Reading came early to me, but I didn't think of the words as anything special. I don't think my stepmom thought of what she was doing as more than spending time with me in our small Harlem apartment.
But there was something missing. I needed more than the characters in the Bible to identify with, or even the characters in Arthur Miller's plays or my beloved Balzac. As I discovered who I was, a black teenager in a white-dominated world, I saw that these characters, these lives, were not mine. I didn't want to become the "black" representative, or some shining example of diversity. What I wanted, needed really, was to become an integral and valued part of the mosaic that I saw around me.
Then I read a story by James Baldwin: "Sonny's Blues." I didn't love the story, but I was lifted by it, for it took place in Harlem, and it was a story concerned with black people like those I knew. By humanizing the people who were like me, Baldwin's story also humanized me. The story gave me a permission that I didn't know I needed, the permission to write about my own landscape, my own map.
I realized that this was exactly what I wanted to do when I wrote about poor inner-city children - to make them human in the eyes of readers and, especially, in their own eyes. I need to make them feel as if they are part of America's dream, that all the rhetoric is meant for them, and that they are wanted in this country.
Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books? Where are the future white personnel managers going to get their ideas of people of color? Where are the future white loan officers and future white politicians going to get their knowledge of people of color? Where are black children going to get a sense of who they are and what they can be?
As with any other sport, bumps and bruises are a part of the business writes Eric Muhammad recently in the August 23 edition of The Final Call Newspaper. He adds, "but if you have focus and determination to be great, you can't let that deter you."
She is young, gifted and Black. Sumayyah Muhammad has proven, as noted in the Muhammad account, that she will not be easily deterred. This 8 year-old 45-pound rider has successfully demonstrated that she is able to control a 1,000-pound horse."
Even after her first fall while attempting a jump, Sumayyah has evidenced tremendous determination beyond her years. Cites the Final Call writer, "She got right back up on the horse and continued to ride and jump again."
Young Sumayyah has been riding for nearly a year and a half. She won first place in an equestrian competition after riding only for close to four months.
Equestrian in this context pertains to the skills related to horseback riding
As quoted, "riding gives Sumayyah a confidence and sense of accomplishment. Years ago, she was afraid to even get on a horse let alone ride. She seemed to love the beauty of horses," says Muhammad.
She has successfully advanced through various stages of her equestrian quest as leadline, hunter, trot, hunter jumper and high hurdles. Designed for very young children, an adult or an older child under leadline and trot ruling actually leads the horse in-hand while the child sits on the horse and holds the reins.
"Riding takes discipline, confidence and focus as well as determination," as noted in the published account. "Sumayyah has developed greatly in her confidence just from riding in such a short time."
Academically, she is a straight "A" student which will earn her scholarship opportunities.
Her mother, Lisa Borders Muhammad, has created a "gofundme" page to raise funds for Sumayyah's participation in the 2018 Junior Olympics.
At the then age of thirteen, she would be one of the youngest Black equestrians to compete.
COSEBOC's 8th annual Gathering of Leaders will convene in Jackson, Mississippi, April 23-25, 2014, followed by the White House Initiative Town Hall on Educational Excellence for African-Americans on April 25-26, 2014.
Dear Education Colleague,
The theme of this year's Gathering of Leaders is Onward and Upward! Advancing the Affirmative Development of Boys and Young Men of Color. 500 educators will convene on the campus of historic Jackson State University for learning experiences and collegiality. Join educators nationwide who share a passion for ensuring that all boys and young men of color achieve academic success. Highlights will include:
* Our traditional, extraordinary Call to Action by young men of color
* Workshops on the seven core areas of the COSEBOC Standards - Assessment, Parent/Family/Community Partnership, Curriculum and Instruction, School Environment and Climate, School Leadership, School Counseling, and School Organization
* 8 COSEBOC School Award Principals will offer workshops on their strategies that have proven effective in generating academic success in their boys and young men of color
* Special session For School Principals Only
* 'TED-like Talks' by visionary educators
* Special working session and reception for members, ensuring that the Gathering is highly productive for members and their year-round work with COSEBOC
* Awards Dinner to celebrate and learn from the FY14 COSEBOC School Award winners
* Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the City with Soul at the heart of the civil rights movement - Jackson, Mississippi
The special feature of this year's Gathering is the free opportunity to participate in a Town Hall conducted by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. This extraordinary event will take place on Friday evening and all-day Saturday.
Onward and Upward!: Advancing the Affirmative Development of Boys and Young Men of Color. This theme recognizes the historic and current efforts of good people across the nation and in Mississippi, allied with COSEBOC's intent to build a new narrative for boys and young men of color. Mark your calendars now!
