Don't Call Me Queen

Thesis: We are crafting a new ideal of what a black woman should be and creating another layer of oppression.

When I first went natural I enjoyed being called Queen by random black men. Like many (or at least a few) women, I enjoyed the shift in perspective. I thought "they are taking me seriously" and other similar noise.

Soon tho this superficial delight turned sour. This is some confused politics of respectability nonsense. Why should I accept that one hair style commands for respect than others? Confronting privilege when you are the benefactor is hard. I think I could have stayed silent on this issues because we are beginning to do this to each other. Don't believe me, consider this.

A naked black woman showing [the stretch marks on her ass]: Queen

A naked black woman showing her ass in video girl fashion: Not a Queen maybe a THOT

Don't believe me, scroll Instagram

It seems to me that Queens only have natural hair. Amazing black women with a weave or straight need only use #blackgirlmagic. I have a few issues with is:

1. The way a woman wears her hair is a personal (often temporary) decision. Unless expressly detailed by the black woman under said hair no narratives should be ascribed to the decision.

2. Point One sounds great but as women we learn early that it is not just hair. It does have meaning, it does carry messages, political affiliations, possible career limitations. Adding sexual condemnations is just cruel. The trend is that natural women are more conscious of their sexuality and express it in a way that empowers them and other. A woman with a weave or straight hair can do the same thing. Assuming a woman has a healthy self/sexual perspective because of her hair decision is some bullshit. Building a culture around it is dangerous.

3. All black women need a sensual body acceptance/ sexual liberation. One of the most interesting and wonderful part about this focus on "Queens" has been the emergence of mainstream sensual/sexual acceptance. Black Sex is rarely represented or celebrated in any form. We should celebrate healthy black sexuality without being quick to judge, isolate and label.

This is a particularly deceptive form of sexism because it is deeply intertwined with the struggle black women have fought internally and externally about presenting and what we as a groups/individuals gain or loose with certain presentations. Here is the gotcha tho, we would gain a lot more by fiercely defending the decisions of our sisters. Brick by Brick the walls come down. 

 

 

Educational Resource Roundup: Some Must Haves

I am the person that picks up all those flyers for events and programs. I have them stacked haphazardly on my table, crammed into books I am reading, crumpled at the bottom of my bag. I should take a picture of it and leave it there but I don't. I get swept up in the magic of type and brightly colored paper. The bad habit means my house will never be Instagram ready but is does mean that I have a great list of resources. for supplementing/homeschooling. 


Books

1. Human Body Theater by Maris Wikes

We have been obsessed with this book since we got it at Barnes and Noble. The graphic novel teaches about the human body in great detail using beautiful vivid images and a stage show format. The jokes/content in the book are funny, my son loves the dance of the oxygen fairies, but it does not skimp on the information. I highly recommend the book. I will be using it to each lessons on the Human Body starting in March. 

I started a Pinterest board: Teaching Anatomy  to get some inspiration and gather ideas for lesson/activity plans. I would love to hear about other great resources for teaching anatomy,  

 

2. Compost: A Families Guide to Making Soil from Scraps by Ben Raskin

This interactive guide to all things composting is also a must have. We love it and if you are even slightly interesting in composting you will love it too. In addition to having helpful information, like a Wheel of Fortune style page that tells you if an item should be composted, there are stickers, places to write notes, and TONS of helpful tools and fun bonuses. I am especially in love with the worm identification guide and the Worm Lovers Society Card, which can be taken out of the book! The book is designed to get dirty and then get composted. Yup, the book itself can be composted. This book was the one that raised my expectations about how magical a book could be especially for little hands. I am currently working on a summer Food Justice/Environmentalism unit and this book is a major part of my plans. 

3. The Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets

This book really conveys the wonders of our Universe.
— The Royal Society Young People's Book Prize 2014

Anyone who know me, knows that I am obsessed with Usborne books. This book is no exception. Usborne book are always overflowing with information and captivating imagery, but the images in the book are nothing short of amazing. The book includes 4 GIANT fold-out pages of the universe, solar system and the technology used for space exploration. I found a great video on Youtube of the inside of the book. This is a great bedtime book and I am currently using it for our Astronomy lessons along with See Inside the Universe, DK First Space Encyclopedia, and an old science textbook a friend found at a thrift store. See Inside the Universe does not have very many pages but it is full of information. I like it because it forces my son to slowdown and dive into each page in order to get everything out of it which is an important skill. 


You can grow with these books, thats what makes them must haves. I think we will have each of these for years and as our learning moves to greater depths these books will still serve a purpose. These books have also changed the way we interact with education, I started making me own worksheets and lap-books because I wanted to build lessons around these books.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we have. 


Websites

Usborne QuickLinks

Usborne books keep on giving. Each book has a list of quick-links to help you dive deeper into each topic. You do not have to have the books to use the links. 

 

Chalk.com

Revolutionary. Honestly, I would not be able to lesson plan without this handy tool and if you keep track of grades you can do that on this website as well. I love it because it keeps me on track. I really enjoy that I can print a schedule for my son if that is what we need, I can embed links into my lesson plans, move entire lessons forward if I don't get to it and so on. I am NOT a super organization homeschooler so I reduces the number of papers I have to track and if I don's use it for a week or a month everything is there when I get my life back together. I don't enter every grade but it important to me that if I can track what we have been doing. You can even create a rubric so if you pay for a music lesson, or other activity, you can ask the teacher to fill out a quick evaluation however often see fit. Best part....it's free! I tried a few other similar programs and well..don't waste your time, head over to Chalk.com and get yourself a profile. 

