Jamie Mayes, AOE

Archive for February, 2016|Monthly archive page

Motivational Reflections

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, Race, reality, Uncategorized on February 19, 2016 at 4:43 am
“Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.”
— Arthur Ashe

We are just past the half-way mark for the month of February. Indeed, it has been an action packed month for me as my students complete projects and presentations,  make daily morning announcements, and we hosted a Black History movie day to raise money for our soul food tasting event. I must admit that Black History Month is a particularly sensitive time of year for me as I meditate and reflect even more closely on the journeys, lives and experiences of African-Americans. Our experience in this country has not been a beautiful one, but it has been a grand and significant one. One that we should embrace and love even more because of the tumultuous journey we have had. For many, reflecting on the past brings about anxiety and anger, because it is hard to imagine the difficult road our people have traveled.

Yet, further reflection on the past has allowed me to see history as so many of our history makers have seen it- with pride. I often study the works of Phyllis Wheatley, Langston Hughes, Frederick Douglass and Dr. Maya Angelou. I read about the accomplishments of Maggie L. Walker, Madame C.J. Walker and Dr. George Washington Carver. They all had one thing in common; they did not allow racism to determine their level of achievement. Though they knew the reality of society; yet, they worked towards greatness, using their struggles as their motivation.

So often, we are tempted to let obstacles determine our level of success. However, we must remember that our ancestors made so many sacrifices so our lives could be easier.  Imagine what life would be life if we had to deal with daily personal struggles and Jim Crow Segregation Laws, restricted voting laws, and segregated schools? Though so many issues with race still exist, they hardly compare to lifblack-history-monthe for African Americans just 50 years ago! We have so much to be thankful for in 2016, but so often we allow temporary struggles to make us feel bogged down stress. We are so much d to reap the benefits of our ancestors’ work. They sowed many seeds; let us continue to cultivate them for the next generation.  Take pride in the work of our ancestors, face our struggles with courage and strength and teach our children to be leaders who advocate boldly during adversity! The great Arthur Ashe once said, “Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can,” and neither is any other obstacle one faces. Yes, you may fall thousand times, but every time you get up there should be a little more motivation to succeed. Honor our ancestors by relentlessly going for your dreams!
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Stacey Dash: The Reason We Need Black History Month

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, Race, reality, Uncategorized on February 4, 2016 at 1:05 am

This year there are several reasons I could talk about the importance of Black History Month. I can always reflect on the lack of black history and culture in school textbooks. I could reflect number of recently publicly known crimes against black people. I could discuss thesdash1 threat of the election of Donald Trump, which could subsequently lead to the deportation or re-enslavement of black people. However, none of these will suffice this year’s explanation of why the celebration of Black History Month is so imperative. This year the ultimate reason that Black History Month is so important is comical, but true, ironic, but coincidental. The ultimate reason that Black History Month is so important is- you guessed it- Stacey Dash.
Because she had the courage to say BET, black awards shows and Black History Month should be eliminated is the very reason we must celebrate Black History Month. Her unapologetic attitude about her distasteful comments regarding her own race and culture is why we must celebrate and even amplify Black History Month. Dash is a reminder that Uncle Toms and token black kids still exist, showing disdain for their culture and being willing to sell their souls for money, power, and a whiter place in society. I can see her now, sitting at table with her colleagues saying hate crimes are justified because “blacks kill blacks all of the time.” Yet, be not angered with Dash, be compassionate towards her desire to be fulfilled by public attention and need to be acknowledge. She is currently getting more media attention than she ever got as an actress; being clueless has finally paid off. Because of her, I reminded of exactly why we need Black History Month:
1. She represents a lack of self-love and pride, the biggest threat to Black History.
Dash is not the only one who has failed to embrace the beauty of blackness and black culture. Our generation suffers from a lack of self-love. Though, we have difficulty accepting the truth, black people have been taught that bone straight hair and name brand clothes from the latest white designer are the key to self-value and self respect. We have replaced the value of our culture with things that depreciate the minute a transaction is performed. History has long taught us that light skin is purer and “righter” than dark skin, and that black people came from desperation, anger and violence. Self-hate and disdain for black culture has been engraved into us like the tattoos on the forearm of a Jew, and Stacey Dash is an evident reflection of such.
2. She represents the miseducated.
It is my belief that all of Stacey Dash’s comments are not and cannot be based on her genuine beliefs. Somewhere along the way, Dash has been miseducated about at least one half of her race, maybe both halves. However, her problem is not an uncommon one. The miseducated believe that we are truly free. The miseducated believe that systems that enforced equal practices are not necessary, because America is the land of opportunity for all mankind. The miseducated believe that slavery was not as bad as people try to make it seem. They see some truth to what Dash said, and they lend an open ear perspectives of the commentators on Fox News.
Each year, my students complete a Black History project or we go through a series of mini-lessons on the experiences of black people through history. It amazes me that most of my students only know three basic black historic figures: Dr. King, Rosa Parks and the surface of Malcolm X. The most troubling problem is that they have a misunderstanding of the mission of such individuals and their philosophies and beliefs about black movements and black power. Additionally, they have also been taught that racism and race issues are history and that we no longer have to work towards equality. They, like Dash, have been severely miseducated and society has become the instructor to teach them what the community has failed to do. These lessons come with painful experiences and broken expectations, and result in misdirected energy and misplaced anger. This has caused our children to stumble along for years being forced to learn how to develop community leadership and impacting movements the hard way. Miseducation comes with a terrible price to pay.
3. She represents a dangerous future.
The honest truth is that Stacy Dash is a bigger threat to society than we admit. The alarming number of people who agree with or empathize with Dash should send an immediate notice that there is much work to be done in order to preserve the celebration of Black culture. Respect for black history and black people is diminishing at a faster rate than it ever has, and the lack of response by today’s generation is troubling.
However, there is a glimmer of hope. Movements like Black Lives Matter and the Ferguson Protests send notice to America that there are young, motivated black leaders who will not take the troubles of society in a passive manner. However, is this movement massive enough? My concern is that the portion of black Americans who recognize the woes of being black in America will be overpowered by those who speak contrary to the statistically proven, undeniable truth about race relations. America continues to refuse to change laws and press charges, while using weak excuses to rationalize crimes committed against blacks. Lack of social consciousness means we are in danger of creating a dead generation, who regressive actions could send black folks back to the fields.
Yet, I must ask, what would we do without people like Dash to serve as a fresh reminder that we must continue to defy the odds and push for our culture to be remembered and respected? She is the constant reminder that though we have come far, we have even further to go. Oh, Stacey, your career has been just that, a “Dash” in time, and thankfully so. For, had you been a more significant and influential media star, your impactful ignorant just might pose a bigger threat to society. Dash is not alone in this party though; Raven Symone, Don Lemon, and the black preachers who met with Donald Trump last year are all reminders that until black people truly love black culture the journey to help others embrace our culture is quite long and difficult. Black History Month is only a small way to celebrate what black people did a country that was not capable of doing for itself. Maybe one day textbooks will tell the full story and Dash will love the skin she is in, but until then let us celebrate Black History.

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