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Dear Grandson

Dear Grandson,
On the eve of your 18th birthday, I am hoping to give you some thoughts that will excite you about delving into what's ahead ofyou're beautiful, incredible and spirited life.
The beauty begins each time you pick yourself up and continue on a positive path no matter what others say or do. And when you realize that much of the hate, violence andsimple apathy surrounding your presence has very little to do with you, but with how the world has been taught to view you as a very tall, very dark African-American male who represents their own confusion, ignorance, and fears.They do not understand that you are no one's enemy and that you are simply attempting to have a beautiful life.
With the wake of the new political administration, these are turbulent times. But guess what, since we as Africans and now African-Americans have arrived here since 1619, we have always endured turbulent times and yet we have done more than just survived.
We have resisted enslavement, refus…
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Mothers and Daughters

Brenda Edwards and her mother Annie Edwards circa  1984

I loved my mother very much and still do, but at some point, l realized she wasn't flawless. These were intermittent episodes throughout our mother-daughter relationship when I became aware of her imperfections. Before this crucial discovery, she was a glorious,mystical beauty of perfection who solved all my problems and made the boogie man go away.

Depending on what I was going through in my own life, my judgment of mom wavered from harsh criticism, embarrassment,to downright anger.

Take the time when she decided to awaken my sister and me while we were fast asleep in our cozy beds one winter night, just to fulfill a simple chore of taking out the trash and washing the dishes. I couldn't have been any more than 12 and my sister was about 16. We grumbled, but not too loud for fear of the wrath from mom that would follow. She seemed to feel that this one small error would lead us down…

Lips:Extra Large

Picture: Rashida Temitayo 
How tragic life would be had I grown up as a dark skinned girl with African features,complete with a wide nose and extra-large lips,to not have those around me who would affirm my sense of self as well as enlighten me about the accomplishments of my ancestors.

I was fortunate. And this type of fortune is more valuable than any fortune no matter what ethnic group one has derived from. It is the type of fortune when instilled properly,will allow one to be encouraged and have pride in themselves,there by understanding why others are also proud with out being arrogant and living the lie of superiority.

I was coming-of-age in the late 60s and early 70s and had been in the company of those who would unwittingly serve to guide me and channel my energies into building a strong foundation in terms of my cultural,ethnic and individual identity.

Part of this experience had come when I was a summer youth worker and had delved into the black history courses that had been pr…

A Day Of Remembrance

Picture shown above of Annie Edwards and Mark Edwards holding their daughter Brenda Edwards

 It was a day of remembrance as I walked  through the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn where I was raised six decades ago.It was a day of ambivalence as an incongruent feeling of happiness and sadness shrouded my inner being.I began to reflect on those who were once so much a crucial  part of my life and had now either passed away or we simply grew apart delving into life's challenges.I felt the spirit of those souls and smiled. I pictured my friends and myself briskly running down Sumner Avenue and then back down Halsey Street and over to Lewis Avenue playing those childhood games of the times:tag,hop scotch,red light-green light,jumping double dutch rope and simply languishing in those long summer days and chilling winters.

I thought about how I had attended the storefront church which ironically was perched on top of a pool hall. I thought about Sunday School and how I never under…

White Children of the Confederate Flag

dear white children of the confederate flag.I saw you and heard you loud and clear as a friend and I approached an intersection of Hampton ,Virginia where you sat on the edge of a corner building clutching the pole of your personal  confederate flag determined to hold on to what you consider the strength of your ancestors.Those relentless warriors who resisted the freedom of others. Those irascible warriors who challenged the rights of African-Americans.Those warriors determined to  perpetuate the generational cycle of intolerance,miseducation and violence.

There you sat so calm and incredulously proud as those who would pass by could witness your approach to life.

I must say when I saw you in your ceremonious defiance,the teacher instinct in me wanted to run over and give you an impromptu history lesson; one that you evidently never received .Wanted to give you my perspective on your ideas. Wanted to tell you that symbols do matter because it is the symbols that give permission and …

School Busing Days by Brenda Edwards

In 1966 I became part of New York City's School busing program. The challenge was that students from neighborhoods such as mind, the predominantly African-American Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn would attend schools in neighborhoods such as, at that time, the predominantly white Flatbush section of Brooklyn.

This program was to solve some of the inequities and create a sense of desegregation in the inner city schools.

From six to seventh grade, I would travel on the yellow school bus that would pick me up in my neighborhood and travel what felt like an eternity to my new school. The pick up would include cruising through various areas of Bed-Stuy collecting other African-American and a few Latino children to be transported to our various destinations throughout the Flatbush area. We often joked among ourselves as the bus approached the Fulton Street L, that we were crossing the tracks mimicking the Mason-Dixon line that separated the north from the south.
Please do not get me…

What's wrong with the school system? By Brenda Edwards

As a retired New York City educator, every once in a while someone will ask me what is my perception of the failings of the New York City school system. Well,I believe it's a number of things.

First of all, when people ask what's wrong with the school system,they often are really asking why are the inner-city kids not progressing as they should and displaying such hostile behavior.Why are these students so out of touch with education, they wonder.But what they really mean is, what's wrong with the African-American, African Caribbean and Latino students who comprise the majority of the inner-city schools.

Having been an African-American student myself and then becoming a teacher, I say let's look at the history that is so very much a part of us and how that history reflects what it means for black and brown people today transitioning from being considered subhuman to enslavement, to Jim crow/segregation,lynchings and poverty.Let's look at the subliminal messages t…