Do YOU See The Flag?
Jul08

Do YOU See The Flag?

Written By Leah T. Johnson  The NAACP flew a flag that read “A Man was Lynched Yesterday”  in New York City on Fifth Avenue to report lynching until 1938. I wasn’t around at that time to know what it was like to see that flag as a reminder of what was going on; the murders of African Americans. I can only imagine. But, wait…? Do I ONLY imagine? No, unfortunately I don’t have to imagine, as murders against African Americans have taken on a more common form- that of guns, and shootings by police. Not only do I not have to imagine it, I also don’t have to walk to lynching sites to investigate and see my ancestors not as humans, but as strange fruit, tarred and feathered in most cases. My “Shero”, Ida B. Wells did that. At some point, it probably numbed her to see another lifeless body swinging from a tree. But, somehow through that numbness she felt something, and that was what spurred her onward in her anti-lynching campaign. I wonder how she would feel knowing that in this modern world that boasts of fancy technology that all it takes its a simple swipe, or scroll, and you are instantly informed of the killings of black men. But not just black men; men who were fathers, spouses, young adults, teens. Yes, HUMAN black men. You don’t have to go to a lynching site when you can, in essence, hold it in the palm of your hand and view it from a screen. Lynching uploaded, downloaded, retweeted in a matter of seconds. This is the reality of our modern world, and for two mornings in a row, I woke up, scrolled and swiped as usual, but was left feeling as if I had witnessed a lynching. The recent deaths  of two African American men were the major news of the morning, the topic of conversation at work, and this time it was the comments, hashtags, and videos that broke the internet, not Beyonce. Now, I didn’t say I watched the actual footage. I didn’t have to be warned that it was graphic and violent. My eyes just can’t take it. Reading the accounts was already overwhelming. I can’t stomach to see it in action. Perhaps I’m letting my “Shero” down- Ida would probably watch the videos. And then she would investigate further, write about it, and publish it. Still, I hope she would be proud of me. Proud that I am relying on my passion for writing to serve as an opportunity to inform  and connect with others who are worried, angered, frustrated concerned, and confused while simultaneously...

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Letter To Malia
May06

Letter To Malia

Dear Malia, Allow me to begin this letter by saying: You go girl! When the news broke that you will be attending Harvard University in 2017 it was undoubtedly BIG news, and good news, of course. In my opinion, however, what was even bigger news was that you decided to take a gap year in order to travel and do volunteer work. Now, I’m about ten years your senior, but if I could go back a decade and re-make some of my major decisions prior to attending college, a gap year definitely would be on the table. I come from a humble background, much like yourself; middle-class family, two parents who are each other’s best friend and are committed to family, work, and education. It’s as if the plan had already been made for me to attend college. It was a no-brainer. When I look back though, the decision to attend college was tough. Still, I don’t regret it. I’ve been part of the University of Michigan’s alumni family for 5 years now, and while life as an alum is great, my time spent in college was even better. So, when your first day of college life arrives, prepare to enjoy the ride! Excuse my digression, but back to you and this gap year decision. I love it. Not that you need my approval, but I love it. I think a gap year needs to be more of the norm in this country, and I think more students/graduates should consider following in your footsteps. Why? Well, the reason should be obvious, but if a person decides to take a gap year, hopefully this is a strong indication that they plan to do something useful with their newfound “free time.” Traveling and volunteering to help others are always good ways to use the precious commodity of time. Traveling takes a person out of their comfort zone, especially when they travel out of the country and experience new cultures. They come to see that the pace of life is different, in most cases slower than what we are used to here in America. Traveling more (specifically out of the country) is undoubtedly on my list of things to do, especially since I received my passport a few months ago (I know I’m late, don’t judge me lol). Volunteering makes a person eat “humble pie”, as they inevitably realize that their situation could be worse. Also, even if the motive of volunteering isn’t for a humility check, it’s a known fact that it’s better to give than receive. The sooner a person learns this and keeps it in mind, the better a...

