A Helping Hand or a Foot in the Ass?

The decision was made last week by the Achievement School District, the government operated charted schools in Tennessee, to change the grading scales in those schools in an effort to help to ultimately do away with an A-F grading scale and align it more so along the lines of T-CAP scores with a mastery of course subjects earning an Advanced or Proficient, and anything below those lines received a standard of High Basic, Low Basic, and Below Basic. The new grading scale gives students a wider range to score better on assignments and allows them a larger range to score better in their core area subjects. The Achievement School District feels as if it is a good start in turning these failing schools around, but is it really a good start?

Parents are more than leery of the new grading scale, and I do not blame them. The way the new grading scale is set up, a D grade earned by a student in an ASD school within the school year of 2012-2013 ranged between a 70-74, the new grading scale has been set to range from a 58-47. On top of that being an additional 7 grading points added, but for students it means that they can master at a minimum of 58% of their school work and still pass. In my opinion, the new grading scale found in ASD schools is anything BUT beneficial.

When I first heard about the grading scale change and how the new ranges were set, I was immediately upset. As a future educator I felt as if the change was not a help, but a crutch. I did feel that there were other alternatives that could have been devised to save these failing charter schools instead of what feels like giving them a passing grade without them actually knowing the material.

The schools in the Achievement School District in Memphis are all located in the lower income areas, areas where residents are more likely to receive government assistance and live in poverty. They are areas inhabited by our minority brothers and lower class Whites. They are people who cannot afford to move to the areas of town with better schools and have to utilize the neighborhood schools.

What upset me about the grading scale change was the fact that they have ultimately set in place this new standard of grading that does not show in favor of the lesson being taught and the comprehension of what they are learning, but how much of work is completed and how much is correct. So from my understanding a student can have a quiz with a hundred questions and they answer the ones that they know, say maybe 47/100. You mean to tell me that they are getting graded for that 47% work? In what world does that make sense? It upsets me that they have set the standard so low for these students. They are setting those future generations up for failure accepting mediocrity & giving them a piss poor excuse for an education that would ultimately not allow them to succeed & perform as well as those White kids that went to better schools. I see it as keeping the disenfranchised, disenfranchised.

Although there are some who are not directly affected that do not have a formulated opinion on the issue, take a look at this article posted by local WMCTV News Channel 5 it may make you gain one .


Living, Learning, and the Outgrowth of a Paradox

Memphis, Tennessee has a rich creative history. Beale Street was a central location for African Americans and was their spot to relax and unwind. It was filled with culture and a place where people could feel somewhat equal to whites, but that was short lived. There are many people from Memphis that have contributed their hard work and intelligence to making this city a place full of culture and attempting to keep it up to par compared to other cities. That is the biggest mistake that Memphis as a city could possibly make. I did not realize this mistake until our class discussion. It never crossed my mind that we are focused on becoming something that we are not. We will never be Atlanta that has the AUC, the aquarium and the Coca-Cola Factory. As Memphis we overlook The Civil Rights Museum, the Stax Records, The University of Memphis, and the famous hip hop culture that we have here. It is common for every city to think that their city has nothing to offer. I have learned that a paradox is a statement that contradicts itself. Memphis is filled with contradictions, and have over time been consumed by them. The consumption of all the negatives has shed a dark light on Memphis from the people who have been born here and that currently live here. Memphis, Tennessee has an exemplary neonatal care department, but also has a sky high infant mortality rate. It goes unnoticed because the high infant mortality rate is always being broadcasted. I have come accustomed to seeing a lot of deaths in Memphis, and I have never paid attention to the hospitals and their specialties. I admit, that is not on my mind, but I am at fault for downing my city because of the crime rate and not acknowledging the good it has.  Memphis is known for its musical history. Its history is known around the world and has become timeless. There are some Stax produced records being infused to songs still in 2013. Sure, I was elated to know that music from my city is still being glorified and appreciated, but I still shake my head at all the people I know that wake up and decide to be a rapper. It just saddens me to know that people see that as an easy way out. It is a chain reaction but the chain is weak. The chain is weak because all they see is the glitz and glam not the actual talent that it takes to be a rapper. While watching Hustle & Flow, I related to the movie and I have witnessed some people live their life like that. Not once was education mentioned in the movie except when it was being used to talk about “who you know”.  There are not many people in Memphis who actually want to go to school with the concept of graduating. People are just going as if it is just something to do. I am a victim of letting the negatives overshadow the love that I have for my city. I loved my childhood and I am enjoying my life now living here and I am 20. I am glad to say that the paradoxes will no longer blind me. No longer can the negativity bring my spirits and perceptions of this luscious growing city down. I accept that the growth of Memphis is slow but at least it is moving forward. I will contribute to shining light on Memphis for what it is, and I will stop comparing my city to other places because it will never be another city. The progress of Memphis has to come from within. The citizens of Memphis must work together to better our city. No change will be made overnight, but every input helps. It is not the city governments complete fault, even though they make  the decisions, we as citizens can contribute to making our city better by voicing our opinions more. The paradoxes should diminish and the positivity in Memphis and about Memphis should flourish, which will bring support that is overdue in our city.


