Perspectives on the P-attitudes

When I first started working with teachers–20 years ago–I had only been in the classroom myself, as a teacher, for about five years.

The gall of me to think that I could be an “expert” at the midpoint of a decade in the front of a room!

But, I did have authority and perhaps expertise that had been invisible and/or undervalued in the school. My life as a Black student and a Black teacher and a learner of science–that content which finally had been valued–had not been a crystal stair but I could feel the pressure of my ascension.

Years later, I would train teachers using PRODUCTS

PROMOTED as frameworks

Based on research PROGRAMS

Built on best PRACTICES…

I used the language of research based products and programs to reinforce their practices.

I established and shared classroom norms and expectations with my students rather than any rules on the way to forming a community…I believed in the practices being promoted as programs being packaged as products

UNTIL I realized the dangerous entitlements of capitalism creeping into the/my ways…

Had I lost my vision for a new attitude–a P-attitude–in the classroom where voice and reason, and collaboration and community were equally valuable as success narratives defined within a system made for girls (and children) who didn’t look like me? Even the boys of all shades and experiences struggled in this system of rows and columns, raised hands and silent reading, books and worksheets instead of playful engagement with new and old things…

My P-attitudes:

To be POSITIVE because optimism just feels better than despair

To be PENSIVE because being thoughtful and considerate promotes relationship over pride

To be PERSONAL because exhibitionism creates an environment where those who are depraved may be tempted to steal or manipulate rather than simply admire

To be PREPARED because when you are ready for what happens next means you are ready for what happens later

To be PURPOSEFUL because mindfulness leads to achievement and maybe even mastery, for in it–purpose–there is vision that converts ideas into revelation…


I am grateful that I have a sister and a man and a child who believe in me enough to share their lives and thoughts with me. It builds me up so that I can build others…Wooooo sahhhhhh

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In the face of…

african-american-woman-face-profile-vector-1141140The work of Black Women in STEM has never been in one vein.

Applied to who we are as mothers








Hustle and flow

our lifeline is our work applied…

We wake up woke, knowing we are rising out of the margins.

Black women

Sisters, daughters, mothers, friends, and

lovers of life

longing to be

EMBRACED by the fields in which we sow…

Allowing our hustle to flow…

Because we know

Without us, truth cannot sojourn

Remembering to declare

Aint I A Woman!

As our feet hit the cold floor because the glass ceilings are out of reach

We dance like no one is watching as we create new space

To be extreme.

Reminding ourselves to love our selves as we become

miracle working

water walkers

in the face of


Like Wangari Maatthai–founder of the Greenbelt Movement who used her life and understanding of mothers and sons, earth and water, love and war to bring change and promote peace in war-torn Kenya. She won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2004 but changed the perspectives of many by being the first woman in Eastern or Central Africa to earn a doctorate. She taught women to remain rooted and plant trees restoring quality life and policy…Dr. Wangari Maathai was extreme.

Reminding ourselves to love our selves as we become

miracle working

water walkers

in the face of

Economic Invisibility

Like Lisa D. Cook, an economist from Michigan who uses mathematical models to understand the economy and industry of inventiveness. Crafted out of the discipline and history of ancient genius, Dr. Cook is doing the social and natural and mathematical, all logical calculus to explain each slice under the curve of oppression that dominates black entrepreneurs.

Reminding ourselves to love our selves as we become

miracle working

water walkers

in the face of

Incarcerated Youth

Like Joya Clark, an educator from Newark, New Jersey  who uses her work with incarcerated youth to change teacher training programs. Reminding traditional and established schooling environments to consider the needs of those who serve students on the margins. She travels around the state gathering resources to teach physics and trigonometry to her children so they can re-imagine life beyond brick cities and mortared graves.

Reminding ourselves to love our selves as we become

miracle working

water walkers

in the face of

Hunger & Food In-security

Like Ashante Reese, sociology and anthropology professor in the AUC, who studies issues of race at the intersection of food, nutrition and health.

in the face of

Academic Isolation

Like Ruha Benjamin, professor of African American who studies in New Jersey investigating the S, the T, the M: medicine, while working to empower women of color to keep their hearts, bodies and spirits healthy by staying knit together.

in the face of

Digital divides

Like Nettrice Gaskins, an artist from Baltimore, who talks about growing up in a world of COBOL & FORTRAN learning from her mother the craft of computer programs. This daughter is building new legacies of technology and creative expression.

in the face of

Bi-vocational living

Like my own sisters and friends, a preacher-teacher, an engineer-coach, and a family care giver. Moving from work to work in order to live life-long dreams and live out God-inspired purposes. PhDs who leave the academy to care for ailing parents instead of beat the research-paved path of financial security and prestige.

in the face of

Poverty, inequality, reproductive health injustice, poor educational opportunities, mounting burdens from student debt, climate-induced disaster, cryptocurrency failure, crumbling neighborhood infrastructures and

any of many crises that Black & brown women face on a daily…

Say their names!

