Dorsey Hopson Stepping Down as Superintendent of Shelby County Schools

Dorsey Hopson has announced he will be leaving the post of Superintendent, effective January 8th. He will be moving to a national position with health insurance company Cigna, and called it a “difficult” decision to make the change. In his new role, Hopson will help Cigna “expand its services to school districts for health benefits and wellness programs.”

Via Chalkbeat:

His hiring came on the cusp of massive change in Memphis’ educational landscape. The district’s student enrollment steadily declined after six suburban towns split off from Shelby County Schools in 2014 to create their own districts, and the state-run Achievement School District continued to siphon off students by taking over chronically low-performing schools in the city. Hopson and the school board eventually closed nearly two dozen schools to shore up resulting budget deficits.

In a press conference, Hopson said “I would love to see this work to this work to the finish line,” he said. “But I feel confident that we have laid a strong foundation for the next leader of Shelby County Schools.” No word yet on a timeline for a new superintendent.

Sarah Sanders and the White House Don’t Want You to Believe What Your Own Eyes Are Seeing

For all the talk of White House chaos stemming from Trump’s declining mental stability (whether said decline is from a rumored battle with dementia or narcissistic personality disorder is still up for debate), we can’t ignore a common thread running through his staff: they seem to be incompetent AF. From Eagle Scout letter mix ups to tweets calling Melania by the wrong name, it looks as though many on payroll at 1600 Pennsylvania are not actually qualified for the job. A remixed old adage fits perfectly here: Like employer, like employee. Sure, some of these things can be chalked up to human error, but when you represent the leader of the free world and the United States as a whole, errors are unacceptable.

In a time where this administration routinely lambasts verifiable truth as “fake news,” yet lies are lauded as “alternative facts,” it has become increasingly difficult to figure out whether or not this chaos is par for the course or purposefully planned. Take for instance the latest gaffe committed by none other than the US Press Secretary, Sarah Huckster-bee Sanders. This walking, talking, Chrysler 300 stands before our nation’s press everyday spinning lies into more lies and never blinks. (I honestly don’t know that she *can* blink with those wonky eyes, but that’s neither here nor there.) Her latest lie actually came with visual aids.

On the day after midterms, our tyrannical-tangerine, toddler-in-chief gave a press conference which could be classified as one of his most combative to date. At the podium, he seemed more defensive than usual, quick to insult reporters and rebuke their questions. He belittled National Urban Radio Network’s April Ryan, saying she was very rude and forcefully repeating “SIT DOWN!” when she would not let him escape a question on voter suppression. He chided PBSNewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor when she asked about his proclamation of being a nationalist, calling her question “racist.” He pretended to not be able to understand a reporter who asked him about the two Muslim victors in the previous night’s election. The entire thing was a hot mess (you can read the transcript here).

The biggest showdown, however, took place on the front row between Trump and CNN’s Jim Acosta. Jim tried to get an answer as to why Trump and the GOP were classifying the caravan of asylum seekers traveling through Mexico as some sort of dangerous immigrant invasion right before midterms. Trump gave his usual non-answer, then got frustrated when he couldn’t escape Acosta’s follow-ups. As he repeatedly shouted “That’s enough!” a female white house aide tried to bumrush Acosta and snatch the mic, as he calmly stood there trying to get his question out. Most people who saw this in real time witnessed exactly that.

Later in the day, it was announced that the White House was revoking Acosta’s press pass. Huh? For what—asking a public servant questions the public wants answered? When asked for clarity, storytellin’ Sarah issued this statement: “President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable.” When most of the sane American public read this, their response was a resounding “Girl, WUT?” Surely señorita smokey eye was mistaken because NOBODY in their right minds who witnessed that exchange would believe this load of nonsense, right?

Wrong.

As soon as the rebukes of her statement came rolling in, Huckabuck Sanders tweeted out a video which she claimed “clearly documented” the “inappropriate behavior” from her official Press Secretary account. It was liked over 100,000 times, and retweeted almost 32,000 times. The trouble is, anyone with half a brain can see that this video was doctored to give the illusion of Acosta’s hand moving faster than it did in real life.

