All of humanity is in the cross-hairs of “Ignorance Snipers.” And so, what can professional educators do?

Donald Trump Test Positive For The Coronavirus… After so many years (K-young adult) of church Sunday school (and forever asking: “what would my mother say about my comments or actions”), I must admit that it worked; for I can’t bring myself to wish ill will on the most evil of persons. But God has mercy even on the wicked. Perhaps, this event will convince his most wicked followers (yes, if you support Trump, you are wickedly supporting an evil racist) to abandon their belief that COVID-19 was a hoax invented by “the deep-state”; and force them to take precautions against getting infected; thus saving themselves from a severe and possibly deadly illness. But as the polls reveal daily, I doubt any event can inoculate them against the power of his immorally contagious driveling.

We all live in the cross-hairs of “Ignorance Snipers.”

These Ignorance Snipers often exist as an extralegal forced imposition on society, or sadly in many places (like 1940’s Germany and modern-day America) as elected national leaders. The Sniper’s talent is in hunting and finding those shallow, base, and empty of empathy places in the human heart and mind. They are necessarily anti-science because science counters their fictional and incomplete explanations of the world, its problems, and its people. Alas, Ignorance Snipers want to keep things simple: The other-than-us is the enemy, they are the cause of your loss of racial privilege, entitlement and the waning ability to jump to the front of the line in any and all human endeavors. The Sniper’s recruits are living contently in insightful, contemplative, and compassionate free zones. Unexposed, underexposed, and free from the richness of intellectual pursuits. There they sit open-targets for the Sniper’s other great weapons of anti-truth and anti-facts; for like science, ‘facts’ and ‘truth’ undermines the Sniper’s explanation of why his followers are suffering and what they must do to end that suffering. His dupes hold on passionately like the last dangerous kicks or clawing of a dying beast, waiting for a coal mine that will never open again or that products company to return to America to pay US salaries that will make their products out of the average US citizen’s financial ability. The Ignorance Sniper’s recruited followers can be driven to such high levels of frothing frenzy that they become capable of the most horrible acts, including supporting The Sniper’s actions that hurt them.

To be honest, over the last four years, I have begun to do something I never thought possible; and that is to doubt the power of education to make people think, act and do right. I’ve always had a (perhaps unreasonable) prejudicial hypothesis; that education is the solution to most of the world’s problems. For example, I somehow believe that if the Ignorant Sniper’s recruits were better educated, they would surely see that their ‘personal-problems’ are not caused by the presence of the ‘other,’ but in reality are connected to larger inefficiencies and unfairness structures embedded in the political, societal, economic, and social inequalities that exist in their nation. They live inside of their social-economic pain and therefore can’t build a wall (even if paid for by Mexico; another falsehood) to separate their suffering from themselves. In fact, Trump’s supporters, and the ‘others’ they are encouraged to despise have more in common by a mutually shared exploitation that seeks to dehumanize and commoditize both of them. But the problem of our species (and thus the problem with my hypothesis) is that academic education without the equal absorption of a moral/ethical education does not prevent the Ignorance Snipers of our world from succeeding.

I eventually get past my frequent doubts about the ‘power of education,’ by remembering that I genuinely believe that with the childhood exposure to a moral/ethical curriculum, a good and sound diverse PreK-12 ‘liberal arts’ education, complete with an extensive world literature and cultural-literacy component, and high STEAM* exposures, are all in conjunction our best chance of thwarting the evil works of those who seek to plant the dangerous seeds of despair in the ‘mind-fields’ of those whose brains are easily tricked by the Ignorance Sniper’s promise of a good and blissful life as the reward for not knowing and not thinking.
As professional educators, we must continue to hope. And maybe this is an irrational hope, but it’s a hope that every professional educator must hold true to and in their hearts, as they carry this promise of a better humanity through educational enlightenment into a school-building every day.

*STEAM=Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

Michael A. Johnson has served as a teacher, principal, and school district superintendent. He is the author of a book on school leadership: Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership: http://majmuse.net/report-to-the-principlas-office-tools-for-building-successful-administrative-leadership/.

