¡Viva la Revolución!

November 26, 2016

fidels-legacy

Hercules

November 25, 2016

The crisis is arrived when we must assert our rights, or submit to every imposition, that can be heaped upon us, till custom and use shall make us as tame and abject slaves, as the blacks we rule over with such arbitrary sway. (George Washington)

 

Slave prettily pretending
on the promenade.
A plethora of coins
pushing the false narrative
But then

But then
I was sent from the city
of brotherly love
to break rocks
and dig in the mud
for material
to shore up his house.

Hands that used to craft meals
that had him crowing
are now stiff, swollen
and seditious.

They take me far from
wife, daughters and son
far from the illusion of immunity
to the immortality
of being one
of the not inconsiderable few
who successfully escaped
the first president.

 

 

For more information about Hercules, check out the following links:

http://www.npr.org/2008/02/19/18950467/hercules-and-hemings-presidents-slave-chefs

Recollections and Private Memoirs of George Washington

http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/hercules/#note4

 

 

Standing Rock Thanksgiving

November 24, 2016

 

Homeschooling Journey #2

November 20, 2016

It’s been two years since I posted about homeschooling. Yes, we are still doing it. When it comes to my son’s education, I claim unschooler more than any other identity in the homeschooling universe. I admit that when we first embarked on this journey, I was still in the grasp of traditional schooling and therefore, printed out copious amount of worksheets, bought books that contained things I assumed he needed to know, etc, etc. We, my son and I, both struggled with the workload I wanted to assign him. Eventually, as we got into the groove, I let go of a lot of traditional education thinking that was, truthfully, handicapping the process. That was year one.

Year two, my ideas were still muddied about the whole thing but I had to consistently remind myself why I pulled him out of school and what I wanted to accomplish with this new process. I wanted him to be a free-thinker. As I said, over and over, to family and friends and acquaintances, I’m not raising a slave. If unschooling was something that required a mission statement, that would be it: I’m not raising a slave. Of course that means he is free to disagree with me and frequently does; which sometimes raises my parental ire. As I tell him “sometimes, it’s just best to say yes, mom” and leave the “battle” for another day when I’m more open to his entreaties.

Heading into year three, I have to say that I am simply amazed by how much my son learns if I step outside the process! As a result of him sharing what he’s researched, I’ve learned things I had no interest in learning but still…I am amazed and proud. Not only is my son intelligent but he has a sense of self I didn’t have at his age (12) and he feels free to share his growth (although he doesn’t yet see it as such) with me.

Of course, I can’t totally let go of things I think he should know; especially as high school creeps up on the horizon. At this point, I am thinking he should go to the local high school and experience what that is all about. But I am not sure. I don’t want arbitrary standardized testing to negatively impact on his educational growth. I also am firmly opposed to some educational bureaucrat trying to track him. When he was still in traditional school, a teacher called me to advocate for that and I shut that down. Quick, fast and in a hurry.

I was tracked as a kid. My mother, an immigrant, assumed that the educational professionals knew something she didn’t know about her troublesome girl child and let them put me into “special” ed. As painful and contradictory as that decision was, I don’t blame her. I understand, now,  that she didn’t understand the context in which such decisions are made. The minute, figuratively speaking, I graduated from high school, I started reading about education. As “troublesome” as I was, I was never anti-education. I was, simply, anti-school.

One of the books I still remember was authored by Jonathan Kozol. Savage Inequalities changed my educational life but still, I couldn’t totally repudiate my mother’s sensibility because I was raised to respect and honor the elders in my family. The fact that their reality  didn’t correspond to my reality was neither here nor there. It is only now, as I approach 50, that I have the ovaries to say a respectful  yet direct no. I refuse to put my son through what I went through. I will not sacrifice him as I feel as I was sacrificed.

So here we are, approaching the third year of unschooling. I find myself starting to think about the high school on the horizon: whether I actually want him to attend in this current environment and what I need to do to prepare him if the mutual (yet parental-directed) decision is for high school  or to go straight to community college as a readying environment for a 4 year college.

 

 

 

This has got to be one of the strangest novels about slavery that I have ever read. This, despite the nature of the Underground Railroad created by the author. It is strange because the overall tone of the book is dispassionate and as such makes it hard to connect to the characters. Still, I read on until I finished it and I have to say it left me hollow; which is not an emotion I normally end a book with.

