Time to Talk

Oh No She Didn’t

“Time to heal our women, be real to our women. And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies that will hate the ladies that make the babies.” – Tupac Shakur

One of my favorite songs is “Bag Lady” by Erykah Badu. It is a song that behooves women (young and old) to release the mental and emotional baggage that they have acquired throughout life. With the simple vamp of: “Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go.” the tune is a declaration of the freedom that comes with releasing old life luggage.

downloadThough I absolutely enjoy the song- I have come to personally overstand that not all bags are easy to let go, but it is much needed. Experiences such as molestation or sexual assault can leave one with a plethora of feelings ranging from hate to little or no self-worth. Most women, especially those in the black community, are taught to keep such sordid things in the closet and move on. From my own personal experiences I have found that what’s not dealt with ( be it emotionally or physically) can and will leave one paralyzed in pain.

Damaged women do destructive things.

Although women are trailblazers in the business world and have made great strides in the scientific and political community, they are still subject to being seen as merely sexual objects. Little girls are still molested, raped or sold into sex trafficking rings. In many countries women are not allowed to attend school or practice the right to vote. Yet, when it is all said and done, these aforementioned girls and women are told to get over traumatic experiences, raise babies and have dinner on the table ( because we all know that that is what women were placed on this planet to do, right?)

Yet, I ponder, what happens to the little girl who is molested and/or raped? What type of woman does she grow up to be? Will she grow to hate the male species? Will she become promiscuous? Will she even make it to womanhood or end up committing suicide?

“A nation can rise no higher than its woman.” – The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

Although we are taught much differently, a woman is a powerful source of influence in bag ladythe home, her community and the world abroad. As soon as a woman is impregnated, she becomes the world to the life force developing within her. What the woman eats, thinks and feels has a major impact on her child before it takes its first breath of oxygen. Once the baby is born, he/she is nursed, pampered and cared for by the mother. The mother teaches the child the skills needed in life. The mother comforts the child when they are hurt. But, these things are negated if the mother cannot move beyond the hurts that were inflicted upon her in her formative or adult stages. Instead of pouring into the child with love, temperance, joy and peace, the mother gives the child hate, fear limitations and defeat. The latter fills the child with the poison of life instead of a passion for life, causing the child to go into the world ready to destroy and defile- and the cycle continues.

It is time out for the “Get over it.” rhetoric. It is time that we take the time to examine our wounds and realize that even if it didn’t happen to you personally there is someone close to you that has. Once we begin to not only talk about our pain but listen to another person’s agony- we will effectuate that pain can be triumphed by love.

Let us begin to open our ears, hearts and minds to one another instead of disregarding or overlooking them because of one’s outward appearance. When this is done, we will be to declare: “I’m not only my sister’s keeper, I AM my sister.”

Images found on http://www.google.com

Better

I think that the world would be a lot better off if more people were to define themselves in terms of their own standards and values and not what other people said or thought about them. -Hillary Clinton

In my neighborhood sits a  50-year old school that almost everyone in my town has attended. The school started as a junior high school then evolved into an elementary school in which I attended in the early 90’s. During my time as a student there, the school was awarded as a school of excellence and to me was a magical land of education. When I was younger, I imagined my children attending this educational institution so that they could experience the same joys that I once felt, but over the years the school’s reputation had taken a dramatic decline.

Nevertheless, I had the privilege to do so and I also became involved with the school’s PTA better-lifeand School Council, until recently when I discovered that my 3rd grade daughter was close to being retained. Though I had many conferences with her teachers and kept her in tutoring programs, my daughter’s grade continued to take a dive.

After talking to my mother who had been an educator for more than 25 years, we decided that my daughter needed an ‘better’ environment and enrolled her into the school that my mother worked. I talked to the principal- who had been my mentor for years; and I relayed to him how much I didn’t want to send my daughter to another school.

“You have to do what’s best for your child Ms. Ladson.” was his only response.

