Black Women can change the world, which means we can change elections outcomes too. With that power comes significant responsibility, and we should take that work seriously as the election of 2018 approaches.
Since the conceptualization of this country, black women have played an important role in every major American milestone. We have allowed the strength of the nation to be built on our endurance without regard to our aptitude, and now is time for us to stand in the fullness of our power.
The beauty of maneuvering as a black female is diluted by the disenfranchisement that exists in both our political process, and in the political and private policies that work to diminish our voices. The policies that cause us to not live our full lives were created, and continue to be sustained, by people and entities that do not see us as full human beings.
If we are ever going to change those policies, we must first throw out the policymakers.
But we have a tricky relationship with the one party that sometimes does our bidding. The Democratic party calls on us, Black Women, to provide solutions to the issues concerning all the American populous. They rely on our votes to get into, and stay in, office. We do this service for the party, but in return,, we rarely see real solutions for the issues that directly affect us and our families.
Often times, the specific issues that make it difficult to navigate society in a black feminine body are not bifurcated from our white female counterparts. This creates a false narrative that we are being acknowledged and heard. As Black Women, We have a duality to overcome..our race and our gender.
The history of Black women in America is one of power, juxtaposed with constant disenfranchisement. The ratification of the Constitution granted discretion to individual states on how to qualify voters. When the south lost the Civil War, three Reconstruction Amendments were ratified and limited this discretion. The 13th and 14th amendments abolished slavery and granted citizenship respectively. The Fifteenth Amendment (1870) provides the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”After extensive advocacy, white women were granted the right to vote on May 19, 1919. The suffrage movement disregarded Jim Crow laws ruling the South, not to mention the incessant intimidation and economic disparities that the black women who marched with them faced. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed that black women could finally participate in the electoral process.
The reason that dissenters spent so much time and effort preventing the black female community from voting and continue to create systems that make voting difficult is because they know how powerful our vote is. According to the Washington Post, in 2008 and 2012, black women voted at a higher rate than any other group. Four years ago, 74 percent of eligible black women went to the polls — and 96 percent voted for President Obama.
We have a duty not only to our children and community, we have a duty to ourselves. We have a right to live not only within the freedom that is granted to us by the Constitution, we have a right to live within the freedom granted by our mere existence. Our power is real, because our voting power will change the world. We can talk about getting free; but nothing will change until we vote.
On a bathroom stall a racially charged note was found. The note suggested that black students were, “taking over the school.” Then, the most striking and violent part, just two words: “shoot em.”
The school is Metairie Park Country Day. Country Day is a predominately white private school in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. Making matters worse, the school’s headmaster, Matt Neely, didn’t cancel school on that day. He didn’t even notify parents until the week after the incident happened. School leaders found the note on a Friday early in the day, and students remained in school although a threat was made.
“I should have been notified on Friday and if (headmaster Matt Neely) didn’t want to cancel school, the decision should have been left up to me whether I wanted to remove my child from school,” said Dr. Karen Paul, a Country Day School alumna and parent of a biracial child at the school. “What if something horrible happened?”
The Country Day Parents were kept in the dark about the incident until after the school officials met with students, meaning the decision to talk to children, not of legal age, about a threat at a school was made without their parents being present. The school and the administrators seem to want to protect themselves before protecting students in the building. We, as a community, are thankful that nothing happened. But in today’s atmosphere of active shooters, I believe more caution was warranted
This incident is just the latest in my metropolitan area, of actions that put the well-being of our children at risk. From teachers sexually assaulting students and pursuing relationships with students, to administrations refusing to educate students because of the way their hair is styled, just to name a few.
While we fail to protect our kids from actual threats, we keep punishing them for completely arbitrary reasons. Nationally, we have seen Black children punished for the style of their hair. We have seen former students shoot up schools and police officers assigned to protect the students in that school. The countless number of bomb threats schools get on a consistent basis. School resource officers who have used excessive force against children in schools and young children put in handcuffs to subdue them at school. These are just a few examples of the unsafe, pushy actions becoming of a bully that has been displayed in some of our schools in recent years. Sadly, this is only a summary and a mere snapshot of what happens in some of our schools today.
Maybe I’m old fashioned, delusional, or a dreamer, but I remember the schoolhouse being a safe place of refuge, rebuilding, and rejuvenation. I remember looking forward to seeing my principal, teachers, cafeteria lady and janitor. My school was full of adults who poured into our lives to make us better. The only evacuations I remember were fire drills. Oh sure we had disagreements, discipline, and a fight or two, but those things happened then we moved on. We ribbed and played the dozens, but truthfully it made us tougher and life continued to happen. I simply remember school being truly a safe space.
I pray that we could find our way back to this again. For the sake of our kids and generations to come. In the case of this note found at Country Day, I pray that it was a hoax and foolish actions by a wayward kid who needs to be scolded and reprimanded the old-fashioned way. As to the administrators at Metairie Park Country Day and administrators at schools across our nation, I sincerely wish that you all begin to see the mistakes in some of your actions and make a valiant effort to rectify your home to school action plan. Parents are not on a need to know basis. They always need to know! Make school safe again.
Voting isn’t just a thing we do, it’s a story we tell and pass on through the generations. Stories of how this right was secured and why it is to be cherished and protected by being used. With early voting upon us, this video tells just a few of those stories. Please, get out and vote!
By: The Parent “Advocators”
Thirteen years after Hurricane Katrina and 100 days since the unification of all schools returning to the governing of Orleans Parish School Board, we are still having conversations about how to make schools better.
It’s truly heartbreaking as parents to hear about and witness certain situations happening on a daily basis in education. Before we, The Parent “Advocators” continue, we would like to drop this disclaimer right now. If you can’t handle the truth being told about what is really going on in our schools, are you truly open to making a change in education?!!!
How can schools that are failing our kids improve? The answer to this question rarely has time to develop. Conversations and panels are held, but more times than not there is rarely a solution found. It is not discussed due to time restraints, parent/community involvement, and too many people that are present for reasons other than our children. In this educational arena, many people have their own agendas at the expense of our children and families. So, it leaves us to question when the solution will actually be discussed and when will the right people be invited to the discussion table.
On Wednesday, October 3rd, The Parent “Advocators” was part of a panel “The State of Charter Schools in New Orleans.” What was depressing were the number of people that weren’t in attendance. Many complain about charter schools and schools as a whole in New Orleans, so “Where were you?” The venue should have been standing room only.
Don’t get us wrong; Panels and community discussions are great and we support them, but we feel it’s time to change things up and allow those most affected by this system to be heard. It’s time to allow those whom we are making the decisions for speak on their own behalf. Leaders need to step back, take a seat, and open their ears to who they’re truly impacting and the effect it is having and the changes that need to be made. Why not allow a different set of voices to be heard?
The different voices that we need at the table are our scholars and families. 2018 is a time for change and togetherness. We should all be asking ourselves, “Who else is there to help bring this change? Who would bring value to these education conversations?” With change and solutions comes being open to hearing from those who have the knowledge on how to make it happen and those living the situations daily. Authenticity and realness is what’s needed in today’s educationally landscape. We speak on behalf of our scholars and families as if they can’t speak for themselves. When changes are made that don’t necessarily benefit them and they challenge the leaders, we want to deem it disrespectful or an interruption. If they were allowed the platform and opportunity to have a voice to speak beforehand then it wouldn’t be such a divide and definitely TRUST would return to education.
STOP making demands, choices, and changes unless you’re willing to hear from those that feel it the most. Until these factors are worked on, there will still be a disconnect and a divide. This needs to be addressed now! It must be worked on today and fixed yesterday so that situations will be resolved. Our children don’t have to time waste.
There is one more aspect that must be addressed if we are really going to change how we operate in education. Certain people lately have been on social media calling out OPSB, CEOs, community leaders, and advocates. Now keep in mind, those same folks are the ones that show up only when cameras are rolling and those leaders are in the building, but they aren’t truly making an impact themselves. They’re showing up not to do something productive but to be seen. Please stop pretending to care when it’s a benefit to you or your BRAND. Our children don’t need BRANDS they need advocates and solutions. Stop calling out others when you yourself aren’t making a mark in becoming a change maker. Help with fixing the problem instead of creating new issues. False stories and make believe won’t allow our Scholars to become GREAT! STOP THE FOOLERY!
There are some great changes and positive steps being made to improve education in New Orleans. We would like to applaud Mayor Cantrell on understanding the need for not just leaders in education to support our scholars and families but also understanding it takes ALL of us working together and supporting families to assure their SUCCESS.
We acknowledge Orleans Parish School Boards for all of the improvements that have been made thus far to improve education in New Orleans. We have transitioned into the Unification process with the 100th day being marked on Tuesday, October 9th with a press conference of the days ahead. We acknowledge those Charter organizations that are exceeding in leading our Children to a high-quality education.
As a community, we have to learn how to work together and how to empower and support each other. Stop making divides. It doesn’t have to be us against them. Do this for our kids and be real with yourselves. This job is hard work, and requires long hours with minimal pay. But, it can be done.Voices have power.
People like the mayor, community leaders, parents, educators are just some of the people ,we, The Parent “Advocators,” feel is needed to start the conversation to come to a real solution. Now, let’s see if these parties are willing to step up and make it happen. The ball is in YOUR court. The challenge is on!
Here’s how to reach us to get the conversation started
How do you feel about the Trump Administration? If my assumptions are correct, you probably wish they would fall off into some unknown part of the universe, never to be heard from again. And while that sounds like nirvana for us anti-Trump advocates, it probably won’t happen anytime soon. So instead of wishing this insensible administration away, let’s rally together and silence them by using the most powerful weapon we have in our arsenal – our VOTE.
The midterm elections will be staring us in the face shortly, and the outcome is pivotal. Our votes in this election directly determine which political party (Democrats or Republicans) will control Congress for the next two years. Remember what happened when we brushed off the 2016 presidential campaign believing America was too perspicacious to put a narcissistic con artist in the White House? That epic fail alone should definitely motivate you to vote. But if for some strange reason it doesn’t, then maybe shutting the Republican party and their warped beliefs down or just simply googling Trump’s name moves you to cast your ballot. And if neither of those actions impels you, then below are five more reasons why it’s imperative that every black person vote on November 6th.
- People Died for Our Right to Vote – Our ancestors shed blood and lost their lives for having the audacity to want to use their voice in regards to political decisions that affected their lives. Remember the four little black girls who died in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, AL? They died as a result of our people taking a stand for our rights. The 16th Street Baptist Church was used as a meeting place for Civil Rights Leaders to gather and devise plans on getting black people registered to vote in addition to solving other issues blacks faced. Because it was a rallying place for our people, the church was bombed by white supremacists resulting in the death of those four little black girls. The demise of these little girls, though extremely significant, is only a fraction of the lives that were lost as a result of our people fighting for us to have a voice. If this part of our history doesn’t make you run to the polls every time they are open, you may need to check your gratitude levels.
- To Exercise Our Right – We are full, tax-paying citizens of the United States of America. Our ancestors toiled tirelessly in fields building this country. As derivatives of our hard working kindred and as citizens of this country, it is our earned right to be heard. At one time in this country, we had no say-so in any matters regarding our lives. Our forefathers and mothers fought long and hard for us to have a voice. It’s honorable that we utilize the power they fought so hard to get. Voting is not only a way of exercising our right; it’s also a way of praising our ancestors’ efforts and ensuring that their hard work is not in vain.
- We Should Control Our Own Destiny – Our lives depend on whether or not we show up to the polls. When we don’t vote, we give the “good ole boys” the ultimate control they long to have over our lives. Not voting grants them ongoing permission to decide which laws we will abide by, the type of healthcare we receive, what opportunities we can have, how the justice system affects us, etc. If we don’t use our votes to put the politicians in place who have our best interests at heart, then we are basically leaving our destiny in the enemy’s hands.
- To Show We Are Equal – Every ethnicity may not be on the same playing field when it comes to opportunities, education, or finances. However, when it comes to voting – we are all equal. Our votes have no color or economic status. Our vote is just as efficacious as a homeless person’s vote or an affluent politician’s vote.
- Set Examples for the Youth – It’s vital that we lead by example and show our children that their voice matters when it comes to their well-being. They must know that they are not obligated to live in a world where decisions are made without their consent. We should teach them change is possible through activism and utilizing their right to vote. If we can’t think of any other reason to vote, our children’s future should be enough.
It’s a fact that the voting system was not constructed with black people in mind, but when we refuse to be silenced and show up in droves every time the polls open, we will make an impact. Do your part on November 6th by running to the polls and casting your vote. Our lives depend on it.
Lee Green, Head of School at Andrew H. Wilson, is an honest straight shooter. He’s a true educator who has adults walking around saying, “I remember Mr. Green. He was a great teacher.” Green is a tenured and experienced teacher of over twenty years and a great citizen of our beloved New Orleans. He gave to young minds before Katrina and has weathered the storm to remain a fixture in the future of our young children to come. Mr. Green has traveled the world, authored books, and developed other great educators as well.
It was with great appreciation that I was able to receive a few significant words from such an individual with so much vast knowledge to share. Mr. Green usually says, “I don’t do adults.” What he really means is he doesn’t get into the back and forth that at times comes from having conversations with other grown folks. His “I don’t do adults” is deeply rooted in him using his time progressively to move the educational outcomes of his students consistently forward. Mr. Green is intentional about educating children and no excuses from parents, fellow educators or administrators will deter that.
“The number one variable in schools are teachers”
Mr. Green is confident and convinced that teachers teaching students and getting back to the basics is the game plan and should be the strategy moving forward in a city that has the most charter schools. Mr. Green exclaims, “With the budget out there the focus has to be on how do educators put things together for our children and make sure these kids get the best. “Somebody has to teach.”
“The most important people are the students”
As a parent who advocates for better education this is about kids to me and it’s should be to you as well. If you’re in the sphere of education for anything else, you should get out now. If personally you feel you’re scared or not dedicated, then say it and bow out gracefully.
“Stop playing games with our children. You know how I feel about that,” a statement centered around the state of charter schools in New Orleans by Mr. Green.
Chris Stewart of the Wayfinder Foundation recent statement about the New Orleans school system is honest and true, “It’s gonna get messy.”
Which means we need all hands on deck to transform these children’s lives and to transform a school system. Yes, the children are the most important people in the school building and our efforts should and must be focused on them. As educators, you all must carry the same sentiments and vigor to transform our children with you everyday. As parents we should be your allies, but also let you know that anything less than complete commitment is unnecessary and won’t be tolerated. What is the state of charter schools in New Orleans? It’s still a work in progress and I’ll keep you posted!
As we are in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrating the diversity of the culture and ancestry, it is important to acknowledge a particular group of Latinos: our Afro-Latinos. Even in Latinx spaces, there is often a failure to honor this group and their unique experience and struggles. This failure can be traced back to anti-Blackness in our different cultures, from Mexico to the tip of South America and to the Caribbean. Though it manifests in different ways, there is no doubt the seeds of racism were planted in all of these imperialized and colonized places.
We see it in the favoring of white and lighter skin tones and the fear of getting too dark. It’s not uncommon to hear words like ‘chelita’ or ‘rubia,’ Spanish words for ‘light-skinned’ and ‘blonde’, paired with affirmations of beauty. Watching a telenovela, it’s rare to see an Afro-Latinx depicted and if there is one, she’s usually the villain. Or sometimes we notice anti-Blackness in the dislike of one’s own brown eyes. Other times, it manifests in the denial of African or indigenous blood in favor of focusing on Spanish or European ancestry.
Recently, I was speaking about racism with a medium-complexion Columbian man who told me there was no racism in Columbia.
“In Columbia, we are all Columbians. The Black people all live on the coast, and that’s part of who they are. And they are fine there.”
“Why do they live on the coast?” I asked. I didn’t need the answer. But I knew he needed it.
He paused. “That’s where the ships brought them in.”
We both nodded and I could see he was beginning to understand. In Latinx culture we often forget to acknowledge the role of slavery in our own origin countries. We also forget to discuss the genocide that has occurred, such as the government massacre of indigenous Mayans in Guatemala or of Afro-Haitians in the Dominican Republic under Trujillo. Latin American countries do not have the exact same race-based system of oppression that the United States has, but oppression of Black and indigenous populations is still prevalent and destructive. Additionally, nations across the globe are affected by racism that permeates the U.S.’s international relations and policies and has its historic roots in colonialism and slavery, not to mention the reach of American media.
So when we speak and teach others about Hispanic Heritage Month and the richness of our culture, we might also try to make a point of acknowledging our Afro-Latinxs in a way that reminds us all that they matter. Not only have they shown a tremendous resilience and strength here in the United States, but also their fight began long before arriving here. We can learn more about the Afro-Latinx cultures within our communities. In New Orleans, we have a large Garifuna population, who are of mixed-raced origin with ancestral ties to Arawak, Carib, and African descendants. We can also highlight the stories of internationally famous figures such as singer Celia Cruz and baseball player Roberto Clemente. We can talk about the accomplishments of some of the most well known activists such as Arturo Alfonso Schomburg and Carlos Moore. We can celebrate the accomplishment of Zulia María Mena Garcí, the first Afro-Colombian congresswoman elected in the country. There are many opportunities in New Orleans to celebrate the month. Let’s make sure we celebrate it the right way, in a way that demonstrates we know there is a group of Latinxs who face tremendous institutional and structural racism and who deserve to be acknowledged and honored.
By Felicia Simpson
Val O’Connell, a Trump supporter and mother from Bozeman, Montana, was being interviewed by NBC News political reporter Ali Vitali when she made the following statement:
“Groping a woman? At 18?….. I mean how many guys do you know who thinks that’s no big deal” – Val O’Connell
In the news clip, O’Connell said these appalling words to the reporter, the first red flag. She also included her teenage daughters into the conversation to validate her statement. Sadly, her daughters nodded in agreement with her statements, the second red flag. Although the news clip was short, O’Connell dismissing groping as “not a big deal” is another reason why our responsibilities as citizens in this country should be to ensure sexual assault allegations are taken seriously regardless of a person’s race, religious beliefs, gender, or economic status. This highly profiled sexual assault allegations case between Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has erupted over the country and is the exact reason why groping is a big deal.
As a mother of three children, I am outraged that O’Connell who is also a mother, can articulate words not only to the reporter but to her daughters as she solicits their support behind her statement. Any unwanted actions of boys who start out “groping” girls will eventually turn into men that become rapists or feel entitled to touch women in non-consenting ways. That’s the problem in our country today. If Kavanaugh is voted in as Supreme Court Justice, a lifetime position, without a full investigation of these sexual assault accusations, it will be a slap in the face of every woman, man and child who’s ever been sexually assaulted.
I cannot imagine telling my daughter who is also a teenager, my nieces, or anyone for that matter to overlook any unwanted touches from a boy because it’s no big deal and that the actions of that boys’ unwanted touches doesn’t affect his character. Groping is a form of sexual assault. Sexual assault is defined by the United States Department of Justice as, “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs with the explicit consent of the recipient.” Groping and any other sexual contacts that are not of consent is a big deal.
I refuse to raise my two sons to become heinous men who feel that the thoughts and opinions of a woman need to be “credible” in order for them to take part in her injustice. I refuse to raise my sons to inappropriately touch another human being and tell them their wrongful/criminal actions or behaviors does not affect their character. It is Trump supporters and Kavanaugh supporters, such as O’Connell, that is leading this country into a divided demise, if we don’t unite and do something about it.
This is another oppression of women no matter their race or economic status. President Trump recently stated that Ford is a “credible” woman. Does that mean if the average citizen with no credentials, came forth with sexual allegations that she would not be “credible”? We live in a harsh world where our laws are created and governed by the very men, and sometimes women, who violate them. This is why it is imperative that we get out and vote to get rid of the “boys club” that continues to run our country and who in turn, protects the criminals that become our elite officials. Touching someone without their consent is indeed a big deal. It is a big deal when African American boys and men lives have been taken due to unlawful accusations of crimes of sexual assault or have hate crimes committed against them. It is a big deal; it will continue to be a big deal until the men and women who lead our country, understands that no, means NO!