When will we Learn?

Over the last week I have been writing about what I am hearing from people, mostly our youth and it has been affecting me at a core level. I have heard stories of abuse, neglect, loss, violence, and more. Our kids, at least in Detroit are suffering and how we handle them will determine to a large part what they do in their lives.

We all know that home is where it starts, and home is where we as a community need to come together. We also must understand that it is a must-level issue that must be handled as such, we must not point fingers, play the blame game as there is no power in blame. What we need to do is look in the mirror and begin to reflect as parents, educators, city officials, community members, police and the list could go on, as to what each us us can do to affect our community, our children and our future in a positive manner. Then we need to come together and listen to what each of us has to say, and develop a plan of action for each individual community.

As an educator working in the city of Detroit, I see and hear what our youth are going through. Mainly because I ask a simple question…What’s up? Are you ok? Do you want to talk? And because the kids trust me, they often share with me their struggles, and it breaks my heart to hear what they are dealing with on a daily basis.

When a young lady already in tears looks at you and says…”I just want to feel loved, I want my mom to hug me, say she is proud of me…and it never happens.” What do you do, what do you say? Then she tells you that she is having trouble just concentrating in class, staying focused, listening and learning….she is functioning from a mid brain level.

She is not learning effectively because she is in survival mode. Then she goes to school and many times it only gets worse. She is tired, emotionally drained, uncertain of who she is and if she has value in life. She sits in class and puts her head down or her head phones in…the teacher scolds her….she gets defensive and rolls her eyes or makes a comment to the teacher that is inappropriate….She is then written up, or security is call and then sent home or just pushed along until the next class.

Event 2:

This is today May 9, 2018: I am standing in my class, when I see security run by my room. I got out to make sure it is not one of my students or to see if I can help. I follow security into the classroom 2 doors down. When we enter the room there is definite tension. Two big young man were arguing and threatening each other, but at that moment both were seated and quite. Security walks behind one of the boys, they say something to him and then put their hands on him to stand him up and remove him from the room. He is not having it, he shakes their hands off him. Security then places him in a choke hold pushing him onto the desk in front of him. he struggles, the second officer jumps in to help. They end up wresting with him and then throwing him on the floor. The boy is still in a choke hold, he is now gasping for air. I can hear him choking. Security struggles to put handcuffs on him. Once the cuffs are on, they let him go. He sits up and with tears running down his face and says…”You have no idea what I am going through….You have no idea what I am going through.”

This is not the way to help our kids learn. We as Educators, community member, parents need to start rising above the anger, the use of force to deal with our youth. It does not work, it does not teach.

Later in the day when I was asked by the head of security, what I was upset about. He thought I was made about the use of cuffs, which I wasn’t happy about but was not the real issue. I was upset at the way it was handled. Force was not needed. I was then asked did security ask him to get up and come with them? I responded, yes. Did he? No…then what were they suppose to do?

Really? Because he didn’t obey you, that gives you the right to use force. That right there is a problem. He then asked me what would I have done. I said I would have walked bent down and talked with the student. At some point I would have then escorted out of the room. It may take a moment, but because the student knows me and trusts me I believe he would have left the room peacefully. No choke hold, no cuffs, no violence, no suspension.

The students do not trust security…and I understand. To change our culture WE as the ADULTS must model behavior. We are the models for problem solving, self management, coping skills and communication. The teachers, the staff, the administration….EVERY ADULT needs to be that positive model.

sad boy bench

Finding Our Gift!

We all have a gift, no matter who you are, where you are, or what you may look like. AS educators, parents and community members it is our responsibility to help you find that gift. What makes you special? We all have multiple gifts and many times those are not found in our current educational system. We are missing a large percentage of our youth, they do not have a purpose, because their gifts have been found.

In talking with many people today and in the last few days, this is a key to success, a key to greatness, understand WHY we are here. I believe that we should be helping our students find themselves, learn about who they are where they come from and why they exist.

When I was a kid growing up and attending school, I did not know my purpose, I did not know my gifts. I knew I was a great hockey player, athlete, but as it related to everything else….I have NO CLUE. I thought I was dumb, not capable of being successful in a classroom, it was what I thought, therefore it was what I was. It wasn’t until I got to Community College that I found one of my gifts, psychology and the mind….It captivated me, inspired me and brought out my interest in school. I went from a 1.8 overall in High School to a 3.75 GPA in my first semester.

