Posted in Understanding Life

My Black Son: Part II: Did You Realize You Were a “Champion” in Their Eyes?

Rappers and comedians are some of the smartest people; at least, I believe so.

I still love Kanye. Graduation is one of my favorite albums. From Good Morning “Some graduate, but still be stupid, to Goodnight “Dream beautiful and unusual…” his words are “Stronger” than the previous albums. (Ok… don’t stop reading if you disagree….🤣 it’s just my opinion.. I love the Old Kanye).

Anthony, my son loves music. (I introduced him in the previous blog, so please check that out!)

He introduces me to artist and he is like me; he listens to the lyrics. From Kid Kudi, Drake, Playboi Carti, J. Cole, Travis Scott, Childish Gambino, The Weekend, he has a never ending playlist of pretty good music. We are still going back and forth with some, but I allow him to play car “DJ.”

While writing this blog, I had him sit with me to listen to Graduation again. He knows this is one of my favorites. Good Morning lyrics resonate with us because we both see the “truth” in the blow lyrics. Ha! Read for yourself…

But….in addition to listening to music, I yell at my son. That was a pretty interesting transition, huh? We listen to music and then I yell…. But seriously, I’ve yelled at other Black males throughout my life too. I do not have any ill-intention when I yell, but I want them to hear me loud and clear. It’s not because I am a narcissist and want to be heard, but it is because I see how people treat them. I want them to see that they will always have to fight a battle, until people can learn to treat them with respect. I’ve heard comments (and believe me, my “SnapBack” is very witty) about the Black males in many capacities. From the way they dress, to their hairstyles, to their academic abilities, I’ve heard it. And each comment has made me more protective of them all. The reality is, anyone reading this blog has heard it too… don’t lie…🧐👀

But, I push them and “love” on them because I don’t ever want them to deal with those bad law enforcers. There are so many great ones though, but media and some daily encounters showcase those that are not always so great.

I don’t want them in our prisons being slaves to those rich A$& slave masters… oh jeezzzz… I didn’t mean to say that… I meant to those nice folks that own prisons…the private people that make lots of money to imprison the boys that are…just “policing” our Great ole USA….🤷🏽‍♀️ (forgive me for calling them slave masters, because we realize slavery ended, racism ended, and we are all treated fairly🤦🏾‍♀️)

Once upon a time, I yelled at Anthony for lying. His dad surprised him with a flip phone; exchanging it for his new iPhone. His car keys were taken off the key ring. I was angry. His dad was pretty annoyed by his behavior, and we chastised him in a practical way. We have had some very creative punishments (that might need to be a separate blog: Chastising Your Black Male) because we don’t want to lose him. We want him to believe in himself, but we really want him to understand the world we life in….

But after that one time of “correcting” him, I found this letter on my dresser. I read it a dozen times. I smiled. I cried. I went to hug him so tight, because no parent want to punish their child for something that really is not big, but for my Black son who lied, he needed this… because society will only see his skin…

The letter reads:

Our conversation continues:

Mom: Do you believe that your friends that do not look like you understand your plight?

Anthony: I don’t feel like they understand because they aren’t in my shoes such as I am not in their’s. They also do not have to fear racism I feel like.

Mom: Anthony, you have been apart of many programs to assist with mentoring Black males, what are some of them and what have they taught you?

Anthony: Those programs have taught me multiple things like how to handle myself in public, what to do if a cop approaches me. As well as what life as a successful minorities is.

Some of the programs are: EMBODI ( Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc); Men of Light (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity); KOP (Masons).

Mom: After watching, the Netflix series, When They See Us, what are your thoughts?

Anthony: My thoughts on the show are that it’s life. It’s the life of a black person. From any generation or time period. I see this as a semi awakening for people who didn’t know about things like this, such as white people or even just ignorant people…. but for others it’s just everyday life and what we have to fear about in general.

It reminds me of that song Neighbors by J. Cole… which is also how I describe my life in a sense… without the selling drugs but the fact that prejudice is everywhere and anywhere. In another song off that album called “Foldin clothes” it shows that stereotypes can hurt a black male specifically… it says in the song “…..

Anthony: This is showing that they have to put up a facade anywhere for anything… never truly allowing for them to be who they want to be.

Mom: Do you think this will ever go away?

Anthony: I’m unsure. Maybe, possible. If we all stop judging others, thinking for themselves. Maybe our generation…laugh… I don’t know..

Mom: Are fearful of being a Black male?

Anthony: not really fearful, but cautious for my life.

Mom: Even though you have been reared by two “good” parents, you are still afraid?

Anthony: Yes, I’m black….

We both stare at each other…*crickets*

Today as you read, share something positive about your Black son and how you see and know they are a “Champion.” Also, how have you has such hard conversations with them?

