From the editor
People of Color and others in the diaspora must take an active role in the education and health of family and community. Storytelling is a way of helping us to understand one another and the effects that environment can have on our development. We explore these issues and more in the GEDER WRITES newsletter. Enjoy and please comment to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace & Blessings!
George Geder, Founder & Editorial Director.
1. Write a thank you note or letter.
My grandmother always said, “Give people their flowers now; they can’t enjoy them when they are gone.” It is important to let teachers know the impact they have made. Teachers are walking away from the profession daily. Your letter could be the motivation for them to stay. I keep a folder of letters I have received over the years near my desk. It is always nice to read them to get me through a tough day.
2. Make a homemade gift.
It’s not about how much a gift cost that matters. What’s most important is you taking the time to make something just for your teacher.
3. Support their classrooms.
Teachers buy many items out of their own pocket to support students’ learning. If you can donate your time or resources to support learning, it would make a teacher’s day.
Don’t wait until Teacher Appreciation Week or a holiday to thank a teacher. Your support helps keep good educators in the classroom, but it also allows you to witness and be part of the academic and social growth and development of your child or children in your community. Remember, the absolutely best way you can thank teachers is to show them love and give your support year-round.
Doctors believe sarcoidosis results from the body's immune system responding to an unknown substance, most likely something inhaled in the air. While there is no cure for sarcoidosis, most people do very well with little or only modest treatment. In half of cases, sarcoidosis goes away on it's own. In a few cases
however, sarcoidosis may last for years and may cause organ damage.
Signs and symptoms vary depending on which organs are affected. Sarcoidosis sometimes develops gradually and produces symptoms that last for years. Other times, like in my own personal diagnoses, symptoms appear
suddenly and then disappear just as quickly. I remember my experience very well. I remember getting a very dry hard cough that lasted for over 2 weeks.
I had thought that I had contracted pneumonia. I'm usually pretty good at shaking colds, especially since I don't catch colds often. But I couldn't shake this, so on the advise of my co-workers, who knew something wasn't
quite right, I trekked to the doctors office. They took the necessary tests and low and behold they were complexed. I was like bugs bunny...Ahh what's up Doc? The doctor says; "well, we think you have sarcoidosis but we're not
sure, and we want to look at your lymph nodes in your neck to see if the condition is not cancerous."
was like WHAT? I believe I was in my mid 20's.
After the operation it was determined that the nodes were not cancerous but the condition sarcoidosis was apparent. So I asked how and why? Since this condition at that time were reported among Mediterranean people for the most part, and I wasn't Italian or from that part of the world. Well, after taking steroids for a week I was a lot better and haven't had a relapse since.
For many people, sarcoidosis begins with these symptoms:
There really isn't to much to talk about as far as treatment, since there really isn't a cure as we know it. But there are certain Meds to help.
This information was obtained from the mayoclinic.org/diseases.
Til next time....G
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
Growing up I attended two churches on alternate Sundays. The other was the ‘Negro Baptist church’ where my father was the piano and organ player. The sermons were long and the benches were hard on the behind. Saving grace came afterwards when the feast of fried chicken, potato salad, pies and cupcakes were served to the congregation. I have no other memories of this church.
At the Episcopal church the sermons were 50 minutes max. The seats had cushions and the prayer books were in mint condition. The stained-glass windows had Jesus staring at you from every angle. Christ church had a massive pipe organ and I never saw the player. Kinda like the Wizard of Oz. If God wasn’t in the building, you felt he was nearby.
I remember seeing a photo of me, as a toddler, in a nativity scene at this church. My confirmation was here as well as our family weddings and funerals. I was told by one of my sisters that our Ancestors once had a section of the front pews with our family name tagged. This was our primary go-to church in Binghamton, New York.
Father Dorst congratulated me on attending college. I apologized for not attending services lately (actually for a few years).
Returning to the bus stop I noticed the temperature dropping and looking back at the steeple, I saw the clouds coming into the valley and realized what my pastor had done.
From the editor
We are pleased with our steady growth at GWMP. The feedback that we have received suggests that the long-form article is preferred.. Our readers get the opportunity to know and engage 9via comments) with our writers.
We write for everyone with an emphasis on the multi-cultural, LGBTQ, and disability diaspora. We want to represent and give voice to under-represented communities as well as informing and educating folks on a variety of issues and concerns.
We are always looking for writers who are knowledgeable thought leaders in their specialties. Our email newsletter is published on the second and fourth Sundays of the month and we also post to Facebook.
If you are interested in contributing or subscribing to our newsletter, please contact us at email@example.com. Thank you!
Peace & Blessings
George Geder, founder & editorial director.
GEDER WRITES MEDIA GROUP
Guided by the Ancestors
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From The Editor
People of Color and others in the diaspora must take an active role in the education and health of family and community. Storytelling is a way of helping us to understand one another and the effects that environment can have on our development. We explore these issues in this issue of the GEDER WRITES newsletter. Enjoy and please comment to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace & Blessings!
George Geder, Founder & Editorial Director.
Partnering with Your Child’s Teacher to Expand Your Child’s Educational Experiences
by Shawnta S. Barnes
A child’s first teacher is his or her parents. As an educator, I view parents as partners in helping their child become a well-rounded person who will grow up and become a productive citizen local and/or globally. For this to happen, it is important for children to also learn from their parents and have their support inside and outside of the classroom.
Good educators make efforts to ensure they are responding to the needs of all students by teaching culturally responsive lessons. Even the best educator cannot cover nor provide all of the experiences your child may need to become the best version of him or herself. Below, I have outlined three possible ways you can partner with your child’s teacher.
Talk to your child’s teacher about the curriculum
It is important as a parent to know what topics, themes, and subject areas will be taught during the school year. For example, I have worked in a school where administration decided to cut science and social studies to improve reading and math. If all subject areas are important to you and you don’t have conversations with the school, you won’t be able to advocate for your child.
Schools typically have a scope and sequence where they have mapped out the curriculum. If there is an area that is missing inquire about it and brainstorm with your child’s teacher ways he or she could incorporate it.
Volunteer/observe in the classroom
My twin boys are in kindergarten and I have observed their preschool classes and their kindergarten classes. As a parent, observing your child in class is your right, but it is important to know your school’s policy. When I have observed my children, I show up unannounced, but I have to check-in at the front office. In the school where I currently work, parents cannot show-up unannounced; they must notify the teacher in advance.
Observation allows you to get of feel of the culture and climate in the classroom and how your child is or is not adjusting. If your child seems to be having difficulty then you will have a basis for discussion because you have viewed this also.
Teachers love volunteers and parents can be a good resource. Sometimes children need to hear information from a different voice. Also, you may have experiences that are helpful to the class. My father fought in the Vietnam War. When I was studying it in middle school, my father provided information about his experiences during this war.
Visit local, national, or global locations
Many times having a hands-on experience or a field trip is not an option due the curriculum constraints or the school’s budget. There is no reason your child cannot continue to learn about a topic he or she learned in class or a topic of interest that was not covered in class.
Living within my means is important to me especially knowing that one day in the future I will have two children entering college at the same time. To stay informed about local activities, I sign-up for electronic mailing lists. Many cities offer educational activities free of charge throughout the year. My boys have attended an International festival, participated in STEM activities, and visited many museums. Some museums, like the Smithsonian museums are free and some museums have free or discounted days.
During spring break this year, we went to Washington D.C. In school, my boys had learned about Martin Luther King Jr. They also learned there was a monument in honor of him in D.C. During our trip, we were able to take them to the monument and talk to them about his many achievements from our point of view. We also informed their teachers about the trip which gave my sons the opportunity to share their experiences with their classmates.
Yes, if you send your child to school, the school should have a good plan in place to help your child learn, but the burden should not be carried by the school alone. If your child observes you being engaged in his or her education and partnering with his or her teacher, it will help your child take school more seriously and know how important obtaining a good education is.
Borders, Fences & Boundaries
by George Geder
My first fence was the one around my crib. Plenty to look at, not much ground to cover. Beyond the crib, the boundaries became the stairs and kitchen where fences kept me corralled.
The playground and schoolyard had really tall fences. The ‘Negro section’ of Binghamton, New York was in the center of town and had a border you couldn’t see but everyone knew where it was.
In 1956, we moved to the south side of town. I was five years old and the only borders I saw were the ones made by nature. Creek, canyon, wild orchard, tall pines, river.
In the creek we caught minnows and pollywogs. One had to look upstream in case some kid was peeing in the stream, as that was not the time to take a sip. We would pick the berries, apples, pears and rhubarb from the wild orchard.
By 1960, I was one of the big kids and had the responsibility of looking after the little ones. Aaron, the showoff, would run ahead to climb the lone tree at the top of the canyon. Sandra’s face would become purple from all of the blueberries and blackberries that didn’t make it to her basket. Jeffrey and Philip were engaged in a crab-apple war. I was gathering rhubarb and pears. The July mid-day heat reminded me to make sure that everyone drank some water and ate their lunches. I would tell them to watch out for snakes and poison ivy.
When I called out to Aaron, I expected him to climb down - not drop like a rock from the third highest branch. His arm was in a cast for the rest of the summer. The rest of the kids only suffered minor scratches, stomachaches, bee stings or pinches from baby crabs in the creek.
On most occasions I was the only Black kid. I learned these outdoor skills from a Polish kid who was older than me and my next door neighbor. He had a Boy’s Scout manual that he read and treated like a bible.
During my fifth grade school year, I would go to the wild orchard, alone, and run along the paths. I was free. In this wide open space that went on forever (and into Pennsylvania), the wind would try to catch me, but I was too fast. I would beat it to the tall pines every time.
I would start at the last street, then down the embankment to Felter’s Creek, hopping on the wet slippery stones to the other side, dashing past the spooky abandoned barn, around the rim of the canyon, slap the lone tree, through the rhubarb, stop for raspberries, flash past the apple and pear trees, up the hill to the tall pines and on to the final landmark; a part of a stonewall with a chiseled inscription; ‘1843’. On this particular day, I was running at top speed and the ground became soft and mushy. I began to lose traction and my balance and I couldn’t see the stonewall. I continued to slip, and decided not to fight gravity and just fall.
I looked up. Instead of seeing ‘1843’, I read a sign. ‘Keep Out, Private Property, Site of The New Orchard Park Homes, Coming Soon’. The ground had been made soft by bulldozers.
This new boundary or border contracted my once expanding universe. I was forced to make a retreat. In short order the tall pines, wild orchard and canyons were gone. The creek was converted into an underground tunnel emptying into the Susquehanna river. I had to make a retreat to the concrete sidewalks and asphalt playgrounds reminiscent of the ‘Negro section’. Back to fences, boundaries and borders.
Health is Wealth: 5 Deadly Health Issues for African Americans -
Blacks face alarming differences compared to all other racial and ethnic groups.
April is National Minority Health Month and is as good a time as any to begin a conversation that matters.
This week's article is from Black Enterprise Magazine posted April 17, 2015, by Kandia Johnson. Your comments will be appreciated
Til next time
The Use of Dr. Seuss Text -
Should his racist cartoons stop us from using his literature?
This year marks the 20th year of the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day. This event is celebrated in many schools across America on March 2nd on Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Some schools, like my son's’ school, celebrated Read Across America during the whole week surrounding Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The school, where I am the literacy coach, had a big family event to celebrate; it is one of our highest attended school events each year.
During a professional learning community (PLC), a meeting where educators collaborate to improve students’ academic performance, I was asked by a teacher, “Should we even celebrate this? Wasn’t he racist?” Another teacher replied, “What are you talking about? I love Dr. Seuss. We can’t stop using his books.”
Before Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, became a beloved author by children and adults, he drew racist cartoons during World War II depicting Japanese citizens negatively which promoted propaganda about them. He also drew stereotypical cartoons of African Americans depicting them as savages.
What should we do? Isn’t his children’s books great? As a parent, I read Dr. Seuss’ stories to my children and his stories were some of their favorites. As an educator, I have used his books during my lessons when I was teaching middle school. (Yes, middle school students can benefit from picture books.) As an adjunct instructor IU School of Education at IUPUI, I have my students read The Butter Battle Book to learn how they can use this text with both elementary and secondary students when they are teaching about war. In the article, “Children’s literature expert discusses the enduring value of ‘Dr. Seuss”, Ann Neely, associate professor of education at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development, shared; “This readability is a key part of the enduring power of Dr. Seuss literature. Children can read Dr. Seuss books many, many times without tiring of the rhythms, the plots or the art. The moral lessons in Dr. Seuss stories also contribute to the learning experiences for older children.”
