The Juggling Act of Depression

Words from The Garden

b33ca99c069e2f287b7340858a19431f--vintage-circus-circus-party.jpgI didn’t forget about this blog.
In fact, quite the opposite.
I’ve been doing the depression juggling act. A perpetual dance of procrastination, and powering through projects until you’re spent. Hiding out in bed on your days off from the realities of bills, deadlines, and responsibilities.

I’ve been on my medication for a while now, I’m open with that because there should be no shame in getting help for mental health issues. The medication, therapy techniques and self-care have greatly improved my quality of life. But it’s not a magic wand that’s waved and suddenly that wet smelly throw blanket on our back that is depression is waved away. You just get a chance to wash it and deal with it better. You get a chance to know that it’s there and how to maneuver through the world without it completely incapacitating you.

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Since the fog has cleared a little…

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I Can’t Do It

Today I found out that my cousin wants to go to Africa to help build clinics.  Her aunt, my first cousin, called me and asked me for a donation.  She said she’d also send the link to me for me to post on Twitter.

I was about to just copy and share. But for some reason, I didn’t. I went back to the website and read.  And it said they would build clinics but more importantly “spread​the gospel.” I was horrified. Because I don’t believe in organized religion and I certainly don’t believe in medicine on exchange for Christianity.

I didn’t share the link. I probably won’t donate.  But I’m conflicted. I want to heal Africans. I just don’t want them suffering under Christianity. Is this what it’s come to? Why can’t they heal without conditions? I’m so bothered.

Critical Pedagogy: The Struggle and the Community

This is excellent!!!! If only more educators took a critical approach

The Empowerment Network

A few years ago, when having breakfast with a former instructor (now friend), I told her with excitement that I had stumbled across the concept of critical pedagogy.  After 20 years of unknowingly serving as a critical pedagogue, I was super elated to learn there were other educators out there with a similar passion and commitment for asking tough questions about the location of power within practice. Only being in contact with other critical pedagogues by the literature, I thought I had finally found my educational community.

But, as I have come to meet other critical pedagogues through Twitter, I have found myself wrestling and questioning this new sense of community.  It is this wrestling and the apparent shared struggle of aloneness that drew me to Paul Thomas’s piece about “The Other.”

The year I returned to pursue a doctorate, my first book was published.  In this book…

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There’s More Work To Do: Why The Fight Doesn’t End With Closing Rikers

With all of the news surrounding the closing of Rikers Island, we must remain focused and diligent. Closing Rikers is not the end.  It’s the beginning.  Agitation cannot stop. It’s important to celebrate the small victories but our Campaign cannot stop.  

The city projects it will take 10 years to close Rikers.  In those 10 years, we must make sure they aren’t filling the jails with poor people who can’t afford bail.  We must ensure that they aren’t torturing people with solitary confinement.  And we must make sure that those in need of mental health care are aided.  The corrections officers must be held accountable. We cannot have 10 more years of the same Rikers pending the opening of new Jails.

While these years ago by, we can’t sit patiently waiting for the city to do the right thing.  We must be active in demanding what we want and what the community needs.  Bail reform, ending broken window policing and truly ending stop and frisk must be prioritized.  Kalief’s law must pass the Senate.  We need speedy trials.  A person shouldn’t be punished for the government’s inefficiency.  Opening new jails was never the goal.  There’s more work to do.

If you watched Time: The Kalief Browder Story on Spike TV over the past 6 weeks, your heart must have broken into a million pieces a million times.  This kid, and I call him a kid because Kalief was a minor when he was sent to Rikers, believed in the system. He wouldn’t cop a plea to something he didn’t do.  He wanted his day in court.  A hard fight that he fought with dignity and a strength that is to be applauded. Ultimately​, he paid the price for believing with his life. This system is not for us.  But Kalief’s death will not be in vein.

“He is the face of Truth and justice.” – said  a heartbroken Venida Browder about her son Kalief.  And we believe this.  We will continue his fight for justice. 

Kalief’s brother, Akeem Browder, along with others, had a vision to not only #ShutDownRikers but to also demand services for the community as well as accountability for these officials and we started the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers.  If you’re looking to get involved, or would like more information, please contact the Campaign @ shutdownRikersisland.com.

End Ableism

There is a weekly Twitter informational tweet-a-thon of sorts called #SaturdaySchool.  Last Saturday, March 11th, the session called to #EndAbleism.  Merriam-Webster defines ableism as:  

discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities

You’ll learn a lot about yourself if you Google the term ableism and read a few articles. And just in case you didn’t know, people with one disability can and often are ableist when it comes to other disabilites.  They don’t think about it. It’s unintentional. Isn’t it all?