Send me an email at or respond in the comments:
Ki@thisthingcalledlifebyki.com

Posted in black lives matter

A Candid Conversation with my Black son…Part 1…I FEAR, YOU Probably Fear…For Them…

I hurt for my son some days.  He is tall.  He receives the same question all of the time:  Do you play basketball? I hate that….A LOT.  He does, but no one ever seems to ask or discuss his academics.  He is quite intelligent.  He is an entrepreneur (offrtm.com).  He is a good-hearted person.   He is a Type 1 diabetic, and anyone who knows about this disease, knows that this disease is very difficult to manage.  His doctors compliment him for doing so well.  He rarely gets mad.  I have never dealt with him disrespecting me. He always smiles. He is truly my sunshine!


My son is Black.  My son looks you in the eye when he speaks.  My Black son is almost 6’2.  My Black son who is almost 6’2 has experienced micro-aggressions and macro-aggressions.  My Black son who is almost 6’2 and has experienced micro- aggressions and macro-aggressions has been co-parented for most of his life. He has lived an extremely good life (I am pretty biased), but with lots of challenges.  He impresses us because he still sees the good in humanity, even when he has witnessed racism, hurt, and wrong doing.  


I hate having conversations with my son about my fear for him. I hate having to share recent stories about racial issues that he needs to hear. You know…that story about that White girl that lies about her BIG, BLACK boyfriend who intimidated her during a verbal fight. Or, that story about the BIG, BLACK boyfriend who had sex with his White girlfriend who lied to her parents because he was found in the house, because she didn’t want to get into “trouble” ….SHIT……Rape??? What??? Naw, that was consensual, but because he is an almost 6’2 Black male, he is now charged and his life is potentially over. I hate having to tell my Black son that: “Baby, your dad is a cop and your mom is a lawyer, but you are still a Black male.” Oh, how I hate having to do this.


I hated seeing him forced to deal with students who he could not be himself with. I was able to have him in my class this year and I pushed him more than anyone. Many do not even realize that he always had the lowest grade. He shared a macro-aggression from one of his White male classmates: “Anthony what is your grade in the class?” He shared his passive response, but I could see and feel his irritation. He has to be passive because he is a Black male. If he were to say something to defend his irritation, he would have been found to be….a target for trouble.


I have seen it with other Black males in the classroom, in the world. I wish I could take away the target that he has on him (This makes me think of Todgi’s painting …check her out: http://www.theblackonion.com (Born Targets)), but no one can. Well, society could if they stop FU&….(I shouldn’t curse in this blog, because it might seem too aggressive…and although I have a right to be upset…we cannot be upset or feel hurt because…#ThisThingCalledLife…doesn’t allow Blacks to feel sorry for themselves and are still finding ways to penalize our Black males). But hell, I should be able to curse and be me, but then my blog and my attitude would be deemed as ….never mind because I know the truth; a person who cares so much about the fate of our Black males.


We sent Anthony to a juvenile detention center a couple of years ago to talk with the employees there. He was not in trouble. We just wanted him to be exposed to what could happen. I prepare him for talks with cops as he dad does too. He has witnessed several direct racial moments; to include being pulled over by cop… while Black…We have sent him to camps. We have sent him to complete community services. I have traveled with him to over 14 states, 14 countries, and although he has been exposed, I still fear…for…MY…16…YEAR…OLD…BLACK…ALMOST…6’2…SON.


We watched “When They See Us” together (Netflix documentary).  I watched him as he watched the tv.  I texted his dad while I watched him watch the tv.  We had several conversations about the show.  His dad had a conversation with him about the show.  There is so much that I want to remind him.  Like, I want to give him a cheat sheet…but…that cheat sheet will not work, because racism is…real.  Those macro-aggressions that he deals with are hard for me to watch as a mom.  Those White males and White females, or even students who might identify as one of the above do not have to deal with that in the in life.  I had first hand experience this year seeing it.  He was bullied, but it went unheard; however, if he would have laid his hands on someone…HE would have been….yeah…wrong.

Anthony watching “When They See Us..”


I get on his nerves, I am certain.  He hung out with friends and I had to remind him, “Baby, we live in Kentucky.”  A few months ago in the town we are close-by, a Black woman was run off the road and it was found that it was racial (https://www.wave3.com/2019/04/10/fort-knox-leaders-stand-by-sergeant-charged-stabbing-our-soldier-was-attacked/).  Covert racism is seen here.  Too many are afraid to stand up for what is right because of fear of losing their jobs, so….my Black son has not really met too many strong Blacks here….I fear for him, but then I realize that he has a strong circle, although they do not live near us.  He will be ok, because he knows that:

  1. If cops stops him, he just needs to obey.
  2. If he dates a White girl and decides to have sex with her and they are caught and she cries rape, he will be ok because his parents can help him.
  3. Being Black is an excuse.

All of those are bogus as hell…..I’m having a hard time even coming up with responses to that final statement, because there is NO truth to this. The United States that we live in condemns, and judges our young males, and fail to protect our BLACK sons. They take them from us. They place them in jails, create slaves out of them, and “if” they are returned, they come back broken, scared, and …no more good….