CrashCourse/CrashCourse Kids

Educational Youtube Videos that work really well as part of a lesson or just a youtube binge watch, which we did when we first discovered them last November. We stick with Crash Course Kids which has great episodes like "Defining a Problem".  There are a wide variety of topics and the lengths a short. I think they are perfect for reinforcing lessons we have engaged with already. Here is one that we have watched a few times because there are a lot of great spring boards for diving into other topics like Energy. IT'S ALL CONNECTED and they do a great job of showing that. I so find that my son does not mind watching the same episode a few times. Repetition is a MAJOR KEY for him.  


That's all for my first round-up. Please send messages or leave comments about resources you're using or your experience with any of the ones I suggested. This is not a sponsored post. 

 

 

A Dive into Architecture

At the beginning of the academic year I decided to introduce architecture to my son. There is no curriculum for this at his age (seven) nor should there be but in a city like Chicago it seemed just wrong not to especially considering the two great resources the city placed at my feet:

1. The Chicago Architecture Foundation
2. The David Adjeye Exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago
 

Throw in some MineCraft, yup MineCraft, and you have a wonderful introduction to architecture. 

We started with the David Adjeye Exhibit at the AIC, I decided to be brave and take him to the opening night special event, there was a really expensive one I'm not talking about that one, we attended a free event, which was fancier than I expected. There was a talk in a large auditorium followed by a fancy reception where participants could view the exhibit. 

I loved every second. We got to ask David what he was doing at seven. He said traveling A LOT, which disappointment me a little. I can't afford to travel oversees the way he did and still does. Before I walked out I set my mind to doing everything I CAN do and not focus on what I can't. Thanks to the city I live in, I can do a lot. 

My son was one of three (I only saw two others)  kids among hundreds of adults at the reception and held his own wearing a bright red dashiki we bought in NY and drinking sparkling water. We wandered into the exhibit full of models, sketches, and images for David himself. He tried to touch a model and got in trouble with the guard who gave me a very dirty look. I laughed. I couldn't help it. I should not have laughed but I did. I wanted to say, "He's a kinesthetic learner."  but all that came out was a laugh.  

We browsed while I planted: David was once small and brown and full of wonder like you. Now he is taller, stronger and still full of wonder. People come to see him and this work. He loved something and he went for it. 

Note: David deflected a discussion the significance of his race in his art. I am not sure he would appreciate me saying this to my son and may point out that he had a much different experiences as a child and those differences are more significant than the similarities of gender and race  in a stern dignified English accent. At least that is the impression he left on me. The David in my daydream would be right, there are significant differences in their experiences but so what? In this moment representation is important. How many black architects do you know? How many make history books, how often do you get to see one honored? Exactly. So I told my small brown boy to consider what the possibility are for who he may become and his eyes twinkled. 

We met David at the reception and took a picture with him. He bent down and encouraged my small brown boy to pose how he wanted "Don't be afraid, your the boss."  He put one thumb up the same way he did when he met IronMan in NYC when he was four. 

As we left I felt a little hand grab mine, Chicago twinkling in front of us, "One day maybe people will come see what I did really well." He wondered aloud more question than statement.


A few months later, a visit to the Chicago Architecture Foundation. They have wonderful events and workshops for kids and families. We went with a homeschooling group.  The kids learned about skyscrapers as a modern technology, how they are built and used lego to construct their own models. They looked at art and poems about skyscrapers and talked about how people represent things differently. I think this was a great way to instill some artistic confidence. He enjoyed the event so much, he asked if he can go to there camp in the summer. When we left we decided to hunt for a sky scrapper under construction to discuss what he learned.  

MineCraft creative mode has been a huge hit for discussing architecture and letting him try his hand at it. I did not download the app with this in mind. I had no idea what to expect when I downloaded the app but to my surprise he gravitated to creative mode and ALWAYS builds a house, exploring different compositions. Recently, we went to a Art lab at the children museum and he drew a beautiful house.

I think this introduction to architecture has be wonderful we are both really enjoying it. I hope I will be able take him to see the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History this year. Fingers crossed!

2015 in Pictures

2015, my first full year in Chicago has been full of blessings and joy. Last night I pulled out some of the images I took this year. Looking back at all these pictures reminded me just how much happened this year. It is easy to forget all the progress and beauty the year brought. 

This year we where all over the city of Chicago attending event, roaming museums, eating good food and building a community. 

We traveled to Bloomington IN, Madison WI, Washington D.C. and New York City. Each trip was full of friendship, laughter, and love. 

We walked confidently (most of the time) as homeschoolers and experienced tremendous academic and personal growth.

Three beautiful new babies where born in my village.

I made decisions with confidence and approached the world around me with excitement, humility and hope; it rewarded me with love, beauty and joy. 

I cannot wait to see what the last few days of this year will bring and I have high expectations for 2016.