Thursday, February 28, 2013


...its bigger than...[ethnography forum reflections]

Over the weekend of February 21st-24th, I prepped for and enjoyed the 34th Annual Ethnography Forum as well as Sunday’s inaugural Screening Scholarship Media Festival extension. It was an awesome experience that left me with many insights and perspectives to begin to unpack. My experience within the Ethnography Forum was enhanced by the time I spent as a volunteer liaison for the Saturday plenary speaker, Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz of Teachers College.

Dr. Sealey-Ruiz’s presentation focused on disrupting partial representations of students in your class through clips from the Beyond The Bricks project where Black male students came together to create a documentary. She challenged educators to ask themselves: Are you seeing or are you noticing? In her metaphor, noticing indicated full attention and an inquiry approach. We were asked to complete a Venn Diagram that asked us to describe in one circle “How People See You” and in the other circle “What You Want People to Notice.” It made it more evident that while seeing and noticing are synonyms, they differ greatly in meaning. For my activity, I was partnered with an Ed.D candidate within RWL. We spoke about our identities and how that translated with our self-identified roles as advocates for social transformation. She offered that people see her as a White female, though she was hesitant to be noticed as a White female because of the traditional notions that follow the White female teacher in education. She noted that through her work, she strives to transcend that association. For myself, I offered that people see me as a Black male, and that I would like to be noticed as a Black male because the dominant narratives of Black males in the United States often excludes or exceptionalizes people like myself. A very interesting mix yet we shared one thing in common: we wanted to be noticed for our work first. Our work supersedes our personal identity and we both felt cautious about whether that would be recognized.

As I began to meditate on what it meant to put the work first, I thought about how that would influence my role as a teacher. I have always operated from the standpoint of asking students not to follow me, but to follow the ideas. It is perfectly fine to not to agree with me. I have often found myself more interested with such “skeptical” students. Especially in terms of the mainstream media’s representation of the Black community, I believe there has been a privilege of cultural, political, and economic critique taken up by preliminary Black leaders that I seek to dismantle. I understand this phenomenon to assume a narrative that concludes that many of the youth (and undereducated) in the Black community have to earn the right to have their concerns be taken seriously. In terms of national press, how diverse is the pool of Black people that contribute to critical national conversations on equity and social justice? This trickles down into our communities. Whereby many often have powerful and passionate critiques of individual and institutional discriminatory practices, there still lies the notion that these perspectives must be funneled through so-called leaders to speak truth to power. How can I convince the young people that I work with that their voice is just as valuable as Martin Luther King, Sojourner Truth, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Frederick Douglass? Not in the future, but right now?

I have found that the best practice is to disrupt the “banking” education model that Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed talks about so brilliantly. It’s not about what I think. It’s what you think. I love the moment when a young person looks at me sideways because they cannot perceive what side of a debate I am on. I push them to find their own stance backed up by personal values. Through this practice, I hope to instill within them the confidence, competence, and passion to become active spokespersons within their community in favor of equity, democracy, and justice.

I still have questions about this approach. Am I doing youth a disservice by not transmitting to them some of the wisdom that I have gained over the years? Do I think less of them to believe that if I give them my opinion, they will take it at face value? By engaging with the youth, am I evading my own inevitable personal bias and positionality? I want to be present one-to-one in the lives of youth while proclaiming that this work of teaching and learning is much bigger than you and I.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Reblogged from my Education Interwebs blog.

...bringing to the stage, DJ Ed Interwebs...

Today in #diglits, we spoke about the identit(ies) that we perform through the creation of our blogs. Dr. Stornaioulo [god, I hope that spelling is correct :)] pulled one of my original quotes into a document that had quotes from all of our blogs. It was one of my first posts. She obviously had to do some digging to get to it. I’m on post 57.
I hope to use this blog to share many of my “ruminations” about the future of education as well as pepper in many of the quotes and perspectives that speak to my hopes and dreams. If you notice from the title, hip-hop plays a major role in how I “read the world” (Friere & Macedo, 1987) around us. If you don’t know, get familiar.
My introduction to the blog. I noticed a couple things. One, ruminations…I love that word because I believe it to be associated with Rumi, who happens to be one of my favorites. Two, I had to link my brother from another mother Paulo Friere. He should be my uncle I guess. He was pretty old. Maybe he could be my pops. Lastly, the “get familiar”—-tag line that I know from DJ Clinton Sparks mixtapes—which links to a YouTube of Jay Electronica’s “Victory is in my Clutches”.

I realize that I really do take pride in my links. It’s not really about me. Most of the time, I don’t think I have anything original to say, or as Nas would say “No Idea’s Original.” [the ALCHEMIST version from The Lost Tapes] I do see myself as a curator and it comes out in a number of forms. I can dissect most of my language to their “originators” as in saying “jawn” happened because I grew up around Philadelphia. Rap lyrics infiltrate the idioms and phrases of my life. Comedians offer so many different jokes. So many things feel like a Curb Your Enthusiasm moment. The music I listen to is not only connected to the artist, but also connected to the moment that I discovered them and the process in which that came about. It’s a giant story. For example, Kendrick Lamar. [thats a Willie Hutch sample from The Mack Soundtrack] I have been listening to Kendrick Lamar since the EP because 9th Wonder had an interview on which he stated that Kendrick Lamar was one of his new favorites from out of the West. One Ctrl+ T later, I am downloading the free Kendrick Lamar EP and have been a fan ever since. There is so many different instances which pull events together.

