Saturday, August 06, 2011

Getting Ready for new School Year and the Rest of My Life

Summer 2011
Usually, only children or families with school age children think of end of summer as an event and transitional time of the year. Retired folks like myself, well each day and season seems to move effortlessly along. Well not for me; My enjoyment of being with parents and helping them through the rough journey of getting their children educated makes life quite eventful.

This summer was the 2nd year of the Math Camp. The Village has adopted Fear No Number Math Academy as our focus on elevating math literacy for especially African American children and their parents. The "and their parents" is key to the success we are seeing for so many kids.

We think of the arts and sports when speaking of performances, well a performance component has been added to Fear No Number Math Academy. On Thursday at the Boys and Girls Club located at Rainier Vista in Seattle, elementary age students performed for a room full of their peers and adults a complex algebraic equation. Just as we sit and wait for our kids to hit that homerun, or complete their dance routine, we sat and watched with awe as the team filled up two white boards, talking us through the mathematical process and turned around and received their applause when they got to the end with the correct answer.

These are children representative of the children being denied by too many school districts of the joy of learning and knowing math as something familiar and fun. We are so grateful to Norman Alston for stepping in and up to this wonderful contribution to the Village.

We need grant writers to help get funding so we can compensate teachers, buy more materials, and supply the experiential activities to students that expands their use of math. If anyone wants to join the team, make a donation or be a guest teacher. Let me know.

Rainier Beach Back to School Bash
For the past few years, this event at Baer Sheva Park on Rainier Beach, organized by RB Empowerment Organizing and convened by Gregory Davis attracts hundreds of families. Please think of what you do and how it can add to the outreach to parents and join in being a resource.

Education and Support for Special Needs children
God sent to me three additional children and their mother. As with much of what I do, I look at the gifts I receive from God as puzzles. What am I to get from this gift, what am I to learn, how am I to share the learning. What I have been learning is that every agency with a sign up is not necessarily in business to help families. I learned that there are agencies and providers who get held up in high esteem and when you scratch the surface, they are not all they propose to be. I found that the old stand bys such as Salvation Army and St. Vincent De Paul continue to know their mission and hire people who seem actually happy to be helping.

I have been introduced to ARC of King County, they care about children and adults with disabilities, they were so very responsive. Even sent someone to our home to interview the mom. This was not a mom being too lazy to go to an office, it is an agency that understands the daily pull on a parent of a special need child, and then add a new born to the mix. I have a special place in my heart for First Place. I invested time, talent and funds to this wonderful agency for families in transition never knowing I would one day need to seek out their support. They helped this family in ways that made a drastic difference. They made sure that they were able to get that key to their newly leased home. Again, came out of their office and accompanied the mom to negotiate with the landlord; such things as deposits, etc before the lease was signed. First Place is ending homelessness one family at a time. They ended it for this family that I referred.

This year's Mason Family Fish Fry was a grand event, with collards cooked by guest chef Jason Vickers, fish fried by the team of Deacon Joseph Mason and Chris Bennet of KRIZ/KZIZ Radio and Medium News. We were honored to have again for the 3rd year straight King County Executive Dow Constantine. Also Randy Dorn, Supt of Public Instruction and Erin Jones and another of his Admin. Staff were a welcomed addition and MLKing Co. Councilmember Larry Gossett as well as Pete Holmes, Seattle City Attorney,Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Sen. Adam Kline (37th Dist) were in attendance. A host of candidates got a chance to shake hands of 200 people who consumed close to 80 lbs of fried fish, gallons of macaroni salad, corn bread baked beans and collards. We were serenaded by Josephine Howell and inspired by the spoken word of Melody Ivory. Also Mwansa Luchembe recited his 9 times table to 1,000 (I stopped him at about 400) At the end of the evening our guests made new friends, left not a scrap of food, brought the sunshine we were looking for in Seattle and it has been with us since. There is a truism "It never rains on Fish Fry Wednesday"

I will be working on development of Parent Involvement materials for the next few weeks. Will share the information when I am done.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fear No Number - A Math Academy is Born

When Seattle Public Schools posted for public view and analysis, yet another year of failure for African American students and others living and attending school in Rainier Valley, Norman Alston knew it was time to return home.

For the past 12 years prior to 2010 much of his time and energy had been spent on teaching the children in East King County home to Microsoft, and many who make their wealth in the technology industry. They had hired Mr. Alston, a former teacher at Zion Prep Academy, an African American private school, his reputation as an excellent teacher with a unique way of transferring his love of math to any who entered his sphere of influence.

A meeting was organized by Twanda Hill, the parent of one of his former Zion students and with her help the first Saturday Math Academy was established back at his old stomping grounds, Zion Prep Academy the Saturday Math was extended to Summer Math Camp.  For Mr. Alston a gifted teacher, something was still missing for him and out of frustration and other challenges he decided to not proceed with this foray into the area of King County with the greatest need for math enrichment.

By chance, I (Dawn Mason) read a message he posted on Facebook seeking 10 computers for teaching.  I responded and through Parents for Student Success, an education organization I founded and direct I acquired 10 laptops licenses for Microsoft Word and Excel and placed them on loan with Moving Beyond Arithmetic through which Mr. Alston consults on issues of math enrichment.  This struck up a relationship that eventually created a joint venture between MBA and PFSS the Fear No Number Math Academy was born.  What had been missing and what PFSS was able to supply was the engagement of parents in their children's math education.

Yvette Duiobate stepped up as Coordinating Parent to work with PFSS to help inform, organize and represent parent interests, concerns and contributions.  With only Norman as the teacher with no real skills in managing, parents took on the responsibilities along with Marilyn Alston in the management of Fear No Number Math Academy.  Without a hierarchy of officers or a membership dues and rules, parents worked together and with Mr. Alston to improve weekly FNNMA, they paid a tuition of $100 a month.  Parents unable to pay supply sweat equity as an investment in what is being established.

FNNMA remains in inquiry without any absolutes on what it takes to reverse the downward spiraling of math literacy for children who deserve so much more for their time spent in school. We know that parents can make the difference but we needed to know would they make the difference for their children. In most cases they are making that difference and experiencing joy in the elevations of their children's love for numbers and eagerness to attend class.

The Academy, is established to address the critical condition of math literacy for African American children who are at the bottom of every outcome for math and science.  They are leaving school non competitive for admission to four year colleges, academic scholarships, or gaining the kind of education that prepares them for future technical based careers or creating employment for self and others.  Though African American students are the reason for the establishment of FNNMA, and the instruction is based on African cultural norms for education, the classes attract children from other race and ethnic groups and span the economic spectrum.

The first school year is ended but Saturday Math continues throughout the summer. Mr. Alston will teach 1 or 100 students so a drop of students for the summer, does not shut the doors of the Academy.  The Academy moved at the end of the school year to the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club. This arrangement should attract even more students to FNN Math. It will take careful oversight to make sure that parents are clear that the Academy is not a drop off enrichment kind of learning. That to work, the parents must be invested in some way and shed their own fears of numbers.

 and using shape the methods that would bring parents into the classroom with their children. This immediately appealed to some parents, for others it was not so easy, but eventually there were classes in which there were as many adults in the classrooms as children.

The name Fear No

Year End Summary of Parents for Student Success

This year Parents for Student Successwill be the beneficiary of the 19th Annual Mason Family Fish Fry..  Parents for Student Success is located in Seattle. through outreach, capacity building and advocacy for equity in education for all children.  There is a need along WA's I-5 corridor for greater excellence for African American children and others who for too long languish at the bottom of education outcomes in public school.

Through strategic partnerships they expand their reach and vision for a safe Village in which when asked "How are the children?"  it can be said,  "They are well, they are doing very well."