In fact, every  time I open up about this situation, I’m met with this same expression.

“You have to do what’s best for your child Ms. Ladson.”

What could be better than walking my daughter to school every morning? Or talking with her teachers face to face? Or being able to enjoy eating lunch with her and her friends? What could be better than my daughter taking pride in her school that is right in her community?

To these questions- I continue to draw a blank.

In my opinion, the school isn’t a bad school because of it’s location. The school is a bad tomorrowschool because of the bad thoughts that people think towards the facility and the inhabitants of the community. The neighborhood is bad because the residents think of it as a trash can or a ghetto.

There is no better place than where we are right now. There is no better school than the schools in our neighborhoods. There is no one better to clean up our communities than us. There is no love better that the love we have for ourselves.

 

Rope-A-Dope

“A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.” – Mae West

 

Every year, the last days leading up to a new year is always filled with cleaning house, washing clothes and clearing closets to assure that my new course in life is smooth and organized. I read books that encourage me to do the aforementioned activities consistently so I can be more successful in my new and improved life. I make promises or resolutions in my life ropesthat will make me more efficient and less slothful in my endeavors.

By January 1st, I am ready to step into the ring and knock every opposing force on its face without breaking a sweat. I am valiant and willing to keep my goals and promises that I have made, cause ain’t nobody got time for giving up, this is my year and I am here to claim all of my benefits.

By March 30th, I have forgotten all of my training and now I’m just bobbing and weaving into my old habits from years past. By June 30th, I am on the floor of the ring watching the ref count me out. I am discombobulated and my eyes are so bruised that I can barely see.  I begin to crawl for the ropes to pull myself up trying to escape defeat just before I am counted completely out. I make it to my respectable corner and begin to hear my coach yell at me,  imploring me to call the fight and train harder.

I have always had this crazy notion that things will somehow change for me with the coming of a New Year, that things won’t be as hard as they were because I have been given a fresh start. Somehow, I failed to realize that it is not the year that needs to change-  it is myself that needs to change. Though I may read books about success and how to attain it does not mean that I will transform overnight.

like a butterflyIt’s cool to have a vision for ourselves, but if we refuse to follow through we are merely dreaming.

If I  know that by March I will grow tired of sticking to my plans for my life, I need to have a plan to help me refocus. Maybe I need to commit to a three month check-up with myself to ensure that I am still on track to maintain my endurance. Instead of living in a fairy tale world and hoping that I don’t get hit by opposition, I must be courageous enough to take the hits and willing to stay in the fight.

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” – Muhammad Ali

When we begin to use our knock outs as learning utensils we are given the opportunity to become better fighters. We learn when to stay on the ropes and when to start jabbing. When we realize that our biggest opponent is ourselves, we begin to examine our thinking patterns and our strategies of approaching every situation.

“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” – Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa 

 *Images found on http://www.google.com

TOYS & Heaven Spots

“I would rather be a little nobody, then to be a evil somebody.” ― Abraham Lincoln

I always thought of myself as an ugly kid, not because I was born ugly, but that I was told that I was ugly. When I was in school I was always picked on about things that I could not help. I have a high waist, so I had to wear my pants above my navel for my pants to fit appropriately. I would dread going to school because I knew that I was going to be called Urkel or high-jacked booty.

I also have big lips, I remember being taunted about them- this was a time before collagen enhancement was all the rage in urban America. When I would get around my peers I would tuck my bottom lip in to make it look normal, but I had no banskyrelief. I would be called awful things like big lip potato chip or someone would poke their lips out to mock mine.

Boy, did I hate school and all of the children in it.

I remember coming home in tears, crying to my mother about the relentless jokes that were said about me. I never wanted to go back to school because I knew that I would be teased and talked about. But, no matter how hard I cried, my mother would say something like “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” Well, they did then and they still do now. But back then, you were just supposed to deal with it, it was a part of life- something to make you ‘stronger’.