Am I My Sister's Keeper?
Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring
Program Honors Women
In honor of Women's History Month, Polished Pebbles hosted a Career Panel led by all female professionals!
Girls, mentors, and professionals began by having a group discussion on the history of African American women & how they have helped shape our career paths today.
The young ladies of Polished Pebbles opened up about what they believe to be important in achieving and succeeding, such asdetermination, confidence, and support from others!
During the Career Panel, women from various professions shared their career experiences & gave advice to the young ladies of Polished Pebbles on how to make their dream careers happen.
by Dr. Amy Wax, professor in the school of law and demographer at the University of Pennsylvania, and also member of The Black Star Project
Professor Amy Wax
Amy Wax's work addresses issues in social welfare law and policy as well as the relationship of the family, the workplace, and labor markets.
By bringing to bear her training in biomedical sciences and appellate practice as well as her interest in economic analysis, Wax has developed a uniquely insightful approach to problems in her areas of expertise.
Wax has published widely in law journals, addressing liberal theory and welfare work requirements as well as the economics of federal disability laws. Current works in progress include articles on same-sex marriage, disparate impact theory and group demographics, rational choice and family structure, and the law and neuroscience of deprivation.
Her most recent book is Race, Wrongs, and Remedies: Group Justice in the 21st Century(Hoover Institution Press/Rowman & Littlefield, 2009). Wax has received the A. Leo Levin Award for Excellence in an Introductory Course and the Harvey Levin Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence.
As an Assistant to the Solicitor General in the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Wax argued 15 cases before the United States Supreme Court.
Whoever Might Have Thought That Black Fathers Don't Love, Care for and Protect their Daughters Obviously Missed the 2014 Daddy Daughter Dance!
The 2014 Black Star Project's Daddy Daughter Dance was organized and managed by Comella Sledge and Dorothy Davis. We thank the Mellow Tones Band, Alonzo Rhoden - the photographer, Antoine Collins - the D.J., Roderick Davis - the caterer, Harold Lucas and the Bronzeville Visitors Information Center and all of the volunteers who made this event a great success!
Click Here to See a Video of the 2013 Daddy Daughter Dance
Click Here to See a Video of the 2014 Daddy Daughter Dance
Freedom Is Not Free!
Why Does The Black Star Project Ask For Your Help?
Recently, several people have contacted The Black Star Project and told us that all we want is money and that we should provide services for free. Most of these people had good jobs as business people, government workers, attorneys, et cetera.
I agree with these people that helping others should not always be about money. In fact, this is what we have done with little or no money at The Black Star Project:
The Black Star Project provided free tutoring to 350 students in our 24 Saturday University Learning Centers last year. Many private tutoring companies charge about $8,000 per year per student for similar tutoring services.
The Black Star Project provided free mentoring to about 100 young Black boys and men last year through our Young Black Men Of Honor Mentoring Program.
The Black Star Project provided free support for 2,000 college-bound students last year through our Destination College Programs.
The Black Star Project provided free motivational and career sessions to more than 250,000 students in Chicago-area schools since 1996 through our Student Motivation and Mentoring Program.
The Black Star Project provided free parent education classes to about 5,000 parents in the last 10 years through our Parent University.
The Black Stat Project provided free tickets to professional and college basketball, football and baseball games, as well as circuses, zoos and museums to 700 fathers last year through our Fathers Club to help them bond with their children.
The Black Star Project organized 1 million fathers to take their children back to school in our Million Father March 2013, free.
The Black Star Project organized several hundred churches last year to "Take A Young Black Male To Worship", free.
My questions to the people who say that we should do things for free are:
1) Who is going to pay the salaries, federal, state and city taxes of employees who do the above important work?
2) Who is going to pay for the telephone bill, the gas bill, the electric bill, the security alarm bill, the copier bill, the insurance bill, the accounting bill, the supplies bill and the rent bill for spaces for our activities? These cost recur every month.
3) Who is going to pay for transporting these youth to events for their exposure and development, and feeding them when they are there?
4) In fact, who is going to pay the internet bill for this email that you are receiving right now?
We refuse to ask mostly poor Black children to pay for our services. This is why we are asking you.
Will you support our important work by signing up here to contribute only $10.00 per month to our life-changing work? And will you please ask 5 of your friends to do the same?
I do not know of any significant help that is coming from outside of our community to save our community. We must create and finance ways to save our children and ourselves. As Frederick Douglass said, "you may not get everything that you pay for, but you will surely pay for everything you get"!