Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

The time away from the blog has done me well in terms of refocusing and re-aligning my priorities as an entrepreneur, author, husband, father and a minister.  Deep introspective reflection has brought about a new zest and zeal for the small things in life: Basketball.

As the season of spring emerges, so comes the ascent of vegetation, fruit and flowers.  Typically, this season sheds new light on debris, dirt and trash that was the result of the winter.

It is also during this time that sports junkies prepare for March Madness – the NCAA basketball tournament that crowns a national champion at its completion.  It is fitting, at this particular time, that ESPN airs the famous Fab Five on its 30-for-30 series.

Aside from the fact that the Fab Five represent a cultural phenomenon that impacted and changed the game of basketball, they also accomplished the incredulous feat all while donning jerseys bearing the name of an elitist institution.

Never before, or since, has a team of underclassmen led a Division 1 institution to two back-to-back NCAA finals.  With the increase of “one-and-done” college players, we can be certain to never experience this again.

Being a native Detroiter (45 miles east of University of Michigan), I grew up around the game of basketball where my peers included Terry Mills, Derrick Coleman and teammate Willie Burton.  As did Jalen Rose and Chris Webber, I too spent countless summers at St. Cecilia’s and other popular basketball venues.  However, it was not until I went to college that I learned the true value of education and the respect for those who attained the same.

During the 30-for-30 episode, Jalen Rose referred to Grant Hill and other Black Duke University recruits as “Uncle Tom’s.”  Jalen’s comments about Grant (and his family) were, in my opinion, very ill-stated.  We must remember that not only did Grant inherit the infamous tag of being the next “Jordan,” to this day, he continues to epitomize class, grace, humility and leadership.  Born of a famous football player and professional mother, Grant was afforded and ensured an advantage that many of us strongly seek for our children today.

To suggest that all Black Duke players were “Uncle Toms” is a gross generalization, in my estimation.  For those of you who may be unaware, being labeled an Uncle Tom is nothing short of a compliment (See The Uncle Tom In Me).

I applaud, Jalen, Chris and Grant for their feats on and off the court.  I also appreciate their perspectives on life and the game of basketball.  Each one of them, in their way, has helped to shape Black culture and the game of basketball as we know it today.

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By now it is no secret that former Florida State Seminole safety Myron Rolle is the epitome of a student-athlete.  A recent NFL draft (Tennessee Titans), Myron earned Academic All-America honors in 2008.  Awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University, Myron recently earned an M.S. in medical anthropology.

With youth aspirations of becoming and NFL player and a medical doctor, Myron can check one of his dreams off his list, with the second surely to follow suit.

In a world where Black Professional Athletes have become synonymous with crime, affairs, gambling and other illicit behaviors, Myron is a breath of fresh air that we are sure to enjoy for years to come.

Myron excels in the world of academia and sports.

Over the past year FathersFootprints has written features such as When Will My Brothers Start Reading, The Uncle Tom In Me and Remembering Len Bias to point out shortcomings, inconsistencies and to promote overall awareness and responsibility within the race.

Myron Rolle is our answer to all the stereotypical images of unintelligent, Black athletes who desire nothing more than jewelry, women and exotic cars.  Myron will do for us now what Paul Robeson did in during the 40’s and 50’s.

Our grandparents dreamt of a day when kids would play in the sandbox and pretend to not only be like Mike (Jordan), but to also be famous surgeons like Ben (Carson).  As told by Langston Hughes at the conclusion of the poem A Dream Deferred, Myron Rolle represents the dream that has exploded.

Util next time,

Those of you who follow this blog know that it doesn’t have to be February in order for us to celebrate Black folks.  To that end, I recently re-read Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man

Steve is probably one of the greatest comedic genius’ that ever graced this green planet.  With a New York Times’ Best Seller out the gate, Steve has chartered territory many brothers avoid.  Rereading this piece caused me to re-examine my own role as a Black husband.

Having been married for almost 19 years now, I read Steve’s book from through the lens of seasoned vet.  Not in the art of the game, but more so from a perspective of a brother that is merely elated to NOT be in the game in 21st century.

