My photo
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it; I believe it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

PHD Status Report 1

Okay, so last night I was supposed to post a status report but I didn't - I had a late board meeting! Now, I did not write this week, but that is because I had to prepare to teach a course for the Summer Leadership Program at VSU. Soooooo, I get a pass this week. And next week too, cause I'm going on vacation. I will post my next status report on July 3rd. PS - Happy Juneteeth folks!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Another Smart Albert...

Tonight while preparing for a short class I was asked to teach at VSU (short notice given but I need the experience so I'm on it and sacrificing Monk dvd time tonight...) I happened across Dr. Albert Schweitzer. I used a quote of his in my presentation for the class, and sense I like to be prepared to give some amount of detail about the person making the quote (if asked), I did what any lady would do when she wants information on a man...I Googled him. Turns out Dr. Albert S. was one bad man (Nobel Peace Prize recipient), and boy did he speak some truths to power! For example, his take on human rights postulated by the European culture:

Oh, this "noble" culture of ours! It speaks so piously of human dignity and human rights and then disregards this dignity and these rights of countless millions and treads them underfoot, only because they live overseas or because their skins are of different color or because they cannot help themselves. This culture does not know how hollow and miserable and full of glib talk it is, how common it looks to those who follow it across the seas and see what it has done there, and this culture has no right to speak of personal dignity and human rights…"

Sounds like the good doctor is commenting on the current state of affairs, huh? Well, here's more. Stumbling upon great stuff like this makes me praise the lord for the ability to read! The final line below really speaks to my feelings on why we must do good work, especially when we keep hearing bad news...

-Albert Schweitzer, M.D., OM, (January 14, 1875September 4, 1965) was an Alsatian theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician. He was born in Kaisersberg in Alsace-Lorraine, a bilingual Romano-Germanic region which Germany returned to France after World War I. Schweitzer challenged both the secular view of historical Jesus current at his time and the traditional Christian view, depicting a Jesus who expected the imminent end of the world. He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his philosophy of "reverence for life",[1] expressed in many ways, but most famously in founding and sustaining the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, now in Gabon, west central Africa (then French Equatorial Africa) .

Schweitzer considered his work as a medical missionary in Africa to be his response to Jesus' call to become "fishers of men" but also as a small recompense for the historic guilt of European colonizers:[30]

“Who can describe the injustice and cruelties that in the course of centuries they [the coloured

peoples] have suffered at the hands of Europeans? … If a record could be compiled of all that has happened between the white and the coloured races, it would make a book containing numbers of pages which the reader would have to turn over unread because their contents would be too horrible.

Rather than being a supporter of colonialism, Schweitzer was one of its harshest critics. In a sermon that he preached on January 6, 1905, before he had told anyone of his plans to dedicate the rest of his life to work as a doctor in Africa, he said:[31]

"Our culture divides people into two classes: civilized men, a title bestowed on the persons who do the classifying; and others, who have only the human form, who may perish or go to the dogs for all the "civilized men" care.

“If all this oppression and all this sin and shame are perpetrated under the eye of the German God, or the American God, or the British God, and if our states do not feel obliged first to lay aside their claim to be "Christian" — then the name of Jesus is blasphemed and made a mockery. And the Christianity of our states is blasphemed and made a mockery before those poor people. The name of Jesus has become a curse, and our Christianity — yours and mine — has become a falsehood and a disgrace, if the crimes are not atoned for in the very place where they were instigated. For every person who committed an atrocity in Jesus' name, someone must step in to help in Jesus' name; for every person who robbed, someone must bring a replacement; for everyone who cursed, someone must bless.

And now, when you speak about missions, let this be your message: We must make atonement for all the ter­rible crimes we read of in the newspapers. We must make atonement for the still worse ones, which we do not read about in the papers, crimes that are shrouded in the silence of the jungle night…”

Monday, June 9, 2008

Words can help...

