Six years ago, I was student teaching in Durham under the graduate MAT program at Duke University and was well on my way to perhaps the most fulfilling, demanding, and emotionally draining career path in my life. I like to think I accidentally ended up at the front of the classroom — senior year of high school saw my required community service hours stack up until I could go nowhere else last minute, aside from my neighborhood mosque. As presumptuous as it was, the imam still agreed to have me on board teaching elementary Arabic.Continue reading “Ava DuVernay’s Collection of Work is Necessary Viewing for Students and Educators Alike”
When you’re into comics, science fiction, role-playing games and the rest, people will make assumptions about you. These assumptions are that you’re a nerd (not in the liberating sense that we use here), a geek, a wimp — somehow different or less than the folks who consume and participate in mainstream popular culture. And this applies to white people. When you add race to this, you get doubly othered quite a bit of the time. You like “white shit” and you’re soft. In many cases, you become an ass-whooping magnet. We won’t get into how all of this stuff is now mainstream or how fantasy sports leagues are about as Dungeons and Dragons as you can get, just minus the swords, gold, and magic.
And it is D&D that I want to talk about here. I’ve played for over thirty years. While I am not participating in an active campaign, I would in a heartbeat if I found one that interested me.
Secret Coders, a new graphic novel series written by Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Superman), sets out to bring computer programming to kids and adults. Some people may not know that Yang, when not writing comics, is a high school computer science teacher. This is his attempt to combine his two passions – comics and programming.
The number of PG or PG-13 films that really move or inspire me is not that large. Somewhere at the top of that list is Finding Neverland. It’s tough to remember exactly what was going on with me at the time, but I remember it hit me hard. There is now a new contender: Spare Parts. The movie is based on this Wired article about four undocumented high school students from Arizona with a shoestring budget that enter and win a national robotics competition. Oh, and they end up at the college level knocking off the likes of MIT students.
So a friend of mine wrote me a message on Facebook that went a little like this:
Question: how the heck do you get through to someone that thinks natives need to just get over it?
Answer: Shake them? I never advocate shaking people, but maybe something is loose in there. Tell them to take a Native American Studies Course (it ain’t cheap, but it’s worth it).
But if I’m being honest, lately, when this comes up — and isn’t it telling that it comes up often enough that I can begin with “lately” instead of “well the last time, a long time ago, man I can barely remember that time?” — I like to tell them about The Walking Dead.