I feel that I cannot write an entire post on the life of Nelson Mandela — to do so would not be enough. That, and I am not enlightened to his entire life’s work. I have no words for the impact this man had on the world. He is the embodiment of the fight for social justice, and therefore deserves a tribute in a blog for social justice. I am thankful for his continued impact on our history, and feel that the best way to honor him is to post some encouragement for us, as aspiring activists, in hopes that we follow suit.
With that said, his life was controversial. I understand that. However, no one can deny the positive impact he had on our world.
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.
Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.
Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.
If I had to describe T. J. in one word, it would be “cool.” He has faced so many obstacles in his life, but he always keeps his cool. If he hits one road block, he turns around and keeps driving until he finds his way. I have complete faith in him that he will succeed in whatever endeavor he encounters because his heart is strong and his drive unending.
T. J. inspires me because he never stops. So many times, I — like many others — feel like the world is against me in my fight for social justice. Then I encounter people whose stories are so inspirational, that I am called back into action. T. J.’s story does just that. If he can overcome countless obstacles, so can I — and so can you.
Love makes known the stereotypes that are deeply rooted in American society, and therefore, in our schools. One misconception of young Black males is their “attitude.” I, too, was very ignorant when I first began teaching, to the Black culture, as I grew up in a mostly white area (Northeast Georgia). However, college quickly opened my eyes to multiculturalism, and teaching in a very diverse school has changed my attitude toward the misconceptions of Black culture altogether.
According to Love, “Hip Hop swag serves as the perfect example. It is more than just a way of body movement and projections of coolness, it is an epistemological aim to engage others with confidence, likability, charm, cleverness, and resolve. Hip Hop swag is standing one’s ground” (p. 3). What a beautiful way to describe many of my students! While some may see Hip Hop swag as being “cocky,” or “apathetic,” this definition really gets to the heart of the matter: it’s a way of life, a way of being.
I agree with Love that “Too often, teachers make judgments concerning Black male students having nothing to do with their intellectual ability and everything to do with stereotypes, assumptions, and fear” (p. 3-4). I have fallen victim to this way of thinking in the past, but there are ways to battle normative ideas, and Love discusses a few of these in her article. One of the ways is through education and constantly educating yourself and your students. I am trying to do this through my critical pedagogy project (this website and my lesson plans), and I feel I am learning every bit as much as my students are. I only hope I am battling racial stereotypes and never perpetuating them (J. Whitley, Scholarly Notes, November 12, 2013).