Why does it have to be use his text and ignore the racist cartoons or don’t use his text because of the racist cartoons? Parent Steve Wong who is the curator at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles and an adjunct professor at Pasadena City College shared in “Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons” that even though his wife Leslie and he read Dr. Seuss books to their children, they also taught them about “Dr. Seuss’ racist cartoons having a role in swaying public opinion.” This led to Wong’s children sharing this information with their classmates. I agree with Mr. Wong, it should not be an either/or but both. It provides students with a culturally responsive education. We also have to keep in mind when it is developmentally appropriate to talk to children about Dr. Seuss’ racist cartoons. My twins sons are six and now is not the time to have this conversation, but when they are older, I will discuss the cartoons with them.
The key to fostering a love of reading in a child is to engage him or her in text and the bottom line is Dr. Seuss’ books are engaging and memorable. The rhyming and patterns help children when they are learning to read. There is no need to hide Dr. Seuss’ earlier cartoons; it provides an opportunity for a teachable moment when the time is right. It’s an opportunity to share that we all have flaws. It is an opportunity to discuss if a person can change and stop being racist. These are important conversations to have with children. Many researchers have shared that they believe Seuss tried to make up for his early cartoons with the lessons in his later books. Unfortunately, he is not here for us to ask him, so we all have to make that judgment for ourselves. _Shawnta S. Barnes
An event can change the trajectory of a branch on a family tree.
Willa Lenard, a schoolteacher marries Jack Hancock, a sharecropper. They make a family in Williston, South Carolina. Their oldest daughter, my Aunt Sayde, gets thrown in a holding cell for the crime of looking at a dress in a ‘for whites only’ store window. Her father and uncles had to shoot her way out of captivity. Their oldest son, my Uncle Robert, strikes his schoolteacher, a white man, rendering him unconscious. For this, he had to leave Williston immediately lest he is lynched.
Uncle Robert makes it to Buffalo, New York and subsequently paves the way for his immediate family to leave sharecropping and the Jim Crow south. Grandma Willa’s youngest daughter Pearle, my mother, would leave Williston at age 11 and never look back. This forced migration would change the trajectory and dynamics of this branch of the family forever.
New York would also disrupt family patterns. Grandpa Jack would find it hard to find work in the industrial North of the 1920s. He would go back down South to try his luck in the burgeoning housing boom in Florida. He went alone. He would perish in the hurricane made famous in Zora Neale Hurston’s book; ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’. Grandma Willa would never again find a teaching job; she would become a maid for white folks in Rochester, New York.
Jack and Willa’s children would adjust and adopt the ways of Northern Blacks, thus, estranging them from their South Carolina family. My mother would tell me nothing about her aunties, uncles, and cousins. It wasn’t until I wrote my namesake, Uncle George Hancock, in 2003 that I learned that I had relatives in South Carolina.
I find it interesting that branches on a family tree can have differing world views based on migration and geography.
Racism May Speed Aging in African American Men
I came across an interesting article in Forbes Magazine written by Melanie Haiken.
Racism May Speed Aging in African American Men
Melanie has submitted many articles to different periodicals and offers her unique perspective on how to take information on health, nutrition, and travel and translate into helpful tips and insights.
This is my take on her article.
Are you familiar with the term telomeres? Don't feel bad; I hadn't either until now.Telomeres are the DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes that are considered biomarkers for biological aging. The shorter the telomeres the more likely of premature death. As I research material involving health and Afro-Americans, I noticed the sampling size is always small numbers. In this instance, the sampling size was 92 men who took surveys. As a group, Afro- Americans are not getting involved in these studies on a whole. I really can't explain why this is. It's been suggested that we as a group are not interested in these studies that we are afraid of the process, that we are more interest in home remedies than even going to a doctor.
We as a group need to get more involved but how is that accomplished? As an older Afro-American man, I have never been asked or approached to get involved in any study. Stress brought on by racism is a killer...Enjoy the article and tell me what you think. Till next time...
_George Archie, Jr.
Last week we ended by remarking; "what happened" when we think about history in general.
When it comes to family history and genealogy research you have to ask three foundational questions.
Who Said It?
Typically, the one most curious becomes the family historian or genealogist and it starts with; "Mom, where were you born?"
So, on your own research log and in your notes, always write down who told you what. This will prove essential as you proceed. In my case, my parents died before I got interested in genealogy. My mother told me she was born in Williston, South Carolina.
When Did They Say It?
My mother, Pearle Hancock-Geder, told me this when I was in the fifth grade. She didn't tell me anything else. Nothing. Technically, this is not enough. I need supporting documents.
