I believe Malcolm X said it best, “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”   As parents, we expect the educational system to provide a sufficient foundation for our children to build upon during the next steps in their life.  After Brown vs. The Board of Education, there was a blanket of security wrapped around black people who assured them they would receive the same education and opportunity as their suburban neighbors.  During a time of great social unrest and concern for #BlackLivesMatter, we find ourselves in Detroit preparing to go to battle regarding education and its numerous failures to our children.  Sit back and read my frustrations mingled in with the facts being presented in relation to how DPS and the political machine have left these children and teachers out.  This is an extended emergency and too many have turned away.

Over the pass several weeks, the teachers here have become “sick and tired of being sick and tired” and have been demonstrating through sick-outs.  The first I heard of this was one day when I pulled up to drop The Kid off at school.  He said, “Aww man Ma, I might have to go back home because these teachers have been talking about a sick out.” WHAT?! With no time to drill him about this, I went on to work and classes were not canceled.  It was later on that day that I learned what was going on.

I completely agree with the sentiment expressed in the video.  After countless messages via email and my representative about books with limited to no response.  This was puzzling to someone who is only 17 years out of high school herself.  Yes, I attended public schools in Detroit and they always gave us the ” it’s not in the budget” speech.  However, look at how much enrollment has decreased in the city.  I’m not making these numbers up.  Not as many kids, would mean to me, there are more resources to allocate to the students. Right?

Enrollment

They’ve closed numerous institutions within the city to cut the cost of under-populated schools and pushed kids to other schools that are not in their neighborhood.  All in an effort to become more efficient.  So far the plans they hatched, cracked, cooked and shitted out are not working.  As I said, I attended and graduated from DPS and here is the short version of the history of my former schools.  The first school I ever attended was Sanders Elementary School.

This was the only picture I could find of the place because it was demolished very early in this century.  As you can see, once I left there it was no question where I was going next. The school right across the baseball field was my next stop and that was – Harry B. Hutchins Intermediate School. Every day I looked forward to crossing through these doors in anticipation to learn ANYTHING.

This school held a special place in my heart.  It was here that I was exposed to my love of science through DAPCEP, was inducted into the National Junior Honor’s Society, developed my personal style, learned to swim, got paddled on the hand when I was out of line and experienced my first school dance.  It was a wonderful time but as times and populations changed so did my beloved middle school.  Here’s a small slide show of the place that cultivated someone eager to learn continually. (Some pictures including are courtesy of this site.)

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You will notice that my middle and elementary schools were a standoff point during the Detroit ’67 riots.  After leaving this school, some family concerns forced me to split from my friends and I entered Beaubien Junior High School and went to Mumford for a short spell.  All to return to the same high school my entire Detroit family graduated from – Northern Senior High School.  NorthernHighSchool

This is the only institution still in functioning order.  The only difference now is it’s home to the Detroit International Academy for Young Women.  I’m sure you can imagine all of the memories I created within these halls and the expectations I had as I became a parent. The education was sufficient even though we could have had more but the budget never allowed us to get everything the teachers wanted for us.  We made due with what we had, we succeeded and I graduated in 1998.

The Diploma

So you can imagine my frustration when I kept looking for the answers to where his educational tools were.  The tools I was looking for were books.  Books for all his classes. There was one day I asked him about homework and he showed me a picture on his phone.  What kinda lazy shit was this?! He told me, this is what he needed to do because they do not have books to give each child.  WHAT?!  Are you implying they don’t have money to get you all the supplies you need?  He couldn’t give me an answer but in his 3 years within the Detroit Public School system, he has only brought a book home twice and that was when he stole it out the building.  So, you need to steal to get an education in Detroit in 2015?  This was and is unacceptable.  I had more questions the teachers/administrators could not answer.  So when the shit hit the fan about the “sick outs”, I was on board.  These are the concerns I have been having.  Not only for my son but all of the children.  Why?  I’m seeing the reports stating “Detroit students are not prepared for college when they leave high school.”  Was this a bad side effect of no child left behind?  My mind continued to race for information and resources to get answers.  My mom told me about a state representative that was explaining all the details at the church and brought me some literature to read.  I read it but it still wasn’t clear to me.  I didn’t get any solid answers until the beginning of 2016.  The SICK OUTS finally hit Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School.  In a quick crawl through social media, I was given an over abundance of information.  Let’s start with a declining timeline which begins right after my graduation year.

