Decarceration and Excarceration. | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Abolition & Justice
Well, I would like to see, as Fay Honey Knopp, who was an abolitionist during the '70s and the ’80s and one of the co-authors of a wonderful book called Instead of Prisons: An Abolitionist Handbook, you know, I would like to see an emphasis on decarceration, an emphasis on excarceration.              Angela Davis on Democracy Now, October, 2010 I’m back in school. Quite honestly, as a lifelong learner, I’ve never left. As soon as I graduated, I created a syllabus of resources on black feminist thought, narrative inquiry and transformative learning and began reading. Studying these topics was nurturing and in many ways, freeing. Love and curiosity have led me to study mass incarceration and abolition. My new syllabus is growing. A recurring name…
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Forever Changed | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Sexual Violence
What is one thing that left you forever changed? I stumbled across this question while sitting, browsing and mulling – the trio known collectively as my process. Even when I have an idea in mind (I did) I often have to go through this period of germination. I embraced it in grad school, but I kinda want things to move a little faster. But this is me stalling. As soon as I read that question, an answer came to mind. I was inspired to respond, completely disregarding my initial plans to write about student ingenuity and punishment. Though as I began to type, I wondered how much I should or would share. I’m still deciding. I’ll ease into it and see what comes out. I experienced the first love of…
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On Behalf of Justice. | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Abolition & Justice
Reading in preparation for a lecture on Buddhist writings, I came across this quote: What is the noblest way of life? My unhesitating answer to that question is: a life dedicated to truth and justice. Only in a world where truth and justice flourish can people freely bring forth their innate goodness. If, in contrast, philosophies or belief systems that deny the possibility of infinite human improvement prevail, misery and suffering will abound. ~Daisaku Ikeda, Lecture on Nichiren’s Letter from Teradomari This resonated today. As some of you know, I’m becoming an activist and advocate for modern abolition – the end of mass incarceration. These days I’m mulling a series of essays. I want to help us imagine a world in which imprisonment is no longer the strategy of first…
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Workout Freewrite | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Temple Building
In January 2012, I hung up my running shoes and started exercising indoors. One month into a 12-week fitness program, I placed a full-length mirror in the living room. I spent six mornings a week engaging in high intensity cardio, and seeing the results from day to day – chiseling, bloating, and stops between – proved motivating. April 1, I went for my first run of the year. I ran a personal best. It burned, though. Shortly thereafter, I began another 12-week program. This one was weight lifting (Pump). Normally I dislike lifting. Go to a gym and lift free weights or get on those machines? It ain’t happening, son. In grad school I discovered BodyPump, a full body barbell class choreographed to the latest hits. I loved it. When…
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On Worthy Writing | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Writer's Craft
The 30in30/WriteLikeCrazy challenge has proven a good workout for my writing muscles. It’s early yet – this is my sixth post in as many days – but in addition to getting words on the page, I’ve also engaged in a decent bit of self-reflection. Prior to this, my daily decision-making was thus: “to write or not to write?” Usually the answer was “not to write.” Never short on reasons, I chose from: No time No topic No audience No confidence No expertise Just no With this challenge, the game has changed. New decision points are, “what time will I write” and “what shall I say?” As to what time, I had dreams of creating a daily writing block. 8-9 a.m., for example. But dreams fade upon waking, and reality kicks…
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It’s a small world, after all. | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge
Watch globally; connect locally... My local baristas know me by name and drink. Medium or large iced coffee, depending on the day. Black. Extra pump of classic. I like to think I don’t need the caffeine, it’s just nice to have. Ahem. “Tom” asks which size I prefer today. Definitely the large. He is immediately curious. "Busy day today?" he inquires. "Nah. Well, no busier than usual. But I was up until 2 a.m. watching the rover land on Mars!" And with that exchange, a middle-aged white man exclaims from his seat across the café. I turn to be sure he is reacting to my announcement, and indeed he is. Hovering over his laptop, he beckons, halfway hiding the grin on his face. I laugh, strolling over to him, coffee…
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Taking Up Space | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkpTsAmv8XQ?rel=0] I loved Flo Jo. Growing up, I loved her because she was a sprinter, and so was I. She was fast and beautiful. Commentators exchanged countless words over her attire, hair and ornate nails. They left me wondering why jewelry and make up were so controversial. Raging debates on appearances aside, the proof was in the pudding. Years later, seeing Flo Jo again sparked a deeper sense of appreciation. (Thanks, Tara). I loved her then and perhaps more now, because she was unabashedly herself. Or at least, she represented herself the way she chose and did so unapologetically. There’s so much power in that. I spent my youth as a shrinking violet. Even as an adult, I entered rooms with my head down, eyes lowered. Hiding. Striving for…
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We Wear the Mask | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Education, Politics, News & Notable
Why should the world be over-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs? Nay, let them only see us, while We wear the mask. ~Paul Lawrence Dunbar I sit down with two other women present for the two-day workshop. We are instructional coaches – former classroom teachers – in Orlando for professional development in literacy. Our conversation drifts to “the kid.” Who was the kid? The one who was the pivotal in your career? Lillian tells of two, beginning with ‘Eric.’ That kid was always grumpy. On edge. He was likely to pick a fight or get in trouble for some reason or another. It wasn’t long before I discovered he simply couldn’t read very well. She explains to us how she won him over through small, daily successes. She…
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Humane Treatment for All | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Abolition & Justice
I begin with a declaration. I never believed it radical in nature, but I'm coming to the realization that it might be. People are not disposable. People deserve to be treated humanely. And by people, I mean all people, not just a select few. Not just those who have (thus far) avoided the label criminal; but everyone. We sometimes view the world in dichotomies. We place things at one end of a continuum or the other. We see something as black or white, not that troublesome gray. We prefer simplicity instead of nuance and complexity. We favor “or” rather than embrace “and.” But here’s the thing: people who engage in criminal behavior, are still people. The mere fact that they are human, means they still deserve humane treatment. But what about…
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Tell Your Story. | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Writer's Craft
And this is why we have to tell our own stories. When it's up to someone else, we might not even be NAMED. Forget a whole narrative. — nicole means victory (@ndcollier) August 1, 2012 I tweeted this out of frustration surrounding the coverage (and lack thereof) of Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas. It isn’t the first moment to inspire this response, yet I’ve only recently begun to affirm this for myself. For years, I had connected storytelling to a sort of pathology. The stories that truly needed telling were riddled with pain and misery. The only important stories showed tremendous triumph over tragedy, rags to riches, or some variation that X was hard and I overcame it. I never experienced my life in those terms; therefore, I didn’t have…
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