Thursday, September 12, 2019

Just a Thought

Don't know where this is going
I feel like I am knowing
But lack the ability for showing
Flow in, Flow out, I need you to know
This is not a movement, but 30 years
Building, don't know why it hit me
Just found a place to see
Wide awake, trying to not be fake
Don't take, not without mistake
My whiteness has been fabricate
By history I been told, I did not make
I took, I was young, we all were found
We all were brought down
By the history, we told command
It is to learn to unlearn, history inform
Need more work in lessons of those down
To help those, with which our crown
A white space to share abound, how
We need to listen to comprehend
Not to listen to respond
And then work to plan
The ultimate humankind

My short bars, a rap song in the making
Never to be sung, but for me in my thinking

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Got Rid of Email on My Phone Today

Watch this video first!  I look so young! hahahahah  - It is short and from 2016

I made the decision to get rid of school email on my phone today.  I know others have probably done this or never had email on their phone.  I was reminded about this by "Humble the Poet" on the Brilliant Idiots podcast a few weeks back. 

I blog to get and idea out, to rhyme through poetry, to try and make an idea concrete, and sometimes just as a time capsule for my enjoyment in retirement.  I enjoy writing now to read later when I have time to really reflect on the decisions I made.  I think this is a solid decision.  Below are the reasons why and how this is going to work.

I am currently in my 5th year, maybe 6th year as the principal at Carrie Downie Elementary School.  I came there after 7 years as an AP with no cell phone at all.  I am not perfect and have many areas of growth, but one thing I think I get right is accessibility.  I am accessible to all staff almost all the time, usually not in my office though, as I am rarely there.  You can find me other ways, text, stop by the room, hallway, email, DM, Voxer, call, etc. 

So here is the why and the how this is going to work.

  • I was riding my bike with my children 3 weeks ago and we stopped to drink some water.  I checked my email.  
  • I was at the beach this summer, kids were diving in waves, I sat in my chair and checked my email.
  • Yesterday, I stopped at a red light and checked my email.  I have done this for 5 years religiously.  Stop driving, stop walking, sitting, standing still, walking, equals "check your email."  

I am reading email 2-3 times before responding.  I hesitate to respond on my phone because I have big fingers and typing that way has never been easy for me.  I even moved to a slide keyboard on my phone and no help. 

So it was a problem.  I am solution oriented, so what to do?  I went back to what Humble advised me from Brilliant Idiots podcast.  Basically and in summary, if you erase a mode, you erase an urge and therefore make what makes most sense to you, not what you think you need.

So I grabbed my old phone.  I put email on that, it is WIFI enabled at school and home. 

I have a laptop, that obviously gets my email.

That is all I need.  I have email in WIFI only now.  I don't need to check email at the light.  I don't need to check email at water stops on bike rides on Sunday. 

If you need me that bad, I got text, I got Voxer, I got DMs, I got calling ability, I have still a half dozen ways that you can get in touch with me quickly. 

I have not had to respond to an email in minutes or even hours in many years, if ever.  And if it is that important, because of links, etc.  Text me to check my email.  I am fine with that! 

I am just breaking a bad habit and cold turkey is the way for this one. 

What this has done for me already in just 6 hours

I am scared, I am afraid I am going to go back.  I am afraid I will fall too far behind.  I am scared that come Friday, I am loading my email back on my phone.  

I have confidence that when I make changes like this, I have proven to myself in the past, that I am able to train my practice and brain to adapt to these new routines.  

I am excited for the weekend!  I will check my computer, I have my old phone, I will still see emails.  I will see emails purposefully to respond, not out of habit, because I have 3-10 seconds to check something.  I think this will make me a better communicator.  I hope.  It is not an experiment.  I am committed.  

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Motivation to Do it Again...

Been at this since 2004, 27 year old, Thanksgiving break child
First story, 8th grade, fight break up, para stop, all nostalgia normal
Now 14 years in ADMIN... 4 years taught, I admit, 5th grade thought, I would sit
Then I learned telling others, meant model, so many stories to tell...legit
That time we, the things I see, now 14 years, I finally feel I know me
No tree planted, one word, free, from my whiteness, always seemed extra gear
There is always a fear, fear relationships, will bring me near
Dear not John, the weight of another year, weighs a ton
"Say Less" my inspiration for this blog post
The single moment, most, I want to be a white ghost
Not casper, but dapper, a in your face, replace, no need for mace
Trace my map, 2016 "DAP", Hip Hop was my trap
Now I find myself loving kids, "our kids" staying tight
Been calling it that since 2004 GR, cried every night
Just an OG rhyme, think a few can learn from the time
That is all, for now, following the, as I know my
Need to learn the game to understand their why
I got a preference, it ain't mine, I know what needs to be happening
I got timing, I got referencing, I mow my grass, I did this 20 minute writing
You can white while defending, supporting, and shutting up to listen
It is your mouth, experience, and fragility on this mission white person.

Crazy, as I need 12 more years to retire. I am not leaving building admin.  I will be 26 years admin when I leave.  I may write a book then.... I may not.  No need for more "white" stories.  You may have to come talk to me about what you want to do... I choose stories... I need to listen more as you have shared with me... Working on it! I promise!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

A serious mess up

I literally just wrote a blog about a green pepper and a mole
Here are the pictures, proof, I need, as I signed in as someone else

Here is my reflection on the blog I spent all night writing and then deleted in 3 clicks by mistake, not to be recovered somehow in the world of Google, because of having multiple Google Accounts open at same time.  Trust me, I am not a new Google user.

It was two, maybe three... Thousand words
My failure, interestingly compounding
What was it, what did it say..
Basically, LIfe After Death, Poppa says...

I clicked the "refresh" button and because I had signed into another Google Account that was not this one, it did not save my time or efforts.

So you are left with the blog below, which is not really that inspiring or helpful in any sense.  It is a metacognitive approach, where I am writing for me, that worked really well for a while.  So trying again.

Then the Google photo paused my move, so I promptly
Figured out who I was to me, the guy that was gonna succeed
Click, pause, spin, wait, delete sure, don't need that page
Can't connect, last hours typing, creating, simply freeing

Imagine everything you say or type disappear
Contagious would be, wishing for days of Dear,
But wait, this is the moment, the day, the state of
Union, agreement Founding Fathers, Not so near

Here it is the moment of my life, emoji free
White people take it too seriousleeeee
Felt like tonight was my end, wrote, now made
Just another example of my balding head and Fragiliteeeee.

Earmuff music that I wrote too -

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

To Be Reflective Is To Be Effective

So I sat there at 1:00pm and watched a high school drum line.  I have seen many drum lines, I was very impressed, they were good.  Then there was this guy... white shirt, baggy pant, knots in his hair like Coolio for me.  He @docspeaks on twitter, American flag book bag, thought he was the drum line "hype" man.  Then thought something more as he continued to walk around the crowd, doing his thing.

I was called out in my head, I started to think about what he was doing.  I fell to his experiment, I think of myself as someone that understands my bias, I had bias against him before he spoke.... He "got me" so good, not like he understood me, but he got me feeling a certain white way about him.  He achieved with me, I think what he wanted.  I applied my bias to him. I really did, I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit this... 

He then went on to explain in a way that helped me to understand, laugh, and realize, I still have bias.  I still need to work on my filter, #realtalk. I was affected physically and emotionally in a way that no speaker has ever made me feel.  My hands were wet with tears as I continued to clear my eyes.    

So thank you Dr. Brown, thank you for making me cry in laughter, but also in sorrow, all while realizing that you did this for me, to be better.  To be as you said, "nice is reactive, kindness is proactive". 

I can not do justice with these typed words of what this experience meant to me, but it was #cleartheair to a different level.  I got caught, I got called out, I got in my #whiteness.  

I am better now than I was this morning thanks to you! 

He came on the stage as one person and left another, I need to make sure I recognize both Dr. Brown's. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

My 4.5 year journey with this class

I wrote you all a poem, have not written one in a while, but felt the need to express this in a certain style.

Many of you were 1st graders when I started this principal journey
Many of you I met this year, #cddolphins are for real

Proud is not enough exaggeration of who we send off
All your teachers prepared you for whatever is next
I did Middle School 7 years as an admin, here is my talk
Keep it simple, keep the drama out, don’t respond to every text

I want to see you all at graduation, your passions and Colonial nation.
Find what you love, invest your time in that
Do the work to devote, moment after moment

You are all exceptional to me, who you have become
You are athletes, artists, gamers, academics, readers.
In my eyes, you all have already won.

So we send you off in this celebration
Not the end, send you off with no limitation
Take it, find your dedication, devotion, your
Wake up every day learning motivation

Remember feelings from being a dolphin
All your teachers, from this year to Kindergarten
Wanted the best for you to achieve in the end
This game is halftime, you got 7 more minimum

So look to your family, your friends, thank them
Be the one that is kind first, and hugs a lot
Be the one that is okay to cry for those that have not

Beyond all, make sure to come back, give me a five, no give me a ten.

My people below.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Journey to realize

I am kinda tired of the word journey, especially as it relates to your bias and your thoughts about racism.  It is however probably the best word currently to describe the path I am on in life and my own racism/bias.

I did not realize I was on a journey until it became more of a mission.  This happened just a few short years ago.  I don't remember the day, the time, the moment.  I do remember being scared to speak out, scared to questioning my white friends, my white colleagues at work.  I did not make it clear where I stood as it relates to race.  I heard a racist joke and made a sort of attempt at a laugh, although I felt it was not funny.  I listened to colleagues, friends, and family members say things about "them" and just sort of nodded my head, avoiding conflict.  That was me, that is where I would say 99% of white people are/or have been.  No research to back up that, just a gut feeling.