Schools

The writing is right there in this infographic supplied by one of the educators within my circle of Facebook friends.  Feel free to open it up and take a good look at it.  From Surplus to bust with almost 120k missing students in the last 17 years.  Where are the students? Falling over into neighboring districts for an opportunity at better.

Enrollments

This wasn’t even an option for me.  The kid wanted to go to KING and who was I to deny him his dream.  I graduated from DPS and I was alright.  I needed to know what was so wrong that they needed to go this far to protest in the middle of a school year.  Things should be better by now.  Nope, my timeline was littered with the truth.  This information was disturbing. Here’s some of it:

Parents

Teachers

Bad Deal

These were the answers I had been looking for but didn’t want to find.  The system was failing our children on a higher level and the parents had no idea.  The teachers have taken all they could and now they wanted action.  In my support for them I found more upsetting information about our schools:

Horror House Unhealthy

I posted these things and videos to show what was going on and my frustration with the way our children’s welfare is being handled.  The institution my son attends does not have any visible signs of wear, I can see, from my numerous visits inside.  This for me was about the community and being a voice for those that I felt needed my help.  During all of this the one thing that kept jumping out at me, was everything minorities have been through to obtain an education in a land that provides it to its residents and I became angrier and focused on learning how I could help.  I used my social media pages to spread the word to parents of DPS kids, charter school kids and children outside the district.  The community needed to become outraged. Generally speaking, we all are products of DPS that have ventured off but this is the system that showed us there was more for us in this world.  How dare them deny our young for whatever reasons they may have?!  Hell, we’re only one generation out of school before this decline began happening.

This system was already FUCKED up when my son got there in 2013.  I made a plea to leave this place for better and he chose to stay in this school.  He and I have talked about teachers that have walked out on them and never returned.  He’s been through more substitutes and abandoning teachers than I have had my entire scholastic career.  Then people wonder why the students are having an even harder time learning.  They can’t adjust to the daily changes that are happening at home and then school as well.  The only consistent thing some of them have is their friends.  That’s also lofty idea because there are still parents ripping their kids from the district in search of better than THIS. He’s been bounced around from class to class in search of instructors or lack there of. They don’t know if the teacher is coming back or they have to fend for themselves.  This certainly isn’t a way to learn or trust the education system.

It’s not enough to say the system was already bad.  It’s not an option to relocate these children in haste.  It’s not fair to give the appearance that learning is being done and it’s not.  Have we lost our will to fight for what we believe is fair?  Have we turned a blind eye to the educational needs of our children?  Is the future of our children less important than our own?  I do not want to accept yes to these questions. With four Emergency Managers over the Detroit Public Schools, no one has found solutions for the EMERGENCY of these children not receiving a proper education in the wake of financial ruin – year after year.  As the old saying goes, “desperate times call for desperate measures.”  We’re desperate if you can’t tell.

#SupportTheTeachers

#StandUpForTheStudents

 

 

 

 

 

 


The autumn winds have been a welcomed event and I’m going to bring you up to speed.  I’ve adjusted, recognized and featured on The Edge.  When I’m away from you there’s traditionally a great deal going on.  It’s only been a little over a month yet I don’t know where to start.  Bare with me if I start rambling but something tells me you won’t leave until I get to the end of the story.  Let’s get right into this leg of the journey.

At the end of September, I got a call on my desk phone.  It was the recruiter about the job I interviewed for a few weeks prior.  While holding back my excitement and a few gratuitous tears, I was offered the position and I accepted.  It seemed like things were starting to look a lot better in this very moment.  I couldn’t tell anyone because the process wasn’t complete.  It was hard trying to hold it in but I had to tell my day 1 friends that started at this company with me.  On October 5th, I was transferred to my new workstation and gained a new perspective of the company I was hired into.  Over the pass few weeks, I’ve been trying to get my area in order and adjust to my new responsibilities.  The 1st week was the hardest because I kinda missed tweeting at customers but as time went on I recognized it was time for me to do something different.

Meanwhile, during this time the Mista requested some time alone and I really didn’t know how to process this.  Why would he need time away from me?  What could I have done wrong?  So many questions were running through my head but I had to remember something that I determined earlier this year.  As long as we follow our own rules, who can can judge us if we fail.  The questions ceased and I went on enjoying this time in my life and getting reacquainted with my “me time.”  I like the time I have with myself.  Some time ago, I resolved I would probably never get married and started becoming comfortable with that.  Of course I’ve considered it since being with him but I can’t let go of the idea that it may not happen.  After a solid month, we reconnected on our own terms.

