Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Nadirah’s Perspective:

On Friday, September 14, I had the privilege of acting in a theatre production of Charles Fuller’s Zooman and the Sign.  For a little background information, Charles Fuller is the famous American playwright that wrote, A Soldier's Play, (later renamed A Soldier’s Story for the film production starring a younger Denzel Washington) for which he received the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  Anyhoo, Zooman and the Sign is about a black teen named Zooman who aimlessly shoots and kills a young girl named Jinny on her own front porch.  Zooman presents himself as a helpless product of his society, but Jinny’s father, Rueben tries to convince his neighbors that they need to stand together to achieve justice. Rueben decides to place a sign on his property placing blame on the neighbors for not speaking up about what they witnessed in order to bring forth Jinny’s murderer. However, the sign starts to bring about conflict among his wife Rachel, their son Victor, extended family members (Uncle Emmett and Cousin Ash), and other disgruntled neighbors.

Overall, the premise of the story provokes the question of whether or not you would be willing to speak up if you witness a murder or a crime in general.  I know that it’s a tough question to ponder but personally, I feel that it will be my test and duty as a human being to speak up if I witness some form of injustice in the world.  We live in an era where the ideology of “Don’t Snitch” is saturated within rap/song lyrics, television shows, and movies; nevertheless, is this helping or hurting us as a society?  I believe when we master a code of silence, we enable criminals/murderers to continue on their vicious cycles of violence and other various criminal activities.  

Per various news websites, within the city of Chicago, more than 300 people were killed in Chicago between January and July 2012, a nearly 30 percent increase over the last year.  As of last week, that number is up to 374.  Would this number lessen if more people opted to call tip hotlines and/or called the police when threats are spewed aloud on the streets promising revenge to whomever? I’m aware that people are afraid to speak up due to the fear of retaliation if the accused finds out but we have to remind ourselves that if we were placed in the same position of having our love ones gunned down, wouldn’t you want someone to step forward in order to find some resolution and peace when you can place a face with crime. Our children and other innocent victims are being murdered on our streets and even within the sanctity of their home. I’m not saying that this is the ultimate solution to the problem but it definitely could be a start if not a deterrent.


Troy’s Perspective:

With the recent influx in crime in the Chicagoland area, what can we do as a society/community to save our streets and keep our children safe? After having the privilege of being in the audience of the theatre production that was directed by Mr. James Pringle and the Harlem Theater Company of Chicago, it was quite apparent. The production was thought provoking, intriguing and current with the reality that we face in today’s times. The reality was shown that many of us are restricted by our fears (retaliation or the unknown) and therefore don’t do anything to stop criminal activity that some of us witness and/or hear. Relying on the police, teachers and politicians to solve all our problems is not the answer, but the answer is with us all.  We have the moral responsibility to nurture, inform and participate in our community.  If we don’t help each other who will.

As we mature and time passes on, we are destined to change.  I once had the mentality of turning a blind eye and staying out of other peoples’ business. By taking on this approach as a code of the community this will only leave us all to suffer. In some ways, we are all connected and affected by the actions of others which means that the troubles that some face are troubles that we all face as a whole. By doing nothing only perpetuates the dilemma and makes things more difficult. The ideology of “every man for themselves” makes us individualistic and self destructive. What are we teaching our youth? The youth of today have many day to day challenges living in the inner city. Our children will continue to duck and dodge bullets, witness crimes and feel lucky to reach the age 18 unless we speak up, speak out and do something. Because of the unwritten rule of “Don’t be a snitch,” children are getting bullied at school at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, many confrontations with bullies go unnoticed because children are scared to speak up. Often enough, when they decide to speak it’s usually negative (with a weapon causing a life changing situation).

What would you do??? Picture this scenario of an incident involving a man that was terrorizing a neighborhood.  The man was charged with kidnapping, raping and killing several middle school girls. After interviewing several students and members in the community, the man was seen walking around the school in the afternoon when children were being released. A number of students mentioned that the man looked strange at the young girls but were scared to say anything. Numerous members in the community mentioned, they thought it was “quite strange for this man to walk around the school as the kids were getting released,” but failed to speak up. The result is that 4 middle school girls were kidnapped, raped and killed over a span of 2 weeks. What would you do???

The answer is clear, speak up, speak out and do something, the life you may be saving just may be your own or the one that you love.


Thursday, September 13, 2012


Nadirah’s Perspective:

This past Monday marked the first day of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Teachers’ Strike.  Even though I am very torn about my stance on this issue because I use to teach within this very same system, I always revert back to the horrible outcome of the children missing an unknown number of school days.  Last night, hubby and I were watching the news and we found ourselves becoming more and more frustrated with the cover piece.  They interviewed inner city children by asking them, “What have you been doing since the strike?” Their answers varied but included: watching TV, playing video games, playing basketball, riding my bike with my friends, and hanging out.  But wait a minute because it gets worse.  When they interviewed some of the parents on their personal feelings about the strike, they said that they were more concerned about their children getting shot while outside playing and walking the streets when they should be in school.  Can you see what direction I’m getting ready to go into right now?  I have a question!  If you are so fearful about the safety of your children while they are playing and hanging around outside, then why not make them stay in and do some math problems and/or reading projects that you as a parent can assign while the children are out of school? 

During my years of teaching, I noticed that many parents left all educational instruction to the responsibility of the teachers. To be fair about this, I would recognized that some of the parents were busy working multiple shift jobs and/or were ill-equipped themselves to understand and aid their children with homework assignments. However, there is no excuse to run to Dollar Tree, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. to buy academic workbooks, pull out the answer key page, and hand them four to five pages of work to do to stimulate their intellectual brain cells.  If money is a problem, another solution is to go to the local library, have them pick out three books of their choice, and make them write an age appropriate book report ranging from one to five paragraphs. If the library is too far or nonexistence in your neighborhood, another solution is to gather all the newspapers, magazines, and books in your house, pick out an article (more than likely you read) or chapter, and have them do a report about that article or chapter. For the teens, questions they could cover would be: what was it about, was there a protagonist/antagonist, when was it written, is it relatable to today’s society, who was your favorite character, and what did you learn from it?  For the little ones: what was it about, did you like/dislike it, did you like the pictures, can you draw one of the characters for me, etc.

On A Side Note:
There is a contest being held at Chicago’s Navy Pier on Saturday, November 17, 2012 called Young Inventor Challenge that children ranging from 6 – 18 years of age can participant.    All participants must submit an original and working prototype of a toy/game invention and an accompanying poster display.  There are prizes and acknowledgement earned by the winner. Here’s the link:

The point that I’m getting at is the fact that even if the teachers’ strike is active with an indefinite date of ending, there is no reason why our children should not be able to continue their education on their own with the guidance and resources of their parents.  


Troy’s Perspective:

Being the only child to parents that are both teachers and extremely involved in the educational system, I never had a summer where I was not challenged academically. As my wife mentioned, children are publicly speaking on the news about how they are wasting time at home and/or outside. My mother and father (CPS teachers) often struggled the first two months of the school year re-teaching their students what they learned the year before because of the lack of schooling during the summer months. Where does learning begin? As I look back, I thank my parents for investing their time in me and preparing me for my future. My parents were very strict; I had to complete several pages in both English and math workbooks before the idea of going outside was an option. If my workbooks were fully complete my father then made me read the newspaper out loud to him (I despised this exercise most of all). My father not only supervised while I completed these exercises, but also reviewed my homework daily. This commitment from parents doesn’t take place today.

PSA to All Parents:
Please invest in your children and take the time to ensure that their learning continues throughout the year despite any vacations. Learning is a continuous process and should never take a break. This will only better prepare our children for future achievement. Don’t leave the entire educational process up to teachers, which is not fair to teachers or your child. Once again, where does learning begin?  Your children reflect you and your household, not the teacher. The educational exercise that I once could not stand always gave me the leading edge once in the classroom; in spite of, being ridiculed by family members and friends. As I look back, the constant learning processes gave me the drive and influence to become the engineer that I am today. Thanks Mom & Dad. Many children are misguided and learn more from the television and the streets than their parents, which is truly sad.

Please understand the struggles that these teachers face and what they are fighting for. They are only trying to better the education of the youth of the Chicago Public School system that are sometimes troubled and misguided. Classrooms are over populated (35+ students (fire hazard)), under resourced (not enough books, no computers and other supplies) and unequipped with air-conditioning. It is truly amazing that this strike did not happen sooner.

While the teachers are fighting for your children, please invest in the time and efforts to ensure that your kids are learning at home. That is where the learning process both starts and ends.

 “Be the motivating influence that will lead your children to a promising future by giving the gift of not just a public education but a loving education.”


