Ain’t I a Black parent who wants to improve education? Or is that not good enough for the Huff Post?   14 comments

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

So I had the weekend (and part of today) to work through my frustration and anger regarding the manner in which staff at the Huffington Post handled my request to write for their Education Blog special this month. The initial email and ensuing responses are below.

From Me to Them:

Good afternoon,

A Twitter friend ( @ReadyWriting) suggested that I contact you regarding writing for the upcoming Education section of the Huffington Post. Could you provide some additional information on the guidelines and criteria please? I am very interested in this opportunity, as the parent-teacher voice has been silenced in recent Education dialog efforts.

Below are some links to a few blogs/articles I have written:

My personal blog: https://educationceo.wordpress.com/

Contributions to Race-Talk blog (Kirwan Institute);

‘Black women in Education: Do our voices count?’

”Don’t blame the drop-outs, blame the outdated education system’

Examiner.com: Atlanta Education Reform Examiner

I would also like to add that I have approximately 2,300 followers on Twitter. Not quite celebrity status, but not bad for an unemployed single mother (and former teacher) who only started seriously tweeting earlier this year!

Thank you in advance for your consideration!

Sincerely,

~Monise

An email sent from D.G. to T (with a Cc: to myself):

T

Let me know any next steps to take with this one. Thanks!

– Show quoted text – (The initial email I sent, which is above.)


D.G.

Associate Editor

The Huffington Post Impact

Causecast.org

Second email from D.G. to Me (same day):

Dear Monise,

Thank you for showing your interest! People interested in blogging for the Education section are asked to send in a brief bio for review by our editorial staff. If we feel you could contribute to our section we will get back to you as soon as possible.

To familiarize you with the expectations we have for our section and our bloggers I have provided you a bit of information below. If you have any other questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.

Best,

D

_____________

HuffPost Education, launching Monday, October 4, will serve as a hub for prominent educators, celebrities, politicians and other influential voices to discuss successes and failures in the American K-12 public school system. This is a great opportunity to share your opinions about education and education reform and to encourage readers to get involved. We want to inspire thoughtful discussion about education, spur innovation in the field, recognize great teachers and provide tools and information for ordinary Americans to make a difference for their local schools.

Like the Impact section launched last fall, Causecast has partnered with The Huffington Post to develop the Education section.

By providing unique content (text or video) either regularly or as an occasional guest contributor on this platform, bloggers will be able to share their message with millions of active Huffington Post readers who are looking to be inspired and get involved. HuffPost Education will feature blog posts from teachers, students, education reformers, nonprofit leaders, politicians and celebrities and provide clear calls-to-action for readers looking to get directly involved with the issues discussed. Contributors will include Arianna Huffington, Davis Guggenheim, Rosario Dawson, Geoffrey Canada, Joy Bryant and numerous other individuals passionate about improving education in America.

HuffPost Education presents an exciting opportunity to build a community centered around education topics on one of world’s most active news blogs. To build a strong relationship with your HuffPost readers, we encourage you to contribute regularly. This is the best way to maximize your effectiveness on the platform.

So here is my issue: First of all, I didn’t quite appreciate to the reference ‘this one,’ regardless of the intended context. For the record, I don’t like ‘You people,’ ‘Those people,’ and any other derogatory terms/statements. Second, look at this line (yes the response was canned, but it speaks volumes about the lack of respect that everyone has shown for the parents):

HuffPost Education, launching Monday, October 4, will serve as a hub for prominent educators, celebrities, politicians and other influential voices to discuss successes and failures in the American K-12 public school system.

Did you happen to notice who was missing from the line-up? The same group that was missing from Education Nation and the talk show circuits during the past 2 weeks: Parents. No, not the kind like Guggenheim who can afford private schools for their kids, but the kind like me who sacrificed a lot to buy our first home within a school district known for its (supposedly) excellent schools. Me, who when backed into a corner and threatened to choose my job or my child’s well-being, chose my child and now cannot get another teaching job in the state of Georgia. Me, who is suffering because I cannot do what I love-what I was called to do. Me who realizes that I would rather struggle alone in calling attention to the Johnny-Come-Latelys who don’t know a damn thing about Public Education, must less how to relate to people like me. Like I said before, money does not buy you the experience. Sleeping with a Black man does not buy you the experience. There is no substitute for experience. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. It is what it is.

But despite the elitism and condescension, I knew that I could count on someone (@readtoday) for support and a little hell-raising. To her words and constant support, I say this:

‘In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And in keeping with who I am and knowing whose I am, I will embark upon my own little boycott of the Huffington Post and any other media rag that choose to continue to ignore the voices of those who have the most at stake in this game of Russian Roulette disguised as education reform. Yes, I know I will be alone but that’s how I came into this world and I am sure that is the same manner in which I will leave. But you know what? I am ok with that because when I have to answer for what I did/did not know do, I know that my actions/words will not have been in vain.

14 responses to “Ain’t I a Black parent who wants to improve education? Or is that not good enough for the Huff Post?

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  1. I can agree with your reason for being mad, minus the part about “Black parent.” Nothing about the response said anything remotely about being an African-American parent or being black period. While “parents” were definitely not added to the list, I think you might’ve overreacted to the part about race. I do hope they consider your blogging idea because you have something to offer, but I wonder if you may have read too much into this one.