I refused to go to my high school reunion because of the teasing that I endured in school. Though ten years has passed, the words still have a sting to them. I can remember who said what and on my worse days it feels like I’m that kid again. But, the worse thing about the whole ordeal is that  I became very judgmental in the long run.

After being criticized we have the potential to  become the critic.

Life is a wall that we put our graffiti on. We tag ourselves and others as we scribble trying to  make a mark in this world, but sometimes the fumes of our cannons impair us  as we unconsciously cap a fellow artist. The more followers we acquire, the more relevant we become, which can be a Catch 22- though we have a voice and speak loudly doesn’t mean that the one we may offend isn’t trying their best. We tend to forget that life is big enough for everyone to express themselvessick freely, without offense or criticism. Yes, we can speak our opinion and give our reasoning but there is a way to do that without intimidation by bombing and burning others’ works.

The right way is only the right way for you.

When we learn to accept ourselves, we are too busy to criticize others. We begin to realize that no one has it all together and everyone has to find their own form and style. We must allow ourselves to soak up other techniques so we can create a beautiful mural for our future generations to view and enjoy.

Our society has grown weary of self-proclaimed kings and queens that tear one another down. Let us consider this a  time for us to become builders of one another.

*Images found on http://www.google.com

Dear Black People ( A Sincere Letter)

Dearly Beloved:

I write this with the hope that as a community we can come together and agree that things must get better. Hopefully, we can stop marching and protesting long enough to come to grips with what is really going on in our surroundings and our children. Please let us take time to consider our place in this land that we call America.

It is true that our ancestors were placed in slavery and subjected to cruelties that have us in angst, but we must take responsibility for what is going on in our communities now.Though our forefathers were treated worse than animals, they teach onestill fought for our liberties to read, write and learn. The zeal that they possessed for our generation was endangered daily by the hatred of others who didn’t want our communities to advance.

Now that we have been given the opportunity to succeed like our counterparts, some of us have become lackadaisical about our communities, children and ourselves. We have gotten our degrees and our money and have abandoned our neighborhoods, leaving those less fortunate to fend for themselves. We have gotten our cars and “bling” and have sent our kids to “better” schools with “better” opportunities. We look down upon those that live in public housing and have labeled them hood rats, as we shake our heads at the way they choose to raise their children. We laugh and exhort negative images that depict us as money hungry opportunist that will kill our brother for the almighty dollar. We say we hate white people, but continue to bleach our skin and put blonde in our hair. We scream out “I can’t breathe”, but refuse to share oxygen with people who may not have the same amount of money as we do. We celebrate hate music that repetitively uses the word “nigga”, “bitches” and “hoes”.

We have become a walking oxymoron. We say, “black lives matter” but we refuse to participate in our school systems. We say “black lives matter” but we constantly pollute our communities by leaving trash in our streets and on our sidewalks. We say “black lives matter” but as soon as we get enough money we leave our communities desolate to uphold a community that did not want us not too long ago.

Racism is apart of America, just like apple pie, but we cannot place all of our misfortune on this. Now that we are free to learn, read, and write what are we doing to  enrich and better ourselves and our community? What are we implementing in our neighborhoods to ensure that each and every child receives a quality education?

We can no longer be reactive to the loss of our fellow brothers and sisters, because we will stay in the same dysfunction. We must be proactive! We must take responsibility for our neighbors and their children. We must change our thinking from every man for himself to all for one and one for all. We must begin to love who we are and embrace who we can be.

read a bookOur communities may not be where we want them to be, but depending and waiting on the government is certainly not going to change anything. We must first  be the change. We must first believe that we are worth clean streets and great schools. We must believe that our children are as good as anyone else and that they deserve a better life.

