Monday, December 16, 2019

Grateful Post, because I Need To Be Reminded.....

This time of year, when the days are short, and I get into my winter routine of going to work, working out, and sprinkling in a few author talks, concerts, sporting events, and time with friends, this can feel sort of like hearing someone beating a drum, with the same cadence, over and over again. So, I need to remind myself that I have lots to be excited about such as....

My hair. I love my natural hair; it is my Pride and Joy. My Crown and Glory. I love when I wash it, and it is curly and soft, and then it dries into an afro. I just love my hair...

The students at the school where I teach. Yesterday, I saw two students at a restaurant near the school, and they were extremely happy to see me. Today, I went to an ice cream shop to visit a student, and he said that I could have whatever I wanted. And, I had three small scoops of ice cream, a brownie, and a cookie that were ALL so good. Grateful for these students......

Friendship. I spent a whole lot of time this weekend with three friends who all graduated from Tuskegee which means that this felt like hot chocolate on a very, cold day. We were together, in a restaurant, until they literally put us out. There was lots of talking, and laughing, and sharing, and it felt great to be a great listener.....

Podcasts. I have been listening to tons of podcast, and I must say that I am learning a whole lot, and I just love them. My top four are NPR politics that basically gives a quick rundown of what’s going on in politics daily. Oprah’s Master Class; I just love folks' stories. The Stacks where writers talk about books and the craft of writing; it is umm umm good. Teach Me, Teacher is about teacher stuff, and I have learned so much about my craft. Long live Podcasts.....

My commitment to health. I get on the elliptical every day for thirty minutes before I eat. I workout with my trainer, Berhane, three days a week, and I ride my bike, on the inside, just about every day from forty minutes to an hour. I love the routine of it all, and it makes me feel quite accomplished. I feel blessed that I use the time for my benefit. Y’all know I could easily be on my butt reading a book!

Berhane, My Trainer.  He gets on my nerves, but I am grateful that he is consistent and compassionate. He was asking me if I had time to work out before I go to work, and I said “Of course not, I am at work by seven.” However, he pushed it more, and said something like “So, you are like everyone else?” And, the next day I was on the elliptical by 5am and at work by 7am, and I absolutely love it. I thought I couldn’t do it, but thanks to the encouragement from Berhane, I am making it happen.

A good school year. Looking back on the past two or three years, I think that those years were rough, because this year feels like the clouds have moved back and the sun is shining brightly. I got great students, I feel good about the educational direction of my classes, and every, single day, I finish early… GOD IS GOOD!!!!

Not acting on my feelings. For awhile, I have been practicing sitting with my feelings and being thoughtful about my responses. Y’all know that we cannot trust our emotions. Many, many times they are dead wrong. I am getting good at allowing myself to feel what I feel and doing absolutely nothing until I have had time to think. It is working!!

DC. I love DC. The culture is everything… U Street, Union Market, the countless happy hours, the concert, the plays, the author talks, the independent bookstores, sporting events and the many, many restaurants, and the Smithsonian. DC feeds my spirit.

Time alone. I love folks, and I love being around them, BUT ain't nothing like my time alone. I have TONS of time of alone, and I am grateful!

What y’all grateful for?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A WHOLE lot in.....

but not much coming OUT on paper....

So, that has been my life; I have been reading a whole lot and writing very little.

However, I have been having that nagging in my head that has been saying clearly: “Write.” AND, so I am committing to writing at least an hour every day whenever it is possible.

You know, every, single time that I thought about writing, all I could think about is how it requires my full attention and my entire body, and I was resisting it. Writing ain’t easy, and I was resisting the focus that it requires.... sometimes our thoughts are worse than actually doing the activity!

I read How To Be An Antiracist by Kendi Ibram, and this books has been on mind every since. I have given lots of thoughts to how hard folks are hard on each. I mean, we do not extend each other one ounce of grace. AND, folks are human, most of us are trying the very best that we can, but if we mess up just a little or do not do things exactly like other folks want us to... then, all hell breaks loose... Grace and Mercy. We got to allow each other the space to be human and all that comes with that. This is one of my takeaways from that book.

I was recently at the book tour in DC for Tomi Adeyemi, who just released her second book Children of Virtue and Vengeance, and it was put on by a Black bookstore, Mahogany books in DC. Oh, how I love Mahogany Books. The entire auditorium was filled with Black folks supporting a Black writer. Tomi, came out in tears; she was being human. She revealed that something terrible had happened that day, and she was not at her best. However, she felt what she was feeling, released it, and it was a wonderful night. I completely felt connect to Tomi who felt comfortable enough to be vulnerable and say “I feel like shit, but I am going to embrace this moment." Y’all... I felt the love in the room go straight to her, and she gave it right back... It was a phenomenal night.

However, this woman next to me stated “folks didn’t come here to hear about her troubles. You can tell that she is young based on her response to her troubles.” Y’all... all I could think was Grace and Mercy... Grace and Mercy...  Can we allow each other to be publicly vulnerable, get ourselves together, and then carry on? I thought about the book How To Be An Antiracist again; he touches on this.

Anyway, I cannot wait to read Children of Virtue and Vengeance, because I thoroughly enjoyed Children of Blood and Bones. 

I have seen the movie Queen and Slim THREE times on the big screen. I just love ALL of that Black beauty on the big screen, and I had to see it more than one time on the big screen. That Black love and sense of community displayed on the screen really did my heart good.

I read Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell, and he basically writes this entire book to say that we really don’t know each other, and most of the things that we assume about each other are probably wrong; however, we should try to swing towards human goodness as much as possible in order for us to live in harmony. He ends the books by talking about the Sandra Bland incident and how the cop basically read her all wrong, and if only he had dealth with her a little differently, she may not have been arrested and later found dead in a jail cell, and this led me back to the movie Queen and Slim.

In the very beginning of the movie, Queen and Slim are stopped for not signaling and swerving. The officer assumed that Slim had been drinking, and he treated him like he had committed a crime, and Queen ended up shot and the officer ended up dead. BUT, what if the officer had assumed that they were two people on a date, approached the car and told them why he was stopping them, gave them a chance to explain and really heard them, gave them a ticket or even warned them, and let them go about their merry business, then there would not have been a movie.

Do y’all remember the OJ Simpson trial and how many Black folks were pulling for OJ. Not that we knew whether or not he was innocence, but a whole lot of people thought he was not innocence, but he got off and for many Black folks, it felt like we had finally won for once. AND, this is the exact feeling that I felt watching Queen and Slim. I was pulling really hard for those two; I wanted them to win. And, not just win for themselves, but for us. However, the entire movie could have ended or been a whole ‘nother movie if only the cop had assumed the best about these two young Black folks and acted on those notions.

Recently, I was in a school, and I saw a student running and two administrators, a cop, and security was running after the student. I instantly thought of Sandra Bland. First, the student was not violent, she did not have a weapon on her, so I was not sure why it took all of those folks to stop the girl. And, I thought about how her anxiety must have been going to the roof with folks chasing her. If she stopped, would one of those folks following her give her hug that I am sure she needed, or would they hastily take her to the office (jail), drill her, and take her to detention? (Jail!!)

I have been thinking about the idea of how can we get to know folks, not be friends, but to understand, be empathic, and be their allies. I was listening to a podcast, and a writer stated that most folks do not have a person of another race whom he or she would call friend. I am talking about friends, where you can be vulnerable with them and tell them everything. So, how are we going to get to know folks, and get pass those stereotypes if we do not spend time with folks who do not look like us and folks who look us but have totally different backgrounds.

I imagine groups meeting up all over this country. Uneducated and educated folks, with folks who live in inner cities, with folks who work on capital hill, folks on welfare, millionaires, all talking about their lives and experiences, and why they do what they do. I want these folks to exchange numbers and do things together and really get to know each other, and I believe that we can heal our land.

Now, will these meet up happen? I want to say no, but we can read fiction and non-fiction stories to understand human nature and folks stories. I think I know human nature well because of literature. I know that I am very empathetic because of reading. I know I know a whole lot of random stuff because of reading, and this type of knowledge is accessible to almost everybody. I say almost everybody, because you know there are places in out country that have books deserts. Yes, book deserts, where people have limited to no access to books, and this makes my heart weep. But those of us who do have access to books, we can read, and read, and grow, and reach out to folks, and join groups, and heal our land.

I hope this made some type of logical sense, and I guess you can tell that there has been a lot on mind. If you read it and was able to follow it, I hope that you got something out of it. BUT, if it was far to much rambling for you; I understand that too.

Not sure what y’all have been up too, but I am hoping that you guys are trying your damnedest to live your best lives... loving a whole lot of folks.... communicating with folks and not just texting. Winter, in places that get dark early and cold, like Northern Virginia, can be quite daunting.... but I just keep on keeping on.

Holler y’all!!!