I sat on this review for awhile because I was not sure of my response but whenever I thought of the book, I couldn’t come up with any other take on it. Regretfully.

Yalie Kamara |

August 13, 2016

I. If you see me praying in the living room, never sit in front of me. You are not God.

Source: Yalie Kamara |

“Those familiar with my work already know that I champion Historical Poetry. They also likely know that no other group of poets has done more to define, establish, and make an argument for what clearly is a new genre than contemporary African American poets. No other cohort seems as committed to historical truth, arts activism, and paying tribute to our ancestors. Marilyn Nelson, Tyehimba Jess, Natasha Trethewey, and Adrian Matejka, are just a few who continue to pave the way and establish a standard of excellence in this area.”

 

Source: Harmonizing Black Voices through Historical Poetry-Frank X Walker | Free Black Space

A few year ago, lamenting the challenges of this juggling act, senior scholars in my department advised me to start thinking about my manuscripts as occupying different places in a pipeline, with proposals on one end and published articles at the other. The goal: Keep your papers distributed along that pipeline, and flowing through.

Source: My Writing Productivity Pipeline – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Two for Tuesday

July 26, 2016

I often think my taste in music is schizophrenic. It encapsulates everything from Americana (aka American roots music) to the Roots, Rock, Reggae of Jamaica; the punk of Patti Smith to the grunge of Nirvana; from the punk of Bad Brains to the virtuoso of Nina Simone; musical storytellers from Bob Dylan to Wu-Tang Clan. Therefore, I decided a weekly post where I highlight the connections musicians themselves have made between their disparate musical forms.

First up: Ring of Fire

June Carter Cash’s Ring of Fire

Ray Charles’ Ring of Fire

Early spring, I went to a local (aka non-big box) gardening store. The experience wasn’t pleasant at all but I came away from the encounter with this growing bag in which I am growing sunflowers and amaranth (loves lies bleeding). The smallest sunflower is a variety I haven’t grown before (Endurance) and I don’t think I’ll grow them again next year. They freak me out a little because they don’t seem to follow the sun like the other two (Russian Mammoths).

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These are my petunias. I didn’t grow them from seed but they are growing “like weeds”. They make me happy just looking at them. I don’t usually give my plants names but these I call Little Princelings for His Royal Purpleness (Prince).

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I am dedicated to trying to make my garden, small as it is, contribute something to the well-being of birds, bees and butterflies. The photo directly below is milkweed which is the only source of food for the endangered Monarch Butterfly. I hope it grows. I hope it grows!

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I wanted to grow sweet potatoes (for their edible leaves) in soil. I don’t know if it was the variety of sweet potato I selected but it didn’t work this year However I am still trying to grow sweet potato leaves but it’s going very slowly:

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I’m hoping that they’ll grow enough so that I can put them in soil and have delicious sweet potato leaves for the fall. Crossing my fingers!

Last year I tried to grow summer squash but it turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. I don’t have pictures of how it “just simply” died on me. I’m sure I did something wrong but what that was, I don’t know. So this year I’m going for butternut squash. I know it’s a fall/early winter vegetable but I’m starting it now. Since space (and money) is an issue I’m growing it in a bag.

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Amaranth. Amaranth. Amaranth. I chant it like a mantra because it is so important and valuable to me! This variety is green amaranth. I’ve already started snipping it to eat because once I found it was the source of the callaloo I ate as a child, well that was all she wrote!

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Potatoes are the bane of my gardening life. They take so damn long to form the tubers I love that I annually lose patience with them. This year is no exception! The pot in the background is a transplanted potato plant that I hope grows. As you can see, the AC is on my balcony and that makes things harder because of all the hot air backwash. The foreground potatoes seem to be doing well. In the spirit of companion planting, I’ve also planted mustard greens with them. When they grow their true leaves, I’ll start to thin them out.

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I’m growing other things as well; primarily greens because I really want to try my version of homesteading by freezing what we can’t eat so that during the coming winter, we’ll have fresh, homegrown greens to eat. At this point they’re too tiny to share.