Disco Mickey Mouse

I grew up with a very Christian household. My Dad was (and still is) a deacon and my mother was (and still is) a minister. We spent many a night and day in church, but my parents seem to find ways to respect the rules of the church while not always raining on our “fun parade” as children. Music was always a challenge when it came to being a Christian kid. There was a lot we could not technically listen to because it was considered secular.  But, my Mom and Dad did let us listen to disco, at least, Disco Mickey Mouse. For at least two or three years, these were my jams.  I thought about them today, did a Google search, and here they are.

Church today is not as strict as when I , my older sister and twin brother were coming up and there is so much amazing gospel music of different genres to listen to compared to when I was growing up. Disco Mickey Mouse may not need to be an alternative, but It is still fun to listen to.

Love is Silent

to_write_love_on_her_arms__by_silent_paradiseMy brother called me this morning. I hadn’t heard from him in weeks. This is unfortunately the norm and I, unfortunately, am getting use to it.  He has made a decision in his life which effects his children. It is difficult to make decisions when it changes one life. It has to be pure torture, when it can change four. I listen and advise when asked. Right before we ended the conversation, he said, “Donna, I love you man.” I smiled and said “I am glad someone does.” He answered back. “You do not think anyone loved you?” “I am very sure that there are people who love me, you just caught me on a day where I have some doubt.”, I said.

My brother, after a short silence said, “Love is silent.” I asked him what he meant, but a part of me already understood.  What he meant was simple. So many times we walk around, with love in our hearts for people around us and we do not express it.  Why we do not express it is fear of rejection and not getting the love reciprocated or just the vulnerability of expressing love in a society that still kind of feels uncomfortable with openness. Love, as beautiful as it feels and is, sometimes can go unnoticed.    My brother’s statement on love was interesting. It hit me hard. Do people love me really? Yes, they do. I know people love me and yet today, in the silence of a Saturday morning, when I do not hear the laughter of friends and family, the silent love was not enough.  When you are separated from your root or your support, silent love is just silence.

I was glad to hear from my twin today. He broke my silence and helped me get up and actually reach out to other people today, letting them know, if I had not said it recently, that I loved them and miss them.  Let’s not be afraid to express our love to others. Someone may need a hug, or a reminder sometimes. Your expression may be the difference in how a person experience their day, hell, maybe their life.

Education and Poverty Levels

public-schools1Children spend 12 or more years going through an educational system that promises it will give them the knowledge they need to attend a college build a career and become an integral part of the American and even global society. Part of this promise, of course, is based on the student’s commitment to the process, but it seems commitment is not enough.

The American education system is not living up to expectation. All of our students are suffering from it, but it is those who live in low-income urban and rural environments that are feeling the most damage.  It seems impossible that one of the richest countries in the world has an average to almost poor educational system.  The logical question to ask is why? The answer is simple. Poverty. Poverty is the only reason our school system is failing.

It is believed that public schools do not put enough money in child education. This is not entirely true. American schools spend an average of $11,000 per child per year for education; more than any other country with similar economic status. Money is not the problem. It is the distribution of it that causes the education gaps that we see in our schools. Most public schools get funding from a state and/or federal source but a majority of the funding comes from property taxes of the surrounding neighborhoods. The lower the property taxes, the less monies will go into those schools. The less money that is put into a school the less a school can do for its students. Very simple.

Parents are also blamed for the poor education success of their children. It is true, there are some parents, regardless of their economic status, will not take part in their child’s education process. But, for a low-income person living in poverty, their jobs, the amount of hours they work, having multiple jobs or the stress of being jobless effects how much time parents can give to their child to help them with homework or to volunteer for the school or participate in activities.

Lastly, we blame teachers. “We need better teachers,” is the rhetoric we hear all the time.What is needed is better support for teachers. Poverty decreases how much support a parent can give to a child’s education. By default, teachers, in many cases, become a stand-in parent as well as an educator. This additional responsibility plus handling the reality that there is not enough resources to help teachers support students makes teaching a grueling job. It is unfair to blame a teacher for poor education especially when they are underpaid as they try to raise and educate children who are dealing with hunger, lack of sleep, unsafe living environment, financial challenges, medical challenged and distracted parents/guardians. How can a child learn when basics needs are not met?How can a teacher teach when basic resources are not provided?

So many different ways to educate children have popped up in the last three decades such as charter and magnet schools. Just recently online K-12 classes have become and option. These aren’t solutions since they only support a small portion of our society. If America wants quality education for all, it needs to end poverty. If we want a more solid education system, we can no longer base quality education on economic status or the luck of the draw.