Black Woman BE


Use science to tell our stories, use technology to tell our stories, use engineering to tell our stories, use art to tell our stories, use math to tell our stories…

These are our selves. Our science self, our tech self, our design self, our math self, our art self, our problemed self, our solved self…



What’s the work? They’re doing it. We’re doing it…on the regular. Shining light and being salt. Adding flavor, because we can.

Our arteries are clogged and constricted by a life-long diet of oppression and discrimination

Swallowing our pain like



Putting band aids instead of salve on our wounds not giving ourselves time to heal or be healed

Rape culture and politics within and outside of our homes, churches, communities…

We are the Ruths working.

Be EXTREME Black Woman. White  Woman. Brown Woman. All Men.

There really are no self-evident truths

So I remind you

Your self is worth the struggle…



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My Commitments

Thoughts on my diversity statement…


How does it feel to be a problem? This is a 120-year old question that has new meaning in this century. In four generations since it was first posed by W.E.B. DuBois, the tension between the double consciousness of non-White folks (sic) and the souls of Black folks has been negotiated like a tight rope, debated and extended to numerous others based on political climate, economic vitality, and social status in the United States: the common denominator often being the context of the United States of America. My identity has shaped my life and beliefs: I navigate life as a Black, cis-gender female science student and teacher, practicing Christocentric thinker, a sister, a twin, a daughter, a friend and a mother, raised, living and working in an urban community.

Borrowing from ‘diversity in the workplace’ models and health/education industry standards for diversity statements, I commit to:

  • Inclusion in the classroom at every level
      • Humanity will be positioned as the primary authority of experiences that are held in common, shared or unknown to members of our learning community
      • Ability, perceived or enacted, will not exclude or exempt anyone from being invited to be a part of our learning community
  • Acceptance of human diversity as a basis for celebration
      • Cultural appropriation is a violation of human trusts but an inevitable outcome of limited exposure to others, I will commit to thoughtful use of others’ micro- and macro- cultural artifacts
      • Tolerance is the lower limit of social calculus. I will commit to accepting others’ ways of being and make decisions about how I govern myself in consideration of others
  • Respectful communication that is honest and contemplative
      • As a human enterprise reflective of our needs to be connected, I will seek to be clear in my communication with others and clarify my thoughts by asking questions or challenging misconceptions
      • Being honest in communication requires questions to be used as tools recognizing that for the questioned, the risk is often greater. I will be conscious of others’ responses to questions
  • Humility in practice
      • I will commit to saying please and thank you, sorry or nothing, giving others a chance to process just as I will.
      • I will commit to my right to say ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘not at this time’
      • Humility places us in a teachable posture at a teachable moment…that doesn’t make you weak or docile.
  • A life of heutagogical intent to understand human systems and structures
    • I will seek understanding of problems in a variety of ways using a variety of resources
    • I will hold myself accountable to my own quests for understanding

Kujichagalia means self-determination. It is the second principle of Kwanzaa, second to umoja (unity). I commit to living a principle-filled life based on mind-full, spiritual and physical discipline. This is who I am.

In response to the request to share a statement on my ‘contribution to diversity’ this is what and how I present…

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Dear White People

always lead to
At least they are coming to the table. Thank you for being ready to receive the meal.

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What I Learn From Weeds


Weeds have complicated systems of intertwined roots that wrap around the hearty and reveal their fruit and seeds in due time but freely


One cluster may be plucked up but there are so many more already seeded fronts lurking to burst from their underground hiding places

To grow in spite of contempt

I really don’t like crabgrass. It steals from its environment so I pick it…everyday…in the morning and after the sun’s heat is more tolerable in the evening. Yes, there are bare patches left in the soil by my efforts. Tomorrow though, there will be more to remove.

To seek water on rainy days because drought conditions are imminent

Somehow, these plants are always supple and healthy looking when left unpoisoned by foreign sprays…

There are a diversity of them and there will usually be more of them in a lawn than the lawn standard beauty

Kinds with flowers, others with hair, some are sticky or have mythological lore attached to their thrice-divided petals, some are red though most are green but all take over

Extending yourself will help you find ways to stick and stay

The things we exude are an [r]evolutionary gift by nature designed to help us survive, even on the tips of our long extended branches we can produce and be productive

BUT, if you over-extend and reach too far from your roots, you are easily plucked up

Be careful though to stay balanced. Extend all the way around and dig deep

Most others have learned to live with weeds in their yard…

I have 300 more days before next summer to just get it over it!

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Victorious loss

Not every loss is a reason to feel sad but all are opportunities to accept challenge…

Those left when the last buzzer sounds and a game well played results in the L-column check are left needing to huddle in spite of disappointment, not regret, hopeful that this will be the last loss for a while…hopefully.




Determined to




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EqSTrEAMer: Happy New Year!

What is my agenda…my motivation…my inspiration for this year? Why do I do what I do? What do I want to accomplish for myself this year? How do I move the souls on the margin toward the center without decentralizing who they are at their core?EqSTREAM(1)

The feeling most of us have between December 25th and January 1st…

Of grateful sadness

And silent regret

That we are out of time but want to take advantage of the clearinghouses and giveaways at stores and in family refrigerators…yeah, that is what I am feeling.

What are my goals for the upcoming year? Not the calendar year but the school year, only days from turning the dog days of summer into my daily grind. Having to hustle and flow instead of gracefully sauntering into my own bump and groove…sigh…I sit reflecting with two more books on my list to read before the clock strikes 5…A.M…the time when I reset the alarm to jump start another day.

This year, I want to have Eq-STrEAM educational responses to the disappointment of failure in schools. So how do I define school failure…and trust, these are the failures of the schools and not its students, even though the record rarely sings that song:

  1. Failure 1: Teacher bullying students that comes from administrative bullying of teachers that usually comes from parents bullying leaders (hurt people, hurt people): unrealistic and unclear expectations create a chattel system of abuse. Remember that.
  2. Failure 2: Poor representation (invisibility, silencing, stage-hogging, fetishizing, gazing, stereotyping): difference is a cause for celebration but boundaries must be in-place as equalizing forces. Establish norms.
  3. Failure 3: Overemphasis on grading (success comes in more than one flavor): differentiating instruction is not only about giving students the option to write a poem to share their thoughts, especially if writing the poem does not qualify for earning the highest grade. Grades are usually subjective, even when using an “objective” rubric. Value what students bring, what students do, who students are. All of it counts.
  4. Failure 4: Ignoring life’s traumas is a microaggressive tool (we don’t all have the same timeline or roadmap): don’t act like life is easy or the same.  Sometimes I may need a pencil or a little grace extended (without public broadcast). Facilitate the challenge of navigating the complexities of life by simply realizing that you (or someone you know) have been/will be there at some point, if only for a moment.

So what does it mean to have an Eq-STrEAMer?

  • Position EQUITY in front of the content. Forget about being “fair”
  • STEM agency is a moral imperative. Creating producers of knowledge who transcend their consumerist habits is a necessary responsibility of teachers.
  • The “r” is intentionally small because, well, it is just that big! It is lower case in the traditions of bell hooks…it shares authority and reduces hierarchy.
    • READ as much as you can in genres of interest to your students. Comics, graphic novels, young adult fiction and nonfiction.
    • wRITE your thoughts and share them with authentic audiences.
    • RIGHT wrongs in the canons of information that exist. Give credit to under-valued others that have contributed insights.
    • RESEARCH the sociology of your field…in my case science education. Sociology is a field of expertise that is interdisciplinary and connects the questions we have about how humans are to how humans be. Learning to confirm, extend and refine others’ work is a skill that should not be treated as a lost art.
    • RE-PRESENT multiple voices and perspectives in the class. On your syllabus and as decorum in the classroom environment, challenge yourself to include and integrate the issues and biographies of a diversity of actors–people doing stuff. Re-present the classics using paired texts and alternative texts. Represent marginalized students in public fora and private conversations with colleagues. Ask permission to share students’ work when they are hiding their brilliance behind the shade cast by dominating forces in the classroom and school.
  • ART, like science, is a human enterprise. Creative and artistic designs serve so many cathartic purposes. Embrace it. Art is a pathway into authenticity like nothing else. It liberates captive thoughts and finds order in chaos…even if only for its creator. Art, precisely because it is human, makes more relevant, more meaningful, more important, the natural and synthesized worlds. Art is media and its messaging. Use it skillfully, because you can.

These are the EDUCATIONAL RESPONSES that I think we should all adopt…

As teachers…

As social reproducers…

As innovators…

Wait. What is the difference between having and being? How can we have “whiteness” and not be “white”? Ok…I will save that for another day.

Happy New Year!

EqSTREAM Ed Research Agenda


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