start to breakup with the N-word, then those who are not Black will not have such a fascination with it's usage (yes you Quentin Tarantino, J-Lo, and Michael Richards).Now that I have broken up with the word, I'll be buying a lot more radio edits, and talking to a lot more young people, because the more people can understand not only the history of the word, but also the history of the people for whom the word is intended, then they would be less apt to want to use the word. The gray hairs, the five year-old and the doctoral degree won't let me do anything else.