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St. Lucia and the Black Briton Holiday

16 May

Victor Provost, Steel Drum musician at the St. Lucia Jazz Festival


I was fortunate to have my family contribute to a much needed Mother’s Day vacation.  Our destination…St. Lucia for the Jazz Festival.  Now when I say that my family contributed, this is in every aspect of the word.  From getting us here, to staying and watching our FOUR children for SEVEN days, the undertaking was huge.

I was really, REALLY trying to make this trip all about relaxing with my husband, experiencing lots of live music and basking a bit in the Caribbean sun.  However, as you should know by now, my trips are never just “leisure.” My eyes are always open to trends, nuances and the next research project.  My husband and I did have an agreement, that I would do only “dreaming” and no “working” while on this trip, but my mind always goes to the trends.

It may be because I just got back from London with my students, it may be that I am just always keenly observant of people of color traveling, whatevs, but I did notice something that was worth talking about here.

Island view from a sunset cruise in the Caribbean Sea


There were a lot, I mean A LOT of Black Britons (Black folks from London) on the island this week.  Now granted, there was a big London-based promotion company hosting a good deal of the Jazz Fest events, but I had to take a minute to think this all the way through.  

My rough estimation, if it took us 4 hours to fly here from our big little Southern city, then, it must have taken at minimum 8 hours for this contingent to fly from the UK to St. Lucia, right? This is where I finally get to the point:

That’s a whole lot of intentionality to take a “holiday.” A good deal of Londoners, stay in Europe: South of France, Spain, Italy, Greece, etc.  For a large group of Black folks to decide to “hop on a plane” for 8 hours to go to the Caribbean, justifies a lot of the rationale I have for having this blog in the first place (that is, at least what I am telling myself and it would be great if you just roll with me, mmkay?)

There is a way, that even in relaxing, some of us just want to be around others of us.  Yes, I am clear, that many of these folks may have had relatives or roots on island, but there were also quite a few who did not…and came ANYWAY.  Sometimes, we just want to be our fullest of selves amongst other people being their fullest of selves in similar ways and not worry about anything else but just being.  It’s why I choose to relax in countries where I know there is a black population, and it’s why I tell you all about these places so you can plan accordingly.

So……a whole bunch of writing just say, I was completely full with what I saw.  I felt as though this desire to be amongst my own is not just a “me” thing, that there are plenty of other folks who are doing it.  I know this is not a revelation, but I love it as if it is.  Since I love it like a brand new toy, I’m showing it off.

Bon soir,

Sunset, the view from our villa

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Reflexivity and Big BOLD next steps

18 Apr

My resting face as I daydream and plot moves

So, since I’ve been back from London, I have had so many thoughts run through my head.  One has been reflecting on the ways in which I am a contributor to the privileges of those who do not look like me and an enabler to the covetousness of those privileges for those who do look like me.  In plain English, I took a large group of students who were, for the majority, of the power dominant group to a country with a deep, rich history in conquest and imperialist power.  Overall, they LOVED the trip (that’s a good thing but my critical bend sees the problem with it too).  There was a small group of students of color who also went on the trip, but were so mesmerized by embracing and coveting the “high culture” of London, that they looked down on and even disparaged any person of color that they encountered. It was a bit embarrassing, and I felt empathy for each person they encountered negatively.  I wanted to do more than what I did to fix it and them.  But then I had to take a step back.

This side of me learned the art of cool, calm intellectual clap back this trip.


As a scholar who centers Blackness in just about everything that I do, I felt as though I failed.  However, my time to reflect shows me I need to look forward not backward.  How can I contribute to those who are not yet “semi-grown” and knowing it all?  I have a non-profit that just needs a boo$t to launch and guinea pigs in my house.

I know. They’re adorbs, right?!

I have four children, all under the age of 7 years old (I know, I know).  These children deserve to see a world that centers them and values their blackness, their awesome and their ancestral history of intelligence, authenticity, service to others and nurturing. They also need to effortlessly center themselves in every position they find themselves in life.  Center themselves not just because others don’t, but because they know enough about where they come from that they can see it no other way but to be at the table whether by open invitation or necessity.

So I’ve been thinking about how can I make this world my children’s classroom?  How do I expose others while I am teaching my own?  What would it take?  What do I need to do?  How would I need to plan?  Heck, where do I start?  I’m thinking, plotting, strategizing, in the lab in BOLD new ways.



