5 Beliefs That Will Prevent You From Getting Into College – Memorable Essay

Some high school students cling to beliefs that jeopardize their chances of college success. If these describe you, work on disabusing yourself.

Source: 5 Beliefs That Will Prevent You From Getting Into College – Memorable Essay
As a former educator I remember saying things to this every year to a new class of high school seniors. Memorable Essay is a site that is sharing a wealth of information on the admissions process and for parents who are looking to gain every advantage for their kids the site is a resource they may prove to be invaluable. Use the source link to click through and read this article on the 5 beliefs that will prevent you from getting into college.

New Author and Book Release from CBP|Clap Back Tool Kit by Dr. Cathryn D. Blue 

Source: Dr. Cathryn D. Blue – CBP
The CBP Family is excited to add to the blog and author’s roster Dr. Cathryn D. Blue. Her first book The Tao of Pimpin’ is an interpretation of Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching. An assertive and sharp witted analysis of the way that is both satirical and honest.

  • Print Length: 41 pages
  • Publisher: Bailey Girls Publishing LLC (July 20, 2014)
  • Publication Date: July 20, 2014

CBP has the honor of hosting the latest release in the form of a digital book release/pdf: Download the Digital Book | Clap Back Tool Kit: Self Love, No Bullshit
Use the source link to check out the author’s bio and to click through and test out CBP’s latest addition to the site digital downloads.

RESPECT… We Can't Continue Like This

respect Reflecting on my days of elementary school, I can recall the when I was in the CLUE program (Creative Learning in a Unique Environment). In this program we took many, many field trips. Since we were a small group, the program relied on parents to take us where we need to go. My mother and Mr. Bernal Smith, Sr. routinely volunteered. I think the most fun part of those trips was going and coming. We had lots of fun. Sometimes we got rowdy. But when either my mother or Mr. Smith told us we needed to settle down, we settled down. There was no “you’re not my mama” or “you’re not my daddy” back talk.  The children respected my mother and Mr. Smith.  It was a given.  If anyone showed disrespect, we had to deal with the CLUE teacher, our homeroom teacher, and then our parents.

                      After our elementary school CLUE days, Bernal, Jr and I would see each other in passing at different events.  Other than a brief clip on the news or newspaper article, I never saw his father again until Bernal and I both had children playing in the Olive Branch YMCA basketball league. Our reunion was short lived because during that season, Mr. Smith passed away. Although I had not seen him over 20 years, his death impacted me. I reminded Bernal about the CB radio that his father had his car and the day he got on the radio and talked to some people. I had no idea how involved Mr. Smith was in the Memphis community until after his death. That in itself is a tragedy. Men who rob, steal, kill, and don’t pay their child support tend to get more recognition than a good man who tried to make community a better place. Before that brief tangent, my point I’m trying to make is respect.  He was able to accomplish the things that he did because children had respect.   Children at one point were raised to respect adults regardless to whether not they shared your DNA or not.  That is why many intervention programs have very low success rates.

                    In order to teach someone a better way, they have to listen. If there is no respect, there is no listening. I hear many kids saying, “If you want respect, you have to give respect.”  Yet they’re disrespectful and demanding respect at the same time. That’s not how it works. Adults who are taking the time out to teach something and to help are worthy respect out the gate.

                      How do we recover? How do we undo the years of children being raised to not respect?  The answer is in the schools.  I can recall my days at Doubletree Elementary. The building engineer, Mr. Troy King garnered just as much respect as the principal or our teachers.  If he told you to do something, you did it.  If he thought you were thinking about being disrespectful, he went for his belt.  Did we run and tell the teacher? No.  Did we run and tell our mother?  Hell, no! We were held accountable for our behavior.  We weren’t given excuses. We were disciplined.

                 The state legislature needs to protect our teachers. There should be stiffer penalties for disorderly conduct on school property.  There should be felony charges for assaulting and/or threatening teachers.  Any crime that is committed on school property or during school events should have enhanced penalties.  Shelby County Juvenile court should adopt a “Zero Tolerance” policy on violence at school, especially when it’s directed at school personnel.

                     Most importantly, we need to return the Principal to the schools.  Eliminate administrators. I went through school under many well-known, well-respected principals.  All of which ran their schools.  Teachers taught and the principal handled discipline.  Teachers didn’t have to justify sending a child to the Principal’s office.

