In Presenting Gentrify Your Own Self

Yesterday I was in Memphis presenting Gentrify Your Own Self! on a panel with other Education Philosophers. I guess by now two questions are forming: 1. Did I really entitle an academic paper Gentrify Your Own Self? The short answer is no I didn’t. The proper title of my paper is *ahem* Educational Success in Under Resourced Neighborhoods through Self-Gentrification. 2. How is this about education philosophy? Well the answer to this question is a little more lengthy: So in every class I have taken, in every faculty meeting, in every educational video, in every ghetto, every city , and suburban place I’ve been (see what I did there?) there is always a conversation about the achievement gap between Black and White students. The brilliant solutions are to let go of teachers and administrators who actually care about students, make educational standards really difficult, and let’s test them to death so that Black students really don’t want to attend and do well in school. Effective huh? The problem is that the issues in schools are societal. Simply put, when Black people headed for the suburbs and the stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, humongous master bed and bath, and two-story foyer (sorry, still smarting over that last over-the-top House Hunters episode), they left behind some rich historical areas. The city and Low Country alike are all up for grabs. And we Black folks aren’t grabbing. We’re selling. We’re fleeing. We’re forgetting. And the culture established in these communities left with the people, and now you can’t play your acoustic guitar as loud as you want to because there’s a noise ordinance. I also include the culture of school success in the list of disappearances from the Black Community. I believe if Black communities are fixed, it’s a solution to solving our achievement gap problem. And the way to fix our communities is to Gentrify Your Own Self!

So I presented this theory at this conference. I figured that either my ideas would be met with applause or they’ll chase me out of the city. I got the polite applause. But I rubbed someone the wrong way. And that’s ok. When presenting a philosophical paper, it is expected that it will be met with some criticism. The key is being able to stand by the work. My critic said that she had a problem with my calling for the Black community to gentrify themselves puts onus on the Black Community to solve problems that they didn’t cause in the first place. My answer: Yes it does. And it should. Now the question that I have is what is wrong with being proactive and making a situation that will never change work for us? Gentrification will never go away, not as long as people see value and opportunities in places where we do not. So instead of being caught up in righteous anger, we need to see the value and start making moves to control our own destiny. What do you think?


Where Have All of The Big Mamas Gone?


Do you remember Big Mama? Every neighborhood had one.  It did not matter if you lived in the country, the city, or even in the forest, Big Mama was everywhere.  She was that one who always had good smells coming from her kitchen (and would sneak you a taste when your parents weren’t looking). She had hugs for you when you passed by her porch. Her eagle eyes saw every time you cut up and would tell it to your parents in a heartbeat.  She knew before you did, how you were doing in school. Big Mama had a good ear for listening  and words of wisdom when you needed them. And she had great stories. Big Mama was every parents’ dream. A mom could ask Big Mama to keep her kids a bit while she ran an errand or went to work and knew that they would be safe as houses. And Big Mama would gladly do so because she just loved the kids as much as they loved her. She didn’t replace Mom, Dad, or your grandparents – you  love and cherish them. But Big Mama just was a part of the village that raised us. Maybe even several generations of us. And you never knew how old she was, she just always seemed to be there.  The thing is because she loved everyone, you forgot whose Big Mama she actually was. Big Mama belonged to everyone. Now she belongs to no one because Big Mama is gone.

Where did Big Mama go? Well, she went the way of the residents, the Mom and pop stores, and neighborhood hangouts that were priced out of the neighborhoods by gentrifiers.  She went to the nursing home while her real family moved to the suburbs. A gentrifier bought her house and renovated it into an open concept, stainless steel appliance and granite counter topped kitchen, master with spa en suite addition, painted inside and out, masterpiece you now see before you  (The new residents are now appealing to have a Trader Joe’s and Starbucks brought to the neighborhood.) Big Mama died and no one else could fill that role in the neighborhood because the neighborhood you once knew is gone.

All the above and more has happened to Big Mama. This is why it is important to Gentrify Your Own Self! When the neighborhood was destroyed, so was the village.  The neighborhood is more than just buildings.  It is the people and the culture that has been established for generations. Young people need to understand the value in that because if they they don’t, they’ll grow up and ask this very question: Where have all of the Big Mama’s gone?

