How to Confront Bias in the Classroom

While as adults, we learn to sweep powerless microaggressions under the rug, when it comes to our children, these behaviors, especially in the educational system, can be irrevocably damaging. We are often forced to fight for them, even when we haven’t always been willing to fight for ourselves.

by Faye McCray

It’s a burden that can be uniquely ours.  And by ours, I mean people of color.  As we move into different career paths or socioeconomic statutes or merely try to introduce ourselves to different experiences, the rooms tend to get less brown.  In a good room, it’s a fleeting thought.  You notice but it doesn’t silence you. In fact, it may encourage you to be brighter, since you are already standing out.  In a difficult room, the otherness can be palpable, leaking from every stare and comment.  You are center court, dodging decades of expectations, and assumptions about your thoughts, beliefs and lifestyle.  You have to fight your way out without shrinking or being defined.

At thirty-something, I feel like an old pro but when it comes to my kids, I still feel like a rookie.  While as adults, we learn to sweep powerless microaggressions under the rug, when it comes to our children, these behaviors, especially in the educational system, can be irrevocably damaging. We are often forced to fight for them, even when we haven’t always been willing to fight for ourselves.  It was with this thought in mind that I wondered, how would I defend my child against bias in the educational setting?

For us, the seemingly inevitable came in my eldest’s second grade year when he came to me and declared that Ms. V*, a paraeducator at his school “…did not like brown boys.”  As I listened to him rattle off the list of infractions: from telling him and other brown boys she was “watching” them to telling him he wasn’t better than anyone else to accusing him of lying about asking to use the bathroom, it was clear she was targeting him but connecting the dots between her behavior and racism would be a much more daunting task.  After all, racism is a very strong accusation.  By definition, it means “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”  That’s heavy.  I knew going into his school ready to hurl that word at the first one to listen wasn’t the way to be heard. Whether I believed it to be true or not.

1. Remain calm.

My husband’s karate teacher used to teach self defense to women. He said the women would always start off throwing weak jabs and hits, too shy to use their full strength.  However, as soon as the instructor challenged them to fight like they were protecting their children, all bets were off.  I would wager nothing makes a human more feral than the thought of having to protect your children.  However, when it comes to protecting our children in the education setting, we must remain calm. In spite of what reality TV has taught us, no one ever hears you when you’re yelling. This I know. Though my first instinct was to contact the school immediately upon learning of this educator’s behavior, I knew I needed to calm down first.  In my case, it meant waiting for my husband to come home so we could strategize, have some tea, and get a good night’s sleep.

2. Identify your objective.

In our case, we wanted the behavior to stop. We were fortunate Ms. V was a paraeducator and not his primary teacher. We adored his primary teacher.  We also had a great relationship with his school’s administrators. We didn’t think we were confronting a systemic problem but more of a problem with this particular educator.  Thus, we knew disciplinary action could potentially rectify the situation. We also knew from previous interactions with Ms. V, discussing the issue directly with her may cloud our objective.  She wasn’t personable and seemed like the kind of small-minded individual that may antagonize the situation.  We knew calmly discussing the issue with the principal was the best way to find a solution for the problem.

Identifying your objective is crucial in determining what path of redress you should take. If you suspect the problem is systemic, your starting point may be beyond the administrators but with the school board.

“Make [the issue] child specific. All parents are critical of their children’s progress. Everyone will understand that. When you start with race, you put people on the defensive and that is counterproductive.”

3. Focus on the child.

Princess Lyles, Executive Director of Democracy Builders, an organization focusing on parental advocacy in public schools, recommends: “Make [the issue] child specific. All parents are critical of their children’s progress. Everyone will understand that. When you start with race, you put people on the defensive and that is counterproductive.”

Our first step was sitting down with the principal and expressing our disappointment with our son’s experience. We used phrases like, “Ms. V’s words made our son feel vulnerable” and “Ms. V made him feel targeted.”  We let the principal know our son was enthusiastic about learning and looked forward to going to school each day.  We were worried his interaction with this educator would ruin that.  Our son didn’t have a history of behavioral problems or problems with any other teachers in the school.  This made it clear that the issue was more with this particular educator.