They take away their spirits. They make them feel as if they are dumb as hell. They make them feel that being “White is right.” They make our boys feel as if they cannot be themselves; wearing the clothes and hairstyles that they like. They cannot embrace their natural hairstyles and speak loud, or even walk around with headphones. They cannot be comfortable walking around with “du-rags” because of fear of those macro-aggressions. They have to conform…and when they do conform comments are made “Anthony is such a well-mannered, well-spoken young male and a good basket-ball player.” I prefer, “Anthony is an intelligent young man and I know that he will succeed at anything he puts his mind to.”


I keep all of the cards and letters that he gives to me, and I sit and re-read them all of the time. He knows how words are meaningful to me and sometimes he surprises me with random notes of love. He recently shared, “I’m happy you are my mom…” in a birthday letter he wrote to me. I actually shed tears because I am happy he is my son, but I just wish I had more power to protect him…I wish I had more power to protect my kind, considerate, humble young man in this racist world that fails to see this young man for who he is; he has a very good gpa, but is never treated with the respect that he deserves.


Anthony and I share our personal conversation about race, with hopes that other parents are continuously holding these conversations with their sons. We are also interested in other suggestions that could potential protect him. We are hopeful that those outside of our race will also take time to be culturally aware….

PART I: Meet Anthony: In my opinion, my son is silly, loving, and full of positivity.

Mom: Without using a racial adjective, who are you?

Anthony: I would describe myself as an outgoing, intelligent, and open person in my opinion. I am not afraid to journey, but I feel like I am more courageous and I see how to handle situations now.


Mom: What positive images do you see in the Black males that we have placed in your life?

Anthony: I have had the opportunity to see Black males succeed. I have seen them do incredible and admirable things; like create companies as well as helping those in the lower-socio-economic communities where they have come from.
I have seen multiple stories that have taught me to be mindful of being a Black male. I have even read The Sport of the Gods, To Kill a Mockingbird, and cases such as T. Martin to show me the detriments of being a Black male. I have also watched the recent documentary of the Central Park Five and mom and dad has shown me other cases to help me understand challenges.

Stay tuned for Part 2….

Posted in black lives matter

The Black Male Experience…Dr. Kay Bee’s Perspective

I grew up in a population where I never saw a Black doctor. I never realized that I could be a doctor. Although my cousin and I would always respond with saying we wanted to be pediatricians, I am unsure if I truly believed that I was capable or even smart enough to conquer that goal.

The first time I learned about Black history outside of Harriet Tubman and MLK was in Mr. Fenwick’s class. This was the first year I had Black male teachers. It was at Huntington Middle School in 1994-95. He taught us about KWANZAA. We had civics with Mr. Frazier; a Black male. We had band with Mr. Braxton; a Black male. And we had a Black male principal; Mr. Cline. I remember this year…


I didn’t know then, but now I understand why.

As Black students in low social-economic communities, we needed to see people that looked like us. We needed to hear those words of Les Brown that Coach Frazier had us listen to. We needed those positive images of Black males, because the images that my classmates and I saw in our neighborhood were not the potential that our Black males could reach.

In 1995, right up the street from my hometown of Newport News, Virginia was that big news story about Kemba Smith. The drug epidemic was huge. There was the story in the Washington Post about Rosa Lee written by Leon Dash. There was the recent death of Len Bias almost ten years earlier with a focus on drugs. Nothing positive was really associated with our Black males, but had they only been given a fair chance, I know they would have been amazing. When I see those Black males that I have taught, my son included, I see greatness. I see the greatness in the making… they just need to be reminded often.

I’m grateful that I have such positive images and positive relationships with people that look like me now. My son, your son, my cousins, your nephews, now have opportunities to see Black men in a positive light.

We have doctors, lawyers, engineers, mental health technicians, teachers, administrators, accountants, soldiers, architectures, public speakers, and artists that our Black kids can look up to and aspire to emulate.

One person that I have been inspired by is Dr. Kevin; Kay Bee. I have adopted him as my own personal life coach. He has taught me to believe in myself, realize that all questions cannot be answered, and be true to your authentic self. I still recall my first encounter with him and his wife. We were on our way to the tropical island in Berlin. I don’t know if he recalls one of our first conversations, but it was centered on why some individuals are successful, while others are not. I still do not have the answer, but as I listen to his weekly FaceBook messages (check out the page), I learn. Whoa, what a wise guy!

He is the doctor that our young girls and boys can aspire to be like. Thank you Kay Bee for sharing you…


His bio reads:

My born name is Kevin L. Buford. I’m a certified psychiatrist in Adult, Addiction, and Child/Adult Psychiatry. I am also board eligible in Family Practice. While I love what I do in my profession, I love coaching introverted professionals to achieve success, live life as authentic selves, and move past mental road blocks so that they can live their best lives. I am a staunch advocate for psychological/emotional wellness.

I am an African American and world citizen. While I was I raised in Alabama, I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel and experience over 40 countries. The more I have travel, the more I have begun to realize the universality of the human soul regardless of  an individual’s background.

My father was a minster and Mother worked for the department of defense. Both had varied interests and lived life in non-traditional roles. My mother infused with the dogged spirit of anything being possible if you can just find a way. My father taught me that people and relationships matter. Their template infused with my own life experiences has led me here.

As long as I can remember, I felt like I had to choose between compromising who I am and what I want. For years, I choose the latter as opposed to the former. While challenging, it was a less complicated and clearer path to pursue. Armed with the inheritance of my parents and being blessed with magnificent people along the way, I have achieved a lot professionally. And yet, I felt empty. I realized that it was because I left the essence of me behind and I only strove for my mind could conceive.

One day, my spirit cried out that it had enough and an aspect of myself re-emerged. I playfully call this side of myself, Kay Bee the Imperfect. It is a part of me that pursues life without having all of the answers and takes action despite some of my actions being flawed. Imperfect execution does not excuse me from being the best I can be, it frees from me not acting at all.

I believe that:

The biggest Enemy is the Inner Me. Audacity and tenacity of mind/spirit leads to a truly authentic life. However, without self-awareness and understanding of how you are, it becomes a daunting task.

My vision

I want to have people experience the best versions of themselves on their own terms. I am motivated and inspired by others people’s transformation — especially when I am a witness and a change agent involved in the process. Simply put, I am coach that wants to see people WIN as themselves.

I’d like to invite you to connect by subscribing to the Kay Bee the Imperfect  Facebook Business Page, YouTube Channel or the Imperfect Nation Facebook Group

How do you describe yourself?  

I am simple man from Alabama, husband of Erica, and son of Ona and Adolphus Elliott. As I grow older, I have become more of my alter ego “Kay Bee the Imperfect” than Kevin. I am an imperfect black nerd and an audacious introvert who strives to be as authentic as I can be everyday!  

What do you do for a living?  How did get into this field?

I am a holder of mirrors who has been gifted with the sword of omens (like Lion-O from the Thundercats) to see what others don’t usually see in themselves.  In laymen’s terms, I am a psychiatrist. I got into this field because I love hear the stories of others. I enjoy facilitating the re-writing of their narratives so that they can enjoy a better version of their lives.  I was originally a family physician, but  I got tired of seeing patients every 20 minutes in a revolving door model. When the door stopped revolving, another door opened for me specialize in children and then addictions as well.

What do you do to promote positivity amongst your race?  Do you think it’s necessary?  Racism doesn’t exist, right?  (I’m being extremely sarcastic here). 

I strive to be the best human I can be. I love being black and I love my African American culture. I am usually in rooms where few are of my hue. However, I use to it an opportunity to stand out. Yes, I frequently have to work twice as hard to get half as much, but that has made fit for my environment. Whether I like it or not, I am a representative of my culture. The brighter I shine in positions of influence, the more I can facilitate my brothers and sisters winning. It is what I live for and one of my life’s purpose.

Promotion of positivity amongst is critical FOR ME. Why, because many people of my race have done it for me and they have changed the trajectory of my life. It is MY choice and I don’t think every black person has the mandate or obligation to do this if they don’t truly feel compelled to do so. Nevertheless, I think it is to our collective demise if a lot of us don’t. I have benefited heavily from my culture’s tenacity, accomplishment, and verve. It is a debt that I will continue pay to the day I die.

Racism ABSOLUTELY exists and will never go away. Even if it did, there would something else to feel the vacuum (classicism, colorism, gender inequality, etc.).  People have built in bias, some more malignant than others. However, I feel the sting a lot less living overseas and not bombarded with reminders. Even while still living in the US, I choose not to  consciously think about race or racism every day.  It didn’t serve my psychological well-being to do so. I TOTALLY get and recognize it exists. And no, I can’t just snap my fingers for it to magically go away. I just made more of a deliberate effort to add value to my soul, but I WILL engage/confront racism when necessary.

I am focused more on my humanity. I heard it once said this way, ”If you begin to look at things differently, the things around you begin to change accordingly.” I believe this mindset has allowed me to connect in a greater way to other cultures and people. It’s a big world and I don’t strive to be insular to my race alone. Yet, I do realize there will ALWAYS be reminders.  I am a black — no doubt that!! And yet, I am also a man, husband, a son, an American, and a world citizen.  I can’t totally control the narrative of how the world sees me, but I can control my response to the world.  IT AIN’T EASY, BUT IT IS NECESSARY FOR MY SANITY.

Are their challenges as a black man in this field?

Hell yes!! The margin of error is clearly less for me. As one on my non-African American supervisors/mentors told me, “You will constantly have to educate some of your colleagues throughout your career. It is a matter of optics and preset beliefs. And even then, you won’t be well received by all.” I thought his candor was refreshing and I have always taken in it to heart. My parents always taught me to never be weary in well-doing regardless of the situation. Life has further taught me to strive for peace, but stay ready for war. 