Thursday, September 6, 2012


Nadirah’s Perspective:

Every four years, Americans are given the great responsible of choosing a new presidential leader.  This civil right allows us to be a part of history by voicing our opinions of who we want as our nation’s representative.   Many times I have run across an individual that really believes that it is a waste of time to go to the polls and vote because it’s “rigged.”  The irony that I’m faced with is that even though I totally disagree with that frame of thought, I will defend tooth and nail that as an American, they have that right to think that way and say so aloud.  The internal struggle I often find myself fighting is the urge to start an open forum/debate on the documented history of others (African-Americans and women) organizing, finding legal and spiritual representation brave enough to face the judicial system and demand a revision of the U.S. Constitution, tolerate harassment, endure physical and psychological torture, suffer from police brutality, and so on; just to have the freedom to be seen as an equal human being with the right to vote.  Today, we are faced with a political party that wants to end Planned Parenthood and medical coverage for cancer patients, dismantle Medicare, and cut financial aid, while maintaining tax breaks for the wealthy and leading the ideology to homeowners that are facing foreclosures, “Don't try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.” These are topics that should be enough of a reason why we should all exercise our right to vote.  I worry about the state of our government and what will be the outcome for our middle and low income families.  People depend on free health care and medical coverage for cancer patients.  On a personally note, my mother was blessed to be diagnosed and treated through this very same coverage, but what about the other women who were not fortunate to reside in a state that offer free medical coverage for women that are diagnosed with cancer.  What do they do?  Suffer in silence because they can’t afford the doctors, medications, and/or treatments.  It’s not fair and it’s not right!  

We are at a pivotal point in this election year and people better wake up from these sluggish comas that projects visions of sugar plum fairies and fairy dust making it better for our low and middle income families. People are losing their homes, jobs and are struggling everyday to make ends meet because of poor choices made 12 years ago.  Now we have a presidential candidate that publically admitted, “I like firing people,” in other words, putting profits before people.  We have a current Speaker of the House that made national news when his honest response regarding the nature of the election and whether or not minority groups will vote for the Republican candidate was made public.  “This election is about economics… These groups have been hit the hardest. They may not show up and vote for our candidate but I’d suggest to you they won’t show up and vote for the president either.” WTF…L

I know that I can’t go house to house pleading with people to vote, however, my husband and I will use this blog as a platform to extend the fact and importance of our voices thorough the action of our ballots.  You cannot in good conscience sit on your posterior complaining about the government unless you get up, get out and vote for a cause. Whether you vote Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, etc., do your research, read over these candidates’ platforms and go vote for something and someone you believe in. 
REGISTER AND GO VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Troy’s Perspective:

The right to vote is something that I as an American have the privilege and obligation to participate in. Many believe that their vote doesn’t count nor make a difference when in reality it does. Many have petitioned, been imprisoned and even lost their lives for future generations to obtain the right to vote. Even today, many states are in litigation due to various laws that have been passed to withhold the right to vote unless certain obligations are fulfilled. The problem is that the necessary obligations are bias towards the poor and benefit the wealthy in the voting turn out. Being the only American born from an immigrant father from Jamaica in my family, the freedom to vote and voice an opinion is my obligation to my past ancestors of America and Jamaica that have died for the opportunity that I now possess. Family or Business first is the basis for this election. One candidate promotes his past of leading companies that will carry over to the White House as a solution to lead America to success. On the other hand, the president is promoting, “leading a nation to greatness.” The difference is quite clear and evident.  Make a decision and choose at the poles with what is important to you on November 6th.  Do your research to make the best decision for your future. You cannot be pro-jobs, if you’re not pro education!

I personally know that more Americans relate to a person that grew up in a single parent family home (sometimes without health insurance), receive support and rearing from other family members (grandmother, etc.) and took out student loans further higher education. This simply outlines the typical American family that millions can not only relate to but are living today. One candidate’s lifestyle was totally different; with his father being governor of Massachusetts, a presidential candidate, chief executive of a top motor company, this candidate clearly did not have the struggles that the average American has to go through on a daily basis. This candidate also spoke to a group of college students and stated, “If you want to start a business, ask your parents for the money,”…  Really!  Is this guy serious, how is he really going to look after my interest when he cannot relate to the interest of the average American?  By personally following our government, one party was very adamant about fighting to abolish the laws of affirmative action, health care for all, equal wages for women and gay marriage. Importantly, one party has no morals or ethics but innate greed to make money for themselves and their constituents. The difference in this election is clear among both parties, make the choice. Family or business, I choose family every time because who and where would we be without family.