                         We can’t legislate parenting, but we can legislate our schools.  We can protect our teachers.  We can ensure that 180 days out of 252955_10150214810542980_8367064_nthe year, the adults that are trying to teach and guide students and do so without fear.  If children are taught respect in the schools and are held accountable for their actions, perhaps they can take that lesson home and we can break the cycle.  If we break the cycle, we can improve our community.  Maybe then, more men like Bernal Smith, Sr. will throw their hat into the ring and start rebuilding the moral fiber of Memphis.


Idaho lunch lady fired for giving meal to student with no money

One of the most ironic statements that has ever been made is “No good deed goes unpunished.”  Well this has been proven to be true for an Idaho cafeteria worker who gave a meal to a child that did not have any money.   First of all, I would like to see what heartless monster would let a child go hungry.  Furthermore, the food would have gone to waste anyway.  However, this epitome of leadership fired the worker for theft.  I think the world should let the school system know that this is a travesty.  Check out the story below.

“I truly loved my job, and I can’t say that I wouldn’t do it again” – Dalene Bowden

Source: Idaho lunch lady fired for giving meal to student with no money

Brenda's Last Word: On S.C. classroom resource officer and student

Source: Brenda’s Last Word: On S.C. classroom resource officer and student

I hate explaining a post prior to writing what I want to say, but I was in education from 1995 to 2012. If you haven’t worked in schools, then you don’t understand why this commentator completely nailed her point of view. When I first saw this, I said, “Damn dude must have gotten pushed way too far.” Note I didn’t say damn that’s wrong he shouldn’t have done that. I said he went too far, because what I know is that a classroom can spiral out of control quickly.

A quick story, I was one of those teachers that never really had any trouble at all in the classroom, even when I was challenged. However, I’m a 6-2 220lb ex college athlete, who gangbanged and was a knucklehead at one point in my life. I’m also an ex military guy, so my background is well suited for almost any classroom. There was a fight at one of the high schools I worked at. None of the teachers would jump in and we didn’t have adequate security. The fight moved from the hallway into my class and then back out in to the hallway. None of the teachers wanted to touch or try to stop the kids because they feared repercussions for putting there hands on a kid. The one kid was literally being stomped on and could have been stomped to death. Once I realized who and what was happening and I saw that the students wouldn’t respond to my tone and threats to stop, I had no choice but to jump in or that one student would have been killed.

I jumped on top of a 6-6 kid and grabbed him off and the other group of boys started kicking at the students head. I realized that I could throw them all off so I laid my body on top of the kid who was getting jumped and I yelled, “If any one of you motherfuckers hits me, I’m beating the shit out of you.” By the time I was getting the last few words out I had been stomped in the back at least three times. I turned around and looked to see who was stomping and I can only imagine the look that the kids saw, because they all moved back. Once again, I’m not a small guy and the students know I’ve done push up challenges and they had seen me in the gym, so once I lost it, it was the only thing that stopped the fight.

This is one story of many that I could have shared. When this commentator says that people have no idea of the limited authority a teacher has, she is exactly right. The only reason I very rarely had problems was because I knew that being a teacher meant I was one part entertainer, one part educator, one part father, one part brother, one part psychologist, one part social worker. I knew that every minute of class time had to be occupied or in that one second where there was dead space you could lose control.

People like to think they can do the job or that they could prevent these things from happening, but you will never understand the type of creative instruction that has to happen, the type of risks you have to take on a daily basis, to maintain discipline. One final story about two disruptive kids I had a school once. Kids feed off the responses of their peers. Two boys decided they wanted to fight. The other kids started instigating. The classroom was going to easily turn into something bad. I had about ten seconds to diffuse the situation. I told both kids that they should definitely fight. Now, this could have turned into an extremely bad thing, but I played the odds. I knew that the only reason the fight was escalating was because of the other students. I told the two boys that they should definitely fight. I escorted them outside and told the rest of the class once those boys were outside, if any of you get up, I will call all of your parents and you will all lose letter grade on your overall grade. The two boys going to fight were already outside. I stood at the door, closed all of the blinds, and then told the boys, “Knock on the door when you finish, whoever wins.” I closed the door. I waited for a second and then I went back to teaching. I explained to my students still in the class that the only reason those guys were going to fight was because of them. They had an audience. You take away the audience, the kid loses the power. I took a gamble and about five minutes later I walk to the door and look outside. The two boys were playing cards.