    • I never said they said anything about Black parents. My point was that everyone wants to rush in and save us and our God-forsaken kids (sarcasm) but no one wants to ask us what we need to help our kids. It all goes along with that savior complex. I guess I read too much American/African American History during undergrad and others haven’t read enough. But I did explain my credentials in the email, as well as the explanation provided by a supporter (which I did not include in the blog). basically, the point was that we are treated as subjects and spectators, then called uncaring and apathetic. How many people actually take the time to ask us what we want? None.

  2. My sister, keep your faith and continue to strive; the struggle is part of the journey. I hope and pray that God has something special in store for you, and it will make these somewhat hard times fade to dark. Love to you and your children

  3. Well, my That One bumper sticker finally curled off. I say you get yourself a This One sticker made up!😀 I think Huff Post can decide to reject an individual blogger for any number of reasons, and it might not be just because they don’t want Black parents’ views. But if they aren’t prepared to have ANY Black parents’ views, shame on them!

    • Yes but even the (majority) of teachers participating/being interviewed are White. It send the message that Blacks are only valuable so long as they keep producing babies in low-income communities for the ‘philanthropists’ and Superman to save.

  4. Hey, actually I disagree with your reasoning. I think that you have identified all the reasons why you SHOULD have a voice. Take advantage of the open lane and cruise down it, if you know what I mean.

    • Ha ha! They didn’t select me, that’s why I am not writing for them. I don’t think any of the people they selected are parents, at least not parents of kids in public school. Kind of ironic, huh?

  5. I don’t think it’s a Color issue. I believe that what they are looking for are celebrities (prominent educators, celebrities, politicians and other influential voices) however, I think that parents like you would give them a better perspective on the education system from the ground level. Continue the good fight and remember tough times never last tough people do.

    • You make a good point, I just think it is absurd for people in the media and education to have these ‘conversations’ about Black and Latino kids and their ‘uninterested’ parents. When a parent asks to write about the issues plaguing our education system, they don’t seem interested. I guess my story didn’t contain enough downtrodden elements to draw-in readers. And celebrities don’t even send their kids to public schools. It’s just very insulting.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • But that IS a “Color issue:” If they want shiny high-profile parents of name and fortune (I said exactly what I wrote, too) then they are saying they are okay with not having Black parents at the table/podium, because they know darned well there’s only one Oprah and the rest of us are low-profile unknowns. It’s like trying to say a racial issue is “actually only” about Class. Try telling me with a straight face that you ain’t aware that most Black folks are poor!

  6. I do not mean to belittle your feelings because your perspective is relevant and warranted. However, I am wary of anyone (good friends included) who feel oppressed by implied racism. I agree with Willie, that you should continue to fight to get your voice heard, and as Terry said, go down the lane that is open. If a door has closed in your face, there is always another route. In addition, the media is NOT unbiased, and it may be true that your perspective is not one they want to show, but then the question becomes who DOES want to put your story out there?
    Keep on pushin’!

    • But why do parents, such as myself, get berated for not ‘caring’ about education without having the opportunity or platform to speak? Furthermore, why do rich White people get to tell us what’s best for our kids simply because they have money and connections? If you re-read the post, I never said they didn’t choose me because I am Black. If that’s what you interpreted, then you were looking for something that was not there-not me. But this supposed education ‘reform’ affects Black and Brown parents and their children so why not allow us to contribute? That was the point, as the title of the post sarcastically suggested.

      Thanks for your comments.

  7. Monise, I’m really looking forward to reading through your blogs, which were just passed my way from a fellow parent — you know, from the school playground afterschool, the People’s Forum for parents LOL.

    I could go a few rounds with you about the editor’s use of the phrase, “this one” — sounded like she was referring to The Request, but she still should have realized that it could easily sound patronizing and dismissive of you. My Yale-educated, Black Feminist older sister does a “little skit” about Code Words For “Black” that people use to try being polite and colorblind. My sis swears that “slim” is a regular word used to mean a woman is Black. I’m NOT lying!

    Anyway, I’m also an ex-teacher who chose to prioritize my son’s settling into the school rhythms over my need to work in the field of my calling, just like you. I do have an ex-husband who picks our son up 3 x a week for the afternoon and dinner, but otherwise it’s “just you and me, Kid.” And nobody seems to GET that.

    We’re in the Blind Spot of society — not as single parents but as Educated Black Women. If we were poorer in language and consciousness, our schools would be offering us opportunities to better ourselves and they’d hand a lot more services to our kids. But being educated somehow lessens my “status as Black.” So I’m treated as a big-mouthed trouble-maker instead of a mother about to call a lawyer if they don’t start doing EVERY goddang thing my IEP says to do. I’m just as poor as the sisters dropping the kids at HeadStart and not asking questions about what he did today at Pick-up time. But I DO ask, and I DO read up and I DO have valid critique of the school, the principal, and many of the teachers. So I’m not the easily pigeon-holed Black single mama who you send the conference notice home to and plan to meet without her. I will be there: early, with a stack of papers, post-its under every item in that IEP that was not followed, and an outside clinician.

    So, my dear, I am pleased to meet a kindred spirit : ). Now let’s finish reading Janice Hale’s books (unless you’re done already!) and continue kicking butt. I’m all about the love and appreciation karma, sure sure. But some people’s butts are just looking around at you all day, going, “Go on — KICK ME! We both know I deserve it…”

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