Camden residents hear they don’t care about their city, but that’s never been true | Opinion

A few weeks ago, I watched a video on Facebook posted by a community activist and educator highlighting the scene at the Seventh and Clinton Street Park in Camden. What she saw was alarming: drug paraphernalia and drug use happening alongside children playing, at daytime, and in the full view of police. This activist rightly called out that such a scene isn’t tolerated in the suburbs, and rightly asked: Why is it tolerated in Camden? She declared at that moment, as others had as well, “not in my park."

Teaching Black History Year-Round Requires Rigorous Sight

Dr. Carter G. Woodson is best known for his creation of Negro History Week, which became Black History Month. The genius of his creation was in his desire for it to culminate in a weeklong celebration after a year of learning about the accomplishments of Black people. Negro History Week was never meant to be a one-off acknowledgment, recognition, and celebration of Black history. It was meant to serve as a short period for students to display what they’d learned about the history of Black peopl

Teaching Juneteenth in schools is crucial amid debates about how to tackle U.S. history | Opinion

The month of June is very important in Black history. Mother Bethel AME was founded in Philadelphia on June 10, 1794, by the Rev. Richard Allen. June is also Black Music Month, thanks to Philadelphia’s own Kenny Gamble and the Black Music Association in 1979. But maybe most important of all Black history commemorations this month is Juneteenth. Juneteenth marks the occasion of June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce all enslaved peoples were free upon the surr

Why The Fight Against Critical Race Theory is Rooted In America History

The masses of teachers aren’t teaching Critical Race Theory. Roughly 80% of teachers in the United States are white – I can almost guarantee you that they’re not teaching Critical Race Theory. Many of them are uncomfortable teaching about enslavement, do you think they’d be comfortable, let alone knowledgeable, enough to teach Critical Race Theory? The masses of individuals against the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools are largely white and conservative politically and more than likel

States want to prevent schools from telling the truth about racism in America. Here’s what educators can do about it.

At least half a dozen states have introduced legislation to prevent the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools. Educators in states where such bills become law would be blocked from teaching about the racist roots of Western society, generally, and the United States, specifically, and how racism continues to plague us. Some states are trying to

A Pathway to Our Peace

Death is something that each of us process differently. I can attest to that. The passing of my great-grandmother was the first time I processed the pain of a relative moving on to the unseen realm. But I was 10. I knew my great-grandmother, but I didn’t know her as well as I knew my grandmothers. I knew them intimately. When each of them died, I processed their deaths differently than I did with my great-grandmother. I sorely lamented their passing on. However, my faith helped me absorb the blow of the pain I felt. When my unborn son passed, it was a different pain altogether and processing that pain was entirely different.

The invisible tax on Black teachers | Opinion

For six years, I taught social studies in both high school and middle school; the bulk of my time was spent working with high school students. Working with those students, students who look like me and reminded me of myself, was a privilege and a joy. Sadly, the joy began to fade away as my job became more about managing behavior versus teaching young people. I taught courses where we ditched whitewashed textbooks. My students and I read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, They Came Before Columbus by Ivan Van Sertima, and Africa’s Gift to America by J.A. Rogers. We discussed how history has played a role in shaping their circumstances and how to use the skills they acquire in school to address those circumstances both at home in and in the community. But as the only Black male teacher almost everywhere I worked, I was the go-to person to encourage student compliance and be the de facto disciplinarian. I went from teaching the resistance of Black people to demanding the compliance of Black children.

Educating as Both Prophetic and Political

Earlier this year, I gave a professional development presentation to colleagues at a directors meeting. My topic was “cultural competency and the brain” and the crescendo of my presentation centered on the thought: educators must confront and eradicate anti-Blackness within their schools. When I said the words anti-Blackness, you could hear a pin drop. At one point, I spoke of the pervasiveness of anti-Blackness in our society; citing Black women who die due to child birthing complications as

The Benediction

First and foremost, there was the music. The juggernauts that are the Isley Brothers and Earth, Wind, and Fire were on display as a reminder of the richness and beauty of Black music. This was no competition (although if it were, Earth, Wind, and Fire were the clear winners). Rather it was a celebration of Black brotherhood and Black music. It was also a masterclass in music history for the ignorant and incompetent alike. From your favorite hip hop sample to that incredible HBCU Band performance

During our son's diagnosis, Black nurses showed us the care we deserved

During our son’s diagnosis, Black nurses showed us the care we deserved As a parent, I’ve had my fair share of hospital stays. However, for our family and specifically for my oldest child, the most recent visit was very different from previous hospital experiences. We experienced a level of care that had not been present prior. During our stay, it was confirmed that our son was a type-1 diabetic (T1D). Meaning his body no longer produced the insulin needed to live. In that moment, all of it