4. Document and investigate.

We were fortunate that our principal was very receptive so our battle ended there. In fact, while we used words like “vulnerable” and “targeted.”  She used phrases like “resistant to change” and “from a different time.”  It was clear we were ALL on the same page.

Although our principal was receptive to our grievances, we were prepared to go further.  Our son’s concern about Ms. V’s interaction with all “brown boys” stemmed from weeks of watching her berate and target brown children.  We knew he wasn’t the only one at stake.

Lyles recommends documenting your child’s allegations, observing interactions (where possible) and talking with other parents.  “Poke around to see if there are similar circumstances,” she said.  If the issue warrants going beyond teachers and administrators, you may have to  bring your grievances to the school board.  In which case, you want to prepared.

5. Explore other options.

“Education is a partnership,” said Lyles. “To the extent the school isn’t working to make it a partnership, it may not work for you.  Unfortunately, one size does not fit all, you will constantly be on a mission to find the school that’s the right fit.”

The truth is, not everyone is cut out to be the Norma Rae of inclusive education. Often your priority is to protect your child and that’s okay.  If your child is attending a private school or if a private school is within your means, the solution may be as easy as finding another private school.  If private school is not an option, many school districts offer open enrollments, charter schools and variance applications that open the door to attending schools outside of your neighborhood.  Do your homework and know your options.

“You are your child’s best advocate.”

6. Remain involved.

Whether it’s the beginning, middle or end of your child’s educational career, it is important to remain involved.  My husband and I are both active members of our school community. We have held positions on the PTA and volunteered regularly in our son’s classrooms. We also encourage constant dialogue with our children’s teachers and administrators.  When I emailed my son’s principal to request a meeting, she already knew who we were.  She knew we were invested in our child’s education, not just when there was a problem but when things were going well.  After our meeting, she also knew we wouldn’t just disappear. We would remain active and thus, she would remain accountable.

Even if your work schedule makes it difficult to give face time at your child’s school, emails and social media make it easier to remain active.  Send an email checking in every once in awhile.  Ask about your child’s progress and what you can do at home.  Be sure to introduce yourself and your child to school administrators where possible.

“You are your child’s best advocate,” said Lyles.  The best way to avoid problems is to be there before they start.

*name changed.

***

About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising.

The Truth About Your Favorite Kids Snacks

Here are eight popular kids snacks and the truth about what is in them.

I hate grocery shopping.  My kids are constantly ramming my ankles with the cart, running through the isles, and begging for every snack with a cartoon characters face on it. Distracted trips often make it difficult to be an informed consumer.  It’s easy to rely on words like “fruit” and “cheese” to assume you are picking the healthiest option.  The truth is, there are many hidden dangers, even in our favorite kid’s snacks.  However, most can be spotted by their hard to pronounce names and high sugar content.   Apps like Shopwell and Fooducate (which has an awesome barcode scanning option) make it even easier to sift the good from the bad. Here are eight popular kids snacks and the truth about what is in them:

WARNING: Once you know the truth, you will know forever.

1. Strawberry Frosted Pop Tarts

It hurts my heart to write this because I LIVED for Strawberry Frosted Pop Tarts in college. They were a crispy and simple toaster treat and the truth won’t destroy our memories!  The truth will, however, destroy our future. These processed little pastries have 4tsp of sugar per serving, trans fats and a controversial petroleum based additive TBHQ (yummy!).  According to the FDA, the amount of TBHQ in food cannot exceed 0.02% because in lab experiments it has caused paralysis and convulsions. Good looking out, FDA, says no one.

2. Nacho Cheese Doritos

The good news is Doritos contain whole grains! The bad news, this highly processed treat also contains artificial colors (known to pose a risk for hyperactivity, cancer and allergic reactions) and MSG. Although MSG is recognized as “generally” safe by the FDA, it is known to cause adverse reactions such as sweating, facial pressure or tightness, rapid, fluttering heartbeats (heart palpitations) and chest pain.