Gentrification will occur. More importantly, gentrification needs to occur, so it important that people who want to maintain their way of life be a part of this process.  And holding a gun to someone’s head… well, that won’t get the neighborhood back. Not at all. But in order to hold on to these neighborhoods, you can’t let go of them in the first place.  It is important to return, rehabilitate, and maintain the culture that has been a part of these places for generations. And that includes protecting our Big Mama’s because we need her.  The impact of the destroyed village is evident in how our children behave, in how they perform in school, regard their parents and peers, and what they value.

Hard as it is to witness, I cannot make people hold on to their neighborhoods, Lauren taught me that lesson.  All I can do is expose what has been lost in the hopes that people understand these losses also.  And that they are huge.  So now that we know that we have lost Big Mama, the question becomes: How can we get her back?

Boyz in the ‘Burbs and 16 Candles in the Hood

Boyz in the Hood

Sixteen Candles

The first movie that made me cry was Boyz in the Hood. Even to this day, I have to be in a certain mood to watch the film. Suffice it to say, this is not a movie that gets watched too often by me. It’s not that it wasn’t good. On the contrary, the film was excellent and if you haven’t seen it, see it. Boyz in the Hood is a coming of age film, written by John Singleton, but it’s a whole lot different than say, 16 Candles. A lot different. Boyz in the Hood is a gritty, painful look at life for teenagers living in South Central Los Angeles. Although they took tests and attended dances, their problems went far beyond acne, a PMS-filled wedding day, and the girl getting the guy with the “perfect” hair. Boyz in the Hood was real, but I wasn’t familiar with this reality that shook me to the core. I just couldn’t see the happy ending and that feeling just caused me to bawl right there in the movie theater. 16 Candles wasn’t my reality either, but I was more familiar with it. I went to school with the Samantha Bakers and the Jake Ryans. They were in my honors classes and science clubs, though they didn’t give me a second glance. I parked my modest car in the school parking lot alongside Porsches, Benzes, Beemers, and Audis like it was no big deal, because it wasn’t. I knew what I needed to do to get those type of cars. And it was my goal was to live in that 2-story colonial in the suburbs with my husband and 2.5 kids, as depicted in that John Hughes, Bratpack film.

But Boyz in the Hood opened my eyes up to a different life that some teenagers have to endure. First, I didn’t know that helicopters had clear airspace in residential districts. Secondly, I saw that these teenagers had more to be concerned about then remembering their biology homework. They had to worry about surviving through high school graduation – like the not-getting-gunned down type surviving. Thirdly, when I first saw Boyz in the Hood, I never even heard of “gentrification.” Upon gathering the courage to watch the movie again recently, I realized that Tre’s father, Furious Styles actually advocated for “self-gentrification.” He describes it here. He implores his people to see value in their own communities and be in control of their destinies. As I am watching this part of the movie, I am doing two things: Admiring the “ah-kitechtural” styles of the neighborhood homes in the background and recognizing their value. I am also scanning the crowd Furious is addressing, noticing that the crowd consists of two types of people. They either are resigned to stay and live (or die) in the manner that they have grown accustomed or they are leaving at the first opportunity, never to return.

Those ready to leave quick, fast, and in a hurry, have dreams that consist of that 2-story colonial, luxury car owning, peaceful life in the suburbs as seen on 16 Candles. They want their children to grow up like Samantha Baker and Jake Ryan. I can’t blame them, though. I wasn’t brought up in the ‘hood but I wanted that too. The problem is, that Samantha and Jake who are now grown, see the value in the property that was left behind by those who fled.

The Road to Memphis and a Seat at the Lorraine

Oh where to begin. There is so much to say, so I’ll start at the beginning. I grew up with the Logan Family. I have been living with them since the age of nine. Periodically, throughout the years, I would return to Mississippi for a visit. If you are a Mildred D. Taylor fan like I am, then you know who I am talking about. The book, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry has always stayed with me because it was about a strong Black family who struggled to hold on to their property in the 1930s and 40s. The story reminded me so much of my own family that I was compelled to write, The Promise of Palmettos. Ms. Taylor was as much of an influence to me as my own family, so I was over the moon when she wrote Let the Circle Be Unbroken and The Road to Memphis. No wonder the Civil War/Reconstruction and World War II are my favorite eras in history.