I haven’t mentioned the FOOTBALL!  That’s right if you follow me on Instagram (@bmisunderstood) you already know the kid plays for the Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School varsity team. We’re still enjoying an #undefeated season after the controversy.  Some of you got the story from my Periscope and the news. Check it out.

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/students-parents-pack-meeting-to-overturn-detroit-king-forfeit/35935402

Division 1 Champions

The decision was overturned with suspensions of players involved and we went on to get the W against Cass Tech at Ford Field.  Last week we defeated U of D Jesuit and are scheduled to play Wyandotte this weekend.  This has been an exciting season and I’d like to think it’s destiny.  If you all remember, the kid use to wear the number 19 when he played for the West Side Steelers in PAL.  He holds number 80.  We both observed the relation on the day he got his number. 19 – 80, the year I was born.  I’ve been to every game and with this photo in my back pocket.

1980

I’ll keep you posted on our results.  LET’S GO CRUSADERS!!!

In the background, the kid went to the homecoming in a throwback look from the 90s.  This picture does him no justice.  He wore a Coogi sweater, Levi’s and Clark’s wallabees. I didn’t even have to argue with him about it this year.  However, I did call my friend, Marv Neal, to give light on the significance of the Clark’s (thanks 😉 for the assist).  So, I think he’s growing up a bit.  True to my thrifty heart, I purchased the sweater on eBay.  Let’s give acknowledgement to the high top fade or Bart Simpson as the NEW kids call it.  I think he looked rather nice.

Homecoming

A doctor’s visit for my annual exam deemed unnecessary until they told me I have a Vitamin D deficiency.  How the hell do you get that?  Here’s what I found may have been my cause:

Researchers have also noted that vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in adults of all ages who always wear sun protection (which blocks vitamin D production) or limit their outdoor activities.1 People with increased skin pigmentation (such as those whose ancestors are from Africa, the Middle East, or India) are also at risk, as are the elderly.

Let me also include that my normal dairy intake is not what it use to be considering I’m not as local to the products I trust from Meijer.  So they gave me a prescription and I’ve started to make that journey to purchase the groceries I love which can assist me in turning this thing around.  Don’t worry about me, I’ll be just fine.  Other than that, I’m healthy as can be and headed back to the gym.  Yes, we’ve been through this gym break-ation (Comes from my new addiction to Wendy Williams, lol) before.  However, I never internalized the importance of the gym in my life.  Working out helps my attitude about myself and it’s helps me release tension.  My body feels like I was in one helluva fight after the first couple days but I’m determined to stick with it.

This will require a whole post of its own but I wanted to be let you all know.  This natural thing is almost at the end of my rope.  My mindset – I’m fidgeting with this hair everyday, back and forth with the idea of a sew-in and do not want to damage it.  It’s getting very exhausting and I need a change.  Yes, I’m coming up to year 3 of the 4 year promise. At this time though, I’m over it.  I’ve made an appointment for next Friday with Maya Mitchell and will follow-up on what happened.

I believe those are all the highlights.  If I think of anything else you should know, I’ll be sure to inform you. At any rate, I hope you all are well and smiling! 🙂

USED

I told you all about the book sale the Detroit Public Library was hosting this past weekend. The book lover and cozy day reader in me got up early equipped with reusable shopping bags gathering coins for the parking meter. I was going to tackle the world before I was due to punch the clock. Get there early was the only thing on my mind. As I pulled into parking space number 6, I noticed the line growing. My strong legs and limited baggage carried me across the street in a hurry.

At 10 AM, the doors were unlocked and the herd drove into the basement of one of the most beautiful libraries, which is celebrating it 150th birthday this year. People brought boxes, their suitcases, grabbed available boxes to cash in on the savings. The books they offer are from the library’s collection that have been put out of circulation. Any type if book you can think of is here. All the mass production paper backs are 10 cents, other paperbacks are .50 and my favorite the hardcover books are $1. You can’t even beat that at the thrift store.

I loaded up my bag and read the descriptions to books that caught my interest and battled over a few titles. The war was started because I only allowed myself $20 for the event and I had to make the right choices. With my bag loaded with the books I decided to purchase I made my way to the cashier. Eighteen dollars later, I emerged from the real readers of Detroit’s speakeasy. Excited about the haul I hurried along with my day eager for day 2. You didn’t think I was done!

