37 Matching Annotations
  1. Aug 2021
    1. What’s up with African American literacy rates? David L. Horne, PH.D. | 10/3/2013, midnight

      In the world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other quick strike information processes, why is there a definite lack of evidence of a steady upward progression of reading and writing skills among African American contributors?

      Post secondary education statistics continue to demonstrate that far too many African American students who finish high school do so as functional illiterates—that is, they cannot read and write at a basic level requisite for functional participation in modern life. In California, both the California State University system and the University of California system still annually allow (and mainly require) a significant proportion of incoming freshmen to register for developmental English courses—sometimes called “dumbbell” English— in order to assist the students in preparing to take regular-level freshmen college basic education courses. These developmental courses generally do not count toward a student’s graduation but must still be paid for through regular tuition. Both university systems realize this is not a very efficient use of taxpayer dollars, however, the literacy levels of the students coming to them out of high school require this kind of intervention. As of 2009, the Department of Education reported that literacy rates for more than 50 percent of African American children in the fourth grade nationwide was below the basic skills level and far below average; and by the ninth grade nationwide, the situation had gotten worse, with the rate dropping below 44 percent. Yes, there is still an unemployment crisis in the nation’s Black communities, but what is feeding and ensuring the longevity of that crisis is the ballooning illiteracy rate among Black youth and adults. What happened to that post-antebellum slavery zeal that put educational attainment, including reading and writing skills, as the sustained priority for advancement in American society? How did we drop that ball? These are bedeviling questions especially with Sept. 24 labeled National Punctuation Day, and it was accompanied by a broad national reflection on the lack of proper writing skills among modern American youth. Officially, NPD, “is a celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis.” Giving even a casual glance at regular comments typed into Twitter, Instagram and on Facebook pages, American youth are in deep need, accompanied by deepening denial, of literacy help. And, citing the old chestnut, “when White folks sneeze, Black folks catch the flu,” where there is this dire a problem among America’s youth in general, African American youth are staring at death’s door regarding functional literacy in America. What can be done about it, if anything? Where there is still parenting going on, we need to encourage the love of reading (not just urge our youth to read so-called great books), and we need to encourage African American youth to actually write sentences in letters, notes, homework assignments, etc. We might even spend a little time checking—proof-reading—their material ourselves. African Americans simply cannot afford this self-imposed hump onto already overloaded backs. It’s one thing to still have to fight everyday acts of random racism in our lives. That’s the nature of the beast we deal with. It is another thing altogether though, to handicap ourselves. Suicide has never been our favorite or most popular response to oppression, but we have to call this literacy problem what it is—cultural and political suicide. C’mon ya’ll. Let’s get with it. Forward not backwards. Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

      DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of OurWeekly.

      Source: http://ourweekly.com/news/2013/oct/03/whats-african-american-literacy-rates/

      This article discusses an issue that has dogged that African American community for centuries.

  2. Jul 2021
    1. Billy: And jazz helped me discover that because it's like a chain. African American people help each other out through their music, that helped other people out, that helped me out. Eventually I took my friend out of a heroin addiction because of that, because of the music. And I started crying when he told me. He was like, "Dude, I just wanted to thank you because you took me out of my heroin addiction." I actually did something. So that music was really important for me. It gave me an identity.Anita: So, you were attracted to African American blues and jazz?Billy: Yeah, because my brother was listening to it and so I'm like, "Dude, what are you listening to? This is weird We usually listen to rock." He's like, "Man, this is called blues, bro. This is a really cool music, and it has to do with African American people back in the day and it tells the story of America."Billy: So, I just looked into it and I became obsessed with it. I couldn't stop. Once I discovered Louis Armstrong, that was just it. I could not stop playing jazz and so yeah, in North Carolina, I was just feeling kinda crappy and that music came at the perfect time.

      Time in the US, Pastimes, Music; Feelings, Despair, Hope

    2. Anita: That's pretty cool.Billy: Yeah, I'm sorry for doing that just, I have to burst out and sing.Anita: Yeah, no that was great. That was fantastic. So, as you can tell, Billy is a musician.Billy: I love music, I love to sing. It's just... it's like a form of therapy for me. Yeah. It really is.Anita: Do you sing Mexican stuff or just...?Billy: You know what, it's embarrassing because a lot of people tell me, "Oh, sing this Jose, Jose song or Mexican traditional songs,” and I don't know them and so it's like, "Bro, I'm sorry. I don't know it." I only play grandpa music.Anita: But it's grandpa American music?Billy: It's American music history and if it wasn't for that there wouldn't be a lot of genres today. I really like that old stuff, for sure.Anita: And how did you get exposed to that old stuff?Billy: So, that was in North Carolina. I was actually going through a really big depression. I didn't know what to do anymore, being illegal in the U.S, not being able to find jobs, not being able to go into college was difficult for me so I was falling into a depression. And then I came across this guy called Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson is the king of the Delta blues. He's one of the most important American musicians, ever.Billy: So, I started listening to his music and just the pain and the story of him uplifted me. He was letting me know, "You know what, you're healthy. You're young. Look at these African American people back in the day, what they went through and compared to what you're going through? Don't be a sissy and don't complain."Billy: So that music just uplifted me, and it gave me energy and it let me know, "Bro, you don't have to just be this kid with”—because I had a lot of anxiety—"This kid with anxiety. You can play music and make people feel good." And so that helped me out a lot and eventually that led me to, and this is going to sound weird but, it led me to discover the purpose of what a human is because, listen to this, when you play music, you're helping other people out, right? And you're really contributing to the change that you want to live in the future.Billy: And I was, like, "Dude, what's the purpose of a human being? Why are we here?" And it's simply to help others. That's all it is. It is to contribute to the change you want to live in and it's very fulfilling when you help somebody. And so that let me know, "Dude, you're here to help others and, yeah, just do it."

      Time in the US, Pastimes, Music, Playing, Favorite; States, North Carolina

  3. Feb 2021
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  5. Oct 2020
    1. Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett), the first enslaved African American to sue for her freedom in the courts based on the law of the 1780 constitution of the state of Massachusetts, which held that "all men are born free and equal." The Jury agreed and in 1781 she won her freedom. Her lawyer had been Theodore Sedgwick.
  6. Jul 2020
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  10. Oct 2019
    1. "The Fifteenth Amendment stated that people could not be denied the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” This construction allowed states to continue to decide the qualifications of voters as long as those qualifications were ostensibly race-neutral. Thus, while states could not deny African American men the right to vote on the basis of race, they could deny it to women on the basis of sex or to people who could not prove they were literate." Before the 15th amendment women and colored men and women were not allowed to vote but the 15th amendment allowed these privileges and prevented discrimination amongst the rights of someone based on their race and gender and states cannot deny these rights to the people because it is a constitutional law.

  11. May 2019
  12. Sep 2018
  13. May 2017
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  15. Jul 2015
    1. I first witnessed this power out on the Yard, that communal green space in the center of the campus where the students gathered and I saw everything I knew of my black self multiplied out into seemingly endless variations. There were the scions of Nigerian aristocrats in their business suits giving dap to bald-headed Qs in purple windbreakers and tan Timbs. There were the high-yellow progeny of A.M.E. preachers debating the clerics of Ausar-Set. There were California girls turned Muslim, born anew, in hijab and long skirt. There were Ponzi schemers and Christian cultists, Tabernacle fanatics and mathematical geniuses. It was like listening to a hundred different renditions of “Redemption Song,” each in a different color and key. And overlaying all of this was the history of Howard itself. I knew that I was literally walking in the footsteps of all the Toni Morrisons and Zora Neale Hurstons, of all the Sterling Browns and Kenneth Clarks, who’d come before.

      I love the details, the pride, the power of this description!

    2. or rather the progress of those Americans who believe that they are white,

      This is such a powerful articulation--borrowed from Baldwin as the epigraph makes clear--of the social construct of whiteness.

    3. the gap between her world and the world for which I had been summoned to speak.

      A riff on the title of TNC's forthcoming book, itself a a riff on WEB Du Bois's famous description of black experience in The Souls of Black Folk (1903). As he opens that book in a chapter entitled "Of Our Spiritual Strivings":

      BETWEEN me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it.

    4. My father was so very afraid. I felt it in the sting of his black leather belt, which he applied with more anxiety than anger, my father who beat me as if someone might steal me away, because that is exactly what was happening all around us.

      This reminds me of the incident during the Baltimore Uprising in April where Toya Graham beats her son. Stacey Patton wrote about this:

      The kind of violent discipline Graham unleashed on her son did not originate with her, or with my adoptive mother who publicly beat me when I was a child, or with the legions of black parents who equate pain with protection and love. The beatings originated with white supremacy, a history of cultural and physical violence that devalues black life at every turn. From slavery through Jim Crow, from the school-to-prison pipeline, the innocence and protection of black children has always been a dream deferred. http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/04/29/why-is-america-celebrating-the-beating-of-a-black-child/

    5. JUL 4, 2015

      Hard not to relate this piece to another great statement of African American experience: Frederick Douglass's 1841 speech “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”

      Image Description

  16. Feb 2015
    1. Do you remember the day, baby, you drove me from your door?

      A line from Elvie Thomas's "Motherless Child Blues":

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmj23UrVF80

      The trope of the motherless child is a popular one in African American art. Of course the destruction of families was a major consequence of the slave trade and the institution of slavery.