Unless you’ve been in the classroom full time, you will never understand, never.

Is Standardized Testing an Accurate Measure of Job Performance?

10119337-A-blue-bubble-or-scantron-sheet-with-a-number-two-yellow-pencil-The-word-Test-stands-out-in-the-midd-Stock-PhotoWhen I was in school, the California Achievement Test (CAT) was the gold standard for testing in the Memphis City Schools System. There were one or two more tests after that.  Then the controversial TCAP became the barometer for student progress. TCAP is now being replaced with an even more controversial successor. Standardized testing is what the gurus in the education field and our genius legislators use to determine the worth of a teacher. Standardized testing is very subjective. The main thing that controls the outcome of a standardized test is the student.

It was my ninth grade year. Things could have been better in life at that time. I was first trumpet and was part of the Hillcrest marching band. Things were going great until one night when I was riding home with our close family friend, Carol Gibbs. A drunk driver rear-ended us at the intersection of Millbranch and Shelby Drive. Neither of us was seriously injured, thank God. The driver got out of the vehicle and ran. However, the next morning I felt like I was paralyzed. My neck was completely stiff. My father had to come and help me sit up in bed. That Monday morning I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a case of whiplash. I spent the next two days at home zonked out on muscle relaxers. I returned to school that Thursday. I completely forgot that was the week that we were taking the first California Achievement Test. For those of you who can remember, we took the test at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year. That would gauge our progress throughout the year. The day I returned to school I had to take the makeup test. Normally I aced the test. Approximately 6 weeks later I was called to the guidance office. Two guidance counselors – Mr. James Greer and Ms. Evelyn Crawford – we’re waiting for me in the office. They commenced to chew me out, accusing me of not taking the test serious. After several minutes of being told how my future was in jeopardy from not taking this test seriously, I finally got a word in and told them that I really was in a car accident days prior to taking the make up test. The test that all the other students had two days to take, I had to take it in one. With a throbbing, stiff neck and a monster headache, I could’ve cared less about that test. Nevertheless, when the test was given in the spring, I aced it.
Fast forward to today, the students are allowed to take the test once a year toward the end. No one takes into account what is going on in the child’s life as to why they make the scores that they receive. Furthermore, the test is given so late in the year that the scores usually don’t come back until the next school year is beginning. However, the teachers face the music as soon as they return from their summer hiatus.

images-1Children of today are facing things that my generation did not have to go through. Ironically, my generation is part of the decision makers for education at this time. There are children that are the parents of their homes. There are kids that are on medication for ADD, ADHD, PTSD and all other three and four letter acronyms. Sadly enough, many of these children shouldn’t be taking the medication in the first place. We have students that are growing up as victims of sexual abuse and we have students whose parents simply don’t care. When you look at the percentages how can teachers succeed?

  • In a 2012 maltreatment report, of the victims who were sexually abused, 26% were in the age group of 12–14 years and 34% were younger than 9 years. 9
  • Approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault. 4
  • Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boy and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. 1
  • 8% of sexual assaults occur when the victim is between the ages of 12 and 17. 1
  • 82% of all juvenile victims are female. 5
  • 69% of the teen sexual assaults reported to law enforcement occurred in the residence of the victim, the offender, or another individual. 5
  • Teens 16 to 19 years of age were 3 ½ times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.6
  • Approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. 7

In the United States, the average classroom size in 22 students. Therefore, if a classroom is divided equally by gender, one girl and one boy in each class is a victim of sexual abuse.   If we factor in drug/alcohol abuse, psychotropic drug use, divorce rates and general family drama, nearly half of students have some issue that could hinder their concentration. Factor in school administrators who refuse to handle disciplinary problems, teachers are in a catch 22 to the fifth power.

imgres-1The news media is inundated with headlines of scandals involving teachers changing test scores. Why? Teacher’s jobs depend on it in many states. In other states, teachers are assigned levels that range between 1 and 5 with 1 being the worst.  Who wants to be a level 3 or lower teacher?  TCAP time was stressful. My dear wife was obviously on edge and there’s absolutely nothing I could do except help her get through that week. The fact that teachers have to endure stress at school and then they have to come home and deal with their real world issues makes it equally unfair. Furthermore that’s the time when  administrators don’t want teachers to take off to go to the doctor or handle their own family issues.

