Editor’s Note:This is a piece written by our sister, Nikolai Pizarro.
I have started this blog entry about six times already. Each time I re-read my words and they read of insincerity. Not because I’m not doing the work or I’m not proud of my book or somehow not believing in what it is that I have to say. That’s not it. I AM doing the work. I AM proud of my book. And I BELIEVE wholeheartedly in what I have to say.
Yet at the heels of what turned out to be a most amazing week in Brooklyn last week, spent connecting and building with educators and parents and the murder of Trayvon Martin both…the call is louder than ever. The burden is heavier than ever. I hear the questions louder than ever.
How do I convey the sincerity of my conviction — and not come off as commercial? How do I scale the work — because it must be scaled — without losing sight of both individuals and the collective? Without compromising the call? Without ever, not even for a second making it about — money? How do I celebrate one mother emailing me with her victories or a group of parents raising their hands, fully engaged in my work and our children’s future — without thinking about the other 8-10 MILLION black and Latino children living in poverty in this very country whose parents I have yet to talk to? Who still don’t know that I stay up at night thinking of them? How do I tell people that without sounding like a complete egocentric maniac with some sort of Savior complex? How will anyone understand that what I really believe is that if there is someone that needs saving — it is I and that my only hope is those parents, those children…us — we?
How do I talk about a book when our children are in danger just for being, victims of the crime of which we are all guilty: not realizing how powerful we are?
It’s complicated. And right now, I’m working through all that.
If you are still reading and for whatever reason still are interested, here goes my entry to this wonderful space called Owl’s Asylum.
I go by @BE_PURE. I wrote a book titled Ring the Alarm. And what I do is really quite simple to me: I share what I have learned and I believe in my community.
Through my pregnancy and experiences as I mother, I’ve had the privilege undergo extensive training in the areas of brain science, child development, and specific topics such as literacy and child nutrition. As a result, I know how to teach people, kids included to read. I know how to make green smoothies and healthy meals on a budget. I know how brain development impacts a child, who enters a community, and in turn becomes a part of our socio-economic structure. And so on and so on. And because I know what I know…I share. I don’t know how else to explain my work other than that.
I am humbled to be in the position that I am. I’m a queen. I am a scholar. But I’m also a hood chick. Born and raised. I’ve been hurt, beaten, raped, scammed, broken, robbed, bamboozled…like so many others. But I’m standing and I’m happy to be here. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t see myself in the faces of the poor mothers and grandmothers that I share and build with. I am them.
When I wake up in the morning and look at my son, my young prince, my hope…I see exactly what I see in the children of those mother’s I build with — I see my hope. I see engineering, architecture, healing, innovation, enterprise, organization — I don’t see prison. I don’t see poverty. I see ancestry. I see future.
When I see the hood, I don’t see despair. I see power. I see real estate. I see human capital. I see power in East St. Louis, I see power in Carolina, I see power in Atlanta, I see power in Brooklyn — I see it everywhere that I go, everywhere that I build. I see hope. I feel hope. Therefore, I am hopeful. Convicted.
As I scale my work and begin to travel more with it, I realize that I am not wired like everyone else. This too is my blessing. It’s what allows me to believe. Yes, I believe in us still. Unequivocally. Who else and what else would I dare believe in?
Here is my truth: Our kids are losing. WE are losing. And yes, we have shitty parents out here. I get that. But, I also get that we have been given shitty conditions. So I love my community through the dysfunction. I bring with me a case of toilet paper. And I do the work. Our kids are going to school and can’t read. They can’t think. Fifth graders, 9th graders — can’t read! And if they aren’t learning to read and aren’t learning to think — what are they going to school for exactly?
While someone comes up with an answer to that I say — we can teach our babies to read. We can teach each other to read. We can protect our children. We can heal our parents. We can build strong communities. We can. Who says we can’t? We are the growing majority in this muthafucka! You know what right? WE!
I’m no better than the next. The only reason I’m doing this work is because one day I decided it was what I was going to do. Actually, I decided it was the ONLY thing I was going to do.
In my sessions, I often tell my mothers, “First order of business — this system doesn’t care about your poor, black, bastard child.” I also say, “and your beautiful child doesn’t give a f*ck about that system! You shouldn’t either. Here’s what you need to know. Here is how you do it.” And we get to working. It’s pretty simple. I’m a simple type of gal. But it works. I’m not that deep. I just remind people of the power they always have had.
I can’t get to everyone. That hurts. I can’t make anyone implement the change in their homes. That hurts even more. Nonetheless, I am responsible to share what I know and to do so without judgment and extreme urgency. It’s not really a tall order, is it? I don’t think so. Besides, I couldn’t do anything else if I tried. What’s your order?