Patterns & Signs: On killing old trees

Sunlight through branches of an old tree

Earth Day was the reminder that I have been here for four years, only four years, although these days, weeks feel like months so years feel like an eternity.

When I first saw her, I thought “wow…she’s old!” Her roots, sprawling across the yard were providing stability for her wide bottom, securing her future even though her fruit were slow to reveal themselves and her many branches were unsteady. Yet, I was in awe of her.

The inspector pointed out that she would have to be cut, on one side you could see how she was threatening my own protection, our house/his future wealth, my right-then investment. Her roots were cracking the foundation just outside my door. Her far reaching trunk was hampering the sun’s light, starving smaller, younger life beneath her.

In the tumult of several rainy days, branches snapped, limbs scraped the rooftop and weedy grass revealed the persistent gasp her roots now made to stake the soil and hold on.

Like this moment, I decided to take the old and beautiful thing down. No real memorial just a single picture of her…along with the promise that I will plant more in place of her. I will be thoughtful about the sure history that will come later–after years of support and care. I will choose ones whose roots run deep rather than wide…whose growth will be intentionally slow rather than fast and sure to be overturned when the next and certain storm comes.

Like this moment, I will think about her as I pen a new plan.

Yes, the ecosystem of this yard has changed like the educational landscape I am witnessing in this moment. Perhaps it is time to re-imagine my garden.

Reflections on Earth Day 50

Part 1: One with the earth

When I stop to reflect on who I am, what I am, where I am, why I am, I can’t separate my am-ness from the planet on which I rely. I went outside today to feel her pulse and see her life…

Rich and black in spots, depleted and abused in others…bearing fruit in both. Wondering if weeds are good for her or as bad as my urge to pull them produced…

But there is much I learn from weeds, whose shelter creates a cozy nest for the super fat grubs still growing (or are they napping) before birthing their hard beetle skin.

These weeds that trick us into believing in their value with hearty greens and interesting floral patterns…they build networks that run deep, just under the surface, with roots that spread and sprawl or excavate deeper soils in search of a foundation that will supply strength.

I said I was only going to be out here to simply cut the grass for my compost and ignore the distracting weeds…

But they call to me with their herbal aromas as I cut. They invite me to see how they do it…how they become strong, resilient and still grow.

After way too long a commitment, I pause to look at my hands.

I don’t recognize them as my own without the manicure that this 2020 life has denied them…I cut them low myself so I know how they feel but they don’t look like my own…they look my grandfather’s…the men who first taught me to pull the weeds from the cracks to preserve the driveway for a little while longer. The men who taught me to plant things that I like so I could experience the pleasure of the process. One was a pastry chef the other a line mechanic that was our family engineer. Then I wonder where is the song that celebrates grandpa’s hands…

Right hand soiled in the palm, on the fingers and under the nail beds with fresh dirt from the garden. Fingers bent inward, skin dry, nails short
Gardening hand
Bill Withers (Recorded in 1971): 1938 – 2020

Part 2: Anniversaries

Earth Day 2020 is the fourth anniversary of the purchase of my “dream”



Passing something worth having on

To the next generation…

Acknowledging the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape heritage of the land where this house sits.

I wonder how to pass on better practices for those who will come even after me…

I see the gift of planted trees made at least hundreds of years ago in the soil and smell it in the air. As I pluck wild onions from between the variegated leaves of the hostas that were left to sprout every year since I have been here.

I am wondering how to make a garden blueprint of perennials for my own kinfolk or the next persons who will occupy this space.

I wonder what’s the best way to mark an anniversary? What better way than to leave a learned lesson like treasure to be found…

Generation A?

What comes after Z?

Do we start again at A?

Or do we assume it to be AA, like batteries for the

Remote [learning] Control on the coffee table?

The generation that is described as


Intoxicated by capital gain in the form of SELF absorption

Self Interest

No Interest in other

(At least on the surface)…

Where the mirror tells stories through Insta filters and Photoshop, that even they believe…both persons reflected back…the real and the fantastic…both reflected forward

We are witnessing the









Where people no longer greet with a handshake or a hug

Where people, perhaps even lovers, are afraid of their first kiss

Where people reclaim family dinners to save themselves from the tyranny of universal access to the internet

Where people say NO to Alexa and Siri and Big Brother because they are tired of being watched

Where school children are the beneficiaries of the parent lobby that refuses to endorse a day manipulated by politico-educators foreign to the ways of children

Where tests or the ever-expanding pursuit of more mean nothing because time, in front of people, with pages in solitude and reflection, surrender their gifts for those willing to invest it…

Where the parent lobby,

the teacher lobby,

the right lobby and the left

Demand their children, all children have mandatory recess, clean food, balanced assignments and multi-





Born after 2015, the new GENERATION will be NEW.

Parenting Mama Drama

(For all the mothers working from home)

You want what?

You want it when?


Chile please.

Do you know who I am?

I am a mother.

I am their first teacher.

I am his wife.

I am his reason why.

I am a servant.

I am available to them first.

You’ll get that report when 

I am


Bold as L

Picking up the L

Just outside Philly






Love speaking

Lost in the chaos of a

Life where everything is uncertain

Live tweets

Live class

Live instas

Live DJs

Live parties

Life lost

2020…BOLD as HELL!

Stories in a world with no lines

Can you see it?

A blank page

A world where lines are so blurred

They are invisible

Like man

Not confined by shadows

But liberated by their presence

Stories without linearity

No rhyme

No script

No meter

But rhythmic

But storied excellence

That sings

As the words

DANCE on the page

Like no one is watching and everyone is reading



Soul-beauty of a race: Biculturalism and Double Consciousness

“…it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common contempt, and lived above it in a region of blue sky and great wandering shadows. That sky was bluest when I could beat my mates at examination-time…” (DuBois, 1897)

I am thinking about 

My students

A student

Gifted in profound ways

Searching for her voice

Her place

Her look

In a crowded room










Where gaze devolves into contempt 

Filled with fear instead of joy

Filled with rage instead of admiration

Filled with jealousy instead of acceptance


This gift to our community is 




Celebrated in her home

Where two nations meet

Like blue skies 

Welcoming Blackness

Before rain.

A new day lies on the other side for you.

Soul-beauty of a race: Black Aesthetics and Double Consciousness

“…confusion and doubt in the soul of the black artist; for the beauty revealed to him was the soul-beauty of a race which his larger audience despised, and he could not articulate the message of another people.” (DuBois, 1897)

I am thinking about 

My students

A student

Gifted in profound ways

Searching for her voice

Her place

Her look

In a crowded room










Where gaze becomes admiration







Like blue Skais 

Welcoming Blackness

Before rain.

A new day lies on the other side for you.

Baited With Our Own Desire

Baited With Our Own Desire

#Economics and #housing has such a racialized history
#racialliteracy and #financialliteracy go hand-in-hand

Aztec Promises

50 years ago The American dream to own a home got the politicians to broker with the banks. They developed policy to make home ownership affordable for nearly anyone. Special incentives were invented to encourage even folks who had no money for a down payment to seek homes through assistance programs—because “home ownership provides an opportunity to build equity and wealth.” No one questioned how these programs would build exponential wealth for the bankers and the politicians.

30 years later

The plot thickens. At just about the time the first generation home owners payed nearly three times their original loan amount (in interest) to finally earn the deed to their homes, a new idea was launched. Offer home equity loans at a low rate. Encourage home owners to buy big ticket items with their loans—things they always wanted but were unable to buy without saving. And to further discourage the…

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On the Eve of BLM@School Week: Why We STILL Need Black History Month Programs (Honoring the life & legacy of Dr. Carter G. Woodson)

It is time for 2020 Vision…that which sees forward by looking at events past. It is our Sankofa moment. Our kujichagalia time…

Black History Month is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. When Dr. Carter G. Woodson wrote “not to know what one’s race has done in former times is to continue always as a child” (April, 1926), he was imagining the value of education to broaden and deepen the self concept of the progeny of the African in America, a country whose constraining institutions rendered this progeny nearly helpless in their ignorance of self. Their goals for the week–he did not work in isolation–read a lot like our demands in the movement to honor Black Lives at School (BLM@School). On the eve of the week, I share thoughts from the pages of the Journal of Negro History, a legacy publication established in the sociological imagination of Dr. Woodson and his contemporaries.  

With prophetic accuracy, Dr. Woodson describes the broken promises of participation of this progeny in politics, work, education, housing. He outlines power struggles that are born out of a lack of space–physical or abstract–for brown bodies (black bodies) in a land valued for white bodies.

By 1927, the second annual celebration of the week, he clearly articulates the goal:”to save and popularize the records of the race that it may not become a negligible factor in the thought of the world” (p. 104), By 1927, Woodson encouraged educators to expand education to include ancient triumphs and continental Africa’s intellectual treasure, its capital, as a social, cultural, geological and political force of power and authority. At the same time, he acquiesced (perhaps) to brand Negro History Week, History Week as he nods on the page to the contributions of the dominant groups from Europe and the United States.

He summarized the goals and accomplishments of this movement in education:

  • To create a demand for Negro pictures and literatures
  • To disabuse the Negro mind of the idea of inferiority
  • To increase understanding in a key principle about racial bias: it  undermines ALL truth
  • To establish a global research agenda in the study of Negroes

With that I amplify the national demands for Black Lives Matter at School Week ( 

  • End zero tolerance policies
  • Mandate Black history and ethnic studies in K-12 schools 
  • Hire more Black teachers
  • Fund counselors not cops

Whether you embrace the 13 principles by hanging posters or leading lessons, make Black Lives visible, listen for their voices, celebrate their stories, expect them to be great but support them as they grow. Resist the temptation to accept false narratives and stereotypes, or gaze at their joys or pains…celebrate Black lives in the United States and across the globe as it is lived now and in historical context. 


Woodson, C. G. “The Celebration of Negro History Week, 1927.” The Journal of Negro History, vol. 12, no. 2, 1927, pp. 103–109. JSTOR, 

_____. “Negro History Week.” The Journal of Negro History, vol. 11, no. 2, 1926, pp. 238–242. JSTOR,