Standardized testing needs to be revamped to where it is fair for the teachers. First, the test needs to be given twice a year so the teachers can know what their student strong and weak point are. Secondly, the test second test needs to be given early enough so research can be done to see why low scoring students scored of the way they did.

Another testing story of mine is when I was in elementary school and I was part of the CLUE (Creative Learning in a Unique Environment) program. Our teacher told us that w622520_Atlanta-Schools-Cheating.5e were taking the test just to get an idea of who should be accepted into the program. Our teacher, Ms. Pauline Baker, assured us that this test had no impact on whether or not we returned to the CLUE program the next year. However, after our teacher left, the proctor told us that if we did poorly on this test we would not return to CLUE next year. We bombed the test. At least the majority of us did. My teacher was upset and didn’t understand why. After polling several of us she learned that we were nervous because we did not want to be removed from the program. Ms. Baker went to the board and raised holy hell. They argued with her and said that had nothing to do with our scores. Nevertheless, she advocated for us and several of us were allowed to take the test again. We performed masterfully, as we should have.

imgresThere are many factors that affect the outcome of standardized tests and it’s not just what the teachers are teaching in the classroom. It is unfair to connect a person’s employment or their pay progression to a standardized test. It can be used as a factor but it should not be the sole thing or carry most of the weight.  There are some sucky teachers out there. But, they are being shrouded by this unfair system. A sucky teacher with good students can get a pass. We need to lobby our legislators and support our teachers. Without teachers none of us would be where we are today.


  1. “Child Sexual Abuse: What Parents Should Know,” American Psychological Association. (http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/child-sexual-abuse.aspx) (February 19, 2014)
  2. Douglas, E., and D. Finkelhor, Childhood Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet, Crimes Against Children Research Center, May 2005. (http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/factsheet/pdf/CSA-FS20.pdf) (December 21, 2011)
  3. Finkelhor, D., “The Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse,” Future of Children,2009, 19(2):169–94.
  4. Kilpatrick, D., R. Acierno, B. Saunders, H. Resnick, C. Best, and P. Schnurr, “National Survey of Adolescents,” Charleston, SC: Medical University of South Carolina, National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1998.
  5. “Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics,” U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000.
  6. “National Crime Victimization Survey,” U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1996.
  7. Silverman, J. G., A. Raj, L. A. Mucci, and J. E. Hathaway, “Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality,”Journal of the American Medical Association,2001, Vol. 286 (No. 5).
  8. Wolak, J., K. Mitchell, and D. Finkelhor, “Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later,” National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 2006. (http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC167.pdf) (December 21, 2011)
  9. “Child Maltreatment 2012,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau.
  10. Wolak, Janis, David Finkelhor, Kimberly J. Mitchell, and Michele L. Ybarra, “Online ‘Predators’ and Their Victims: Myths, Realities, and Implications for Prevention and Treatment.” American Psychologist,2008, 63:111–128. (http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/Am%20Psy%202-08.pdf) (December 21, 2011)
  11. Lenhart, Amanda, “Teens and Sexting.” Pew Internet & American Life Project, December 15, 2009. (http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Teens-and-Sexting.aspx) (December 21, 2011)
  12. Kilpatrick, Dean G., Ph.D., Heidi S. Resnick, Ph.D., Kenneth J. Ruggiero, Ph.D., Lauren M. Conoscenti, M.A., and Jenna McCauley, M.S., “Drug-Facilitated, Incapacitated, and Forcible Rape: A National Study,” July 2007. (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/219181.pdf) (December 21, 2011)
  13. Truman, Jennifer l., Ph.D., BJS Statistician, “National Crime Victimization Survey 2010,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, September 2011. (http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv10.pdf) (December 21, 2011)
  14. Canadian Centre for Child Protection Inc., “Child Sexual Abuse–It Is Your Business.” p.10.


