Here are some things I found.
FYI — this is an interview conducted by Roland Martin (who is pro-black charters)
Thinking about the Atlanta trip with amazing Black and Brown women who left their families, ate bad food, and endured cold temps to advocate for the right to access to great school choices only to be called mistresses to billionaires. For sale. Not mothers and grandmothers.
Not education activists. Not concerned citizens or passionate voters. Essentially, prostitutes. That the only way we could manage such a magnificent exercise is if we are paid. This from the political party in which most of us have spent our lives voting & volunteering.
But I’ve been in this Black body for 48 years and have seen some things so it’s not surprising that our collective Blackness (and Brownness) has no value to the Democratic party when we dare question the party line. The media, all too eager to push the narrative, discounted our voices, cheapened our agency, and disrespected the individual fight of each mother and grandmother in their respective communities.
I sat with a 70-year-old on the side of the road because she was cold and in pain but refused to go sit on the bus because she understood the power of our bodies in that space. I walked by a tearful mother taking a call but whatever was going on at home didn’t stop her from the fight. I think about the racist, sexist narrative promoted on social media about us and while I’m not surprised, my soul is troubled.
Thank you #PowerfulParentNetwork for the courage to walk in your truth and power. I am reminded of Malcolm X’s words that, sadly, ring true to this day, Black women are the most disrespected and neglected people in America.
Ain’t I a woman?
Then I stumbled across an interesting podcast:
They want us to talk about everything else under the sun except for what these women are saying. Except for what they are fighting for. Let’s just talk about what these women are asking for. Let’s keep the conversation where it needs to be.” -Charles Cole
The crew takes exception to the idea that people would call these mothers and grandmothers “bought and paid for,” especially when the smears and marginalization comes from journalists and media outlets. They highlight the racism of discounting these Black mothers being and being unable to fathom that they could organize and fight for what they believe in rather than just being pawns to billionaires. I’ve heard so many people say “listen to Black women” but then when they show up and say something it’s “shut up, who paid you?” -Sharif El-Mekki
If you get some time — give it a listen.
The NYTimes has just weighed in.
“Charter schools = self-determination,” one sign read. “Black Democrats want charters!” another blared.
At issue is the delicate politics of race and education. For more than two decades, Democrats have largely backed public charter schools as part of a compromise to deliver black and Latino families a way out of failing district schools. Charters were embraced as an alternative to the taxpayer-funded vouchers for private-school tuition supported by Republicans, who were using the issue to woo minority voters.
But this year, in a major shift, the leading Democratic candidates are backing away from charter schools, and siding with the teachers’ unions that oppose their expansion. And that has left some black and Latino families feeling betrayed.
“As a single mom with two jobs and five hustles, I’m just feeling kind of desperate,” said Sonia Tyler, who plans to enroll her children in a charter school slated to open next fall in a suburb of Atlanta. “They’re brilliant; they’re curious. It’s not fair. Why shouldn’t I have a choice?”
Charter schools, which educate over three million students, are publicly funded and privately managed — and often are not unionized. Nationally, the schools perform about the same as traditional neighborhood schools. But charter schools that serve mostly low-income children of color in large cities tend to excel academically. And bipartisan support in Washington has allowed charters to proliferate, with their waiting lists swelling into the hundreds of thousands.
Going back in time — I found this roundtable held at Howard University (hosted by Roland Martin) which presented various black positions on charters.
Going back to the Warren protest — I wanted to hear more about Sarah Carpenter, and the organization she spearheaded.
The Memphis Lift
Decades ago, I taught at what would now be called a charter school— East Harlem Prep. We took students who had been kicked out public school. They were considered to be hopeless. We wound up getting most of the students into college. Most of us teaching there were ‘not credentialed.’ We had enthusiasm, we had skills, and most importantly we cared.
Have my feeling shifted about school choice. Yes. Do we need to do more for public education, and how it is funded — yes. Are there good charters — yes. Are there bad charters — yes. Are there districts with good public schools — yes. Are there abominable ones — yes to that too. Can charters and public schools co-exist in our communities? I think so.
I can tell you this — I’m going to pay more attention.
On another education note, I woke up to see trending on twitter, #Pete Buttigieg Is a Lying MF which was precipitated by a post of Mayor Pete’s opinion on low income black people and education — which had been posted to twitter and responded to for the last few days.
Michael Harriot tackled it for The Root, and it his take is making history.
