Black Excellence

Hello Family,

I had a great Monday.

I mean, really great.

It started with a trip to a high school in Bed Stuy. I’ve wanted to get into this high school for a really long time. I wanted to see and feel this school and honestly I wasn’t disappointed.

I was so excited to visit this school that I arrived 30 minutes early for my appointment. And when I walked through the front door I knew that I had arrived somewhere special. The staff all spoke to me, even security, saw me, acknowledged me, smiled at me, welcomed me.

Students acknowledged me by saying Good Morning, so many students I lost count. The morning rush wasn’t a rush at all. It was serene, there were no loud voices, or music or anything, just an ebb and flow of students and teachers and me.

I waited in the main office and watched as students waited  in line to use what I can only assume was the community printer.

Everyone in the main office spoke to me saying good morning and immediately asking me, if I had been helped.

As I sat in the main, gleefully taking in every minute of my experience, a horrible realization came to my mind.

I was pleasantly surprised that the students and the environment was so orderly, inviting and loving. 

The problem was: I was surprised.

I began arguing with myself.

On one hand, I was like, I knew there was nothing wrong with Black kids.

Then the other voice said, ummmm, if you knew this, then why are you pleasantly surprised?

To which, I responded, because there is something wrong with Black kids.

I was stuck for a few seconds; there is nothing wrong with Black kids and yet there is something wrong with Black kids.

I’ve trained myself, that when stuck in this judgment zone or with this kind of conflict, I need to ask questions versus making assumptions.

So, I began:

If there is something wrong with Black kids in general but not these specific Black kids, how are these kids different?

They’re not.

So is this environment different?

It is.

What’s different about it?

I don’t know.

While I was wrestling with these questions and fighting back the little White man in my head, the AP came to meet me to begin our tour.

The first classroom we walked into had the RBG flag hanging up in the corner, no American flag in sight. They were Freshmen, reading, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

The next class, a 10th grade class, was reading, What to the Slave is the Fourth of  July?

The third class, a math class was quietly calculating away as the teacher walked around assisting students with a gentle, firm and loving approach.

The next class was the AP’s class. It began with her asking her students what were the laws of exponents.

I had no clue but the students did.

After covering the laws, students then applied them to understand compound vs simple interest.

That was CRE Eureka!

We visited more classes and saw more unapologetic and unflinching very Blackness.

I got it.

I understood how this environment was different. It was predicated on Black Excellence and the actualization of love.

It wasn’t the permissive, free for all, damaging love I had witnessed a week earlier in a school filled with good White people.

This love was steeped in discipline, actual high expectation and based on the Sankofa principle. This was the kind of love that turn boys and girls into Black men and women who love themselves, their people and are well equipped to change the world.

This was the kind of love that let everyone who entered the doors know, that we ain’t playing no games here, we gonna pull back your layers in order to reveal the real you.

Later that night, I made my way to the Barclay’s to see Jay Z perform.

I have never seen Jay Z perform live, ever.

Actually, I’ve never been to a rap concert before.

Take away my Black card. Well I’m sure if you listened to the last part of my latest CREAD podcast you already took it away. Either way, I don’t care. Lol!

Jay’s concert was a transformative experience for me.

I know, that’s a big ass statement.

But it was.

I sat in total and complete awe of the man who stood on that stage. He was…is the personification of BLACK EXCELLENCE.

I watched this mere mortal with no instrument but his voice whip 18,000 people, including myself into a frenzied mess for 2 hours.

The 47 year old Jay Z took us on a spiritual journey. I mean he was literally preaching.

“I told my wife this spiritual shit really works.”

He spoke about the power of intention and speaking things into existence, otherwise known as manifestation.

He explained that fear doesn’t exist and that darkness is merely the absence of light. Therefore, we need to always seek light and love.

Because love is the only real thing that exists.

Sidebar: For all my Course in Miracles people, game recognize game.

“I mastered my aesthetics.”

It was extremely powerful to watch Jay Z perform.

To watch him do what he loves and be at the top of his craft, to bear his soul, to kill the ego and replace it with love personified…and to be a rapper doing it.


Tears came to my eyes multiple times as Jay took us on a journey over his last 20 years. He opened his concert with a visual presentation that showed the death of Jay Z, the ego and the birth of the spirit.

I knew I was in the midst of greatness and that I was being transformed.

I knew the ancestors were talking to and through Jay Z. I mean at one point, he even said, I know there is one person in here who needed to hear these words tonight.

As I watched Jay perform and personify Black Excellence, I felt spiritually compelled to ensure that, I too, personified Black Excellence in everything I do.

And I realized that the school I visited earlier in that morning, was also compelled to personify Black Excellence.

The thing about watching Black Excellence is that its light is not the blinding type that frightens you, but rather the warm glow that invites you to join forces and shine even brighter.

Monday, was Black Excellence Monday for me. I am invigorated. I am inspired. I am lit (light filled).

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? 
You are a child of God.

Your playing small 
Does not serve the world. 
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking 
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, 
As children do. 
We were born to make manifest 
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; 
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, 
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. 
As we’re liberated from our own fear, 
Our presence automatically liberates others.

-Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson

I could have ended this post here….

But you know what song is playing over and over in my head though. You gonna judge me hard for this one and I would intellectualize it and make the connection for you, but I’ll leave you to carry that cognitive load by yourself.

This article was first published on CREAD (Culturally Responsive Educators of the African Diaspora) on November 28, 2017. Visit CREAD for more dope articles on teaching from an Afro-diasporic lens.