Then my accident happened and it was another lesson for me to learn. I found that I was a lot stronger than I thought, I was determined to be more than I was, to take advantage of this second chance at life. To find my purpose! I did and I am still am finding new gifts each year.

It is a story of finding self, overcoming adversity and striving for greatness, but did I need to go through this horrific event to get me there? Maybe? Yet, I also know that after going through 12+ years of school I had little idea of what I was here for and that to me as an educator is unacceptable. We must do a better job of find students purpose, finding those gifts and helping them fine tune and grow these skills. Help them see the greatness in each of them and bring out that energy that runs through and between us all!

For American Education to be successful in a global economy we must help our students find themselves, their gifts, their greatness…It is in us ALL! What are your gift

Taking Control: from Victim to Victor

The Last few days I have been blogging about what kids and people are going through in lives and how it affects their future. I have been struggling with all the things I am hearing from people because it makes me sad that people have faced some many demons and yet are still here, unfortunately, most people are surviving, they are not living. So how do we go from these struggles, these dark places to strength?

Let’s get real, making change is NOT easy, there is no magic bullet, no quick fix. Will Smith has an Excellent video, it is called Fault vs. Responsibility. Yes..many things have happened to all of us, and these events vary in severity, but what we do with those events is what separates the “victim from the victor.” So how do I do this? I ma going to talk about many different options, because each person is different and there is no one right answer.

The only thing that is a must….You Must look in the mirror! You cannot place blame, you cannot point your finger…we are not talking about whose fault is it that you are where you are. We are talking about CHANGE. To make CHANGE in you, you MUST focus on YOU.

I believe we are the creators of our own future. I do not believe in luck, good or bad, what I do believe is that what we think, what we believe, what we say….is what we manifest. So if i am always telling myself and the world that I can’t, I’m not, I’m dumb, I’m ugly, I’m not worth it…This story you tell yourself is the story that will play itself out right in front of you. I believe there is some truth to the law of attraction, what we put out there, is what comes back…Whether it comes back because we connect with a power or energy greater than ourselves, or it comes back because we  make it so, what matters is it comes back.

So whatever it is that you want in life, think it, see it, say it, be it. If we want to be happy, to make better choices, then you have to start thinking differently. Change your mind, change your life. Mindset is powerful!!!! You have to start changing the story that plays out in your thoughts, changing from the negative to the positive, from the I think I can, to I know I can….

This means that when that story starts rolling out in your thoughts, and that story is negative, you have to STOP. You have to actively tell yourself….NO this is not going to be my story….I CAN change it, I MUST change it and I WILL Change it. What ever it is you want, write it down, print it out and put it everywhere you look throughout the day. Places like the bathroom mirror, in your car, on your notebooks, your planner, at your desk.

Now, you have your plan, you have  written and posted it everywhere…now you have to practice…practice….practice. When those thoughts come into your mind…SAY STOP! If no one is around, Say it out loud. I am the creator of my story, my past is my strength that will help me create this story. Every time that negativity creeps in, STOP, refocus, and create a new story through positive thinking, through visualization, through what you think, what you say, then what you do.

The negative stuff in your life, the things that you can are pulling you in the wrong direction you must let go. That means if there is person or people that continually send messages, that stress you out, they say things that hurt you….STOP. Distance yourself from them and find other people or other things to refocus your thoughts…..

IF YOU THINK IT, SAY IT, FEEL IT, you will BE IT!

The Struggles We go through: The break down of our souls or the lifting of our Spirit

Over the last few days I have heard story after story of what people go through in their lives and it has been making me think about how we are so quick to judge. My last blog entry was about taking the time to open the book and not just judge the cover.

My story of overcoming great obstacles is uplifting to many, but in my opinion what I went through pales in comparison to the people I have been talking with over these last few days. Just today I was talking with a group of girls who are struggling with their peers, and trying not to get into fights. As they begin to talk with me I can see and feel the anger bleeding off of them, they are getting more and more worked up as they talk.