I often talk about the genealogy of ideas that I have so much fun with in music, but it relates well to academia. Reading a WaxPoetics magazine, you come across so many different talented artists that helped to build classic music that would stand the test of time to become some of Hip-Hop’s greatest songs. Ex. The Delfonics’ Ready Or Not. These are amazing talents. You have to CITE YOUR SOURCES!! The funny thing about Hip-Hop is that you don’t just give it away. It becomes the responsibility of the listener to do the searching, to do the crate digging. You have to find it. I remember hearing the story of Afrika Bambataa (from DJ Red Alert on a RBMA lecture) that he would change the labels of the vinyl’s that he would play so that no other DJ would know the records he would be playing at the party. HAVING THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SOURCES IS A BIG DEAL.

I think of how hip-hop definitely favors the academic in terms of being a crate-digger and a curator. It’s not just about what I have to say. In many ways, my validity is only based on the sources. As @epohnire pointed out today in class, I do look at my blog like I am a DJ. I try to create an environment that supports social justice, digital media, and progressive education. I don’t care if it’s my records or from somewhere else. It’s about that sound. If it’s not there, I would have to do more to create it. But that energy is already out there in the world so I can step back and curate it.
Miles Davis was great at curating. He knew how to find himself in the new movements of jazz. I believe he did this because he always had one ear on his playing and one ear surveying the land. And you got to know what that Champion Sound is….

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday. (continued)

I don't just write about my escapades in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Here's a post from my "professional identity" blog Education Interwebs.

hold up, it ain’t exactly free. [ruminations on the digital divide]

“I can play the game because it’s free, but then are some other parts that it won’t let me access without payment.”
This is of course, the prevailing way in which developers are releasing their product: the freemium model. The freemium model means that there is a wide amount of access for everyone, yet for premium privileges, there is a price. We see it everywhere. This is what storage sites like DropBox depend on. My favorite music community SoundCloud is predicated upon the same deal. Many of the new ed-tech tools is premised upon the same strategy (famous exceptions: Khan Academy, CK-12). In this way, it becomes awfully easy to suggest that there are SO many tools out there that are free. I would ask you to think twice about that.
Have you counted the cost of the computer/console/phone/device?
[have you considered the prerequisites of the operating system and software needed to browse Web 2.0 (Flash, HTML5 Supported Browser, etc)]
Have you counted the cost of the internet upon which many of these applications depend?
[have you considered how telecom companies structure the cost of internet into triple play deals because internet is “just not enough”]
Have you read about the intricacies and delays around Comcast’s court-mandated Internet Essentials program that makes access to broadband SO cheap?
[do you know anyone who actually has it? Do you know the bandwidth limits they have for these connections?]
Do you know how to set up a router?
….and on….
….and on….

There’s a lot that we need to consider before we say that there are so many FREE tools out there to help students learn. There is still a ways to go before we rid ourselves of the digital divide.
BONUS: There was a controversial article in the Forbes’ blog last year that spoke to this. What was the name of it?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Yes!! Yes!! My proposal was accepted for DML2013. I will have 90 minute presentation with up to 10 seats! I'll update with the abstract later.

The Digital Media and Learning Conference is an annual event supported by the MacArthur Foundation and organized by the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub located at the UC Humanities Research Institute, University of California, Irvine. The conference is meant to be an inclusive, international and annual gathering of scholars and practitioners in the field, focused on fostering interdisciplinary and participatory dialog and linking theory, empirical study, policy, and practice. The fourth annual conference – DML2013 – is organized around the theme “Democratic Futures: Mobilizing Voices, and Remixing Youth Participation” and will be held between March 14-16, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Read More.

Great thing about PennGSE is that they reimburse students up to $150 to attend conferences, up to $300 to present!  I just got back an additional $150 and will reap excellent exposure and priceless wisdom for my project!

UPDATE: Presentation Draft

Localizing the World Wide Web for Social Action
Drawing upon the research of The Kinder & Braver World Project, specifically Shock (2012), one must begin to recognize and uphold that young people have played a major role within every progressive social movement, engaging with many of the new media tools of their time to “create, circulate, and amplify movement stories” in concert with direct action.  With increasing literacy in using digital tools to enhance learning and exposure in educational settings, we must continue to stand in the historical legacy to unite our voices and stories with concrete strategies to actualize the transformations that drives our passion to speak. How do we begin to reconcile local action within globe-reaching digital spaces in regards to civic engagement and social justice curricula? What are effective techniques to emphasize the balance between the creation of digital media and the need for active reinforcement of ideas? What happens after the media? My research seeks to investigate the connection between critical digital literacies and actualizing the social justice aims within the local community. Christopher Rogers has a project in process for the city of Chester, Pennsylvania that will engage youth in a participatory action research project to determine and implement digital solution(s) to create a more responsive connection between community members and city services. This comes as an expansion of a pilot project where youth engage with digital music creation tools to create an album dedicated to uplifting youth perspective on critical social issues.  In the workshop, participants will be introduced to Chester, PA through behind-the-scenes footage of the Chester Sound digital music lab while engaging in an informal conversation about connecting the power and potential of digital media tools to drive community movements and the struggle to actualize change. 

Friday, February 1, 2013


Just finished up writing a major essay for EDUC 550. One of my professors asked me to come to campus tomorrow to help with a tour of young impressionable high schoolers. Sort of excited about this!