The Second Line Blog

Chef Stew Helps Youth Transition to the Next Level

 

Baltimore, Maryland native Robert Stewart, known as Chef Stew, wants to empower youth through the culinary arts.  He remembers the struggles he faced on the path to becoming a celebrity chef and he wants to use his talent to show young people that cooking can help them transition into a sustainable career.

How did culinary arts become your career?

To be completely honest, I was kind of forced into the culinary world very early in life. When my older sister eventually moved out, that left me in charge of the household. My mother worked nights so when we got out of school, my mother would be on her way to work. I had to make sure we ate dinner. After learning from my grandmother and watching her cook on the weekends, I began to experiment in the kitchen and try my hand at it. It actually backfired on me because my brother began to like my food better than my mother’s. I literally became the cook of the house. This lead to me enrolling in Eastern Vocational Technical High School to study culinary arts and restaurant management. Food is a common factor in many life situations. Lose your job. Let’s go eat. Got a new job. Let’s go eat. Meet a girl. Let’s go eat. Someone died. Let’s go eat. Someone is born. Let’s go eat. I realized early in life, we can’t go without food. I wanted to be part of the good and bad times of life and maybe my food could make someone feel better.

How did you become a Food Network star?

Food Network contacted me about competing on the Great Food Truck Race. At the time, I had a GoFundMe fundraising campaign to raise money for a restaurant, and instead, got a opportunity to compete on the show. Next, my apartment in Atlanta caught on fire when a friend made a crucial mistake of throwing frozen fish into piping hot grease and caused a fire. I had to move out of the apartment. So, I went to San Francisco and waited for the follow up call for the show.  When I did get the call, it was to inform me that I was selected in the final round and they would reach back out. I explained to the casting agent that I had moved to San Francisco believing this opportunity would change my life. She referred me to Guy’s Grocery Games where I was eliminated in the 1st round after cutting my hand from being super nervous. Then, I got cast for Cutthroat Kitchen where I won the show and $9,600.

It was incredible to win the show. My family finally got to see what I have been working so hard on. My children got to see dad on TV. The phone lines and social media exploded. I was able to secure interviews, guest appearances on other shows, and the respect I rightfully was seeking amongst chefs in the industry.  I’ve cooked for Guy Fieri, Richard Blais, G Garvin, Chef Aarti, Chef Antonia, and Alton Brown. That amazing feedback was a confidence booster. Think about the fact that there are four contestants per episode, maybe 15 shows a season and, so roughly, 100 people get called out of the four million that apply. It’s unexplainable and to this day I still get emails about the show from all across the world.

What is Transition KitchenTM?

Transition Kitchen is my give back to the city that raised me. As things began to unfold and I felt that I would be a millionaire soon, I wanted to create a system and program – a blueprint for others to follow – to offer a solution to some of the inner cities biggest problems. However, I realized that it could take longer than I expected and without the ability to finance it, I decided to use what resources I had and what money I could afford to invest in what will be a multifaceted culinary arts  program for youth, young adults, and returning citizens of Baltimore.

Growing up in the hood, in all honesty, I glorified the wrong things. Society makes a basketball player or football player look so great. Even the newest rapper had me wishing that I had money to do the same things they could do: live how they live, drive the cars they drove, be seen with the woman they dated and married, but not having the body type for the NFL, the NBA, nor the ability to rap, left few options. Sad but true, like many, I thought being able to live like the drug dealers, who literally had all of the things I wanted, could be a way to make it out. After dancing with the devil and trying my hand, after a few arrests here and there, a few friends dying or going to jail, and almost being killed in a robbery, I decided that culinary arts was my way out. From that moment, I gave it everything I had, and thank God, it worked for me.

I’m now dedicated to making it work for someone else. Though many become a product of their environment, Transition KitchenTM is a resource center designed to help change the narrative and inspire many brothers and sisters that there truly is another way…and I intend to show them.  Through my program students, aged 16 and older, will take classes to learn the industry. Top students will help train the next cohort.

What’s next for Transition KitchenTM and Chef Stew?

After actually launching my first Transition Kitchen and after years of hard work to make this happen, I really want to pick up on a personal goal I have yet to achieve which is to open my first restaurant. I detoured off the trail to do what I felt was a collective goal. Many of my accomplishments were personal, but this accomplishment [Transition KitchenTM] was for an entire city to be apart of. Truthfully,Transition KitchenTM belongs in several other cities. Additionally, I am looking  to partner with other programs that will enhance and strengthen my efforts. Chef Stew will continue cooking for celebrities, corporations, and making TV appearances. Ultimately, I just want students to understand the endless possibilities that the industry provides.

What would you do if you weren’t a chef?

I would be competing on Jeopardy! weekly, or be an astronaut, or an attorney.

I love brain games, space, universal law, and helping other people win.

To learn more about Transition KitchenTM latest fundraising campaign, visit https://www.gofundme.com/registration-kits.

For more information: visit www.chefstew.com,  follow @TransitionKitchenbmore on IG, like Transition Kitchen Bmore on Facebook or send an email to transitionkitche[email protected].

Five Reasons why HBCUs are Life

By Samjah Saulsberry

As a kid, The Cosby Show used to be my addiction.  Each week, I anticipated seeing that family on TV who resembled my family and other families I knew.  I was in awe of the storylines, Denise Huxtable’s fashion choices, and the positive perception the show exuded.  I remember my mother scolding me about something, and I bravely stood up and said to her, “Clair Huxtable wouldn’t talk to her children like that.”   Yea, I was hypnotized by the show.  Therefore you can imagine my excitement when Denise went off to college and A Different World was born.  I thought I had died and gone to television heaven.

After witnessing the characters on A Different world, their colorful personalities, stylish gear, trendy hairstyles, the camaraderie, and how proud they were to be at a historical institution – I made up my mind at a young age that Hillman College was my school of choice.  It wasn’t until later that my dreams were deferred when I discovered that Hillman only existed in the television world.  “What?  Hillman isn’t for real Momma?”  I was disappointed.  

My disappointment didn’t last long because I was later introduced to nonfiction Historically Black Colleges/Universities.  My mother would take my brother and I to college Greek shows and football games so that we could see what campus life was actually like.  We were amazed at the sea of African American people we saw gathering together for the pursuit of higher learning.  When I actually got the chance to attend an HBCU, I developed a deeper understanding of why they are so essential in our culture.  Below are five reasons why HBCUs are life.

  1. The Culture– The atmosphere feels like your old neighborhood or high school. You feel like you’re a part of a family when attending an HBCU.  You are the majority, and you fit in everywhere you go.  You don’t have to be quiet in a classroom because you feel that your opinions don’t matter.  You can be just who you were meant to be.  There are no funny stares from people, no one clutches their purse, or moves to the far side of the sidewalk because you are walking by.  It’s a homey vibe, and you fit right in. 
  2. The People– While attending an HBCU, you get the chance to interact with tons of people from all over the world that look just like you!  Almost everyone at an HBCU has similar backgrounds, goals, and struggles so it is easier to relate to your peers.  When one person accomplishes something major at an HBCU, everyone feels the win.
  3. The History– Every HBCU has a story behind its doors.  Either it’s a college/university where a sorority or fraternity was first established, or it’s a college/university that educated profound leaders like Thurgood Marshall, talented actors like Taraji P. Henson, or creative souls like Erykah Badu.
  4. The Education– The education you receive at an HBCU is priceless.  When I took my first film course at Howard University, I learned so much about African American filmmakers that I never knew!  A friend of mine from Nigeria once said to me that he learned more about Africa at his HBCU than he did from living there. 
  5. Life Lessons– HBCU’s tend to prepare students for life.  Most HBCU campuses aren’t blessed with state-of-the-art facilities and the latest technology.  Long lines are nothing to us because we learn how to endure them on the first day of registration.  If a child doesn’t already have tough skin, they will surely develop it at an HBCU. Our students have to work harder than students at other schools to be noticed and to receive the accolades we deserve.  Therefore, when we graduate and go out into the real world, we are equipped to endure whatever comes our way and ready to put our best foot forward.  

