Excerpts and Thoughts from “The Talented Tenth” by W.E.B. DuBois

I became familiar with DuBois “Talented Tenth” ideaology back in college and since I was, at the time, a so-called “college-bred” Black man who could not relate to strives of making a living with my hands, DuBois’ philosophy resonated with me quite loudly. However, as I began to grow into my own thoughts on social and educational upliftment for African-Americans, I began to see this piece as exceptional in theory, but overly ambitious and short-sighted in practice. DuBois contends that the small college-educated Black men were to serve as the vanguards for the masses, to teach, mold, train and uplift the rest. Again, I agree with this philosophy in theory; my issue was that this certainly wasn’t and still isn’t the case in reality. Our college-educated are NOT giving back. We are not working tirelessly to empower the masses, to reach down and pull up another brother or sister. We obtain our big, fancy college degrees, move off to the suburbs, have a family and shake our heads in shame at those who couldn’t acquire the same for themselves. The more I grew conscious of jobless rates of Black men and waves of Hispanics and Asians who are moving to this country building stable lives for themselves by learning trades and starting businesses, I began to align myself more with the Washingtonian ideaology. Don’t get me wrong: Washington, to me, goes down in history as an advocator of silent submission to injustice; in other words, an “Uncle Tom”, but still, his advocacy for economic empowerment, self-sufficiency and autonomy is exactly what our community is lacking. More on my views of Booker T. Washington later in another post.
Anyways, I decided to re-read “The Talented Tenth” and I have a newfound understanding and appreciation for it. I totally agree DuBois on much of it, but I also believe Washington was onto something as well. After reading it, here are some of the most profound statements I came across:

[On the goal of education]
“Education is that whole system of human training within and without house walls, which molds and develops men.”
In other words, education should be holistic. It should cater to the mind, body and soul of the student, and do more than prepare our youth to be master test-takers and even more than prepare our kids for college; education, at its best, should give our students the tools and confidence to be positive, productive, and purposeful citizens who are committed to the betterment of their respective communities.

[On the demand for positive role models]
To furnish five millions and more of ignorant people with teachers of their own race and blood, in one generation, was not only a very difficult undertaking, but a very important one, in that, it placed before the eyes of almost every Negro child an attainable ideal. It brought the masses of the Blacks in contact with modern civilization, made Black men the leaders of their communities and trainers of the new generation.”

Every single one of is, college degree or not, should be obligated to serve our communities positively and responsibly, so that, in turn, we provide the younger generation with a standard of morale, responsibility, and integrity. We should train those in our communities to be leaders so that in our inevetibale demise, our “heirloom”, or legacy, if you will, will be the inheritance of those same ideals catalyzing the procreation of another generation stand-up men and women.

Painting by Gilbert Young, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" I actually met him once.

Painting by Gilbert Young, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” I actually met him once.

[On the education of the college-bred Black man]
“…He is, as he ought to be, the group leader, the man who sets the ideals of the community where he lives, directs its thoughts and heads its social movements.” A leader is a visionary is sets the example and paves the road to follow.

[on the role of manual training in the Black community]
“I believe that next to the founding of Negro colleges the most valuable addition to Nefor education since the war, has been industrial training for Black boys. Nevertheless, I insist that the object of all true education is not to make men carpenters, it is to make carpenters men.”

The last line of this quote is extremely moving. This is a direct charge at Washington’s postulation that manual labor is the best means of progression for the Black man.

“Men of America, the problem is plain before you. Here is a race transplanted through the criminal foolishness of your fathers. Whether you like it or not the millions are here, and here they will remain. If you do not lift them up, they will pull you down. Education and work are levers to uplift a people. Work alone will not do it unless inspired by the right ideals and guided by intelligence. Education must not simply teach work–it must teach Life. The Talented Tenth of the Negro race must be made leaders of thought and missionaries of culture among their people. No others can do this work and Negro colleges must train men for it. The Negro race, like all other races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men.”

I’ll leave you with this. He Ain’t Heavy by Donny Hathaway http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HFDAp8XVrk

Lyrics:
The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I am strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

So on we go
His welfare is my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know he will not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Is not filled with gladness
Of love for one another

Thank you, Lord
Said it’s a long…
I said it’s a long…
Heyyy, it’s a long, hard road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share?
And the load
Doesn’t weigh, doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

GEORGIA: Helping Teachers Learn

Charter Pulse

teachingThe school cheating scandal in Atlanta that led to criminal indictments against dozens of teachers, principals and administrators last month contains at least three lessons for states that are developing teacher evaluation systems.