Trump and Woodward: This is a pretty amazing home instruction civics lesson-starter…

“Should Bob Woodward have reported Trump’s virus revelations sooner? Here’s how he defends his decision.”*

If you wanted to teach an ‘off-script’ and unauthorized (but true) homeschooling civics lesson on: “What is capitalism?”; well, here is an excellent lesson-starter. (Make sure to tell your child this is for their mind and not the answer they would write on an exam!) And so: In such a brutal and obscene materialist system, the bottom line (is the bottom line), where everything and everybody is reduced to a commodity.

“…Woodward is hardly the first journalist to save juicy information for a book…”

The problem is that COVID-19 is not just a “juicy bit of competitive information” for the book publishing industry or scoop-bait for the news media business. We will never know the number of lives that could have been saved if Woodward would have come forward with this information earlier, and that’s the problem, we will never know. And I’m sorry, but Woodward’s explanation’ for the delay is, at least for me, less than satisfying. I get that no amount of factual information would alter the die-hard Trump supporters’ views, but what about the rest of America? Those non-Trumpian individuals who were legitimately confused about the deadly seriousness of the disease. At what point does one shift as a journalist (if indeed there is a shift), from enabler to co-conspirator?

I would pose two important lesson-questions to students: “Who in this story best represents your views and moral personality?”

(A) Donald Trump, who is willing to sacrifice American lives to win reelection.

(B) The book author who has in their possession critical information that proves that the POTUS was misleading and withholding vital life-saving information from the public. (But by coming forward with this information, you could hurt your book sales).

Or, for an adult workshop:

(C) Not present in the story: That human being who always chooses a call-to-service and people’s well-being over fame and material gain, even when that choice hurts them in every aspect of their lives, and can even cause them to lose their lives.

“Who are you?”

“What are you?”

*https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/should-bob-woodward-have-reported-trumps-virus-revelations-sooner-heres-how-he-defends-his-decision/2020/09/09/6bd7fc32-f2d1-11ea-b796-2dd09962649c_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-high_sullivan-620pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory-ansem>

A commitment to compassion, not supporting meanness or madness, should be the standard for professional educators.

I’ve noticed that some of the not-so-well thought out actions and, in some cases, what I suspect is the flat-out hijacking and sabotage of a very legitimate Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement by right wing agent-provocateurs; is being used as a rational by some of our White brothers and sisters to support and vote for Donald Trump. And sadly, some of those people are present or former professional educators.

There are two reasons I am deeply concerned about the outcome of the November 3 POTUS election. One is that a 10% point lead for Biden is troubling given all that Trump has done (and not done) and said to all Americans. The recent being the terrible and dismissively hurtful words directed at the fallen and wounded military service persons and their families. And so, how on earth, I keep asking myself, is the election so close?
The second reason is connected to the first reason and my opening BLM demonstrations observation. I believe that many White Americans are in a never-ending search to find some ‘excuse’ to vote for Trump. Their moral-hesitancy is probably based on something their parents or their affiliated religious institution taught them as a child about decency, right and wrong. Or, perhaps they are haunted by their childhood history class readings and studying of Nazism (and how Trumpism shares many of the ideas and ideals of fascism).

When facing a decision for protecting the disentitled and disenfranchised as a professional educator, I would always ask myself a question like: “What would Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Howard Thurman do?
As Superintendent of the Albany City School District, I once received a letter from a student. Now, I received large mail bags every day with letters addressed to me, but I tried as best I could to personally read the letters sent from parents, staff persons, and students. This particular letter was sent from a Blind elementary student who wanted to participate in the district’s ‘Readers to Leaders’ program, but his school library did not have enough books written in Braille. I immediately allocated funding for the purchase of both books written in Braille and large print books for those students who were visually impaired. The next day I visited the school to thank the student and inform him that his ‘Readers to Leaders’ books were on the way. I know you are not supposed to say this, but that student became one of my ‘favorites,’ and whenever I visited his school (where he became a ‘celebrity’), I made a special effort to spend time with him. I’ve accumulated hundreds of plaques, citations, and awards, but a picture of that young man and me is one of my most cherished possessions. That student happened to be White. But it never occurred to me that his (and other White students) life did not matter because some White person(s) somewhere in America did something that angered, hurt or offended me.

