I woke up at 4am on the morning of Tuesday, November 25th. I was faced with a challenge: In four hours, I would stand in front of four classrooms filled with young black people, in the aftermath of a grand jury’s decision to not indict Michael Brown’s murderer, Police Officer Darren Wilson. The night before, the decision and the collective emotions on Twitter had me so fatigued that the mental line I had drawn, the line that allows me to separate constructive anger from blind, reactive rage, was diced. I went to sleep early. Never before had the great moral weight of being a teacher felt so heavy to me.
When I log on to Tumblr or Twitter nowadays, useful, fun and inspiring content is being replaced by venting gone viral. I see responses to people who say things like “You’re cute for a black girl, are you mixed?” or any other example of plain social ineptitude, tinged with colonized non-thinking and poor manners. While the shares and retweets abound, I find myself unable to relate.
Sunday night, I was watching TV at my mom’s house when she came in, demanding that I change the channel.
“Turn it to the Billboard Music Awards! I want to see Michael Jackson’s performance.”
I paused. Michael Jackson died in 2009. I heard that there would be a Michael Jackson tribute, but I assumed that it would be done by other artists. I soon realized that even the King of Pop was not excluded from the Tupac at Coachella/Jem and the Holograms treatment.
We sat there, speechless, as an image of something resembling Michael Jackson bounced across the stage like a Windows screensaver.
The performance ended, the cameras panned to non-celebrity members of the audience (The celebs were hopefully as horrified as any other person watching at home), and my mom, the same woman who has every Michael Jackson performance recorded on VHS, got up and said, “You can change it now.” read more…
When blogger Karyn Washington died of depression (I put it this way because depression is a disease that can kill, suicide is just the way it happens), the sadness I felt was stifling. The tragedy created an opportunity to talk about how depression affects young women of color, but I was overwhelmed by the inaccurate and potentially harmful information and opinions about suicide and depression that were being spread. I had reservations about exposing my personal struggle with depression in TheRoot.com, but I decided to for three reasons: read more…
This post is a part of the “Freedom Teaches” series, where I post my reflections on teaching video production in the alternative schools of Chicago.
“The Corner” is a recently restored documentary about the early days of Chicago’s Vice Lords street gang. Filmed in 1963, it is astonishing in both what has changed since that time for many young black men that get involved in gang life, and what has not.