Let us begin to celebrate academic achievement instead of athletic prowess. Let us initiate programs that teach our communities about restoring or developing credit. Let us provide more innovative ways to reach our children so we can instill a love of education within them. Let us not cast aside those that are less educated than we would like them to be; instead let us provide informative programs for parents who may remedial. Let us focus on the character of a person instead of their economic clout or lack thereof. Let us really mean it when we say “black lives matter” and begin to take responsibility for each other.

 

With love and sincerity,

Helen R. Ladson

* Images found on http://www.google.com 

What About Today

“The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better.” – Paulo Coelho

 

In case we did not realize it, black people are still upset about slavery. We are so upset that for the past 148 years we have marched, boycotted, picketed,  protested, sung, danced, cried and died. We have been bitten by dogs, terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan, raped and killed. We have gone to separate schools, unauthorized to vote and stripped of our inalienable rights.

basquait originalThere was a time that this anger created beauty and pride. This emotion resounded in our art, music, prose and photography by igniting thought and consciousness. We created businesses and programs that enriched our impoverished communities and awareness to our children. In the height of this change and unity, our positive leaders were killed, leaving our communities in shambles and distrust by the latter part of the 1970’s.By the 1980’s our environments were saturated with drugs, sex and violence. By the 1990’s teenage pregnancy, gang violence and police brutality ran rampant erupting looting and more violence.

Though we could go on for hours about the plight of Black America, one can only ponder what Black America is doing to change the situation. What are we truly doing today to create a more positive atmosphere tomorrow?

Our culture has been depicted as a failure waiting to happen and we feed into that image by supporting negative actions paper planeswith negative actions. Today, the community is enraged by the  verdict in the Michael Brown case but when will we support each other’s businesses. When will we come together and keep our communities clean? When will we stop supporting “hate” music? When will stop forming cliques in our churches? When will we realize that our today is totally different from our yesterday? Yes, we have been subjected to cruelties like racism and segregation, but what are we doing to keep it from happening today?

Today, we can make a choice to be more united and supportive of one another. Today we can stop supporting arts and entertainment that represent us in a negative light. Today we can become more involved in our local schools and grass-roots organizations. Today we can stop longing to leave our hoods, become famous, never come back but paint it in a negative light because you don’t live there anymore. Today we can stop putting down people who view things differently and voice their opinions.

If we do this today, tomorrow will be better for the future generation that follow.

*Images found on http://www.google.com

Taking Responsibility: Solutions for Situations Issues Series Part III of III

“We do not need to attend classroom training programs  for everything. Observation opens the windows of knowledge around us”
Sukant Ratnakar

The first time I read the article  “What Is A Black Life Really Worth” in the Final Call, I began to write the Taking Responsibility series in hopes to bring awareness in urban communities.  I wanted to present the pride and prejudice that has engulfed our surroundings leaving the residents dazed and confused. As marches and riots persist in various areas around the United States, it seems as if a black life is only important if someone of another race takes it.

With triumphs such as having  a black president in the office  and Oprah Winfrey owning her OWN Network you would think  that there  would be a decline in the deaths of  African Americans (at least by the hands of other African Americans).

public enemy  Oh, but hip-hop and the media  are  another animal.

Now, calm down my urbanites! I love me some hip-hop, but we have to talk about    this.

Since its arrival in the early 80’s, hip-hop began  as the voice of urban  communities, keeping  listeners  abreast on the issues that effected the neighborhood.  This platform has provided an image and voice that seems to have had evolved into a negative impact on the partakers  and  has spawned a wide-spread consensus of drugs, promiscuity and death in the last twenty years. This genre has proven to be the most powerful weapon in the history of music and has been able to triumph over the limitations of race,  religion and economic status. Though it was once considered a passing fad, hip-hop has become a force to be reckoned with and (after viewing the Hip-Hop Awards on BET) it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon.

Reality television has become the epitome of foolishness and defeat for the urban community. With shows such as:  Love & Hip Hop, The Sisterhood of Hip-Hop, Exes of Atlanta, and Tiny and Shekinah’s Weave Trip it is easy to see why black women are considered aloof and lil kimunstable. These shows may be a form of entertainment, but not many people realize how fake reality television really is.  Many viewers emulate the attitudes of the reality stars and lust after their exciting lives by stirring up drama in their  neighborhoods and end up serving jail time as a reality.

In the past five years we have been choked with racially driven movies: The Help. The Butler. Django. 100 Years A Slave (sarcasm intended). Depiction after depiction of the inferior minority overcoming the bite of injustice. These movies are supposed  to arouse a sense of triumph, displaying how the quality of life has improved  for urban communities since the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964, but it seems to cultivate more hate and tension between races and within them.

Though it is easy to blame music and media for the steady decline of our community, that would only relinquish the power that we hold as individuals and as a unit. We sell ourselves short because we may be on government assistance, lack “formal” education, or simply live in the projects , but some of our greatest leaders experienced these same situations.In fact, these disparities are the reason why most civil rights activist take a stand.

d is silent  The plight of the urban community is being aware of the past (i.e slavery, segregation,the civil    rights movement) but unable to use it as a launching pad for better decisions versus wallowing  in defeat. Instead of blaming the past for why we are not getting ahead, we can observe what is  not working for our community.

With the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown the urban community is in angst, raging  against itself. We cry and march in memory of these young men, but we still fight and degrade  one another daily. We listen to music fueled with hate, we intimidate and taunt  our neighbors  and call them ‘haters’. We judge those that are well versed and call them names like uppity or  stuck up. We treat those that live in government housing as animals, and some of us even play  along and assume the role of beasts. We throw trash in our streets and tear down our community.

Yet, we want better.

We want the good life; money, cars, clothes to appease our lust for the lifestyle of the rich and famous. We dress up as our favorite characters and dream about a life without stress. We have become a walking, talking oxymoron, leaving a bittersweet taste for the future.

Today, in the park, a young man was cut  in a fight. He was lacerated on the left side but the wound wasn’t deep enough to penetrate his heart. The young man ran home and got his mother to help avenge him. You could hear the mother coming up the side walk inquiring about the assailant, the people she asked laughed at her and did not tell her where the young man had hidden himself. But, had it had been someone of a different race, you couldn’t beat Al Sharpton away from this town.

Violence is violence. Death is death. No matter the victim or opponent.

We must take ownership for our actions, children and community because they are our responsibility.

 

 All images were found on http://www.google.com

The Blame Game

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” -e.e. cummings

 

For a long time I blamed both of my parents for the way that my life went. I felt like if they had been less negligent to my needs I would have been a more productive person. If they had stayed together and raised my siblings and myself I would have been better off in this world. I held on to the resentment that I had for the both of them and that emotion became the catalyst of my lack of motivation and progress. It was my security blanket that allowed me to wallow in defeat without taking personal responsibility for my negligence to my self.

Yesterday, after months of not speaking to my dad, I learned that a friend had lost her mother via  Facebook post. Her only  request was to speak to her one  last time. My friend had not said anything about her mother being sick so the reflection sent shock waves through my bodylinus leading  me to frantically call my loved ones.  I sent messages to my sister and mother professing my love to them but when it came time to call my dad I stalled.

I stalled because though I knew I needed to call, I wasn’t speaking to him because he had forgotten my birthday for another year.

When I was four years old, my parents divorced, my mother, brother and I  moved to the town that I grew up in. I grew up thinking that my life would be better if I was able to live with my dad, this belief began to bring a wedge between my mother and myself. I did not understand why I could not be with my father and I blamed my mother for keeping him from me and I felt like she had done something that could have been prevented.

When I became old enough, I began to reach out to my dad, calling him once or twice a week. By that time, I had a daughter and needed male guidance more than ever. Though I  was happy to have him in my life again, I still had unanswered questions that I was afraid to ask because I didn’t want to run him away with my inquiries. I was also disappointed because not only had he remarried but the woman had three children two of whom were girls!