If one is searching for a reason to be mean, unfair, unjust, or just not caring about another human being’s life, you will not be disappointed. Because every member of our imperfect species will, at some point, disappoint and ‘fall-short.’ If you want to hate and inflict harm on an atheist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, White, Latino, Black, Asian, LGBTQ person, etc., and the criteria is that someone from those groups named above does something ‘bad’ or unwise; then you’re good to go! And good to go for Trump!

Michael A. Johnson has served as a teacher, principal, and a school district superintendent. He also served as an adjunct professor of Science Education in the School of Education at St. John’s University. He is the author of a book on school leadership: Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership (http://majmuse.net/report-to-the-principlas-office-tools-for-building-successful-administrative-leadership/ ).

For those seeking to re-elect Trump, any excuse will do.

Pauline Johnson: “Son, there is no right way to do wrong!”

As a NYC school principal and superintendent, I always lived in the same community where my students lived (literally next door and across the street). I love, love, love Brooklyn, but once I was appointed a Southeast Queens Superintendent, I moved to Southeast Queens. I also left my baptismal Brooklyn church to attend a church in Southeast Queens. Did students and parents come to my house, stop me everywhere, and at any time, to ask a question or seek assistance with a problem? Absolutely! But so what? I chose a servant-leader’s life, so you must suffer graciously with whatever comes with that title. It was important for me to not hide from the people I serve, and to experience the same living conditions my students and their families experienced. Those shared experiences were not always pleasant, like inadequate shopping options, particularly in the area of fresh food; or suffering daily indignities like being pulled over by the police because according to them: “We saw an expensive car in ‘this’ neighborhood, and we thought it might have been stolen!”

Once I was robbed at gunpoint by a young Black man, and I was actually more upset then scared. I tried to engage the young fellow in a dialogue (I know it sounds crazy). I explained to him that if he were willing to come to my school (without the gun, of course) tomorrow, I would do everything in my power to get him a job and some kind of job-training help to get him off the self-destructive path he was on. Once he got over the initial shock of my offer, he reminded me using words I won’t repeat that (my translation): (A) He had a gun, and (B) He stopped me for my wallet, not a principal mentoring session.
And so now back to those ‘undercover’ Trump voters, some masquerading as ‘independents’ and ‘undecideds'(really, undecided on decency, compassion kindness, and justice for all?).
I was, of course, personally upset and even angry by being robbed, but it never occurred to me to want to hurt young Black men; if anything, my unfortunate incident caused me to double-down in my efforts and commitment to save as many young people as possible. I don’t believe that any child is born a criminal. In fact, it is ‘us,’ a dismissive society, and ineffectual public school systems that drive children to lose their way and purpose in the world.

Love always responds correctly to the other’s suffering, even when it is expressed in ways that we don’t like. If your translation of: “We want to be treated like human beings by the police.” Is “You hate the police!“; then you don’t believe that Black and Latino people should be treated like human beings by the police. My mother always taught me that terrible life events don’t turn you into something that you are not; instead, they reveal who you truly are. So, there is never a good reason to mistreat another human being (“there is no right way to do wrong! she would say.”). Any Americans who will use the unfortunate events occurring in places like Wisconsin to vote for Donald Trump are at heart ‘Trump voters’ and are waiting for any chance to support him. Unfortunately, the Black Lives Matter Movement has been in some places hijacked by Black and White leftist-nihilist-adventurist (simply lacking in revolutionary discipline), who like their right-wing “opponents’ don’t care anything about Black lives. When the “Left” and “Right” go far enough in the opposite direction, they actually meet and find a convenient convergence of interest (see Grenada invasion, Cambodia Khmer Rouge). To be honest, there are a lot of US ‘left-progressives’ (who have a steady/decent income, good health insurance, and their children receive ‘white-entitlement level’ quality education), who actually want Trump to be reelected because they are working under a flawed ideological concept that if the suffering of ‘the people’ is dramatically increased, ‘the people’ will then become more ‘radicalized’; no, ‘the people’ will only suffer and die more.
If white America has taught us anything over the last four years, it’s that the old and tired Marxist hypothesis that suffering raises consciousness is a flawed experiment. Coal mines have not reopened; factories have not returned from places like Mexico; the white working class is hurting badly (as Trump also works hard to take away any hope of them having healthcare); and a substantial number of white Americans are dying and suffering in some way under Trump’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 health crisis. And so, why do they still support him? I’ve told anyone who will listen for the last four years, it’s not a matter of Trump’s poll numbers being ‘low’; the question is, based on his performance, why are his poll numbers so high? Trump is a bigot and racist. Anyone supporting and voting for him (including the Republican Convention black minstrel show performers)supports bigotry and racism. Me, on the other hand, I’m just out here working to end the conditions that cause young people to want to rob you’ll!