In 2009 I wrote a piece entitled; I think I love my wife.  Borrowing the title from Chris Rock’s cinematic representation of marital and infidelous accounts, I drew analogies to my sometimes lack of appreciation for the woman I married in 1991.

We are just a few days removed from Valentine’s Day but the significance of the day lingers, leaving a residual effect of love that has stood the test of time.  Proverbs 18:22 suggests that he who finds a wife, finds a good thing.  Though I’m a devout Christian, that particular verse of scripture has disturbing implications because all who have found wives haven’t necessarily found “a good thing.”  I’m just thankful that in my case, the scripture rings true.

Not to worry, this piece is not headed down the road of how great and wonderful my wife is (while that is true, it is not the point of this discourse), but rather the lack of successful couplings within the race today. 

2009 produced a significant decline for educated Black women finding a marital mate.  A part of me has bought into the notion of educated Black women possessing intimidating leadership traits that somehow are a turn-off for her natural counterparts.  The notion was dismissed as quickly as it developed.  In my humble opinion (often referred to as D’s 2¢), there is nothing more beautiful than a Black woman who has something between her ears.  I’ll go on record as being the first to say that it is the uneducated sister that’s intimidating.

Stay with me as I imagine coming home from work to a woman that has prepared a fattening meal of fried food, macaroni and cheese, fully-loaded bake potatoes (that’s right, two starches!) and a big-a** glass of Kool-Aid with so much sugar in it that it can’t totally dissolve- and just sets at the bottom of the glass like syrup.    And that’s on the day she decides to cook.  The other days consist of McDonald’s, KFC or Rally’s (or Checkers depending upon your geographical setting).  As a prologue to the fattening meal, her conversations mirror that of a Maury Povich Show guest.  You get the point.  This certainly is not a good thing. 

Even a devoted practitioner of Steve’s gold nuggets could not sway me in the direction of those kinds of sisters.  I love my race, but even my devotion has limitations.  I have total lack of tolerance for a sister who spend more on purses, pumps, weaves and wigs than they do on books, tuition and CEU’s (pray for me, I working on this).  Please don’t mistake me.  Not everyone is fortunate to go to college, but we can all better ourselves through some form of enlightenment.  This country is full self-taught extraordinary Black women.

It’s probably best that I conclude this blog before I alienate some of my readers (it may already be too late).  As I close I am reminded of a rap lyric from the ATL-based group, Goodie Mob which epitomizes how Mary and I have evolved over 19 years:

“Closer than the skin on the back of my hand

Through the thick and thin we can win

Beautiful Black skin….”

D’s deux ¢

If you follow FathersFootprints you already know that our content targets a specific ethnicity; and we don’t wait until February to partake.  Our features in 2010 will be no different.  As a matter of fact, we plan to step up our commitment to Blackademics.

As a Detroit youth I was never interested in history.  My parochial education did not lend itself to Black History other than the usual suspects that include Martin Luther King, Jr, Frederick Douglas, and possibly Harriett Tubman.  I’m not suggesting that the aforementioned were not key figures in our society; I am simply suggesting that they barely scratch the surface.

My rapid descent on middle age has caused me to realize the significance of the accomplishments of Blacks while in America.  My quest for a deeper understanding of who I am has led me to the likes of Claude McKay, Ernest Just, Garett Morgan, Cecil Partee, Robert Elliot, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Emmett Chappelle, George Washington Carver, Mary McCloud Bethune, Alexander Crummell, E. Franklin Frazier, Charles Drew, Margaret Walker, Lorraine Hansberry, Benjamin Banneker, Percy Julian, Mark Dean, George Washington Bush, Jean Baptiste du Sable, Daniel Halle Williams, Lloyd Quarterman, Shirley Chisholm and countless others.

If some of the famous Blacks mentioned in the prior paragraph don’t ring a bell, I implore you to take a few moments to better acquaint yourself with them.  If you don’t plan to do your part to become a part of Black history, at least pass some knowledge of self on to future generations.

I close this post with one of my favorite poetic works by the late Anne Spencer.

Black Man o’ Mine

Black Man o’ Mine,
If the world were your lover,
It could not give what I give to you,
Or the ocean would yield and you could discover
Its ages of treasure to hold and to view;
Could it fill half the measure of my heart’s portion. . .
Just for you living, just for you giving all this devotion,
Black man o’ mine.