Friday, April 26, 2019

8 years.... Money in the Bank!

It’s Our 8th Anniversary!

Berhane, the best personal trainer in the whole wide world, has been training me for EIGHT WHOLE YEARS! Yes, EIGHT WHOLE YEARS, and we have ninety-nine more years to go.

Recently, we were talking about numbers. Actually, we were taking about the holy trinity of numbers: blood pressure, sugar levels, and cholesterol.

Berhane explained that if you have good numbers, that is like money in the bank. Yep, that is a whole lot of GOOD money in the bank. However, he went on to state that if we continue to spend the money and never replace it, eventful it we will be depleted. So, basically he is saying that if we are blessed to have The Good Holy Trinity of Numbers, then we must work to keep those numbers good. It is like having a brand new car and never, ever doing the required maintance.

If you have MONEY in the Bank.... Work to keep it.
If your account is running low or is empty; it is never to late to get your money right.

It’s been EIGHT YEARS y’all.

If you need or want a personal trainer or need or want a personalized gym, then check out Berhane at BT Fitness. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Book Clubs

I absolutely love books and readers, AND when you combine the two, you have.... BOOK CLUBS!

Recently, I have participated in three book club meetings: LIT on H St., Mahogany Bookstore, and my chapter of Delta Sigma Theta book clubs.

With the Lit on H street book club, we read and discussed A River of Tears by Vanessa Hua. The discussion was wonderful, the people were wonderful, we met at Solid State Books in DC, and that place is wonderful. Vanessa was not at the bookclub meeting, but I did meet her a few days later at the public library.

Mahogany Book Store, A Black owned bookstore in Southeast DC, bookclub meeting was held in their store and Panama Jackson, one of the writers of the blog Very Smart Brothas, hosted the book club meeting. A group of about fifteen, well-read Black folks read and discussed The Well-Read Black Girl Anthology that is edited by Glory Edim, founder of the Well-Read Black Girl reading group. We had candid, lively discussion, and y’all my heart was so happy in that space with those people.

The READ book club which is an extension of my chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, read and discussed Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. We had great food, lively discussions, and great sisterhood bonding. I always feel absolutely loved when I am with these ladies.

 Whatever brings you complete joy, immerse yourself in it, and do whatever IT is OFTEN!!!!

There is no time better than now.


Friday, November 23, 2018

What’s Important To YOU!

Ibi Zoboi the author of American Street and Pride

If you are thinking about giving your students more choice in what they read, or if you are giving your students choice in what they read, just know, that it requires the teacher to be very secure in her thoughts about reading. You have to know that you know that reading is fundamental and is extremely important.

I know, without a doubt, that reading changes people. I know for sure that the more a person reads, the more that a person will want to read. Reading is like going to the gym! If you go regularly, it can become a habit, and you just do it. However, if you miss a few weeks or even a month, it can be difficult to go back, but once you go back regularly, you can fall right back into the habit.

Tomi Adeyemi author of Children of Blood and Bones

I have always been a reader, but my reading has had its ebb and flow; times when I have read more than at other times. When I starting the 10 to 40 reading challenge with my students, this caused me to be more conscious about my reading. I started reading more young adult books, book with characters who don’t look like me, more memoirs, and every other book that peaked my interest, and I must say that it has tremendously, positively impacted my life. I love deeper, I am definitely more empathic, I know more, and I am in relations with more and more people because of books. And of course, this transfers to my classroom; I want my students to experience the growth that can take place because of reading, and therefore, I take what I know for sure into my classroom.

Elizabeth Acevedo author of The Poet X

Teachers, I know you are thinking about fake reading. Students read when they find a book that they want to read, and this can be challenging. Almost all of my students are reading, but I do have a few who jump from book to book, but every, single class, I give those students different books with the hope that they will finally start the journey of being a lifelong reader. Many days I want to give up, but I remember how the whole class novel put me in the driver sit, and put the ownership of the students’ learning on me, but I know now that their learning is a joint adventure. They must take some ownership, and choice does that, so I continue to plug away.

I can not say that reading is important and not be a reader, so here are the eleven books that I have read since September 22nd: the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall:

The Power was recommended by President Obama, and it is amazing. It is speculative fiction that looks at the idea of what if women had all the power. Men, according to this book, y’all should be scared.

Ghost Boys is a young adult book about a boy who was killed, but he comes back as a ghost, and he spends time with Emmett Till. Yes, Emmett Till. This is an amazing, quick read.

So You Want to Talk About Race is about race in America. If you are new to talking about race, then this is the book for you.

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali is one of the best young adult books that I have read this school year. It is eye-opening, and we get a glimpse into the lives of children who are trying to navigate between two cultures... We get to go to Bangladesh!!!

There There is a story about modern day Native Americans. There a lot of characters, and each story is delightful with very strong voices, but while reading this, I went to Tuskegee for homecoming, and I had few other things going on so, I may need to try this one again.

The Outward Mindset was the Superintendent of my school district book club selection. I believe in every word of this book; if we all think about the greater good of the school, and not just our roles, there should be little lack in any school.

The 57 Bus is a young adult book that is thought-provoking and is based on a true story. Grown folks read this book to gain an understanding of young folks, and then share, share, share with as many young folks as possible. 

Song of Solomon is one of my favorite books of all times.. It’s a well-written story written by one of my favorite authors: Toni Morrison.

Heavy is Kiese Laymon’s memoir, and it is beautiful and though-provoking. If we want to understand American, we have to read folks stories. This one is powerful, and I will read it over and over again. 

Kinky Gapacho is for all of those Black high school students who are navigating white spaces and is doing a very, fine job. 

The Star Side of Bird Hill is absolutely beautiful... What do you do when one of the most important people in your life is mentally ill? Enchanting story of resilience. 

I just started A River of Stars, and I am completely captivated. Great story about an Asian woman who wants the best for her unborn child.

Y’all if you want to keep up with my reading, follow me on Goodreads.... I finally decided to try Goodreads again; It’s GOOD!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


I had a wonderful summer like always. I was busy at the beginning of the summer, and it was a good busy. I spent time working with some awesome teachers and vacationing. The summer was perfectly timed, meaning that I had the three or four weeks before school started to really, really relax. I was feeling a kind of peace that passes all understanding.

However, school started and it felt like I was hit by a tsunami. This school year, it did not feel like I had that honeymoon period that I think occurs at the beginning of most school years, or maybe that honeymoon period is all a figment of my imagination. (Memory is abstract!)

Emails and Emails about students who would need lots of love this year, getting adjusted to a new co-teacher, getting use to a new on-line system, and getting to know my new students. Many days, I felt like I was literally running around like a rat on a wheel.

However in the midst of the craziness, I managed to read eleven books and write two articles for Booksource's banter blog.

Here are the links to the articles:

ENJOY, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Summer Reading 2018

So, today, September 22nd marks the end of summer, and if you are like me, you will pay the calendar absolutely no mind and wear shorts, and tank tops, and flip flops until I am forced to do something else. However, I will use this day to official wrap up my summer reading and start my 10 to 40 book challenge with my students.

My reading this summer started off slow, because I was BUSY, and sometimes I would get back to my hotel room and be completely brain dead. However, by the end of July, my schedule slowed down and my reading picked up.

I read a total of seventeen books this summer, and I feel like I’m beating a dead horse, but we can all be life-long learners, we just need to read. Yes, that’s all it takes. You don’t need to take a class, you just need to read more. AND, you get to decide what you want to learn. For instance, I am very fascinated by people and how we operate, so I read a lot of personal stories, novels, and self-help books. You get to be the captain.

Very Favorite book of the Summer:

The book that caused me to have the hugest paradigm shift this summer was White Fragility by Robin Diangelo. This book is quite scholarly but uses colloquial language to make this book accessible to almost any person. It gives a great overview of what exactly racism is and explains why a whole lot of white people think that the race issue is not their issue; however, it is just as much their issues as it is Black and Brown folks. I thought about my very own biases, and I swear I am working on being less judgmental, checking my biases, and allowing folks to do the best that they can. This is a book that I will read and reread, because I never, ever want to forget the things in this book, and I need the knowledge for when I need to “check folks.” (LOL) You don’t have to walk around in ignorance when it comes to race.... YOU CAN READ, AND EDUCATE YOURSELF.

This one was on President Obama’s reading list, and it is GOOD: 

Educated by Tara Westover! A tragic, coming of age story that is TRUE. I thought a lot about how difficult it can be to overcome trauma! READ THIS MOVING BOOK.

The following are books that I am recommending for folks who really want to know more about being human and all of its possibilities:

Boots On the Ground by Elizabeth Partridge! This book is completely captivating. It tells true stories about different individuals involved in the Vietnam war including US Presidents and Dr. King. I found it so interesting that Dr. King thought really hard about speaking out against the Vietnam War and even had to sever ties with President Johnson in order to not be moved. This book is definitely appropriate for young adults; it has short chapters and amazing pictures.

Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth! This story of a Black man infiltrating the Klan is captivating as well as entertaining. I laughed at times and was quite amazed at other times. Spike Lee did a great job with the movie Black Klansman. It’s a straight forward book, and yes, I think teenagers will find this book engaging and accessible.

Demand the Impossible by Bill Ayers! Now, this book was recommended to me by a teacher whom I was working in Texas. Y’all, this book helped me to see that this country needs to do some serious soul searching and radically change a few things like our health care and educational systems, and I know that it can be done.... We have to demand the impossible!

All The Stars Denied by Guadalupe Gracia McCall! This is a very important, young adult book. This is a fictional story that is based on facts of what happened to many Mexican Americans during The Great Depression. What I love about this book is that we see marginalized people fighting for themselves. Yes, the Mexican Americans are fighting for themselves. There is a strong mother and father figure, and the daughter is my kind of girl: Courageous.

The True American by Anand Giridharadas! Y’all this is a true story that reads like a suspense novel. There is a guy who wanted to ‘protect his country’ from Muslims, and after 9/11, he shot three people whom he thought were Muslims, and two died and one survived. This books goes into the life of the killer and the life of the person who survived. This book challenged my beliefs about a whole lot of stuff. What I know for sure is that hate and love are both real.

If you want to know more about the varied stories of growing up Black in American, I am recommending these books:

No Ashes in the Fire by Darnell L. Moore! I saw an advertisement stating that Darnell was going to be at the bookstore Politics and Prose in DC, and he was going to be interviewed by Clint Smith. So, you know I had to go. After hearing Darnell so candidly talk about his experience of growing up gay in New Jersey, I knew that I had to read this book. Reading this book I thought about inclusion, racism, patriarchy, Black students attending White colleges and so much more.... EXCELLENCE!

This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jenkins! This book is a collection of essays, and it came highly recommended. I really enjoyed the essays about women and girl relationships, then the essays sort of lost me. However, I think these essays are important to add to the many stories that make up the American story.

Image result for image for this will be my undoing

New People by Danzy Senna! Let me say that I absolutely love the writing of Danzy. I fell madly in love with her novel Caucasia about twenty years ago and have been recommending it to people, and I even have it in my classroom. So, when I saw that Danzy had a new book out, New People, I just had to read it. New People is just as thought-provoking as Caucasia and a good look at race in America in the form of a good story. These characters will be with me for a long, long time.

If you are curious and love mysteries, I am recommending:

I’ll Be Gone In the Dark by Michelle McNamara! So, this book is about a lady, Michelle McNamara, who was obsessed with finding the Golden State Killer. I found it very interesting that the Golden State Killer started killing people before DNA testing was a thing, but once DNA testing came along, this changed the game literally. After about forty years, The Golden State Killer was captured this year. However, Michelle, did not live to see The Golden State Killer captured, she died in 2016 at the tender age of forty-six.

If you want some good, old fashioned stories with depth, I am recommending these book:

Hope Nation edited by Rose Brock! This is a collection of short stories all centered around HOPE.. I love this collection so much. We get to hear from writers such as Angie Thomas, Nic Stone, Jason Reynolds and many more. My favorite short story is about how readers are going to save the world, and I believe that we will.

Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert! I was given a copy of Little and Lion, and it was not what I was expecting. Based on the title, I thought this would be a cute book about a boy and lion. However, this is a young adult book about identity, sexuality, and mental illness. I was completely intrigued by this book, because many of the ideas made me feel quite old-school, but according to young adults whom I have talked to, this is the stuff that is on their minds. Grown folks may need to consider reading young adult books to be empathic to what they are experiencing. It’s a NEW DAY.

American Airlines by Ben. H. Winters! A student wrote an essay on this novel, and it blew me away. The premise of this novel is what if the South had won the Civil War....  Quite captivating!

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles! This book also came highly recommended. It is a young adult book, but like Little and Lion, it deals with some complex ideas. I loved every word, but I would recommend that adults read this first before recommending this to a young adult. It is important, necessary, but heart-wretching.

If you love poetry, try this mighty book:

Wife by Tiphanie Yanique! I heard Tiphanie talk about the idea of loving someone, like a husband, whom you are not related to by blood, and I knew that I needed to read this book. Interesting, Interesting look at love.

And, Because I know that I always have room to grow in my profession.....

Summer Reading is over...... NEXT!!!
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