The Educational Problem With the Kente Cloth Performance.

As a former principal, I fully appreciate the power of positive symbols. And so, I am not questioning the sincerity (hearts) of our Kente adorned politicians, or even their right to wear the attire of any one of the many American beautiful collage of cultural attires, some representing groups who are daily disrespected and denigrated by the present occupant of 1600 Black Lives Matter Way. My concern with the recent ‘Kente wearing performance’ is that it is tragically symptomatic of what always happens in public education, where rhetoric, form, and appearances are offered to the Black community, in place of real educational learning quality substance and authentic change for the children of that community.

Recently in NYC a great deal of ‘storm and drama’ was created by the introduction of that politically hot trigger word, ‘integration’. And unfortunately, NYC’s Asian students (and their communities) were unfairly maligned and castigated for doing nothing wrong except following the rules and conditions that were established in the past and were actually created to help white students and not Asian students gain access to the then 3 academic specialized high schools!

I along with several others informed whoever would listen that in reality, the NYCDOE had complete (total) control over the admissions policies of the majority of ‘specialized high schools’ in the city, as well as the many specialized high school programs (inside of schools), and those high schools with a special admissions process. The NYCDOE could have enacted major, sweeping, dramatic and profound access changes (for Black and Latino children) at 10X the population of the three specialized high schools that formed the center of the integration controversy; and this could have been done without seeking the permission of any state or local legislature (or emotionally beating up on Asian students).
And further, the NYCDOE has the authority to redesign a present high school or design a brand new school that could then essentially become: a Brooklyn Technical High School #2, Bronx Science H.S. #2 or Stuyvesant High School #2; and no legislative body can stop the NYCDOE from doing this.

The best-ignored solution, of course, is to ‘integrate’ great school leaders, quality instructional practices, adequate materials, supplies and equipment, and high expectations and efficacy into any school a Black or Latino child attended; thus properly preparing them for the SHSAT or any standardized exam they will face in life.

In terms of that important ‘Integration’ ‘pipe-line’ to gain access to a high performing high school, also known as K-8 gifted and talented programs. We proved in (2000-2003) Community School District 29 Queens (CSD29Q); that there is no legal or regulatory ‘cap’ on the number of gifted and talented programs that can exist in a local school district (e.g. NYCDOE). In CSD29Q we placed (without consulting the central board) additional G&T programs in a geographical and performance cross-section of schools in the district, thus giving more students who were on and above academic grade and performance levels the ability to receive the rigorous and challenging academic work that met their needs. It is my hope, that out of a very tragic situation for the Floyd family, a legacy of a national and local political action hunger will grow for the realization of serious and not superficial change.

I think the common cry theme we are hearing from all over this nation and the world; is that people want real change, not symbolic gestures. It’s been a ‘nice ride’ for a Democratic Party whose, let’s just be honest, total credibility and legitimacy with Black people is wholly dependent on the Republican Party performing (‘acting the fool’) in the role of first-class bigots and racist; but, that’s not a sound long-term organizing and mobilizing strategy.

Further, the “just vote your troubles away” Black leaders have taken some serious (but not fatal) hits as of late. For example: Black New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted in a ‘northern liberal’ city, for an alleged ‘progressive’ mayor; and yet clearly the NYC police department is not properly operating under civilian control and seems to be immune (inoculated by the various police unions), from adopting any of the modern enlightened and effective policing methods. We only need to look at the Philippines to see what results from a para-military police force not being under civilian and judicial control.