How Did They Know?
Well, she's my Mom. However, when you start going back in time, it is important to consider the validity of the information you gather. Official records are usually reliable, but it is the wise genealogist who double-checks and cross-references.
I must give credit to genealogist Beth Wilson for the three questions. Following her suggestion will save you some time and reduce potential errors and misdirections.
Peace & Blessings,
“Guided by the Ancestors”
Your Health, History and Sankofa
Masquerade & Mysteries of Mental Health
Unmasking fears, myths, and stigmas about mental illness and psychotherapy.
The stigma of mental health has a long history of negative beliefs and perceptions within the African American community. And with good reason! The ongoing epidemic of race-based attacks and systemic oppression comes from a history of being enslaved and oppressed, which still exists in some form today. Psychotherapy teaches about the effects of repressed anger and intergenerational patterns of behavior. Perhaps it’s time to openly examine how our history of racism affects the mental health of many generations of African Americans. How did Black Americans become so disenchanted or fearful of mental health? Why is it so hard to believe in the power of psychotherapy? Would mental health treatment be beneficial to African Americans struggling with distress from an unknown origin?
The psychological concept of low self-esteem equals feeling less than, which equals poor mental health, which equals poor quality of life. Depression is not a normal state of being. It is a sign that something is out of kilter.
The new emphasis of trauma provides a new lens for developing more research into the impact of slavery that is continuing to affect black mental health today.
Social Worker and educator, Alma Carten wrote about slavery and its legacy. In her 2015 article, How Legacy of Slavery Affects the Mental Health of Black Americans Today, she stated that “Since slavery, the church has been a formidable force for the survival of blacks to grapple with the residual effects of white supremacy.” This has caused many of us to not believe in the value of Eurocentric psychotherapy methods to help us obtain mental well-being. Carten also stated that “the mental health impact of forgiving acts of white racism and repressing justifiable feelings of anger and outrage...” may have caused many African Americans to reject the notion experiencing any mental health problems, which creates an inability to express hidden emotions.
There has been a black psychology movement since the early 1920s. Dr. Francis Cecil Sumner (1895-1954) is known as the “Father of Black Psychology.” Dr. Sumner was the first to receive a doctorate in psychology in 1920 and studied Eurocentric versus Afrocentric psychology. The black psychology movement came into prominence in the 1960’s coinciding with the civil rights movement. From this movement came the Afrocentric model of psychology. The definition of black psychology states that psychological study of human being concepts through the lens of African American perspective about thoughts, behaviors, feelings and beliefs, and attitudes.
1954 was a pivotal year with the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Brown sought to dismantle the nation’s legally sanctioned segregation in public schools. This case was the first to use psychological data. The Brown decision came at the beginning of the civil rights era. The Association of Black Psychologists was founded in 1968 in response to the American Psychological Association‘s (APA) lack of interest in the study of African American psychology. In 1974, the first official Journal of Black Psychology was published.
Other notable contemporary black psychologists have contributed to today’s APA studies. Continuing today is the works of Beverly Daniel Tatum (1954-present) who studied race relations. Dr. Daniel Tatum wrote a book Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? It covers the development of racial identity, which is essential to the development of children. This reminded me of my own experience growing up and working in a predominantly non-black environment first in catholic school in the 1950s and later working in law firms. If I and my black co-workers sat together for lunch, inevitably someone would say “Why do you people all sit together?” And most disturbing was when another black person would say “I’m not sitting there because it’s too many of us at the table.” The 1960s-racist thinking was that if two or more black people are standing together talking, they must be plotting some militant uprising.
Repressed anger is our legacy.
Anger is a natural emotion, which is neither good nor bad. It is often a large part of a survivor's response to trauma. Anger is also a common response to events that seem unfair or if perceived to be made a victim. Repressed anger is a devastating and destructive state of being for the human mind. It is a defense mechanism to help deal with traumatic thoughts or events. Some symptoms of repressed anger may include workaholicsim, chronic mild depression, sarcasm, overly sensitive to rejection or slights, and muscle tensions.
Carten discussed that the black experience in America uses forgiveness and grace as hallmarks of the black church. Survival of slavery from the oppressions of white supremacy has taken a serious devastating psychic toll on acts of forgiveness. She cited two other authors, Terrie M. Williams a clinical social worker and Joy DeGruy a Portland State University researcher and scholar.
