So much good in a day

Watching our president, become our president, again. C 2013 Mama C and the Boys
Watching our president, become our president, again. C 2013 Mama C and the Boys

We’ve been all sorts of good busy in these parts. We’re doing great overall. Aside from the preponderance of tissues we’re upright, and accounted for. Watching your brown president become your president again must be about as life affirming in the “I can do anything I may ever choose to do” department for a five and eight year old of the same complexion and gender I would imagine.  I can’t help but wonder how seeing a woman accept the oath of office might have impacted me thirty-five plus years ago.  Here in Maine we also took great pride in the selection of Cuban American poet Richard Bianco as the inaugural poet as well. Hearing all the references to gay rights, climate change, and just about every other equality I can imagine, I felt like a walking goose bump for most of the morning. I feel hopeful. Tremendously hopeful today for the world our children will inherit.

I also had the amazing good fortune to collaborate with several dynamic women and men, young and old and in between, on a celebration honoring Dr. King that families from at least six local elementary schools attended yesterday. The creative portion of my contribution consisted of a staged dramatic reading of Martin’s Big Words by Dorreen Rappaort that I adapted, narrated, and directed with the help of several amazing youth volunteers, and other PTO parents and friends. With three rehearsals in a forty five minute period we pulled it off to an audience of about 250. I was also able to facilitate a little participatory conversation about “big words” as it related to MLK before we wowed the crowd. Afterwords families participated in creating a gigantic mural of dreams (that will be displayed at the City Hall, and travel to several of the participating elementary schools) and were led in a remarkable ongoing drum circle. Right?

I wrote to my co-leader of our “Cross Cultural Committee” of the PTO that this event allowed me to feel as if I answered Dr. King’s call to service in helping to organize and facilitate this event.  She wrote back that creating the opportunity for so many youth of color, and families and children to show up and engage in all of these ways was a gigantic source of  joy for her too.

Rehearsing the play. Photo by K. Mngqbisa
Rehearsing the play. Photo by K. Mngqbisa
mural making. Photo by K. Mngqbisa
mural making. Photo by K. Mngqbisa by K. Mngqbisa
Drum hands   photo by K. Mngqbisa
Mural phase 1. photo by K. Mngqbisa
Wordplay. photo by K. Mngqbisa

If you are wondering how we managed to pull all this off and send the first 75 families that arrived there home with a free copy of Martin’s Big Words while working full time, raising our families, and being in relationship-you should be. It was hard work. I’m not afraid to admit that. But the results were enthralling. The positive reverberations are innumerable.  One photographer who was sent to the event without a reporter, took me aside and said; “I am going back to the office and fighting for this story. The looks on folks faces during the play, the drums, all of it? Now that was moving. That is a real story.”

Feeling inspired? Want to do something like this at your local elementary school next year? Great. Find some like minded folks, and get started. Start small. Organize around a great book, and invite to help would be my suggestion. (For a great post with a zillion resources on books to talk about race, check out this post at Rage Against the Minivan). If you are not part of your PTO, now would be a great time to join.

Did you attend, organize, read, compose or experience something that inspired you and yours too this weekend?  Share it here, or commit to something you’d like to help make happen next year in the comments, and then come back periodically and share your progress! We’d love to be your cheering squad!

Oh so brave (a post from all four of us)

Because of how brave Ruby was…

I hate getting on planes. I’m going to be brave today, by getting on that plane. This made me think about the picture (above) that I took earlier this week of Marcel superimposed next to the famous Rockwell of Ruby Bridges. I explained to him how brave she was over fifty years ago, to go into a school where she was the first brown skin student “invited” to study. (I framed it in terms of how brown skin kids did not have the same choices about where to go to school as creamy colored kids did. ) So today in honor of Memorial Day, and our trip in a few hours to Washington, DC, the Martin Luther King Memorial,  the Lincoln Memorial, the Air and Space and our walk by President Obama’s house.. I thought I’d ask my family, and you what it means to you to be brave today. Continue reading “Oh so brave (a post from all four of us)”

On workshops, suitcases, and holding on

The workshop that I presented; “I can talk about race in the classroom” was by all accounts a big success today. The post workshop reflections were 95% positive–which says as much about the audience as the presenter really. The educators were open, willing, and very present! I was prepared, passionate, and speaking from a place of truth. That is always a great combination. I’ll try to write more about the experience, and the work, when time allows. But the suitcases are trumping the keyboard here. Continue reading “On workshops, suitcases, and holding on”

100 great days (ways) to bring Black History into the elementary schools

100 days with a spin!

I am all for celebrating math in school. I am all for celebrating school. I am just even more for finding ways to celebrate Black History today, and everyday.  So when Sam’s teacher sent home a blank piece of poster board with the instructions to create your own way to celebrate the #100 in honor of the approaching 100th day of school I realized we had hit the jackpot! I asked Sam who his favorite brown skinned athlete was–because he had already decided he wanted to do something about sports: Jackie Robinson! Continue reading “100 great days (ways) to bring Black History into the elementary schools”

Peaceful Wednesday

Winter peace/ Mama C and the Boys 2012

Three things that bring me peace today:

1. How well Sammy seems to have adjusted to his new school.  While he misses his friends and his teacher deeply, he reports that he is “doing great”. He is making new friends, loves his new teacher too, and just seems to exude self confidence and ease with himself and his world.

2. Meditating daily (for twenty minutes).

3. Accepting all the love in my life.


What’s bringing you peace today? What are you doing to take care of you in a gentle way?

Getting all clever in time for Valentine’s Day

It’s still three weeks away. But at least over here, when it comes to tackling the holiday of love with ease and intention–major planning is involved. I’m talking about Valentines Day, and elementary school. I know that many don’t participate in the holiday–and I certainly respect their choice, and reasons why.  I have mixed feelings about it, but have decided to go about it this way until the kids can make their own choice about how to approach it. So to that end, we always make our own cards, and use the holiday to focus on something we appreciate about the recipient. Continue reading “Getting all clever in time for Valentine’s Day”

Update: Transitions and beyond

This morning I reviewed and revamped the post I wrote too soon after a decision was put in place to move Sam to a new school in the new year. I was writing from a place that was not infused with the light and strength that this move and moment deserves on so many fronts. So, I have invoked the blogger’s prerogative and reset history. It is the Solstice Eve after all: a return to light. The new tilt, the hopeful and honoring version appears here.

Sam had a half day at the new school yesterday. His name was on his locker and desk when he arrived. His desk was placed right next to J’s desk, a strong and vibrant girl he spent his kindergarten year with.  A chocolately brown girl, one of six in his class, who said she’d look after him here. He reported that the teacher discovered what a great reader he was, and that he already was allowed to use the smart board (computerized white board essentially), and the document reader. His art teacher put him right to work on a new project. The calendar announcing who would share on what day for the month of January included his name twice, next to a new “almost best friend named…” The “firsties” newsletter announcing learning targets, and how to support the students in their math, and reading  over the winter break with long and short vowels, and other suggestions made this public school mama’s heart sing with anticipation of things to come. Sammy pleaded to go back the next day, and was more than a little crushed to learn he had to wait until January to start full time.

As we walked out of the building he asked if he could skip to the car. And, just before he launched into the air he turned to me and said; “You’re right you know. This school is as big as me.”