Short note about a book I purchased today (actually, last week, but Amazon via mail, ya know) - Letters to a Young Sister by Hill Harper. This is Mr. Harper's follow up to his Letters to a Young Brother. I'm no speed reader, so I am not going to offer a review just yet. I picked up this book so I can review it and purchase several copies to give to my OPAL girls as a senior year present this fall. As I read the forward by 'my girl' Gabrielle Union (love! her!), and the introduction by Mr. Harper (beginning to like him lots), I thought about how we (ordinary folks like you and me) can use words to help young people become great people. I also thought (you know I was going to work Obama in here somewhere!) about how the Obama for America campaign used words to make powerful change, especially in regard to young people and political activism. It is no surprise that Barack and Hill are good friends from college. It is no shock that Michelle Obama lent her words of wisdom and encouragement to this book. I just am so struck by the entirety of it all. So moved by the power of positive prose and meaningful messages. I swear we can move this mountain of a world if we want to...

PS - Amazon also sent me Lalah Hathaway's Self Portrait - very lovely wonderful listen all the way through. Pick it up 2day. Word.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Makes me wanna holla...

The local media (much like the national media) pissed me off again. This time, I had to write to them, see below for the email. Dammit, I swear, sometimes you can't get these folks to see postive change even if it runs up and gives them a big fat french kiss. Makes me wanna holla - throw up both my hands!

"Dear Sirs,

Petersburg resident Gloria Brown recently sent a note to me regarding the coverage on June 5th; I commend her on her immediate response to this poor coverage and her commitment to bring it to the attention of other like-minded citizens. Like Gloria, I am a concerned citizen working and residing in the City of Petersburg; my son will attend Peabody Middle School in the 08/09 school year. I was very encouraged upon seeing the early SOL test scores during this week's school board meeting. For example, the Algebra I test scores improved in the double digits (as indicated by preliminary results) - this is nothing short of phenomenal. I was encouraged by the atmosphere of excitement and expectation among all stakeholders; it is clear to me and many others that this city is experiencing a bona-fide renaissance. In almost every area – from education to economic development and housing to health services, Petersburg is redefining itself. The city is not where it wants to be, but together stakeholders have created a practical road map to reach the final destination, and we are well on our way.

Needless to say, I was most discouraged upon seeing the poorly-worded media coverage from Wednesday’s school board meeting. Gentlemen, you had an opportunity to report positive news on the school system, but instead, you choose to give a markedly negative story. You had a direct request from the Superintendent to make note of the City Council’s increase in the school budget, but you focused on the RFP (stale news as it is). You had a ready-made feel good piece on how a once struggling public school system is slowly but surely making its way out of crisis; you had a prime time piece, complete with the distribution of roses and blow-pops to the school board and audience for crying out loud. And yet, you selected to accentuate the negative. It always amazes me, how the local media rarely ‘misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity’ when it comes to positive press for Petersburg.I implore you, please, give the teachers, students, administrators, parents, and concerned citizens of this city the same respect that you seem to be so willing to give other localities. There are students who are doing wonderful things in this school system. There are teachers who are going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that students receive a quality education. There are administrators who are meeting a mountain of separate (and often conflicting) objectives in order to build a ‘world class school system'. And there are parents and concerned citizens who attend long meetings and sift through mind-numbing lines of budget items and policy proposals on a regular bases, in order to stay informed and engaged. Even though the test results showing MARKED improvement from this time last year are only preliminary, one would think that you would be EXCITED to report this change in direction, in order to encourage even more positive strides within the school system.

It is worth noting that when the City of Petersburg does well, the entire region stands to gain from its success. We are all inter-dependent, and we all should acknowledge that we share a stake in each others success. Please, take a moment to consider this fact, and perhaps you will consider a more positive angle when covering Petersburg news, particularly when there are so many positive angles available for your use."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

To be ABD no more...

It bears noting that I am working on completing a very important piece of work at the moment - my doctoral dissertation. I must admit that I have made many detours (honorable ones - such as working on Barack Obama's presidential primary election, starting my consulting firm, helping my son survive early puberty) since completing my comprehensive exams last fall. However, I am determined to complete this thing and graduate in May 2009.

I remember back in October 2006 I made a statement on my blog (back in my Yahoo 360 days) that I would work at least 20 hours a month on Obama's campaign if he would just run for president. Well, I am a woman of my word. And I stuck to that promise because I believe in what we can do with the right leadership.