Right now, I’m not sure how this is going to end up.  But I am focusing on it so that by year’s end, big confident steps and strides have been made.

That’s all I got.  Me brain dumping all my current questions in order to start this plan “officially.” Do any of you have experience with global classrooms, traveling with small children and/or unschooling?  Please comment below.  That would be most helpful.
Oh, wait.  I guess I need to bring the hubster up to speed, huh?
Ciao,

Apartheid Museum

14 Nov

 

This will be a brief post: A friend of mine recently visited the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and has granted me permission to share his photos here.

https://www.facebook.com/seanmrush/media_set?set=a.10154586919506215.1073741843.649236214&type=3

Although his photos have few captions, the images are powerful.  Let us not forget the various lives we’ve had as a people of African descent in this world.

Enjoy and REMEMBER.

Tuscany: Privileges and Power

21 May

So…I’ve actually been in Italy since Wednesday, but access to “da innanets” has been limited and sporadic to say the least. We arrived in Florence on Wednesday and spent the day there.  I was able to see this guy in person:


That was as impressive as it seems.  Walking around Florence and going in and out of churches and duo so, I was able to see something that sets Italy a part from other former imperialist countries.  Usually you go into churches and you see gold and glitz and opulence, but here, there was a focus on the marble and stone work.  David, being a statute carved entirely out of marble and intended to sit in front of a church.

I am accustomed to seeing colonial powers and imperial powers showing off riches as a means of asserting power, but Italy as a different M.O.  Italy uses marble as the means of showing its power.  Stay with me:  All of the work and effort it takes to carve out marble, the cut the stone, to sand and polish the stone, all takes advances in technology.  To show this off is churches is a sort of rhetorical positioning, a testament to how strong they were.

It’s fascinating really!  To think about how much it would take to cut and carve marble, and then to place all of that in places of prominence and influence like the church, says just how powerful Italy wanted to appear to its citizens and the rest of the world.  Now mind, you, I have not been to Vatican City yet, so all this may very well change once I see the museum there and the Sistine Chapel…

This brings me to another point, how great minds are valued here.  At Santa Croce, a church in Florence, just about every great Italian mind and artist can be found there:

Macchiavelli ‘s crypt

Michaelangelo’s Crypt (I had to do a panoramic shot in order to get the whole thing!)

Dante’s crypt (always the thinker even in death)

Galileo’s crypt

I was a bit mesmerized by the veneration of thinkers and artists at Santa Croce.  Being honored just as much as the Medicis in the same church.  It shows the impact of not only these men on many lives and the world, but also how much it is appreciated by the Italians that they are honored almost like royalty.  As a US citizen, I am a bit jealous, we don’t do as much for ALL of our great contributors (many of the non-profit organizations that are trying to maintain Monticello, Frederick Douglass’s Home, the King family home, etc. are STRUGGLING).  I wonder what some of our historic landmarks would look like , what urban sprawl and gentrification would look like if we honored the homes, burial sites and the like of ALL of the great thinkers and contributors to US society?  Notice, I am emphasizing ALL here.  No need to place your comment about the memorials in DC to certain presidents and leaders, no need to add your two cents about Mount Rushmore or Mount Vernon.  I am thinking primarily about those thinkers who revolutionized our understanding of the marginalized (ahem, BLACK away from Home).  How’s Susan B. Anthony’s house hanging in Rochester?  Is it preserved to the nines? What about WEB DuBois’s House?  Anna Julia Cooper’s? There is something to say about the way we pay tribute to those who made great changes to how we see the world.  I have much respect for the way Italy is doing it.

(Almost) Wheels up (again)!

6 May


As I prepare for the next trip, I am excited and nervous at the same time.  When I traveled to Brazil in 2012, my Portguese was not all that great (can only boast minimal improvement even now) so I couldn’t say confidently I was stepping into a country where I knew the language and the surroundings.  The same holds true for this trip to Italy.  But here’s the difference:  for Brazil, I knew I would be around people of African descent and that would be enough to diminish any fears of not knowing the language.  For Italy, not so much the case.  I not only don’t speak a lick of Italian (I am soooo hoping my Spanish, French and Portguese will allow me to tread water), but there is little chance of me seeing an Afro-Italian.

I know, when I went to Madrid last year, I was shocked to see Africans. But, I knew the LANGUAGE. So I could still catch the subtle nuances of passersby, of folks I passed by and still felt “comfortable.”