Some of the accomplishments of PFSS during 2010-11 school year:

  • Convened Sept 2010 Community Educators Gathering  with Asst. Supt of Public Instruction, Erin Jones
  • Sponsor Critical Conversations in the Community with Dr. Maxine Mimms - monthly at Life Enrichment Books
  • Developing the prototype for Elders in Residence with South Shore School 
  • Support for Successful Young Women Project 
  • Conducted 10 Parent to Parent Workshops (for capacity building)  - First Place School, Saturday Math Academy, South Shore School, Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club
  • Fiscal agent for AAKEWO and American Museum (Delbert Richardson)
  • Partnered with Rainier Valley Rotary to expand support for literacy for children attending Rainier Valley Schools
  • Creating dialogue that expands our reach to parents who are need of more effective ways to be engaged in and take responsibility for their children's education
  • Initiated the development of a knowledge and support base for African American parents of developmentally disabled children; ARC of King County, Northwest Center, Special Olympics, Office of Education Ombudsman

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Life Enrichment Books - 16 years of service to the Puget Sound

Life Enrichment Books known as LEMS, located on Rainier Ave in Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle hosted an Anniversary weekend that had no rival in gathering African Americans from throughout the I-5 Village in WA State. Hundreds of people came by to wish Vickie Williams and Aliyah Messiah well and thank them for their contribution.  Life Enrichment is the only full service Black book store in the State and NW Region.  They are not a non profit, yet they have not seen a profit for many years. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to emcee this grand gathering of wonderful African Americans who came from all over the Puget Sound to spend three days of celebration.

They are more than a book store, they provide their space for cultural gatherings and is a meeting space for book clubs, natural hair club, spiritual gatherings, Women United for Peace Through Prayer gather there, and on the 3rd Friday of the Month Dr. Maxine Mimms our Elder of Distinction hosts the phenomenally popular and well attended Cultural Coversations Seminars.  At a time when book stores are closing their doors Vickie and Aliyah are finding ways to keep theirs open.

The weekend was filled with people meeting new and making new friends, re-acquainting with those they have not seen in years. Zambuko Marimba Ensemble led by Sheree Sereste filled all of Columbia city with their music other performers were Josephine Howell who never disappoints her audience and led us in one of the most spirited renditions of Lift Every Voice any has heard. Akua Kariamu plays a violin in a way so unique there is no way to describe her musical presentations made along with spoken word.

M L King Jr County Councilmember Larry Gosset was inspiring and was appreciated for his support of all that is done for sake of cultural enrichment, we really do need more elected officials who like us enough to spend an entire Sunday afternoon enjoying his constituents. Dian Ferguson, who is running for a seat on the Seattle City Council also came and participated in a way that makes us know we are not just a vote but people she knows and enjoys being with.

Dr. Mimms spoke of Life and Health and Nutrition, she is a model for elderhood as it can be when we take care of ourselves and honor our bodies, minds and spirit. She invited other elders in the room to join her for a photo op. Dr. Mimms is 83, Frances North is 91 and Dr. Ruth Kelly McIntyre is 73. They are beautiful, healthy and without any loss of mind, energy and humor. They are really full of banter, stories and laughter.

Patt Butler Lathan did a great job of organizing the celebration along with Vickie and Aliyah, she says she just wanted to do something to help these women who contribute selflessly to the community.  She is leading the campaign to gather pledges to assure that this space remains available to the Village for our gatherings.

No celebration is complete without food there was an abundance and Solom who owns the newly opened Ethiopian and Eritrean Restaurant of the same name donated a full course dinner enough to feed the entire crowd.  Her restaurant is beautifully decorated and besides being a good cook, she is a grand hostess. Please drop in and have a meal with her at 5100 Rainier Ave South just south of The Royal Esquire Club.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Village is Alive and Well May 23, 2011

What an ambitious weekend we had in the Village and I am inspired by my participation with two great events.  I wish more people would report on their activities so we can all have the advantage of the many positive and energized activities we participate in. For those who do report backs to Community please let me know so this information can be shared even more widely.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority had the Bellevue Hyatt abuzz with all their pink and green. I loved their quilt design Western Regional Conference bags. Phyllis Lowe was my hostess for Saturday morning, I participated on a panel discussion, facilitated by Soror Dorothea Johnson, from Sacramento CA, who was like a walking encyclopedia on policy, redistricting, and the governmental structure.

We discussed ways to be connected to community. I spoke of the importance of African Americans  seeking public office at all levels of the political scheme. Become a Precinct Committee Person, your name is placed on a ballot and people vote for you. This was my first elected position. Serve on Commissions, this is where public policy gets started. Each Governmental jurisdiction has commissioners for all kinds of policy interests.  The Legislature now has only one African American, Rep. Eric Pettigrew, given our population we should have at least 6. We have had only 8 to serve in this very important body during the entire existence of the WA Legislature.  We must get involved in and   run for all the positions that make up our community, local, county and state government. For every person in an elected position, there are hundreds on the ground, organizing, researching, planning and getting the work done. Be Connected

Councilmember Victoria Woodards spoke of how being a protege of former Pierce County Council member Harold Moss, prepared her to be an elected official. We applauded her willingness to likewise step into the role of Director and President of Tacoma Urban League. When Mr. Moss retired, this very active UL fell apart, lost its beautiful building.

Roz Jenkins was another panelist, she has moved on from the Governor's Office as Director of Commission on African American Affairs, and will focus on education at League of Education Voters. Unfortunately, Kris Kosmos, who is LEV Director made a misstep in eliminating Dawn Bennett's job in order to establish Roz's position. I have good feelings about Kris and her vision, but I am thinking that she thinks one African American is enough for LEV. Another case of an organization who gets money because of the plights of brown and black children and the funding is used to assure employment for white people.  The same who assured us they were color blind and did not need Affirmative Action, so voted against it.  Dawn and Roz are as different as peanut butter and jelly, but both of them need to work together to make the perfect team we need.  Roz is an attorney and policy specialist, Dawn is a community organizer, well known and loved by the expanse of the Village.

Dr. Artee Young, is energized in her role as Director of The Evergreen State College, Tacoma Branch. This is as close to a Historically Black University and College as we have in Pac NW.  It is the Branch campus established by Dr. Maxine Mimms.  Artee is likewise a brilliant attorney and was a wealth of information about restoration of voter rights and redistricting.  Did you know that even though they do not allow  incarcerated felons to vote, they get counted as residents in the rural areas where WA has built correctional institutions.  There is something very wrong with this. These areas get funding based on census numbers. So when there is an advantage to having a population of color, well they have a diverse population that is poor, and without having to pass them in the aisle of the grocery store.  Having black and brown people incarcerated in rural areas creates employment without having to consider sharing these jobs with black and brown people. When they are released the incarcerated do not stay in these communities they are sent back to the Village.

Lakewood City Councilmember, Claudia Thomas was front row and her usual wonderfully pleasant and supportive self. She hosted us for coffee break and we got so into our conversation with each other, we arrived back for the second panel a bit late.  CM Thomas has earned the right to be acknowledged as the "political mother" of our African American elected officials. She is gracious, knowledgeable and supportive. Please make it point to get to know her, or just send her a note to thank her for her commitment to public service in ways that can make the entire Village and our allies feel a bit more secure in our lives.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Parent to Parent to Parent Trainings

This month I have been busy researching, developing and delivering training to parents of school age children. Three workshops at South Shore K-12 in Rainier Valley and Rainier Beach H.S. Successful Young Women parents and students.

These workshops allow parents to learn and share information that increases their knowledge of ways they can be more effectively engaged in supporting their children's academic achievement. We do hands on activities that parents can do with their children at home.  Shared online resources available to parents, played games, discussed how to be better prepared for parent/teacher conferences and the importance of having children read out loud and practicing math. We discussed what a child misses when playing with video games or texting while riding in the car. They do not see the trees, or even the huge Mt. Rainier, they do not engage in conversation which increases their vocabulary, they do not read the names of the cars that pass them and they do not even know where they are in their own neighborhoods.