Now I am going to make another statement on this blog that I will hold myself accountable to (and if you are reading this, do me a favor and check back every now and again to see if I am still a woman of my word): I will work at least 20 hours a month (5 hours a week) on my dissertation, beginning June 16, 2008. This work includes actual written material - not just mental analysis! I believe if I do this, I will be able to defend no later than March 2009. I will then graduate in May 2009 and finally lay to rest my status as ABD. Lord knows that is the least that I can do, in honor of my Aunt Dot, who made it possible for me to go back to school, and for the countless other family members and friends who have had my back all the way thru this thing.

I will post a progress report on Thursday nights, so stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

First they ignored us...

Mahatma Gandhi said “first they ignore you; then they laugh at you; then they fight you; then you win”. I can find no words more fitting for Barack Hussein Obama’s history presidential primary victory last night. No one believed he would win. Except those of us who knew he could win.

I am proud to have worked on this primary campaign here in Virginia. And excited, energized, motivated to do the hard work to get our candidate elected in November. The Obama team, from the bottom to the top, is ready, willing, and able to win.
Praise God for this day, which will no doubt go down in history, as the day we turned the page in America. YES WE CAN. YES WE CAN. YES WE CAN.
See here for a good synopsis of this historic presidential primary.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

'Music is the Soul of the Woman'

Happy Black Music Month! ‘I love music – any kind of music’ is a favorite refrain of mine. Sadly, I don’t know enough about the history of music – of Black music’s influence on all genres – as I would like. I did not even know who Bo Diddley was, until he passed on yesterday.

Apparently, he was “a founding father of rock 'n' roll whose distinctive "shave and a haircut, two bits" rhythm and innovative guitar effects inspired legions of other musicians”.
The AP article goes on to say: “The legendary singer and performer, known for his homemade square guitar, dark glasses and black hat, was an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, had a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and received a lifetime achievement award in 1999 at the Grammy Awards. In recent years he also played for the elder President Bush and President Clinton. Diddley appreciated the honors he received, "but it didn't put no figures in my checkbook." "If you ain't got no money, ain't nobody calls you honey," he quipped. The name Bo Diddley came from other youngsters when he was growing up in Chicago, he said in a 1999 interview. "I don't know where the kids got it, but the kids in grammar school gave me that name," he said, adding that he liked it so it became his stage name. Other times, he gave somewhat differing stories on where he got the name. Some experts believe a possible source for the name is a one-string instrument used in traditional blues music called a diddley bow. His first single, "Bo Diddley," introduced record buyers in 1955 to his signature rhythm: bomp ba-bomp bomp, bomp bomp, often summarized as "shave and a haircut, two bits." The B side, "I'm a Man," with its slightly humorous take on macho pride, also became a rock standard. The company that issued his early songs was Chess-Checkers records, the storied Chicago-based labels that also recorded Chuck Berry and other stars. Howard Kramer, assistant curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, said in 2006 that Diddley's Chess recordings "stand among the best singular recordings of the 20th century." Diddley's other major songs included, "Say Man," "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover," "Shave and a Haircut," "Uncle John," "Who Do You Love?" and "The Mule."

Diddley's influence was felt on both sides of the Atlantic. Buddy Holly borrowed the bomp ba-bomp bomp, bomp bomp rhythm for his song "Not Fade Away." The Rolling Stones' bluesy remake of that Holly song gave them their first chart single in the United States, in 1964. The following year, another British band, the Yardbirds, had a Top 20 hit in the U.S. with their version of "I'm a Man." Diddley was also one of the pioneers of the electric guitar, adding reverb and tremelo effects. He even rigged some of his guitars himself. "He treats it like it was a drum, very rhythmic," E. Michael Harrington, professor of music theory and composition at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., said in 2006. Many other artists, including the Who, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello copied aspects of Diddley's style. Growing up, Diddley said he had no musical idols, and he wasn't entirely pleased that others drew on his innovations. "I don't like to copy anybody. Everybody tries to do what I do, update it," he said. "I don't have any idols I copied after." "They copied everything I did, upgraded it, messed it up. It seems to me that nobody can come up with their own thing, they have to put a little bit of Bo Diddley there," he said.” For the entire article By RON WORD, Associated Press Writer click here.

Thank God for news outlets like the Tom Joyner Morning Show, which gives a ‘little known Black History fact’ to listeners every day. Those little facts really help me fill in the gaps left by my American ‘His’tory mis-education…