April 17, 2014

On seeing color

On seeing colorI’ve been in an interracial relationship since 1997. It’s been a long time. In the beginning, I was adamant that I did not see color- that I was colorblind and that love is colorblind. In fact, when were were both attending college, I wrote an article for the campus newspaper bashing the student population for all the crazy crap they would say and said loudly that color doesn’t matter. Oh, to go back and change that article now!

At 34, I am no longer naive enough to believe that skin color doesn’t change things. I see it more as half of an interracial couple and the mother of a biracial child than I probably did ever before. I see it at family functions when I am often the only Black person because my side of the family is not local. I see it when we travel or go out to dinner. I even see it when we are sitting at home watching a movie or homeschooling. When cashiers think that we are two separate customers I know it’s because our skin color is different. When we go to the doctor’s office and he stands to come in with me, I see the double-take by the nurse as she has to figure us out. When the woman in the grocery store called me the “nanny” as my family of three finished our shopping, I knew it’s because of my skin color and nothing else. And as much as I want to say color doesn’t matter, it obviously does.

So, we talk about race and color a lot in our home. With a 5 year old who says, with pride, that she is “Tan,” color is something that is present and will aways be present. She knows that I am Black and that her dad is White and she recognizes that our family is different from others because we are not the same color. And we, as a family, embrace those color differences. We acknowledge that the assumptions made about us and those that we make about ourselves are in large part due to our skin color and how we are treated because of it. We have made it a point to teach my daughter that color does not designation intelligence, beauty, nor anything else.

Recognizing how color has driven people throughout history and how it continues to do so can make us more sensitive to the challenges that others face. It can help us to see  that the world is not an equal place for all and that as much as we would like to say that things are changing, some things are very much the same. I firmly believe that recognizing color and all that doing so entails can encourage us to make real changes to create a better world. So I say very loudly that “I SEE COLOR!”

Are you embracing the diversity of color in your life?

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

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Jay-Z’s Respect: Too Little too Late

EDIT: The reports that Jay-Z has decided to remove the word from his vocabulary are false. I am not surprised!

Jay-Z is no longer going using the word “bitch” in his songs because the birth of his and Beyonce’s daughter has catapulted him into reflection making the 43 year old man-child realize the error of his ways. Cue the sappy music and “aws” because we are witnessing pure love.

All of those waiting in the wings to call me a hater, your cries fall on deaf ears. I have high expectations and I refuse to bow down to the undeserving. And Jay-Z is undeserving!

Is our community so devoid of positivity that we must praise an act of “duh” without being honest with ourselves?

I’m buying it as much as I bought Tupac’s Dear Mama and I’m calling it what it is: too little too late. One act does not make up for a lifetime of cultural damage. It does not heal the millions of women hurt because his music influenced some boys/men to objectify, belittle, and ridicule them. His career, his money, everything he will be able to provide to his little girl was built on the genitalia of the women he’s degraded.

If a man cannot respect his own mother cannot respect his wife he CANNOT truly respect his daughter.

Remember, Jay-z CHOSE to use this word repeatedly. He’s not an addict who got clean because his child was born. He’s a man who chose to disrespect his mother, his wife, and all the other daughters in the world with a word. A despicable word.

Loud applause? I think not! I’ll reserve my applause for black men advocating positive change in a real way because when we examine the basics, Jay-z’s actions are watered down and nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

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When the dark, comes to light.


My teen love story – over a number of posts I will be sharing my first love story.  As you read over the coming posts, you will understand that I had to purge the past.  I must say it has helped me heal some. Part 1 is here.

Months later I’m in my room and my mom bursts in the door and demands me to pull my shirt up.

WTH!!!

I’m stunned and don’t know why.

She had a dream…she is hollering and demanding me to expose my breasts. She looks for swelling and gently squeezes my nipple.  Oh Lord, milk…I want to DIE.  I’m pregnant and didn’t even know it?

Before I know it she is beating my ass, she is kicking my ass and I don’t even fight back I’m so mortified and ashamed. My grand mother breaks it up.  My mom is sobbing, I’m sobbing.

