Saturday, May 22, 2010

Aurora Harris: May 22, 2010: 5:00 AM Waking Thoughts, Poetry, Theorizing, Education, Citizens' Rally in Detroit from 2-5 pm

I have been up since 5:00 a.m. listening to the birds that woke me with their morning chatter and song. Waking thoughts from half sleep: 1. I have over 50 pieces of poetry that I wrote in the last few weeks, most of them structured like a haiku, with 17 syllables, 2. images of family photos, 3. theorizing various papers I have written, 4. serving on a panel for a global womens' conference at WCCC.

Last Sunday at the Broadside reading for Denise Ervine, I read a few of the pieces and told the group that I was looking for polysyllabic words that would keep the 17 syllable count but use less words like traditional Japanese haiku. I read a few words from the list that I made and Stuart pointed out that they were words derived from Latin. I also spent a few days looking at the pieces and checking for kigo's.

A haiku traditionally contains a kigo, a defined word or phrase that symbolizes or implies the season of the poem. Like "frog" implies Spring or Summer, or, "snow" implies Winter.

Images of faminly photos...this waking thought is a reminder to go through the tons of photos I have and make choices for an exhibit.

Theorizing various papers... Yesterday morning I was organizing stacks of papers and files and found papers I wrote while in grad school. As I write this, I recall that sometime this week, I found a transcript that was sent from the university and after I found it, I dreamt about the report cards I found from what? 1965-1968? In the hazy dream, the manila colored report cards from elementary school were lined up next to the green EMU transcript. In the dream or waking thought, I was looking at the grades and remembered examining the transcripts of girls that were in a shelter that I worked in years ago...At that time, I could tell that the girls received good grades but at some point in their report cards or transcripts, they began failing in school...usually the drop in grades was related to some incident or trauma they experienced when they reached middle school...early teen years...I related these thoughts to Lisa Delpit's book "Schoolgirls."

I had a heavy feeling to develop a reading list, collect these papers and write something...perhaps this feeling had something to do with the news that the state of Arizona is banning ethnic studies from public school textbooks, in the sense that from the memory of my own report cards and transcripts, the underlying thought of my waking thought or dream dealt with memories of how histories were subjugated in textbooks when I was in elementary school in Detroit, and, how my own grades fluctuated during a time / reality of blatant racism, discrimination and police brutality in Detroit. What are the Latino/a children and educators of Arizona facing? In the history of histories in America, more subjugation of histories? From the time I was a child until now, there exists a great disconnect for school children of color. When they open a book, how are people of color presented? What do the children have to identify with?

When I was in grad school, I had a class where students who were teachers teamed up to examine and present books and learning materials from a cultural perspective for K-12 students. One of the criticisms that came out of this exercise was that none of the books or magazines showed any person of color in a modern, 21st century setting, whether it related to professions, home or daily life. Most of the books pertaining to Native American and Mexican/ Latino/a, Hispanic life showed most people of color as farmers, tortilla makers, basket weavers, jewelry makers, potters, or working in modern times as service oriented workers that promoted sterotypes. A couple of years ago, I was at a community meeting in Detroit to discuss diversity and multiculturalism in education. At the meeting, when we discussed the content of textbooks, one white guy pointed out that he didn't have the same problem as other educators finding things to teach or read because he was of European descent and his european history was documnented. "I can find myself and am proud of my history" was one of his statements. Here, this man was echoing something similar to what I heard from primarily white students talking about disparities and differences between teachers that teach in urban settings versus teachers in the suburbs..."We don't have the same problems as you, we have everything that we need in our schools to educate our students."

With these memories, other sources that I remember reading while I was at EMU that can be used to theorize are:

1. J. Bank's Teaching strategies for ethnic studies. (8th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

2. Bennett de Marrais, K. & LeCompte, M. The way schools work

3. Lisa Delpit's Other people’s children: Cultural conflict in the classroom. New York: The New Press. 1995

4. Anything by Jonathan Kozol.

End of this section.

Sidenote: I read my blog entry from yesterday. I am still sad from the news of Ai's death. She passed away 2 months ago, while my mother was in the hospital and I was working to remove her from hospice. In addition to these things, the City of Detroit...the violence that killed a 17 year old boy while he waited for the bus after school and the 7 year old girl who was killed while sleeping on her couch after the policeman's gun discharged...the police were looking for the shooter of the 17 year the past month, every weekend a citizen or police officer has been killed...I hate watching local news. When I heard of the deaths of the school children, I thought about the poem that I wrote in in the early 1990's called "Two Bodies" that is written in 3 parts and found in Larry Smith's Brooding the Hearlands: Poets of the Midwest by Bottom Dog Press (1998). The poem is about my seeing two bodies on the street and a fictional account of what the mothers dealt with... the voices for the mothers in the poem were inspired by mothers at a SOSAD meeting I attended. SOSAD stands for Save Our Sons and Daughters...the poet Ron Allen and I sponsored a 24 hour poetry reading against violence at the Central United Methodist years ago...

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from City Councilwoman Joann Watson inviting me to attend a Citizens' rally at 2 Woodward Av, downtown Detroit, Coleman A. Young Building in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue from 2-4 PM. The rally is supposed to inform the citizens of what is taking place in Detroit regarding repopulating the city, the new rail system, schools, violence, etc....on Woodward, near my home, the street is being torn out...I heard from a neighbor that it is being done for the new rail system that will be built

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