The second day I usually wait towards the end of the sale to appear. Just to see if there is anything I may have left and what the volunteers have added to the shelf. What literary gem did I discover this time? A pristine copy of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe. I wanted it more than anything but day 2 is about pushing my literary boundaries into new genres. My young man helped me pick out a few horror books and knew that he would need to turn my light off at night. I only spent $6 on Saturday for a total of 24 books to read. That’s Beau!

Here are the titles from my latest haul.  My love affair with Mark Twain continues as I picked up a copy of “Life on the Mississippi.”  The author J. D. Mason captured me a few years back and I couldn’t remember if I had read these titles but I picked them up.  (I also realized I need to make a list to take with me to reference while shopping next year.). “The New Basic Black” is an etiquette book for people of color and tips about how you should conduct yourself.  Major side eye if you feel I should not have purchased this and my niece will being an etiquette class in the near future.  It’s needed!

The book I’m the most excited about from my time attending this event over the years is an autograph copy of “Roots” by Alex Haley. I guard it with my life. In my Beau Miss decor there’s a big question about, how I plan to store these? Just wait and see! More than any thing else the proceeds of this great event benefit a worthy cause.  That makes it a win win!

Charity

Have you read any of the titles I purchase this time? Does your local library release their books to the public? I would be interested in visiting locations in other cities and communities.

SlowRollProm.jpg

The Prom

This was a shoe in for 1st place a couple months ago! Then I wrote it all down and The Detroit SlowRoll came in 4th place. Needless to say it did rank within the top 5 events for the year. As the season came to a close and I missed the last 2 rides, I knew I’d be anxious for the next season to begin.

I miss my Monday bike ride through the city of Detroit. Talking to everyone from all walks of life, laughing with old friends and the crazy girl chat that would go down in the mist of the hundreds of people. A couple ‘Good Fellas’ would be proud of all the real business we talked about with no one knowing exactly what we were saying. The guys that decked their bikes out like a house at Christmas time always brought the music. We even had one participant with the videos. I’ll be ready next spring to show them how I do!

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20131227-223434.jpg Photo credit @backtodetroit on Instagram
Every week there was a new route and people! This has by far been on of the coolest things I’ve done while living in the city. While riding people often asked us “what are you riding for?” We’d say al kinds of silly stuff but the best had to be when we rode for Literacy!!!

20131227-223851.jpg A great cause to assist volunteers with the tutoring of children in the metro area. You all know I’m all for READING.

I can’t wait for it to start again. However I better get my bicycle of the the shop so they can have me out on the open road styling! One question- do you think I should get it painted russian navy or silver birch?

TwoWheelGang.jpg

The Ambassador.jpg My Last Ride of the Season

Sounds like a dance, right? Maybe a combination of some Jamaican influence with a few Detroit twists, right? Nope not at all!! It’s a regional bike ride through the city of Detroit. People from all over, join together at these weekly determined meeting areas and ride slow on BICYCLES. I was introduced to this by my friends Mr. & Mrs. Eugene-Louis and it was the baby girl of 3 The Hard Way that suggested we participate.

I’ve been meaning to purchase a bike for some time now. But as #19 got older and he and his friends venture on their way daily. I didn’t have the urgency to purchase one because we weren’t going on our weekly bike rides anymore. So with the team saying that we were going this past Monday I had to find a bike fast. Where do you go when you need a particular thing fast and don’t want to spend a fortune on it – Craigslist! After searching and comparing the options I found, I decided to go with a vintage style New bike that a young lady moving in the next city over was selling. It was everything I needed with a rack on the back, if I needed to carry some stuff. So, after me and my boyfriend Cole picked it up. I was ready to roll. Now, the other 2 members of the group presented their own challenges but we got it together in good fashion. Free parking courtesy of that parking pass they gave me, when I was hired in that shiny building in downtown Detroit assisted us in the cost savings department. After an impromptu photo shoot in the parking garage and a quick restroom break, we were ready but behind the pack of people who came to Slow Roll.

After playing catch up to the crowd, we finally reached them at John R and Milwaukee which is located in Detroit’s New Center area. The herd of cyclers 500+ of all backgrounds, ages and professions rode side by side for 17 miles through some of the city’s forgotten neighborhoods. We stopped by the Dabis African Bead Gallery, bought crafts, talked to each other and took pictures before we started the 2nd half of the ride. I wish I had some information on a gentleman that became overcome by the experience and needed medical attention. I hope he’s okay. As we started up again, the sun had gone down and the moon was high. We were making our way back downtown which was our starting point.