I suspect that the Republican’s racist and bigotry posture won’t change even if Trump is removed. Full disclosure: I’m voting not so much for Biden, but to remove a serious existential threat to the well-being and safety of many citizens in this nation and the world. But I am only one vote, and if I were the Democratic National Committee (DNC) I would be careful and concerned for that day when the Republican bigotry ‘pass’ alone won’t grant the DNC access to the ‘collective black cookout’.

The DNC better start thinking about some real and substantial change actions (not Republican lite projects) quickly. Don’t just show-up but show-out with some meaningful generational improvement economic and educational* change initiatives. And importantly, don’t keep believing that you can also just show-up, year-after-year thinking you’ll get into the collective black cookout by simply wearing Ghanaian, Kenyan, Nigerian, Senegalese, Egyptian, etc. outerwear. I think Black people are beginning to say: “Come real or don’t come at all!”

*would require that the DNC end their unquestioning and unprincipled alliance with teacher’s unions!

Pardon me, but I just want the Black citizens of this nation to think about something, for a moment…

I know everyone is focused right now (and rightfully so) on the discriminatory and excessive behaviors of many of our nations police forces; as well as the ability of any white American citizen to deputize themselves and call for a ‘death sentence’ to be inflicted on any Black person they encounter; Black people who could be doing anything from mowing their own lawn, bird watching or delivering (in uniform) a UPS package. With those very pressing day-to-day: “Don’t know if I or my child will live to see the end of the day!” thoughts weighing on our individual and collective minds. And, on top of that having a proto-fascist, unhinged, mocker of Christianity US president; who quite frankly large numbers of our fellow white citizens think is doing a good job or is ok except for perhaps the way he expresses his racism and bigotry, but not how he practices it. I get it, you Black America have a lot of things on your mind. But please indulge this Black senior citizen educator to engage in my 40 year-long rant (as a form of self-healing Covid-19 quarantine psychotherapy.)

I want you to just take a moment to think about something. With the full racist character of our nation being explicitly exposed, not created by Trump (he is a conductor, not an inventor); and how that culture of racism permeates every aspect of our national life including deadly discriminatory treatment during a health crisis. Please, think about this.
Now I know from experience that this is not a ‘politically-sexy’ topic. But if you could think for a moment, as to how racism defines how Black children are received, perceived, and treated in our US public school systems… And who (if not us) is going to protect, defend and save them? I’m just asking you to think about it. (But then, at some point of course, I really want you to do something about it!) Granted, many of the destroyers of Black children’s gifts, talents, and dreams, look like the children they pretend to serve; well we need to do something about them also!

Rebels With a Cause … Public Education, a Cause in Need of More Rebels.

After observing, as a principal and superintendent, countless numbers of world and US history classroom lessons, one of my key take-aways is that power exists in the power of definition. The American Revolutionary War is not a 1775 violation of the sovereign law and order of the British nation; instead, it’s now defined as a righteous and just struggle. I could imagine some London newspaper columnist proclaiming: “My word, those British (subjects) colonial ingrates are destroying their ‘own’ colony!” The violence of the American Revolution was initiated only after many peaceful and lawful unsuccessful protestations that were made to (and ignored by) the British Government. To put it in a modern context, the colonist took a non-violent plea for justice knee during a professional football game; and then the act was ignored, scorned, and banned by the NFL.
The ‘bad acting exploiter’ always seeks to ‘flip-the-narrative’, such that the causes for any Righteous Rebellion are ignored and downplayed, in the effort to demonize and marginalize those who have taken up the cause of Rebellion.

Staying with Historiography…

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. And so, now in the spring of 2020, the ‘primary-concern’ is about African-Americans “destroying their ‘own’ neighborhoods”, and not why African-Americans don’t own (like other Americans) the neighborhoods where they are the numerical majority. And by “own” I mean having the political capacity, leverage, and power to truly receive: Professional (and real) protect and serve treatment from their police departments. Not being the last on the list of the least, in receiving quality healthcare services (pre and present pandemic), that is commensurate with living in one of the most powerful and richest nations on the planet. (And my personal disappointment) Having public school systems that leaves their children under-prepared, their gifts and talents undiscovered and undeveloped, as these public schools also damage their children’s hopeful future aspirations. And yet these same school systems are amazingly efficient in preparing Black children for social-psychological destruction, and prisons. And to be painfully honest there are many Black and Latino ‘leaders’ who represent and reinforce this system of political Black child educational dis-ownership by the larger society.