The Power of Music in the South

If there’s one way to bring people together in the South, it’s through music. Groups of people here may be worlds apart, but as soon as music is involved, it seems like differences are set aside in favour of appreciating art. Religion may be big in the South too, but it’d divisive in many areas, especially cities where many different faiths share the same streets. Music is different.

In the clip of Deliverance (a favourite movie of mine) that we watched, two worlds collided in a way that left much to be desired. Both parties were passive aggressive, with Appalachians being difficult and unhelpful, and the Atlanta bougies looking down on the display of rural life. Whatever enmity was shown, though, dissolved temporarily through music, when Drew played a duet with one of the local boys. For a few minutes, differences were set aside in favour of creating impromptu art. They had themselves a jam session despite previously glaring at each other! And not but 3 seconds after finishing, the boy refused to shake Drew’s hand. That may seem like a loss in my argument that music brings people together, but consider this: there was no magic understanding. They were still, essentially, ‘enemies.’ But they still played together and smiled throughout, despite having almost nothing in common. I think that’s actually a lot more powerful than some sort of magic understanding coming between them. Music brings people who loathe each other together even for a few minutes.

This is displayed in Hustle & Flow as well. Despite being friends in school, it’s pretty obvious that DJay and Key are now on separate social planes, and there’s definitely a tension between them because of this. Outside of the music production proper, they had arguments about how to go about recording and about showing respect, but once they got really working, it was easy to see that music got them working together almost flawlessly. Not only were different classes and races working together, but in a culture that seeks to keep the gender line very clear and divided, women and men were working together equally as well. This is hardly a new phenomenon, either; as was mentioned in the class lecture, this scene was meant to embody the jam sessions that took place decades earlier.

And I don’t think it’s just coincidence that these two scenes from two very different movies are incredibly similar. After all, conflict still plays a major role in DJay and Key’s relationship well into their recording sessions. I think it’s just a bit of a tradition we have. The years before my father passed away, he and I were like mixing oil and water, and it only got worse and worse as time went on, to the point where I was actively avoiding him whenever I could. Despite this, as soon as a new CD came out for a band we liked, you can bet we were listening to it together on the drive to my middle school without a hint of conflict. Music was one of the few things we still enjoyed together, despite the hostility that surrounded every other aspect of our relationship.

So I think that’s what it comes down to. In a region where conflict is omnipresent (despite our kindly smiles and ‘bless your heart’s, of course), music is kind of like a BC powder packet: temporary alleviation from something that will always be there. People say that humans are all equal under God, but I’ve seen enough to know that that’s not the case in practice. It takes something closer to home to bring people together, and I think, especially in the South, music is what’ll do it.