Something about this trip has me a bit more anxious.  I am leading way more students than ever (16 this time), but, although there are logistical things there of concern, it really is about this anticipation of the unfamiliar in all respects.  I am used to being somewhere and not really knowing the language well (Brazil, Senegal, South Korea, Haiti) and I am used to being in spaces where my color sticks out as the beautifully different thumb it is (Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Spain, heck, the USA in some places).  But the combination of these two are rare for me.

Needless to say, some of my posts this trip may be a public negotiation of this combination.  It will also be an opportunity for me to, for a moment, sit in the places of those Black Away from Home ex-pats living in Japan, China, Russia (well kind of, there are Afro-Russians) and all those other places where language and identity are impacted simultaneously.  It will really put a lot of my research into perspective.

I am thrilled, EXCITED to be going to Italy!  For all of the reasons that anybody else would be excited to go.  But also for the reasons I list above that may read as apprehension.  It’s not.  You should know by now, I set the stage for my thought process in order to prepare myself (and you).

Arrivederci!

The Coliseum

Since I was on the subject……

19 Apr

Since my return from Guatemala, I have seen several blog posts and articles even satire about service trips and their, ahem, “impact” on our global society.  I like this one the best.  Enjoy….Service trip post.

Gearing up for the next adventure shortly….stayed tuned. Ciao!

Kufanya Tena….”You may have to go back and do it again.” (Pre-trip post)

4 Mar

In 2011, I took a group of students to Guatemala for a class I was teaching.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but it happened prior to the launch of this blog post. I have no record or release of my experiences while I was there.  The majority of my students were students of color, their experiences informed and changed their lives in ways I couldn’t plan with the best lecture I could create.  

I mean nothing.  No journal entries. No notes in my phone.  Nada. I realized this when I started loading the blog posts for the London Retrospective.  Well, the universe has aligned itself in such a way, that I am going to be going back to Guatemala for the same class (just a different group of students).  I get the chance to go back and try this again.  What does it mean to travel here as a Black woman?  What will it mean to be Black faculty traveling with students who do not speak the language.  What will they see I won’t? What will I see they won’t?  I am excited about their research projects.  But even more excited that this time, I can include Black Away from Home experiences while we are there.  I am taking them to Guatemala City and Antigua.  Posts are coming soon…..
   

This is my phenomenal crew from 2011.  They have since graduated and are doing BIG things! Mechatronics, Business, Apparel and Textile and Technical Communication degree holders…and HONORS scholars!
 Palacio Nacional, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Giggly Black Nerd Girl……

19 Oct

So I stumbled across this blog site today and I had to share.  Raising Black Scholars, although it it seems to be steady evolving, has me excited and tickled to see that there is something out there to promote the intellectualism in our black and brown babies.  Check it out when you get a chance and go back frequently, something tells me there will be a lot of things to see there!

Blog 1: Can I Not be Black Any More?

10 Sep

Source: Blog 1: Can I Not be Black Any More?

My new book is OUT!

24 Jun

I have exciting news…………

I am pleased to announce the release of my new book, Language, Identity and Choice: Raising Bilingual Children in a Global Society with Lexington Books. It is available from all major online bookstores and from https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780739193624/Language-Identity-and-Choice-Raising-Bilingual-Children-in-a-Global-Society

From the Back Cover

Language, Identity and Choice: Raising Bilingual Children in a Global Society offers, through vibrant personal reflections and scholarly research, a valuable treatise on the promotion of second language and trans-cultural studies among African Americans. Those wishing to engender in their children and in their communities the positive benefits of bilingualism and intercultural literacy will find this text informative and entertaining.”

— James J. Davis, Howard University

Language, Identity and Choice: Raising Bilingual Children in a Global Society provides scholarly insight into how foreign language acquisition influences an individual’s understanding of identity within the African American family. Rooted in sociolinguistic, communication, and bilingual theoretical perspectives, Kami J. Anderson describes how foreign language acquisition, development, and use shape how African Americans describe and proscribe their identity and, in turn, the identity of the family. Language, Identity and Choice looks specifically at how family language choices, in particular choosing to be bilingual, affect family communication and perception of identity from people outside of the family. Anderson combines both extensive research and her personal experience of being bilingual to challenge the existing notions of what it means to be Black when personal experiences with race and ethnicity extend beyond boundaries of the native country or culture. 


I encourage all of my readers to get your copy TODAY (if possible, please:-))

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