Happy Black History Month (and other tea)
Hello beautiful reader(s). Super-extra-saucy shoutout to all of my beautiful Black people!
Happy Black History Month!
Excluding its brevity, and the fact that some of us have become complacent with only celebrating our journey instead of finishing it, I love everything about this month! We've come far, and it is right to admire the view from our place on the mountain. We still climbing tho.
You are incredible. People from all around the world sent love and affirmations after last-month's swearing-in ceremony. My inability to respond to each of you keeps me up at night. I am so grateful, but you'll never know how much. I'm sorry about that. I see you, & I love you.
*with utmost humility* One of my many gifts (and equal burdens) is empathy. I feel allllll the feelings, for better or worse. And I've been that way my whole life.
When I was growing up, my parents cherished our mornings & took turns driving us to school every single day. We'd get up, do our little morning routine, get dressed, eat breakfast, and hop in the car. Like clockwork.
One morning when I was about five or six, my Mom was driving me to school and I just. burst. out. crying. Ugly, dry-heaving crying. She was like... "wtf" and hurriedly began to ask questions.
I can't remember, but the first question was probably "wth is wrong with you" or "are you hurt?!" As she probed, I was yelling things like "what about the kiiiids" and "where will they gooooo?"
After a few more minutes of confused patience, she finally understood what I was talking about. It was April 19, 1995 and Timothy McVeigh had just killed 168 people. There was a daycare center for employees inside & 19 kids were murdered. Maybe I saw it on the news at home or heard it on the radio in the car. For whatever reason though, it hurt and I lamented. Even all those miles away.
That wasn't the first time love or pain would overwhelm me, nor would it be the last. Most times, I wept for souls. But sometimes, it'd hurt if I saw a tree fall. Just depends.
One day, I'll tell you the story of how I became an African Studies Minor at Emory. There was a lot of love and pain involved, but I'll leave this book as a hint. Shoutout to empathy.
As I study empathy, I learn more about myself. Being an empath is a real thing, and if that was me then... imagine me now. And our kids.
They see, hear, and feel more than we ever did, because thanks to technology, they can. Whether it's love, pain, sunshine, or rain... when I let out a "whew chile" on Twitter, there is a small(ish) chance me and some of our kids are out here looking like
I know myself.
In order to come back strong(er) I log-off. Fall back. Phone off. Unplug. Time to refresh.
But don't worry. I come back pissed and rejuvenated every time like
If you're wondering why I share this stuff, it's because I want you to know how imperfect I am. That may sound like flawed logic, but there are many reasons:
1. I want you to know we're the same.
2. After you do, you'll discover that nothing is stopping you from doing do what I've done, or will do. We're each other. So we can do this together, too.
3. I reject any pedestal meant for idols. I don't want it. I will mess up, and when I do I don't want it to be a surprise. Remember, we're the same.
4. Authenticity is one of my values. Whatever the reason you like/agree, or dislike/disagree with me... let it be real & true.
I hope this finds you well, reader! Swearing-in aside, tonight was what I consider my first real school board meeting.
Here are some of my takeaways:
Tonight's public comment was everything. There was a vote on the agenda about whether or not to keep school uniforms in high school. Students came to the meeting to express their opinions and I loved hearing their thoughts about expression & individuality. The students won, and the vote to remove uniforms passed 6-1 with one abstention! I was the (only) opposition. Keep reading to find "my why." Public comment is so powerful! When was the last time you stood up to speak for something you believed in? When will be the next time?
Listening and paying attention are not the same. It depends on what you're listening to.
Ya'll, tell me why... I asked this long, beautiful, well-intended question during the wrong part of the meeting because I was engaged in a side conversation and missed the agenda item. I was so embarrassed. *insert Millennial-led slow-clap*. Have you done that lately? Been distracted and tried to jump back in loud, proud, and WRONG?! It could be a conversation, situation, or even a relationship. Microcosms are macrocosms.
Never be afraid to inquire, or learn more. Your question is a learning opportunity for you and everyone in the room. Right now, I've been asking legitimate questions that I legitimately do not know the answers to, from logging in for documents to why we chose that vendor. But there will come a time when I feel prepared and understand every agenda item. Even then, I hope to remember the people in the room who don't understand, and ask questions anyway. So they can hear the answer in hopes that our understandings align. When was the last time you could've kept it moving, but raised a tough question instead? When was the last time you should've asked a tough question, but kept it moving?
This is the conundrum. When you're prepared, you (may) have fewer questions. For example, the school-uniform conversation wasn't new. I knew the vote was tonight. I was ready and I didn't say a word. While I've been keeping my ears to the streets listening for voices from scholars and school leaders, I've also been doing my own research. That research is what led to my no-vote. I even wrote a paper about it. I guess you could call it my first "policy recommendation" here at CCPS. I wish I could call it a "policy brief," but I shall not tell a lie.
Click here to read about why I voted no.What do you think?
I'd also like to acknowledge the fact that I shared this memo with my colleagues on the board, and the superintendent. They knew my position weeks ago. Shoutout to my board chair, Ms. Jessie, for always being like
As for what I've been up to...
The legislative session has already begun in Georgia, and Louisiana's will begin in March/April. I'm still learning a ton, thanks to my time as a Public Policy Fellow at the Louisiana Dept of Education. I'm noticing policy trends, learning best practices, serving scholars, and serving home(s)!
This week, I'll attend a conference for school board members in Indiana and a conference for school leaders of color in Texas. Also, PROOF Prep is happening. Look at God.
Things are going well, and overall I feel like this.
Thanks for listening, village. Don't you ever forget it.
There's proof. And I love me some you.