All posts tagged: Freedom

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Margit’s Note: Ms. Independence

Writing about independence is no easy task. I’ve written this little note to you three or four times, scrapping each edition and littering the page with words like “Liberty” “Freedom” and “Inalienable Rights.” It’s like Thomas Jefferson is all up in my grill. Come on Tom, back off. I’m trying to explain to my readers about we women of a certain age and independence, that the word means something particular to us because we’ve cultivated it over the years — and we fight for it every damn day. We can’t take it for granted. The point is, we need to light the sparklers and fist pump to Freedom — the freedom that a woman earns over the course of her life, that guides her decisions and allows her to forge and determine her own crazy, sexy path. As we see this week on TueNight, our path might be on a boat, on a motorcycle, in a van or even in a wheelchair. Yeah, I found independence in a wheelchair for a day. Go figure. I …

The Loose Ends of Racism

Two months ago, I stood in my kitchen struggling to find the words to discuss the death of Freddie Gray. Another unarmed black man killed at the hands of the police who, in a perfect society, should have and would have protected him. Baltimore is just 45 minutes from my home in Washington, DC and, on that particular day, I was prepared to question why these moments of aggression towards blacks continue to happen with only a sound bite response from our elected officials. Unfortunately, I wound up sidetracked and didn’t write about the death of Freddie Gray, but I will never forget the fear and sadness I felt when I sighed and noted, “It will happen again…I can wait until the next time.” Next time, of course, arrived. This time in Charleston, South Carolina. And I am a black woman struggling with what to say. People finally seem willing to broach the topic of race. They once stood on the sidelines under the guise of “us v. them,” remaining blissfully colorblind. But now, so …

My Grandfather Gave My Girlfriend $2 — Here’s Why That’s Important

(Photo courtesy Sally Kohn, illustration by Nancy Gonzalez/TueNight) My grandfather’s name was Sam. He was my father’s father and spent his adult life first as a traveling salesman and then running a grocery store in Omaha, Nebraska, where my grandfather and his family were among the small crop of Jews in town. In my mind, this is what made my grandfather extra Jewish — the sense of belonging to a tiny tribe wandering within a wide desert of Christianity. Whatever the reason, when my grandparents found out I was dating a woman their first question was, “Is she Jewish?” Sam had a tradition of giving a $2 bill to every one of his children and grandchildren. Spouses included. The idea was to keep the $2 bill in your wallet in case of emergencies. And then if you ever needed to spend it, you would write a letter to Sam explaining the reason why you had to use the bill and he would issue you a new one. I remember stories about one cousin using her $2 …

Why I Begged My Mother to Take Me Out of the Gifted Program

I understand what they were trying to do. When my teacher nominated me to be sent to a different classroom for part of each day, a class with older and more advanced learners, it was her way of keeping me interested in the learning process. Our school system was 90 percent black and, according to standardized tests, most of us were performing below grade level. Not me. At nine years old, my reading aptitude test scores were at the college level. My mother was so happy that she took out an ad in the local paper congratulating me for my grade-school accomplishment. She was proud. I was bored. For weeks after the test results came in, my teacher would create separate spelling tests and reading lists just for me to try to keep me engaged and challenged. I understand that was probably an extra burden on her. If I was a third grade teacher and one of my students was reading Romeo & Juliet during silent reading time, I might suggest she needed to join …

My Plea for the Pledge

The year is 1966. I am a first-grader at the H.B. Milnes School in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Every morning, my classmates and I stand beside our little desks, hands over little hearts, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Our teacher then bangs out the chords to one of a dozen patriotic songs we know by heart. My personal favorites: “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.” Though a few youngsters mangle some of the lyrics, there’s no doubt that one tenet has already been deeply inculcated: America — and the flag that stands in the corner of every classroom — is to be respected and cherished, for we are the greatest and freest nation in the world. As a kid, I embraced this fully. It had to be true since my teacher said so, as did my parents and President Johnson. For not only was the United States strong, it was generous. If another country’s citizens were hungry, we sent food. If they were attacked, we sent help. America …

How My White Perspective on Freedom Has Changed

Bree Newsome removing the flag, temporarily, from the Charleston State Capital (Photo: Adam Anderson) Until fairly recently, I didn’t think much about how easily and freely I moved in this country. I took for granted the dozens — no, hundreds of interactions and experiences that I had over the course of any given week where I could just be, without worry, fear, accusation or confrontation. I have been able to work and live and love and play and move without really recognizing that these were freedoms, rather than just part of my daily life as an American. I took all of this for granted because America, the country that I love dearly, is “the land of the free, home of the brave.” I have been able to work and live and love and play and move without really recognizing that these were freedoms, rather than just part of my daily life as an American. And while I’ve known that injustice and unfairness exist, I didn’t really know it. Not down to my bones. I didn’t …

Like Crickets to Fireworks: Blogging About Race

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight.com) My first taste of online publishing, in 2005, was inspired by a now-defunct blog written by a teacher in Chicago. She wrote about her classroom and her students, and even though I hadn’t been there, she brought her surroundings to life in a way that felt so familiar. As a longtime educator myself, I could relate. Eventually, we would meet in person and become good friends. In that time we experienced marriage, a divorce, and children. Her writing opened my world up to freely express myself as a writer. In one post, she wrote in detail about one of her students, a reluctant reader, to try a book that she suggested. She clearly cared about her students and spoke of them in a way not often seen by those outside the profession. It reminded me of how I tried so hard to find something palatable for my students. Within a year, I decided that I wanted to do the same thing, share my own stories in a blog. So, I purchased …

9 Days, 5 States and One March for Justice [PHOTOS]

On April 13, 2015, Justice League NYC gathered folks from New York City and around the country to march to Washington, DC in order to push for criminal justice reform legislation in our nation’s capital. The event culminated in a concert and march on April 22. Creative Mornings Community Director and social activist Sally Rumble decided to pack up and go (she joins below on Day 6.) Here is her story, in pictures. (Thank you to photographer Alex Arbuckle.) DAY 1: Staten Island step-off led by three women of color Somewhere in NJ Day 3: Blisters set in PAIN. Poem by student poet following the murder of Trayvon Martin and acquittal of his killer moves marchers to tears Day 4: Hello, Pennsylvania Stretch break PA STATE TROOPERS. Carmen equipped with a camera in case of police brutality directed at her BRUCE. Former Black Panther in the 70s. He marched the entire 250 miles without injury HOSTILITY. In Maryland, Confederate flag sightings, drivers yelling, “White Power!” and the n-word LOVE. Milly FaceTimes her three children while marching ALEX. Official March2Justice photographer and …

Margit’s Note: Free to Be You and Me

In 2nd grade, we always held hands with another student in our class when we walked to lunch. For me, that other student was Carla. I can see Carla’s smile like it was yesterday, maybe even feel her soft palm clasping mine. And then one day, another little girl whose name I don’t remember pointed at me and said, “Why are you holding hands with her? She’s black.” I had no idea what “black” meant or why it was a bad thing, but suddenly I understood us and them; me and Carla. The idea of freedom seems so black and white (pun maybe sort of intended), like, here are the rules — abide by them. It’s a free country, y’all! But there are these insidious, subtle “isms” that exist in everyday moments and create their own sort of prison. “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” The quote, often attributed to Gloria Steinem, rings true as we wonder why so many obvious “rights” take so damn long to be …