3. Rice Krispy Treats

These sweet treats contain 2tsp of sugars per serving, contains TBHQ ( controversial petroleum based additive, see above) and BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene). BHT is an additive used to retard rancidity in oils and foods. While accepted as safe in small doses, research studies have shown it to be cancer causing in lab mice, rats and hamsters.

4. Fruit Gushers

I hate when foods with the word fruit in it disappoint me.  Fruit gushers contain 3tsp of sugar per serving! That may not sound like much but researchers recently called for limiting a child’s sugar consumption to 6tsp a day.

According to Dr. Miriam Vos, an associate professor of pediatrics at Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and lead author of the paper: “A diet high in added sugars is strongly associated with weight gain, obesity, insulin resistance, abnormal cholesterol and fatty liver disease in children and all of these increase future cardiovascular risk.”

These seemingly innocuous yet highly processed treats also include trans-fats and artificial flavors.

5. Chips Ahoy

Chips Ahoy was a staple of my house growing up. In fact, my cousins would immediately look for these yummy cookies when visiting my mom’s house in Queens.  Unfortunately, these highly processed treats contain 3tsp of sugar and industrial caramel coloring. According to Fooducate, Industrial Caramel Coloring is made from reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites. The reaction creates 4-methylimadazole which has caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer, high blood pressure and leukemia in lab mice and rates. In 2011, California required foods containing caramel color to be labeled as potentially cancer causing but manufactures reduced the amount of color to avoid the labeling requirements.

6. Kool Aid Jammers, Grape

Unlike their mom, my kids will never know the magic of Kool Aid on a hot summer day.  This beverage not only contains artificial colors, it contains 7. 5 tsp of sugar per serving which exceeds the daily recommendation! Kool Aid also contains EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) is a preservative used to retain color. As with most chemicals, usage often carries the risk of side effects. Such side effects include anemia, irregular heartbeat and insulin shock.

7. Kit Kat

These little wafers contain 5.5 tsp of sugar per serving and very high in saturated fat. According to the Mayo Clinic, saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

8. Cheez It Snack Mix

These snacks contain over 20% of the daily max of salt.  A high sodium diet can increase your risk of high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “about 1 in 6 children ages 8-17 years has raised blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Lowering sodium in children’s diets today can help prevent heart disease tomorrow, especially for those who are overweight.”  These salty treats also include artificial colors and MSG and TBHQ, those yummy preservatives we discussed earlier.

 

***

About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising.

20 Positive Affirmations to Start Your Child’s Day

Send your children (and yourself) out into the world with these positive affirmations for a great start to any day!

A positive mindset is the best way to start your day. Though navigating this world can be unpredictable, starting off your day with the right frame of mind can prepare you to handle whatever comes your way. Send your children (and yourself) out into the world with these positive affirmations for a great start to any day!

1. I am loved.

2. I am brave.

3. I make good choices.

4. I am happy.

5. I am smart.

6. I work hard.

7. I learn from my mistakes.

8. I am a good friend.

9. I am honest.

10. I am responsible.

11. I am proud.

12. I am a good listener.

13. I am handsome/beautiful.

14. I am a problem solver.

15. I am calm.

16. I am strong.

17. I am creative.

18. I believe in myself.

19. I respect others.

20. I respect myself.

***

About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising.

 

13 Facts About The First Woman to Run for the Democratic Presidential Nomination (Hint: It’s Not Hillary!)

There would have been no Hillary Clinton OR Barack Obama without Shirley Chisholm. Here are 12 facts you should know about this often overlooked pioneer!

Long before Hillary Clinton made her first run for the Democratic nomination in 2008, Shirley Chisholm made waves as the first woman to run for the Democratic Party nomination and the first African American to be placed on the ballot.  There would have been no Hillary Clinton OR Barack Obama without Shirley Chisholm.

Here are 13 facts you should know about this often overlooked pioneer!