I just want to DIE.

We avoid each other for 2 days.  I miss school for the 1st day.  I called him to tell him and he’s stunned but happy.  Explains it’s not the best situation for us, we’re too young, but he’s happy and wants to do this.  Through tears I explain how it went down and he doesn’t understand my mom’s reaction.  We argue.

“I’m her only child! I’ve let her down!”  I hang up.

When my mom finally does talk to me she is crying and explains she was waiting until I was 16 to talk to me about sex.  I’m crying and apologetic.  She leaves me.  We avoid each other for days, seems like an eternity. He’s unreachable.

I want to die.

Educate parents rather than banning homemade lunches

Yeah…you read that right.  How does that make you feel?  It would be a bad day any day somebody would tell me I can’t send my child’s lunch to school.

“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” principal Elsa Carmona told the paper of the years-old policy. “It’s about … the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke.”   Principal Carmona needs some educating. She’s looking ignorant. I get their issue:  milk vs. Coke.  I respect their concerns but not how they go about resolving the issue.  Address the parents individually that pack unhealthy lunches for their children.  DUH.  Educate those ignorant to the labels on packaged foods and explain the affects of high salt and high sugar on their child’s behavior, you don’t decide for the entire school to ban lunches from home.  Banning parents from sending lunch promotes ignorance. It’s my prerogative as a parent to send my child’s lunch and if I send it they better eat it.  Better yet, as a stay at home mom – don’t make me come up there during lunch time to sit with my child and watch them eat MY lunch from home.

As a parent I have my concerns about school lunch.  Is it fresh? Is it delicious?  Will my child eat it?  Are the portions large enough?  If it’s a hot meal, is it served cold or warm enough? Was it prepared with clean hands? Did the staff wear hair nets? When was the last time the cafeteria was inspected?  What grade did it receive? Is the USDA doing their job? *side eye* Let’s address all of that.

The issue has now become telling me, as a parent, what I can/can’t send for my child’s lunch.  NOBODY can tell me that, I’m not having it and I am sure I am not alone on this issue. Educate the parents sending the unhealthy lunches and leave the rest of us who have common sense alone.

 

original article: http://yhoo.it/fKml73

 

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

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Teachers are not the enemy of education reform

There is a very popular idea that teachers do not want their students to be successful. That educators are really at fault for what ails the failing education system. Additionally, there is the popular belief that those who have money have the answers. And finally, popular opinion is that newer, younger teachers are better than more experienced teachers who may or may not have tenure.

I am going to do something that I have refrained from doing on We of Hue. I am going to be blunt and direct. That is, I will sum up the above notions in one word:

Bullshit!

Because you see, I am a Teacher. An Educator. And a Parent, which encompasses both. I became a High School teacher through an alternative certification program and went back to the Bronx where I was raised to teach at Harry S Truman High School. While there, I had the pleasure of working with some amazing educators who are dedicated, exhausted, innovative, and frustrated. I have had the pleasure of dealing with some extremely compassionate administrators who, despite their personal ideologies, were forced to adhere to the guidelines put forth not by experienced educators, but by politicians who have never stepped foot in a classroom, yet alone a public school. Furthermore, I have had the spirit-crushing opportunity to meet with parents who were unwilling to actively participate in their child’s education in anyway. I have had my efforts to step outside the box and introduce new techniques of learning and teaching be hindered by the test-centered efforts of NCLB. I have been bogged down by administrative paperwork for five classes of 34 students each. I have taught students who had amazing potential but were forced to choose between being smart or fitting in- students who needed extra attention but had to compete with the extremely divided attention of their teacher. Students who needed more support and guidance than any school could possible provide as their home lives were not providing the support they needed outside the classroom.

The problem is not the teachers.

You, those of you who are so anti-educators, seem to think that the teachers have decision-making power in the schools or even in their classrooms. We do not. They do not. We are merely ship-hands on the Titanic sinking faster than ever imagined and as much as we beg for life-jackets and lifeboats we are given nothing.  And contrary to popular belief, it is not a part-time job for us. Most of us, the good teachers, bring it home with us and carry it around ALL THE TIME. It is our life’s-work. It is the only profession that requires that you have a masters and continually earn credits in order to make money. It is the only profession that requires you be skilled in a particular area and then fight to be called a professional….

Teachers are not the problem. You are.

You , the parent who believes that what you read and see on the news is the truth and the whole truth. You, the parent who believes that someone else is better at disciplining your child or advocating for your child simply because he started a company or has money. You the parent who thinks that because someone is finally paying attention to minorities that they have your best interest in mind. You the parent who spews words of hate at educators without actually knowing that for every bad teacher, there are 100 good ones who are never given attention in the news.

Some say that because the public system is not working it needs to be privatized. That charter schools (controlled by corporations and seem to succeed because they handpick the students who are more likely to succeed while denying access to those who need extra help like special education students), KIPP schools (whose philosophy that minority children need intensive discipline and structure that would never be accepted in white neighborhoods rather than addressing the societal ills that have contributed to the poor education available to minority students and whose students are actively enrolled by parents (which already says that those parents understand the importance of education and those children would probably succeed at any school)), and Bill Gates (whose Microsoft approach to education (repackage what others are saying and doing without actual long-term thought) turns success into a standard product instead of individually specific one that is based on one’s own ability)  and the Walmart Waltons are the only answer because money solves problems.

But let me ask you this: If the Waltons are truly concerned about the education and well-being of the working class, why do they continue to break the law by denying their employees basic human rights everywhere they operate? And does philanthropy negate Bill Gates’ very fascist corporatist beliefs (which may look good when taken at face value but is actually a method of controlling opposition and rewarding political loyalty by taking power away from the people and putting it in the hands of those who proclaim to know better) that do not align themselves with the betterment of the very population he claims to want to help? Why do we hesitate to question their agenda? Why do we follow blindly and then accuse those who don’t agree of supporting the status quo? And why is it that we forget those who are trying so desperately to prove that “poverty is not an excuse” are the very ones keeping people in poverty.

I don’t deny that accessibility is a problem in poor districts. But, providing equipment and materials is only one part of the problem. Increasing instructional time by 62% on average as done in the KIPP schools is only a minor fix. What is ruining education is that politicians are content to change the focus whenever their financial supporters come calling. The corporate push is why testing has become the backbone of NCLB. There is money to be made in the creation of these tests and in the materials that are used within the schools to prepare students for them. New York City changes tests so often that just when the teachers begin to understand how to revise their curriculum to meet one standard, they are forced to learn a new one. Let’s not forget another important fact of which I was reminded by a close friend, the NYC Chancellor of Schools creates the very regulations that bind teachers when it comes to discipline, requires that they teach to the test and force them to pass students who cannot read, then bashes those teachers/schools for failing, while allocating the monies given to help those failing schools to charter schools. And while public school teachers are struggling to find a way to affect positive change in the classroom with limited support regarding discipline, those charter schools are given the freedom to do just that!

Are you following, because THIS is the reality.

While many are content to put a band-aid on a gaping wound, there are people like Diane Ravitch (who was pushing for National  Standards before The Gates Foundation was even a thought) who believe that education reform must be a partnership between parents and teachers. Corporations and politics are not essential to providing children with a good education. It must be done through other means- and that is by creating a system the addresses societal failures- that incorporates more than just testing and nodding and chanting and pretty packages. Educating children must be a holistic approach in order to create free thinkers and not brand loyalty.

And this superficial blaming of teachers needs to end. Teachers want to teach. They want to educate students. It is not a field one enters into and stays in because he/she wants to make money.

We need to look to the nations that are surpassing the USA in education and realize that what matters in not quantity (extensive hours spent in the classroom) but the quality of what is being taught. We need to demand that our children receive a quality education by spending less time appeasing these egomaniacs who believe that they have the best answer. We need to revisit the old philosophies- before the indoctrination approach to education and before the Deliberate Dumbing Down of America.

In short, we need to cut the bullshit and get real!

And here are some links to help you do just that:

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

More Posts - Website

Hate Bill Gates’ Plans for Education? Got a Better Idea?

About a week ago our illustrious founder, Kristina Daniele, posted an article by Huffington Post reporter Gary Stager entitled, “Who Elected Bill Gates?” Normally I would just read an article such as and go on about my day. But something about this piece got me a bit intrigued, especially with all the recent discussions about failing education in our country, so I decided to share my views here at We of Hue.

From the start Mr. Stager starts off on the wrong foot by categorizing Bill Gates as solely a “philanthropist” with nothing better to do with his time and money. That and he also believes Mr. Gates’ plans are “demonic” as he is also likened to Charlie Sheen as they both need an “intervention.” Let’s be frank, calling Bill Gates “just” a philanthropist is like calling Michael Jordan “just” a basketball player. Yes, if you want to nit-pick, in every sense of the word Bill Gates has been VERY philanthropic with his billions of dollars over the years. But have we forgotten that he is not one who inherited his money? If my memory serves me correctly (insert a large dose of sarcasm here), isn’t he  the man who kinda-sorta, maybe, a little bit, in a round-about sort of way revolutionized the ENTIRE WORLDWIDE COMPUTER AND SOFTWARE INDUSTRY WITH A LITTLE COMPANY CALLED MICROSOFT!!?  If there’s a person who we should listen to and who is probably capable of offering up a plan on how to best ensure our children eventually compete on a global scale it’s “philanthropist” Bill Gates. There aren’t many people in this world who have a good idea what type of workforce and leaders we will need in the coming years to keep our country competitive, while at the same time who have the $$$ to make those ideas come to life; one of those men is you guessed it, Bill Gates.

Love him or hate him (and truth be told, I’m a Mac guy), but the man puts his VERY large bank account where his mouth is in reference to education and many other causes such as AIDS research, agricultural development, and global health. From millions of dollars in scholarship money; to the KIPP Prep Academies in which he is a major contributor; to numerous speeches and presentations on the subject; to financing the movie “Waiting for Superman”, Mr. Gates seems to get it. We all know what needs to be done, but when you have billions to spend you can actually get it done. One thing money allows you to do is to cut through all the bureaucratic nonsense, do it yourself, and put forth an initiative YOU believe in regardless of what the status quo has to say about it. No need to go through mounds of paperwork and countless telephone calls to get something done. As a teacher, you have a good idea on how to teach a group of student’s physics? Go for it! You have a plan to get your students more involved in literature? Do it! It’s as if we have sucked the creativity from our teachers and refuse to let them do what they do best…TEACH! Mr. Gates fully understands it’s about getting back to educating and developing critical thinking skills and not just focusing on standardized test taking, which is what education has become in recent years. And don’t get me started on decaying schools, high dropout rates, the U.S. lagging behind many third world countries in math, science, and even English! Please, I’d jump on the chance to have my child in KIPP Prep! And don’t think I didn’t try! Just way too far away and., wait for it….there is a HUGE waiting list!

But what perplexes me to no end is why so many folks are afraid of change (I know, I know, probably because it’s change stupid, Duh!)? But seriously, I continue to hear the arguments on how privatization of education is so wrong. Is it really? I doubt that Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and members of the Walton Family (Wal-Mart) sit around a big table wringing their hands (insert evil laugh here) as they try to figure out the best way to dupe the public, while they take over the countries educational system and make money doing it.  I mean are there still some of you out there who believe that the “public” in public education still means anything?

Our public schools have been in the hands of “private” industry for years. If it’s not the multi-billion companies such as McGraw-Hill and Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt who determine what our children learn (or don’t learn) by selling text books by the bulk, it’s the way they “help” shape lessons plans as well as standardized testing at the state level in order to ensure it’s their company’s books that are used and not the competition. And less we forget companies such as Sysco who provide much of the most non nutritious, yet cheap food to our cafeterias. Our schools haven’t been “public”, or for that matter locally run for DECADES!  Think about it, when was the last time planning, funding, testing, or a major policy was decided SOLELY at the local level?

I’ll wait………(cue Jeopardy theme music)………………… EXACTLY! It doesn’t happen anymore!

Teachers and school districts across the nation are forced on a daily basis to be “reactive” instead of “proactive” due to the various cuts to their budgets. Instead of pushing the envelope and pushing their students to succeed they are busy trying to keep the ship from sinking. You CAN’T teach or educate in that type of environment! In my humble opinion, this is also one of the reasons that not only has the discussion for privatization risen in recent years, but so has the clamor for “non-traditional” methods of education. Charter schools, Montessori education, and yes, even homeschooling have all had a boon recently due to the fact that government officials and so-called education professionals have been trying to “fix” this system FOREVER and parents can’t afford to wait any longer. This is also why prep schools have been around for so long. People with “means” don’t worry about the public education debate because they send their children to prep schools; yep, just like the fictional Bel Air Academy on Fresh Prince. But all joking aside, one of the statements that troubled me from Mr. Stager is how he accused Mr. Gates of not sending his own children to the KIPP Academy’s because obviously they aren’t “good enough”.  Really? The man sets up some of the most technologically advanced and forward thinking schools in the nation (which by the way rival even some of the best prep schools in the country) and you want to kick a gift horse in the mouth!?!? These academies are the closest thing to a prep school that most regular everyday folks without “means” will see. I’m not going to get into unions, teacher tenure, etc… BUT by spending his billions to open his own schools, Mr. Gates can EASILY bypass much of the red tape drama that far too many school districts are drowning in. His money, his ideas, his way!

And just to take this discussion one step further, I’d like you to think about something for a moment. You know what doesn’t get talked about too much? It’s that the “establishment” is counting on a little thing called time. They have plenty of it, and we as parents do not. Our children continue to get older in a lackluster system because they know all too well that one day our children will be old enough and OUT of “public” education (K-12). Usually by the time many of our children have (hopefully) moved onto college we have lost the want, need, or desire to concern ourselves with how K-12 public education continues to decline. It’s as if, “Whew…I’m done, let the next group of parents deal with this nonsense!” Many of us are too tired, busy, stressed, and pulled every which way on Monday-Friday to focus on fighting the good fight, AND THEY ARE COUNTING ON THAT!

We all want what is best for our children, but let’s face it do any of us really have the means or the where-with-all to fight a system which has been playing this game since at least the 1950’s? NOPE! The status quo is counting on us not getting involved. One of the ways they achieve this is making it damn near impossible for us to find, or even enroll, our children in some of the best public schools in our own communities. And trust me I know of what it is I speak as I’m currently fighting the good fight with our local school district to get what I believe is best for my family. But In the end, they are counting on our eventual and continued APATHY to it all. If they put up enough stumbling blocks, sooner or later we will go away and they will continue to chug along.

Like Bill Gates? Hate Bill gates? Agree with him, don’t agree with him? But the facts are pretty clear if not for him, and others like him who are tired of the way our children are being educated we would not be having a serious discussion today on the future of education in America. Movies such as Waiting for Superman, The Lottery, etc… and program’s such as The Harlem Children’s Zone all have brought to light what many have been trying real hard to keep in the dark. I, for one, applaud the efforts of folks like Bill Gates and Gary Stager who are doing what they believe to be right on behalf of our children.

I think we all can agree that we want the best education for our children and that (for many) the education they are receiving is sub-standard at best. I also think we all can agree that some major changes need to be made, that none of the problems are going away anytime soon, and an open, honest dialogue where all views are respected is paramount. So if I were Mr. Stager, instead of insulting the man (I’m still trying to figure out the Charlie Sheen analogy) I’d get in line to see if I too could get a bit of the Gates Foundation money and find away to work together (yep, didn’t I mention that Mr. Stager has his own education based organization called The Constructivist Consortium!?). Because just like this problem, the money and clout of Bill Gates isn’t going away anytime soon either.

Just my two cents, what say you?

James Higgins

James Higgins

Nothing special about me at all, I'm a happily married, college educated (Go Bison!), stay-at-home father of two wonderful children. Just trying to keep myself, my wife, my children, and my cats sane as we navigate through this journey called family life.

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