 OK,  livid was more of the word .

men lionWhen death occurs, everything that mattered before the event seems of little to no importance at all.  When I saw the post I immediately knew that I needed to talk to both of my parents. My father forgetting to call me on my birthday seemed minuscule compared to not being able to speak to him again.  As much as I wanted to be stubborn and maintain military silence, ain’t no coming back from death.

Though my childhood was not as pleasant as I wanted it to be, those experiences helped to create  some of my best poems, inspirations and insights in my adulthood. At the age of 28 I still sleep with a teddy bear. It was given to my older brother as a gift but was placed in our storage unit when we moved  after my parents called it quits. I was about 7 or 8 when I found it in the garage, I  cleaned it up and it has been in my life ever since. This teddy bear knows all of my secrets and has been my birthing coach for all four of my children. It has comforted me in the midst of break-ups and has laughed at Coming to America more times than I can count.  It reminds me of a happier time that I refuse to let go.

After a tear-filled  conversation with my dad I began to realize that both of my parents were doing the best that they could with what they had. They were kids just trying to figure it out and take control of their destiny, something that I am so familiar with.  Though my inner child was not ready to release the pain, I knew that it was imperative that I release the past and grow up.

You never know the liberation of adulthood until you begin to become one.

Edumacation

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”  -Aristotle

In 1986, the elementary school that I attended was given the Georgia School of Excellence Award.  When I began kindergarten in 1991, my mother was an active member of the P.T.A and also a paraprofessional there. As far as I can remember, my years at this institution were wonderful, I made many friends and was involved with the student council and other activities.

 www.google.com

Picture courtesy of http://www.google.com

Almost 28 years later, this same school is claimed to be  the worse school in my town.

Last Friday, I decided to help out around the school. I found some paraprofessionals that needed me and I hung out in their office. While assisting them a teacher walks in and is more concerned about her water weight than her class. She complains about how fat she has been feeling and that today is a skinny day for her.

After this riveting conversation, she ask if one of her problem students could come down and do some  work to help the paraprofessionals. The head parapro said that she did and the teacher sent the student down to the office. After about 30 minutes, the same teacher sent another student down to help. Those students stayed in the office for 2 1/2 hours missing out on important instructional time and everyone was fine with it.

Everyone but ME!

This  school is the only elementary school within the city limits and serves 5 of the 7 public housing communities’ children. It is the epicenter of the city , how the students fare in the elementary school shapes their progress throughout the school system and abroad. The future for these little ones seems to be slipping away daily because of their demographics; with 461 students in this school and 440 of them are eligible for the school’s free lunch program.  In grades 3-5 there is 1 teacher for 25 students and half of these students are below their grade reading level.In most cases, the aforementioned students are the most difficult to reach and the one’s that are willing to learn are most often over looked.

Though the local detention center is expanding their availability for future residents by measuring the failing state scores of 3rd graders, it seems as if teachers and parents are still  out on vacation and we are well  into the fifth week of school. Parents seem to think that teachers are responsible for their children’s education and have the teachers convinced that they want to have little or nothing to do with the process. Some teachers have even professed that they haven’t seen some parents for an entire school year. Teachers seem complacent about teaching students with their whole hearts because it is a daily fight to gain control of their classes.

W.W.J.C.D? What would Joe Clark do?

Mr. Joe Clark would call a pep rally in the school auditorium and get rid of all of the miscreants. He would take the gates down and make the school look beautiful. He would establish clubs and would encourage students to study and bring their parents to learn how to read. He would carry a bat and lock out all of the riffraff. He would go up against any parent and the Fire Marshall to ensure his students safety and education. And when it was all said and done, he would have his students to sing Lean On Me.

Though it may seem hard to reach the urban community it can be accomplished.

Teachers,  instead of judging our students by their disparities, let us compliment their abilities. Take a true interest in the child no matter their race or economic status. Enjoy teaching the troubled child as much as you enjoy teaching the honor student. Encourage parents to attend P.T.A meetings and you should as well. Research innovative ways to deliver a certain lesson; capture the minds of these students.

Picture courtesy of www.google.com

Picture courtesy of http://www.google.com

Parents, it is our responsibility to instill the love of education into our children. Our qualms with the value of our children’s education is our responsibility to ensure. Become involved with the different programs offered to parents and students and if there are none, let’ create some.Even if  our school experience may not have been the most pleasant does not mean our children’s has to be. Our voices can change how our children are handled and taught for years to  come.

W.W.H.L.D? What would Helen Ladson do?

Well, honestly I would  do all of those things, but instead of a bat I would prefer a set of golf clubs.  However,  though this school is nothing like fair East Side High,  without improvements  it can easily evolve into a sad state of affairs.

The Wheels on the Bus

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” – Oprah Winfrey

I think what makes hard work so unappealing is the adjective that describes the action: hard. There have been  so many things in life that I have started and not completed because of the hard work that goes into it.  When I hear hard work or effort, I cringe. Not because I cannot do the work, but because what if all of this hard work ends up in failure?

Three years ago, my daughter’s principal asked me to be involved in the school council, an advisory board of parents and teachers that come together to ensure quality education in the school. Around  this time I was employed and thirsty for any opportunity to network and maybe get my face in the newspaper (vain, but true).

I jumped on board without hesitation and began to imagine the greatness that would derive from this decision. I did not know what a school council was about, but I imagined it to be prestigious. Me, making executive decisions and running thangs. Yep, I had certainly arrived.  I was able to sit with other educators and parents around the city and talk about the importance of school councils. I was given an official handbook and everything.

The power surged through my body, I felt like King Arthur pulling  Excalibur out of the stone. I beamed all the way to my first school council meeting…

And then reality kicked in like a mule. Not only was the school council in shambles, I was asked to be the council chairperson.

“Sugar honey iced tea! What have I gotten myself into?” I thought.

I was allergic to hard work and was not ready to lead anyone anywhere. Nevertheless, I was once a student of the school that my daughter attends and I wanted to help, so I pulled up my boots and started to learn the ropes.

For two years the school council would start with a good 7 people and would dwindle down to about 4. We would get together, talk about what other schools were doing, try to make plans like theirs  but never followed  through with any of them. I became very discouraged, especially when some of the parents transferred their children to other schools in the city with “better” opportunities for them. At the close of  the last school  year, I began to  question if I really wanted to stay a part of the council. It seemed like a hopeless cause.

Then I was “separated’ from my job.

My daughter’s principal, who  has also been my mentor since the 6th grade,  was the first person I ran to right after the event took place. We talked and he gave me practical advice (as usual) and encouraged me to get the school council ready for the upcoming school year.

At this point, I really didn’t have anything to lose. I had often wondered, in the prior years, of what kind of parent would I be if I had been given another opportunity to be truly active in my children’s education. Now, I had the opportunity and I was willing to take it. I sat down and weighed what worked in prior years and what had not worked.

Though I wanted my daughter’s school to be as good as any other school I lacked something that the other school’s had: Perseverance.

It takes work and dedication to be successful. While my council and I were looking at how well the other schools were doing, the other schools were making plans and following through. We were so blinded by the money that they had earned for their school that we missed the bus to succeed like them. We focused on the negative things that seemed to hold the school back instead of building on the positives that the school possessed.

With all of this in mind, I began making strides to follow through instead of wallowing in defeat. I began to be more proactive and sent out letters to parents and teachers giving them two weeks notice to be prepared for our first council meeting of the school year.  I prepared an agenda and most importantly asked questions.

The lust  for the limousines of success almost made me miss the bus of opportunity to make a change that my daughter’s  school desperately needed: people who are willing to work hard to make a difference.