I truly been blessed to be mentored by a multitude of both black and non-black mentor throughout my career. Yet, I know despite my achievements, I can be knocked on “my perch” at any moment.  And yet…I learned not to value the perch, but moreso the ability to fly. I stand on the shoulders of those who equipped me to do so. The world is not always fair and I don’t expect it will ever truly be. Nevertheless, I have been amazed about how much can be  accomplished when you focus on your character, integrity, principles, and love. 

Haters and obstacles will come and go. In fact, I am sure someone may be plotting on me right now just because of my complexion and some other irritant that I evoke. I don’t have time to worry about anyone sharpening the knives to insert in my back. My energy is devoted to the armor and weaponry that will me make more impervious to attack. I am not violent man; yet I am not afraid to fight as needed it.

What are challenges that you have had as a black professional man?

The biggest  challenge is having my skills/abilities being under-estimated. To be honest, the challenges don’t bother me any more. It is used to bother me, but it doesn’t 85% of the time. I am not going to lie, it still stings every now and again. However, for the most part I have learned to utilize these perceptions to motivate my performance and exceed expectations. When the expectation is exceeded, I stand out from the majority. I leverage this to seek out more opportunities to grow.  My support system and my faith in God helps me to maintain my sanity when the wounds cut deep. I think that may the Achilles heel of a lot of black men. Showing your vulnerability to others you care about can help clean out the infection instead of slowing dying from septic shock. We need to each out other. Black Panther is clearly stronger when he rolls with his crew than when he rolls alone.  

What are ways that you have overcome obstacles that have been in your path?

Application of biblical principles, selective choosing my social support system, constant self-assessment, and professional development.  

I don’t go to traditional church every Sunday, but there are some gems in the Bible that I have followed with great success. It works for me, but I still struggle with a lot of the tenets. I try to dissect some of the blueprints of what I consider to be successful people in the Bible. Ruth, Joseph, Daniel, and Nehemiah are my favorites.

My social support system is not solely race based. While racial congruency is a somewhat of a factor, I have people in my network of varying races and cultures. The ultimate prerequisites are not being the smartest one in the group and striving to add value through mutualism. I have local, distant, and virtual mentors. My survival and sanity depend on the interdependence of my dual gender multi-cultural tribe.

Continual self-assessment is non-negotiable. I don’t know everything and I fall short often. My goal is to make new reversible mistakes for the purpose of being a better me. In any issue or dilemma I face, I try start out by asking the question,”How am I a part of the problem?” Depending on the response, I proceed form there.  I continue to sharpen the saw in my profession by constant learning.

What is your day to day mantra? 

Pray like the desired outcomes of life depend on God. Work like the desired outcomes in life depend on you.

How do you manage everything that you do?

I ask for help, prioritize, and starting to become less of a bag lady.  Oprah says,”You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at one. I can’t do everything I desire to do on my own. I NEED people. In order to get people to help me, I have to get better at adding value to others.

Erykah Badu says,”Bag lady you gon’ miss your bus. You can’t hurry up, ‘cause you got too much stuff.” I am learning to let go some of things that I used to you that I used to hold on to. It remains a struggle — even for stuff that no longer serves a purpose for me.

What or who inspires you? 

I am inspired the potential of what one person can accomplish or become in one’s lifetime. As Les Brown says,”  I don’t want my dreams or aspirations to stand over my death bed screaming out to me why didn’t you give us life??”

Any advice for young men who are facing challenges being black and trying to move up?

The world isn’t fair, racism exist, and you will not always get what you deserve. However, if you are alive and breathing today, the possibilities of becoming what you imagine exist.  There are examples all around us. We are achieving more than ever despite being under attack. Focus on what you can control and master that to the best of your ability. Don’t fight to be accepted, fight to the best version of yourself. Focus more on your character and your integrity than your bank account. You will be rewarded more than doing it in the reverse order.  You are not totally in this alone, though some times in your life you will be lonely. If no one reaches out to you, reach out to us. I promise that some of us will reach back. Our future depends on you!!

Any last words for our readers?

WE are awesome, but WE are not a monolith. I love US and the continuum unto which WE span. Let us continue to uplift each other. While there is value in conveying the narrative regarding chains that keep us in bondage, let us consider funneling some more of OUR energy on the keys to releasing us from our shackles. And there are sooo many different and innovative ways to be unshackled!!

Posted in black lives matter

That one time I yelled…and “humiliated” a student…

Once upon a time I had a former colleague that was caught having sexual relations with a student.

https://www.journalnow.com/news/local/i-am-feeling-pain-in-my-life-teacher-pleads-guilty/article_0230a832-0bcb-52c7-a311-980782ac84c1.amp.html

She persuaded his mom to allow her to tutor him. He was behind in his academics. She served two years.

