Woke Cypha: Say Word

Hey yall!

Sisters y’all alright?Brothers how y’all doin?

Man, this GOT to be the hardest part of the year. The last 6-8 weeks of school. In elementary school all the state testing is done and the kids are losing it. In middle school there are still one or two more state tests to go and in high school Regents prep is in full swing.

Overall, everyone is DONE.

But not really. Lol! So keep it together and hopefully today’s post will be a source of inspiration.

Listen, I know you ain’t trying to hear what I got to say next, but this is really a good time to start thinking through all that you have taught this year and begin making some adjustments.

You know, you had some units that were spectacular and the kids were really engaged, other units that were boring asf and other units that have great potential…if you dug into it.

Last week at our Woke Cypha, we dug into the Art of the Spoken Word as an element to crafting dope ass curriculum.

imgres-5.jpgLet me ask you, when you were in grade school and you would get your report card, did it say, like mine, that though I was a wonderful student, brilliant! that I; say it with me, “talked too much?”

I know I’m not alone.

We here at CREAD believe that a tool that is most underutilized is student voice and talking.

Now wait a minute. I know you’re like, but they don’t never shut up. But you know that’s cultural right. Lol! I mean, we are diasporic people, and we exchange knowledge through the art of the spoken word. At the heart of it, we’re all griots.

13gray-master1050.jpgA while back, the NY Times printed a piece that basically asked, Are college lectures racist…urmmm, I mean unfair. Are college lectures unfair? And in it, the writer explains that the college lecture format preferences some groups (white middle class males) over other groups (darn near every body else)

“Yet a growing body of evidence suggests that the lecture is not generic or neutral, but a specific cultural form that favors some people while discriminating against others, including women, minorities and low-income and first-generation college students. … The partiality of the lecture format has been made visible by studies that compare it with a different style of instruction, called active learning. This approach provides increased structure, feedback and interaction, prompting students to become participants in constructing their own knowledge rather than passive recipients.”

See, we as institutionalized people love talking, but only from the person in front of the room. We don’t find value in our students voices and thoughts and language. And when it comes to diasporic students that we believe don’t even know how to talk, tha51bVsNBnOZL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgt ebonics, that slanguage, it drives (some) of us crazy.

But what if we centered our students language and literacies in our classrooms? What if talking and the art of spoken word was valued and developed how would that change our students’ engagement in the classroom. I’m not saying lift it higher than reading, writing and listening. I’m saying equalize speaking with it’s peers.

But first we must address the elephant in the room. Why are we so stressed about urban youth language, ie talking Black. Hmmph! I’ll let you ponder on that one and if you’re interested, check out the book to the left! I mean, you need a summer reading list, right?

Also, there is a phenomenon you may not know about. It’s the plight of now middle class black folk (formerly poor black folk) who are trying their best to ensure their, “I’ve only known middle classness and nice white people children” know how to speak Black English. In the piece, To raise successful Black Kids, you have to teach them Black English, the author explains the following:

“When other blacks are unable to code switch, don’t have any comfort with black English, it doesn’t mean that they are bad people—but it does tell us they likely didn’t grow up around many African Americans. We may bristle at the ignorance that we believe is rampant when black kids accuse each other of sounding “white,” but we can’t deny that this thinking is still very much alive in our community—and most of us have to admit that we’ve thought negatively on occasion when we came across an African American who stiffly seemed unable to code switch.”

For me, that is compounded by wanting my children to also speak “West Indian” which is explained here.

But if you need a little taste right now to wet your appetite as you review your units in your mind, thinking about ways you can incorporate the art of the spoken word, check out this weeks recap. Our musical inspiration: Ain’t no half stepping!

You peeped the white woman’s words, “This is why your pen is extreme.” Wypipo crack me up. Yall should check out that interview of this white Harvard Professor explaining to Nas about the brilliance of his lyrics.

Awwwww baby, we don’t ever honor our language and creativity and skills unless the wypipo say so. I’m just hopeful that one day we will honor ourselves without wypipo’s approval.

Anyway, just think about what we’ve shared about the Art of the Spoken word, the commodifaction of black language and begin to find ways we can center the language of our students in our classrooms.

In solidarity.

Ayyyyeeeee, yall know what tomorrow is? It’s the birthday of a great GREAT man. I can’t wait to share my thoughts on him and it is my hope that you will honor him in your classrooms on Friday.


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