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was not a document that affirmed the humanity and human rights of those 1800’s Africans being held in cruel and inhuman captivity. And if we are to be truly honest, the Emancipation Proclamation was not a morally courageous act, it was in fact a strategic military tactic. It’s true underlying message to Black US enslaved persons was that: “We don’t care about you, and you are on your own!” In the last presidential election (and as the present normalization of ‘Trump-culture’ confirms and continues), America sent a similar message: “African-Americans, we don’t care about you; and you are on your own!” The question is then: “When will we take ownership of our ‘own’ correct readings of these two very clear messages?”

There will always be some significant number of white Americans who driven by politics, morality, decency, conscious or spiritually; who will step-up and step-into the idea of wanting to live in a nation that truly practices liberty, justice, and freedom for all. Freedom, however, can’t be subcontracted out or based on any form of ‘good-hearted’ reparations; the people who are to be freed must take ownership of their own ‘freeing’ process.
But our sitting idle, year after year, watching and waiting for public schools to make Black students competitively competent (and express shock when these children are not); and this after so many (Asa Hilliard, John Henrik Clarke, Lorraine Monroe, et al.) have warned Black America that our public school systems ‘are working’, by not working for large numbers of the ‘American Dream’ disinherited student populations.
Therefore, not fighting for the educational empowerment of Black children (all, not just the ones living in your house); means that we are in essence burning down and destroying our own, and their future possibilities.

I think I am developing Covid-19 quarantine ‘grouchiness syndrome’…

Symptoms: shortness of patience, low-tolerance for Bulls&%$, a propensity to just call things what they are, the inability to suffer quietly; and don’t give a D#&@ what people think! I am going to check-in with my former students in the medical profession to get a proper diagnosis!

34.5 Million, I’m sorry I really can’t…

“Shaun King Keeps Raising Money, and Questions About Where It Goes..”*—The Daily Beast

Note: The Daily Beast is not a right-wing rag; and in fact, I found the article well-researched, fair, and balanced; and offered Mr. King more than (the usual) ample opportunity to provide counter and clarifying narratives and explanations for the many charges leveled against him.

I don’t know if it’s the result of a quarantined life-style or just some naturally age-time acquired “crankiness” (or a combination of the two); but I find that I am losing what little mental-space-patience I had for foolishness. I am so sick of the black traffickers in Black pain and misery industry. Who I believe secretly want a Trump reelection because they have turned Black suffering into a marketable commodity. The other reason is that they are personally financially capable and secure (also having good health insurance) to make it through 4 more years of Trump; meanwhile, a large number of Black folks (especially children) and many of Trump’s targeted for destruction ‘others’ won’t survive or will survive irreversibly broken after 4 more years of his and the GOP’s rule.

I know, I have been told on many occasions throughout my life that I can’t say many of the things I say because: “White people will hear/see it!” (Like ‘white people’ don’t know that public education systems are tragically not meeting the needs of the majority of Black children!) And further, count it as either a strength or weakness, to be honest, my work efforts (no disrespect) don’t take into account what ‘white people’ see, think, or feel about the efficacy or direction of my work. But if I am to step further into honesty, much of the best support I have received over the years (up to today) has come from ‘white people’. I will never stop praising the courage and vision of the late Dr. Donald Scherl (Former President; SUNY Downstate Medical Center), who in the face of a lot of opposition, allowed people like Dr. Gerald Deas, George Leonard, Tiffany Harrison and myself to essentially turn a medical school into a dynamic summer medical science learning program for middle and high school Black and Latino students.

34.5 million!

I am thinking of all of the wonderful public school teachers and administrators who annually ‘donate’ to an unofficial ‘school supplies, materials, and helping students and their families support tax’ out of their own pockets; monies that will never end up as donations on anybody’s IRS tax forms.