I have watched many of my Black boys fall behind. I saw this with my own son. I remember sending emails in the past and even this year asking for advice and teachers ignore.

Most of my Black boys have always been behind academically. One of the infamous responses is because they feel as if they are invisible.

Over the last few weeks I read journals and graded assignments and I noticed something… I noticed that certain students have very high gpa’s … I noticed that the work that produced is not of quality. I noticed one student plagiarize. They copied a document and placed it in their google document (google lets you see it all) and he wrote out his summary using the thesaurus.

His grades were changed along with every other child. I wondered … how different this student really was from those black and brown students that I have taught in the past… OH…. they have parents who will fight and complain and possible intimidate teachers…. I don’t know…or administrators…

But what I have noticed after reading through papers for over 15 years is the educational gap is not going to change because the system is jacked… we have grade conscious students and parents who just think their kids are the smartest things ever…🙄

We don’t give those students a chance. And then we have parents who have been at a loss and can’t do anything to help their child because their child is already deemed as… well a failure….

I shared yesterday and I’ll share again, after working in several states and another country in the field of education, this thing called life sets our students up… for

F A I L U R E

And then we have…. those educators who know change is needed … and are extremely scared to be true to their culture…

I have been to prisons. I have sent my son to the juvenile detention center with his dad. I have been in courtrooms where young black boys were not guilty, but because their word was against someone who was deemed superior (maybe the hairstyles….probably skin color).

I also remember jury duty where I was one of three blacks. Oh!!!! I will never forget the convo… the jury was hung because myself and another woman (Black Woman) were unafraid to stand up for that young boy.

I recall the Black Male who was ready to get home to his family, and didn’t want to miss anymore time from his high profile job whisper to us to just say guilty… really….

Oh I will never forget the comments. I actually remember them reference his tone and how scary it was. I recall how he was a “bully” to the white Woman that he supposedly attacked. They never listened to his side until he took the stand. And as a law student at that time, I know his attorney probably begged him not to take the stand, but his story was believable to me.

It was a cultural thing. His voice was firm. He had never had any other charges. He was young and his life was about to be over because of ….that young white girl and the fact that the black man wanted to go home to his family and didn’t want to stay any longer….

We stayed in that room for three days… I did not budge… and I would not go back to change my mind.

I remember picking up coffee one day. As soon as I walked out of the 7-Eleven, a Black unkept male asked if he could have it. Without hesitation I gave it to him.

A few blocks later, I picked up a coffee from Dunkin Donuts. The difference was, I had to pay for that coffee. The first was free because of the promotion.

A few days later I was heading home. A man approached me. He kept saying he knew me and while I was almost a little apprehensive about him walking with me at night; in a pretty dim area, I kept walking and talking to him.

A few blocks into the walk, he said… “I GOT IT!!! You gave me the coffee that day.”

He shared that he had just gotten out of prison. He shared his story of what happened earlier. He was headed to an interview and had not eaten, was nervous, and had just got out of prison. I saw him once more and I asked how it was going and he told me a story of how I reminded him of a past individual he once knew.

It was very cold on this day. I was actually freezing. But I stood and listened. Eventually we walked towards a store because he noticed I was cold…freezing.

I forgot about this story until a moment… he said a black woman from high school made a huge impact on him. She wasn’t his teacher (because he said he never had a black teacher ) but she broke him down. She told him he needed to listen because the streets would get him… and they did get him… and he said if only he would have listened. He had no true black male mentors. He was about 50 years old. He said even now many of the black males he knows don’t help….

He said they pretend, but they don’t really “give a damn about the brothers..”

I can’t speak on behalf of all Black men, because I don’t know them all, but those men in my immediate circle are those that help… and uplift… and are never afraid to speak up…

We all have power to help each other..

And we all have our own ways to do so…

One of the many Black motivational speakers that come to mind is Eric Thomas… I remember watching one where he yelled at a student…

https://youtu.be/1tGOF8PAglI

Will you be the one to motivate and give honest feedback or the one that will allow a student to fall behind…

Yes…

“I’m picking on you!” And last night I hugged several of those boys I picked on last year… and they are graduating… and they all told me they needed those 20 minute lectures…. their parents (check out the one ☝️ below… she calls me to “fuss” at “our baby”. She gives me permission and the others all have parents that have sat in meetings with me fussing..

it’s part of my culture…#TheOneThatCares

If you are a parent or a teacher and have never passionately shared your thoughts with a child to help push them….🤔 I would love to know your “secret.”

#ThisThingCalledLife

Posted in black lives matter

Music speaks to our soul…Meet Mr. Robinson

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

There are many reasons why this quote resonates with many. Music drives our lives. Music brings people together in all instances. I don’t think we can live without music.

One of my all time favorite concerts was JayZ and Kanye. They were extremely late that night, but I don’t even think anyone cared because the concert was just great! We waited and waited for them though. The DJ was so good though, so we just danced and “turned up” for the DJ.

The audience was full of so many people. It was packed.