A missing father in her life can be detrimental

LIfe is very interesting for women in the south that grew up in a broken home. When a father is missing in young women life, young women thirst from not having there father, or a male figure in their life to help guide them,  and make life saving decisions, and teach them how to love a man. When daddy is not home, women will look for love in many wrong places, and will receive love from a man that doesn’t know how to love a woman.  Women with no father began to prostitute, strip for money, lead men on, and leave at the dime of a hat due to her not knowing how to love a man, or she will love a man the best way she know how, only to find the men will break her heart, and leave anyway.Men will take advantage of this women because he knows she is missing the nutrients, and the substance, and the love that she need from her father. Men will display many violent behavior, and domestic violence, due to the lack of control of the males emotions, and the woman’s emotions, and the fact the man she loves knows her teachings from her broken home are not good enough for her to leave, once signs of negative behavior are displayed the first time.  Its very common for men in the south to learn how to beat on women, because thats the behavior that was displayed in their home as an adolescent  through his teenage years although this is no excuse.  Women will breed babies with these men that doesn’t have a vision for themselves, or plans to keep his family together, and violent men. As time goes on she will learn certain men are not for her,because he doesn’t have the desire to move up in life, or he can’t feed her soul, or  feed her intellect, or maybe he’s not showing signs of getting better, or doesn’t desire to get better, and most of all love her with open arms. As a women goes through so many bad experiences  with man, due to the absents of her father, she will began to see better for herself, and stop blaming the absents of her father. She will take responsibility for her own actions,and began to rise like the flower from the grass in which God intended for her. The woman began to learn what she wants in life, such as higher education, a better living for herself, and her offspring, forgiving her father for his absents,working on herself to become a better person, she began to pursue a career, she desires self fulfillment within her own self, and not some man that pretends to lover her. Once this special woman stop her focus on love from a man, and ask God humbly, (the source) to guide her and love her, the real loving man that has her best interest will walk into her life at the right time to love her, and provide guidance for her, and her offspring. fathers should be aware of  the toll that life will take on his baby girl, so fathers please step up and step in, so she can rise like the flower from the grass, and not from the hard concrete, either way she will rise.



We can afford a Government Shutdown, but not to provide Healthcare?

The first government shutdown in almost two centuries plastered every news channel, newspaper header, and Facebook status alike . Among my peers, our first instinct was to panic and questions spurred vigorously: “Will I still get food stamps? Does that mean school is canceled tomorrow? Do I still have to pay my student loans?” Almost without hesitation, there was an invisible levee pouring us into the whirlwind of social media and outwardly voiced their opinions with little to no research on the topic. On the other hand lied myself outstretched and researching what exactly a thing like this means. Theoretically, the government is designed to control, protect, and standardize the rights and laws for all of its citizens. So what the hell did they mean they’re shutdown? Did I not vote for Barack Obama’s second term exactly a month and three days after turning eighteen? Were we abandoning ObamaCare? Did everyone just say, “We quit.”?

In my research, I found that the government shut down twice between November 1995 and January 1996 because of a similar dispute between then-President Bill Clinton of the Democratic Party and his Republican House and Speaker of the House, Gingrich. Now almost two decades later, we have a split decision that boils down to whether or not we should approve a government funded healthcare plan. Obamacarefacts.com lists a number of facts regarding the plan, and after weighing the pros and cons of the program I would personally support it. However, in the 2012 reelection of President Barack Obama we saw the appointment of two battling parties that would be forced to coexist and agree on the means for which us as citizens would live for the next four years- to this day, I preside on neither body. Now, less than a year after news headers across the nation plastered Obama’s face in every medium and while the newspaper articles still lie in my nightstand, we are witnessing a shutdown.

When a government shuts down, we are talking about the fate of many people’s jobs, homes, and daily living expenses being cut. While essential employees of the government are still paid, those who are not have been furloughed, or temporarily laid off. For students like my sister who are working interim- or internship- positions for the government, today was her first day off of work in almost three months. If the shutdown continues, an economist reported to CNN that it could “cost the economy about $55 billion”. (CNN.com) My proposed question for the Republican-lead House would be how much they’re considering the citizens versus themselves. As a governing body for billions of people, what are they saying to everyone if you don’t want the government to provide 15% of those people without healthcare with a means to live.  For the South, we cannot afford to continue support the Republican Party any longer as they have made it clear that our impoverished neighborhoods and poor economy are less important than their status compared to Senate. We must consider one things: for everything we cannot afford, someone in the House can.




Whenever I hear outsiders talk about Memphis they always talk about the negative side to this city. Just like any other city, every city has some type of negative side to their city. Some people say Memphis is only known for Elvis,  the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and high crime rates which is not true in my opinion. Memphis is known for many positive things that would attract people to come visit or even live for that matter. Three of the things that Memphis is known for Beale Street, BBQ, and St. Jude. These attractions bring a lot of  people to this city. Whenever I watch food network they always have the city of Memphis on the channel for its signature BBQ. There are several cities across the country that cook BBQ but none will compare to the taste of our cities BBQ meat. North Carolina and Texas are known for BBQ as well but nothing compares to Memphis’ wet and smoked flavored BBQ.  It is something extremely different and special about our BBQ because it brings several tourists to our city. We even have BBQ contest that are held in here in Memphis, Tn. and people from all around the country come here to compete.

Elvis Presley is another reason why tourists come to this city. Elvis Presley  is known as the King of Rock and Roll and he  one of the most popular recording artists. People look up to Elvis Presley and they try to impersonate him all the time. Even in Las Vegas there are Elvis impersonators. I visited Las Vegas last year and there were Elvis impersonators everywhere. I thought I was back in Memphis for a moment because Elvis was everywhere. We have a vast amount of people to visit Memphis for Elvis week. If Graceland would use some of the money that they made from tourists  that visited Graceland and invested in the surrounding area the neighborhood then maybe more businesses would relocate to the area.

St. Jude is one reason most people do not realize that people come to Memphis for. St. Jude is a hospital for children that diagnosed with severe illnesses. There are people from all over the United States that come to St. Jude in order for their child to receive care. This hospital is known to find cures for uncommon illnesses. I used to work at a grocery store and customers would come in the store and shop for food. They would have several gift cards as their form of payment. I was curious as to why they had so many gift cards so they told me the hospital issued the family gift cards. There were so many customers that were from another city who would use these cards. I was unaware how much of an impact St. Jude has on other cities.

The older I get the more I realize that Memphis is not so bad to live or visit. Once I sat down and wrote down all of the positive things that Memphis stands for it made me realize that you have to make your judgments about things and not let other make the decision for you.

Memphis: The Perspective of An Inner-City Kid

Memphis, as I know it, is a place of few opportunities. I have lived here since I was 5 years old; therefore, I am accustomed to the Memphis lifestyle and cultures. It is a mid-major city compared to other large African American populated cities such as Atlanta and New York. There are few jobs in the city and those  available to the mass majority are low paying jobs. Many households are led by a single parent, in which, is a single mother. I am a product of a single parent household. My mother worked two jobs to keep the household together. Many of my peers and elders are stuck working low income jobs to make a decent living for themselves. I have witnessed many generations, of my peers, stuck in the chain of welfare. Many have made that source of living. The shortage of jobs, in Memphis, have pushed this ongoing issue.

The lack of education competition, in the city, has also lessen and set the city back. Many inner-city students finish high school without a proper education. Also, many of my peers chose to drop out or rather take the option of a GED. Many of these students are not prepared to take assessment tests such as the ACT and SATs. Upon the entrance of college, this can cause a great deal of adjustment for those who choose the college path.  Recently, the grading scale for all levels of education in Memphis has lowered. Therefore, education leaders are not setting a standard for the youth to get a valuable education. The education system is crippling and handicapping the next generation of inner-city children. While I was in grade school, there was not a real push to get a great education either. I went many days without having to study for a test simply because of the lack of education enforcement around me. Grade school was a cake walk. The Memphis city school system gifted wrapped a diploma for me and many of my peers.

There are not many recreational locations for the youth in Memphis. I grew up in the Orange Mound area of Memphis, and we did not have much to do outside of school. Besides playing a sport, we did not have recreational parks, museums, nor gyms to go to. The ones the city do offer are one of historical monuments or abandoned. Most parks are infested with homeless and are targets for soliciting. Many of my peers were not taught to be interested in such activities. This has led to many inner-city kids roaming and the cause of violence.  The inability to go somewhere and do something constructive leaves many inner-city kids with the option of being deviant. As a result of being deviant, the rate of teen pregnancy is a high. Many teens, in my neighborhood, gave birth to children at a young age. Gang affiliation is another result of the deviancy. Many inner-city kids do not have the luxury joining positive organizations and clubs. This leads to wanting to be accepted by their peers; therefore, many join gangs.

Memphis, from an inside perspective, is a place of very few chances. Many of the citizens chose to look for work outside of the city. The city contains low income jobs and very few chances of employment for citizens living in poverty. The lack of education can be the reason for the acquirement  of these jobs. Memphis has also dealt with the issue of not having recreational areas. Many inner-city kids are left with nothing to do to occupy their precious time outside of school. This issue has led to many negative activities.


Inequalities and Stereotypes

As I sit and reflect on the issues within the south, inequality and stereotypes automatically come to my mind, especially right here in Memphis. As an African American female, growing up in the suburbs, with mostly whites, gave me a firsthand experience. For example, I can remember driving around Bartlett. I do not have the most up to date car, but I do have a clean record and never gotten a speeding ticket. I have had the experience of police following directly behind me for a long amount of time. I have even been stopped a few times for no apparent reason. I have not been the only person who has experienced these type of stereotypes. My boyfriend drives a very nice car. He was sitting in a parking lot, waiting on his friend to come home. The police decide to come around and start questioning him. He asks for his license and proceeds to question him. The police ask questions like, do you have anything in the car that should not be there. He even asks my boyfriend to step out the car. Another police officer pulls up and starts to search the car, where they find absolutely nothing. My boyfriend tried explaining to the police that he did not do drugs or anything illegal, but they had they own image of him in their head.

These two situations show that stereotypes are still alive today, specifically here in the south. It indicates that African Americans are still suspected of any and everything. In my particular situations, the police had no reason to be following me like that, but I believe that the fact that I am African American in a white area, in a older car gave them the idea that I could be doing something against the law. In my boyfriend’s situation, he was innocent, but like me, he’s an African American. However, he was in a newer model car and still got harassed. I guess young black men cannot drive nice cars without doing something illegal, as stereotypes put it. It angers me that the south has come so far, but still possesses attitudes of the past.

Inequalities have always been an issue in the south. It can definitely be seen in Memphis and its surrounding areas. I attended Shelby County School, where we had nice books and all of the computers were Apple brand. However, in my volunteer work, I noticed that in a Memphis City Elementary School, its barely even nice books or up to date computers. As you drive through Memphis and Shelby County, you can see the differences in the roads and buildings. It just shows me that there is a difference. There is not equality in schools or within this city in my opinion.

Hopefully, one day these issues will be solved, where there are no stereotypes and everything is equal for everyone. Maybe the south will be a better place some day.

Why is love not as valuable anymore ?

Little emphasis is placed on the true value of being in a relationship. In today’s society not many people care about having someone that relates to them on a level unimaginable. Having a significant other can be rewarding in so many ways; it gives a sense of security and always having a support system. My Grandparents have been together for over sixty years, and they did not let anything cripple the love that they share for one another. Over the course of sixty years, what happened in that time span that  has caused being in love to become almost extinct. Growing up in the south I have come in contact with many men who weren’t worth my time. Meeting worthless men did not affect my judgment towards finding that one good man that would sweep me off of my feet. While many of my friends have ill feeling towards men in general I have had the privilege of waking up next to the man of my dreams for the past six years; only because of my faith in God creating my Mister Right.

Growing up in the south it wasn’t uncommon to see couples who have been together for twenty plus years. As society progressed and I became older it is very common to see both men and women who are single. A lot of good men have been tainted; either by past relationships or witnessing someone as close as their own mothers have bad relationship experiences. Unlike women, men have the ability to put up barriers and walls in the attempt to hide their emotional side. It has become a social norm for women to feel unappreciated by men to the of point  feeling like the right one doesn’t exist. As a woman who has successfully found a good man I feel like there is hope for other women to do so a well. I am a firm believer in not allowing a past relationship to affect any future relationships. Not all of the time should the finger be pointed at men, I have seen women take advantage of good men. Sad to say but a lot of women ignore having a good man due to being foreign to the thought of being treated with dignity and respect.