I don't know how or where I learned to check my bias.  I don't know how or where I began to make sure I did not say racist things.  I was never taught not to be a racist, I was never taught anything about race or how to think of other races.  I saw things, I experienced things, but I was never asked how I felt, or given the opportunity to ask questions growing up.  I regret this, but this is my white privilege.

I have had experiences in life and friends in life that have shown me and guided me in a direction against being a racist, but for 30+ years of my life I would consider myself a non-racist.  I am currently 41 years old.  A non-racist person to me is someone who understands their biases, makes attempts to treat everyone kindly, but when push comes to shove, does not say anything against racism in most situations, unless it is impacting someone they care about.

I remember the first time I said something to a white friend about their racist remarks.  It was in high school, they were talking about one of my basketball teammates.  I had to stand up, my white friend did not get it, as I knew my teammate and black friend's story.  I immediately did not associate with that white friend again on the same level ever.  It was awkward.  When we were in the same spaces I saw him differently, and I think he saw me differently too, although we never spoke about it.  Fast forward 25 more years, and I don't know that I said anything to any other white person about racism until about 4-5 years ago.  Why not....?  I think I was scared... That is not okay.

I ask myself why?  In 25ish years, I am sure there were jokes, I am sure there were comments.  I am sure there were feelings I wanted to share.  I don't like to admit I was scared, I know it takes courage to speak up, but that has never been my problem, at least I thought.  I think I just settled in my privilege of not having to say anything.  I could always "move on" as it really never affected me.  Keep it safe, stay in my lane, others would do that work, I did not have to.  Besides I was a teacher, an admin, working with children of color.  I was doing to work, did I have to speak up too?!  I compared myself to the accountant friend that literally did nothing of this work, who work with white people and numbers all day.

There was always a feeling, many feelings, there was always a "I am in this position for a reason.  I chose this, now what am I doing with it" other than my day to day job... 

So I want this writing to give permission to white people, especially white males in power positions to be able to say something.  At the same time I want to admit that for the majority of my life, I did not say anything.  I am not going to call myself a coward, but probably should, although I know a little of my white fragility played a role in that.  As I stated earlier, I really don't know what it was that prevented me from me from speaking up.  If I had to settle on 1 word to describe my cowardliness it would be comfortI am comfortable being white, and I did not want to lose that. 

I never thought of myself as white before.
I never defined myself as white.
I never recognized what I got because I was white.
I never realized being white, starts you half-way through the race of life.
I always thought I had to work hard.
I always thought I had a struggle.
I always thought my accomplishments were earned by my efforts.
I always thought my accomplishments and successes were earned on the time spent.

I still think that, I still know I performed when I needed, because of the struggle and intention I put in, but I now also recognize I am white.  That was the single most changing event in my journey.  I am white, I am not ashamed of it, I do not apologize for it, but I am white.

What do I do with my "whiteness"? 

That is now the question that drives me? That is now what I say to myself when I hear a comment.  I literally say this in my head, because it is not instinct yet, 

"what can my whiteness do to speak up, correct, or change the course of this event?"  

I have said things in public, I have said things with friends, I have spoken to colleagues, I am developing a Spiderman sense of my surroundings so that I can use my whiteness to interject.  I think people of color have always had this power.  They know when the comment, the look, the attitude was just not right.  I HAVE ALSO ALWAYS KNOWN IT, but I never activated it until recently.  

It is definitely activated, running, and certainly liberating.

So here is the next part white people.  Turn on your sensor, make sure you are aware of your surroundings and then ask questions.  

Why do you feel that way?
What do you mean by that?
Why do you think _____ is ____?

Then you need to be prepared.... So here is the work.  Here is a clip to watch and some books to read.  Because you need to have talking points, if you are going to ask questions. 

In particular, go to minute 22, and listen. Wait for it, research, data, census, by minute 27, you get it.  4 minutes to change your outlook.  There are millions of other examples, literally millions. 

I think at this point, you are ready, and needed in this work.  

People of color can't do the work for white people.  People of color are there to guide us, help us, and answer our questions.  This is our work. 

This is not something to do, but something we have to be.  We have to be a society that does this work.  It is generational and has to be repeated over and over.  I don't believe we are ever going to not have racism, but we can move to a place where we have less racism and working every day to have less and less.  

I finish with this.  Certainly take it and use it.  But there are 5 main points I want to make sure are understood.
  1. Understand your "whiteness" it is okay to admit what this means to you.  Accept it and don't be afraid to ask questions because you think you are going to be called a racist.
  2. Do some research and reading about the history of race in our country.
  3. Say something, be ready to lose friends, but it is so liberating, it was for me.  I have never felt so alive and true to myself as I do now with my Spider sense on high alert.
  4. Give yourself some forgiveness.  There will be and are still moments for me where I regret not speaking up, but get them next time.
  5. I still say racially insensitive things.  I still say a chauvinistic thing here and there.  I am still human.  I just need to be ready to be called out as well, as intentions are important.  
You are educators, we have to do this, this is not a choice.  Please join me.