Shelby County Schools: Ground Zero for Memphis' Crime Problems


It is a sad day in Memphis.  A video of White Station High School girls involved in a brawl has gone viral on nearly all social media.  The level of violence is disturbing.  The days of girls clawing and scratching have gone and have been replaced with superman punches from cafeteria tables and slamming heads on tables.  How have we gotten to this point?  Can we stop this runaway train before it reaches Doomsville?  If the decision makers of this City, County, and State don’t start making informed decisions, the future is disastrous.   I have a few problems I’d like to share which will highlight the failures in our schools and governing bodies.

The Zero Tolerance Policy

I’m not sure what was the policy before the take over.  What take over you ask?  When the schools systems were consolidated, it was not a merger.  It was more like a hostile take over.  And when it was over, the new Shelby County School board peeled the logo off of the successful Shelby County Schools policy and procedures and slapped it onto the failed Memphis City Schools Policy and Procedures Manual.  In that manual was the zero tolerance for fighting policy.  The policy states “Fighting in or on school property unless, in accordance with state law, the principal recommends no disciplinary action for a student who is deemed to have acted in self-defense or defense of another;”  However, the policy is rarely applied that way.  Typically both students are disciplined.  There is no way for the principal to deem that a student acted in self-defense because no time is taken for an investigation.  You’re not accomplishing anything by suspending the kid that has had to stand up to the bully.  The bully still wins.  Send the bully packing and the defender back to class sends a more powerful message.

Cell Phone Policy

I have been back and forth on this.  There have been several arguments for and against allowing students to maintain possession of their cell phones during school.  Bottom line is, they should be forbidden and stiff penalties for those who violate the policy.  Cell phones contribute to the problem by:

1.  The main instigators of fights are people who want to have the next viral video.  How is the video recorded?  On a cell phone!
2.  When a student has a problem at the school, the parents(or their posse) learn about the problem before the administration learns about it.  Before you know it, there’s chaos on campus.
3.  The social media wars don’t have time to cool off.
4.  Text messaging is used to coordinate attacks and other illegal activities during school hours.

Cell phones must go until the students can demonstrate the maturity to handle the privilege.
Juvenile Court

Law enforcement officers are allowed to arrest persons for misdemeanor offenses that occur in their presence.  Officers are require to issue a citation or summons unless they believe that the offense will continue.  If said officer believes the offense will continue, then the offender is to be transported to jail.  That happens everywhere accept in Shelby County.  In Shelby County, juveniles are issued summonses unless the arresting officer takes the time to find out if the offender has accumulated enough points to warrant transportation.  Even then, the offender may be released the next day.  There have been juveniles charged with rape and released to their parents pending trial.  This is ludicrous.  How can you let participants in a brawl go back to neighborhoods to wreak havoc?  Juvenile court is hiding behind the scathing report issued by the Department of Justice on their treatment of minorities for these policy changes.  The bottom line, it comes down to dollars and cents.  You can’t be so concerned about the civil rights of offenders and overlook victim’s rights which have civil rights built in as well.  Juvenile court did not fix the problems, they’re just avoiding them.  Release the offenders immediately, that way they don’t have to pay for housing them and lessens the risk of any civil rights violations.

Officers in the Schools

There are some great school resource officers.  There are some that should not be allowed to guard a landfill.  The Shelby County Schools Security team in comprised of retired Memphis Police Officers, a few good security officers, and a lot of gung-ho wanna be’s.  Many of these officers contribute to the problems by improperly charging offenders or simply not filing the appropriate report.  Let’s take the video for instance.  I am willing to bet, every one of those students was charged with disorderly conduct which is a class C misdemeanor.  Tennessee law defines a riot as “a gathering of three or more people acting in a threatening or violent manner that creates a risk of injury or substantial property damage…”  Participating in a riot is a class A misdemeanor.  The charge is rarely used.  Disorderly conduct is either a slap on the wrist or a firm talking with some finger shaking.  We see how that has worked out.  Many officers develop loyalties to the school principal and participate in cover ups. The officers in the schools need to consistently report crimes and place the appropriate charges.

