Sunday, February 14, 2021


I am reviving this blog: The Race 101 Project, (after 5 years) because in 2021 it is even more timely, relevant, and needed because the issues and challenges pertaining to race, equity, oppression, privilege and bias are very prominent and explosive in our society. So, welcome BACK to our exploration of discussions and conversations regarding race. 

As a Black alumni, of Bank Street College of Education in NYC, I was asked what Black History Month means to me. Here is my response...

Black History Month is an attempt to address the omissions, inaccuracies and distorted history of Blacks in the US. It is a means of trying to fill in the gaps that were intentionally woven into the biased and Eurocentric telling and recording of history. It is important that all students learn of the generations of Black heroes and sheroes and everyday hard working Black people who toiled for hundreds of years in this country, since they were first captured and brought to these foreign shores. Black History Month is an opportunity to showcase and highlight the history and contributions of Black people. 

However, for it to have relevance and meaning it must be connected appropriately to the larger traditional narrative of US history that is too often still taught in schools. This narrative continues to elevate and celebrate the European “explorers and conquerors”, denigrate, diminish or negate the Indigenous Native American population and dehumanize Africans and minimize the horrors of slavery Blacks experienced in this country. The manner in which US history is taught must be dismantled and taught from an inclusive perspective, looking at the legacy, historical facts and stories of all people and groups who make up the American landscape and story. African/Black History should be embedded in all aspects of the curriculum year round, Only then will having designated months such as African American History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, etc. function as a resource instead of the main source of information about the history of those populations. 

Share your thoughts... What does Black History Month mean to you?



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Race in the 21st Century

In this era of mass communication via social media, skype, facetime, texting, email and other forms of online communication and technology people have immediate access to personal, local, national and international news. Far too often we are shown images and videos of assaults, violent attacks and police brutality. Without question Black on Black crime must be mentioned, acknowledged and addressed. However, the focus of this blog post is on those nationally known incidents that were unquestionably racially targeted by Whites against Blacks; and in many cases by White police officers. The RECENT incidents have been many including: Travyon Martin, Sanford, Florida; Eric Garner, Staten Island New York; Michael Brown, Ferguson; Missouri, Tamir Rice, Cleveland, Ohio; Sandra Bland, Waller County, Texas; and the female student assaulted by the school officer in South Carolina....and the list goes on and on...

These modern day "lynchings" are reminiscent of a sad, painful and horrific time in our past as Blacks in America- when lynchings were the unofficial law of the land in some areas. In the majority of cases then and now the White perpetrator walks free. Today is a reminder that as much as things change they have unfortunately remained the same! In 2015 we may have a Black president, many  educated and professional Blacks in high positions, and Black multi-millionaire athletes and entertainers. Yet, the masses of Black people are still struggling for their daily survival during this recession or borderline depression.

These vicious incidents that are shown repeatedly on the news and online permeate our mind and psyche and linger in our subconscious mind. As an educator I am concerned about the damage these incidents and images are having on our minds. Black boys and men and NOW Black girls and women know they are targets, and many live in fear. We pray that it won't happen to us, our families, loved ones and people in our sphere. We grieve with parents who bury their loved ones, weep for the racial injustices that permeate our country, and anger over the vicious assaults. We now recognize the risk in the US of DWB-Driving While Black, SWB-Sitting While Black and in reality LWB-Living While Black. In an effort to understand the collective experiences of diverse views - I ask you my readers to respond to one question:

What impact does race have on your daily life?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Beginnings - The Foundation

My family migrated north from their southern roots in the winter of 1925 as part of the Great Migration. This was a time when thousands of Black families left the segregated south and went to northern cities seeking a better life. Many of these Black/African families had Indigenous and White ancestors from generations of voluntary and involuntary mixing. I have ancestry with roots deep in many races, ethnicities and cultures. My great grandparents hail from Africa, America, Australia, and England, so my roots are multicultural and my story is spread across at least 4 continents. Yet, I define my race as Black, and my ethnicity as African because my "soul" resonates with Africa, and my spirit remains connected to the "motherland" across time and space.

In this blog I will explore the construct of race as viewed by people of diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We will hear different viewpoints, beliefs and thoughts as I interview people in my daily travels about their thoughts and insights on the concept of race.  A guiding question driving this project is: What comes to mind when you hear the word race?

This blog will delve into the insights of a wide variety of individuals across lines of race, culture, language, national origin, gender, age, and religion - and their thoughts about race and what it all means to them in the 21st Century.

Southern Roots


In honor of the Lipscomb Family Reunion 2011
2011© Helen Tinsley

united by blood & connected by purpose

we come together

to break bread & tell stories of folks gone on.

to meet & greet the new & the old

& build connections that link back to that first garden

where adam & eve witnessed the dawn.

we hail from north & south, east & west

seeds scattered on the earth

with roots still deep in the Virginia soil.

raised up on fried fish and grits

Sunday finest & church

yes ma’am's & no sir's

we - these descendants of willie, mary & maude are family.

fruit from the same tree

cut from the same cloth

we are kin-folk.

family was once all we knew & all we had

the one who always got your back

the person you went to in need

the shoulder to cry on

the back-up when there was no back-up

the one who could make it right

like milk in your coffee & butter on your bread

your people

we - these descendants of willie, mary & maude are family.

we stand on their shoulders

& come from a long line of strong people −

those old Africans & Indians that chose to survive

& never gave up.

believers in hard work & perseverance

who put enslavement, sharecropping, jim crow

& legal segregation to bed

& never looked back.

today in your journey – connect with your family

the new & old

enjoy the smooth ride together

but try to avoid the bumps in the road

& build up the bridges that have broken down

over time, space & circumstances

connect the dots that make family - family

and pave the way for our babies

to continue the legacy on the path we walk.