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2016 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon
Feb29

2016 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon

“When black women are together a sacred space is conjured.” — Ava DuVernay (Film maker/Director). Those were the opening words that Oprah Winfrey quoted to start the 2016 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. For the second year, OWN has televised this intimate event, to give women, particularly women of color, an opportunity to celebrate with those who have broken barriers in Hollywood. The winners/honorees were as follows: Fierce and Fearless Award— Tracee Ellis Ross. Her father was in the audience, and Tracee spoke about being afraid at times because she felt she didn’t have a voice. However, her body of work is quite impressive. “I feel like a rockstar at being human!” she shouted as she ended her acceptance speech. Power Award— Nina Shaw. She was recognized for being an attorney. “I stood up for you, but I was able to do so because you stood with me.” The award was presented to her by Nick Cannon (of whom Shaw was his attorney) and Channing Dungey (new President of ABC). Shaw encouraged the audience by saying “If you are a woman who wants to be empowered then empower other women.” Legend Award—Debbie Allen. This award was presented to her by Shondaland’s very own  Shonda Rhimes. Allen gave a powerful speech, that ended full circle with her saying “This is a moment in the sun, and a moment can be a...

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“Michelle Obama” Week
Oct04

“Michelle Obama” Week

Information Compiled by Leah Johnson Education Enthusiast This past week, it seemed as if Michelle Obama dominated the news. She made appearances to discuss the importance of education. She encouraged people to tweet #62milliongirls which is the number (mostly made up of adolescent females) who are not in school. Statistics such as those represented by the hashtag should help us all to appreciate the value of receiving an education, or to continue their education. Mrs. Obama’s initiative is found here. Fashion Icon Mrs. Obama also made headlines wearing a black Vera Wang dress to the Chinese State Dinner. Wang, a Chinese-American designed a black, off-the-shoulder mermaid dress that paired effortlessly with the black suit worn by POTUS. A picture of her look is found here on our Instagram page. Encouraging the Younger Generation Lastly, Mrs. Obama is lending her voice to a new episode of the beloved children’s show Doc Mcstuffins. The episode airs on Monday October 5th at 9 am. Take a sneak peak here!    ...

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The Love Style of Teaching
Aug03

The Love Style of Teaching

By Leah T. Johnson/ColorBlind Magazine “Life begins promptly at 8:01 am, if not 7:59 am,” said College Readiness teacher Pamela Love. Once the school day begins (Love’s day starts at about 4 am), she knows that she will have to wear a variety of hats: mother, father, counselor, social worker, and oh yeah, Teacher. Faithfully, and patiently, she fulfills her job responsibilities, spurred on by the love for and the love from her college-bound students. Lost (and Found) Teacher When considering all the heart and soul that Love puts into her teaching, it wouldn’t be farfetched to think she always planned to become a teacher. Love planned to go to Law School until she received a call from a friend. “She told me I have that ‘something’ that teachers have or don’t have.” That was over 20 years ago, and Love hasn’t looked back since.  “Most go into it [teaching] by happens-chance,” said Love. “Young people choose it and find it’s not their passion. It wasn’t in my plan, but you have to have a passion for it…you have to have a love for students and patience.” That experience led Love to teach English and Language Arts to middle schoolers at Detroit Edison Public School Academy Early College of Excellence until she was asked to teach College Readiness to 10th-12th graders, 98% of whom were once her middle school students. “To see them evolve into these young, brilliant minds that are getting ready to face some of the greatest times of their lives which is their college experience, it just put me in an awesome space,” Love said. College Prep “Cultivating and preparing minds to go to college was a big deal to me and I took it very seriously,” said Love. I scared the students at first, but once they found out it was for their benefit, it was effortless to me.” The serious side of Love’s teaching style stems from the fact that even in 2015 we are faced with many young ones being the first in their family to attend college. This fact impressed upon Love the need to incorporate topics such as filling out a college application, FAFSA, dealing with students from other countries, tenured professors, class schedules, money management, date rape, parties and other topics. “These are topics that parents could be afraid to talk about, but we had real conversations.” The talks and lessons were so real that Love planned a mock “Day in the Life of a College Student” activity. Under her leadership, attendance in this class has improved greatly,allowing Love to tailor her lessons further to her student’s personalities, especially those...

