Has Hip-Hop Diminished Black Cool?

Former AP students will enjoy this.

Writing Blue Magic


A few weeks ago, I sat on a panel for the 32nd Intercultural Communication Conference at Texas Southern University.The subject for this year’s conference was the effects of Black music on Black life. I argued that contemporary Black music inaccurately reflects the Black experience in America. A large majority of modern Black music (read: Hip-Hop & B) features the same theme of ostentatious wealth and gauche misogyny, to the point where a slight deviation can be lauded as something other than a softer version of the same theme.

Questlove, of the (world famous) Roots, in his third installment of his six-part weekly series of essays, takes the theory of Hip-Hop as cultural drag and takes it a step further, arguing that the concept of Black cool has lost its luster in the current of Hip-Hop in the 21st century:

These days, the vast majority of hip-hop artists follow a…

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The 25 Greatest Homes in Literature

Readers, enjoy!


Great characters in literature get all the credit, but the fictional spaces they occupy are often just as interesting and can provide an opportunity for the reader to go even deeper into a story. What would some of your favorite stories be without the creepy old farmhouses, crumbling castles, and estates overlooking a body of water whose waves crash against the rocks at night? Today, as we celebrate the birthday of Daphne du Maurier — a writer who gave us one of the 20th century’s most unforgettable grand old homes, in Rebecca — we’re rounding up the most memorable structures that served as settings for some of our favorite stories.

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Dress Coded: An Education on (Unnecessary) Sexualization

For anyone who’s been in a US high school lately, an argument about the impact of (well-intentioned) dress codes.



When one Illinois middle school cluelessly decided to ban leggings & yoga pants because they were “distracting to the boys”, they probably didn’t have any idea it would be the catalyst to a national conversation about dress codes in school.

I mean, dress codes are like, so un-controversial. Until now.

Now, all sorts of interesting stories are surfacing. Girls wearing the same regulation gym outfits, but the curvier ones are getting dress-coded. Tall girls getting dress-coded for short garments, even though they’re finger-tip length, while short girls seem to not draw the same leg-bearing ire. One girl getting sent home from prom for wearing pants. Another girl was sent home from her homeschool prom because male chaperons said her dress was “causing impure thoughts”…for the teenage boys, of course.

So… Many interesting stories indeed.

The leggings ban irked me immediately for two reasons. The first…

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Lecturing is Not Storytelling

Student brain activity is higher during sleep than during class?!? I aspire to teach as Maya Angelou taught.

User Generated Education

I sit in the lecture hall with 10,000 others waiting for my new teacher to speak. I look at my cell phone and silently groan that this in going to be a long hour; as long an hour as an hour can be as is typically the case when I listen to a lecture.   She begins, “Let me tell you about Uncle Willie.”  I take a deep breath of relief and settle in to hear her story.

I came at the age of three to Grandma and my Uncle Willie in this little town in Arkansas. Uncle Willie was paralyzed on the right side. My grandmother and Uncle Willie owned a little store in town, and they needed me and my brother to work in the store. So Momma taught me to read and write, and my Uncle Willie taught me to do my times tables. He…

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How Weird News Teaches Us Great Storytelling

Writing students will enjoy this piece.

The Red Pen of Doom

Every day, there are real stories in the morning newspaper that make you snort coffee out your nose or choke on a blueberry muffin. Note: This is why journalists call such pieces “muffin chokers.”

Yet the daily weirdness is more than funny. If you dissect these stories, you can learn deep storytelling lessons from the shallow end of the journalism pool.

Here’s a real story that just happened in my state: Man steals RV from Wal-Mart parking lot, leads police on wild chase. Swerves into sleepy little town where he knocks cars into front yards and such, then blasts through a house and crashes. Runs out, strips down to his underwear and invades a home to steal girl clothes. Cops catch him and haul him off.

This is pretty typical of a weird news story, and not simply because it started in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart — and yeah…

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Names of Shame: The Six Rulers with History’s Worst Epithets

Former Humanities students may enjoy this post.

The Social Historian

Image John-George I of Saxony. Mine’s a Pint.

Everyone loves a good epithet. Charles the ‘Great’, Sven ‘Forkbeard’, Eric the, er, ‘Memorable’.

But namecalling, it turns out, is really not cool and can be very mean. So spare a thought for these six men: the Johnny-two-straps of History’s great playground.

James the Shit (King of England, Ireland and Scotland, 1685-88).

Poor James II was probably England’s most rubbish King, ever. In 1685 he inherited a state that was peaceful, prosperous, and financially secure. And yet he managed to mess it all up faster than you can say ‘David Moyes’. Never one to miss the opportunity for a strop, he chucked the Great Seal into the Thames and legged it to Ireland where he made some lovely new allies, before promptly deserting them. They showed their feelings about this through the medium of wit, and dubbed him for posterity as Seamus…

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Hello, world

     As is often the case for introverts, I procrastinated joining the blogging party.  But, here I sit at technology in-service, learning to use WordPress.  I blog, therefore I digitally am. 

     Summer break, day 9.  So far I have read 3 books and parts of two others (accurate statistic), completed 2200 Sudoku puzzles (hyperbole alert), eaten 5 garden-fresh salads, deep-cleaned 4 rooms, binge-watched 13 episodes of “Orange is the New Black” in two days, planted two vegetable garden beds (one of which contained a nest of baby bunnies I gently evicted), mowed 3 trillion blades of grass and 4 trillion grass-colored weeds (unsure of statistical accuracy) with my human-powered reel mower, attended 22 graduation parties, and mulched 3 flower beds.

     On the agenda: Educators in the Wild at the Wapsipinicon River; The Creativity Workshop in Florence, and subsequent sightseeing in Rome and Venice; and a mission trip to Lascahobas, Haiti.

     The lovely Annie Miller (AKA Daughter #2) will be moving in with her madre at the end of August, bringing my grandpuppies Duke and Daisy with her.  Edna, the mighty feline huntress and empress of the house, may not be pleased. 

     I hope to use this format to encourage discussion and thought among my students and friends, to provide food for thought:  Mangia bene!