Parents do not know much about the schools their children attend, each school has a school improvement plan and most parents and unfortunately many teachers can not even tell you what the elements of the plan is. Imagine a team member of a sports team not knowing the game plan or the importance of practicing their sport every day.  We seem to understand this but do not apply this to our children and their education. If a child is to do well in school, goals need to be set. Something as simple as, this week you will read 3 books and tell me about your favorite character. By Friday you will know how to spell 10 new words and their meanings. The teacher can teach the skill but the parents have to be the coach and practice the skills learned. Many parents do not know what their child should know at each grade, this is so unacceptable. We must begin to communicate with children in ways that makes them think, have them show us what they know, each child should be able to teach their parents how to do the math they learned in school.

If a child comes home from school with homework they can not do, that requires a communication with the teacher. The teacher needs to know that the child did not learn a lesson well enough to do the work sent home. Homework is not enough a child must practice and practice and practice until they are excellent in their subject matter.

That is what is on my mind today.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Village is Alive and Well May 9, 2011

Many things are occuring that elevates the well being of African American children, families and the population living within the I-5 Corridor Village in WA State.  

Campaigns to Watch
Of course I am watching the many campaigns popping up. Dian Ferguson, long time Democratic leader (37th and 11th Districts)  champion for women; Women Funding Alliance, Director; and for freedom of speech as Director of Seattle Community Access Network which was recently ceased by Seattle City Council. She has worked for the City of Seattle and helped the City get funds for children and families from the Federal Government.  Dian has done her work in ways that has benefitted the many over caring just for the few and should receive broad support. She is running for Seattle City Council Pos. 9. Her Kickoff is May 27, 6 p.m. at First AME Church. 

Bruce Harrell is seeking re-election. He has been a good for Seattle on the City Council and we should support his re-election. No other candidate has sought my support. 

President Obama Re-election Campaign
Get involved sign on to re-election 2012.  I will be attending an organizing and strategy session on May 24. I want to be able to say yes our African American Village is ready to go forward with our President. We know that small and frequent donations are helpful, even $5 will make a difference. 3 million supporters giving $5 on any one day makes a significant difference. 

Saturday May 7, was West African Art Day at Seattle Center. Dr. Joye Hardiman did a great job as Emcee and Griot.  I left with a very creative wall hanger made with hand carved stamps we learned to make.  The music and dance, arts and crafts of African cultures filled the Center House. All seats were filled. is having its recital on May 14 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. we are told tickets for 6 p.m. show is sold out and both shows will be SRO. Good job Melva Ayco, Program and Artistic Director, young tappers and parents. 

Thank you to MLK Church in Renton and St. John's Church in Tacoma for having Rev. Jeremiah Wright here for Spring Revivals. The workshop on Race in the 21st Century led by Rev. Wright at MLK Baptist was incredible. We  hope that the many pastors who attended will keep the momentum of being informative will continue.

Rev. Al Sharpton is present in the Seattle/Everett area for a few days. Saturday he had an organizing meeting at New Hope Baptist(Rev. Robert Jeffrrey, Sr.)   for National Action Network;  Sunday he preached at Greater Trinity in Everett (Rev. Paul Stoot, Sr.) , and Mt. Zion Baptist Church (Rev. Aaron Williams)  with messages and a spiritual awakening much needed in the Village. Thank you to Deacon, Joseph Mason, Rev. Paul Stoot, and Chris Bennett (Seattle Medium and ZTwins) for their many hours of work on this.  Tonight, Monday May 9, Rev. Sharpton will be on a panel discussing Education Reform at 7 p.m. Campion Tower. Here is a recent interview with Wall Street Journal as to what he thinks Pres. Obama should be thinking about as to African Americans. 

Tomorrow, Tuesday May 10 I will be at South Shore School conducting a Parents for Student Success Train the Trainer Parent workshop. It is our intent to help South Shore Principal Keisha Scarlett, parents and teachers make this K-8 school filled with  black, brown and  poor children the best in the District and State.   I love working with Keisha and So. Shore parents and teachers. The school environment is friendly and working toward raising the achievement of every student. Getting a handle on raising academic achievement requires getting parents and community to focus on each child. Making intellectual attainment a priority for children and adults.  

Pick a school and make a difference. Find a child and listen to them read or show you an arithmetical computation. Our children desperately need and deserve our attention and models of excellence. is a great site for learning how to do math and other subjects in 15 minutes segments. 

Fear No Number Saturday Math Academy is doing a great job of raising an interest in math Norman Alston of Moving Beyond Arithmetic seems to be ever present in the Village and every Saturday 9 - 11 at Zion Prep Academy we find him exciting his students with applications of mathematical concepts. This past Saturday the elementary age children were introduced to architectural plans and had fun measuring and drawing plans for their own dream homes. 

Zion Preparatory Academy's Director Rev. Doug Wheeler has announced that ZPA will close its elementary program and focus on early childhood education. The economy has forced many parents to place their children back into pubic schools, so it makes sense to focus on preparing the babies so they have an even start as they enter public elementary education. Thank you ZPA for all you do for the education of our children.

This is something that inspired me today. Malika Cyril  speaks about motherhood and social justice. How her mother through positive struggle gave her purpose. Also click on her video. She gets started slowly but has a great message.

Let me know if you something of good or informing to share with others.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fish Fry Is Coming Again July 20,2011

The Annual Fish Fry is an event we, the Mason Family has been hosting for almost 20 years.  It is an opportunity for us to bring together our friends, family and acquaintances who we have met along the way.  They make a small donation and get to eat as much as they want.  We intentionally make this event diverse in honor of us living in 98118 the most diverse zip code in USA.

We need RSVPs because this event attracts hundreds of people.  The parking is challenging but available throughout the neighborhood. The Event is listed on Facebook.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Spirit of West Africa Festival at Seattle Center

Makeda Ebube Invites all to celebrate African Culture through dance and music. Please come and bring the children.

 "Spirit of West Africa Festival" @ The Seattle Center in the Center House.  The festival takes place on May 7th, 2011 (Saturday) from 12:00 noon til 8:00pm. My Congolese Dance Workshop takes place @ 12:00 noon. The dance class is the opening of the festival. The festival is FREE.
Our own Dr. Joye Hardiman will be our mistress of ceremony. Also included on the program is Alpha Yaya Diallo (Guinea), De Cajon Project (Afro-Peruvian), Thione Diop - Producer - Yeke Yeke (Senegal) Featuring Dora Oliveira (Brazil), Kutt-N Up Theatrical Hip-Hop, Best of Both Worlds Fashion Show by Nansare Consolata, Naby Camara & Lagni Sussu (Guinea), Yirim Seck (Senegal/USA), Mapathe Diop, (Senegal) featuring Fama N' Diaye (Senegal), Foday Musa Suso, Kora Master (Gambia) and Many Vendors with lots treasures.
Please share this information with everyone. I would love for everyone to come and "MOVE" with me. Especially, because there is no regular community class I offer at this time. Thanks so much for your gesture to pass this information on. I appreciate it very much!!
Makeda Ebube :-*

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Somewhere Under the Radar

This is about not waiting for others to teach our children with expected equitable outcomes.

Last September I organized a gathering of about 30 individuals who are delivering education without much notice to African Americans of all ages. This gathering was inspired by an article I read by James Tooley who writes about education being delivered to children living in developing countries. He uses the term "under the radar" and not on government data sheets. He tells of quality learning in unusual places.  Along the I-5 corridor we have much the same occurring. Under or unfunded initiatives that come from internal rather than external inspirations.