Kanye and Jay came out. They had no background dancers. There was only the two of them and their microphones on the stage. They did have a backdrop with a few multimedia effects, but that’s it. It was the two of them and the energy was on HIGH!

At one point they performed their old individual songs and Jay was pulling songs from his first album…Reasonable Doubt… man.. I remember that… and everyone… I mean everyone was rapping with him! Every song lyric! Every single person (like everyone…). Young and old….just a melting pot of people. People that were my parents age, younger than I was… people that I would have never even thought to be a fan …. they brought people from all walks of life together with their music. They spoke to the souls of everyone… (SN: I have a joke… why do shoemakers go to Heaven? Because they have good soles….😳🤪… pretty great place to stick that! Lol)

At the end of the concert they performed from their Watch the Throne albums. They ended the concert by performing the song Nig**as In Paris. Lighters were up! Hands were up! Adrenaline was running… the energy was wild!

Most describe Donte Robinson as extraordinary... he has the skills to bring people together through music and as I think about that concert and the struggles that the OLD Kanye (note that I’m only referencing the OLD Kanye that we all liked a lot) has endured, it makes me recall my fondest memories of Donte. He has drive that most cannot and will never have. His perseverance has been noticed by all.

His friend, sorority sister, colleague Reshonda says,

“Donte has been the big brother I never had. He greatly values loyalty and family, blood or not, and I greatly respect him for that.”

One of his former band mates/

students Jayla shares a story about him,

He was like a big brother I never had. I remember when I was at the blowout in 2008. I was a shy lonely Maryland girl with a flute. He noticed I didn’t have one and he gave me his. I was so happy because he didn’t do that for the other high schoolers plus he didn’t know me. Since then he’s always been there for me and inspired me to be one of the best flute players in the band. I was always trying to do the same music like him because I wanted to be just as talented if not better 😆.”

According to another former student Julian, “Faithful, determined, man of God, and selfless” comes to mind for him.

One of his former classmates recalls his ability to be personable with people. Charles says, “He knew everyone’s name,” which is pretty impressive. But what was even more impressive to me was he knew something about everyone. I don’t think there is a person that marched under him when he worked in all capacities: including being a drum major and being on staff for the best band in the land… The Blue and Gold Marching Machine, that he did not know.

His energy and optimism for life is contagious just like that concert. While working with him, I had the opportunity to hold numerous conversations with him about life and growth, and he taught me directly and indirectly.

He is a family man, a musician who brings people together with great music, and an overall personable guy.

Let’s take a moment to learn about this great guy Donte R!

How do you describe yourself?

I like to think of myself as an optimistic man who is both introvert and extrovert. I work hard to please both myself and others. I am a mentor, a friend, a brother, father and son. I am goal oriented and push others to not only be that way but be successful at their goals. I understand that although failure happens it should never be an option. I love life and everything about it. I am a product of both abuse and love. I am a product of a choice to be better than my upbringing.

What do you do to promote positivity amongst your race? Do you think it’s necessary? Racism doesn’t exist, right? (I’m being extremely sarcastic here).

I am a firm believer in mentoring, so I speak positivity into the lives of those younger than me daily. I do my best to understand the youth of today by developing a relationship where the can come confide in me without judgement. I find that many of our kids really just need somebody to listen them talk about there situations. I practice support in my friends and those who I mentored while still working at A&T, support is also another factor that many of the younger generation is missing. I believe it necessary, our youth is suffering so much from social media and what the media portrays to the world. I would be doing the world, my students and my friends an injustice if I didn’t feed into their lives the way my mentors fed into mine. Racism does exist…sad to say, I worry often about our young people of color because this world has shown that it does not care for them. That is why work so hard to stay in touch with those I mentored in Greensboro.

What do you do for a living? How did get into this field?

I am a music teacher, I actually thought about going into the field of engineering or computer technology but my love for music was rekindled when I met my mentor and teacher Dr. Kenneth Ruff. From that moment I worked to become the best music professional/educator that I could be.

Are their challenges as a black man in this field?

Unfortunately there are challenges in the field of education, but I do not feel that it is because of my race. Yes, racism does exist and yes it does exist in our schools but I think it comes more from learned behavior at home. As a black man in the field of education I am a hot commodity, meaning they are looking for positive black men to be a representative in the school system.

What are challenges that you have had as a black professional man?

I haven’t had to many major challenges as a black man in my profession. But that one that I often deal with is trying to get my students to understand that they are the future and because our society is slowly but surely failing them that they have to work my diligently in order to be successful.

What or who inspires you?

I am a music teacher, I actually thought about going into the field of engineering or computer technology but my love for music was rekindled when I met my mentor and teacher Dr. Kenneth Ruff. From that moment I worked to become the best music professional/educator that I could be.

Inspiration for me comes in many forms, from my friends/family to my students. I am inspired by their day to day struggle, by their ability to fail and bounce back to try it again. I look at my family like Todgi and Alex who stepped out on a limb and started their own business and have been successful and I apply what they have done in my everyday life. I see individuals like Dr. Ruff who came into a program and worked to change it and think about how I try and fail and want to give up…and think to myself who am I to not put more effort into my life.

Any advice for young men who are facing challenges being black and trying to move up?

What are your thoughts regarding mentoring?

I am a firm believer in mentoring, so I speak positivity into the lives of those younger than me daily. I do my best to understand the youth of today by developing a relationship where the can come confide in me without judgement. I find that many of our kids really just need somebody to listen them talk about there situations. I practice support in my friends and those who I mentored while still working at A&T, support is also another factor that many of the younger generation is missing. I believe it necessary, our youth is suffering so much from social media and what the media portrays to the world. I would be doing the world, my students and my friends an injustice if I didn’t feed into their lives the way my mentors fed into mine.

Racism does exist…sad to say, I worry often about our young people of color because this world has shown that it does not care for them. That is why work so hard to stay in touch with those I mentored in Greensboro.

Any last words for our readers?

Keep your head up and pushing forward. The world will not cater to you, so work hard and live life!

Posted in black lives matter

My Biggest Accomplishment was being terminated…after I resigned about two months ago…

I submitted my resignation a few months ago. I was told that it would not be accepted. The comment that was made (I’m paraphrasing now ) is if you leave what will happen when you experience [racism] elsewhere. I made every attempt to resolve the issue; including trying to get mediation…..but There is a story I will share later about that.

I received a letter of termination today and the irony was I was heading to see my students from last year graduate. I couldn’t even get mad or upset. When I read the letter of termination, I knew immediately who submitted and what student I “humiliated” and “bullied.” His mom asked me to continue lecturing him because he was failing all of his classes. She told me he came home talking about how much he needed me to fuss at him and surprising how much he liked me…. but I guess that wasn’t taken into account 🤷🏽‍♀️. My soror stood there with me as his mom said these things. My son stood there. His mom said other things…

I actually had my son read the entire letter aloud for me because I was trying to make it to my babies graduation. I shook my head and I realized that when I asked God to open up a new door for me, this was what he was doing. I hated teaching this year. It was a combination of everything, but the biggest was….. another story..

I kept replaying that day I the students mom…. it was a few months ago when I met a sorority sister at Panera Bread. That day I ran into the young man who I “fussed at (while “distressing” one of my students) mother. She said she wanted to meet me because her son came home and told her about me. She said I need help with him and told me to keep fussing at him. She shared how many F’s he had and shared other personal things. My son was ironically standing right there along with my sorority sister to hear.

But …..

Today one of my babies from last year who was probably the headache for the entire school hugged me and while standing beside his mom, my son took a picture and heard him and his mom tell me “thank you.” He said you saved my life. Another one ran over to me and said the same thing. Then I stood and another said YO!! Ms. V you made it!! His mom looked at me and said you know he still has the card that you gave him by his bed. It was from the letters I wrote to all of the football team.

One of the football players came over and said, remember that time you fussed at us for about …(can’t share it all lol)… you are the reason why I just graduated!

One of the moms texted me not long ago ago and said the same thing that mom in Panera told me… (she is ok with me taking pictures of the text..) I realize a lot with that!

And while I was terminated for doing what I’ve always done and what parents always “love” me for, but I realize that it’s not always going to be appreciated…

As a teacher, many walk on eggshells because they are so focused on catering to…. (hush ki..)

As they, you, and others watch videos of teachers you also have to be “open-minded” about what has happened. I remember one of my law colleagues sharing how we are quick to jump to conclusions and during a trial they made a person whose passion looked as if it was bad and they didn’t know the entire story.

She also mentioned during this trial that so many teachers are held to a standard that parents don’t even hold themselves up to. I know as a parent I fuss at my Black son because I don’t want him to be like that student whose accused of rape or that student whose parents have thrown their hands up and don’t know what to do with them.

But after we both read the termination, we digested it, we realized that there was no ill-intent and he reminded me of what the young students mom told me to do for her son, I let go. And once I let go, I got the best surprise ever! I got to see my babies from last year!! OMG!!! I got to see them!! They hugged me! They told me how my fussing and yelling helped them and even their parents told me they appreciated it…

I marched in the band on the collegiate level and I recall my band director “cussing us out.” We are professionals and pretty often laugh about his antics. I was in the military for four years and I remember my drill sergeants… I was always pushing with my battle for laughing… they yelled and screamed and cussed …

My first terminal degree (JD) I remember my law professors ranting and even making some stand up … embarrassing us. I sat beside a young girl who would shake in class. I rubbed her leg and told her to calm down. She was scared and nervous … life didn’t prepare her for such real life… and she dropped out.

Today’s lesson for me was reflect, but be true to myself. I write an inmate, I volunteer with our youth, and I’ve been applauded for what I was let go for….

#ThisThingCalledLife…be true to you!!

#IGandBlogFamous🤪