As a mother I make it my duty to display my love for my child constantly. My fiancé and I respect one another, and the love that we share for one another is undeniable. Although, I have found love it is impossible for me to ignore that fact of others around me taking the feeling for granted by not allowing themselves to love. The bad relationships should only be viewed as learning experiences, nothing in life comes easy everything requires time. If everyone would value love for the gift that it truly is, there would be less divorce amongst society as a whole. Respect and communication are the most important factors in having a successful relationship, if those two things are present there will be more relationships that will last as long as my grandparents’ relationship has lasted.



Roots of Infant Mortality

The United States has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world among first world countries. Memphis, however, has one of the highest in the United States, so it would be fair to call Memphis the worst of the worst as far as infant mortality rates. If you know anything much about the medical side of Memphis, you would know that Memphis has some of the best hospitals in the nation. On top of that, Regional Medical Hospital is known for having one of the best neonatal intensive care units in the nation.  The two facts I have said so far seem to contradict each other. How can one city have one of the highest infant mortality rates, but yet have one of the best NICU centers. Minorities, particularly, have an even higher mortality rate. The question is why? How can a city have the best NICU but the highest infant mortality rate? Why are minorities much more susceptible to infant mortality not just in Memphis, but all across America?

Premature birth is the leading cause to infant mortality. Therefore, I think we have to start there with the problem. Stress, drugs, smoking, and lack of prenatal care are some major factors known to increase the chances of premature birth. When we think of these things, it makes a little more sense why minorities might be more likely to have premature births.  When I think of the big picture, education has a huge part in this. Stress, for example, can be related to many things. However, a major stressor in people’s lives is financial means. If you are struggling to keep your family afloat, you will be stressed all the time, especially if you are barely hanging on and find out you’re pregnant.  Minorities have a much higher percentage living in poverty. The way you get out of poverty is get an education, get a college degree, and find a job that will support you and your family. This of course is much easier said than done. The problem is our education system is discriminatory towards minorities, which makes it much harder to overcome poverty. Minorities that live in low income neighborhoods, go to low income schools. High income schools and low income school do not exactly teach the same way. Often in major cities, the low income schools are the public schools, while the high income schools are private schools. Obviously low income families can’t afford the private schools so they have no choice but to go public. Many people say that the public schools problem is the teachers and our tenure process, but that’s another topic. Many low income schools focus on teaching the basic skills of obedience, being on time, and proper discipline. How convenient as that’s exactly what I would want as an employee. Because the southern economy thrives by selling its cheap labor, southern schools are ensuring this process stays alive. If we taught our kids leadership skills, as many private schools do, then we wouldn’t be able to support the many jobs that major companies in the south depend on.

Therefore, low income children, that are forced to go to low income schools, are prepared to work in low income jobs. They are then in the same situation as their parents are in. Notice the cycle? I can see where people would ask, well the government gives Pell grants for children like that, so why don’t they go to college and get a degree? Well, one major reason is because the south can’t let that happen, or else our economy would not operate the same. Schools have tracking to ensure kids are ready to take the low wage jobs. Tracking is where the schools choose a “track” for the children to be on their freshman year of high school. This is based on their GPA among “other things.” Because the higher income children (who are majority white) have higher GPA due to advantages and privileges that minorities tend not to have, it’s no surprise that they are the children chosen to be on the “university” track. Other children are put on a “tech” track or a non-university track and therefore, once they graduate, they can’t even get into a four year university because they haven’t met the requirements.

The lack of education also links to smoking, drugs, and the lack of prenatal care. If you do not know what you are supposed to do during pregnancy, how are you supposed to properly take care of your body? Granted, there are programs such as WIC helping this problem, but there again, if women are not educated and do not know about WIC, it defeats the purpose. Even if low income families know what to do, it doesn’t mean they can. If a low income family doesn’t have a car and lives in a low income neighborhood, they may not be able to get to a store that provides healthy foods. As you can see, there are several problems that our society places on low income people. However, many can be link directly to our education system.

Our society has many problems, but one major one is the education system. I believe many of our social problems are linked to education, not just infant mortality rate. Maybe, just maybe, if we as a society quit looking at the differences in people, quit being afraid to take the lead instead of always being the followers, then we could become something America has never seen before. Fix our education system to educate everyone, not just the privileged, and maybe we can come together to fix this mess the South and the entire nation is in.