In his documentary essay, Private Schools for the Poor   Tooley describes in his book "The Beautiful Tree" schools that are show up when the government does not deliver quality education to poor children. They are low or no tuition schools with from a few to many hundreds of students. Parents want quality education for their children and give support to their children and their teachers.  In Seattle there is First Place; a Seattle school for very poor children who are homeless and or living with the traumas associated with being poor too long. Unlike our public schools a parent event is as much as 80% participation.

When reading his essay two years ago, I thought of Dr. Maxine Mimms, Delbert Richardson, Doug Wheeler, Rev. Paul Stoot, Sr, Black Child Development, Parents for Student Success, Dr. Debra Sullivan, Marcia Tate Arunga, Dr. Emma Jones, Norman Alston and Fear No Number Math Academy, Black Starline Early Learners, NW Tap Connection, Danna K. Johnston, Technology Access Academy, this is not an exclusive list, there arevscores of others who educating children, our public schools will not or can not educate with equal outcomes for African Americans.

These are those who did not wait for funding, they saw the need, tapped into their inspiration and stepped up to the challenge.

Meet Those Who Inspired Me This Week.

Grateful for Inspirations
Being mid 60's gives me a major benefit and privilege on life. I am still young enough to enjoy learning and doing and being retired allows me to do what it is I want and to leave on the side of the road that which I do not.  I do realize that it is more than just age the state of being with God and centered in self is key at all phases of our human development.  Being spiritually centered diminishes the vestiges of victimhood.  I want to introduce to others some of the people who inspired me this week and for who I am grateful.

Dr. Melody Ivory
Consider walking away a job that pays well and gives you high levels of respect, because you see a life well lived with purpose a higher calling?  Not in a "Take This Job and Shove It" kind of way, but a response to a life altering crisis.  A conversation with Dr. Melody Ivory a person relatively new in my life, is a young brilliant woman who is a very special person with many gifts.

Melody Ivory's website is worth looking at. She has many products as a result of her gratitude for life and brilliance. I am I think addicted to her great tasting herbal teas and I am sure they are instrumental in my much needed weight loss and renewed energy.  To her credit she is the first and so far only African American woman to receive a PhD in Computer Science from Berkley.  She is moving forward on the expansion of her vision and with intent. To me intent is having a vision and doing whatever it takes to make it happen.

Cultural Village
Marcia Tate Arunga inspires me in her growth around her work with Cultural Reconnection. She is a testimony to what occurs when a person follows purpose and takes full responsibility and is able to elevate humanity through their work. Here is an article in March Seattle Magazine  which gives insight into how she has made a difference for many through the work she does with the Vision And Planning Team and The Institute for Cultural Reconnection and the 78 CR Delegates made up of African American women. A publication is being developed that will tell of the 12 years and beyond of inspired, focused, and active participation in the development of relationships within the African Diaspora.

Rev. Harriett Walden
New knees can make the difference for quality of life for we who are aging in good health but worn out body parts. Last August I had a spinal fusion to rid myself of the pain of spondolythesis (slipped disk) it made a major difference for my well being. Harriett, a long time sister in the struggle for justice,  followed suit and went and got herself some new knees. I spoke with her today she is at Washington Center a culturally competent rehab facility in Rainier Valley, Seattle.   I think Harriett wore out her knees over the many years of walking for justice we especially love Harriett for her inspired creation of Mothers for Police Accountability.  It is now up to our younger generations to pick up the baton and keep the movement alive. Which brings me to my young friend Marselas.

Marselas Owens
Marselas inspires not only me but millions. Last year he received  major media attention for his advocacy that moved forward the Health Care reform bill.    Marselas and his grandmother Gina are personal friends of mine. Marselas has a Mii on my Wii. He is again in the news after walking 50 miles to Olympia with his grandmother Gina to again give a real voice to why the wealthy should be taxed and that our legislators should not put the biggest burden of the economy on the backs of the poorest among us. Meet my friend Marsalas and think, "If Marsalas and his grandmother can walk 50 miles surely I can click on and send a message to my legislative delegation.

President Barack Obama
I hear people make uninspired statements about this inspired man and I want to gag. I am gearing up for re-election 2012. Election 2008 consumed much of my life and I expect the same level of involvement.  So the first task is to get as many people as possible to "GET IN" that is get involved with Organizing for America; sign onto the campaign. If you are not ready to make your financial donation, sign on anyway the key to getting out of the donation page is to click on 2012.  

*Village is used to denote African Americans living along the I-5 corridor. Villages are usually denoted in spacial terms but for us who are scattered off the many exits of I-5 it is our cultural connection that makes us a Village.  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good Health and Diversity, Education and Legislation

I awoke today thinking of a few things that I needed to jot down. Medical Care my own and others, parent support for their children, and housing for the homeless families.
Medical Care to the South of Seattle
Because I live in Seattle, I believe that all that is good and wonderful resides within the city limits of the Emerald City. Seattle is not much different than the story "The Wizard of Oz" tells. It is not the answer to all problems, and the Mayor of Seattle is not in fact the ruler of all the Puget Sound, and there is medical care beyond Swedish and Harborview, for me these were the only two hospitals that needed to exist. And then Vally Medical Center and the City of Renton entered my life. So my attention has shifted South. Life and humanity is like that you know we stay focused on what we know until we know something else. So the Mason family has discovered Valley Medical. Anisa is an RN there, our visitor from Kenya who was very ill during her visit was healed there last summer and just recently my son, was kept there in the hospital for 8 days until they came up with diagnosis and cure and he is now well on his way to good health again.  Walking around VMC is much like the community it serves the diversity is everywhere, not just in food service and cleaning. This is not so at Swedish, where it remains pretty white. I am not sure if UW Hospital has improved but a few years ago, I asked if they had any African American nurses at all in that hospital. I was told yes.

While speaking of good health, today I was reminded from an article read, that cleaning the nasal passage daily is a key to good hygiene and good health.  I clean my nasal passage daily with salt water. I was a candidate for a second sinus surgery and then I found the salt water cure and 10 years later, I have not even had to visit the ENT physician.

My spinal fusion is healing well and I am pretty much pain free. The pretty much means that my age brings about some natural aches on cold and dreary days, and here in the Emerald City and its surrounding areas we get enough of those. After years of suffering horrible back pain, I went to a neurosurgeon, Dr. Srinivasan an incredible physician, and she fixed me up. The cost was prohibitive without insurance, and I feel so privileged to have had good insurance through the City of Seattle. The kind everyone should have. I  now am on Medicare and so far I am pleased with my coverage. I think that if a person has several pills and drugs they take it could cut into your income. I am not in that category and hope that cleaning my nasal passage with salt water daily will keep me from prescription and drug induced poverty.

Education and Parents
What are we going to do about getting children educated and ready for life as they will experience it. There are somethings that have changed the world, such as social networking and computers, and video games. They are here and they are good things to have.  There are somethings that will never change. People will always have to know how to read, I believe that the written word is precious, I love words and language to communicate.  I am volunteering at South Shore School and see the differences between children who are receiving supplemental learning and enrichment beyond the school and those who are totally school dependent for their learning.  Today, I am doing a workshop for parents, as parents we will have a good discussion on why parents make the difference.  I do not assume a parent knows what to do, so we will have several hands on activities for reading and math. Norman Alston will do his magic of transferring Fear No Number.  He is a jewel among us and with him living in the Puget Sound region, there is no reason for any child to not know and love math.

Everyone needs to know the value of making a call to their State Legislators.  Too many who are so very  government dependent, do not make these calls. They are easy calls to make or notes to send. will guide you through the process of finding and contacting  your Senator and House Representative.  I am a former WA State Representative and know the difference the calls make in how we vote and how things get amended.  I will call my delegation and tell them to vote for HB 2048, within it there is the funding for programs and housing for the poor and in housing kids are helped through the traumas of homelessness.

What is that insurance they tack onto your credit card account?  When a person dies does anyone in the family know to collect on it? It seems like such a small thing about $2.00 but they have millions of customers.

Friday, April 08, 2011

What makes me think of Horace Mann and William Lloyd Garrison

I am most fascinated by both the abolitionist movement of the 1800's and the public school reform movement of the same years.  With just a little research, (this is merely a reflection of my thinking, not a research paper) I find that both Horace Mann and William Lloyd Garrison were white men born in Massachusetts within 9 years of each other 1796 and 1805. Our children today really use some abolitionists and school reformers of any hue.

Today the equity and democracy in its purist form, is eroded by the poor delivery and outcomes of education for brown and black children.  This is especially onerous along the I-5 corridor and for African American students.  Is there really democracy when public systems are established in ways that give a handicap to those of European ancestry?
"... It is for us the living to dedicate ourselves to the great task remaining before us;  that cause for which many gave the last full measure of devotion that this new nation will have a new birth....." 
Abraham Lincoln.  
The writing of this was inspired by my watching Ken Burns', Civil War on KCTS while writing this blog. 

 Horace Mann is known for his commitment to many progressive ideas, but he is most prominently known for his commitment to public education.  I consider his life's work important to my own. Of all the things I am committed to, a public education that delivers equitable outcomes for all students is my life's purpose.  Myself, I had the advantage of an excellent public education, I was well prepared for life long learning and I was not a straight A student, in fact that letter eluded me throughout my K-12 education.

These white me remind me that we are interconnected as human beings.  Mann was the first President of Antioch,  I am associated with Antioch University, where I received my Masters in Education, served on a board and am an adjunct professor.  Antioch does not have sports teams their sport of sorts is progressive liberation.  Antioch's motto and something I subscribe to,, is a quotation from a presidential speech; (He died soon after. It is said but not substantiated, that his speech was outdoors and so long he got pneumonia)

Horace Mannaddress at Antioch College, 1859
Here is one from William Lloyd Garrison the great abolitionist and founder of the Liberator Newspaper.  This is evidence of his intense commitment to abolishing slavery. 
I will be as harsh as truth, and uncompromising as justice... I am in earnest, I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard.

I am wondering when public schools shifted from centers of learning for children to centers of secured employment for adults.  When did this happen and how do we get to being able to supply the needs of both?   It is time to make schools a year round event this would be good for both teachers and students and society.  Summer vacations were not really vacations, they served the needs of an agrarian society, the crops needed to be tended to and harvested.  If family needs could be met early on, why are we unable to meet the needs of today's families? Parents do need children at home in the summer, to the contrary, they need them in school year round.  Raise the expectations of teachers of children who are expected to join the technology revolution and evolution, train them to teach to where we are going, not where we have come from.  Pay the great teachers well, increase the number of children they teach let those who can not or will not adapt to the needs of today's children find another craft. 

When I was in the legislature, representing the 37th District in Seattle, John Stanford was the Superintendent, he was a bright burst of energized force relative to public education. He knew his time with us was protracted and he took no prisoners on his short term and aborted time with us in Seattle.  He used words such as unforgivable acts. He and I visited schools together unannounced.  He thought it unique that the Superintendent and State Representative would do this on a regular  basis.  It was and has not happened since. Why would a State Legislator spend considerable amounts of time visiting and knowing intimately our schools, the teachers, principals and students?  Because the state constitution dictates that assuring a public education for all is the "Paramount Duty" of the legislature. It is not medical care, roads, Social Welfare, they are important of course and necessary but not specifically applied for in the way that public education is.

Mr Stanford like Horace Mann died while winning victories.  The motto hanging in his office:
"Do What You Say You Will Do."  He liked to point out that it is a palindrome the same coming and going.  (DWYSYWD)

So this morning I thought of Mann and Garrison and Stanford and I am inspired.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Now is time to think Summer for students

I hope that families have put something aside for summer enrichment for their children or grandchildren or a child you care about.  With shrinking public funds, the days of others paying for our children's enrichment is close to be over.

Hire A Tutor
Summer is a good time to catch children who are behind in school.  I am surprised by the number of children who do not have their own tutor, yet are not at grade level. A tutor paid for is good investment.  It is a good way for college students and teachers to earn a little extra money and a good investment into the academic achievement of children.

 There really is no reason that children can not expand their interest beyond video games and television watching and exert their creative selves.  A working parent can not take a course in something that makes them interesting, and elder  can and should learn how to use a computer, navigation system or how to send a text message.  Stop being bored and boring.

Here are a few things for young people this summer:

NWABR Student Research Fellows, funded by the National Institutes of Health, supports 10-12 rising sophomore and junior high school students (especially those from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in science) in a 2-week paid summer fellowship.  The dates of the program are June 27 - July 8, 2011 - no program July 4. Students visit a broad variety of research institutions throughout the Seattle area and learn how new medical treatments are developed.
The application deadline is April 8, 2011.  We encourage you to nominate students who you feel would be a good fit for this program and to forward this on to your colleagues.

 Here is one for ages 15 - 19 Teens in Public Service helps find summer jobs for at non profits. Applications need to be in by Friday March 25.

This is a parent lead, funded and managed opportunity for children and an extension of Saturday Math Academy. This is for elementary to middle school students,   an expansion of the 2010 Math Camp held last summer by Brian and Twanda Hill along with Norman Alston at Zion Prep Academy in Seattle.  This summer the camp is expanded to include parent involvement in ways that expand the participation of adults in classroom and field expeditions. Tuition has not yet been set but we expect the slots to fill quickly.  

The March edition of Seattle Child has hundreds of summer camps and activities for children.  Now is the time to apply and meet deadlines.  Do this for your child or the child of someone you care about.  I am always amazed by the number of inquiries I receive in late June and even July from parents and grandparents asking do I know of any jobs or activities for their kids. Also please plan summer for kids into the budget.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Village is Alive and Well March 14, 2011


The first two weeks of March have come and gone so have the media reports about state audits with allegations of misappropriations of public school funds, the false illusion of self appointed leadership and Superintendent Maria Goodloe Johnson. We are not surprised by any of this.  Carter G. Woodson in "The Miseducation of the Negro," tells us of the false leaders in our community and churches, Elijah Muhammad, in Message to the Blackman, speaks to the behavior of those who keep us moving backward, and the Bible is filled with warnings of those who deceive.  We are not surprised and the Village is moving forward despite any real or alleged offenses. 

I believe there will be more assaults and insults waged regarding what is important to African Americans. Hopefully, those who appoint themselves as our mouthpiece have learned their lesson. The same media that selects "African American Leaders,"  are  the same who will take them down with just one article. 

Here is the real issue and real scandal. 

Seattle Public Schools has, after receiving not millions but billions of dollars, 
failed to bring an equitable benefit to African American students. $12,000 of federal, state and local public funds are given to Seattle School Board to educate all children. The most recent performance report gives great detail in how brown, black and poor children have been cheated of an equitable education. That is and will remain the issue until equity is reached. 

Maria Goodloe-Johnson, was hired for a reason and negotiated a pretty lucrative severance package. 

The Seattle School Board turned a blind eye when what African Americans collaborated to establish for the good of our children was dismantled by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson; TT Minor (and their "little Grambling Marching Band.")  MLK School, The African American Academy with a focus on cultural competency were dismantled. To this injury was added the insult of her refusal to negotiate alternatives to closure put together by a well organized collaboration of some of our best African American educators and organization professionals.  Programs unassociated with the well being of African American children replaced them without any cost savings. Other than former School Board member, Mary Bass, none on the board were alarmed or even concerned about these decisions of "no benefit" to African American students? And for her concern for us, a well funded campaign was waged against Ms Bass.

What We Have Lost and What Others Have Gained From Us
Back in 1990 an African American Legislative Day was established. Rosa Franklin and Jessie Wineberry were our Legislators. It was African Americans who pushed for the Commission for African American Affairs and others gained from our push. When I was a legislator (1995-1999) the legislative Day was that  one day when we were assured that all African Americans in WA came together, attended workshops, and met with their legislative delegations. The nature of the Commission on African American Affairs has changed , Senator Franklin (Tacoma) has retired and for the first time in two decades we did not have an African American Legislative Day. Washington's Hispanic population has stepped into the spotlight that used to belong to African Americans, relative to being organized and on top of policy issues; education, economic development and health and well being. They have formed their own Latino Civic Alliance.

On Monday, I met Rev. Paul Stoot, Sr in Olympia, we were there for Gov. Gregoire's Roundtable on Education with Secty of Education, Arne Duncan and WA Legislators. Rev. Stoot who is Sr. Pastor of Greater Trinity Church in Everett and participates in African American Christian Leaders organizing that A. Phillip Randolph Institute is funded to accomplish. So while the Commission on African American Affairs has shifted their focus to suit the desires of those who fund them, A. Phillip Randolph Institute and the African American Ministerial Alliance are keeping our people engaged. On March 2, more than 200 African Americans from along the I-5 corridor arrived in Olympia for the purpose of meeting with law makers and briefing them on our experiences as African Americans residing in WA.

On March 2, more than 200 African Americans went to Olympia to brief legislators and and Governor Chris Gregoire on issues of key importance; education, economic development, health and well being. Organized by A. Phillip Randolph Institute, this replaced the now defunct African American Legislative Day that was in the past organized by the Commission on African American Affairs. This commission works at the pleasure of the Governor and it seems that the Governor has no interest in hearing from African Americans. So, as will occur when a government turns a blind eye to the people the people will organize and with Pastor Rhodes and Rev. Baber as co-chairs legislative issues are being addressed.

At the Junction of an Opportunity
With adversity comes opportunity. There is now  in place an interim Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, Dr. Susan Enfield. Please read SPS statement.  

The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle has appointed an Interim Director of the Seattle Urban League, Tony Benjamin. We asked him to join a gathering (of primarily women,) at Life Enrichment Books, for a conversation about moving forward and increasing the good of the village. This is not the first time women have gathered  to discuss how we want to be served by any organization that uses the condition of our children and families to attract funding to themselves. 

With Dr. Maxine Mimms, an Elder of distinction, guiding us through a very positive and respectful conversation, we got to know and Mr. Benjamin a little better. It was nice to have young people included and the voices of people who work hard within the "I-5 Corridor Village" heard. Dr. Mimms reminded us; "Seattle is not be and end all of African Americans in this part of the world."  Tacoma has an African American Mayor, Marilyn Strickland and City Council member, Victoria Woodard. They are placing education as a priority and continuing moving Tacoma forward as a vital urban city. The Urban League of Tacoma is rebuilding,

Bremerton has an active African American community, they are 10% of Bremerton's population. They like Seattle has a Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church. There are more African Americans living in Tukwila, Renton and Kent than in Seattle and to the north Snohomish County has a growing population of African Americans and beyond Tacoma to the South, there is Lakewood, Dupont and Lacy, with many established military families working, running businesses and raising children. The Village is growing and doing much better than those who see and think in the vacuum of exclusivity might depict. 

Fear No Number Math Academy
Norman Alston and Parents for Student Success continue to amaze and attract students and parents on Saturday morning. Before anyone ever again says anything negative about our school age children's behavior, their ability to learn, or their parents, come visit.  Saturday 9-11:00 at Zion Prep Academy 32nd S and S. Alaska St, Seattle. In the future is a winning Math Olympiad Team which is more than just learning and the performativity, the children of our village are building confidence, discipline, and thinking skills. It is not unusual for Mr. Alston to pose to his students ages 6 - 12 a difficult concept or question and then tell them "This requires thought, we need some thinking music, and then dims the lights and cranks up smooth jazz while they think about the question."  He reminds them that there are mathematical problems that mathematicians have been working on for hundreds of years.  Trish Millines Dzinko another deliver of excellence in technology to our children, says knowing math builds confidence, because it is about problem solving.  Please come visit and consider making the love of math and fearing no number a gift for to your child and yourself. The parents are able to sit with their children and learn right along with them in a safe and collegial environment. 

The Positive Media Reports
We acknowledge the many good things that have appeared in the media; Marcia Tate Arunga, and her book and now play, The Stolen Ones, made it to the pages of the Seattle Times and was profiled in Seattle Woman magazine. Jeffrey Williams, the winning Ultimate Designer graced the pages of Harper Bazaar with Mary J. Blige wearing his winning design and also the front pages of the Medium Newspaper, as was Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrel who after serving us well, is seeking re-election, in fact he has engaged himself so well in the African American community and other unrepresented peoples that he may end up with a challenger. And Larry Gossett will be likewise seeking to maintain his seat at the King County Council.  

Love is Still With Us
We extend best wishes to our sister, Rev. Gwendolyn Phillips Coates and her husband,  Donald Dotson on their marriage. She was a beautiful bride and he an awe struck groom. It was one of the longest salutes most in attendance had ever witnessed. 

Waiting for Superman
This documentary about the condition of schools and learning in the USA is worth seeing. To accommodate this the Rainier Valley Rotary has purchased a copy of the film and as a service to the community, making it available in as many places as possible. The initial showing was at Mt. Zion Church on March 11, 40 people engaged in a lively discussion following the viewing.  The next viewing are throughout Rainier Valley in Seattle (all are 6:30) :

March 16,  at Life Enrichment Books on Rainier Ave just south of Hudson St.

March 24,  MC Electric Vehicles 1200 So.Dearborn St.

April 7  Lakewood Seward Park Community Club 4916 So. Angeline St

April 20 WEllspring Family Services 1900 Rainier Ave S. 

All showings are FREE and refreshments are served. 


Monday, February 21, 2011

The Village Movement is Evolving

In the Puget Sound region, along the I-5 Corridor from Seattle to Tacoma there is a movement afoot African Americans are evolving from being externally defined as a community to self defined existence as A Village. The Village as we know it,  is based on human development, needs and contributions. A community is a  concept externally and politically defined with determinations about the people without regard to culture, or the people's ability to self diagnose problems and create solutions.

The Village that has emerged along the I-5 corridor is a vibrant emergence of talent and accomplishments with many generations coming together to sustain longevity.  In a recent gathering with Village Elder Dr. Maxine Mimms, she eschewed the word legacy and has replaced it with longevity. We liked that open ended view of what we bring to human development. A legacy sort of has a beginning and end where longevity just keeps on going without end.

What determines our Village is how we are as a people together. How we determine the outcomes of what we do and what occurs for us. An example, a report came out from Seattle Public Schools and is recorded by the WA Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction on their website. The report is data that would have any who read it  assuming that where there are majority populations of non white children who live in the margins of material prosperity, then these children can not learn math and science or how to read and write.  The Village looked at this and went into action, there is a crisis among those who are teaching our children, they do not know how to teach them. We must then make arrangements to teach them our selves. We start with math, and intellectual expression. We call on the parents to step into this thing they call an achievement gap. We bring in the best and brightest among us to create learning labs.

Fear No Number Math Academy
  is created at the Zion Preparatory Academy campus on Saturday to enrich African American children, and other children who will benefit from learning to have no fear of any number. The parents have to see this as important in their vision of an accomplished child able to compete in a global society.  The children learn to calculate using an abacus and go back to the basics of how to count. They have not been taught how to count, nor how to calculate up to the nth degree, they have been taught fear and failure; these the ancestors of those who built great pyramids and just now toppled a despot within a month without funding or too much bloodshed. The teacher is Mr. Norman Alston, the parents are managing the Academy with Yvette Diaubate guiding parents to see the worth of excellence.

Parents for Student Success has existed for a quarter of a century, it is a conceptual and methodical way of having parents see their worth in getting children through the rigors and challenges of Pre-12th grade education. It is a method that says to a parent; "Your are the constant adult figure in your child's life, you are the one who determines if your child will be a successful adult. Your are the Coach, it is your team."  Co-founded by former WA State Representative Dawn Mason, the author of this blog.  She sees too many organizations funded based on the failure of African American children and other children and their parents who face many levels of trauma associated with failed learning and the inability to think and reason.  Organizations that have been in our midst for decades even not more than a century have led us to this level of failure in our children, yet too many parents allow their children to be used to the tune of billions of dollars granted to organizations, agencies, organized religious institutions, without evaluations that include us.
When this concept of giving money to people to fix other people's problems started African American children were learning and performing socially better than they are today. We did not have huge numbers of children in juvenile justice systems, we did not have children not knowing how to read and write or of all things, killing their grandmothers and brothers and using lewd language in the presence of elders or their little brothers and sisters.  The village did not tolerate any of this. Now others are getting money and creating employment for themselves and their friends saying we will fix this for them.

The Village movement once fully established will question this use of our our children's failed intellectual and social development, teach parents the ways of the ancestors in child development and learning and reclaim our children.  It is already occurring.

The Koinonia/Maxine Mimms Learning Center is a testimony of  what can occur when adults are clear about the vision and the intent. Dr. Emma Jones has been without doubt that any child can learn and she does not believe that ADD exists or any other thing that keeps a child from being a good person, a smart person. There are no large grants coming her way, she does not write them, may not know how. She just makes a determination that with or without funds the village will assure the education of any child. When the public school says they are unteachable and tosses them out, she and Dr. Mimms reclaims them if only to prove the point that yes, they can be taught. So on February 18th Black History Month program two of the MMHS students stood in front of parents and community and recited some of the most difficult classical poetry written; The Creation and Judgement Day without paper, props or teleprompter.  These girls attended public schools where tax payers are spending $8,000 per student and having them returned to us untaught. Dr. Jewell Hollaway, stood with her students and cried as they took their applause. I surmised from her comments, it was not difficult for them to learn these poems and deliver them perfectly, what was most challenging is to teach them that that yes, my children you are brilliant.

The Village throughout has placed as the most important element of reclaiming our people is letting them know at whatever age they are that yes, you are brilliant, and worthy of being all that you can be and even more than your ancestors who despite being robbed and pillaged and used as slaves to build this great nation, left for us longevity.

The Stolen Ones and How They Were Missed by Marcia Tate Arunga places us in a place different than we were taught. We were not traded - nothing was given for us of any value, we were stolen; kidnapped. The villages where the children were stolen from put out alerts - the Amber Alert was not the first time entire nations looked for their children.

Marcia is important to the Village Movement, it is what I have learned from and with her along with what we both and so many who we work with have learned at the feet of Dr. Maxine Mimms and what we bring from our own parents and ancestors and that make the re-energizing and re-establishing of the Village possible. It is intricate yet easy because it is intuitive. People who survived what people born of African blood have survived  are graced with longevity, with genetic memories of how to create something from nothing, they are close to God because they have not had in modern times the privilege of use of even their own resources. The minerals and natural and resources of Africa have been used by Europeans for centuries in ways that establish them as some superior people, when they are not. So Marcia is telling the story to children and their parents and teachers not to make a bundle of money with a gimmick tale, but to bring truth where it is missing. She says "Had I known that I was not sold or traded, from the motherland, and that I was missed. My back as a child would have been a little straighter, I would has stood a little taller..."  It is this message to the children an allegory that tells them they are a missing generation and we are looking for and finding them.  We have an Amber Alert fully functioning.

Black Girls Rock is inspired by the need to say to each black girl that "You Rock" you are awesome in who you are, how you look and the gifts and talents you bring to the Village. During African American History Month, the Village of Hope a precursor the the Village Movement showcased Black Girls Rock in a packed SRO gathering hall at White Center Heights Elementary School. Sherrell Shell pulled it together and Monica rocked the house as she showcased the many talents of young girls and their role models. Dressed creatively in outfits made for black bodies, bodies. They did precision drill routines in a multi aged performance with the youngest at the front learning from the older girls the way that the Village around the globe has children learn the best of who they are.  And they praised god silently with only movement; the young female Mt. Zion Praise Dancers who despite the turmoil in that part of the Village, God can use a child to show faith and belief. They accepted with grace their shout out "Mt.Zion Youth Praise Dancers Rock!!"  The mantra of Black Girls Rock, because in the Village to "rock" is to be caught being your best self, to be a contributor of talent and energy and to be part of the vision and walking along the path of longevity. 

South Shore K-12 Public School where Keisha Scarlett is Principal and many of the classrooms have some of the regions best teachers with our children, the Village has determined that South Shore is a Village school and will be excellent. To that end on February 14, for the entire morning and into the afternoon, African American parents assembled to receive inspired messages. This was organized by Lisa Robbins, Anita Mwamba and Sabrena Burr with the support of many others. It takes alot to inpire parents who lost inspiration by having to sign one bad report card after another and in ways be co-conspirators in the failure of schools to teach their children.  So they need constant messages that their children were born with a gift, they have within them God given gifts that are buried by concepts and words and methods developed by adults to bring forth that which challenges them. We know that if we showcase the gifts that humans possess, their challenges which we also are born with, will be diminished.  So at South Shore once we have parents knowing the gifts and supporting intellectual skill building in their children, we will bring them out of South Shore ready to walk across the street to Rainier Beach and declare it a place of excellence. The students and parents will let them know that we reclaim our schools as primarily centers of learning for students, over being primarily employment centers for adults. We will bring balance where teachers who teach and elevated learning get to stay, where students who accept instruction rightly given have to practice and apply to life what is taught. Students are respected and respectful because parents are raising them to be successful with full intent that they will maintain longevity of the Village.

The Successful Young Women Program is the brainchild of Danna Johnston. She grew up in SE Seattle and lived a life of many lessons and learned the most important of them all contribute back what was given.  She along with my own daughter who is a produce to SE Seattle and now a Registered Nurse, and Gwen Dupree a retired public School administrator are putting in place model of how in the midst of failed instruction that has rendered Rainier Beach H. S. the lowest performing in the Seattle School District and among the lowest in the state. This is a school that produces championship Basketball teams.  The young women as they are known because they do not fight in the halls, or curse on the public transportation, or give their most precious possession away because they need to feel loved. They have a goal and a vision, they are going to a four year college.  Last year this goal was met by their graduating seniors. This is a model program for the Village, it is self financed by the Danna K. Johnston Foundation. The Seattle Foundation rejected their request for funding. So as we do in the Village we do not let the decisions of others determine the worth or work of the people of the Village.

There are so many others individuals and organized efforts occurring as we re-claim our selves and our future and longevity. We got off the path for a moment, we allowed others to define our worth and our vision, we allowed others to determine our problems and the solutions and to gather money in the name of our children without respect or regard for any but their own determination of our children as lesser beings, incapable of learning at high levels. A visit to any of the learning centers mentioned will prove differently. The ways that funds are granted make it difficult for those who are doing effective work with our children to get these funds which really belong to us. Those who determine who gets what, do not always give to those who will strengthen the Village or the people. They seem to like those ways that enable and require nothing much of anyone involved in the equation.

The Urban Academy of Life Long Learning exists through Dr. Maxine Mimms and the thousands of human lives she has touched in some direct way since the mid 1950's. She is our Chief Elder, a recognized Elder of Distinction and a model and mentor of excellence.   Life Enrichment Books, owned by Vickie Willams and Aaliya Messiah,  has become the campus for university learning; many seminars are held here.  Dr. Mimms on the third Fridays, sits and listens and applauds the greatness of African American effort and excellence. She guides our way of thinking to see the greatness within and among us as African Americans. On the occasions when others of ancestry not African join the conversations she reminds them that they are at their best when they are not invoking the privilege they have acquired, they must learn to follow, because their leadership has created what we are now experiencing in the world.  They listen but seldom return, it is hard to go from being the reference group the determining factor in all that occurs to living with true equity. So they go back and use their money to fund what often does not work.  It is an interesting concept that has existed too long. There is more than one village for African Americans in the Puget Sound region. The Village that is emerging as one of collective action, and shared dialogue, and excellence, has gained the favor of the people and respect of other clear thinking people.

The Institute for Cultural Reconnection comes from the philosophy that people of African ancestry must visit the motherland and reclaim our rightful place in the universe if we are to maintain our worth and continue as a creative people in the world. There is a privilege that Africans in America possess and that is freedom of travel around the globe that no other people of color possess. It is this gathering to travel home to Africa and centering ourselves in Kenya that has created the Institute for Cultural Reconnection. The Institute as we know it, is based on four principles that guide the reclaiming of a good and supportive culture; a natural and peaceful way of being, a way that is respectful of human dignity. The research is based on participation in the reconnection to a culture that makes natural sense, and respects the rites and rituals of that culture and knows that gender specificity brings balance and that ongoing dialogue solves problems and grows the village in dynamic ways.  The Institute is a creation for the longevity of learning and I am proud to have had bestowed upon me by the Institute of Cultural Reconnection an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy Degree.

Being a Cultural Custodian requires a respect for human dignity a way of being that assures success and the well being of the elders, and the intellectual development of our young people.  As functioning adults we bring energy and balance to who we are. We operate within the protection of the Village,  we are expected to give the best of who we are and to maintain our longevity by creating sustainable solutions to problems that naturally occur along the continuum of human development.

There will be more to report and document on the re-emergence of what has always been in place, but dormant. The Village is a natural way of being for people of African Ancestry and for the good of all humanity. The European way of being evolved out of a lack of many things which created fear and then greed. Now as we are facing a time of limited fiscal resources, many things must be re-ordered. Within the Village there is no lack of anything, because the abundance that ceases to be was never shared with us in the first place. We we are the Stolen Ones who for more than three centuries toiled to build a nation on a land stolen from the indigenous people of what is now North, South and Central America.  The history having been revised, re-written, or not taught at all, does not erase the facts nor the genetic memories and the culture passed on by the millions of mothers who gave birth to millions of humans who have been denied equity in the Americas.

Any who have been denied equity have this phenomenal way of rising up spontaneously and recreating justice in the face of injustice.  The life of J.T. Williams the ancestor of the indigenous people, a man who sustained culture through his art, was taken by one whose mother passed to him a culture of human privilege. He believed he could take a life without retribution.  But this life was taken at a time when the people are looking to themselves in the collective around the world as capable of regaining human dignity in the face of greed.

So we are part of a world movement to reclaim for our children what was stolen.  And we will continue in this vein until our purpose is restored. I thank God and three people who sustain me in my purpose; My husband, Deacon Joseph Mason who God has raised up to be a man able of supporting this woman. Dr. Maxine Mimms who I love and who loves me in ways that I can not enumerate, and Marcia Tate Arunga who challenges my thinking, and pushes me forward, so I am out of the way and she can grow and expand. Each generation must do this for the next grow out of the way.We are so pleased at the way that the Village is growing in an organic and spirit filled way. How there is room for the many and material desire diminished so that the people can flourish based on non material greed and need.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Child Prodogies

 I have studied child prodigies. You can not make a child prodigious, but you can protect them. Making them a public side show is not the best way to protect. We did not hear about Ben Carson or Barack Obama until they were grown up an able to function with normal people. John Nash (Nobel Prize winner from Bluefield WV) did not become subject for Movie A Beautiful Mind until he became public figure. His wife protected him from this for years and his parents before that.

Michael Jackson was prodigious as an entertainer.

Putting an 11 year old into college is a bad decision - what is the rush?  I was told to let my son learn how to catch a ball, or play with kids, while he was waiting for other kids to catch up a bit. He tested at high school level for reading and language when he was 6 years old. Actually could read a newspaper when he was three. He was a Muhammad Ali (got to meet him) when he was 7 years old - I believe we saved his sanity at age 13 when we bought him the first Macintosh.

Prodigies take many forms and with different and then there are really smart kids with parents who do not understand or learn much about their children's intellectual quotient. They know about and take care of their physical but not intellectual. Showing off these kids is no different to me than the parents who put pretty little girls in beauty pageants.  Intelligence can be a gift just like beauty or athleticism. 

I think these kids will not become great leaders.

Great leaders are not prodigies, but are often genius thinkers and doers. Parents play a major role in the development of genius leaders. Every genius is not a leader, in fact most are not. 

 development as young children, usually a protective role, over putting them in the public arena because they can be a bit strange. Your L'erin is a genius, she impressed me to no end when she wrote a book because she could not find a book to support her research on black men.

parents who see this in their kids at a young age, and protect them. They take circuitous routes, take risks. 

Pres. Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King, Jr.,  - Marcia Tate Arunga (she is a genius and acts just like one - she struggles to make herself  appear normal, but really does not care who agrees with her.

On Sun, May 16, 2010 at 8:55 PM, LueRachelle Brim-Atkins wrote:

Something to be proud about, you won't see this on the evening news. Pass it on
England’s Smartest Family
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 07:00 
AddThis Social Bookmark Button the "First Family of Education" in England. They are black. 
Peter and Paula Imafidon, 9-year-old twins from Waltham Forest in northeast London, are a part of the highest-achieving clan in the history of Great Britain education. The two youngest siblings are about to make British history as the youngest students to ever enter high school. They astounded veteran experts of academia when they became the youngest to ever pass the University of Cambridge’s advanced mathematics exam. That's on top of the fact they have set world records when they passed the A/AS-level math papers.
Chris Imafidon, their father, said he’s not concerned about his youngest children’s ability to adapt to secondary school despite their tender age. “We’re delighted with the progress they have made,” he said. “Because they are twins they are always able to help and support each other.”
To Peter and Paula’s parents, this is nothing new. Chris Imafidon said he and his wife have been through this before: they have other super-gifted, overachieving children.
Peter and Paula's sister, Anne-Marie, now 20, holds the world record as the youngest girl to pass the A-level computing, when she was just 13. She is now studying at arguably the most renowned medical school in the United States, Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore.
Another sister, Christina, 17, is the youngest student to ever get accepted and study at an undergraduate institution at any British university at the tender age of 11.
And Samantha, now age 12, had passed two rigorous high school-level mathematics and statistics exams at the age of 6, something that her twin siblings, Peter and Paula, also did.
Chris Imafidon migrated to London from Nigeria in West Africa over 30 years ago. And despite his children’s jaw-dropping, history-making academic achievements, he denies there is some “genius gene” in his family. Instead, he credits his children’s success to the 
Excellence in Education program for disadvantaged inner-city children. 
"Every child is a genius," he told British reporters. "Once you identify the talent of a child and put them in the environment that will nurture that talent, then the sky is the limit. Look at Tiger Woods or the Williams sisters [Venus and Serena] — they were nurtured. You can never rule anything out with them. The competition between the two of them makes them excel in anything they do."
terry shropshire