Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Intellectual Reflection - 8/31/10

Challenged by data analysis... Formulating the strategy... Working on my master plan :)

Emotional Reflection - 8/31/10

TRUTH can be incredibly overwhelming... Our plight weighs heavy on my heart...

Random Nuts and Bolts of a Doctoral Degree - 1


Unlike a bachelors or masters degree, the quality of research at the doctoral level is extremely rigorous. Not only do you need to identify other scholarly work to support your arguments or hypotheses, but you need challenge, critique and find deeper meaning behind existing research in the field you are studying. As you become a scholar, you need to contribute innovative thoughts and foundations for practice, all within a predetermined, theoretical framework. Your  writing and research need to speak to the core of an existing problem or social issue and you need to have a thorough understanding of the existing research, for and against your theory to solve that problem or social issue. 

Throughout this process, your discipline is tested and your values and priorities in life become redefined. Research at the doctoral level is transformative. At times I prefer to get a hotel or a motel room for the weekend (depending on my budget), so I can focus, research and write. I need to pull myself out of the distractions of home and create the mental space needed to think clearly and critically. 

If you have any questions or comments about research at the doctoral level feel free to comment below... :) If you have anything to add, please do so as well.  Also, please share and follow! 

Thanks for reading...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Leadership Style as an Educator... CREATIVE & CULTURALLY COURAGEOUS

"My leadership style puts race and equity issues at the forefront while working toward community empowerment, preparing community members to ride the tide of life, seeing every challenge as an opportunity to connect with their inner gifts and to grow as human beings." - SBN

According to Browne (2008), the goal of culturally courageous leadership is to build equitable, cultural learning environments. Therefore, to model this leadership style is to: 
1) Engage in community organizing, 
2) Nurture African identities, 
3) Be an ardent advocate, 
4) Reflect, document and assess, 
5) Know and use work and communication styles to influence the dynamics of difference amongst constituents, 
6) Practice situational leadership and use your insight on identity constructs and, 
7) Practice the 5 C’s: a) Committed caregiver – model positivity towards Black youth, b) Culturally competent consumer – always access information about culture and heritage of African/African American culture, c) Consummate conciliator – adapt to the needs of Black learners and work through any conflicts that may occur, d) conscientious coach – assess personal as well as student and teacher needs and facilitate critical reflection/growth of others via the use of key questions, and e) courageous change maker – facilitate embracing of/adaptation to change, model and insist on accountability for improvement in African American student outcomes.

Arts and media education after school and in non-traditional (informal) educational environments, in the more underserved communities of Los Angeles, are the arenas in which I thrive and construct collaborative and emotionally safe spaces for the implementation of culturally courageous leadership work.  As an artist and educator, it is more effective to reach and engage staff, youth and community members around a vision for their empowerment and to aid them in discovering their innate abilities to "live in the questions" of life (as my old boss, Jonathan Zeichner, would say), when poetry, music, video, movement, acting, storytelling, creative writing, etc., exist as tools for instruction. 

Crafting creative environments for teachable moments, self-reflection, cultural affirmation and  professional development have become normalized under my leadership, cultivating hope and strength, from within. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

MY STORY... Artist, Educator, Social Justice Advocate, Entrepreneur

I am an artist, educator, entreprenuer and social justice advocate and my proudest accomplishment to date was founding MessageMedia Ed in January of 2008.

I am the product of early arts and cultural intervention. My mother, a single elementary school teacher, exposed me to Suzuki Violin, Classical Ballet and African Dance at the early age of four years old. While attending Westlake

School for Girls (now Harvard Westlake school), I enjoyed influential guest lectures from Gloria Steinem, Shirley

Chisolm, Betty Shabazz and Maya Angelou during school, and played an active role in protest marches outside of

school for issues including the apartheid in South Africa and homelessness in Los Angeles. I entered Spelman,

historically Black women’s college in Atlanta, Georgia, toured with their dance company and immersed myself in their rich, cultural and sisterhood environment. Ultimately changing my academic focus, I transferred to Loyola Marymount University. I found my voice through television studies, interned at MTV, Geffen and Sony Records and obtained a BA in Communication Arts, Television Production in 1996.

I produced my first broadcast TV show in 1996, Urban Nights, which was nominated for a Billboard Music Video

Show Award in 1998 and received Nielson ratings reported at 10,000 viewers. I partnered with Geronimo Films in

1998 and continued producing Urban Nights for 2 years with hip hop producer, Dr. Dre and music video director Philip Atwell. Over the course of 4 years, I also worked as a Set Photographer for music videos featuring Snoop Dogg and Eminem. At the height of my career in music video/TV production, I became acutely sensitive to the media messages I took part in producing, understanding the influence on the minds of the youth who consumed their music and the impact on the Black community. In 2000, I left the entertainment business to work with youth; created UrbanRising Entertainment to develop, promote and showcase independent artists; became the co-event

producer of the Annual Los Angeles Malcolm X Arts, Culture & Education Festival and the Co-Founder of Artists for Justice and Liberation; and Co-Executive produced/marketed broadcast TV show,Tha Zone TV, to highlight local, culturally conscious artists throughout Los Angeles.

For the last 10 years, I have strategically utilized the tools of arts/media education to lead the design and

implementation of intervention, mentoring and empowerment programming for youth development entities including LA and Long Beach Unified School District, LA County Office of Education, LA Bridges Gang Intervention Program, Theatre of Hearts/Youth First, Conservation Corps of Long Beach, Inside Out Community Arts, and other nonprofit organizations. As Founder/Executive Director of Message Media Ed, I am able to combine my

personal/professional background and experience to provide culturally conscious, interdisciplinary, professional

development workshops for youth, adults and seniors of African descent, designed to close digital, intergenerational and economic divides, and produce Black leadership for the Digital Age.

I am a proud community leader, wife and native of Leimert Park (the last remaining majority Black community in LA). I am currently pursuing a Doctorate in Education at my alma mater, Loyola Marymount University, and in 2008 obtained a Masters in Organizational Management & Leadership from Springfield College.