A Bad Precedent

Last week in racism, we learned that it took Papa John 20-months to stop saying the N-word, that a high school basketball announcer called Black basketball players the N-word for kneeling during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner while blaming it on his diabetes, and a teacher forced a 5-year-old Black child to clean feces with his bare hands to teach him a lesson. The revelations from the Meghan Markle interview deserves an honorable mention. However, of all the things that transpired

How Sweet The Sound

I didn’t attend church every Sunday growing up. But when I did, I went to church with my grandmother. When I turned 14, I got baptized and formally join her church, which became our church; First Refuge Progressive Baptist Church. It was there, where my parents got married. It was there, where I learned how to speak in public. It was there, where I first flirted with girls in the back classrooms where Sunday school was taught. I have a lot of memories of church as a kid, but the one thing I can never forget is that every Sunday, the congregational hymn was Amazing Grace.

Tony Brown belonged to Philly | Opinion

Philadelphia is rich with Black history. Philadelphia was once home to the Institute for Colored Youth that is now Cheyney University. Philadelphia is home to Bethel AME Church, founded by Richard Allen, one of the first Black churches in America and the oldest continuously Black-owned church in American history. Philadelphia is also home to the Sound of Philadelphia (TSOP), the brainchild of Kenny Gamble and Camden, New Jersey’s own Leon Huff. Growing up, it was routine to hear a TSOP track on WDAS-FM, especially when it was time for the Quiet Storm, an evening radio show hosted by none other than Tony Brown a.k.a. Anthony Chocolate a.k.a. Tony Brown with the chocolate sound that melts in your ear.

Please Let Me Avoid My Neighbor

The Coronavirus outbreak has forced Americans to adapt their norms to accommodate the need to flatten the curve. Profit and nonprofit entities alike have all had to adapt their normal practices to accommodate government protocols to maintain safety and stop the transmission of the virus. No one is exempt; not restaurants, schools, malls, or houses of worship. Like many people, I attend church virtually and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss going to actual church. Certainly, God can reach

Teaching the Insurrection in History Classes

The administration of the school where I run an after-school program recently offered social studies teachers, as well as other faculty and staff, an opportunity to receive support on how to speak to students regarding the insurrection. I’m sure my district is not the only one where teachers are offered this kind of training. I believe we should expand on this—social studies teachers should receive support not just to teach current events and help students process their thoughts on them but also

Failing to Combat Racism is a Failure to Combat COVID-19 | Opinion

A vaccine can certainly provide relief in the Black community, but if scientists and specifically policymakers really care about the health and wealth of the Black community during this pandemic, there is more to be done than marketing a vaccine. Federal, and state, legislation must be passed that tackles systemic racism. This vaccine cannot be another prescription so that Black people can live “functionally” while racism continues to exist. Failing to combat racism is a failure to combat COVID-19

Everyday Verbal Blackface and ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’

Here’s a message for my White brothers and sisters. Gather ’round the figurative community circle. Recently, watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion, I thought back to the eight-year-old me who got a chance to see hip-hop on primetime TV in the ’90s. Fresh Prince might have shared the same network as The Cosby Show, but it wasn’t like its predecessor at all. (One can even make the argument that Fresh Prince was better, but I digress.) As I reflected on the show’s early episodes, I realized

The Sound of Black History

One of the oft forgotten about places in New Jersey is Cape May and yet it is one of the more beautiful “getaway” destinations in the state. It’s where I proposed to my wife; it’s where we take our children to the zoo. It was a destination of Harriet Tubman. She worked in Cape May as a hotel servant to earn money for her returns to the Antebellum South to have enslaved persons get away. I have no doubt that Ms. Tubman passed through the southwestern edge of New Jersey (Salem, Gloucester, and Camden

Love Will Find A Way

For many artists, the desires for career longevity stem from various motivations. to the affirmation from the roar of the crowd maybe a motivation, or it may be the need to earn a living; perhaps to compensate for monies wasted or monies stolen from them. But there are some who desire the immortality of their art. Cheers and change are great, but they don’t guarantee career longevity; immortality of art, perhaps. It is possible to achieve immortality of art with or without longevity. You can achieve neither. Thankfully, Philip Bailey has achieved both. Love Will Find a Way is his gift for those of us who continue to cheer for him as we’ve watched longevity follow his pursuit of his art’s immortality.
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