I am from what most people would call “the hood.” The bad section of town. You know—where black people live. During the crack revolution of the late ’80s, to get to school every day, I would give a friendly nod as I walked past the early-rising dope boys. I meandered through the projects and—if it had recently rained—I waited for someone to help me put a 10-foot long wooden plank across the ditch that separated the black part of town from the bucolic neighborhood where the only high school in town was located. If no one was there, or if a prankster had hidden the makeshift bridge, then I had to either leap across or walk the long way around, adding an extra 15 minutes to my morning walk. Our neighborhood had no bus, so either you walked that balance beam behind the projects, took the 30-minute stroll or you said: “fuck it.”
I never said fuck it.
But if I did, it wouldn’t have been because of a lack of role models. If I had chosen to keep my mama’s lights on instead of making that daily trek, my decision wouldn’t have been based on a tropological dearth of “motivation” or communal ambivalence. As I grow older, I realize that I was not gifted, talented or even diligent.
I’m just a lucky motherfucker.
Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is a lucky motherfucker, too.
He attended one of the best private schools in the country that was quite literally on the campus of one of the best colleges in the country, University of Notre Dame, where his father worked as a professor for 29 years. His mother taught at an even better, more elite school. And if you ask how he got into Harvard or became a Rhodes Scholar, Mayor Pete would probably insist that it had nothing to do with whiteness. He would likely tell you that he valued education and had great role models, both of which are probably true. There is no question that he is intelligent, hard-working and well-educated.
But he didn’t have to jump a ditch.
So, when a clip surfaced of Buttigieg explaining why negro kids fail at school so often, his answer made perfect sense.
“Kids need to see evidence that education is going to work for them,” Buttigieg explained whitely, when he was running for mayor in 2011. You’re motivated because you believe that at the end of your education, there is a reward; there’s a stable life; there’s a job. And there are a lot of kids—especially [in] the lower-income, minority neighborhoods, who literally just haven’t seen it work. There isn’t someone who they know personally who testifies to the value of education.”
I want to be clear: Pete Buttigieg is a lying motherfucker.
This is not a misunderstanding. This is not a misstatement. Pete Buttigieg went to the best educational institutions America has to offer and he—more than anyone on the goddamned planet—knows that everything he just said is a baldfaced lie.
News round up by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
Jessica Black is a Pittsburg, California, mother of two black teenagers, both of whom have been disciplined multiple times at their middle and high schools. Her daughter has been suspended more than once, and teachers often deem her son’s behavior out of line, reprimanding him for not taking off his hoodie in class and for raising his voice.
In observing her own family and others, Black has noticed a pattern: Behaviors that many black parents might consider annoying but developmentally appropriate, such as an ill-timed joke or talking back to an adult, are treated by school staff as cause for suspension. From there, students are pushed out of classrooms, lose learning time, and can end up in the school-to-prison pipeline. “It’s a totally different environment, a totally different culture,” Black said when we spoke in July 2018.
Black knows that her kids are not alone in their struggles at school. She works with the Black Organizing Project nearby in Oakland, where she offers peer-to-peer support to other black parents whose children are going through disciplinary proceedings. Black told me that many parents say their children behave as all children do, but wind up targeted by school officials because educators misinterpret these students’ actions, assuming the worst. Glaring, making noise, and violating the school dress code can all lead to suspension. The consequences are significant: When students are excluded from the classroom, they’re more likely to do worse academically, become truant, drop out, and eventually come into contact with the juvenile-justice system.
I heard similar concerns about the gap between home and school cultures when I interviewed dozens of black mothers for my book, We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood. Many of us know about the disparities: Black students are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be expelled or suspended. Less frequently discussed are the strategies black parents use to prepare their children for schools where they might be perceived as threats or expendable misfits who aren’t core members of the community.
In December of 1987, six years before she would win her Nobel Prize, Toni Morrison stood in front of the crowd of thousands that filled the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the Upper West Side of New York. They had gathered for the funeral service of James Baldwin, the first held in that cathedral since the death of Duke Ellington over a decade prior. And though Morrison’s address was technically to that crowd of thousands, her eulogy was addressed directly to the man she knew simply as Jimmy. “There is too much to think about you, and too much to feel,” she said. “You gave me a language to dwell in, a gift so perfect it seems my own invention. I have been thinking your spoken and written thoughts for so long I believed they were mine. I have been seeing the world through your eyes for so long, I believed that clear, clear view was my own.”
