Among the tribes of Africa, few have warriors traditionally more fearsome or more cunning than the Masai of Kenya. It is perhaps surprising, then, to learn the traditional greeting among Masai warriors. One warrior would always say to another, “Kasserian Ingera,” which, in Swahili, means, “Are the children well?”
It is still the traditional greeting among the Masai, acknowledging the high value of the Masai for the well-being of children. Even modern Masai with no children of their own always give the traditional answer, “All the children are well,” meaning, of course,
- that peace and safety prevail –
- that the priorities of protecting the young and powerless are in place,
- that Masai society has not forgotten its reason for being and its responsibilities.
“All the children are well” means that life is good. It means that the daily struggles of existence do not preclude proper care for the young.
This story, I think, is moving, illustrating a society that values its children so highly that a reminder of them is part of every greeting. The story is also sobering – the fact that it’s surprising illustrates how very far our own culture is from valuing children in this way."
I greet you, Kasserian Ingera! And my every effort is to ensure that “all our children are well”
How Much Is A Good Consultant Really Worth?
The famous advertising expert David Ogilvie was asked to provide an ad concept to a friend over dinner.
He wrote a few notes on his napkin and handed it to his friend. “That’s incredible! I love it!” his friend responded. “How much do I owe you for that?” Ogilvie responded, “$250”.
The friend responded harshly, “How can you charge that? It only took you five minutes to come up with that!”
Ogilvie looked into the eyes of the friend and responded, “No sir, it took me 25 years to come up with that.”
This message may take ten minutes of your time to read it. But it has taken 25 years of my life to craft it. I wish I was a better writer.
Alvin Toffler said, “You see, our issue is that somewhere, right now the future is being colonized by a people who have the resources, who do spend time thinking about it, planning for it, and trying to shape it in their direction. It is easy to talk about the long range when you are not struggling for survival. I recognize that people who have their backs against the wall must think about the immediate. But I also recognize that the failure to devote some attention to the long-range presses your back against the wall even more. Such failure means that decisions made are frequently counterproductive and chosen strategies frequently lead to disaster. As hard as it is, I think some attention to the long-range future is absolutely critical for any organization or any group in society trying to fight for a better place in that future.”
If you take that quote to heart, the next question has to be “who do you believe is planning for the future of our children?” “Who do you think gathered around the board table on yesterday to discuss the future of our children?” My good friend says, “you either have a seat at the table, or you are on the menu!” In that vein, I believe there are two important entities missing at the table. Two important entities that must be part of the conversation regarding our children. Those two entities are the parents and the youth. What I would like is a moment of your time as I offer to our community a plan to take our seat at the table. I offer an opportunity to collaborate on behalf of our children and young folk. You see, “collaboration is not about gluing together existing egos, it's about the ideas that never existed until after everyone entered the room.”
You see the lack of power is our dilemma. Power is defined as the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality. An additional meaning says the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. When I think of the Academic Achievement Gap for black and brown children, I see the lack of power as our dilemma. This is good and bad news. The good news is the power can be had. The bad news is that power requires unity.
If ever there was a reason to unite, a reason to amass power, I believe that reason is our children.
My name is Darryl Johnson. I am a concerned parent. I simply wonder who else cares about our children. I wonder if your care for our children is greater than your bad experiences with our schools? Is your care for our children greater than your bad experience with any organization that was trying to help in this area? Is the struggle to create and exist in community bigger than our kid's needs? See, I think we want to solve the problem, but we want the solution to be easy; we want someone else to fix it; someone else to pay for it, and someone else to make it their priority. But I am reminded what Frederick Douglas said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” I wrote this letter to ask if the struggles you have encountered are bigger than the vision of our children being well.
How much will it cost to erase the achievement gap? Not just the cost of money, but the cost of time, the cost in relationship building, the cost ego deflating. Then I have to ask myself, how much am I willing to pay, how much am I willing to give. Then I have to ask about you. How much can you spare? How much will you give? For starters, I am just asking you to meet me at the District Wide Black Parents and Student Support Group on Thursday, January 24, 2019. We will have our standing meeting at Pathways for Success located at 2800 Stone Rd., Ann Arbor, MI. The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. and ends promptly at 8:30 p.m. Can our children count on you? Can I count on you being there?
Darryl L. Johnson
Facilitator, District Wide Black Parents