Another issue? The video reportedly originated from Infowars—a well known far right-wing conspiracy website who, along with their laughable leader Alex Jones, has been banned from almost all of social media and youtube due to propaganda tactics. Yet, the PRESS SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES is spreading their bovine excrement as FACT. What level of incompetence is this? I mean, we know the Trump administration is full of idiots, but really Sarah? Being built like a brick is bad enough, you gotta have a head like one too? Are you aware that you are the press secretary of the country, and not Trumpito’s personal PR agent? Or, could this all be purposeful persuasion via prevarication?

This White House knows their base is just a box full of dull tacks and tools, layered with rocks. Anything they throw out there will be accepted as the gospel truth (as found in “two corinthians”). So as to continue their trend of discrediting the press while turning our democracy into a totalitarian regime, they are now citing Inforwars as a reliable source.

This is either the most inept administration of our lifetimes, or the most insidious one. Either way, America? You in danger, girl.

The Physical and Psychological Toll of Activism

One could say this administration has shaped me as an activist. It was when now Vice President, Mike Pence was Governor that I became vocal about social justice. Showing up regularly at the Statehouse to do what I could to speak out against legislators blatant attacks on the LGTBQIA+ community. It was when 45 was elected to the Presidency that I made a decision to shift my life’s focus. I turned to the nonprofit sector and became fully committed to being an advocate for social justice. These past couple of years, I’ve had the privilege to speak at several rallies, vigils, and panels. One, in particular, has changed me in more ways than I ever imagined.

Earlier this year I was asked to speak at the March for Our Lives Rally. A young woman from one of the local high schools had heard me perform (I’m also a poet) and speak at a panel a few weeks prior. I was ecstatic because this rally was being put on by the youth to talk about the gun violence that plagues their everyday lives. I was also able to speak in the building where it all began for me, the Indiana Statehouse. When I was writing my speech I made a point to write specifically for the youth that were present. I was fully aware of what the politicians were going to say, and I wanted to speak directly to the youth and be honest. I made a point to speak about state violence perpetrated by the police, not just mass shooters. I spoke about black lives, trans lives and Palestinian lives mattering. I left that stage being heckled by a few adults, but I knew the youth understood that they were not in this alone. I was inspired. I was ready to take on the world. I was reminded of why I decided to get into this work. I was full.

Days later, it came to my attention that a white supremacist vlogger got ahold of a clip of my speech. A clip that was filmed by a family friend and only shared on our Facebook pages. A clip used in a video released on YouTube with a picture of me and the term “Anti-White” next to it. He then used the clip of my speech to go on a 10-minute diatribe about why “blacks are inherently prone to violence”, used skewed FBI statistics to “prove” white privilege is not real, amongst other hateful, racist commentary. The video (with over 80,000 views and 2000+ comments) referenced my personal blog as well, where people began leaving hateful comments attacking me. Needless to say, I was (and mildly am still) in shock.

I had to come to terms with how open we are because someone had to send this hateful person this clip, causing me to reformat how I use social media. On top of that, I found it difficult to be in public. I became terrified that someone had seen the video, believed what was being said about me and would lash out. I worried about my children and my mother. I became worried that I’d lose my job due to backlash. I shut down and only found refuge in my home, behind closed doors and drawn blinds.

As I was going through this and trying to keep up appearances, I was supposed to speak for the 50-year commemoration of Dr. King’s assassination. The day of my speech, I pulled up to my house with my children in tow, to find a police officer parked in front of it. Mind you at the time I lived in an all-white neighborhood, that never had a police presence. Now, I am aware it could be a coincidence but will be honest in saying, I don’t believe in coincidences. He remained there for 30 minutes before he pulled off. I still to this day have no idea why he was there and will probably never know. What I do know is I was terrified because it was in that moment that I realized I wasn’t even safe in my own house. I canceled my speech as I couldn’t let go of what I was going through and the reason I was asked to speak that day. I do not consider myself anywhere near the level of Dr. King but am not blind to the world we live in either.

The reality of being an activist and the dangers that come with it became very real for me and I had to take a step back to consider how far I was/am willing to go, especially while being a single mother. This became even more evident when I learned that the (white) nonprofit I work for has no protocol for protecting it’s employees and did not take the video, nor my fear of police intimidation seriously. I realized that I had no game plan for myself or my family, for protection. I have changed how I navigate the world, especially as more articles come out about activists losing their lives or their loved ones. I feel grateful that my reality check came in the form of a defamation video and nothing worse.