1. She was the child of immigrants.

Born Shirley Anita St. Hill in Brooklyn, New York in 1924, the future trailblazer was the child of immigrants. Her mother was born in Barbados and her father was born in British Guiana (now known as Guyana).  When she was five, she was sent to live with her grandmother in Barbados and did not return until she was almost ten. She spoke with a subtle West Indian accent.

2. She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta.

Chisholm pledged Delta Sigma Theta sorority while attending Brooklyn College to attain her Bachelor of Arts. She later received her MA in Elementary Education from Columbia University.

3. She is a former day care center director.

Before entering politics, Chisholm was a day care center director in Brownsville, Brooklyn and later, lower Manhattan.  She was a known expert in areas of early childhood education and child welfare.

4. She was the 2nd African American woman elected to the New York State Legislature.

In 1965, she became only the 2nd African American woman elected to the New York State Legislature.  While serving, she introduced the “SEEK program (Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge) to the state, which provided disadvantaged students the chance to enter college while receiving intensive remedial education.”

5. She was the 1st African American Congresswoman.

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm made history by becoming the first African American congresswoman in the United States. She served seven terms in the Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood of her hometown Brooklyn, New York.  

6. She was “Unbought and Unbossed.

While running for Congress, her campaign slogan was “Unbought and Unbossed” which was also the title of her autobiography published in 1970.

SC

7. She helped found the Congressional Black Caucus.

Chisholm was one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus (so named in 1970).  Her mission: “to seize the moment, to fight for justice, to raise issues too long ignored and too little debated.” 

8. She fought for children and their families.

Her fight for children and their families continued while she was in Congress. She fought for a national school lunch bill, she worked to expand the food stamps program, and was instrumental in establishing The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (Wic), which provided support for pregnant women.

9. She was the first woman to run for the Democratic party nomination and the first African American to be placed on the ballot!

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm announced her campaign for presidency become the first woman to run for the Democratic party nomination and the first African American to be placed on the ballot! She ultimately lost to the nomination to Senator George McGovern of South Dakota and the national election to Republican nominee Richard Nixon, a Senator from California (yikes, we all know how that turned out).

10. She visited George Wallace after he was almost assassinated.

She lost some of her support due to her relationship with segregationist George Wallace.  After visiting him at the hospital following the attempt on his life in 1972: “Black people in my community crucified me,” she said. “But why shouldn’t I go to visit him? Every other presidential candidate was going to see him. He said to me: ‘What are your people going to say?’ I said: ‘I know what they’re going to say. But I wouldn’t want what happened to you to happen to anyone.’ He cried and cried and cried.”

11. She remained active in politics after she left Congress.

She remained politically active after leaving Congress.  Shirley Chisholm left congress in January of 1983 and became a professor teaching at Mt. Holyoke College.  Yet, she made time to found the National Political Congress of Black Women.  She also campaigned for Jesse Jackson’s presidential bids in 1984 and 1988.  She spoke throughout the country about her amazing career and expertise on issues of race, gender, and politics.   

12. She is a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.

Shirley Chisholm was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 by President Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States.  In giving the award President Obama said: 

“There are people in our country’s history who don’t look left or right – they just look straight ahead. Shirley Chisholm was one of those people.”

13. A biopic about her life is in the works.

In 2016, it was announced Tony Award winning actress Anika Noni Rose will star in and produce a film about Shirley Chisholm’s amazing legacy!

*Note: An earlier edition of this article stated that Chisholm was the first African American to run for President. While she was, in fact, the first African American to be listed on the ballot, there were a number of African American candidates who ran before her.

***

About The Authors

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising.

 

Rick McCray is a maRAMrried father of three amazing sons. He is also a proud graduate of Duke University where he holds a BA in History and African/African American History, and Howard University School of Law. He is a regular commentator on the In The Black podcast.  Rick is passionate about our history and helping to educate our community concerning the great contributions of people of color to the world. You can find Rick on Twitter @RealRickMcCray.

Saturday Morning Cartoons Just Got Way Cooler

Here are 7 shows that will take your kids around the world and back in your living room!

