Archive for February, 2013

The New Americans*


The New Americans*

February 10, 2013  |  Culture, Family, Teaching  |  7 Comments

“Don’t call it a comeback. We’ve been here for years…” — LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out

Before LL Cool J hosted mediocre Grammy award ceremonies. He was a bad man. That enduring sentiment on comebacks from his 1990 classic, Mama Said Knock You Out,  has haunted me these past few days.


Mainly because I’ve had so much to celebrate. My mother became a citizen of the United States the other day.

Her legal process has spanned two and a half decades. After what felt like a lifetime spent with lawyers, the moment she took her oath was powerfully emotional and ultimately cathartic.

Though our story is our own, it is far from unique. I have grown to know hundreds of immigrant families whose collective wishes for safety and freedom and opportunity fuel their desire to work and sacrifice and their bold audacity to dream in the face of an American reality that increasingly mirrors the same realities that we sought to leave abroad. When I think about the current discussion on immigration reform, my heart aches with the memory of years of INS worries, job worries, will-things-be-okay-for-my-parents worries. When I work across the classrooms of this great city. I see myself – and my worries – in the eyes of many of the students that I serve.

Each morning, my prayers are that my work somehow makes this American experience more beautiful and less stressful for them. This evening, I realize that those prayers are also for my mother… Most recently, they are for my own daughter.

My greatest professional learning has been that one cannot simply hope and pray. The progress that we hope to see requires a work ethic that we have yet to see. That is to say, if we want to reach unprecedented heights, we need an unprecedented hustle. I’m glad that my American mother taught me that lesson early. To quote the late great, Gil Scott-Heron, This ain’t no new thing.

I’ve been here for years. I’m thankful for the opportunity to hustle hard. I hope she’s proud.


Bring on the Snuggles, Go Knicks!

Soleil, sporting #12

Bring on the Snuggles, Go Knicks!

February 5, 2013  |  Culture, Family  |  No Comments


Cornelius and I didn’t get married for nothing-aside from the bountiful love we share with our little one and each other, we share a lot of love for a lot of things. Including, but not limited to Alice Walker prose, dystopian novels, bacon, cats, and New York City.  However, there is a small slice of life that we share that neither of us meddles in.  For example, Magic the Gathering.  Cornelius tried to envelope me in one time a few years ago at a gaming dive in Billyburg, and after an hour of him teaching me how to play, and after two hours of me telling him all those rules were wack, we decided that goblins and manna would be kept in his domain.  Furthermore: RHOA.  Nene Leakes may be one of the most entertaining women alive.  Kim Zolciak, although MIA this season, is so sassy! Cynthia: gorgeous, and is the baby mama to that guy that was on the Five Heartbeats! It’s all so disgustingly entertaining, I love it.  I tune in every Sunday night.  An unfortunate of my kicks with reality TV is that Cornelius, being from Atlanta, throws up a little bit every time he hears Bravo’s theme music.  Consequently, RHOA (along with the Kardashians) lies in my domain.

All in all, Cornelius is not a TV person.  And neither am I, really.  Most of TV is terrible, and only a few shows are bad enough to be disgustingly good..i.e. RHOA and the Kardashians.  However, I think we can all agree that sitting next to your loved one in the evening in front of the boob tube for 45 minutes or so is a lovely way to end the day.  Especially when the average day filled is filled with all sorts of cute kids who have pretty rough lives and all kinds of needs.

Enter, Basketball.  The only kind of reality TV that both of us can stomach. Three years ago, Cornelius got comped tickets to a Knicks game-approximately five rows from the court at the Garden.  The Garden worked some voodoo on us, and now we religiously follow the Knicks.  We are FANS.  We met Amar’e, I have a STAT poster hanging in my classroom, and the whole family has matching Knicks gear, onesies included.

The players are magical, and their back stories are totally endearing.  Steve Novak still lives in a regular ass house in Milwaukee.  Iman Shumpert has a flat top, two brothers, and a mixtape.  Melo used to live in the Red Hook houses, and Amar’e took his wife on a Cognac tour in France.  Tyson Chandler wears capris and holds art house photo exhibits.  Ah, they are all so cool!  Oh, yeah, and they play basketball pretty well too…

The best part about loving the Knicks is that they usually have three games a week, and all those games are televised. Hence, there is always something to snuggle up to on the couch in the evening.

Four years ago, if you asked me about the Knicks, I might have known something about Isaiah Thomas’s failed tenure as coach.  Now, I welcome their stories, both on and off the court, and look forward to celebrating their tenacity with Soleil.


Oooh, and I like it...

My team... <3

Oooh, and I like it…

February 3, 2013  |  Culture, Family, Teaching  |  1 Comment

As we settle into Negro History Week Black History Month (Big love to Carter G. Woodson), I realize that I’m long overdue for my “January month-in-review” post. Kass is probably working on hers too, as January was a HUGE month for us. Here are the things that made the Minor household the place to be this month:

  1. Toilet Paper. Aside from it’s obvious intended use, Toilet paper is perhaps the best toy ever invented. Soleil and I spent three hours the other Wednesday unrolling a pack of it. Her blocks cost $10.00. She plays with them for maybe 30 seconds. Roll of toilet paper: $0.88 — THREE HOURS! Folks, that is value.

    This is how we roll.

    This is how we roll.

  2. I’m working to digitize my classroom library using this tool by Booksource. It creates a database of each book in your classroom. Kids check out books just like at the New York Public Library. You can evaluate reading trends in your room from the checkout data, and it even has a harass function for when kids don’t turn books in on time. Every time a kid checks out a book, I feel like a complete badass. I need some theme music. (Also check out Class Dojo — behavior management tools for your SmartBoard? Yes, please.)
  3. Theme music. A$AP Rocky’s new album, LONG.LIVE.A$AP. I don’t love this album. I respect it. A$AP Rocky’s latest is a lovingly written lit review of the boom bap that us Golden Age Hip hop cats grew up on. Rocky is a sonic Alex Haley. He’s a man in search of his roots. The album itself does not disturb me (well, maybe that one track with that buffoon, 2 Chainz). What disturbs me is what he found while on that search. LONG.LIVE.A$AP is equal parts TRU, Scarface, UGK, DJ Screw, Bone Thugs, NWA and OutKast. Not a bad thing to be, considering the cultural potency of the source material. It just makes me wonder. Is this ALL that we left to this generation of kids? Hip hop, we have a lot more work to do on our legacy.
  4. While technically not a January thing, it was cool to see the Ravens win the Super Bowl. All the talk of Baltimore this month reminded me that I had not re-watched The Wire in some time. This show is like a good book. You just keep returning to it. If you have not watched this show in it’s entirety, then I feel bad for you…
  5. Speaking of books that I keep coming back to, Kass is Reading Neal Stephenson’s Reamde for the first time. I might re-read it. This book was delicious the first time I read it. If you like video games, spies, midwesterners, freedom, or have ever been the only black person on a farm before, you should probably read it. Pillow talk is about to get a lot more interesting this month.

Have a great February.