The more we talk the more I try to steer the conversation towards understanding where the anger is coming from and if it is anger at all. The girls begin to open up and start talking home, about their past. Without getting into details too much this is what I heard:

  • My father abused me, touched me, my mom’s new husband is always touching me and mom believes that it is my fault.
  • I just want to be hugged by my mom, I want to hear her say that she is proud of me, but those things never happen.
  • We have almost no food in the house, and things are usually in chaos.
  • Why does my boyfriend care for me more than my mom.
  • My Grandmother did the same to my mom as she is doing to me, I don’t want to be like that

Then I was talking with these two boys and again the stories they told me crushed my soul:

  • When I was 12 my cousin and I were riding and ATV and a dirt bike through the neighborhood, I was behind my cuz, he was on the dirt bike, When I heard 2 pops…Bang…Bang…and my cuz went down. I stopped and ran over to him and it was the first time I saw someone die right in front of me. As he is telling me this story tears are welling up and start to stream down his face. You can see and feel the pain, the uncertainty of life for this young man.
  • He and his friend are now in a gang, they joined because they needed to feel like they belonged to something, to feel important to someone else.
  • After being initiated into the group by one of their brothers, they began running with the #200’s a 7 Mile Gang that match up with the bloods.
  • They feel love, they feel important.
  • One night they are out with his brother, when they find out a member of another gang stole some of their stuff. They go out searching for this man, and they find him. This boys older brother pulls out a gun and begins threatening the man. Give us our shit back…it goes on for a minute…the brother gets upset and pulls the trigger. The man drops to the ground dead. These boys see this and have no idea what to feel. They are scared, sad, and lost.
  • Watching someone die at any age is scary and brings about a variety of feelings, many of which the most balanced individual will struggle with, but a kid…

I have heard story after story of the struggles of our kids and have watched them walk into a school that is not equipped to fully educate them, let alone help them deal with REAL LIFE. Kids in all walks of life, the poor and the rich, the white and the black, we all have events in our lives that shape us, and not always for the best. We need to understand that kids will become adults and these events if not adequately dealt with will manifest themselves into poor decisions, criminal activities, violence both internally and externally, and other destructive behaviors. These are not bad people, they are products of their environment, our environment. It may not be our fault, but it damn well our responsibility to help build our people. We need to listen to people, learn their stories before we write them off as “BAD”.

When we ask the simple the questions like, Are you ok? What is going on? Or we say, I’m here if you want to talk, we learn that these people are not bad, they are just struggling. By reaching out and caring, we are changing lives, helping them begin to process all the traumas, helping them understand that what has happened to them can help build them if we talk it out and deal.

To be continued…..

Take a minute and Open the book!

As I woke today and the sun was shining and the birds were chirping, I began to think about how lucky we all are to rise and wake, yet I also understand that far too many wake and do not feel this or see this. People that are living life, that have had the right breaks, and the right opportunities, do not always understand the struggles others go through in life and how it affects them at a core level.

I think that it is a natural thing for people to judge, we are always talking about the important of that first impression, yet, judgement past is opportunity lost. Meaning that when we make quick judgments about the cover of the book, we often miss out on the greatest stories. I know that I am guilty of this, and I am always striving to stop and learn, to challenge myself take a minute and listen, and as I have done this I have heard some of the most amazing stories and friended some incredible people that yesterday I may have past on by.

In my last blog I was writing about how? How do we overcome the obstacles that just seem to dark, too deep, and too, much for us to handle. Then I started thinking about people, from the most successful to the ones struggling just to survive till tomorrow. People that are doing ok often do not understand the struggle of others, what they have been through, we just make a judgement and move on.

The stories I have heard over the years of what many of our children have been through would surprise you, and would help you understand why many people grow up and make the choices they do. When you are born into a life where those that are suppose to love and care for you don’t, maybe because they themselves are hurt and damaged, maybe because they have mental issues…whatever the reason it doesn’t matter to that child that looks to them for love and protection.

This child slowly grows up in a home that is not supportive, is not caring or loving, and is often abusive physically, emotionally, and sexually. This is your life, your are told you are worthless, you don’t receive hugs and love, you may not get the right nutrition, home is chaos….this is the first 18 years of you life or more….

You go to school during these years where all of this is happening at home, school is your safe place, but it is not enough. Your body is always on guard, always ready for the next perceived attack, and then you are asked to listen, learn and perform in all your classes. When you don’t, the idea in your mind is reinforced that you are less than. This is what you learn in Elementary school and middle school. You look for some place to fit in and that place is with others like you, others that school, home and maybe even society has deemed as less than. You bond with them, they understand you, have your back…but they like you are in survival mode. That means that when danger is perceived in the slightest, that innate animal in us rises…we Fight…we run…or we freeze. That danger could be a word, a look, a touch, a smell, or anything that that person senses, they react and often with violence, anger, and rage. Those watching either run into to video and/or cheer on, or watch in disbelief…I hear people often say what is wrong with them? Don’t they understand the consequences? It wasn’t even anything big, it was just a word or a bump…what is wrong with them….

Well, when you have lived your live in survival mode and have not been taught much else, that is what we do! Race, religion, or gender have no barring on this, all of us will react if this is our reality. So when people make rash judgements about other people, it bothers me, because we do not know their opening chapters, their main body of work, all we know is the cover.

So the next time you see some one doing wrong, behaving poorly, or just acting out of the norm…STOP…Ask yourself….what is wrong…. If you are a teacher, a Principal, or work with kids and they are acting up, sleeping in class, performing poorly…take a minute sit down with them and open the book!pexels-photo-186447.jpeg

A Dying Light – A Healing hand: A Pride Built Strong

How? When everything seems to be falling apart around you, do you rise and fight. When it feels as though you are cursed, from your first memories of being abused or neglected. Every time you close your eyes you see another person trying to hurt you, destroy you. How do you rise?

That is the question that runs through the heads of hundreds of thousands of people everyday, why should I rise? “How can I rise, I’m tired, I have no more fight inside.” A tear runs down their cheek as they talk, “I just can’t do it anymore.”

That story plays over and over in their thoughts, they hear the voices of all that hurt them, they feel the pain course through their bodies….”I have no more, I am no more.” As they say this, you know that there is a part of them that just wants to be happy, but with each strike, that part gets smaller and smaller.

The sun starts to shine in their life, things start to improve…then bang, another let down, another lie told, or another person scolded. That shine turns to darkness, that hope to fear, the fear turns to dread, and dread to complete and absolute darkness.

When you are in darkness like this what do you do? How do you find even the smallest ray of hope?

I believe that through all darkness, there is a way to grow and find hope, yet I also understand that when you are in this place….hope seems a million miles away. Sometimes it is just a kind word, or a smile that lifts the dirt, you can feel the earth move, and again for a second there is hope…..

 

We all want to believe that we are strong enough to fight the battles that are placed before us, we want to feel strong, think strong and pick ourselves up by the boot straps. The problem is that sometimes we aren’t wearing boots and we don’t always have that strength to channel from within. We are human, we are not meant to be alone, we are meant to be “ONE”. Humans are social beings, we are not designed to be alone, do alone, win alone, we are designed to be a Pride, a unit, a family. This is our strength.

So when the darkness begins to close in and your heart begins to break, as you feel the blood begin to seep, you can either let yourself fall deep, into the darkness….or search for the ray of hope, that hand that is searching through the darkness for you….that is your strength….find your Pride…Your Family…and let them pick up. This is strength. As for one we call, as many we rise and shine!

So when you ask yourself, why should I rise, how can I rise, I’m tired, I have no more fight inside…We say to you….you might not but your Pride/Family…WE DO! This is how we rise, we unite! We support each other, and build a Pride that grows each day, that tears down the blight, the plight, with incredible fight, we rise!

No matter where one may be, they are never alone in their struggles, unless they choose to be.  It is this choice that you make to fight alone that maybe your true adversary. You may survive the battle, but will you ever win the war.

No matter where one maybe, they are never alone in their struggles, if they choose to reach out…that hand is there…and together you will search through the darkest of night…to find that light…..it is there and together WE will LIVE!

So build your Pride….Start with one and grow into many….Unite our Prides and together we can truly UNITE these States!

#Lionheart; #buildingourPride; #buildavillage; #Pepper&SaltConsulting