I'm so pleased with the work that's come out of Being Black at School. I admit that when I first started off on this venture that I wasn't sure where it would lead. Everyone has great ideas about education and some of them are entirely doable. Others, well, let me say here that I bit off a lot and I don't regret any of it. Most of what I'd like to work on in education comes from my 2+ decades of work in it and that includes undergraduate school and student teaching.
What I noticed, right away, about education is how well we do some things and how poorly we do others. I am reminded, however, that working in education means working in a white institution that was built for white students and is lead, overwhelmingly, by white educators. This is problematic for so many reasons that I'm not even inclined to begin listing them since I've spoken so much about racism in the system for years.
That said, I'm really proud of the undertaking of sustainability of Being Black at School. Not only did two team members, Joseph Cook and Colin McGinnis, join me right away but my friends and a few new supporters have looked at what we're trying to accomplish and asked, "How can I help?" This means the world to me because my voice is trusted in this space and although I could go on about teaching and learning, best practices, using data for assessment, assessment for learning, and so on... I am more passionate about the work to include multicultural curriculum and frameworks for cultural competency than I've ever been.
While in the system, it was hard to change it. I bumped my head a lot on the glass ceiling that is for women in the workplace but there's another glass ceiling for Black folks that made me look at some of my colleagues with the appropriate side-eye they deserved. The book I'm writing is now about 5,000 words short of being complete. That's been a labor of both love and disdain, I admit. Pouring over my journals about my experiences in schools isn't as cathartic as one might imagine.
Some days, writing is just downright painful when you re-live your own life.
That said, I have no book title yet but every speech I've given in the past month (and the travel and speaking engagements have been OFF THE CHARTS) leads me to the working title of I'm Telling On Errbody. It always gets a laugh, but the audience always laughs knowing that there are a lot of secrets in systems but I'm not one who will keep them.
We are absolutely to blame for the school-to-prison pipeline. That doesn't happen in a vacuum and it's not some arbitrary "no one can tell what it looks like" mystery, either. There's a lot of missed opportunities to learn this and a lot of deflection and sometimes the simple things that seem innocent are, actually, nefarious.
Like the time a group of teachers asked me to please contact parents for our upcoming parent teacher conferences and wrote a list of "academic" students and a list of "behavior" students.
The behavior students were incredibly offensive since 80% of them were Black students.
I hope my Chicago and Chicago-adjacent friends consider joining us for this night, hosted by Ernest Wilkins with performances by Scott Woods and Britt Julious. There are some prizes, awards, good food and drink, and music throughout the night.
You can get your tickets here. Please consider joining us to celebrate the work of two women Doing the Work, Dr. Eve Ewing and Monica Haslip.
Purchase t-shirts and mugs to support our work here.
Details: April 1, 2017 at The Currency Exchange Cafe in Chicago.