Ms. Williams who wrote about Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting. She interviewed black people from all walks of life to illustrate the higher toll of hiding the pain associated with black experience on mental health. “Experiencing trauma and suppressing anger drives deep into the unconscious mind and becomes contaminated by unresolved pain life of problems.”
Dr. DeGruy developed a psychological disorder specific to African Americans called Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome (PTSS) as a theory explaining the effects of unresolved trauma on the behavior of Black people transmitted down from generation to generation. It is a sub-category of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). New research is finding that this intergenerational pattern of behavior in our DNA make-up.
Carten’s article further stated that “Slavery being incongruent with the so-called democratic ideals on which America was founded.” Therefore, it was easier for slave owners to pretend that we were inferior so as not to be responsible for changing their oppressive behavior. Yes, we all know that slavery was for greedy monetary economic reasons. This doesn’t negate the fact that African slaves were human beings with human biological and psychological aspects. Yes, we do feel sad, hopeless, and possibly worthless as would any human being under those harsh circumstances. Carten goes on to say that “To deny this fact has caused blocked anger, which if goes unchecked creates hidden contamination by which mental illness is manifested into negative self-hate and violence towards self and others.”
Repressed anger management can be treated through psychotherapy.
In anger management treatment, problems with arousal, behavior, and beliefs are all addressed in different ways. Release repressed anger by screaming! Anger gets stored in our gut, chest, and throat. It can be released through the voice. So, a loud primal scream releases the pent-up emotions that have been stored in the body.
I’m not that old, but I have lived long enough to see the impact of the legacy of slavery on my elders, myself, family, and friends as well as the black community. I’ve come to believe in the power of mental health wellness.
Psychotherapy has its value because it promotes quality of life. Mental health treatment can be beneficial to African Americans to help sort out confusing feelings about growing up in America post-slavery. The body remembers what the mind forgets. The act of opening-up to an empathic listener creates a liberating process whereby the body learns how to release pent-up toxicity, which restores it to equilibrium. The upshot is that the impact of living with repressed anger is harmful.
Lamberton Genealogy Project - Self Esteem via Family History
The year was 2007. My wife, Cynthia, and I flew from Santa Fe to present and speak to the students of Robert E. Lamberton Elementary school of Philadelphia, PA. about ancestry. The school year was declared ‘Family History & Genealogy Year’.
We showed the kids the PBS program 'History Detectives' that featured my 2nd great-grandfather John Stevenson, an African-American Civil War soldier and veteran. Then we gave a PowerPoint presentation of my ancestors, telling stories and explaining genealogical research along the way.
In the dimly-lit auditorium with uncomfortable wood chairs, we had a delightful and illuminating conversation with the students and their parents. I told them a story of how, as a youngster, my mother and I had a similar situation on a bus as Rosa Parks. We could see the lightbulbs turn on; students and parents visualizing personal event in their respective lives that had the same familiarity. After two days, Cynthia and I returned home.
For the next six months, the students had genealogy projects to develop. In order to graduate from middle school to high school, they had to create a family history presentation.
And create they did! Booklets, posters, computer discs, oral histories on audio tape, and even a dance interpretation of three generations of women in one family.
I returned to the school in May 2008 to witness and judge a collection of genealogical treasures that just blew me away. I could tell that many of the students had help from their older siblings, parents, and relatives. No points were taken off for that. In fact, that was the big 'Gotcha' moment. The whole family got together on a genealogical project.
The top ten students had to present to me. There was the typical talking too fast, too low, not facing the audience, stumbling, and fumbling expected from middle school learners. However, there was something else. Discovery, pride, elevated self-esteem, and an awareness and upliftedness that comes from learning and knowing your family history and ancestry.
One student learned that there were skilled tradesmen on his father's side and college graduates on his mother's side. Another student had prominent ancestors from Haiti. Others had world-class boxers, jockeys and footballers to point to. Another could trace his ancestors back to the 1700s. All the students couldn't wait to tell me what they found out about their families.
We digressed a lot, talking about hippies, yuppies, Black Panthers and all kinds of things. We were freestyling, riffing, rapping, and ‘getting down with it’. We had big fun.
The bell rang. We all were taken out of our rapture and reminded that the students had to go to their next class. The security team was patrolling the hallways. Potential harassment and dangers awaited the students as they traversed unsafe corridors. This was an elementary school and even I didn’t want to leave the relative comfort (safety) of this classroom.