More than 30 years later that same theme of finding a home in the clear, clear view of someone now gone echoed at St. John the Divine on Thursday, during a memorial celebration of Morrison’s life. Some 3,000 people crowded into the halls of the cathedral after waiting in a line that, a full hour before the 4 p.m. start time, snaked around the corner. Still, despite the throng, the voices of those gathered rarely rose above a quiet, reverent hum that fell to near silence as luminaries like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jesmyn Ward, Edwidge Danticat, Angela Davis, and Oprah Winfrey approached the pulpit. Artists like harpist Brandee Younger and pianist Andy Bey offered tribute as well, though the most stirring performance was undoubtedly saxophonist David Murray’s, the notes of his solo echoing in the century-old rafters in much the same way that Morrison’s words, her rhythms, her moral clarity reverberated in those of the people remembering her. The eulogies ranged from humorous recollections of moments shared (David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, recalled the humbling experience of attempting to commission a piece from her and receiving the gentle refusal, “I can’t honey, I’m baking a cake”) to ruminations on her career as writer, critic, and most particularly as editor. Davis noted that, though Morrison never marched in the street herself, she considered it imperative to “make sure there was a written record of those who … put themselves on the line.”
It’s no secret that Naomi Campbell doesn’t like interviews. After 33 years in the business, and a string of tabloid-baiting moments, the model has acquired a reputation for being surly, formidable, downright difficult. Our original meeting is cancelled an hour or so before we are due to meet – Campbell cites “terrific illness” – but a promise is made to reschedule, with the possibility that she might be free over the weekend. Or that we might end up speaking by phone. But then the text arrives: we are on, for Sunday at 4pm. Give or take an hour, Campbell keeps to her word. Her publicist and I chat in the lobby of The Dorchester hotel in London, while I mentally prepare for the full force of her legendary froideur.
It is almost alarming, then, to find Campbell making jokes in a suite at the hotel, where she is alone, resting an injured leg on the sofa, smoking a cigarette, full of pussycat charm. At 49, she still looks otherworldly: a body, as Bono once put it, handmade by God, and skin so glowing it looks airbrushed. The era-defining cheekbones are framed by a sweep of immaculate hair; in the golden-hour light she looks luminous, dressed in a green chiffon Sacai jumpsuit and tractor sole Chelsea boots. She shows her publicist and me her leg: her knee is swollen like a melon, the result of tumbling on the stairs at an art party earlier in the week. She is worried that she won’t be able to fly if it doesn’t heal soon. “Clots are no joke,” she says. “[Doctors] stopped me from flying for six weeks two years ago. I do not want that again.”
Inexplicably, she loves being in the air, where she spends an astonishing amount of time. Campbell’s fortnight has already included at least half a dozen flights, with several more in the coming days: New York (where she lives) to Paris to London to Paris to New York to Arizona to Los Angeles, and so on. Earlier this year, a YouTube video of Campbell’s “flight routine”, which includes thoroughly disinfecting every surface and carrying her own seat cover and blanket, went viral, to the delight of a growing army of younger fans.
Recognition of slavery’s legacy and regard for Africa’s contribution to Brazilian culture have never been so high. Bloomberg: Afro-Brazilians Have Something to Celebrate
In the 131 years since slavery ended in Brazil, Brazilians of African descent haven’t had much to celebrate. Emancipation itself came late — making Brazil the last New World nation to outlaw slavery — and was hardly a gift for the 750,000 indentured laborers who overnight were freed to fend for themselves, no mule, no 40 acres, often as wage slaves for yesterday’s masters.
So last week’s announcement by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics that black and brown students were now a majority on public university campuses was good news indeed. What’s more, in less than two decades, their numbers had more than doubled: Last year, 55% of all Brazilians of color aged 18 to 24 were in college, compared with fewer than 26% in 2005.
That’s an encouraging trend in a country where 56% percent of the population define themselves as black (negro) or brown (pardo).
Word came in time for National Black Consciousness month, the occasion Brazilians set aside to remember both the infamy of slavery and the debt the country owes to what demographers call the world’s largest population of African descent outside of Nigeria.
To be sure, the celebration is not a national consensus. Not even a fifth of Brazil’s 5,570 townships observe the Nov. 20 holiday honoring the death of 17th-century rebel slave leader Zumbi dos Palmares, who ran an independent colony of runaway slaves, which survived for a century. No admirer of Zumbi, President Jair Bolsonaro was elected by a cranky right-wing demographic that disparages the banners of diversity and attacks identity politics.
Nonetheless, recognition of slavery’s legacy and regard for Africa’s contribution to national culture have never been so high. In Brazilian film, literature, cuisine and fashion, slavery and its scars are undergoing a makeover. A family experiment in hair care catering to black women grew from a backyard laboratory in Rio de Janeiro into Beleza Natural (Natural Beauty), a nationwide beauty salon chain, which opened its first international branch in New York in 2017.
THEY ROSE at dawn, quietly assembling in long queues and clasping their voting cards tightly in their excitement. On November 20th more than 2m people from Ethiopia’s fifth-biggest ethnic group, the Sidama, went to the polls to decide whether to break away to form its tenth semi-autonomous state. It was the first vote of its kind since the introduction of the current constitution in 1995, which granted federal states to many of the country’s biggest or most powerful ethnic groups—but not the Sidama. It also marked the triumphant culmination of a campaign for statehood by the Sidama which dates back almost as far.
On November 23rd the electoral board announced that 98.5% of voters had backed the new state. This means the Sidama, a people numbering about 5m, will leave the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), a state made up of a tapestry of more than 45 different ethnic groups of which they are the biggest. A new Sidama state will have its own constitution, parliament and security forces, as well as powers over tax, education, and land administration. But its formation may also fire the starting-gun for the unravelling of an especially fragile part of an already wobbly federation.
The Sidama referendum was a peaceful and mostly well-ordered affair (though there were allegations of voter fraud in the weeks leading up to it). Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, said the vote was “an expression of the democratisation path Ethiopia has set out on.” It was indeed an encouraging sign that the free and fair national election he has promised next year may happen.
Local leaders accepted the electoral board’s demands that non-Sidama living in the territory should have a vote. They also agreed to let the state government of SNNPR stay in Hawassa, the multi-ethnic city which Sidamas claim is part of their homeland, for two five-year election terms from next year. This may have helped to defuse tensions between ethnic groups.
When Tanzanian media owner and talk show host Doreen Peter Noni first encountered depression in late 2017, she had no name for it. She just knew that she was angry at the world. She would snap at any small thing and often lock herself away in her room. Her father, a prominent bank manager, had just been arrested for tax fraud and put in jail. He was never convicted of any wrongdoing, but with the head of the family missing, Noni’s world crumbled.
For months, Noni kept her despair to herself. But as a guest speaker at the international think tank Horasis’ annual meeting in Portugal, she stood up and shared the story of her father.
“At that point I realized that I can turn this bad into something good,” she says, her eyes lighting up as she recalls the applause that followed her speech. Her golden hoop earrings and red lipstick make her stand out from the afternoon crowd in this Dar es Salaam cafe. Noni doesn’t seem to mind as she orders extra soy milk and passionately continues her story.
Since the trip to Portugal last year, the 30-year-old entrepreneur has come up with a plan to unlock the conversation about mental health in East Africa. Her upcoming TV show, Peter’s Daughter, features young Africans who have battled depression or anxiety while attempting to realize their business idea. Visiting the young entrepreneurs, Noni engages them to share both their visions and their breakdowns, while a medical expert identifies symptoms and provides a solution.
“I want to show how young people are combating their issues. Young people need to know that depression is like flu or malaria — it is curable,” Noni says.
For about a decade now, the charity GiveDirectly has been distributing cash straight to poor residents in sub-Saharan Africa, starting in Kenya and expanding later to Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Morocco.
The organization was founded by economists, and has been studying the impact of its programs from the get-go. But the research has focused narrowly on recipients: Were they better off, the same, or worse off than people not getting cash?
Now, a research team has released a study of a large-scale GiveDirectly program that distributed over $10 million in cash to rural residents of Siaya County, Kenya, near Lake Victoria. But this time, the focus was not on the individuals who received aid. Instead, the researchers wanted to find out what effect the cash had on the region of Kenya where the aid was being distributed — the first major study to test “general equilibrium” effects of the policy.
GiveDirectly gave about $1,000 (or $1,871 in purchasing power terms) each to more than 10,500 households, through three transfers over the course of about eight months. The program amounted to about 15 percent of the GDP of the local area. For comparison, that’s about three times as much economic stimulus, relative to the size of the economy, as the 2008-09 stimulus packages in the US.
So the researchers conducted extensive, repeated surveys not just of recipients but of local businesses and employers too, to see how wages and prices change. Given how many people were collecting data, the study as a whole cost upward of $1 million to pull together, according to Ted Miguel, a coauthor on the paper and economist at UC Berkeley. (Miguel wrote the paper with Dennis Egger, Johannes Haushofer, Paul Niehaus, and Michael Walker.)
They found that the cash transfers not only benefited recipients; they benefited people in nearby villages too because recipients spent more money, some of which went to their neighbors’ businesses. Contrary to some fears, there were no meaningful inflation effects, and there were no envy or jealousy effects where people close by who didn’t receive cash felt worse off after the intervention.
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