Black man o’ mine,
As I hush and caress you, close to my heart,
All your loving is just your needing what is true;
Then with your passing dark comes my darkest part,
For living without your love is only rue.
Black man o’ mine, if the world were your lover
It could not give what I give to you.

Until next time,

Copyright © 2010

Those who follow FathersFootprints.com know that Black History is not just something we feature in February.

The Harlem Renaissance (also known as the Black Literary Renaissance and the New Negro Movement) refers to the flowering of African American cultural and intellectual life during the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, it was known as the “New Negro Movement”, named after the 1925 anthology The New Negro edited by Alain Locke. Centered in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, the movement influenced urban centers throughout the United States. Across the cultural spectrum (literature, drama, music, visual art, dance) and also in the realm of social thought (sociology, historiography, philosophy), artists and intellectuals found new ways to explore the historical experiences of black America and the contemporary experiences of black life in the urban North.

Challenging white paternalism and racism, African-American artists and intellectuals rejected imitating the styles of Europeans and white Americans and instead celebrated black dignity and creativity. Asserting their freedom to express themselves on their own terms, they explored their identities as black Americans, celebrating the black culture that had emerged out of slavery, as well as cultural ties to Africa. Wiki

There are several critical writers that helped to birth and define the era known to us as the Black Literary Renaissance.  In no particular order, the literary giants of that era included: 1) Zora Neale Hurston; 2) Langston Hughes; 3) Jesse Redman Fauset; 4) Walter White; 5) Claude McKay; and 6) Rudolph Fisher. Today’s feature highlights the lady widely known by her first name.

Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960)

Zora Neale Hurston was a utopian, who believed that black Americans could attain sovereignty from white American society and all its bigotry, as proven by her hometown of Eatonville. She was born in 1891 and her father was a Baptist preacher, tenant farmer, and carpenter. At age three her family moved to Eatonville, Fla., the first incorporated black community in America. Her father would also become mayor of that town. In her writings she would glorify Eatonville as a utopia where black Americans could live independent of the prejudices of white society.

Zora was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist and an authority on black culture from the Harlem Renaissance. In this artistic movement of the 1920s black artists moved from traditional dialectical works and imitation of white writers to explore their own culture and affirm pride in their race. Zora pursued this objective by combining literature with anthropology. She first gained attention with her short stories such as “John Redding Goes to Sea” and “Spunk” which appeared in black literary magazines. After several years of anthropological research financed through grants and fellowships, Zora’s first novel Jonah’s Gourd Vine was published in 1934 to critical success.

In 1935, her book Mules and Men, which investigated voodoo practices in black communities in Florida and New Orleans, also brought her kudos. The publication of what is considered Hurston’s greatest novel was Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. Published works by Hurston over the next ten years either received mixed reviews or failed according to literary standards. Zora never addressed the issue of racism of whites toward blacks, and as this became a developing theme among black writers in the post World War II era of civil rights, Zora’s literary influence faded. She further scathed her own reputation by railing the civil rights movement and supporting ultraconservative politicians. She died in poverty and obscurity in 1960.

Copyright © 2009

Clark SistersIn 1985, a Detroit-based gospel recording group called the Clark Sisters penned and recorded an album entitled “Is my living in vain.”  In essence, they were asking the question whether or not our efforts to live right, walk right and pray right – were yet futile.  In other words, have I really accomplished all that God has required of me?  I’d like to add yet another line to the Clark Sisters’ song: Is my parenting in vain?

Recent discussion with parents who, like me, have teenage children attending high school have confirmed that our kids face far different challenges than when we attended school in the 70’s and 80’s.  Increased youth violence, teen-pregnancy, drugs, depression and overall identity crisis issues are but a few of the challenges our teens are faced with during their daily school attendance.

I am convinced that our technological advances are part of the blame.  Our teens are using their ipods to rock: “I’m going in” byboy_and_girl_tm Drake and Lil Wayne; “1,000 stacks” by Nelly and Diddy; and; “Trick’n” by Mullage ft. T-Pain.  They’re using their video game systems to play: Grand Theft Auto; Final Fantasy; and Halo 2.   Finally, they’ve become addicted to their laptops, logging on to MySpace, YouTube, and yes, Facebook websites.