One of the security personnel drove me between the school and the hotel. He explained to me what a tough job he and the teachers had in keeping the children safe and providing an education at the same time. Their saving grace came in the form of their progressive and dedicated principal, Marla Travis Jones.
It was Mrs. Jones, inspired by the PBS program, who figured that one way to make a difference in her students' lives was to shine a light on their family histories and have the reflections be part of their academic well-being.
And they got it; the students, parents, and teachers! Mrs. Feracco, an eight-grade teacher with a passion for genealogy who assisted the students throughout the year, was surprised and proud of the students' efforts and parental participations. I was more than appreciative of her help in narrowing down the field to the top ten projects.
Getting people, young and old, to see their lives in the context of family history and its connection to world events is what I do. It is one thing to teach children lessons around historical persons and events such as those involving Crispus Attucks, Federick Douglass, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr. But until you place them in the context of the child’s family history, it is abstract and worst, boring and irrelevant in their young minds. It is cool for children to revere the charismatic Muhammad Ali; but it is another thing to know that your classmate has a world-class champion boxer uncle who faced similar challenges, making Ali’s story all the more relevant.
There is a word; Sankofa.
Sankofa is an African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana. The literal translation of the word and the symbol is, ‘it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind’. After the word made its way to the United States, African-American scholars coin the term to mean “remembering our past, to protect our future” within the African-American culture.
‘Go back and get what was taken’ is another interpretation. I like this one.
Our Ancestors left breadcrumbs and signposts in the language, music, and arts to help us go back and get what was taken from us. By discovering and learning their family history, the students of Lamberton Elementary school were doing just that. Black History Month, Kwanzaa, Juneteenth, the Black Lives Matter movement, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues; are all vehicles designed to get us to go back and get what was taken from us.
Our students need culture. They need family history. They need reminders and remembrances of the past that are true and honest. They need parents, community leaders, and elders to show them the past; the deep, real past, so they can make informed decisions on how they are going to preserve and advance their culture. They need to compare and contrast world history with their family history, applying critical thinking in order to make sense of their circumstances, and not let that deter them from achieving the full potential of inherited possibilities.
We live in a technology-driven world. But it need not be just about bits, bytes, youtube, Instagram, industry, and commerce. It must be about culture, language, art, literature, and spirituality. It must be about family. It has to be about history; deep, real history.
History begins with one simple question. What happened? Students can find answers in their family stories.
I will tell you more about this in upcoming posts using my family as an example. I hope this gets you all charged up to tell the children around you to check out their family history and ‘Go back and get what was taken’. I will be with you on this fantastic journey.
Peace & Blessings,
“Guided by the Ancestors”
Community Concern - “Smart Utility Meter” – Is It “Smart” for You?
Let’s define what a “Smart Meter/ AMI meter “ is before we address the serious consumer concerns you ought to have. Many folks do not know, including PNM employees and its Co-Op partners, what a “smart meter” is and does.
First, it is a new wireless replacement for your old analog gas and water meters on homes and businesses, including apartment buildings.
The “smart meter” unlike your current analog meter is a surveillance device that violates Federal and State wiretapping laws by recording and storing databases of “energy consumption” behavior.”
It monitors this by emitting a biologically destructive pulsed microwave energy every few seconds into your home and neighborhood. The “smart meter” collects data on your daily habits and activities, when you use any electrical device (includes other “smart” devices—TV, oven, etc). This radiation is pulsed 24/7 non-stop into your dwelling and cannot be turned off.
Also, the wireless radio signal can be intercepted by unauthorized and unknown parties. i.e. it can be hacked by other parties and criminals who can use it to monitor your behavior and occupancy. In short, they will know when you are away from your home.
It has been documented that the radiation may cause cancer, damage your DNA, harm wildlife and environmental vegetation, disable computers and appliances and catch fire!
Also, the “smart meter” has a duration of 5-7 years whereas your analog meter was designed to last for about 70 years. Further, the cost to replace an analog meter is $15-$60 whereas the “smart meter” replacement is $600 or more which you, the consumer must pay NOT the utility company. Also, the data it collects has been shown to be faulty. Your bill? There is/will be a significant increase in your utility bill.
Those with access to smart meter databases can determine medical conditions, sexual activities, physical locations of persons within the house or apartment, vacancy patterns and all your personal information and habits of all occupants.
