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Black Girls and Mental Health: An interview with Dr. Kimani Norrington - Sands

Date Published: 06/25/2020

I had the opportunity to have a necessary and enlightening conversation with Dr. Kimani Norrington - Sands, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Owner of Lifting As We Climb Consulting. We discussed the importance of mental health in communities of color, and focused specifically on mental health, wellness and blackgirlhood. This interview offers deep insight into the unique challenges that girls of color may face with regard to their mental health and wellness, the ways that myths around “angry” black women and girls...


"Woke" language is not a substitute for the deep work anti-racism requires

Date Published: 06/16/2020

Educators have to move beyond the buzzwords and trends circulating today if we are seeking to truly transform schools. The terms “diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion” simply are not enough. And I fear now that the radicalism tied to anti-racist work is being watered down. Educational trendy buzzwords pave a destructive road for the commodification of otherwise transformative action. This era of “trendiness” is a distraction from the truth of how we got here: intentionally crafted systems of oppression that have sustained inequity in this country...


How are our girls?

Date Published: 05/18/2020

How are our girls? Are they breathing? Writing? Have they been allowed to dance and to share what they might be thinking? In this time of great pause, of wonder, of worry, of fear and illness, have we paused to consider the wellness of our girls? The conversations around the COVID - 19 global pandemic today are much like the contemporary and historical conversations around crises that our world has seen. There is great coverage in the news about politics, about leadership...

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Teaching as Activism, Teaching as Care

Date Published: 05/15/2020

I have begun to feel helpless during this time. But I never felt helpless as a teacher. Teaching, for me, has always been a vehicle. A vehicle for freedom, for truth telling, for hell raising. It has long been my understanding and approach to solving complex problems that diseases and illness must be dissected, studied and understood so that we can act upon them. The classroom was, for me, in many ways a sanctuary, a laboratory and a place where the helplessness...

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Urban Teachers of Color Pushed Out: Why I Left the Classroom

Date Published: 01/07/2019

Recently, a close friend sent me a news article about our childhood neighbor and elementary school classmate who was set to be arraigned on significant drug-trafficking crimes in our city. While my friend and I had gone on to earn advanced degrees and certificates, our classmate had succumbed to the pressures of the environments we had grown up in. This happens all the time. I hear from a friend, a classmate or my sister about the devastating trajectories of our peers, children I shared meals, toys, games and laughed with: They’ve been arrested, given life sentences in prison or murdered...


The Black Church Cannot ‘Pray Away’ Mental Illness

Date Published: 08/29/2018 

Last week, actress Taraji P. Henson launched her own foundation for mental health awareness. This comes after singer Michelle Williams shared a courageous statement about her battle with mental illness and how she is seeking treatment. In an age where black women are lauded for being strong, carefree and magical, Henson and Williams show there is strength in vulnerability and seeking help for our mental health...


Have Your Feelings for Black and Latino Students Lowered Your Expectations for Them?

Date Published: 05/23/2018

For years, I have taught in schools with black and Latino students from mostly urban backgrounds. I am infuriated and overwhelmed by the countless issues affecting our kids that we as teachers have no control over: racism, poverty, budget cuts, and teacher turnover, to name a few. I cannot protect our boys from police harassment. I cannot protect our girls from the intersection of silences that consumes them. They are young women in a society that still objectifies their bodies and places limits on the ways in which they can speak out...

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Appreciation for My Fellow Teachers

Date Published: 05/09/2018

To my fellow teachers: As you find time to read this, I imagine that you are tired, your feet likely sore, but your heart must be full because you have spent the day working with young people. Still, you find time to think about your students. Maybe you wonder if you said the right words to the student who cried endlessly to you after school, or if you did a disservice to the student whose pains from their home life resulted in an eruption during second period today...


Teach Your Students About Black Women This

Women’s History Month

Date Published: 03/28/2018 

It is easy to celebrate black women when it is convenient or comfortable. Americans appreciate black women when our voter turnout leads to necessary victories in Congress. We loved Beyoncé, until she said to stop killing us, and we love Oprah, so long as her messages do not become too radical, of course. But rarely does American society acknowledge the contributions of black women or their role in our history...


We Can’t Teach Black History in Isolation

Date Published: 02/21/2018

In his 1963 address “A Talk to Teachers,” novelist and social critic James Baldwin cautioned that one of the paradoxes of education was that “precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society.” Educated individuals, he continued, then have a responsibility to make change. Decades later, Baldwin’s sentiments are still relevant...

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Black History Month Teaching: Miseducation or Empowerment?

Date Published: 02/06/2018

Given the political, racial and social climate in which we are operating, teaching about black history in 2018 might be frightening, controversial even. You might be unsure of how to talk about race with your students, especially if your race or ethnicity differs from theirs. Or you might be concerned about responses from other educators, people in the community and even your students' families...

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Why I Will Not Be Teaching About Charlottesville

Date Published: 08/17/2017

Like many teachers, I returned to school on Monday, August 14, after being saturated by the events that transpired in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. As I had done post the Zimmerman trial, post Ferguson, post Charleston, post Sandra Bland, post Philando Castile and post the 2016 election, I went to work. My decision to turn off my phone, unplug from social media and avoid futile internet searches had not been enough to ease my mind on Sunday, so I pulled myself out my bed the next day and went to work...

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Bringing Black Lives Matter Into the Classroom | Part II

Date Published: Summer 2017

In my article “Don’t Say Nothing,” I warn about the dangers of teachers being silent on the issue of racial violence. And what I love about this profession is that, when teachers do speak, when we take a stance and choose to engage in the political, we plant seeds for the next generation. When we teach in ways that promote respect, love, empathy and understanding—despite the difficulties we may face in doing so—we have the power to influence young people who will eventually become doers and leaders in this world...

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Why Teaching Black Lives Matter Matters | Part I

Date Published: Summer 2017

For Trinity Thompson, the decision of whether or not to address high-profile killings of black people with her second-graders was a no-brainer. She was teaching in Harlem soon after Eric Garner was killed by a police officer in a nearby New York City borough. “How do I respond to this?” Thompson recalls asking herself. “And then from there, it was like, How do I respond to this—again?” Each time news reports covered another black person dying at the hands of police, her students—most of whom were black—asked more and more difficult questions....

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Don't Say Nothing

Date Published: Fall 2016

As educators we (sometimes unknowingly) step into roles of advocate, caretaker, guide, and even mother or father to students. Students pay attention to everything we say and do. They particularly pay attention to our silence. We may be uncomfortable talking about race, but we can no longer afford to be silent. We have chosen a profession, which—like parenting—requires that our comforts come second to those of children. Many black and brown students are educated in school systems and classrooms where they, despite making up the racial majority, are taught how to understand a world by a staff comprised of a powerful minority....

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Art as Resistance, Part 2

Date Published: 04/12/2016

After spending the previous few weeks analyzing social issues in the Dominican Republic (DR), my students brought in projects that expressed their resistance to issues like sexism, racism and poverty through the performing and visual arts. Projects ranged from body sculptures representing standards of beauty in the DR and Latin America to mini-films on common types of high school bullying. I was simply blown away...

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Art as Resistance, Part 1

Date Published: 03/17/2016

I’m from Ohio, but I teach high school English literature at an international school in the Dominican Republic. As I returned for my second year in this role, I was both overwhelmed and excited when thinking about how to get my students to read their worlds more critically. Too often, I feel burdened by the disparities that plague this unbelievably beautiful island. While it boasts undeniable beauty and charm, the Dominican Republic is simultaneously affected by self-denial and rejection, educational and economic disparity, sexism, colorism and racism...