“God bless us all“
Question of the Week: What does Christmas mean to you, really?
How is everyone? I hope all is well. I missed being with you last week, but you know, duty calls. Final exams were an adventure, but thank the Lord, He saw me through all of them. As I write this, I am sitting at work in the midst of a “Country Christmas” as my boss has come up on the Christmas deal of the century as far as music is concerned. Everywhere around me, people are slowly starting to get into the Christmas spirit.
For example, during my adult life, my mother and my brothers have been quite lax when it came to Christmas decorations, often putting them up Christmas Eve. However, last night, my mother had me hanging reefs. Then , I go and see her this morning, and she is putting up a Christmas tree. When I asked her, why all of a sudden she was doing this, her kids are grown. She replied, “We are Christians, why shouldn’t we celebrate Christmas.”
This got me to thinking, “Where did Christmas go?” As I look around, Christmas does not look the way it did when I was a kid. I have not seen the Salvation Army bell ringers, not too many houses around have Christmas lights up, and although it is the season, it just does not feel like it. Since I do not have children, then I do not have the luxury of doing all that “Christmas stuff.” And I must admit, I do not know whether it is because I am just beginning to unwind from exams, but I have been feeling more Scrooge than Tiny Tim.
Thus, I am forced to redefine what Christmas now means. I could say all the cliché things, like it is a time for sharing, and giving, or when Christ was born. While these are all great facts, what does it really mean, to you and me? I want to try to avoid the lip service that marks this season and get to the heart and spirit of Christmas.
Instead of worrying about the food, the gifts, the rush, the traffic jams and the rampant consumerism that marks this holiday, I am trying to find the spirit of Christmas I knew when I was little. When you are little, you gave gifts with all your heart, whether it was that ornaments made at school or a picture and card drawn. Now, we give, but it is out of our abundance. Back then, we relied more on our creativity than on our wallet.
Why don’t we try something different? Let’s not only give of our wallets, but give of ourselves. Let’s tell our love ones how we really feel about them. Or instead of buying them something they really do not need, let us perform some job they need done. I think what is missing from the Christmas I knew was the heart and sincerity that really set it apart. Once we find that, I think we are closer to celebrating Christmas like Christians.
A Little Early…
I know Christmas is not until next week, but I felt like if I put this out there now, we can do something about it before the day actually arrived. Personally, I am grateful to all of the readers and supporters of the Superspade, and I mean that from the heart. Because of you, I am starting to feel more like Tiny Tim after all. Who knows? Perhaps I will write another Christmas post next week ;).
I know that things have been kind of quiet here, mainly due to quite a few things popping up for Brandon, Steve, and myself. I pray that this has given people a chance to take a look at some of our past writings.
To celebrate the holiday season and do something responsible with our money instead of running around the mall with money burning holes in our pockets itching to be given to proponents of ultra-consumer culture (I apologize for the rant), we have decided to start our own fundraising campaign. For every SuperSpade email subscriber that signs up between now and Christmas Day, we will donate $1 to charity. The selected charity is The Detroit Youth Foundation.
Please get as many people to sign up as possible, and sign up as a subscriber if you have not already done so. The more subscribers, the more we can contribute to the great work done by this organization.
There are currently 350 email subscribers, so there will be $1 added to this initial $350 for each new subscriber. I will update as the total increases.
Due to exams, there will be no Weekly Dream this week. However, next week everything will back to normal.
Truth and Peace,
Today, I am rolling out the first of many design changes on The SuperSpade.
Our goal here is to create a great online discussion and participation experience where we can debate issues and brainstorm solutions to problems. In order to make this experience the best that it can be, this site must grow.
Actually, the first change was the addition of categories. Today’s change is visual. It allows users to see previews of all of the sites that we link to for our news stories. All you have to do is move your mouse over a link, and you’ll see a popup with a picture of the site. Try these:
Try it and let us know what you think or if you have any problems with it. We’ll be adding more to make The SuperSpade a better place to read and participate.
For those of you still in permanent vacation mode until after New Year’s, let me point your attention to a case being heard before the Supreme Court to determine whether race may be used as a basis for assigning students to public schools. This case is not receiving nearly as much hype as the University of Michigan cases but its impact will be far reaching. The heart of the dispute centers on
on two programs in Seattle, WA and Louisville, KY that use race as a factor (not the only one) in hopes of ensuring that each school’s population approximate the racial make up of the entire system.
According to an article at findlaw.com, (emphasis mine)
The school policies in contention are designed to keep schools from segregating along the same lines as neighborhoods. In the Pacific coast city of Seattle, only high school students are affected. The plan in another city, Louisville, Kentucky, applies systemwide.
Now I will resist the urge to go into a historical tangent on the effects of far reaching effects segregation in public policies and schooling in particular due to but not limited to the GI Bill following WWII, private racial covenants, racial zoning and otherwise blatant discrimination propagated by the deeply flawed Federal Housing Administration, and who could forget the historic rise of Levitowns. When we couple these state-supported segregation forces with public school systems largely funded by local property taxes, it is no surprise to see schools generally segregated by four factors, class, race, location, and overall school quality. (For more on this topic, read Jonathan Kozol’s landmark book entitled, Shame of the Nation)
Nevertheless, in Seattle, a parent was outraged after her then 8th grade daughter ranked the top three high schools she wanted to go to and was refused admission to her first school of choice (newly remodeled at the time and majority White) and she was assigned to another school (arguably of lower overall quality and majority Black). Now I am sure that one of the main reasons why the Seattle parent moved to that part of town in part to take advantage of the good school in her area. And what the Seattle plan does is simple, it disallows (on a grand level) parents to provide their kids a better education via living in a part of the city with higher socioeconomic levels.
Why this affects you
I don’t know the demographics of the people that read the SuperSpade, but I would venture to say that many of you do not have any children. However, if and when you do decide to have kids, where you plan to live will have life-long effects on your child’s development. Chief among these reasons is the quality and reputation of the school system. Any real estate agent worth his/her chops will go to great lengths to discuss the quality of the school system when trying to sell a home to family that has children. This is because they know that if nothing else, the quality of the schools will play a huge part in the decision-making process. So when you have kids, would you agree to raise your children in a district that had a race-balancing program, knowing that they might not get into the best possible school? I ask that because I wonder how you would feel if you were that Seattle parent. In that respect, I would argue that most parents are rightly or wrongly, insanely selfish when it comes to providing the best for their children. Moreover, this decision will have a huge impact on the ability of the state (in this case school districts) to provide opportunities for children to be able to interact with other children that do not look like them. And for anyone who has spent extended time in a diverse environment, one of the saddest things is to see someone hold views that are so flawed but could have been addressed if they were exposed to a diverse environment.
Diversity as a compelling state interest?
Therefore, the reach of this decision is broad because like in the University of Michigan cases of 2003, diversity is being put forward as a compelling state interest. Now I believe in diversity but I know many folks that support affirmative action and/or race balancing policies see diversity as legal front for ensuring that underrepresented minorities get access to opportunities that were historically denied them. To that end, sometimes the legal proponents of diversity and affirmative action will argue diversity in court but will wink and nod to their supporters, with both parties knowing the real fight at hand. So if diversity is the legal strategy that is keeping policies like affirmative action alive, (by their chinny chin chin no less) then the supporters of affirmative action and race balancing should be able to articulate the virtues of diversity with the same force and articulation as arguing that their kids deserve access to quality education and employment opportunities.
This post is getting long, so I will stop, but I will point out the solution to this problem. If all the schools in any district were equally excellent, then parents/students would not feel compelled to see that one top school as the only way to get the training they need to compete. But in our society, too many of us are unable to envision a world where someone doesn’t have to lose in order for us to win..