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Educating the Masses One Tribe at a Time
Aug03

Educating the Masses One Tribe at a Time

By Veronica Grandison/ColorBlind Magazine Jerrice Donelson, (third from the right) When high school students are in their final two years of school, the main things on their minds are usually finding the right college to attend, searching for prom outfits (and dates), and striving to do well on standardized tests like the ACT. However, working to improve their writing skills so that they can handle the challenges of college work is one task that is often neglected. But, Jerrice Donelson is working to change that mindset through her nonprofit organization Scribe Tribe Writing Tutors. Scribe Tribe is a community-based, non-profit outreach initiative that offers academic support to Detroit area high school students through providing tutoring services in writing to prepare the students for college. Scribe Tribe also teaches the students reading comprehension strategies because Donelson emphasized that reading comprehension is really essential to being able to know how to write. Donelson created the organization in response to the need for writing workshops for Detroit based students who were not receiving the additional academic support for the subject in school. “A lot of our high school students are not able to articulate their ideas and bring their writing to a solid level and get their ideas to be cohesive. A lot of times it’s because they are not comprehending the reading and deconstructing it in a way that they can digest it and understand it,” says Donelson. This program prepares students for college level writing by providing an environment where they feel like they are in a college classroom setting and they learn how to write in different disciplines such as anthropology, biology, and other behavioral science classes that are often general requirements in college. Writing is truly a passion for Donelson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a certificate in Writing Composition from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She is currently working on her Master’s degree in Teaching in English and a minor in English as a Second Language. Donelson first got the idea for Scribe Tribe as an undergraduate student at UM-Dearborn while working with high school students through academic outreach programs such as Gear Up and Dual Enrollment. Donelson holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a certificate in Composition from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She is currently working on her Masters in Teaching in English and a minor in English as a Second Language. While at UM-Dearborn she has worked with academic outreach programs such as Gear Up and Dual Enrollment. She realized that the dual enrollment students were submerged in college courses while they were still high school students, but they had no college...

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August Issue Editorial
Aug03

August Issue Editorial

She was anxious from the moment she walked into the workshop room. She came to update her resume and she later revealed to me (I’m a Work Readiness workshop facilitator) that she has been out of work recently, and although she is receiving unemployment she feels jittery just being at home. Because of this, she has not felt like doing “girly things” such as hair and makeup, and has even toyed with the idea of suicide. Tears started to well up in her eyes, and it was at that moment I knew two things: I needed to go and grab her some tissue-FAST More importantly, this resume workshop had become more than just a class that I was teaching; I had to console her. The August issue of ColorBlind Magazine is about Education and honoring those who perform the daily task of teaching. As you read this issue, please remember: Teaching is more than just imparting knowledge; most times it means imparting your very heart and soul to people. Teaching is considered a human service, especially considering the work of Jerrice Donelson, a grad student at U of M- Dearborn and creator of an after-school nonprofit writing organization known as The Scribe Tribe. Donelson and her “tribe” highly esteem the importance of good writing. Our other teacher Pamela Love, shares her love (no pun intended) with college-bound students as she challenges them in her College Readiness course at Detroit Edison Public School Academy- Early College of Excellence. Other stories in this issue allow you to educate yourself on topics that are on the minds of teens, and how one of our editors made the decision to take a 1 year hiatus from Facebook and has not regretted her decision. Returning to the woman who had her emotionally charged moment…It was only myself and one other person who frequents my workshops in the room that day which helped provide a friendly atmosphere. She left with a resume that was on point. But more importantly, she felt stronger emotionally. I may have taught her how to create a resume, but I also taught her that she must love herself FIRST and that is more important than anything she could have written on her resume. To all of our dear teachers, in whatever capacity it is that you teach: Thank YOU for teaching us what teaching is TRULY about. Happy Reading, Leah T. Johnson...

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Teen Talk Month: College Bound…Maybe??
Jul09

Teen Talk Month: College Bound…Maybe??

From the time I was in 10th grade, I had college on the brain. I had some ideas of where I wanted to go, and knew exactly what I would major in. Although I was super confident and set on higher education, I knew that some of my friends had no idea if they even wanted to go to college. Deciding on what school to go can be a big decision, because it may determine what you will be doing for the rest of your life. My little cousin is coming into her last year of high school and is trying to decide where to go. While senior year is an exciting time, it can also be very stressful and not fun at all. I, for one enjoyed my senior year and it was actually my easiest year in school, but the college pressure did weigh me down a bit. So, in anticipation of those college years, here’s a YouTube video by science fiction author David Brinn, who offers some advice to college bound students. Seeing as how we are in the YouTube generation, I know video most likely works better than straight...

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Teen Talk Month: A Letter to High School Grads
Jul07

Teen Talk Month: A Letter to High School Grads

Written by Leah T. Johnson If I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t.  Although graduation is an exciting and happy time, and full of promise, post-graduation life can be scary, uncertain and challenging. To all the new graduates, this letter is for you…  -Remember, you don’t have to have everything figured out. After all, you’re only 17/18! Maybe you don’t know where you want to work, what college to attend, or if you want to attend college at all. If you don’t know these things, it’s ok. Breathe. It’s going. to be. OK. Whether or not you choose to attend college or to work, use this as your time to grow. Learn yourself, what you like, what you dislike, who your friends are, etc. This is a time for growth. -Remember to make a decision. This may seem counterproductive from what’s written above. However, the two tie together nicely because as you take time to discern who you are and who you are not, the decision making process becomes much easier. Not making a decision actually is making a decision; you’ve decided not to decide. Procrastinating will greatly impact your life. Making bigger decisions is part of the adult process and establishing your independence. Welcome to life after high school, welcome to adulthood.  Best of Everything,...

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Five Minutes With Local Author- Ashlee Henderson
Jun01

Five Minutes With Local Author- Ashlee Henderson

By Leah T. Johnson/ColorBlind Magazine  ColorBlind Magazine believes that reading and education are still fundamental. For this reason, the following interview was conducted with Michigan author prior to the release of her new book on May 30, 2015.  ColorBlind Magazine: How did you know you wanted to write/become an author? Ashlee Henderson: One of my many sayings is “A book is the vehicle, but the story is the driver that gets you there.” I have always had a deep passion for storytelling.  Since I was a little girl my attention has always been on storytelling. I loved to talk about my day and whatever happened to me to whoever would listen. It was my grandmother who made storytelling an “art” for me however. During weekend visits, she would read my favorite story, The Billy Goat Gruff, at bedtime. The way she gave each character their own distinct voice and used inflections perfectly to create suspense in the story always led me to request an early bedtime. I recall always wanting to have the storytelling art like my grandmother in a way that others were captivated and the story would never grow old. Being an author has for me was a strategic way to reach more audiences. It’s given me my vehicle. Although I wish I could, reaching every child with my voice is nearly impossible. Children also learn differently. Being an author with physical books allow me to touch on so many aspects of literacy. I, however, never worry about being limited to by the book, which is fun.   CB: How many children’s books have you written? and how many would you like to write?  AH: I have published 3 books: “Niko and the Trouble Bubble”, “The Adventures of the Ruler Twins” and “Thomas and Mia’s Happy Tummy Hunt”. The actual count on unpublished books…I couldn’t even say. I have been writing since I was a little girl. CB: Tell me more about your latest book… AH: “Thomas and Mia’s Happy Tummy Hunt” is about two best friends on a quest to defeat a tough tummy monster. The book is about children’s nutrition in health. It teaches some very important building blocks to children through creative methods. There has been so much effort put into the book to ensure that children can find new lessons in as they grow. The book is a part of an initiative to give children a chance to be in control of some of their own health. There are also supplemental materials to the book to keep children interested and help educators (and parents) use the book at home. We have an alphabet with personified...

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