If these woken and much spoken on radio, print and cable TV people, who make a career out of Black people’s suffering taught some Black children (other than their own) how to read, bought them a microscope or a computer and then taught them how to use it, and then helped those same young people to master algebra, and thereby unlocking and opening wide the ‘gate’ to a future STEM career; I could half-way respect them, but all of this only ‘telling white folks off’ mess, I find tiring. I was so proud to see Brooklyn’s Concord Baptist Church actually ‘do something’ substantially significant (Paying off $4 Million dollars of Medical Bills Amid the Coronavirus crisis) to relieve the Covid-19 suffering of our people; but if they wanted more ‘news-media-time’ for their wonderful efforts they probably would have done better to have a press conference and call Joe Biden names!

And this is why in my view, that great supporter of education, scholarship awarder, and a builder of schools LeBron James, is statistics and ‘GOAT’ documentaries notwithstanding, one of the greatest celebrities of all time!

*https://www.thedailybeast.com/shaun-king-keeps-raising-money-and-questions-about-where-it-goes-3?fbclid=IwAR3ovD3Du2abtEX-JKZPa7L3uD8emKDBEkgbZjVRrqzU0ZJdCr-mdsFsXgA

Why I think this idea of Black people being ‘tricked’ by the DNC into voting for Democratic candidates is dismissive and disrespectful.

(Full Disclosure) I have spent a great deal of my adult-professional life discovering and uncovering the inherent gifts, talents, and immense creative intelligences of Black children. I never did and never will believe that Black children, (and by extension Black adults) are in any way academically ‘naturally inferior’ to any other people on the planet; and I include capabilities in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Any so-called K-12 Black related ‘achievement gaps’, ‘academic under-performance’ or poor standardized test results; are all purposely and artificially created and crafted by public school systems that don’t honor and respect the right of Black students to receive a quality education, when that honor and right interferes with the rights and benefits of adults who work in public education.
I get it, it’s politically more convenient and safe to blame the ‘under-performance’ of Black students on standardized exams by saying the test themselves are racist; when the truth is that not preparing Black students to perform well on standardized exams is the real racism!

Unfortunately, this low to no expectations of Black students is extended and attached to their adulthood, and sadly this ‘down-grading’ of Black American thinking ability is now being pushed by ‘black-celebrity-talkers’ under the guise of ‘wokeness thinking’.
I was physically in many southern states that voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden During the recent Democratic primary.
In Alabama in particular I did not see any indication (I’m talking a post-card, flyer, campaign office, church fan, a person walking around in a sandwich sign, billboard, lawn sign, etc.) of a “Biden for President” promotional effort. What I think occurred was not an act of DNC ‘strategic-brainwashing’, instead the Black voters in Alabama and other states exercised their ‘mother-wit’, intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge (much of which gained through personal experience) of American racism, prejudice, and bigotry. Black voters are the most strategically smart voters in the US. And so, this is why they have and will support Joe Biden; wealthy celebrity militants notwithstanding:

(1) They don’t believe the polls and estimate that Trump’s positive poll numbers are closer to 50%+ of white American voters. And,

(2) When you combine those numbers with Black voter suppression, intimidation and ‘misdirection’ efforts, his numbers become even more potentially dangerous.

(3) They also don’t believe that Trump’s horrible response and performance in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic; as well as his immoral, corrupt, and incompetent leadership will necessarily deter large numbers of white American voters from seeking to return him to office; and that’s because of his ‘pact’ with white supremacist ideas and policies.

(4) Black voters correctly I believe, hypothesize that poor working and unemployed white Americans, who continue to vote their fears and prejudices; and not their economic interest, did not receive the type of quality education that would allow them (and many other Americans for that matter) to effectively distinguish between a ‘communist’, ‘socialist’ and a ‘democratic socialist’(and thus the no Black vote for Bernie Sanders).

(5) And following the historical ‘prejudice rationale’; Black voters believe that there is an ideological link that binds a significant number US white citizens to embrace both anti-Jewish and anti-Black feelings (another reason why Black voters believe that a significant number of white US voters won’t vote for Bernie Sanders)

Nowhere I visited in the south during the Democratic Primary did I witness any: “Boy, do we love Joe!” private or group energy (or even the discussion of the same). My sense was the decision to vote for Biden was a calculated move based on the above-mentioned variables. The outcome Black voters desired was not crafted by some magically presented plan by the DNC (really, come on folks the DNC?) This was simply Black voters voting their existential survival interest. “Who” they ask unemotionally, “can defeat the ‘every word out of his mouth’ is (and never apologizing for it) racist and bigoted Donald Trump!”

Black leaders should stop denigrating the people they purport to represent. Black voters have essentially designed a ‘hierarchy of people who don’t care about us and will actively seek to hurt us’; and right now the racist Trupublicans are at the top of the list; that could change (it has in the past—study US history!)

What is needed is a Black leadership that is not waiting for the never-enough few crumbs to feed Black people that fall from either the Republican or Democratic Party tables. We need independent projects and programs that can create in those things and areas we can control; the kind of efforts that would produce educational and economic generational progress leaps!
And there is no freedom worth having that could be granted (and therefore taken back) by our giving our votes to any political party or person; we need to create our own freedom!

In my Principal Johnson voice: “Stay Focused!” … In my Al Green voice: “Let’s Stay Together!”

Now all of you’ll can front if you want; but I am just going to be honest here and admit that Joe Biden’s comments on “Black Trump Voters”, is a thought that enters my mind every time I hear a black person extol the virtues of or speak of supporting the policies of Donald Trump. I mentally cringe and disinvite these individuals from Blackhood! In fact, Biden’s comments were much more PC then my own. And please (step back from the keyboard) spare me the “everybody can vote for whomever they want lecture”; these are only my thoughts and I am very familiar with the US civics syllabus; and so unlike Republicans, I am not engaging in the suppression of any voters, including black people who want to vote for Trump.

However, if I were advising Mr. Biden I would share with him an admonition I have given students who were sent to my office because of some inappropriate and ‘off-task’ comment they made in a classroom. I tell those students the following: “You know that you are under no obligation to share with the world an idea, just because it came into your head!” And further, “The truth is not always sacred, and in any event, even that which we call and agree to be ‘the truth’ must be properly managed by wisdom!” (And in this particular case Mr. Biden (who is white) should probably not take on the extremely difficult and perhaps impossible task of determining the ‘degrees of righteous blackness’)

But beyond Black voters, I also raise similar questions about any Americans who have supported or will support Donald Trump, like:

• Any working poor and not-working white American.
• Any middle-class or not rich white American.
• Any American without health insurance.
• Any American hurt(ing) by Trump’s ‘bungling’ of the Covid-19 crisis.
• Any Latino American.
• Any Buddhist American.
• Any Asian American.
• Any Liberal American.
• Any Jewish American.
• Any American Woman.
• Any American who at some point in their lives read a book.
• Any Native American
• Any Sikh American
• Any Conservative American.
• Any Muslim American.
• Any LGBTQ American.
• Any Christian American.
• Any Progressive American.
• Any Hindu American
• Any American who remotely cares about the well-being of our environment.
• Any American (especially educators) who care about the well-being of children.
• Any American who in any small way believes that they are a decent human being.

How could any of the above Americans in good conscience, support a POTUS who is so lacking in competence, compassion, and decency?

I am going to follow one of my favorite principal sayings of: “Stay Focused”; and we should all follow Al Green’s advice of “Staying Together” and voting out the: unfit for office, ignorant, racist, and bigoted excuse for a human being—Donald Trump; who I believe presents a grave danger to the peace and survival for all of America and the world. I harbor no illusions about the faux ‘opposition party’ DNC. I am not marrying Joe Biden (I think of it as temporarily dating), I am voting for him. And although I have a personal preference; and there is something I like ‘electability wise’ about each of his potential VP candidates; to be honest, I don’t care if he selects the Bride of Frankenstein as his VP; I am still voting for Joe Biden!

Those of us who have spent most of our adult lives in public education (especially Title-1 schools) know that it is extremely rare when we can choose between the ‘perfectly-perfect’ and the ‘perfectly-imperfect’, and to borrow from my ELA colleagues most of the time we are in “Catcher in the Rye” mode; where we are trying to save as many kids as is humanly possible. It would be easy from my position of privilege (decent civil service retirement income, a nice home, great health insurance, stocks, and savings, etc.) to not care who is president; but I am not voting so much for Joe Biden, but rather for all of those Americans who are less privileged and are now suffering horribly; it is for them that I will be voting for Joe Biden; and I really wish the folks running his campaign would get that!