Black History Fun Fact Friday – Georgia’s School-Prison for Black Boys

“Today, students of color in the United States are nearly three times more likely than white children to be labelled cognitively impaired. When Latoya walked into Seth’s first special-education classroom, she said, “I did not see one white child. All I saw was black boys.”

“School,” one student said, “is like prison where I am in the weird class.”

This isn’t really a black history fact. It‘s more like a modern-day fact with roots that go back to the Jim Crow era.

GNETS is short for Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support but support is not a word that I find fitting for this program. Earlier this week, I came across an article, “Georgia’s Separate and Unequal Special Education System,” which detailed how the GNETS program separates children by disability and race. As I read on, it became apparent to me that GNETS is an entirely separate school system in itself, that turns the classroom into a prison for black youth, disproportionately, black boys.

According to Bestcounciling degrees.net, “Psycho-education is a form of education that is specifically offered to individuals who are suffering from any one of several distinct mental health conditions impairing their ability to lead their lives. The ideal aim of the psychoeducational approach is to give both the individuals who suffer from psychological conditions and their families a stronger base of knowledge for knowing on ways to cope and thrive in spite of the condition.” These programs exist by way of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA.

IDEA was introduced in 1975 and first came into being on October 30, 1990, when the “Education of All Handicapped Children Act” was renamed “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. According to Beth Ferri, a disability scholar at Syracuse University, IDEA provided a kind of loophole to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed racial segregation in schools. “Before the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was enacted in 1975, U.S. public schools accommodated only 1 out of 5 children with disabilities. Until that time, many states had laws that explicitly excluded children with certain types of disabilities from attending public school, including children who were blind, deaf, and children labeled “emotionally disturbed” or “mentally retarded.” (Wikipedia)

IDEA sounds nice, but it became a double-edged sword. While it may have tackled the issue of allowing children with disabilities to be integrated into the public school system, it was also a subtle response to Brown vs. Board of Education. Schools that did not want to integrate could do so by re-labeling blacks disabled and pushing them out. Now racial segregation continued “under the guise of ‘disability.” Disabled, poverty-stricken, and feeble-minded are just a few code words used throughout history in the America‘s that were often references to African Americans. Instead of blatant racism or racial epithets, people could just say things like “ghetto,” or “inner-city,” when referring to black people.

GNETS
Photo by LaToya Ruby Frazier for the New Yorker

“Data obtained through records requests reveal that the percentage of students in the GNETS program who are black boys is double that of the public schools in the state. Most of the students in GNETS are classified as having an “emotional and behavioral disorder,” a vague label that does not correspond to any particular medical diagnosis. A teacher who worked for five years at a GNETS program called Coastal Academy, in Brunswick, told me, “We always had a sprinkling of middle-class white kids, maybe two or three, but they didn’t stay long. Everyone made sure they got out. It was the black students who were trapped there. They came in first grade and never left.”

An investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that Georgia’s public schools assign a vastly disproportionate number of African American students to psychoeducational programs, segregating them not just by disability but also by race. In such instances, disability has become synonymous with race. Black children in these programs are restrained using dog leashes, experimented on, and locked in rooms like prisons, with bars over the windows. In one such room, a 14-year-old boy hanged himself.

At a school in Cordele, students with behavioral disorders must use segregated restrooms. They have separate lunch periods. They have to enter through a special door and, unlike their peers without disabilities, pass through a metal detector.” In Rome, students in the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support program aren’t allowed to engage with other students – or even leave the basement.”

“As a black kid, you keep getting in trouble,” said Craig Goodmark, a lawyer with Atlanta Legal Aid who represents families of disabled children. “You get in trouble, there are no mental health services. The only mental health services are in the GNETS. That sort of combines to create a reality.”

Seven-year-old David got into trouble as soon as his mother enrolled him in school after moving to Cobb County last spring. He received out-of-school suspensions for 10 of his first 17 days, then was suspended another nine days in the first two weeks of the fall semester. His offenses, according to school documents, included “physical violence without harm,” “class disruption” and “insubordination.”

“Basically,” his mother said, “he was set up for failure.”

“The longest restraint lasted 15 minutes, after David screamed, threw items at other students, toppled desks and slapped at teachers. To keep David from biting him, a school report said, a teacher pushed his fist into the child’s mouth and held it there for several minutes. David told Tonyi he gagged and almost vomited. The school district later said the teacher appropriately controlled David’s “disruptive and assaultive behavior.”

Through such programs as GNETS, Georgia illegally segregates thousands of students with behavioral or psychiatric disorders, often in schools that are dirty, in poor repair and, in some cases, served as blacks-only facilities before court-ordered integration, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Fifty-four percent of students in Georgia’s psycho-educational programs are African American, compared to 37 percent in all public schools statewide, the Journal-Constitution found. In half of the 24 programs, black enrollment exceeds 60 percent. In one, nine of every 10 students are African American.

Sources:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/01/georgias-separate-and-unequal-special-education-system

http://specials.myajc.com/psychoeducation/

https://www.ajc.com/news/local/georgia-illegally-segregates-disabled-students-federal-inquiry-finds/Wof1iqxxvvdJv2cyowCs3O/

https://www.ajc.com/news/local/death-highlights-lack-regulation-georgia-psychoeducational-schools/vUhQ7un2Yxy7kiXGqkSBdN/


Be sure to check out other Black History Facts by visiting the Black History Fun Fact Friday page!

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90s Throwback Thursday Jam – Me and You, Tony Toni Tone

Yess. Boyz N The Hood 🎥🎤

“Well I ain’t ready for all that yet!”

“But you ready to act like we’re married right?”

Lol #Classic

7 Reasons I Stopped Promoting my Books so much on Social Media

Note: This is just my personal experience and has nothing to do with anyone else. I must also note that I do believe some promotion is necessary. If people don’t know your book exists they can’t support you.

 

  1. Not that this is a necessarily good thing but I pull back when I see that people are not interested. I don’t like feeling like I am forcing people to support me. That’s like forcing someone to love you and I refuse to do that.

 

  1. I noticed that Social Media is cracking down on Spam. Promoting your book all day every day does not work without a strategy in place. As Angela J. Ford, puts it, “Instead of just publishing a book and hoping to sell a few copies, you should have a business strategy in place to help you to consistently grow your fan base and sell more books.”

 

  1. I see no proof of the “see it seven times buy it” rule. Not saying this doesn’t work. It’s just that in my experience constantly pushing books in people’s face just seems to piss them off. Generally, people have already decided whether they want to buy your book. Asking them repeatedly to buy it won‘t change their minds.

 

  1. I noticed that promoting less gives a better result (for me personally….not saying this for others.) For Even Salt Looks Like Sugar, I have promoted it today on my Instagram for the first time since September 4th (not counting my business account). The last time I promoted it on Facebook was September 19th. I promote it more on Twitter but that‘s because Twitter is a fast-paced platform where tweets get buried. You can post several times on Twitter and not be spammy. When looking at my data, I have sold books both times on IG and Facebook. I believe it’s because by spacing out the promotion the posts are a fresh reminder and not a spammy irritation.

I have edited this part to give you some examples. I don‘t care about likes but when it comes to my book promos, I do care because it goes into my data for understanding what‘s working and what‘s not working. Are the people liking the post supporting or just “liking?” Are people getting tired of me? Is the promotion working? So far I have done 4 Book Promotions for Even Salt Looks Like Sugar on Instagram since August for the preorders. Just four. Below are the results for the new novella promotion on IG:

August 1st – First time promoting Even Salt Looks Like Sugar preorder:
48 Likes, 9 Comments

Obviously, everyone is excited to hear of the new book. That explains the number of likes and commentary. Readers bought books on the first, second, and third of August.

August 10th – Second time promoting Even Salt Looks Like Sugar preorder:
27 Likes, 2 Comments

People are still excited but the core supporters already have a copy of the book. Books sold on this day and 8/23.

September 4th – Third time promoting Even Salt Looks Like Sugar preorder:
34 Likes, 2 Comments

A good month has passed, people forgot. This was a good reminder. Numbers went up. Books sold the first of this month, the 10th, 17th and 18th.

September 26th – Today. Fourth time promoting Even Salt Looks Like Sugar preorder preorder:
10 Likes, 0 Comments

Nice reminder but some people haven‘t seen the post yet, core supporters already have the book, others are not part of my audience or just don’t care. Currently no books sold for 9/26.

Update: Post ended with 25 likes on 10/1. Books also sold on 9/30. I attribute this to the days that passed, new readers who saw the promo, and payday for those getting paid end of the month.

  1. I don’t want everyone to buy my book. Negative reviews and feedback are sometimes the result of people who bought and read our books who were not members of our target audience. If someone doesn’t like the genre I write in or are not interested in the book in general, I don’t want them to buy my book and I don‘t care how many reviews I miss out on.

 

  1. I’ve learned not to care so much about how much I make from my books. I don‘t mean I don’t care about money. Who doesn’t care about money? But money has never been and is not my motivation. It’s also difficult to make a sustainable income from selling books alone. It’s possible but challenging. Instead, I have decided to focus more on building my business which involves more than just writing books. I have decided to focus on the vision and my purpose for writing, my messages and how those messages can change and empower lives. To focus on ways, I can interact with people face-to-face through public speaking, events, programs and services I can offer and other things I can do to build and nurture my small business. For me being an author is not just about writing and publishing books but so much more. One day, I hope to become a full-blown entrepreneur who influences and empowers others to do the same. With this, of course I also hope me and my husband can quit our day jobs in the process, if we wanted to. I believe that by focusing on the vision everything else, including money, will come.

 

  1. I’ve learned that when promoting books to promote what the book is about, not the book. I learned this from The Stella Trilogy. Stella was not the most perfectly written book. It had typos and I could have done better with the covers and formatting. There were also typos in Renaissance. I am sure you can find mistakes in every book. But these books did well because people cared about the story. When you get people to care about the story that’s when they will care about the book.

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Will Wanda secure the paperwork necessary to secure her and Abby’s freedom? Find out next week on the release of my new short novel, Even Salt Looks Like Sugar. Available now for preorder in eBook. Into African American Literature? Short Fiction? Young Adult or Women’s Fiction? Buy it now for 99cents on Amazon here.

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar

We are six days away from the eBook release of my new novella, Even Salt Looks Like Sugar so this is your once in a blue moon shameless self-promotion post. Go get it!!

Okay. Now that I have your attention. What is this about any way?

Wanda wants nothing more than to escape the oppressive upbringing of life with her abusive foster mother. Miss Cassaundra manipulates the system by bringing lost children into her home turned whorehouse and collecting the money. Wanda knows what it’s like to be abandoned and has no doubt Abby is Cassaundra’s next case. When an opportunity arises, that could save them both, Wanda must find a way to get the paperwork that will secure their freedom. But Cassaundra’s got eyes everywhere and no one can be trusted when even salt looks like sugar.

You should read this book if:

  • You are into Young Adult Fiction
  • You are passionate about African American experiences
  • You love women’s fiction
  • You love and care about children
  • You suspect something is wrong with America’s Foster Care system
  • You’ve been in the foster care system
  • You are a mother
  • You didn’t grow up with a mother
  • You are short on reading time (this is a short novel)
  • You are short on finances (this book is just 99cents)

PreOrder this short novel today in eBook at just 99cents on Amazon. CLICK HERE!!

Mark as “Want to Read” on Goodreads if you want to read it. CLICK HERE!!

Remember, setting up a Goodreads account is FREE and only takes a moment!

Thanks so much!!

 

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When We Were Innocent

It took me a long time to realize Rick James Mary Jane song was about weed. For a long time, I thought Mary Jane was an actual woman he was in love with. Every time I heard the song I would smile, my heart melting at the sound of love. Even after watching the movie Friday, where there were obvious clues (such as the song being played as Smokey inhaled three joints at a time that day Craig got high for the first time), I still didn’t get it. After learning what the song was really about, I still liked it but it didn’t have the same happy feeling to it. I didn’t smoke weed so I couldn’t relate. I liked it better when I thought the song was about love.

I miss when we were innocent. Back before we really knew how messed up the world was. Back when the world was ours. Back when my Uncle told me and my siblings we couldn’t watch Bevis and Butthead. Back when the lyrics were still crafty enough to hide the “bad stuff” from the kids. When you didn’t know what the meanings behind the songs were, back when you had to be mature to know what it meant. I miss when we were innocent. Like before you really got to know someone. Back when you were besties just because. Back before we knew each other well enough to be aware of the other’s faults. When you meet someone for the first time there’s an innocence, a respect and a kindness you give because your mother taught you to be kind. As we get to know one another though, it seems like we are no longer as kind, as compassionate, or as merciful.

We take knowledge of the other person‘s mistakes as an invitation to pull back on the amount of love we give. And we do it in the cruelest way. We pull back without communication, without questions, and without checking to see if our assumptions were correct, we just leave. Abandon one another after realizing the other person was human. We didn’t do that kind of stuff as kids. We fought, argued and then invited our friends (the one we just argued with) over for dinner. We didn’t think they were possessed or insane or no longer worthy of our friendship. They disagreed with us but that didn’t mean we were enemies. We knew they were flawed, but that just made us love them better.

As you blog, not everyone will stick around. As people get to know you better, they will soon decide whether you are someone they want to keep up with. And that‘s not a bad thing entirely. People have a right to decide who they want to have around them. That’s life. People come and people go. Blogging is no different. This decision will come, either from you or from them. Somewhere along the lines, you’ll learn you either are or are no longer compatible.

If you‘re new to blogging you better take advantage of it. Those days of people being kind and generous and supportive and of you being loved on won‘t last long. Four and five years into this thing and you will look up to the faces of a completely new group of people, wondering where everyone has gone. This new group will love you now. Appreciate them for it. These are the childlike stages of blogging. The beginning of things, the freshness, the newness. These are the days when we are innocent.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: The Old Man in the Club by Curtis Bunn

Author: Curtis Bunn

Title: The Old Man in the Club

Publisher: Strebor Books (June 17, 2014)

Pages: 304

ISBN-10: 1593095724

ISBN-13: 978-1593095727

 

Curtis Bunn is an essence #1bestselling author and founder of the National Book Club Conference, an organization that hosts an annual literary event for African American readers and authors. This year, the conference was in Atlanta and while I did not get to attend; I did have the chance to visit the InterContinental Hotel where the event was held. I did not get to meet Bunn (who was in the other room hosting Terry McMillan) but I did get to speak to some people there, learn more about the conference and next year‘s festivities, which lead me to Bunn‘s website. A title like “The Old Man in the Club” made me laugh and after reading several pages of the first chapter from Amazon‘s Look Inside feature, I decided this would be my first Curtis Bunn read. I was not disappointed .

I loved the message of this book more than the story although the story is good too. It is easy to judge Elliott but that ties into the author’s message.

Elliott Thomas is a sixty-one-year-old man who hangs out at the club. Not only does he hang out at the club but he flirts with and dates young women. Elliot is also divorced and sees a therapist. He meets Tamara, a twenty-five-year-old and they begin dating. Tamara is also a friend of Elliot‘s twenty-something-year-old children. I like Elliot but I disagree with his lifestyle. Elliot was convicted of something he didn’t do and I felt the reason for that conviction and him dating young women just looks bad. I didn’t think his past justified his desires to pursue younger women by any means. A thirty-five-year-old difference is just too much. I also really dislike the way his children treat him. Elliot’s ex-wife Lucy is also holding onto something. I long suspected what her secret was and I was upset that she would allow Elliot to endure abuse from his children because of something that wasn’t his fault.

But Elliot is not just an old man in the club. The author did well to provide us with multiple layers of his life. He is more complex. He has a past, trauma, and triggers. Elliot was convicted of something he didn’t do and endured other life-changing things in his life.

There’s also a craft chapter at the end of the book where the author explained his inspiration for writing the book and why as well as a list of discussion questions. This was helpful and rather than taking away from the book, I think it was needed and nicely done.

Despite my feelings about the characters actions, they were fully developed and representative of real people. Their decisions did not take away from the book but made it more realistic. Things are not as they appear. The message is: We instantly assess a person‘s values, motives, and character without ever having sat down to get to know them. It makes you think about our perceptions and how we judge others with no knowledge of who they are or where they’ve been. Everyone has a story and well-written as it is, this is Elliot’s.

Ratings:

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall Rating: 5 / 5

 

YouTube: New Poem Added! Listen to “Cheap” #Poetry #SpokenWord

This started out as something I wrote for myself. It wasn’t necessarily a poem. But I decided to turn it into something for you as well. I rewrote it in third person instead of first person. Do not be cheap with yourself. Know your worth. Know your value. Be you. Love you.