Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pause, Reflect and Eject: A Note to Parents

My understanding is that we’re here to bring forth a well-adjusted young man; to bring the spark back in his eyes. The same spark he lost some time around junior high school, and maybe even before that, when the world went from amusement park to war zone. Let’s not ask what they don’t hear. Young people hate stupid questions— What’s wrong with you? Why do you stay out late? Who are you hanging around? Did you do your homework? Try, instead, Are you happy? Are you happy living here? What is it like to be you? How can school become more fulfilling for you? What am I not getting? So let’s put the punitive approach aside and find alternative ways of relating to our handsome young man, without all the judging and usual chastising, but to allow him to process and relate back in his own way. Let’s press PAUSE, REFLECT and EJECT old ways of parenting and teaching, since he’s not responding to traditional formula. Pause to notice what isn’t working. Reflect on how it felt when you were his age and add to that his indifference, disillusionment and functional depression. Eject your assumptions about him and start from here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Year the Butterfly Was Mine

All writers and poets have their favorite pieces. This here one is mine...

In a forgotten lazy junkyard
I saw him
Kicking empty cans with an agitated foot
Though we shared the same pair of eyes
He couldn’t see beyond the rage
That was badgering his mind
I remember his mother telling him
Son, it’s time you put away the gun
He stormed out the house, ran as fast as he could
Until he couldn’t anymore

The year the butterfly was mine…

He was a victim of circumstances
His old man died before he even knew him
He went on a mission
Crashing in and out of people’s lives
Too jaded to see his higher side
There were tell tale signs
Of a famous story waiting to be told
Iron bars would test his might
But that was how he found my name

The year the butterfly was mine...

In time, I’d wait for as long as he let me
As his questions became my answers
His eyes tired, but mine wide open
For the life he never had
So we took our last kick into the dusty air
Before the years began to gray
I still remember that wounded little boy
And the man who saved his life

The year the butterfly was mine…

From my book of poems, The Dredlocks Tree (2008)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book Reviews for Message to a Youngblood

"This book is a real meal. It reminds me of James Baldwin's "Letter to My Nephew" at the beginning of THE FIRE NEXT TIME. I used to teach on Rikers Island and I now teach so-called 'at risk youth' in an alternative education program. I know from experience that the audience to whom Mr. Koromantee is writing--whether the kids are Hispanic, Asian, White, or Black--scoff at most books that are written for them. This is a book that rings true and avoids the traps that most of those books fall into. For one thing, it's not patronizing. For another, it doesn't call on kids to compromise and make peace with 'the man'. It's a message that goes straight to the heart of what it means to be a man in this screwed up, greedy, racist society. This is a great book for any kid. I suspect that teachers who give it to students who 'can't read,' will find that they suddenly can read."

"I have had my copy of the book for approx one week and already someone has borrowed it! Ugh! Sending them your way for their OWN copy! Did i mention that my copy is SPECIAL? Yes, it is autographed for ME from YOU!"

"This book gives voice to our young African American men so that we can create a diaglogue, better understand the world from their view point and close the generational and communication gap that often plague us. Please consider supporting this work. I think you'll find you'll really enjoy it."

"Message To a Youngblood" is an uplifting read that discusses some of the most prevailing social issues concerning young men. What I love about the book is that It is a simply read that is not boring and people of all educational backgrounds can learn, enjoy, and gain further insight from. This novel is a page turner from beginning to end and I promise everyone you will not be disappointed."

"I got my copy of MESSAGE TO A YOUNGBLOOD in the mail a few days ago. I have to say this was an easy read with much practical and 'life-saving' information for our sons and brothers. Written with much care and wisdom, Mr. Koromantee covers all aspects of not only the problems that exist with marginalized young men, but also real, practical, workable SOLUTIONS. This book should be in every school, after-school program, workshops, boys home, etc. I love the section for educators on how to use the book as well. What a wealth of information! Thank you Mr. K!"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Misedcation of the Black Child

"When I attended grade school, there were always photos of great White men on the walls yet none looking more like my father; and Dick and Jane lived in a house that had a foyer, but I didn’t know what a foyer was since no one in my neighborhood had one. In middle school, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. seemed to be the only celebrated Black man. I remember being confused about the inner-city riots. My parents were too busy assimilating/surviving to break anything down for me, and my White teachers couldn’t find the words to explain why Black folk across America were so enraged. I just remembered the worrying in their eyes and this feeling of not being a cute Black kid to them anymore, but now officially a nigger. By the time high school came around, those same White teachers turned into cranky White instructors who taught me about the Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Sami and Gaul yet left out the Mali, Kush, Songhai, Moors and Zulu. I was taught civilization started with the ancient Greeks, but my social studies teacher skipped the part where they stole from Africa; that Queen Cleopatra seduced Caesar but nothing on Queen Nzinga and how she led an army against European invaders. I learned stuff like George Washington never told a lie, but not that he owned slaves; that Thomas Jefferson doubled the size of the United States by purchasing the southern territories from France, but it was with the help of the Haitians. And then there’s the standard Columbus discovered America, but I had to find out on my own that the Italian colonizer had originally set sail for India and got lost, so he named the Carib islands ‘West India’ to save face. I even learned about the Jewish holocaust ‘til I could recite pages off Anne Frank’s diary. But the on-going African holocaust was kept out of my textbooks and classroom discussions.

Like most African and West Indian American teens, I graduated high school having learned absolutely nothing about myself except that I started off as a slave from a savage continent, struggled through Jim Crow Laws, moved north for better job opportunities and was finally allowed to vote, thanks to the Civil Rights Movement. Other than that, I was invisible."

Excerpt from my book, Message to a Youngblood