During this leg of the event, we met some guys that promised us they’d help us “Pimp Our Rides” over the winter in preparation for next season. I wanted a horn, lights, new paint and my name stitched on the seat. That’s minimal compared to the iPads and iPods they had attached to their bikes with speakers (they provided the soundtrack for the evening), remote-controlled lights that changed colors and motorcycle kickstands that lifted the front end of the bike off the ground.

Feeling accomplished, hungry and excited for the next time we ventured into Sweet Water Tavern to have ourselves a celebratory meal and enjoy the remainder of the evening. Dwele joined us as we ate and laughed. There was no way we wouldn’t do this again and we had the schedule for the next couple weeks. I just have to figure out if someone can switch a day at work with me so I can go. An unfortunate event presented a change in my original plan to leave work early to participate. After taking the short ride back to our brother’s house, we decided to store our new pass time transportation in his basement until the next time.

Hands down this was one of the funniest things I’ve done in a long time. However, it’s always a good time when the 3 of us get together. Three things I know for sure… I’ll be back again!! Wear closed toed shoes (that’s a whole nother story) and I can still be fly and ride. Last but most importantly, be on time. Lol!!! That racing we were doing to catch up was not in the plan at all.

3THW Ridin'

 

Slow Roll Detroit takes place on Mondays. I found out about a couple other rides that take place at different times. I’ll just stick with this one and ride with my crew on the other days. Picture me Rollin’!!!

It’s a blast from my past that I enjoyed so much. Can’t wait to get to work to see will someone change with me. If not, I’m leaving early. I want to enjoy the summer as well!! 😉

Join us, search #SlowRollDet on Instagram and Twitter for additional information.

It may not seem like a lot to some people but working at Busy B’s Hand Car Wash has been a blessing in disguise for me.  Being there has increased my interpersonal skill set and placed me in a managerial situation that was unexpected yet appreciated.  The beauty in the wash is that I have time to take on the other things I really want to do without the stresses of traditional employment.  Networking with the customers has proved to be very helpful in learning new things and resources I need for the other areas of my life.  True, there are days even weeks that have come and there was no work due to weather.

Moreover, I used that time wisely to tackle the mentoring program, garden project and spend time with my family and friends. And you wouldn’t believe all the “interesting” things I’ve heard and laughed about down there.  I thank Busy B for having me & River Rouge and Ecorse for accepting me into their world.  We’ll see what’s in store for us two in the coming year. 🙂

In the spirit of giving synonymous with this holiday season.  I’ve decided to give my Beautifully Misunderstood family a triple dose of our monthly understanding.  As I’ve made great strides to pull the HUGS organization together for a big recruitment at the beginning of the year.  There are so many exciting things happening this time of year and so much joy in the air, these quotes are a reflection of what I’m feeling right now.  As always sharing these moments with you are motivated by a spirit to help you see through my beautifully misunderstood eyes and read the words burned into my soul.  Words that create action within my heart transferred into my actions.  So here are my cerebral gifts to you. 🙂  Let’s start with your first gift from one of the United States of America’s founding fathers…

Mr. Franklin
Mr. Franklin

He said “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness.  You have to catch it yourself.”  – Benjamin Franklin  This land of opportunity never promised everyone that it would be theirs but you do have a right to obtain whatever you feel your happiness may be.  Nobody will give it to you.  Surprise #2 “Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you.  Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself,” Alice Walker spoke these words, which stirred my risky maneuvers in search for something that feels remotely like an elusive happy.

Alice Walker
Alice Walker

This pretty much sums up the last couple months.  Hell, pretty much the whole last year (prior to me walking away from my former life)  If I had seen this before I left I might have quit on the spot.  Dale Carnegie one of this country’s most successful individuals must have been running through my mind.

Dale Carnegie
Dale Carnegie

 “Are you bored with life?  Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you thought could never be yours.”

The final quote is by far the most relative to my journey.  It captures my feelings from the past, present and future.  Emotions that tug at the soul of a person to be better, do better and give of myself in a better way that creates some HAPPINESS that isn’t felt through money or things.  It’s pure & unapologetic… It’s what I’m feeling right now… 🙂 HAPPY HOLIDAYS