The first is that overemphasizing scores is a mistake. The second is that teacher evaluation systems — now under development in most states — will be of little use unless they include mechanisms for showing teachers who receive average ratings how to become great, or at least good, at what they do. And finally, the country will not build a first-rate teacher corps solely by threatening to fire people who are less than perfect early in their careers.

The Atlanta public school system was once lauded for doing the difficult work of improving instruction. But it’s now clear that under Dr. Beverly Hall, the district superintendent who retired in 2011 and was recently indicted, the system instilled…

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MICHIGAN charter school makes a brilliant academic comeback after receiving notice of imminent closure

Charter Pulse

three-oaks-charter-school-michiganMUSKEGON, Mich. – The great thing about charter schools is that if they fail, they can be closed.

Three Oaks Public School Academy in Muskegon, Michigan was definitely failing three years ago, and the college that authorizes the school was ready to pull the plug.

But Three Oaks officials decided that failure was not the legacy they cared to leave behind. So they came up with a turnaround plan, worked hard to implement it and greatly improved the school’s academic performance.

Now the K-5 school has a new eight-year lease on life from its authorizer, as well as state recognition for its accomplishments.

“We were one of those schools that actually got the letter that said we will be closing your school in June, and this was in March.  It was really surprising because we had such great teachers,” Principal Monecia Vasbinder told EAGnews. “We really had to come to…

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SOUTH CAROLINA: Nation’s First Blended STEM Charter School Set to Open in Columbia

Charter Pulse

South Carolina Science AcademyEducation improvement initiatives on the federal and local level are based on the belief that all children are capable of learning.  However how each student learns can be as uniquely different as the individual. The South Carolina Science Academy, a new charter school, intends to address that reality by offering innovative learning techniques for teaching middle school students.

SCSA will be the first STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) centric blended public school in the nation. The blended model is based on a combination of traditional and online learning.  Sometimes referred to as the flipped classroom or universal design for learning, students in grades six through eight will be able to connect to their school, teachers and curriculum 24/7 through a web-based platform.  Students will gain additional class time to construct their understanding of what they learn using project-based, problem-based, and inquiry-based learning. The blended learning environment is also intended…

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Quote of the Day…

Behind every successful man, there are A LOT of Unsuccessful years!–Anonymous

I actually saw this on a random pic someone posted on Facebook and thought it was quite interesting.

great read! I love it!

Charter Pulse

changeMEMPHIS — Not far off a scruffy boulevard lined with dollar stores and payday loan shops in a neighborhood of run-down brick bungalows, Corning Achievement Elementary School here is a pristine refuge, with gleaming tile floors and signs in classrooms proclaiming “Whatever it takes.”

In this Mississippi River town marked by pockets of entrenched poverty, some of the worst schools in the state are in the midst of a radical experiment in reinventing public education.

Last fall, Tennessee began removing schools with the lowest student test scores and graduation rates from the oversight of local school boards and pooling them in a special state-run district. Memphis, where the vast majority of public school students are black and from poor families, is ground zero: 80 percent of the bottom-ranked schools in the state are here.

Tennessee’s Achievement School District, founded as part of the state’s effort to qualify for the…

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charter schools will be the future

Charter Pulse

Democrats for Education ReformAs the race to succeed Tom Menino takes shape, compelling new developments should put education reform front and center in the city’s political debate.

The first is growing anxiety about the city’s education system. New polling data show that the quality of education has emerged as the chief concern for Boston voters — and that the public has come to see charter schools as a vital part of the educational landscape.

Indeed, education outranked both jobs and crime, with nearly half of those in the survey — commissioned by an education-reform group — listing it as one of the top two priorities that Boston leaders should focus on. Three-quarters of likely voters said a mayoral or City Council candidate’s position on K-12 education would be a very important consideration for them.

Almost as many — 73 percent — said they supported charters, with only 18 percent opposing them. If faced…

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glad the brother is in high spirits. I hope he sees the necessity of creating a viable career path outside of basketball.

CNN Newsroom

CNN’s Rachel Nichols talks with Kevin Ware and his mother Lisa Junior, about his broken leg and his future.

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If Douglass were alive today…

Freedom is a natural right of all men. Arguing against it is like trying to disprove a fact of science; If a man is a man, then freedom is what he is entitled to. –Fredereck Douglass

This is an interesting quote I ran across while reading one of Douglass most well-known speeches, “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?” I think it conjures up many implications for present-day societal issues such as religous freedom, education equity, homosexuality, sexism, racism, and classism.

. It is not a nation of solely Christians, Muslims, Jews, agnositics or atheists; it is not a nation solely consisting of Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, or Asians. I think in the minds of most of us, we live in a “American utopia” where we accept all groups of people and they are entitled to the freedoms as written in our Constitution, and as repeated in the Pledge of Allegiance; that is, until, the freedoms of those individuals are perceived as imfringing upon our own or bastardizing our religion. But in reality, we’re not the “salad bowl” or “melting pot” nation as we purport to be. We are, without a doubt, a nation of communalism where there is greater allegiance to an ethnic group or religous group than to society in general (In this case, it’s religion). How do we progress as a nation and accept all people regardless how they may live their lives, or pray to their God, if they have one? How do we ensure all students receive an equal, equitable and adequate education? When will we really achieve economic parity between men and women? Will there ever be a time when the gap begins to close between the “haves” and “have-nots”. We all are entitled to freedom and respect. I don’t believe these are just American rights, either. It is our right as men and women to live freely without judgment and ostracization, and abundantly enough for all to provide for our families. We should all be equal under the watchful eye of the law and under the gazes of society. Slavery infuriated Douglass at the time of this speech, but were he alive today, what would he be fighing for?

Playing Chess? Or Are We?

chess-players

I’m not a chess player, but the game, as we all know, is a game of skill and of strategy; it is, above all things, a game of the mind. The main objective is to “checkmate” the opponent’s king, forcing it into an inescapable threat of capture. Each player is desperately trying to out-wit and thrawrt the other’s goals, and as you can see here in this picture, you have a member of the KKK robed in his traditional garb, and beside him is his weapon of choice–the knife (I’m sure there’s a rope nearby somewhere). Across from him, we see a young African-American male robed in a hat turned backwards, black garments, and of couse, his weapon of choice–the gun. I’m not too certain of the artists’ intended message, but I can only ascertain that the chess board itself would symbolically represent American soceity in general: economics and employment, struggle and progress, education, healthcare, the interrelatedness and dependency of one upon the other (or the lack thereof). I can further assume the klansmen represents the power structure, or the oppressor. The klansmens’ objective, as we all could guess, is to thrawrt the young African-American male from achieving the prosperity that is his to claim while the Black man is manuevering to outwit his oppressor and gain what he feels is owed to him, but by his own terms which is symbolized by the gun.

Most of the comments I read on Facebook about this pic sort of mentioned “the Black man needs to wake up; ‘they’re trying to keep us from blah blah blah; the klan will use the rules against us and to his own advantage to keep us down yada yada yada.” I think this is the type of bull-crap race-baiting that is a cancer on the intellectual and even social progression of the African-American male. For one, the gun-toting Black male in the picture is a stereotypical representation. For me, it conjures up images of gang members, thugs and hoodlums and I think that’s the wrong message to convey if this is meant to be positive or thought-provoking. It is not picturesque of our plight nor progress. The klansmen, even symbolically, is fallacy. The Ku Klux Klan or any other racist, for that matter, I feel are in no way the biggest threat to present-day African-American males. It’s no secret that the biggest threat to the Black man is just that–another one. I may have posted about this before, but the number of deaths due to black-on-black violence has more than exceeded the number of Black men killed by the Klan. Now had this picture been of one that excluded the hooded white vigalante and inserted a Black vigilante hooded in gang colors on one side, and on the other, a Black “school boy” trying to avoid those same pitfalls made by the gangmember, then to me, that would make more sense. Or what if that “school boy” dressed in shirt and tie armed with a book is pictured making a move against American society in general–a man hooded in the American flag, symbolic of the socio-economic, educational, and political struggle? I don’t know. I’m just throwing out ideas that would make this pic a lot more powerful. We have to eventually move beyond “victimologist” and thought processes.

“Whitey” does not affect my day to day struggle, and he does not have a direct hand in my plight. What I’m worried about most is myself or my family being gun-downed by another Black man. I’m worried about the ever-increasing achievement gap that eventually puts the gun in the hands of another young brotha that will eventually land himself in prison. I don’t wake up each morning worried about what “whitey” is going to do to me next. I worry about the outcome of me failing at getting these young brothas to value an education; I worry about failing to empower these brothas and not giving them the life skills they will need to succeed in this world so that they do not have to “play chess” with America armed with a pistol. I want to teach them to arm themselves with their best “weapons”: family, education, whatever spritituality that rests within their souls, and brotherhood. That’s my vision.

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