Representation in kids television is often just as hard as finding representation in kids books.  However, with the demands are modern lives, it is difficult to avoid turning to the television on a rainy day or when you just need fifteen minutes to take a shower. Here are 7 shows that will take your kids around the world and back in your living room!

1. Bino and Fino

Bino and Fino is a cartoon aimed at three to five year olds, about a brother and sister who live with their grandparents in an unnamed African city.

“I said I’m not going do African folk tales, animals — that’s what you get in (animated movie) ‘Madagascar’ — we don’t want to do that,” Creator Adamu Waziri said to CNN.
“We want to show a couple of kids in a middle class life, which I know isn’t the reality of all the kids in Africa, but let’s show that reality — the reality of people using laptops, phones, going to school, doing their daily business — no talking ants, no dancing ‘jinga jinga’ music — just a cartoon of life.”
Chhota-Bheem_(1).jpg

2. Chhota Bheem

According to Wikipedia, Chhota Bheem is “an Indian animated comedy-adventure series. First premiered in 2008 on Pogo TV, it focuses on adventures of a boy named Bheem and his friends in the fictional kingdom of Dholakpur. In this series Bheem and his friends are usually involved in protecting Raja (Hindi for King) Indravarma of Dholakpur to save the kingdom from various evil forces. Sometimes they are seen helping other kingdoms as well. It is one of the most popular animated series for children of India.”
Full episodes are available on YouTube!  The show is in Hindi but as with most kids shows, I found my kids were engaged by the exciting animation and the universally awesome theme song (seriously, listen to it once and you will be singing it for the rest of the day).
Burka-Avenger-feat600

3. Burka Avenger

According to Wikipedia, “Burka Avenger is set in the fictional town of Halwapur in northern Pakistan. It features a superheroine who wears a burka as a disguise to conceal her identity while fighting villains. Her alter ego is Jiya, an “inspirational teacher”at an all-girls’ school. Jiya fights corrupt politicians and vengeful mercenaries who attempt to shut down girls’ schools, using “Takht Kabadi”, a martial art that involves throwing books and pens. Together with children ‘Ashu’, ‘Immu’ and ‘Mooli’, the Burka Avenger fights the evil magician ‘Baba Bandook’, his henchmen and corrupt politician ‘Vadero Pajero’.”

This awesome show is in Urdu but has English subtitles.

SaraSolvesIt-FB_Still_5.jpg

4. Sara Solves It 

Sara Solves It was a “musical animated series on Amazon Prime that follows 9-year-old whiz kid Sara and younger brother Sam as they solve mysteries in their apartment building, at school, and beyond — employing math, music, and creative thinking.”

The good news is mini-episodes are available on YouTube. The bad news, the show didn’t get picked up.  The bright side: if your kids are anything like ours, if they like something, they can watch the same thing over and over… and over again.

maya and miguel.jpg

5. Maya and Miguel

According to Wikipedia, “[t]he show chronicles the adventures, and sometimes misadventures, of fraternal twins Maya and Miguel Santos and features their family, friends and a diverse neighborhood. This show centers on Maya’s well-intentioned meddling in her family and friends’ lives, ultimately creating new quandaries to fix. Their mother is from Mexico, and their father is from Puerto Rico. The underlying message is the importance of doing good for the family and community, and the philosophy that shared happiness is greater than personal gain. The show presents a positive, culturally rich portrayal of Latino family, language and cultures. In some markets, each episode ends with Maya announcing, “Here’s what some of our friends are up to,” introducing clips of children engaging and interacting in ways consistent with the show’s themes. Maya concludes episodes by exhorting viewers to “visit your local library like ‘Maya & Miguel.'”

Episodes and games featuring Maya and Miguel are available on PBS Kids.

 

adventures of Tip and Oh

6. Home Adventures with Tip and Oh

My 9 year old says its “funny, cool and happy (like never really sad, unlike the movie).”

There you have it.

MC2

7. Project Mc2

If your kids are a little older, Netflix pulls another win with this diverse all girl team!

According to Wikipedia, “the series revolves around the fields of STEAM and the adventures of McKeyla McAlister and her friends, who work for an organization called NOV8 (pronounced “innovate”), a highly secretive group of female operatives that are trying to protect the world.”