Despite all that has happened, I’ve learned that silence is what they want. Those that benefit from our fractured system, want us to be quiet and complacent. I refuse to sit back and let this go by without exposing it for what it is. I am currently working on a chapbook and art installation, to be released on December 7th, using the video and the comments, to show people what it’s really like to be a queer PoC activist on the front lines. I hope that everyone that reads this will take the time to truly think about how far they are willing to go out on a limb to stand up for what is right.

Not everyone is made to be on the frontlines. Not all of us have the privilege to be vocal or the safety to be seen. Yet, we can’t just sit idly by in silence either. We must all take a stand even if it’s behind others. Know that it’s okay to take a step back to re-evaluate what your role is going to be.


Tatjana Rebelle is a 2018 Wayfinder Foundation Fellow from Indianapolis, who uses various art mediums as forms of activism and is especially focused on elevating the voices of young people.

Goodbye Megyn KKKelly

Last year, amid side eyes and confusion, former Fox News Host Megyn KKKelly, awash in white privilege, was gifted her own morning show on NBC. From the start, Kelly seemed an odd and unwelcome choice to the Today show line up; Her brand, which usually caters to obtuse, bottom feeding, nitwits that think “fair and balanced” means “bigoted rhetoric only white people who vote against their best interests believe,” doesn’t really match a partisan neutral, family station like NBC.

The previous 9 AM slot, a ratings leader hosted by venerated veteran Al Roker and walking, talking #BlackGirlMagic, Tamron “your fave could NEVA” Hall, was doing great, and the change seemed antithetical to the progress the network was making. It felt like a move by somebody who wanted to Make Morning Shows Great Again. Most people saw this for what it was—a whitewashing of the daytime lineup, and the National Association of Black Journalists even released a statement calling NBC to the carpet. Yet, NBC persisted.

In September, “Megyn Kelly Today” debuted with special guests, the cast of Will and Grace. It took no time at all for her true colors to come shining through. Kelly surprised a Will and Grace superfan with tickets to a taping of the show. She awkwardly joked not once, but twice about the fan’s sexuality. Debra Messing, replying to those who questioned her appearance on the episode, informed the public that the cast didn’t even know they were going to KKKelly’s show. Which lends credence to the rumorsthat NBC was having a rough time booking celebrities who weren’t already on their payroll to come and chat it up with Aryan Pride Barbie. The show consistently floundered; Megyn’s constant gaffes as she tried to be a real girl instead of the wooden trash she’s made of, gave her show publicity for all the wrong reasons. She was out of her element having to talk to normal Americans instead of Fox News viewers, and the struggle translated into terrible ratings. The third hour of Today was down nearly 30%in their key demographic.

In her latest show of incompetence and inherent racism, KKKelly decided to question why it’s wrong for white people to wear blackface for Halloween.  Lemme say that again: THIS FOOL WANTS TO KNOW WHY IT IS WRONG FOR WHITE PEOPLE TO WEAR BLACKFACE FOR HALLOWEEN. Which indicates that she understands that it’s wrong, in GENERAL, but for ONE DAY? Y’all gon’ police racism on the ONE DAY she’s supposed to be able to get away with it? Y’all can’t let her have this ONE DAY?!?! What is WRONG with y’all? Y’all have Bella Noche’d Megyn’s holiday! Y’all upsetting her and her homegirls, because they feel like, well damn, if you can’t go full racist on Halloween, when the hell can you go?!

Turns out never, if you want to keep a job that isn’t on Fox News. On Thursday, Oct. 25th, 2018—one year and one month after the debut of her horrible show, KKKelly has been fired amid the blackface backlash. Now, you can imagine her shock and confusion, seeing as though back in 2013, while on her previous network, it was perfectly fine for her to spew ignorance as fact by saying Santa Claus, a fictional character actually based on a Greek/Turkish man, was “just white.”

Megyn tried to calm all the little klansmen in training by stating: “And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white. But this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa, but Santa is what he is, and just so you know, we’re just debating this ’cause someone wrote about it, kids.” Did she stop there? OH NO. She then went on to say that Jesus, of Nazareth, born in a manger in Bethlehem, a Galilean Jew who died in Jerusalem, was also white. And that it was just a fact: “Jesus was a white man, too… He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa. I just want the kids watching to know that.”