I see TONS of ableist language used by activists on-line. I need to do better calling it out. Most times I notice the language & I don’t share those tweets. However, sometimes I share because I don’t notice the ableist language being used. I’m working on it.

It is exhausting to check people because people use ableist language so frequently.  It feels like very other post I read says “stupid” “dumb” “moron” “idiot” “psycho” “mental” …  I did learn that using swear words is waaaay better than using ableist language… So in that respect, it was a relatively easy transition.

I was initially irked when, my now dear Twitter friend, @MxPhoenix  would seemingly CONSTANTLY inform me of my ableist language.  I spoke about it with people offline As I verbally defended my right to use ableist language, I saw how ridiculous I was being.

YOU don’t get to say what’s OK or what’s not ableist.  Just like racists and misogynists don’t get a say on how their language offends us. Once people tell you how it harms people, who are not you, if you mean no harm, why continue the language use?  There are other words to use.  Even if someone is mentally ill, why do you think it’s OK to use that fact as an insult? 

We have to check ourselves. I checked myself many times with @MxPhoenix appearing as a tiny being floating above my shoulder urging me to choose different language.

As I read the #EndAbleism tweets, it just seemed like some people weren’t as empathic or as understanding as I thought they would be. I was shocked. Because while I was irked at my Twitter buddy, I never responded to them or anyone that I had a right to use that language. Some of these people sounded like racists asking why they can’t say N*gg*r.  We have to do better.

But for all of you who can’t grasp that ableist language can be harmful, let me put it into a way you can understand.

Above is the actual title of a recent article in the New York Times.  Now, granted this is an op-ed column.  But let’s change the ableist language to let’s say…. Misogynistic language:

Clinton vs Press: Cunty, bitchy love.

Racist language:

Obama vs Press: Nigger, monkey love

Homophobic language:

Anderson Cooper vs Press: Faggoty, no homo love

Not ok, right?  Now I can write a racist paragraph or homophobic paragraph or misogynistic paragraph to prove my point, but I don’t think that’s necessary. #EndAbleism 

Why Can’t We Have Our Own Shit?: Alt-Black Perspectives

Last night, I went to sleep after reading a few tweets about the Black Perspectives blog.  They were disturbing.  To sum it up, white writers were contributing to the Black Perspectives blog.  How?  Why?  Like WTF?

I woke up this morning and I reached out to my gf to see if she was following.  After a long discussion, I said this is not the space for inclusion and she responded “Why can’t we have our own shit?” EXACTLY THIS!!!

I was very annoyed.  But moreso, I was hurt.  I really championed Black Perspectives because that’s what I thought it was.  I thought “This is great.  It’s thought pieces for us and by us.” And to see it infiltrated by white people— No that’s not accurate—to see US invite white writers/scholars into our space of black thought and perspective was and is overwhelming.  Like WTF do we have to do to have a Black space?  Free of white thought?  The editor, Keisha N. Blain, had this to say of the engagement that occurred on Twitter on this subject:

“Many used the opportunity to publicly denounce AAIHS for having white bloggers in general. They accused us of creating a space to amplify white voices over black ones. I’ll leave it up to readers to decide if that’s the case. What I will say is that as an organization and as a blog, we value diversity and inclusion and ensure that pieces are accurate in their portrayal of black thought, history, and culture.”

I’m all for diversity and inclusion. But someone please tell me how TF white people can have Black thought or black perspective.  PLEASE.  I think the African American Intellectual Historical Society (AAIHS), via Black Perspectives, is doing a disservice to Black writers and scholars, as well as their reading audience when they rob us of actual black voices. Keisha painstakingly explains what went on behind the scenes and the Twitter fallout.  But you don’t need to know the back story of why this white writer is here in order to know that they shouldn’t be here.

AAIHS publishes great pieces.  I fell in love with it immediately.  I cannot take that away from them.  But I cannot love this.  I cannot love a diversity that isn’t true to the intent of the project.  When I read Black Perspectives, I expect to actually read a piece written by, and from the perspective of a Black person.  Wherever he or she may be.  You don’t have to be an intellectual to understand that.  

I started using Twitter in 2016.  I followed Huffington Post Black Voices and I began to notice a startling trend.

It just didn’t make any sense to me. I kept seeing white writers from this entity that claimed to be Black voices.  This is why I was so excited to see Black Perspectives.  We need something exclusive and I thought that’s what this was.

Including white writers gives the appearance that you don’t believe you can get enough content from Black people and that is simply untrue. But whatever the case, a blog, called Black Perspectives implies just that and to do anything else is disingenuous.

Justice For Kalief Will Come When We Shut Down Rikers

There was a New Yorker magazine article in 2015 that was circulating on Facebook about Kalief Browder.  I read it several times.  An uncontrollable flow of tears streamed down my face as I read it.  People sent me the article via private chat.  It was awful. Kalief had committed suicide after spending 3 years in jail.  2 of which he spent in solitary confinement.  He was never convicted of a crime. Everyone was saddened and enraged.  Kalief was too young to die this senseless death and his time at Rikers was nothing short of torture.  

Although I still protested occasionally, I had not been active in any organizations for years.  One of my former comrades contacted me and asked me to join her in trying to Shut Down Rikers.  I said absolutely. I met his brother, Akeem, and many others that shared a passion for stopping these injustices. 

(From Left to Right – Adrian Marie Jones, Lan-Anh Nguyen, Akeem Browder, Jacinta Robles, Mr. Five, Kenneth Shelton)

Organizing was long and hard. Different projects began because of our interactions with inmates. Humans of Rikers and Women of Rikers to name a couple.  Kalief’s law was passed by the State Assembly but has sense been blocked by the Republican controlled Senate.

Kalief and Akeem’s mother, Venida Browder, passed away before she could see the fruits of her labor. I believe she died of a broken heart as was espoused by a NY Daily News article. We are still awaiting justice.

Today, Shawn “Jay-z” Carter brings  Kalief’s story to the forefront in his 6 part television series “TIME: THE KALIEF BROWDER STORY” We urge you to watch and share your thoughts.  Get your families and friends to watch. Use #KaliefBrowder when posting on social media so we can capture your thoughts.

It is important to understand that the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers does not want to open new jails.  We want services in its stead. The building isn’t the only problem, it is the system. So we are committed to demanding that the lawmakers invest in the communities not jails.

On any given day, Kalief’s brother Akeem is working tirelessly to ensure that his brother’s death was not on vain. Each and every day, we all think about Kalief and his heartbroken mother and hope we can give them both justice after death.

Please get involved.

You can contact the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers via Website shutdownrikers.net Twitter @shutdownrikers, Facebook @campaigntoshutdownrikers and Instagram @shutdownRikers

Cited articles:

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/kalief-browder-1993-2015/amp#

http://www.nydailynews.com/amp/new-york/bronx/exclusive-mom-late-kalief-browder-dies-broken-heart-article-1.2833023

https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/articles/daniel-l-squadron/senator-squadron-statement-governor-cuomo-including-speedy-trial

Some of Your Opinions Are Not Your Own

I grew up with a very outspoken mother and family.  They were politically and socially aware.  They talked about politics and social issues whenever they were together.  They still do.  Most purchased the news daily and dissected the truth from it.  I realize that they influenced me and my actions and thoughts until this day.  

It’s not that I don’t have a mind of my own, but I can still remember sitting on my father’s shoulders as we protested NYCHA and the disgusting conditions of the projects in the 70’s.  I was only around six.  The protestors took over the street.  There were signs and chants.  We didn’t even live there, our family did. But standing up and fighting for better living conditions for them was a must.

I say this to say that I know their thoughts and views influenced me.  I made a post today about Jimmy Carter being the last Left Democratic President and someone responded that they never thought of him that way.  They said they were gonna rethink it.  I decided to rethink it too. Because it was at that point that I realized I knew relatively little about his presidency…. Hostages, peanuts, solar energy.

They loved Clinton but I was old enough to dissect his Presidency.  And the presidencies of those before him. But I always seemed to stop at Reagan. Never looking at Carter. Almost like I knew he did no wrong.  Today I begin researching his administration.  I may still agree with my family, but at least I’ll know that my opinion of Carter’s Presidency is grounded in facts that I verified.

I must work hard to understand the world through my eyes. Being diligent to conduct research even when I think I know; with an understanding that some of my views were shaped by my family even when I’m not aware. It’s just a reminder that if my parents and family can shape my opinions so effortlessly, how is it any different than these children living amongst the most vile bigots?  Or the covert bigots? And the latter is more prevalent than the former.  Children are always watching and listening.  That’s why it’s important for us to always speak up and speak out against injustice and bigotry.  Those children might hear you louder than their hateful parents.  Our collective voices matter.

Why I’m here…

Hi.  Thanks for visiting.  I started this page because I need an outlet besides Twitter to share my thoughts.  I left Facebook in May of 2016. I published notes and long updates there.  I find that I lose my train of thought on Twitter because I’m focused on 140 characters.  I hope to share many thoughts here. I hope you enjoy, get galvanized, share and join me in spreading information and views.