Bring Back Principals

Back in the day, five words let you know that you’ve messed up, “Go to the principal’s office!”  That was the longest walk of your life.  But teachers were allowed to do that.  They didn’t have to put up with hours and hours of an unruly student before making an “office referral.”  Many principals are too busy being administrators.  Their too busy jacking with teachers they have an ax to grind with rather than control the chaos in their school. Or they’re locked in their office completing their thesis so people can then call them “Doctor”.  I know that the school board removed corporal punishment(biggest mistake for all eternity) but use those degrees on your wall to invoke order.  Too many principals are throwing teachers under the bus and engaging in negative student retention to avoid losing their position.  Let the parents know who runs the school.

The School Board

If I want a real laugh, I can just read the minutes from the school board meeting, not watch Kevin Hart.  I have not seen one thing that this body has done for the betterment of the students.  There are more people making 6 figures, holding positions that are redundant.  They are not lobbying the state legislature to pass laws that protect teachers while in the discharge of their duties.  Furthermore, they conduct surveys on the teacher’s performance, have they surveyed how well their anti-bullying policy is working.  From looking at the video, it sucks.    I’m not going to dwell on the court of jesters.  Parents need to remember in November.

The Bottom Line

The schools are the proving grounds for members of our society.  If you can’t make in the schools, you’re going to have a tough go at life.  The same tantrums and lame excuses these kids use with the “administrators” , they try to use it in life.  Time out in the real world equals jail.  Throwing a tantrum when someone makes you do something gets you fired in the real world.  There will always be rules wherever you go, but the kids that the SCS produces expect for them to be shaped to suit their needs.   I know that parenting plays a big role in this video and other problems in our city, but perhaps if the school board and the “administrators” do their jobs, the student can get some discipline in their day.  The school board, needs to stop giving in to these parents who only come to the school when someone disciplines their child and tell them “tough caca!  That’s the way it is!”  If we lose the schools, we’ve lost Memphis.


Get To Know: Martin Russell

When I coached high school basketball, I always looked around for the tallest kids on campus. Working at an inner city school in San Diego, that also happened to be the most multi-cultural/racial school in the city, presented problems. Our school, Crawford High School, had incredible soccer, wrestling, and badmiton teams because of the abundance of Africans, Latinos and Asians, but our traditional sports teams, the ones dominated traditionally by Blacks had to work really hard and it didn’t help that there really weren’t any tall kids running around the campus. There were a few, but they liked soccer, not basketball. I remember one kid, a tall light skinned Black kid, that I asked to play and he responded that he didn’t play ball. I told him I could teach him and I basically wanted his size on the court. That kid never accepted and it was okay with me, because he was a funny kid. I remember him being this really quirky guy that didn’t stand out, he simply blended into whatever crowd he was around. That’s the way Crawford was, well most of the time. The students there were kind of their own rainbow coalition in the middle of a city where the poverty line is 70,000 dollars and most of the people in our area were no where close to making that kind of money.
This morning I ran across a post on Facebook, by that kid/man, Martin Russell. He is beginning work on a documentary and if this is any indication of what is to come… Get To Know Martin Russell. Watch this:

African American Lit: Southwest TN – Literature of the Reconstruction – The New Negro Renaissance

Whew, that is one long title. We are switching gears and moving from the Literature of Slavery. Once again there is not enough time in one semester to take on the authors that you have heard of, let alone the authors you haven’t been introduced to. One of the primary elements of studying African American literature is that unlike reading literature by other cultures, Black Lit is directly influenced by the social situations of the time. Now of course Dickens and Amy Tan are writing from two distinct cultures and there is an influence from society, but I think what I am saying here is that those works have autonomy and can be read independently of the culture and as “fiction”. While writing from both the Slavery era and during the Reconstruction are so firmly rooted in the progression, or lack of progression, of Blacks in society that if the writing does not reflect the people it literally does a disservice to the advancement of the people. This creates a question that is still discussed today:

Does the literature have to maintain a certain amount of dignity and responsibility to be accepted as vital and important? Where does the importance derive? Who creates the importance and does a work that fails to develop a discussion of and about Blacks in a positive manner fail?

So we are in the post civil war era and I have another question: *How do you think the post Civil War era shaped the Literature?

Consider the fact that we are now moving from abolitionists and slave narratives to writing that professes equality. Consider Francis Harper’s speech about equality and its continued refrain of America “cursing its own soul” be trampling on the weakest and feeblest of its members. What does this mean?

More importantly the advent of the KKK in 1866 and the removal of laws from the Reconstruction literally wiped out any progress and this was further exacerbated by White Women deciding that they could not find themselves as second class citizens to Black men who had been granted certain opportunities during the Reconstruction and you find the Black American in another compromising position after the end of slavery. Sharecropping is another story that also effects the culture and art.

Here is where I test to see who is reading. You are excused from the test if you submit a paper in two parts: Literary critique (5 paragraphs) and an analysis of W.E.B. Du Bois’ Criteria of Negro Art and Two Novels (2-3 Pages MLA format with a minimum of 5 quotes, with a works cited entry of course. Your paper should analyze this topic: Did and Does art have the ability to change the perception of Blacks in society? Is thisspeech still relevant and how?

That is all for right now.

Prof. B.

P.S. Those of you following along, I would be interested in hearing your response to this question: W.E.B. poses and interesting question in Two Novels. He makes a statement about “catering to that prurient demand… for the portrayal in Negroes of that utter licentiousness.” Are the current trend of novels that cater to the “utter absence of restraint” a problem in today’s literature?

Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America – an analysis

Disintegration written by Eugene Robinson (Washington Post) is a carefully drawn discussion on Black America in the 21st century. Actually, the book is an analysis of all Black people in the post civil rights era. While race in America remains an unapproachable subject  that is often balanced on the razor’s edge, Robinson’s definition of race as it relates to Black America is a concise, clearly crafted study in sociology. Disintegration is a book that finally addresses the conflict of being Black in America. Robinson uses a classification and division rhetorical style to analyze what he has established as the 4 diverging paths of Blacks in America. His astute breakdown of the varying degrees within the race are  presented as, the Mainstream middle class, a large Abandoned minority, a small Transcendent elite and two newly Emergent groups (mixed race and Black immigrants).

This classification and division method allows the reader to approach and understand the shift in African American society. Most books on race involve the analysis of how Whites influence Black culture through their financial and social dominance. Race in other books dwells on the past and generates emotional reactions based on frustrations with how Whites abused religion and authority in their attempt to maintain control over Blacks. Books that focus on this dynamic do less to create a discourse on race, and serve only to continue misunderstandings of both White and Black society. Robinson avoids the same ‘old’ discussions in regard to race that consist of, ‘White people bad, Black people suffered and still do’.

Robinson’s Disintegration, the title is an obvious entendre that hints at how the Black race is actually fading away from what it once was, only focuses on Blacks and how they have changed since the Civil Rights Movement. He discusses the emerging middle class that began to develop due to affirmative action. He discusses the Transcendent class of African Americans: Lawyers, doctors, professional athletes, entertainers and business owners who all have become first generation success stories and in many cases have moved to a status that rivals many White Americans. He discusses this class as still not being equal to White American’s, but this discussion does not occupy a lot of the territory. It is mentioned only to establish that although 40 years have passed and it appears that there is some semblance of the MLK dream, Blacks although more successful and with more access than in the past, still have a long way to go to attain the same status as White America. In his discussion of the Emergent class, mixed race and immigrants, the discussion has an obvious point of reference in President Obama who is of two facets of Blacks: Emergent and Transcendent. However the discussion on the Immigrants in the Emergents is the most intriguing discussion. I feel that this conversation was somewhat slighted in an attempt to maintain what the primary focus of the book is, the Abandoned. The Abandoned are the Blacks who are the poorest and least educated in the country.

The conversation about the Emergent in relation to the Abandoned creates a great discussion. Why is it that  Black Immigrants (Ehtiopians, Sudanese, Nigerian, etc.) attain a better status in regard to employment and education than the Abandoned? Here are a group of people who are arriving to this country without any understanding of the society and in many instances, they do not speak the language and are not able to attain jobs that are in relation to their skills, yet they are outperfoming a group of people who have been here longer and understand the system.  This topic is never fully discussed and Robinson raises the issue only to show that he is aware of how important this is. Disintegration establishes that while Black America is no longer the monolithic culture it was prior to the Civil Rights movement, that racism does still exist and that Black America is more complex than it has ever been.  Eugene Robinson has created the best book on Black American society written, which is a very big statement. I think from this point forward when Black America is discussed this book will have to be referenced. If you have ever wondered what exactly is Black America, read this book now.

Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America