I would just like to remind everyone that Galilee is in close proximity to the countries we know today as Syria and Iraq—the homelands of people good ol’ “Christian” Fox viewers love to hate. I’d also like to remind folks that “The Kelly File” aired at 9 PM on weeknights. Megyn thinking “kids” were actually up watching her show is almost as confusing as her thinking Santa is real and Jesus is white.

KKKelly’s show being pulled off the air is definitely the proper response to her comments, her lack of awareness, her lack of talent, and her overall garbage existence. Yet, we still have to question WHY she was given the job in the FIRST place. It’s not like she has ever shown a penchant for factual journalism or possesses likability. But THIS is who NBC overlooked Tamron Hall for. THIS is who NBC paid $69 Million to, TWENTY TIMES more than Tamron was paid. THIS is who NBC built a $10 Million studio for. Of of the myriad ways to waste money, THIS is how NBC chose to do so, and rumor has it there’s no way out of fulfilling that $69 Million contract, even though Megyn only “earned” $20 Million since the show was cancelled in the first year. Meanwhile, Tamron is outchea living her best life on another network, and throwing expert shade at the network that picked White mediocrity over Black excellence (as is routine on a daily basis in all industries across America.…*sigh*).

I don’t know if NBC has ever taken such a huge L, between the ratings drop, the damaged reputation, the blowback AND the millions? That’s quite a hit. But what can they expect when they hire and validate proven racists like KKKelly and her ilk?

Guess they gon’ learn TODAY.

Powerful Parents from across the country link up in Memphis: Join us this weekend for the Annual Parent Summit

The Memphis Lift started with a small group of people determined to make the powerless parent powerful.

Founded in 2015, we are now a movement of over 1,000 parents, grandparents and concerned family members who believe our children have been underserved in failing schools for too long.   

We are working together to demand high quality schools and radical changes in public education to disrupt systemic education inequities.

In the last few years, we have spoken at school board meetings, had discussions with state and city leaders, knocked on more than 10,000 doors, and equipped hundreds of parents to become advocates for their children.

Information is power and we are working to make sure more parents and students have access to good schools. We are insisting that our voices and concerns are heard and changes are made so that every child can get a great education.

And here’s what we discovered: parents from around the country want to be empowered and equipped, too. When people heard about what we were doing in Memphis, they wanted to start a parent movement in their own city.

It was exciting, then, to have some of our “cousin” organizations all in town together last week. Groups from Oakland, Nashville, and Atlanta visited The Memphis Lift HQ to learn more about how we can link up across the nation to make a difference.

From coast to coast, we are seeing what happens when parents come together and take action on behalf of their kids and communities.

Do you want to be part of this movement of powerful parents? You can be. Come to our Third Annual Parent Summit on Saturday, October 27th. We will be discussing important issues that matter to YOUR child’s education and OUR community, such as school quality, access to quality schools, and Unified Enrollment.

We will also have notable speakers and panel discussions with local district leaders as well as parents from Indianapolis, Chicago, Denver, and Washington, D.C. who will share innovative ideas and talk about what’s working in their cities.

Are you fired up? Ready to be part of the solution? We are. Plan to join us for the Parent Summit this weekend, and register online today. When we come together for our kids, great things CAN happen!

Honoring the Life of my Brother by Working to Save the Lives of Others: A Story of Suicide, Survival and Strength

It’s Bullying Awareness Month. I thought it would be wise to sit and talk with the anti-bullying champion Ms. Leshundra Robinson who is the Executive Director of UCAN of Memphis.  She has dedicated the past ten years of her life to ensuring students understand the importance and dangers associated with bullying and she helps families and the communities at large know how to identify the signs of bullying, how to prevent bullying and how to intervene in bullying.

We kicked off the conversation with the interesting notion of how mental health awareness is correlated with bullying and Leshundra’s personal story of how this work is a personal goal of honoring her brother’s legacy.

Leshundra Robinson, MPA Executive Director-UCAN of Memphis

 L.Richmond: In your opinion, what’s the main reason for increased mental health scares and the decreased level of awareness in our community?

L. Robinson:  I think this question is quite simple. In the black community, our people don’t really know what’s going on and refuse to talk about this issue that’s beginning to plague our community in record numbers. There’s a perception of mistrust. People don’t feel empowered and/or compelled to share what’s really going on? If I tell people that I have a mental health issue-will people still deal with me?

L. Richmond: Do you think it’s a black person issue or across the board?

L. Robinson: I think the issue is across the board. However, I believe in our community its a matter of getting help and lack of awareness.

L. Richmond: What was your motivation to get into this work?

L. Robinson: My brother was 26 years old when he came to me with this thought of him being bipolar. I shrugged it off and chalked it up as him being stressed out over school and possibly being poorly connected to a young lady that I didn’t particularly care for him dating. A few weeks prior, he had shared with me that the young lady had begun sharing her belief that she was bipolar and I felt that she had transferred that energy and those alarming thoughts on to my brother. My response to my brother was that of a concerned sister; (what we often say); “you’re good. You just need to rest. And you need to leave that girl alone.”

Less than 1-year later, (my brother was 27 years of age at this time) he had started taking medications in which had been prescribed by his doctor. My issue with him taking the medication was then and still is, why would a doctor prescribe my brother, or anyone, medication where the side effects are suicidal thoughts. To this day, I have yet to resolve that inquiry.

L. Richmond: Did your brother know that one of the side effects for the medication was suicidal thoughts?

L. Robinson: Yes! So, on top of taking this medication, on top of a broken relationship (at this point, him and the girl had broken their relationship off), being in a new city (Knoxville), without family, and he was in his residency (veterinarian medicine), my brother had hit his breaking point and began having suicidal thoughts which later led to his demise.

L. Richmond:  What happened next?

L. Robinson: I broke. I acted out. I didn’t care about a job or myself. I thought I could have prevented something. My children lost their uncle, a mentor, a friend. I didn’t go to therapy because I was in denial. I didn’t want to hear, “It’s not your fault!”  I should have gone to therapy but I didn’t. I ignored everyone’s push to go to therapy and didn’t want to hear the common, “It’s going to be alright.” Nor did I want to talk to anybody. I even considered suicide myself. But I was faced with the harsh truth. I didn’t believe him. I didn’t listen to my brother. I brushed it off. How could I have not known that something was wrong beyond stress? But, those were all the thoughts that would have continued to keep me bound and in a depressed state myself. This went on for about a year.

L. Richmond: How did you survive this?

L. Robinson: (smiles softly) I title this: “My come out.” I kept reading my brother’s suicide letter addressed to me that said I was stronger and how to honor his legacy by promising to bring awareness around mental health and that it’s okay to get help!

UCAN of Memphis is apart of that promise of keeping his legacy alive. I can’t afford to miss another opportunity where someone is crying out and I’m not listening and taking into account everything that is being said. Our kids are crying out. And as a community, we are not listening. I can’t change an entire system but I can do my part. A lot of my sessions and workshops with students involves just listening and allowing the students to simply share. I learn so much about them from just listening and their circumstances. Listening to them helps me to plan, helps me to think through being proactive and also gives me what to share to audiences of adults.

L. Richmond: Do you still read your brother’s letter to you?

L. Robinson: Yes! I’ve even found the strength to present it in some of my larger settings. I keep it as a reminder of the promise I made to him to not allow his life or legacy to be in vain by helping kids in similar situations.

L. Richmond: So just for a second, switching back to the learning space? Do you think the learning environment is prepared to adequately handle the mental health challenges of students on any level?

L. Robinson: No, I believe that they need additional resources, training, and additional support in the school and more specifically the classroom. Teachers have to look at students from where they are and not necessarily who they are. There is so much training and development that needs to have at the school level to fully support students and their wide range of needs. We do students a huge disservice if we don’t provide them with the adequate support and resources. I am appreciative of every school that welcomes me and what UCAN offers to its students.

L. Richmond: What is the impact you would like to have with students in schools?

L. Robinson: I would like the students to know and understand everyone goes through trials and tribulations. Life is filled with adverse situations but it’s all about how we handle it. We have many options available but we have to choose the right one that not only fits our lives but at times those around us. Suicide is not the answer. Having mental issues is extremely prominent in society but our biggest challenge is listen to others that say we don’t have to get help. Just pray about it. Yes, we definitely want to pray but we also want to know that He provides people around us that have the resources to help so utilize them.

My impact is to have students understand even as an adult I still go through it but it’s my personal goal and God’s purpose to not give up and give in to the negative statements of what can’t be done, what I don’t look like, what others have and I don’t and most importantly what will never happen. Everything is possible if you just try. Then try again and again.

L. Richmond: Wow! I am in awe of your strength and boldness. Is there anything else you would like to share?

L. Robinson: Yes! My struggle has been real and if I can help anyone with my transparency, then I will. This is my letter to suicide:

Dear Suicide-

Last night I saw him. I saw a young man that looked like my brother when he was younger. He had his “beginner dreads.”  Was built just like him. I stared at him and watched him walk back and forth from the kitchen. I had not encountered this moment in a while and I wasn’t ready to face it again.

Why did you talk to him that day?! Why did you whisper in his ear “do it”? Their pain won’t last long. Just do it already!” Why did you hover over him for months, for years with a dark blanket saying just do it? I hate you!!!! You been in this family for a while but I personally manage to Ignore you. Then you decided to get what you knew was close to my kids cause I wasn’t going to be touched. How DARE you touch him slightly then overturn his every thought! How dare you!!! You knew what he needed and why. You knew if you took him far enough away that we couldn’t get in arms reach of him you could make your next move. You finessed his mind to contemplate loving you. Then when he said NO go away, I have something else better, I have people who love me and need me, go away!!! You decided that wasn’t going to do. You needed another “soldier” on your team. So you let him slide and you patiently watched and waited for him. Watched over and the people he was connected to. Then bam that’s when you found your right target to get him to come to you.

You waited until he was most vulnerable and used every tactic you knew. You waited until our mom died. Even though we both knew she would pass that year just not the date, you waited to see if that would break him, break us really. But, it didn’t. We held tight to each other. Then you thought you had him when I got divorced because to him that was the only model of a happy and healthy relationship and he knew that he could have one just like that. But when I got divorced, it broke his model and his heart. You thought you had him then but he held tight. He was almost there but his nieces and nephews were at a delicate age that they needed him. So you then brought along a woman who you knew would be the “right marriage model” for him. That he would fall head over heels in love with her and THAT would be the moment you land.

You are a weak coward who needs other people energy to survive. You are a thief who doesn’t care how you steal it, whether it’s in the day or night. But you know what you are most importantly…You are double edged sword!!! You portray to want to get help because you are depressed then you wait until everyone is gone and you change to (inserts expletive) everybody!!!” You are a coward, a thief, an asshole, a b*&%h, a leech and I hate you to the pits of hell!!!!

Signed,

A survivor of Suicide. Not a victim.

 

To learn more about UCAN of Memphis, please feel free to visit: ucanofmemphis.org

Or contact Leshundra directly at: ucanmakadiff@gmail.com 

Dear Ye: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.

If 2018 hasn’t been confusing enough for you, here’s a little conundrum to ponder: while Kanye “slavery was a choice” West is running around here in MAGA hats and supporting Donald Trump, his arch nemesis, Taylor “we still don’t know how you won that VMA over Beyonce´ but whatever” Swift is throwing her public support behind the democrats running for Congress in her home state of Tennessee. Yes folks, you read that right: that leggy loaf of Wonder Bread, who crafts an ear worm like no other; the patron saint of melanin deficient, boy-crazy basicness; the poster girl for all things vanilla pop; THAT TAYLOR SWIFT is pledging to vote blue in a red state, while Ye is supporting red pols in a blue state. What. Is. Happening.

On Sunday, October 7th, Taylor released an IG post that broke from her usual silence on politics. It was provocative! It got the people going! She denounced Republican incumbent Marsha Blackburn, stating Blackburn’s abysmal voting record as the reason they now have bad blood. And, if that wasn’t enough, Tay-Tay is also encouraging all her followers, which includes a huge chunk of 18-23 year olds, to register, vote, and follow her lead. This, of course, led to inevitable immature outbursts by racists angry, dejected fans: public displays of lighting her (already purchased and profited off of) merchandise on fire and decrying her choices.

The burning question I have, however, is this: HOW TF IS TAYLOR SWIFT MORE WOKE THAN KANYE WEST RIGHT NOW? I mean, I’m sure it has something to do with his proximity to the succubus that is Kris Kardashian Jenner and her cambion daughters (I mean, their initials *are* KKK…), along with a refusal to medicate for his Bipolar disorder, but…STILL. This is the same dude who, on national television, uttered the words “George Bush does not care about Black people” while we watched New Orleans drowning in Katrina’s waters and her people abandoned on rooftops. This is the same dude who, on his first album, said “Now n—as can’t make it to ballots to choose leadership/ But we can make it to Jacob’s and to the dealership/ Swear I hear new music and I just don’t be feelin’ it/ Racism’s still alive, they just be concealin’ it”. THE SAME DUDE that said “Meanwhile the DEA/ Teamed up with the CCA/ They tryna lock n—as up/ They tryna make new slaves/ See that’s that privately owned prison/ Get your piece today” on one of his more recent albums.
Ye went from rapping about how the government oppresses minorities, to embracing a fascist looney toon that is literally locking little brown children up in concentration camps, all the while saying he won’t be “bullied” into believing fat meat is greasy. Woof. I don’t claim to know the late Ms. Donda West’s politics, but I’m led to believe this ain’t how she raised him to be.

On the other hand, Taylor Swift, who is probably aware that a large portion of her fan base are children of (and members of) the 53 percenters, is willing to put her career aspirations to the side and stand for what is good, right and just. Taylor Swift, whose lyrics are pretty much all about boys, having fun with boys, falling in love with boys, breaking up with boys, having fun with her girls without boys, etc. etc., is using her real life voice to stand up for minorities with her vote. Taylor Swift, who (in my honest opinion) sometimes can’t hold a note in a bucket when performing live, is holding up her fist in solidarity to resist and reject those who stand with the tangerine tyrant. TAYLOR SWIFT, who was ACTUALLY BULLIED on stage by Hennessy-fueled Kanye West, is standing with people who don’t look like her, love like her, or identify gender-wise like her, because she knows that her stance has weight and can change THEIR lives for the better. She’s a very rich, very famous white woman in America—it’s safe to say she’s fine when it comes to how the government affects her personally. She doesn’t even have skin in this game, yet she’s acting more like skinfolk to minorities than a person who is actual skinfolk. We are firmly in Bizzaro world.

To add insult to injury, Kanye is supposed to be meeting with Pumpkin Spice Putin (you know, because he’s the gross American version…and he looks like a bloated orange gourd) YET AGAIN. To discuss what, heaven only knows. While he’s kissing up to dictators, I think I’ll remove his albums from my iTunes library and make room for an album or two from Tay-Tay. Well…maybe not a whole album, but some singles for sure. I might even dedicate one to Ye…namely WE ARE NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER. #KanyeIsCancelled

Too young to vote, Memphis teens lead voter-engagement campaign in advance of midterms

At 17, Caitlin Brinson isn’t yet old enough to vote, but she’s working hard to get other Memphis residents to the polls in November.

The Cordova High School school senior is active in a new youth initiative called Engage Memphis, which aims to increase voter turnout and to educate young future voters on issues that affect their lives, such as school discipline, sexual assault and harassment policies, and diversity in schools.

Read more here

Is your school district making good on its mission statement?

I was scrolling through my email when I saw this question. I immediately thought, “NO” then had to contemplate whether that answer stemmed from me as a parent or me as an educator.

Many educators are also parents and the dichotomy of these two are engulfing. I once wrote that I haven’t had the pleasure of teaching at a school I would send my daughter. I think a lot of my reasoning has to do with what I’m not seeing in the system.

What does it mean for a district to make good on its mission statement? Will there be room for improvement or is the actuality of that mission enough?

In Shelby County, the school district’s mission is:

  • By 2025, 80 percent of seniors will be on track to learn in a postsecondary classroom or enter the workforce straight out of high school;
  • 90 percent of students will earn their high school diploma on time;
  • Every student will enroll in a postsecondary opportunity college or career-ready.

I don’t believe the mission of our school system is inclusive enough. After all, before you can accomplish the end-goal, there must be attention paid to the beginning. Perhaps it’s implied, but I believe the school district should make explicit in their mission statement that there is an intentional focus on early literacy and early childhood education to strengthen the foundation and (hopefully) eliminate the foundational gaps in literacy and numeracy that exist for many students who are served by the Shelby County school system. In order for us to be ready by 2025, we have a lot of work to do inside the classroom.