***

About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising.

Minute Mentor: Clinical Psychologist and Columnist Napoleon Wells

Minute Mentor is a series of posts profiling real people achieving their dreams. It began with the simple idea that “seeing is being.”  When cofounders Rick and Faye’s oldest son was born, it was clear he was musically inclined. He was playing piano by ear at age 4 and neither of them ever even picked up an instrument! When Faye remembered an old neighbor who had gone on to become a Julliard trained musician, she immediately reached out to him and said, “What do we do?”  He patiently answered all of her questions on how best to nurture her budding musician.

Minute Mentor provides a space for real people to tell their stories so if you or your little one is in search of mentorship on how to achieve their dreams, you can look no further than right here! Sometimes the best inspiration comes from seeing someone that looks like you achieving similar goals.

If you have any questions or comments for the featured guest, leave a comment, and we will do our best to bring it to their attention! Happy imagining!

Name: Napoleon Wells

Age: 38

Occupation: Clinical Psychologist, Columnist for The Good Men Project (“These Thoughts Are FREE”)

Education: Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Fordham University

Career Level:

  • Entry
  • Mid-level
  • Executive
  • Entrepreneur
  • Retired

How hard do you work? 

  • Lots of Leisure Time
  • Typical 40-50hr Workweek
  • More than Average
  • I never stop working

Lifestyle/Income: 

  • Side Hustle/Didn’t Quit My Day Job
  • Getting By
  • My bills are Paid with Some Room for Fun
  • You get a car! You get a car!

Describe your job:

I am the Chief Behaviorist for the Primary Care Behavioral Health Program at a Veterans Affairs Hospital. Most of my days involve coordinating the workload of my mental health staff and seeing veterans for mental health care. Lots of calls, crisis management, a few meetings and lots of healing and human affirmation. I also perform speaking engagements focusing on curing racism every couple of months, and I am a social justice columnist for the Good Men Project. All in all, my job(s) is/are awesome.

What education level is required for your job? Tests? Certificates? Years of School?

Typically, you give yourself the greatest worklife flexibility as a Psychologist when you obtain your Ph.D. It makes you the field’s highest level expert and allows for consulting, private practice, and teaching opportunities. There are, however, many MA level psychologists with practices in the community. You will need your typical 4 years of college and about another 6 years to complete the Ph.D. It can be done in five by superheroes, and if you are reading this, you are, of course, a superhero.

What kind of student were you?

Very driven, always mindful of my goals, determined to always turn what I knew were internal and external doubts into results.

Did you have a mentor? How did you meet?

I had several actually. I sought out mentors in college whenever the chance arose. I sought people out with whom I could discuss my goals and who would help me chart a course. While at Binghamton University, I was fortunate to meet three of the best mentors one could have, Cecil Walters, Dr. Joseph Morrissey and Dr. Leo Wilton. I think that mentor/mentee relationships should develop organically. For me, that meant seeking out individuals that I knew would drive me forward. It took a bit of patience and willingness on their part.

How did you get your current job?

Part of my clinical training was in a Veterans Affairs hospital and I was offered a position upon completing my training. I was fortunate to have superiors that valued my work while I was a trainee and invited me on board.

Is your job family-friendly?

You can typically use your earned leave time as you please, but the day to day workspace and worksite are not what one would call family friendly.

Do you find your work fulfilling?

Very much so. I get to bear witness to the strength and resolve of the human condition, and to be a companion for people to heal themselves who believed that they may have been broken.

Did you always know you wanted to be a Psychologist?

No. I wanted to be a poet, and I may still pursue that if I can guarantee that I would avoid homelessness, in its pursuit.

What advice would you give a parent of a child/young adult interested in pursuing a job in your field?

Certainly have a mentor to guide you through some of the process. Learn as much as you can about lay Psychology, have an invested interest in the human condition and learn to write, write , write.

***

You can find Napoleon on Twitter @NapoleonBXSith and on his website at www.napoleondwells.blogspot.com.

You can also check out his TED talk below:

 

6 Awesome Kids Making a Difference in Their Communities

Here are some real examples of children giving back to their communities in big ways!

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s difficult to even get our kids to share. As parents, empathy and altruism are some of the hardest lessons to teach.  However, those traits are essential to becoming a well-rounded adult. Here are some real examples of children giving back to their communities in big ways! Good job, Moms and Dads!

1. Khloe Thompson

Khloe

At just 9 years old, Khloe Thompson launched, Khloe Kares, a charity initiative to hand out bags filled with important items to give to homeless women.

“I would pass the same homeless people all the time on my way to school,” Khloe explained to Upworthy. “And I would ask my mom, ‘What can I do to help?'” 

According to her website, “Khloe’s Kare Bags… are made and designed by Khloe and her grandma. The purpose of the Kare bags is to fill the bags up with items we use on a daily basis and give them to homeless women on the streets. Items include; soap, lotion, tooth brush and tooth paste, feminine products, socks etc. Instead of giving these items in a large plastic bag Khloe thought every women should have a nice sturdy bag to put their stuff in.”

Kudos to Khloe and her mom to putting a plan into action!

2. Jahkil Naeem Jackson 

Jahkil

Like Khloe, 8 year old Jahkil Jackson also felt a need to do something about his town’s homeless population.

“It just made me feel sad, sad to see other people on the street just lying down and not having a home or a bed,” the now 8-year-old said. “Homeless people need to have more people helping them.”

With the help of his family, Jahkil set a goal to hand out 1,000 “Blessing Bags” to the homeless before the end of summer. As of August, Jahkil had passed out 735 bags filled with toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, combs, shampoo, water, sanitary napkins, towels and other items donated to him by others in the community and organizations.

Great work, Jahkil!

3. Robbie Novak

Robbie

Also known as Kid President, Robbie Novack, now 12 years old, is the adorable little powerhouse actor behind a series of YouTube videos and in a television show, produced by Soul Pancake. Robbie delivers positive and inspirational messages to his viewers that are sure to brighten your day. Though you would’t know it by his positive attitude, according to Wikipedia, Robbie “suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, which makes him susceptible to bone damage. He has experienced over 70 fractures and has been a victim of bullying.”

Way to go, Robbie, for succeeding in spite of immeasurable setbacks!

4. Egypt “Ify” Ufele

Ify
According to her website, at a young age, Ify was diagnosed with a critical asthmatic health condition that impacted her weight and appearance.  Although she overcame the illness, when she returned to school, she was bullied mercilessly by some of her peers.  In response, Ify and her amazing mom began Bully Chasers, an organization that supports youth who have been bullied and gives them a platform to speak out against it.  Ify didn’t just stop there! With the help of her grandmother, Ify launched her own line of clothing, called Chubiiline, and has since become a trailblazer as possibly the only child designer to dress plus-size models at one of the world’s most prestigious fashion shows.
Amazing work, Ify.

5. Quenten McGee

quenten2.jpg

Quentin made a seemingly simple decision to mow lawns of people in need.

“I feel good about helping people out that really can’t help themselves,” Quentin said.

In just two months, he’s mowed 36 lawns. Quentin’s small act of kindness gained the attention of the Marion, Ohio Police Department, the mayor, and people across the country.

Keep up the great work, Quentin!

6. Morgan McCane

Morgan

Morgan McCane was just an average teenager girl who was tired of seeing teenage boys with their pants hanging down.  But Morgan decided to do something about it! The 15-year-old teenager started Girls Against Boys Sagging (GABS).

According to the GABS Facebook page, “the founders and supports of GABS are dedicated to educating, encouraging, and inspiring girls and women of all ages, all over the country, to use their voices to challenge their friends and family members that “sag,” to pull up their pants.”

“I feel like women are the biggest influence on our young boys. If women could get voting rights, why can’t they help make boys pull up their pants? I met some girls that do like the boys sagging, but some of the other girls I met say, they’re too scared to take a stand.”

Awesome job, Morgan!

***

About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising.