In the @kqed_forum Studio with the fabulous Ayesha Mattu and Michael Krasny! (at KQED)
In the @kqed_forum Studio with the fabulous Ayesha Mattu and Michael Krasny! (at KQED)
I was recently commissioned to photograph five generations of descendants of Solomon Northup, author of “12 Years a Slave”. The feature can be seen in this week’s newsstand ‘Oscar’s Edition’ of The Hollywood Reporter as well as here.
However small, I feel honored to play a role in the sharing of Solomon Northup’s legacy. It was definitely an experience that I’ll always treasure. Enjoy!
As an educator and an organizer by training, I hold the empowerment of parents as a core value. When a community has involved, hopeful, and courageous parents it can transform not just a school but an entire school district. The most meaningful reforms that have happened in schools were the result of an organized parent movement - from the desegregation of schools to the push for smaller class sizes.
*waves parent power banner*
Paradoxically I really struggle with parent engagement and relationship building. That’s a euphemism. Correction: I often dread it. As a first year teacher (still in grad school, mind you), to simply call parents regularly feels burdensome on top of the zillion other things that I have to do. Let me give you a glimpse of a typical weekly to do list so you see what I mean:
1. Create and revise lesson plans
2. Grade papers and input in gradebook
3. Meet with school IRF (instructional coach)
4. Post homework online everyday
5. Revise lesson plan
6. Help facilitate student book club meetings
7. During lunch and after school tutoring
8. Grade papers again
9. Grad school homework
10. Make copies for class assignments
11. Mediate conflict outside class with students WHILE teaching
12. Field the hundreds of questions from students about their grades, what they’re doing next class, when they are going on a field trip, why did I choose Ms. So and so for their sub last week
13. Lesson planning again and again…
Now I know what you might be thinking: 11 and 12 don’t sound like to do list items. Well you’re wrong. I do them so often I plan them. If I don’t have students bombarding me with questions at lunch I track them down so I can get the satisfaction of checking off my to do list.
Calling 60 parents every week is the last thing on my mind unless…I have a student who is bringing the whirlwind (is it any wonder, considering we have sown the wind?) You educators know what I’m talking about. That student who you believe in and love in spite of his refusal to do anything except steal all the class’ attention from you and orchestrate chaos. The impulse is to send them out, write them up, and call the parents - often in that order. Contacting parents becomes part of a list of interventions that are all punitive. The relationship with the parent is now a weapon in Batman’s proverbial tool belt, used to fight the bad guy. And who is the bad guy? The kid who’s father is locked up and has no guidance. Or the one who is three grade levels behind in reading because no one has ever had high expectations of her.
We as educators sometimes try to justify this order of things: using parents as a means to punish or not using them at all. But let’s pause and do some truth telling about where this stems from. Too often we hold elitist implicit and explicit views of parents, requiring an ongoing practice of checking privilege. When that parent comes in high to drop off her daughter. Or when that other parent never comes to the parent teacher conferences, though her son is failing all his classes. We can’t help, sometimes, but to think they don’t give a damn. No hope for them (or their kids). Only point in contacting them is to scare their kids into behaving.
Now it’s easy to say you would never think this way, walking around with your rose colored color-blind glasses on and your organic free trade latte in hand.That is until you’ve gotten down in the trenches and you’re green and you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. You spend a week pulling all nighters to lesson plan only to have Aaron and his friends Ray Ray and Candice shit on your lesson plan. Then you call the parents everyday and they never answer or call back. That’s what’s real. We will fall into despair if we aren’t careful. And in that despair we run the risk of disempowering the ones we are charged to empower.
And what does it mean to empower?
When I was a community organizer i learned about and trained others on power. My organization was all about building a specific type of power. We delineated two types of power: 1. Power over 2. Power with. “Power over” is used to dominant and control. “Power with” is relational and more multilateral. My job was to develop the latter in congregants, youth, and parents. It was very hard work. It requires tons of patience, discernment, and courage. You have to learn to forgive, know what to say and how to say, and deliver hopeful and respectful challenge. If someone is not living into their potential as leaders, you had to call them on it. That’s power building.
If parents are a batarang in your tool belt used to control and dominate students, it’s the wrong kind of power building. Parents and students must feel agency and have a voice in a more lateral relationship. Wielding the the threat of a call home like the Z sword (shout to all you DBZers out there) may work in the short term. But parents will get tired of you calling them everyday about how little Jaime won’t shut his mouth while you’re talking. Jaime is going get tired of it too and it will erode the trust of both.
If you’re expecting this to end with grand platitudes and words of wisdom for educators then I’m sorry. This doesn’t end at all. This is a to be continued because I haven’t figured it out (will I ever? And is that even the goal?) I will, however, leave you with this: if you’re an educator and you don’t have a lateral relationship with parents and kids you’re screwed.
From Ella Baker to Abbey Lincoln, Lena Horne to Dorothy Height, let’s get to know women central to the civil rights movement. Some preferred staying behind-the-scenes, others performed their civil rights on stage and screen. Then we bring the conversation up to the present by talking about what’s changed since then (and what hasn’t) for performers like Beyoncé. Thanks for listening and sharing!
by Tara Parker-Pope
One of the great divides in male-female relationships is the “chick flick” — movies like “Terms of Endearment” and “The Notebook” that often leave women in tears and men bored. But now, a fascinating new study shows that sappy relationship movies made in Hollywood can actually help strengthen relationships in the real world.
A University of Rochester study found that couples who watched and talked about issues raised in movies like “Steel Magnolias” and “Love Story” were less likely to divorce or separate than couples in a control group. Surprisingly, the “Love Story” intervention was as effective at keeping couples together as two intensive therapist-led methods.
The findings, while preliminary, have important implications for marriage counseling efforts. The movie intervention could become a self-help option for couples who are reluctant to join formal therapy sessions or could be used by couples who live in areas with less access to therapists.
“A movie is a nonthreatening way to get the conversation started,” said Ronald D. Rogge, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and the lead author of the study. “It’s really exciting because it makes it so much easier to reach out to couples and help them strengthen their relationships on a wide scale.”
The initial goal of the study was to evaluate two types of therapist-led interventions called CARE and PREP. The CARE method focuses on acceptance and empathy in couples counseling, while PREP is centered on a specific communication style that couples use to resolve issues. The researchers wanted a third option that allowed couples to interact but did not involve intensive counseling.
They came up with the movie intervention, assigning couples to watch five movies and to take part in guided discussions afterward. A fourth group of couples received no counseling or self-help assignments and served as a control group.
Going into the study, the researchers expected that the CARE and PREP methods would have a pronounced effect on relationships and that the movie intervention might result in some mild improvements to relationship quality. To their surprise, the movie intervention worked just as well as both of the established therapy methods in reducing divorce and separation.
Among 174 couples studied, those who received marriage counseling or took part in the movie intervention were half as likely to divorce or separate after three years compared with couples in the control group who received no intervention. The divorce or separation rate was 11 percent in the intervention groups, compared with 24 percent in the control group.
Dr. Rogge and senior author Thomas N. Bradbury, a director of the Relationship Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, published the findings in the December issue of The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
In determining the list of relationship movies that might be useful to couples, the researchers eliminated popular romantic comedies or “falling in love” movies like “Sleepless in Seattle” or “When Harry Met Sally.” Instead, they put together a list of movies that show couples at various highs and lows in their relationships. “Hollywood can place very unrealistic expectations on romantic relationships,” Dr. Rogge said. “The idea that you are supposed to fall in love instantly and effortlessly is not reality and not relevant to most couples who are two, three or four years into a relationship.”
Some of the movies on the list, like “Couples Retreat,” are funny and not necessarily realistic. “But they are enough to get a dialogue going,” Dr. Rogge said.
Since completing the initial study, Dr. Rogge and his colleagues have been recruiting couples from around the country to study the effect of the movie intervention on different relationships, including long-married and same-sex couples. Megan Clifton, a 27-year-old student in Knoxville, Tenn., has lived with her boyfriend for nearly two years. Although she says the two have “great communication,” she opted to try the movie intervention.
While watching the movie “Date Night” with Tina Fey and Steve Carell, the couple laughed at a scene in which the husband fails to close drawers and cabinet doors. “He leaves cabinet doors open all the time, and I become the nagging girlfriend and he shuts down a little,” Ms. Clifton said. “When we were watching the movie, I said ‘That’s you!,’ and it was humorous. We ended up laughing about it, and it has helped us look at our relationship and our problems in a humorous way.”
Matt and Kellie Butler of Ashtabula, Ohio, have been married for 16 years and also feel the movie intervention has helped their relationship. So far they have watched “Love and Other Drugs” and “She’s Having a Baby.”
“It’s kind of powerful,” Mr. Butler said. “It’s like watching a role play in a group-therapy session, but it’s a movie so it’s less threatening and more entertaining.”
Mr. Butler said that even though he and his wife have a strong bond, long-married couples sometimes forget to talk about their relationship. “We’ve been married 16 years, but it’s not something you sit down and have a conversation about,” he said. “When you watch the movie, it focuses your conversation on your relationship.”
Couples interested in the method can find more information at www.couples-research.com.
Dr. Rogge noted that more research is needed to determine the effect on a variety of couples. One flaw of the study is that the control group was not truly randomized. While the couples in the control group seemed similar to other couples in the study in terms of demographics and relationship quality, further research is needed to validate the movie method.
“I believe it’s the depth of the discussions that follow each movie and how much effort and time and introspection couples put into those discussions that will predict how well they do going forward,” said Dr. Rogge.
Q&A #salaamlove book launch (at California Institute of Integral Studies)
#salaamlove book launch (at California Institute of Integral Studies)
"Black men (Muslim & non-Muslim) are human beings with feelings, fears and dreams, joys and great pains. We are healing from trauma that is older than the bones of our ancestors and yet the wounds are raw and tender. We are not weak but you should still handle us with care."
More of my story here —> Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy