Witty Wednesday-Is Reading Fundamental?

Thanks to the homey @MsRasberry I came across this article.  If you don’t want to read it (or haven’t read it), it’s regarding University of Connecticut basketball player Kemba Walker, who read a book for the first time, cover to cover, just a few weeks ago at the age of 20.  Yes, you read correctly.  I don’t know if that includes children’s books, but regardless, this isn’t necessarily something of which to be proud.  Oh, did you get the title of the book?  It’s Forty-Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of a Black Athlete  by William C. Rhoden.  Ironic, isn’t it???

So let’s discuss-This young man, who is graduating college a year early to enter the 2011 NBA draft, has gone through 12+ years of school without reading a book.  Even after reading the book, Walker still wants to enter the draft.  Walker attends a higher institution of learning and was admitted into this college without having read a book.  I’m not sure about you guys, but I don’t know how many book reports I had to do growing up, but I read every book (well, except that one time when I got Cliff’s Notes…)  In any event, this is disturbing on so many levels!  What most are wondering is did Kemba choose not read or can he not read?  I would like to say maybe he didn’t choose to read since he was able to get through Rhoden’s book. 

Did Walker get pushed through school for his athletic prowess and not because he did well in his classes?  It’s so disheartening to see another young Black athlete get treated this way.  And it’s like this situation is a double-edged sword.  While he’s graduating a year early, he obviously can’t be a dummy because he’s getting his degree, right?  Or is this just another example of some young kid wanting to play professionally a little too quickly?  Who’s to stop this vicious cycle?  Or will it go on forever, as long as their are sports fans with the means and money to continue to see these young Black bucks playing for dollars?  Are we teaching our children that as long as you are a star on the baseball diamond, basketball court, or football field, you don’t need to read-just do well playing your game and you’ll get a free ride to play college ball then move on to play in the big leagues.  If this is what we’re teaching, we need to come up with a new lesson plan.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Southern Girl Perspective

Happy Friday, folks!!! As I sit here writing this post, it’s snowing for the second time this week… I’m slightly tempted to start looking for employment back in Florida….But in any event, let’s get on with today’s post. 

Today’s “This Week in the News” post is going to be slightly different.  Instead of talking about multiple things that happened this week, I’m only going to focus on one.  The topic will be about the arrest, conviction, and story of Kelly Williams-Bolar, the Ohio woman who was charged with two felonies and sentenced to 10 days in jail for falsifying legal documents.  Essentially, she wanted a better education for her children and stated on district documents that she and her daughters lived part-time with her father, who lives in the district where she wanted her daughters to attend school.   She was able to send her girls to this school for 4 years, until the district hired private investigators to follow her, and at least 3 other families, to see if they in fact lived where they stated they did.  When caught, the other families paid the tuition (i.e. taxes residents spent to send their children to school); Ms. Williams-Bolar did not.   As such, she was charged with 2 felonies, found guilty, and sentenced to 10 days in jail.  (Due to the media uproar, she was released a day early.)  Now, the NAACP and other organizations are fighting for her and are looking to get her conviction reversed.

I know I’m probably going to be in the minority with my thoughts on the matter.  As such, this might be a little lengthy so I can say what I gotta say.  Is Ms. Williams-Bolar wrong for wanting a better education for her daughter than what was provided in the district she lives in?  Absolutely not.  Was she wrong for lying on the forms?  Absolutely.  Thankfully, Southern mom and I were not on public assistance, but I did not attend the schools I was zoned to attend.  My mother completed special permission forms for me to attend my middle and high schools.  I’m not sure if that’s an option anymore, but I believe there’s another course of action that Ms. Williams-Bolar should have explored.  Should she have been convicted of 2 felonies?  Probably not.  Should she have been punished for falsifying legal documents?  Yes.  She broke the law, and that’s what happens when you break the law; you get punished.  The punishment was definitely harsher than the crime.  I don’t believe she should have spent any time in jail.  She probably should have been court-ordered to pay the back taxes and sent on her merry way.  Unfortunately, she was used as an example to other parents who think about doing the same thing.  (Same thing happened to a few people I know, but that’s a story for another day.)

Due to this conviction, this mother won’t have the chance to become an educator, which is what she was working towards.  I do think it’s funny how some people are making the comment they wouldn’t want a cheater or someone “like her” to teach their children.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but no one is perfect, and I’m sure we’ve all done something wrong.  What do you guys think?  Have you been in a similar situation or know of someone in a similar situation?  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

(Read more about Ms. Williams-Bolar here.)

Roland Martin at Howard University

Elle and Roland Martin at Howard University, September 8, 2010

Last Wednesday, I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Roland Martin speak at Howard University.  My play “auntie” Madeline asked me to attend with her (but I had to drive-go figure).  I am glad that I was able to go because I learned a lot.  The one thing I can say that was my biggest take away had to do with my faith.   I am a Christian, and in my effort to not offend any of my readers or turn them away, I stayed away from talking about that.  But after listening to Roland, I learned that I need to embrace my Christianity via my blog.  So from now on if I have a praise report or anything of the like, I’m going to share it! 

Now, for my assessment of the event.  All in all, I thought it was a wonderful engagement, and I’m glad I went.  I had seen Roland last summer when I caught a sneak peek of “Black in America 2”.  I wish this event had been better attended, but as Madeline and I were late, it’s probably a good thing it wasn’t crowded as we were able to get a seat.  I will also say he was very engaging, is an excellent public speaker, and was able to keep the audience’s attention.  I’ll share a few quotes that I thought were poignant. 

“If people of faith are afraid to say something, who will”

“When you understand who you serve, you have nothing to fear.” (My favorite)

“In entertainment, you have a to stand out; it sets you apart from everyone else.” – in regards to wearing his signature ascot

“I am not a public representative of Black folk.  I am a Black journalist.  I speak for me.”

“My job is to talk public policy through a faith prism.”

“Where does God want to send me to use me in an appropriate way?  In religion, we have people who are out of their lane.”

As you can see, he said some very important things.  The one thing he did that Madeline and I had concern about was the story he told regarding his parents, particularly his mother.  While we totally understood why he praised his father, he sort of downplayed the importance his mother had on his life.  He stated most famous black men (i.e. athletes, entertainers, and the like) always praise and thank their mothers, they really don’t talk about their fathers.  So while he thanked his father for everything, he didn’t really give his mom kudos.  As a mother I think that rubbed Madeline the wrong way.  After he finished speaking, Mr. Martin stuck around and took pictures with audience members.  I can’t wait to attend my next speaker engagement.  I’m not sure who it will be, so stay on the lookout, because you know I’ll blog about it.   Until next time, I’m just  a Southern girl…in the city!