We must go back to why we developed public schools in the first place. To ensure that all American children are getting the same education opportunities regardless of where they live or how they live. School is the safe place we find our friends, the things we love to do and where we learn more about who we are as individuals and people. What we are doing now is dividing us and watering us down our intellect and creativity. End poverty and we solve our education challenges.


Reading Rainbow Kickstarter Gives Me Hope

rrlogo_rainbow Recently Reading Rainbow host Levar Burton did an amazing thing with the help of thousands of supporters, He is bringing a wonderful show back to more children. I LOVED Reading Rainbow and watched it way beyond my teen years (yes I did) because of the format, the books that were discussed and the fact that Levar talked to children like human beings and not morons.  

When I hear those famous words Butterfly in the sky. I can go twice as high Take a look, it’s in a book A Reading Rainbow”, I still smile and I still sing.  Right now I am running my own Kickstarter to bring art into Detroit neighborhoods while also cleaning up abandoned lots (Community Pop Up Art Exhibit Project). My donations are slow going but what the Reading Rainbow project has done is give me hope that a purposeful project will be supported.

I am so happy that Reading Rainbow will be enjoyed by another generation of kids and I hope that I can bring some positivity into my community with my Kickstarter Project. I hope I am just as successful in hitting and surpassing my goal as Levar Burton.

I am Back in Concert Band

ClarinetIn one of my earlier post, I wrote that there was a moment in my life that I seriously wanted to become a musician in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. I didn’t do it because at that time, I didn’t think I was good enough and neither did my music tutor. It’s okay; I do not regret it.

Being a musician may not ever pay my bills, I always told myself that I would go back and make it a permanent part of my lifestyle. This year, I finally kept my word and joined a community band.  I joined the Houston Pride Band. My friend, who is the interim conductor of the Houston Pride Band has been trying to get me to join for a while. When he asked this year, I did not hesitate. It was such a weird feeling to go into the band room and smell the same smells of band rooms from yesteryear.  It was stranger how my fingers moved and brain worked as I began to play and read the music. My brain and fingers had not forgotten how to play the clarinet. They were waiting for me to pick it back up again.

I joined in April and just played my first concert today. It was a wonderful feeling. In two months, I reconnected to my musical roots and training and was able to play on a level I thought I would never do.  My music teachers; Ms. Minor, Mr. Wodkowski, and Mr. Nicholson; would be proud of me today.  I am proud of me today and cannot wait until the next concert.

Oh..um. You may be asking why I am playing in a pride band and I am not a lesbian. That is a story for later. I promise I will tell it when the time is right.

Day 30 of the Pop Up Art Exhibit Kickstarter Campaign

Five days ago, I started a Kickstarter campaign for a Pop Up Community Art Exhibit. I have 30 days to raise $5,000. Currently, I have raised $103.00. I am confident that I will raise more.

I want to show you a photo:

255This is one of my favorite photos from 2013’s Pop Up. It is a close-up of children in the neighborhood I grew up in, painting a canvas with the Detroit skyline in the middle. What I like most is looking at what they are painting. Sunlight, grass, a flower. These are things of beauty they are painting while they outdoors taking in the beautiful sun. This project provided children a moment to be creators and to do it with other children in a beautiful setting. What a wonderful gift to give a young mind.

Art has been taken out of many schools. The power to create has been taken away from our children. Pop Up Community Art Exhibits and the events surrounding the projects brings art back to the children’s door step.  Donate today.

Why is Detroit Broke? No Black Community

The video below is very raw. It talks about Blacks in America and what is needed to progress. I thought several times before deciding to share this, but truth hurts. For my fellow Detroiters, listen well. It speaks directly and candidly of us.

Where do I stand on this issue? I think that every person, every race and ethnicity brings a beauty to this country. But it is true, that only African Americans gave up themselves to be a part of the American fabric. Integration really was an assimilation and that message of assimilation, both direct and subconsciously, has created a people who in general live with self hatred. This is obvious in economic patterns and in the fact that many blacks do not work together to solve problems or to create growth. It has created a city like Detroit. Full of black people without community.

Though Mr. Claud Anderson come across harsh, his words ring true. For a city like Detroit to thrive and not continue to be broke, a black community must be created. There is a proud Hispanic community in Detroit, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Chaldean, Arabic…I can go on. But not Black. No one calls these other ethnic communities prejudice because they exist, but there is a part of us as Black people that believe creating a community, similar to our Hispanic, Irish, Greek and Arabic brothers and sisters, will take us back to a segregated world. It will make us unacceptable again or not a part of main stream. Blacks can be Black in all its beauty and still be a proud American. Blacks can support other Blacks and not be seen as bias. Blacks can build communities and not be deemed segregationist. Black Detroiters. Save the city. Build a community and do it with love and compassion.