Keep in mind that the above can also serve as distractions to adults, but for the kids, these tech toys seem to have shaped their personalities, character and sapped their already lethargic tendencies.

My teens are no different and have delved into each of the above, and for that reason I restate my question: “Is my parenting in vain?”  I’m not sure that through my so-called success that I have appropriately and adequately, as the bible says, “Trained up a child in the way they should go…”

Earlier today Pastor Purvis delivered a powerful message that touched on various aspects of this blog as well as a sermon I am currently preparing.  He challenged us to simply ‘pray’ for our kids as they attempt to obtain academic achievement in a social and chaotic melting-pot.

pray1

As a father (and a grandfather), I am concerned for my teens and my adult children as well.  I am concerned for their health and their future.  I am concerned about them being a productive part of society as well as a champion for God’s kingdom.

As I conclude this blog I want to quote Solomon Kinloch of Triumph Church, “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but the only thing that’s going to last what Jesus you put in ‘them children.”  Not dissimilar from our armed forces serving in Iraq, our children go to battle every time the school bell rings.  As we usher them off to the bus stop with new clothes and school supplies, let’s make sure they take Jesus with them. 

Boondocks Comic Strip

D’s 2 cents,

Damon signature

miseducationThe majority of our readers consider themselves to be highly educated, regardless of whether or not that education has yielded some form of post secondary matriculation.  I have personally met a number of folks who don’t possess degrees from various colleges or universities, but are quite effective contributing to the world of academia.  In other words, some of the most brilliant minds to walk the face of the earth are without fancy degrees.

In 1933, Carter G. Woodson penned a book entitled The Mis-Education of the Negro.  The central focus of Dr. Woodson’s book is that African-Americans of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools. This conditioning, he claimed, caused African-Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part.

Anyone who knows me know that I am a strong proponent of formal education.  However, this blog is not so much about those without formal educational training, but rather directed at those with it. 

It has become increasingly apparent to me that many of us have been blinded by our Bachelors, Masters, Specialists and Doctorate degrees.  We display the suffixed credentials on our business cards sometimes as long as our first and last names combined.  Not unlike the message taught by my brother from 1933, many of us card-carrying Negro graduates have been fooled into thinking that we have arrived someplace special.

hbcu graduates

Don’t misunderstand me, I applaud anyone who has the diligence, fortitude and perseverance to obtain a post-secondary degree, but I’m just equally appalled by the number of us who make the mistake of thinking we are better than those who have not.

Many of us would agree that at least 50% of what we learned did not stay with us (some would argue 75%).  Somewhere along the line, big mamma’nem told us that if we went to college we would be sure to have a good job.   Big mamma gave good advice, but that advice is truly outdated.

Without continuous education and training your degree is almost obsolete within two years of receipt.  No wonder there are so many degree’d folks that have a hard time finding and maintaining employment they feel is commensurate with their mystical piece of paper. If you don’t have critical skills in various disciplines you won’t be able to compete in today’s workforce.  I know several people who work day jobs, while performing side hustles like flipping real estate, selling Mary Kay, doing hair, graphic design, or whatever.  These folks understand that their degree is simply an entry point into the workforce but will not guarantee them income they truly desire.

It is of no surprise that the folks who either weren’t afforded post high school opportunities or decided against it are often outperforming those who did go to college.  We have politicians, businessmen, artists – all without the mystical piece of paper, that understand the importance of hard work, perseverance and are continuously reinventing themselves in order to stay competitive.

Short story shorter, our thinking is being controlled by a false sense of accomplishment and the fallacy of having arrived at a destination.  Although there are many milestones along the way, an education was never intended to be a destination.

I conclude this blog with an excerpt from Dr. Woodson’s book:

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

If you haven’t read the book, please do yourself a favor and delve into it.  Your personal development CEU’s (continuing education units) await you.  To help you out, click the book cover above and go straight to Amazon; you can get a used copy as cheap at $3.99; or you can support black business by purchasing from African American Images.  Now you have no excuse.

D’s 2cents,

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