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I Am Malcolm X

One of the many things that I miss about working at a school is presenting daily African-American facts during Black History Month. Not only could the students learn about all the greatness that stems from their heritage and where we came from, but I also took it personal. I saw it as my own history lesson. One thing that I did stress was that February should not be the only month to learn about our history. Instead, look at February as a time to celebrate our successes, contributions, and accomplishments and be proud of our people. So, what I plan to share is only a couple of African-American Firsts. Enjoy:)

  • Macon Bolling Allen was the first African-American to pass the bar and practice law in the United States in 1845. He was also the first black American Justice of the Peace and the first African-American licensed to practice law in the U.S.
  •  Arthur Ashe was the first African-American to win the U.S. Open (1968); to come in first in the Wimbeldon men’s singles (1975); and be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (1985). In 1963, tennis champion Arthur Ashe was the first African-American to be named to the U.S. Davis Cup team.
  • Actress Diahann Carroll won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a TV Series in 1968 for her role on the sitcom Julia. Carroll was the first African-American actress to star in her own television series where she did not play a domestic worker.
  • Politician and educator Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress. She was also the first major-party African-American candidate for President of the United States.
  • Human rights activist Clara “Mother” Hale founded the first and, at the time, the only black social services agency in America in 1975. Over the course of her life, Mother Hale received more than 370 awards for her work in the fight against AIDS and inner city drug use.
  • Robert Johnson, the owner of Black Entertainment Television (BET), became the first black billionaire in America in 2001.

Stay tuned for the next “I Am Malcolm X” segment… .

Children First

If you are not a parent, never worked with children, or have never stepped foot into someone’s classroom other than your own, you may not fully understand where I’m coming from with this. I want you to picture these four children.

Child One: An eighth grade girl who got beat with a metal baseball bat minutes before being taken to school. She wore bruises on her right arm and leg.

Child Two: A third grader who had been infected with lice several times each year but has now upgraded to fleas flying around her.

Child Three: A fifth grade student who ran away from school down a two-lane street, and then ran away from home the next morning.

Child Four: Another eighth grade student who wanted to bleach her skin in order to look pretty.

What do these girls all have in common? Lack of love and attention from home (some do have much more serious problems). You can’t really understand a child until you meet their family. These kids today are totally different from when I was growing up. Back then, a phone call home was a certified whoopin when you got home and you straightened right up. There were consequences and the teachers weren’t expected to raise their children for them.

News Flash: We’re dealing with a different breed, ladies and gentlemen. Not only are the children different, but so are the parents. We’ve past the “Babies having babies” stage. We’ve now reached the “Infants having babies” stage. Any time where twelve year olds are having children, there’s a problem. These parents are either too young or too old to be handling these children. These children have no fear. They have no trust. They have no support where they need it most; their parents. The children that I mentioned earlier are a part of true scenarios. I’ve been a School Social Worker for over seven years and I have seen many things. Things that make me jump for joy, shake my head, or even drink. If you don’t get anything out of this blog, then I want you to get this- children are meant to be loved, supported, and protected, and if you can’t provide that, then don’t have them.

Many of the issues that school professionals have to deal with are behavior problems, and many times, on top of academic problems. And what’s the underlying issue for about ninety percent of those problems- lack of attention, or shall I say appropriate or positive attention. Some examples of this type of behavior are: making noises, running away, cutting, tantrums, being overly dependent, etc. Somewhere there is a disconnect- children aren’t learning the appropriate ways to behave or to problem-solve, and often they are neglected when it comes to support, guidance, and discipline. Whether they admit or not, children need rules and structure, and if that’s missing, there’s gonna be a problem.

I feel sorry for these children who feel the need to go through drastic channels in order to spark someone’s, anyone’s, attention. And usually by the time the parents try to get a handle on the acting out behaviors, it’s too late. The children move on to getting whatever attention (positive or negative) they can get from anyone who will give it. It’s time to step up and protect our children. Hug them. Talk to them. Show them that you love them and care before it’s too late and they end up on a show like Criminal Minds. I had a student almost in tears and begging for me to talk to her earlier; “Just five minutes”. There are so many others like her who are crying out for help, verbally and nonverbally. Let’s please nourish our babies with food, love, support, and attention.