An HBCU is more than just an institution.  It’s a familiar world within an unfamiliar world that cultivates as well as indoctrinates our kids.  HBCU’s not only prepare students for jobs, but also for life and the many injustices that come along with it.

A Proud HBCU graduate,

Samjah Iman

Where to draw the line for our children

The first time I visited Mexico, I crossed the border from El Paso. As I walked through El Paso, the city felt like many U.S. cities, with a number of concrete high-rise buildings and small green trees lining the sidewalks.  A few of the buildings were prominently labeled with the names of popular banks and investment companies. As I walked closer to the border, the tenor of the street began to change. People were bustling about with shopping bags. The window fronts were lined with pawnshop jewelry, polyester clothing, bins of hats, sunglasses, toys, cheap shoes, and other dollar-store merchandise. I headed to the border, where I walked a gated pathway to cross the bridge into Juarez.

As I began to walk towards the main plaza of Juarez, I was surprised. I had been to Latin America a number of times, even as recently as within the last couple of years. But for some reason, the scene still caught me off guard. The building facades were chipped and fading and a number of them were dilapidated or abandoned. None of them were more than a few stories. There were a lot of shops with the same cheap merchandise as El Paso, but I knew these sellers were getting a lot less money for them.

I was shocked not by the scene itself, but by the contrast between the two cities and the proximity of wealth and poverty. When I was traveling by plane, it didn’t seem as if these two worlds actually co-existed because they felt so distant from each other. Walking across the border, I felt the reality of the disparity more acutely, as if I was just changing neighborhoods.

There have been times when I’ve felt a similar disparity in New Orleans. For a few months, I stayed in an apartment a few blocks into Central City, where there were many dilapidated and vacant houses. I’d walk only five or ten minutes and I’d be in the Garden district, with manicured lawns and million-dollar houses. Observing this gap in wealth, it is clear that it is not just about wealth, but quality of life. Between the Lakeview neighborhood, which is predominately white and wealthy, and Tremé, which is predominately Black and low-income, there is a twenty-five year difference in life expectancy. This disparity is not about wealth, but life itself.

Recently, I spent a month in Mexico in a couple of small beach towns called Puerto Morelos and Tulum, as well as a larger city a bit more inland, Valladolid.  During the time I was there, I was seeing the news about the children in detention in the United States and the separation from their families. As someone who has worked or been involved in immigration advocacy for over ten years now, the situation was nothing new to me. However, the rapid escalation of these inhumane tactics was definitely disturbing. It was also new to be on the other side of the border while it was happening. This gave me an opportunity to reflect more deeply about the poverty I saw around me, as well as the interconnection between the U.S. and Mexico. I thought about the stark contrast between the white people I saw at the resorts, and the towns where the workers actually lived. I also thought about Juarez. Juarez, and Mexico in general is just another version of the “bad neighborhood” across the tracks.  Wealthy white people fear these places after they were the ones to create the conditions and inequity that caused the poverty and crime in the first place.

I was relieved to see that the injustice and harm of our detention policies stirred the conscious of the American public and brought them out in protest.  When children are the ones in danger, it seems that the conscious can be stirred a bit easier. Certainly, these were extreme circumstances, but I also wonder where people draw the line between acceptance and action. Until what point is the separation of families okay, until it becomes not okay? We know that in our own New Orleans neighborhoods, we face many forms of family separation. Recently, Jose Torres was forced to leave his wife and two daughters for seven months in order to take sanctuary after ICE threatened to deport him. Other children are left with only one parent, or sometimes an aunt or cousin, when ICE ramps us its deportation enforcement. Even beyond immigration, the war on drugs is breaking apart Black and Latinx families.  2.7 million children are growing up in U.S. households in which one or more parents are incarcerated. Two-thirds of these parents are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, primarily drug offenses.

There seems to be a spectrum or scale of acceptable institutional violence and racism.  Even thinking about the civil rights movement, the scale was tipped when police dogs were attacking children. But does it have to get this far before we act, before we protest or write our legislator? Those of us who can must act with as much ferocity and energy to prevent the harm as we might to protect the children once they are already detained or put into jail for wearing their pants too low. None of this is acceptable. No amount of harm to our children is acceptable. We have to work hard to shift the inequity and though at times it feels like an impossible task, those of us with any amount of privilege have to bear the weight for those who can’t. Otherwise, the borders between Juarez and Mexico, and Central City and the Garden District, along with the institutional racism that created them, will continue to stay intact.  And the children will continue to bear the consequences.

 

The Presidential Bully, but who cares?

As I sit here looking out of the window of my 6th floor hotel room, I am constantly reminded that God has to have the biggest sense of humor. Why? …Because he allowed Donald J. Trump to take the office of the Presidency. My reminder comes in the form of a 64 story golden glass tower called the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas. Now before I decided to write about the 45 child and his tweets where he picked on and bullied Lebron James, I enjoyed the view and didn’t give the structure any attention. However, the thought of making money off of the 45 child just set a smile on my face and I emphatically said, “Won’t He Do It!”

As we send and prepare to send our children to school this school year, I can’t help but to think that we are hurting them dearly by our silence on many crucial matters. In recent years, we have found ourselves battling against bullying in schools. From simple peer pressure, cyber bullying, physical acts of bullying and the unfortunate detrimental bullying that leads to a child or teenager taking their life, we have anti bullying campaigns. We teach educators how to identify and intervene in bullying. We lecture students about not bullying and who to go to if you are being bullied. We also have a myriad of websites by the government designed to curtail bullying, one called Stop Bullying. Which is an official website of the United States government. One would think that with all of these resources to prevent bullying that the most support and show of leadership on the matter would be our President, The Commander in Chief and so called most powerful man in the world. Sad, that is not the case.

In his latest temper tantrum and act of bullying, yours truly Donald J. Trump, chose to Twitter beef with Lebron James. Lebron James the basketball player recently opened a school for at risk youth in Akron, Ohio. Lebron was keeping a promise he made to open a school in his hometown. On the opening day of such a wondrous occasion, Lebron James was interviewed by CNN’s Don Lemon about the monumental opening when he said a few interesting words about our presidents use of sports to divide us,

“We are in a position in America right now more importantly where this race thing is taking over and one because our President is trying to divide us. And what I noticed over the past few months is that he is kinda using sports to divide us,” says Lebron James.

Lebron James sports experience transcends race,

I know that sport was the sports was the first time I was ever around someone white and it got the opportunity to see them and learn about them and they got the opportunity to learn about me and we became very good friends. I was like wow this is all because of sports and sports has never been something to divide people. It’s always been something to bring people together.

In my opinion, I don’t see anything wrong with what Lebron said. The President has used the NFL kneeling and turned it into something it was never intended by claiming that kneeling is unpatriotic, bashing owners for not having strength for demanding players not kneel, and praising owners who violate on their players right. 45 child has used a normally galvanizing force and made it into his own piece of dividing distraction.

Mr. President took exception to Lebron James’ remarks and also Don Lemon the CNN Anchorman who interviewed him,

“Lebron (sic) James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon,” Trump tweeted. “He made Lebron (sic) look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”

Now keep in mind, this is the President of the United States responding to citizens of his country who have a problem with his action. This is just another example of rude, offensive and bullying words, actions and tactics from this president. So I ask you,  are we talking the talk and not walking the walk when it comes down to our students? As we go into this new school year how can we expect our children not to bully when one is being supported and uplifted in the White House? Do we never expect to get backlash from our children when we stay silent about the biggest hypocrite in America’s biggest office. Here’s hoping that our children know better than the President and quite frankly it isn’t hard to do!

 

Five Reasons Why Youth Activism is Essential

By Samjah Saulsberry

Who Runs The World? So we all know what Beyoncé’s response would be – and her famed, effeminate anthem definitely has validity to it.  Women do play a vital role when it comes to the keeping this world intact; however, it’s actually the youth who not only hold the universe’s future but shape it as well.    

Before there was Rosa Parks, there was 15-year-old Claudette Colvin who was arrested for not giving up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus.  From the Freedom Riders who risked their fresh lives for human rights to the dynamic young adults who rallied and came together to greatly assist in granting the nation its first black president ever – activism has been proven and will continue to be vital for the development and progression of the youth and this world…..and here’s why.  

Youth Activism positions them for leadership

Being that the youth control the future of this world, it’s important that they get a head start by involving themselves in matters that impact this world.  Activism allows them to be placed in circumstances where they are forced to learn the issues that society faces which in turn gives them first-hand insight into how politics and the government operate.  

Youth Activism opens their minds

Activism goes beyond picket signs and marches.  It allows the youth, as well as adults, to broaden their view of the world.  Whether they are meeting a young girl from Saudi Arabia who isn’t allowed the same opportunities as her male counterparts or talking to a young guy from San Francisco who believes integration was America’s biggest mistake, activism exposes the youth to people who don’t think like them which helps them form a multifaceted view of society.

Youth Activism fuels passion /purpose

The youth need a purpose, and in most cases, they crave a sense of belonging. Activism presents them with an opportunity to network with like-minded individuals which helps them develop more confidence, a passion for the causes they are interested in, and long-lasting friendships.

Youth Activism teaches collaboration  

Learning how to communicate effectively, collaborate with individuals from different backgrounds for a specific cause, and compromise for the greater good of this world are valuable life lessons everyone should learn.  Activism aids the youth in grasping these important concepts at an early age by showing them the value of unity.

Youth Activism gives adults different points of views

Not only is youth activism important to children, it’s also important for adults.  The youth can give an alternative perspective on issues that adults aren’t privy to.  There are matters affecting children that need to be publicized, and this will not happen unless the youth are given a voice.  Adults need advice from the youth when it comes to reaching the masses. Adults also need new visions and technological expertise from the youth in order to propel this world into a more progressive direction.    

As mentioned above, activism is not only a concept for change, it’s also a vehicle that drives the youth into their destiny and teaches them critical life skills.  Let’s continue to give the youth a voice and make sure that they are heard. Let’s position them for greatness. 

Gun Control

By Travis Jackson

America has had problems for several years over drastically increasing gun violence. There has been little help from the government to lessen the accessibility of certain rifles and firearms. Many people have wondered when the government will focus more on the safety of its citizens and future generations and less on  how much money the National Rifle Association (NRA) will give them to allow these dangerous weapons to be so easily purchasable. Many around the country have wondered if they will be one of the next possible victims of a mass shooting and if there is anything they can do to help stop these atrocities from ever happening again.

One of the main problems we see is the lack of support from the government. The legislative branch (the branch most responsible for making laws) is also the one that gets funded the most by the NRA. This keeps many of the lawmakers from making laws against the NRA or making ones that will not seriously affect the NRA negatively. One of the main laws being debated currently is one that will allow teachers across the country to start being able to carry firearms in schools to help protect against mass school shootings. This does not seem to be an effective plan since a firearm, such as a hand pistol, is a far less effective weapon against any assault rifles or any guns that shoot in an automatic way. The only people that benefit from this are those in the NRA as they will gain profits from the little over 3.6 million teachers who will need guns purchased for them. Our government needs to find better ways to prevent mass shootings that don’t involve bringing more guns into  schools and communities.

Many guns that are far too dangerous to be in the public (e.g., military grade fully automatic assault rifles) are far too harmful and unnecessary to be owned by anyone in nearly any situation. These weapons have caused incredible destruction to the public on far too many occasions to where it shouldn’t even be up for debate. Nearly all mass shootings that have happened since the early 1980s have involved some form of assault style weapon, yet there still hasn’t been an effective ban on the accessibility of these dangerous weapons from the public. There are very few situations where these weapons will be necessary or effective at doing their main jobs as public weapons, protecting civilians. These weapons have clearly done far more harm to people over the years than good. There should be a recall on all assault weapons or weapons in general with high fire rates.

Taking away these weapons will decrease the number of mass shootings drastically. A mass shooting that happened in Australia in 1996 was also the last mass shooting in Australia.  After the shooting, Australia created new gun laws, while also calling back many of the guns previously available to the public. The laws made, which allowed for the recall of tens of thousands of guns, have made it to where Australia has not had a mass shooting within the last 20 years. Implementing similar legislation in the United States could work just as well towards lowering the number of mass shootings and overall gun violence in America. Without laws minimizing the number  of guns across the country, there will only be more gun violence and mass shootings as more guns are being purchased. These dangerous weapons aren’t being used responsibly or the way they were intended. Allowing these guns to be owned by the public even after they have been used so irresponsibly is not only a mistake of our country but also a fatal mistake to those what will be affected by future mass shootings. We need laws implemented to stop the rising gun violence.

We all need to work towards lowering the number of guns we have across our country. Many of these dangerous weapons can cause mass panic and destruction that can be easily preventable with stricter gun control laws. We cannot allow the people in our government to allow citizens to be harmed just so that they can make more money. We must start to take steps towards making our country safer for all of our citizens, because the problem with gun control has been going on for centuries and we should all be ready for a change.

 

It’s hard to say the right thing about New Orleans’ schools, but they will die (again) if we don’t

New Orleans’ public schools are in the process of becoming something new.

The “unification” of its post-Katrina system of charter schools with its pre-Katrina governance structure administered by the Orleans Parish School Board promises to produce something never seen before: a reformed school district with democratic oversight, but with full site-based autonomy.

The chief question for unification is whether it can reconcile the cultural and economic disputes that have dogged reform for the past 13 years?

I’m hopeful, but not sure the well is dry of incidents that will call that question again and again.

As an example, this week a revered education leader in New Orleans has been ordered to step down as CEO of her 9th ward school.

Doris Roche-Hicks has been under investigation by Louisiana Board of Ethics for the past few years, accused of putting her sister, daughter, son-in-law and other family members on her charter school’s payroll.

Now, the board has decided to strip her of her position. That isn’t a simple case of justice served.

Hicks, esteemed and rooted in the community, is one of few black education leaders who not only survived but also thrived during the remaking of NOLA education after hurricane Katrina. She has earned awards locally and nationally for her leadership and has sat on numerous boards.

Obama’s White House called her a “champion of change” who was an “avatar of the Lower Ninth Ward.”

Her takedown is no small matter.

In the past, I’ve joked that there is no word for an alcoholic in Creole (I based that on family musings). As an addition to that sentiment, I might say there is no word for nepotism either. Everyone in New Orleans is family, and family looks out for each other – sometimes to questionable ends.

A few years ago while doing interviews and focus groups in New Orleans I heard parents and educators speak about the old culture of the public school system where jobs and contracts were doled out based on “who you know, not what you know.” The matter-of-fact way that they talked about widespread grift was a sad signal of a people adjusted to having a government without structural integrity, not because they deserved that, but because it was all there ever was.

I know to poke that sore spot is a transgression.

There is a way we’re supposed to talk about the schools of New Orleans, and I’m failing at it. There is one story we’re supposed to tell, one where our people have been uniformly valiant, and reformers have been the opposite.

We are supposed to talk about the schools of the past with revisionism and sympathy.

We are supposed to say the waters of Katrina washed away a culturally competent school district, and when those waters receded the city was an opportune disaster area for racially inept and dangerously wealthy people hell-bent on remaking the city with McKinsey and Company PowerPoints.

Our code requires us to restate the story about reformers who fired 7,000 black public school employees and replaced them with an army of young white gentrifiers who, just by their presence and their palates, have spurred a scourge of San Francisco styled eateries that can’t seem to make a decent gumbo.

I am under gentle orders by my people to tell you about the gushing river of new money that showered a reanimated system of schools, and how that riptide of dollars created a cottage industry of job titles that never existed before.

I’m not supposed to talk about our areas that needed improvement.

I understand. There is a good reason to excuse our shortcomings. Our detractors weaponize scandal lore to prove our unpreparedness for self-rule, self-determination, and full humanity.

It’s their license to govern us without consent. In that way, calling ourselves out for scandal is a call for our colonization.

We are right to expose the pain reform has wrought. We are right to mourn a city’s culture that will never return.

Most of those complaints are well-supported even if some of the hostility to the changes in public education spring from the organic and indigenous passions of a city that celebrates and fusses with equal vitality.

Still, it would be our weakest spot if we can never admit fault out of fear that it will become our noose.

I’ve been asked to stop saying the day before Katrina the New Orleans Public Schools were the most corrupt in the United States. I shouldn’t mention the investigations, arrests, and convictions for insurance kickback schemes and other fraud by teachers, secretaries, and para-educators guilty of far more than nepotism.

Telling those stories paints us as corruptible devils, but, if true, not revealing those stories makes us unbelievable saints.

Neither works.

We are varied: we’re a people of bow ties and saggy pants; we are geniuses who build cities and thieves who burn them down; we are saved by faith and godlessly unchurched, and we are everything between those contrasts.

The point is we are people, and every people are complicated. Only beasts are thought of merely as meat without souls. We are real, not magic and not beasts. Human.

Stripped of all sophistry and vanity, the hidden reality in all of our negotiations with public institutions should achieve one thing: power. Who has it, how is it used, and what difference does it make in the lives of people who need change?

Who will decide what the children of New Orleans will learn, from how and where they will learn it, and who will do the teaching?

For more than a decade many have said the power was out of the hands of the people. With schools beneath the authority of a democratically elected school board that will change.

That’s power, but it comes with responsibility.

There can be no free passes for the people of yesterday who ran schools that weren’t educating children before the storm and there indeed can’t be any passes for those Chief Executive Officers who run schools today that do equally as poorly.

If unification succeeds at anything, I hope it’s making people of every political, social, and racial stripe responsible for producing better results for students.

That is what will decide if the spirit of New Orleans lives on in a purer form, or if the ghost of its past – recent and distant – will haunt the best-laid plans.

To be honest I am thrilled at Trumps success

On November 8, 2016 the American people spoke when they elected Donald J. Trump as their 45th President.

There were various reasons why Americans elected a self-serving, foul-mouthed, woman-disrespecting narcissist to the highest office in the United States of America. If we are honest, some racist voters were tired of seeing an uppity N-word in the White House; after all, it had been eight years. Many party loyalists were so ready to get the liberal democrat out of there, that they overlooked any inconsistencies in their party’s candidate and stayed loyal to their party, even if it meant the demise of democracy or America.

We also witnessed a strange influx of voters who voted against their own interest because they were successfully courted by a group of sly talking individuals. They were convinced that an inherited rich millionaire, who has failed and filed bankruptcy several times, has their best interest at heart. So, the American people knew what they were getting and they proudly voted him in so he could “Make America Great Again.”

Despite all of his actions such as putting groups of people down, alienating by race and demographics, the revolving door at the White House, calling racists good people,  Trump’s base sticks with him.

But apparently, this time, they say it’s different. Why? Because never before has a sitting President sided with an enemy of the state against his own intelligence agencies. President Trump said, “I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” In an unprecedented move of self serving action, Trump literally rebuked his own intelligence agencies findings.

He then added insult to injury when he tweeted about the incident, “As I said today and many times before, I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people. However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past — as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along!”

But, nevertheless, I am a proud citizen of America and I am happy with the success of the President that the people elected and here’s why:

  • Trump is successful at turning every situation around and alienating the very people he sets in place or appoints to a position.
  • Trump is successful in letting anyone know who comes in contact with him that they shouldn’t be loyal to him because he probably isn’t going to be loyal to them.
  • Trump has successfully shown people who lived in dire need and poverty in rural America that he cares nothing about them and now his popularity is slipping among them.
  • Trump has successfully shown us that he is not only a racist, but he also sides with racist behavior and groups.
  • He has repeatedly been successful at showing his true colors to the American people, and yet, they seem to coexist in Trump’s world with him as supporters who are oblivious to any of these facts.

I am thrilled at the success of America’s President. Sooner or later those chickens are going to come home to roost and I’ll be waiting with my mouth prepared to say that’s your President and I told you so!