This weekend, I was excited to finally walk in the steps, somewhat, of main character, Cassie Logan as my husband and I headed to Memphis ourselves. Although Cassie was a fictional character, I got chills as I rode along Highway 51, the same roadway she and her friends took from Jackson, Mississippi into this city (I was coming from the direction of Millington). As we made our way through Memphis, I became excited as I took in the architecture of downtown, traveling along the streets and taking in the sites I had only read about. My jubilation was quickly and abruptly squelched however, when we came across Jackie Smith at the Lorraine Motel. One may ask, “Who is Jackie Smith?” Well she is a woman. A Black woman who has set up shop across the street from the very place where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. She has her folding table set up beneath an umbrella to protect her and her little pamphlets from the hot sun. Three signs are hung from her table:

1. Stop Worshipping the Past, Start Living the Dream
2. This site Honors James Earl Ray
3. Gentrification is an Abuse of Civil Liberties

image (2)

image (3)foolishnness
My husband and I just stood there with identical incredulous looks on our faces, taking in the foolery and watched as people passed by this woman’s table and asked questions. And she rationalized her ignorance. Ms. Smith is protesting the Lorraine Motel Historical Monument. She refuses to enter the museum because she feels that it goes against everything Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for. Instead of preserving the site, she feels that the motel should be low income housing. Therefore, she has sat at her perch, across the street for – wait for it – The past. Twenty-three. Years. I have to say that my problems with Jackie Smith are so huge that I am going to have to address her and her little signs one by one.

1. Stop Worshipping the Past, Start Living the Dream
To me, history isn’t something with which to dwell, but to learn from and be inspired by. Although Cassie Logan was a fictional character, her experiences with segregation and discrimination were very much real. To forget, is disrespectful. Let me say that again. To forget is disrespectful. It is disrespectful to discount the past sacrifices made that got us to this point in history. It is on the shoulders of our ancestors that we stand. So Miss Lady thinks that the site of Martin Luther King’s death all paved over and white washed would serve his legacy better? According to her, we are forgetting his dream. Excuse me? So instead of working to help the people that she feels this site should have been for, this lady sits there and hands out pamphlets that spout her ignorance. Meanwhile, people who gather at her table are seeking her permission to forget about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. My husband and I hear the murmurings, “She’s got a point,” from the crowd as she is telling the public, with her protest, that it is okay for them to not acknowledge that era of our American History. If we people of color do not remember and honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others who fought for our Civil Rights, why should everyone else? And if we don’t, who will? If madam has ever read a history book, listened to the stories of her ancestors, and gotten over herself, she would know that Black people, even before Martin Luther King, Jr., knew that to be successful in this country, they had to have an education (vocational or formal) in order to be elevated to the middle class. As a result, they would be economically successful.

2. This site Honors James Earl Ray.
What does sitting there with a one-woman show, steps away from where the shots were fired to assassinate Martin Luther King Jr., actually do? Who does it even help? People – Black and White – visit the Lorraine Motel. They shed tears. They say a prayer. They teach their children. Among this, I am not seeing how any of this honors James Earl Ray. If anyone is setting up a monument for King’s murderer, it is Jackie Smith. She is murdering history with her propaganda. Her pseudo philosophies are just firing the fatal shot all over again. Only instead of killing the body, she’s killing the dream King left behind. And I resent her very presence. Sun up to sun down, she’s out there. How exactly is she contributing to the society she feels the Lorraine Motel abandoned? That is all I have to say about that foolishness.

3. Gentrification is an abuse of Civil Liberties.
I get that people have issues with gentrification and rightly so. The displacement of residents and the loss of history are the serious downsides. But in order for economic prosperity and revitalization to occur, gentrification needs to happen. Also, consider the fact that gentrification is no longer just confined to small pockets in the urban area. The process is globalized as government entities recognize that the purposeful placement of the middle class brings in a much needed tax base, resulting in economic stability. And Martin Luther King, Jr. was all for that. Also, the globalization of gentrification means that it is not going away. At all. That is why we need to gentrify our own selves! If you can’t beat the process, be a part of the process. And if Miss Lady is saying that the Lorraine Motel is a sign of gentrification, then why isn’t she sitting outside of other gentrified spaces like the rehabilitated commercial properties, the gated infill neighborhoods (Uh, you don’t gate urban single family residential spaces, but that’s another blog post), or the pedestrian walkway/trolley route with her little pamphlets?

I cannot with Ms. Smith. I can respect a difference of opinion. But I cannot respect this so-called stand that she has taken. In fact, I am going to need her to have all of the seats available.

Now I want to speak directly to Miss Smith: If you want to take a stand for the homeless and the poor, then take your stand by doing something that will actually help them. Sitting outside of a historical site, baking in the Tennessee sun and freezing in the Tennessee winter for the past 23 years will not get the homeless and the poor the tools that they need to strive for that economic prosperity that King preached about in his I’ve Been to the Mountain Top Speech. Remember that speech for the sanitation workers given in your fair city the day before he died? You say stop worshipping the past? Really? The Lorraine Motel Monument has been built, drawing hundreds of people daily, so clearly people want to pay homage to Martin Luther King, Jr. They want to. So that ship has sailed. Meanwhile, you madam, still remain on the shore. Going nowhere. Such a shame, though. Think of all the people you could have helped if that was truly your agenda.

Cassie Logan would be ashamed of this. All she and people like her endured so that we can have our civil rights, and this Jackie Smith woman is the payback. But her signs mean nothing to me. That road to Memphis has been my inspiration and I will carry it with me always.

Rent Em Spoons!


So everybody is going crazy over the altercation between Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s sister, Solange. Well I’m not here to go through the wherefore and whys of this spectacle. I will let the other bloggers do that. I am however, more focused on the physical aspect of the attack itself, which to me was quite amusing. If you were like me, you may have watched the melee…a couple of times… Solange really wanted to get to Jay-z. Really wanted to. So much so that when she couldn’t put her hands on him due to the bodyguard holding her back (He really earned his paycheck that evening), she began kicking him. She was reaching for every part she could with her feet. I laughed hard watching this. Not because of the beating that Jay-Z received from his very, very, very, very, angry sister-in-law, but it reminded me of this television episode of Martin. There is this particular episode when Martin; his girlfriend, Gina; and their friends Pam, Tommy, and Cole were brainstorming ideas for a business they wanted to open with Martin’s $4,000 IRS refund check. Well dear Cole, who has proven on more than one occasion that he’s not too bright, came up with the idea of “Rent Em Spoons.” Basically, you give out free soup, but you rent out the spoons 🙂 ! This explanation immediately put Martin in fight mode. In spite of the violence that it ensued, Cole was determined to get his idea across. The third time Cole yelled out “Rent Em Spoons,” his friends, anticipating the imminent attack, had to hold Martin back to where only his feet were free, using them to try and kick Cole. View here.

I mean Martin was desperate to beat Cole down. Like Solange. And like my two-year-old. Yes, like my two-year-old. When I try to pull my little boy away from the object that he desires like food, a toy, or his blanket, he can’t vocalize his frustration, so he will kick and stretch to try to reach the object with his feet. His father and I call these antics, “Rent Em Spoons!” While I don’t condone violence, I think the Rent Em Spoons fighting method can be cathartic. Even if you hit nothing (Although Solange managed to land a few blows), I think it’s an effective way to let someone or something know that if you could just get your hands on them… Anyway, there are some community issues that make me just want to go, Rent Em Spoons! Count them down with me:

6. Big Box Stores – Admittedly, I love Target. However, the Big Boxes in general make me crazy. It requires so much land to build one. Not only for the actual store but for parking as well. Then there is the runoff once it rains that pollutes our rivers and streams. Even if you are not an environmentalist, you must admit Big Box Stores have killed their share of small businesses. And every time you look around, someone thinks it’s actually a good idea to put one of these up. And you can best believe this is after an old store has been abandoned, leaving a shell and a lot wasted land. Rent Em Spoons!

5. Subdivisions without Trees – When I was working as a planner and preparing my rezoning reports for the subdivisions, I would always give the stipulation that the developer only remove just enough trees to place the house. Unfortunately, not all jurisdictions require a “no clear cutting” clause. When I pass subdivisions with endless rooftops and not one tree, it makes me want to completely Rent Em Spoons!

4. Gated Communities – To you, it’s security. To me, it’s promoting exclusivity. Rent Em Spoons!

3. The Continuous Building of Schools Waaaaayyyyy Out in Suburbia – I hate it when there are schools closer to the urban center that are falling apart and need to be rehabilitated, and yet, all of the money goes towards building state-of-the-art facilities way out yonder where there is only like 50 people. Again, it’s such a waste of land. And money. Then when there aren’t enough students in the older schools, they are the ones that are closed, leaving behind rundown, unused eyesores. Rent Em Spoons!

2. Applebees – Nothing personal against Applebees. I enjoy the occasional 2 for $20 menu as much as the next person. I am actually more opposed to the concept of Applebees and similar restaurant chains. They keep us out of downtown and keeps us from enjoying the community’s indigenous culture displayed in food, arts and crafts, and music. You can’t enjoy those in suburban restaurants. Rent Em Spoons!

1. Deteriorating Neighborhoods – We grow up. We get money. We leave. We don’t return. We want to head for the gated community, with no trees, near the big box retail and the Applebees, and send our kids to the brand new state-of-the-art schools. Two things here: First, Gentrify Your Own Self! and Secondly, Rent Em Spoons!

So there you have it. The things in the community that make me go all Rent Em Spoons. What about your community makes you go all Rent Em Spoons?

We’re Movin’ on In…?

The other day when I was working on my final paperssss (’cause one ‘s’ just won’t do), the ’70s sitcom, The Jeffersons came on. You know The Jeffersons. It has the catchiest theme song:
We’re movin’ on up!
To the East Side,
To the De-luxe apartment
In the sky-y-y…
We’re movin’ on up!
To the East Side!
We finally got a piece of the pie…”

Then the song breaks it down with that funky rhythm you do your little stomp-clap with. You know the part about fish fryin’ and beans burnin’. For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, you can watch the video of the song here. Get ready to not be able to get that song out of your head for the rest of the day (It’s in my head now as I am writing this).

Quickly, for those who don’t know – The Jeffersons, a spin off from another Norman Lear production, All in the Family, is about George and Louise (Weezie) Jefferson, who has made money from George’s seven cleaning stores in New York City (one near you) and now he and his wife have “come up” from being poor in Harlem to now living in this swanky apartment building on – yes – Manhattan’s East Side.

So this episode was when Louise finds out that the entire block that housed her old apartment building in Harlem was being torn down to make room for new buildings (urban renewal at its finest). Louise frantically leaves her East Side apartment to visit her old home. There, she has three different memories of growing up in her room. The first memory a young Louise, who is mad at her mama, is making plans to sell her “diamond doorknobs” so she could be rich and run away from home.

"Diamond Doorknobs"

“Diamond Doorknobs”

In the second memory, she and her cousin are coming home way past curfew from a date and her mama catches her (Bad move, Louise. You know Mama Mills don’t play that). Finally, Louise is getting married and she’s sad about leaving home and saying goodbye to her mother.

As I am half listening (because I practically know all of the good lines by heart) while writing my paperssss, the irony suddenly smacks me in the face because the subject of my paperssss are on – wait for it – self-gentrification. So I stop writing and think a moment. What would have happened if George and Louise had decided instead of leaving Harlem when they were successful with the cleaning stores, to stay in Harlem and be a part of its redevelopment. What would have happened if the Jeffersons were movin’ on in instead of movin’ on up? Would it have been just as entertaining? Believable? Something for us to emulate? Unfortunately, that wasn’t how the George Jefferson character was written. In fact, his whole philosophy was “making it like the white man.” To him that meant living where they lived, buying what they might buy, and making even more money so he’s not awakened by a dream with cockroaches waving and screaming at him, “Welcome back, George!” But that’s another episode… Then the question becomes was The Jeffersons modeled after the mindset of the Black masses? Or was the Black masses following what they saw on sitcoms like The Jeffersons? After all, art imitates life.

So the episode ends with Louise taking her “diamond doorknobs” with her as a memento. My good friend told me that this scene was her favorite. I must confess this is my favorite scene as well. However, for the first time in the fifty-eleven times I have seen this episode, I wished instead of just taking the doorknob, she and George just bought the whole building, diamond doorknob and all, and just rehabilitated it to keep for their progeny. Because sometimes life imitates art. Maybe that would have influenced the rest of us to treasure places where were raised like Harlem, allowing its value to play a part in our decision to not leave it behind for the East side. If George and Louise Jefferson had been written to value what they had left behind, I’m thinking the theme song would have changed slightly:

We’re movin’ on in,
to the Harlem side,
That de-lux Brownstone,
We’ll keep with pride.
We’re movin’ on in,
to where doorknobs bling.
Here’s where we’ll stay
and remain the king…

What do you think?
For the complete The Jeffersons episode, watch here and here

Let’s Give a Shout Out!

As people come to know me, they will soon find out about my sister. I have to explain that as far as sisters go, no one else has one of these. No one. Seriously. And when they do meet her or have any interaction with her at all, they’ll find out very quickly what I am talking about. My sister is an original. I’m saying all of this to say that in addition to her infectious personality, propensity for making up names for things, having an incredible knack for telling side-splitting stories, and other quirks that are too numerous to name, she has these segments on Facebook that garner plenty of attention from those who follow her. My favorite is the Shout Out segment. Now the original meaning for the phrase, Shout Out is to give people a greeting or praise. However, my sister uses the Shout Out to let’s just say to… acknowledge those lacking in common sense and common courtesy. It’s quite hilarious, actually. Well I hope that my sister doesn’t mind, but I’m going to borrow her Shout Outs for this blog post. Only, I want to use the term Shout Out for its original purpose: to give praise. So, without further ado, here are my Shout Outs:

My first Shout Out goes to Naomi. In spite of it being illegal, she learned to read and write. For slaves, literacy was more than knowing what their white owners knew. For Naomi and the other slaves, having an education meant finally being seen as more than 3/5 of person or a second-class citizen. Having an education would do something that merely being brought to these shores could not do. What fighting in the wars for freedom could not do. What speaking in English and becoming a Christian could not do. For slaves and freedmen alike, having an education meant finally being regarded as an American.

I want to give a Shout Out to teachers like Charlotte Forten Grimke, who dedicated their lives to teaching the newly freed slaves. Thanks to the Port Royal Experiment, descendants of Naomi’s generations were able to become educated. Getting a good education had always been apart of Black American Culture. After gaining freedom, it was important for former slaves to have learning. Our people may not have had the most pristine setting for a house of learning, but they sure knew how to school. These students didn’t just receive “book learning” but life learning. In other words: It was not only important to gain knowledge of the 3 R’s, but they needed to learn how to function in mainstream society. Lessons actually included diction and etiquette. I mean how else would people who were once in bondage ever be taken seriously? This actually reminds me of all of the “extras” I learned while attending Hampton University. I still remember a sternly worded lecture in my Mass Media class on the art of being a good tipper. I digress. Anyway, our people have always been survivors and knew that obtaining a well-rounded education would lead to success.

Of course there were some aspects of educating Black people that were up for debate: Should we learn a trade like Booker T. Washington believed, or should we compete on an intellectual level as argued by W.E.B. DuBois. So Shout Out to both men because they understood that having an education, whether it was learning a trade or becoming a professional, was a way for Black citizens to be competitive.

Shout Out to Thurgood Marshall and those countless students who fought against education discrimination. Facilities for Blacks may have been separate, but they sure weren’t equal. Of course today, we are dealing with “resegregation” and once again separate is not equal… but, moving on.

Shout Out to the student activists of the 1960s who knew that it was not enough just to have a good education. They knew that they needed to work to fix society’s ills – segregation, discrimination, disenfranchisement – in order for us all to have a better future. These students risked their own education in this fight for equal rights.

Shout Out to the It’s-a-Black-Thing-activists-Malcolm-X-cap-wearing-positive-rap creating/reciting-A-Different-World-and-School-Daze-watching-HBCU-attending-learn-your-history-urging-Africa-shaped-medallion-sporting-Bob-Marley-jamming-give-back-to-the-community-Fight-the-power-students of the 1990s.

The importance of education was passed down from generation to generation. To that end, I want to give a Shout Out to people like my grandparents, who were always telling us to go and “get our learnin’.” I acknowledge them because economics did not permit them to get a college education, but they made sure their children had one. They knew that getting a degree was the key to their children and grandchildren reaching that coveted middle class status. And it wasn’t just our Grandmamas, Gramees, Big Mamas, Mamas, Granddaddies, Grampees, Big Daddies, and Daddies giving this message to their own children, but was imparted to all of the children of the ‘hood, island, or country. Getting a good education was a part of Black culture and reinforced throughout tightly-knit neighborhoods. Then our neighborhoods broke down and there went the expectation for higher learning. Now, as a people, we are so far removed from the educational mindset Naomi’s generation, it’s a tragedy. And this is one of the reasons I implore people to Gentrify your Own Self!

As a people, we have to get back that culture of education success. Although we are still presenting theories as how to achieve this, I say we give a Shout Out to those who have brought us this far. But first as we look to Naomi and shout her out, please remember what getting a good education is all about for our people and where it started.

Who is Naomi, you ask? Read Marshland and find out :).