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Showing posts from 2015

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…

Whats 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…

The Village

It's Friday  and all I can think of is what a busy week it has been and it's not over yet. You would think I would be used of the hustle and bustle of being a mother, but I'm not. As a mother of a 16 year old, 9 year old and, 14 month old I'm still learning, adjusting and growing. And one never stops learning and growing through the stages of motherhood. People often ask me, " Does it get easier?" I say No, motherhood comes in different stages and each stage has its own set of challenges, joys, setbacks as well as breakthroughs!! I often wonder how it would be if things were 50-50 in terms of needed fatherly assistance and support. But somehow I manage to get through it all with the help of  my support group,  my extended family, whom I like to call "the village", which comes from the African Proverb  "It takes a Village to raise a Child."

It's quite challenging with three children all at different stages in life so my daily routine g…

Keep Going, No Matter What!!

For the past couple of weeks my mood has been great. I've really been feeling good and I partially owe it to my new workout routine. For the past 2 months I've restarted my fitness routine and I am enjoying the thrill of working out, the releasing of those endorphins and the natural high that I experience when I finish working out. After a good workout I feel like I can achieve anything.

This isn't the first time that I've started a workout routine. Over the course of five years I have started and began again with exercise and fitness. Somewhere along the line, a major life change has happened that has stopped my workout routine in its tracks. One thing that has not changed through it all is my eating habits, throughout my starting and stopping of working out, I have managed to continue to eat healthy foods.

About 2 years ago I began a jogging routine that I quickly adapted to. I started out walking and within a week I was jogging half of Prospect Park. It was the m…

Peeling back the layers!

Yesterday morning, on my way to work, I decided to get off the bus a stop early to take a picture of a mural of Malcolm X and Harriet Tubman. Every morning I get a glimpse of that mural and I kept saying to myself how I would really love to take a photo of it. The strength in the mural always catches my eye and gives me much more motivation to endure another day. This mural which is painted on the side of the back entrance to Boys and Girls High School takes me back to my childhood as I am in the midst of peeling back the layers and getting to know myself on a deeper level. I am reminded of the African Street Festival now known as The International African Arts Festival that has been around for over 40 years. The festival was an event that my family and I would look forward to. I am also reminded of attending the private elementary school Weusi Shule, (which means Black School in Swahili). One of the founding fathers of The International Arts Festival, Jitu Weusi was also the founder …

How bad do you want it?

I never thought I would enjoy doing outreach. Most of my employment experiences in the field of Social Work have been where the client comes to me, but I've gotta say, being able to get out of the office can literally be a breath of fresh air. Yesterday, while out in the field I had the pleasure of passing by my Alma Mater, Brooklyn College on the way to a home visit for one of my clients. It felt so good to pass by my old college campus.
After a couple of attempts at college, in 2001 when my oldest son Jelani  was 2 years old I decided to enroll at Brooklyn College. Attending college and getting a degree was always stressed in my house growing up and it was expected. It was something I knew I needed to get ahead in life and not only would it allow me to broaden my opportunities, I also found out that it would provide me we with a sense of accomplishment and pride. I jumped in at Brooklyn College full force majoring in Sociology and minoring in Africana Studies. I was finally tak…

I'm Not A Real Writer

My mom called me yesterday to tell me how great she thought my blog posts were. I was thrilled to hear that she had read them better yet that she thought that they were great. But of course, she had a little grammar lesson and spelling corrections to give me. I remember back in High School while attending the same school that my mother taught at (Erasmus Hall High School), before it was five different schools, I would ask my mother to  proofread all of my High School essays. I would do the corrections and she would reread them and make more corrections, this went on for maybe 5-6 times to my disdain. During my college years, I would also ask for her assistance and she would  make corrections on my college papers as well. Not to mention as she became an adjunct professor at New York City Technical College, one of the first colleges I attended, I was also a student there and had the pleasure of taking one of her courses in Black Literature.
 I mean, I gladly accept  constructive criti…

Behind the Name

The weekend is over and it's Sunday the day before the work week, although being a mother the work is 7 days a week nonstop!!! ☺️ As I lie in bed I am accompanied by my youngest baby boy, Jabari, who is already, at 13months living up to his name which means brave. He would have had to been seriously brave to have taken his first steps at 10 months. All three of my children seem to live up to their names, my oldest son Jelani's name means mighty warrior of which he truly exhibits the characterists of, being more like a quiet storm.  As for my  middle child Jahtiba, his father and I sort of squished two names together during what some might call a mediation of the minds 😃, Jah which means God and Atiba which means understanding, hence gods understanding. Believe me my 9 year old Jahtiba wants to understand not only God but everything you can think of. Although there is never a dull moment in our house, as my grandma Annie would say, I am so grateful to be able to be present for…

No Expectations, No Let Downs

I set up this blog since August of 2007. Never once did I write a thing in it. Throughout the years I have been good at starting things and not finishing them. But for the past couple of years I have broken that cycle. I've always loved writing and have kept many journals throughout the years. In High School it was an English teacher named Mr. Wax, he was a tall Caucasian man with lots of hair including a big bushy beard, who told me that I was a great writer. I always thought that I was a great writer, I mean coming from a mother who was a High School English Teacher for 30 years  (she's retired now), I thought I was a natural :-). That all changed when I began to doubt myself and compare myself to the work of others. I started to think, your vocabulary is not that broad, you often make major mistakes with grammar and spelling, who's going to read your corny blog? The committee in my head constantly fired shots that told me I wasn't good enough. Fast forward to 2015,…

Creative Soul

Lately I've been thinking,  I should be doing something more creative, where I get to use my love of music, art and, photography. At work I usually try to write at least one paragraph of my thoughts as they come, not overthinking it just writing what I feel in the moment. They say "Do more of what you Love," creating beautiful things and taking pictures of beautiful places are a few of my favorite things, and of course being a mother has its rewards also. :-) I decided while on my way to work in the  morning, instead of looking like the rest of the folks riding New York City transit with their phones glued to their hands, that I would either 1. Read a book, not from a gadget or computer device, a real live book that you have to actually turn the pages from or , 2. get out the old crossword puzzle books and give my brain a tease, or 3. my favorite get out my hook and yarn a CREATE SOMETHING. It seems as if when I put my yarn down for a while or stop performing any act of …