So, what is the benefit to you? None—this device entirely benefits the utility company in terms of revenues plus the company will terminate employees—meter-readers. My motto is simple—“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” PNM and their Co-Op partners have not shown the consumer benefits, have not fully disclosed the health hazards or addressed the constitutional rights of privacy invasion. Why should your behaviors in your dwelling be recorded without your consent or knowledge? Also, PNM has not disclosed with whom your data will be shared and how. Why can’t we continue with monitoring only the electrical usage which your current analog meter does?
Also, the World Health Organization has classified the electromagnetic and radio frequency radiation emitted from smart meters as a potential Class 2B carcinogen!
Therefore, if anyone in the household has an illness, compromised immune system, any serious disease or is sensitive to EMFs/EMRs, their health can deteriorate and can be adversely impacted.
Further, the utility company has already divested itself of all liability. If it is shown that a person’s health deteriorated or s(he) died after installation (also documented already), the person/family is responsible. Utility companies have no liability in the matter.
So why am I so concerned that you ought to be concerned and not allow this device to be installed?
First, as a health issue-- no local, state or federal agency has a right to radiate you, possibly killing you against your will in your own home. Second, I see this “smart meter” as an invasion of my privacy and clearly as a surveillance device. Third, why would I as an intelligent consumer agree to pay higher costs for a lethal device that is known to have no benefits to me but documented proof of adverse health effects?
If you need to know more, please go to www.freedomtaker.com That site contains info on “smart meters” and all the legal documents to fight installation plus how to order a new meter IF one is installed, at your home, because you were away at work, etc.
With all this said, what is most upsetting is that PNM held a public hearing on Mon Feb 27, 2017 at the PERA bldg. in Santa Fe with a dismal public showing of barely 25 folks on this issue! Why? Nothing was disclosed in the media about it! We were told that notices were put in your utility bill last year but not your recent bills. Please note that this issue impacts NM residents, not just those who live in Silver City (they already fought this issue and won) but those living in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and all surrounding communities! At that meeting, those who did attend called for a second public hearing; however, we do NOT know if this will be granted.
Now, there is an “Opt –Out” program that barely anyone knows about and the info is posted at www.pnm.com website. Look up “Smart Meter” on their site.
You must pay a 1-time $35 fee before installation and $60 after installation plus $47 monthly continuously atop your bill to opt out! That’s simply unfair and unconscionable!
Other states have opted out entirely having fought this issue. In states where there was an “Opt-Out” program—the cost was not nearly as high as this punishable fee for not allowing installation. So the questions are who is really going to benefit with the additional monies and where are they going? For what purpose? That also has not been fully disclosed by PNM.
I urge you to email the 5 District Commissioners stating that you will NOT give your consent to install on your home or property ANY meter that has the capability of monitoring anything other than simple metering of your overall electric usage.
We were told that we have 30 days from Feb 27 to email or write your non-consent letter as calling is NOT helpful.
Here are the email addresses of the 5 reps as follows:
District 1: Cynthia Hall: (505)-827-8015 email@example.com
District 2: Patrick H. Lyons: (505) 84531 firstname.lastname@example.org
District 3: ValerieEspinoza: (505)4533 email@example.com
District 4: Lynda Lovejoy (505) 827-8019 firstname.lastname@example.org
District 5: Sandy Jones: (505)-827-8020 email@example.com
Last, I urge you to protect you/your family. I moved here 3 years ago because the state of NM did NOT have “smart meters” and I did fight this issue in Maryland and did NOT install this meter on my home. I also did NOT sell that house to the new owner with a “smart meter” installed.
So, here I am again, facing the exact same issue but with a more uninformed public due to this cover-up and lack of truthful disclosure on this matter by the utility company here, PNM and the media.
I care about our health and our constitutional rights—not just mine.
Oh, and in case you solar-owners feel that this is not an issue for you—just think about your neighbors and possible installation. You will not be able to control or stop the airborne EMFs and radiation coming from their homes on either side of you or the apartment building close to you which will have several meters installed on that building.
This is an issue for all of us... Be smart and do NOT allow a “Smart Meter” to be installed on your home. If you were uninformed, you are not now. Please talk to your neighbors... give them this letter and email the Commissioners-- we ARE in this together!
Rev. AdaRA L. Walton, ND, PhD
Concerned Santa Fean and NM Resident