Working 2gether Tuesdays
+ > ÷
working 2gether is greater than being divided
working 2gether is greater than being divided
+ > ÷ working 2gether is greater than being divided is really our daily working theme. Besides waking up every day working to erase the achievement gap, incorporating this theme/concept/ mantra into every facet of life is all important.
When we are speaking to teams, it is obvious that when teammates buy into teamwork...magic has a chance to take place. The willingness of talented individuals to fully explore their individual greatness and then subjugate themselves for the betterment of the collective is a beautiful thing. I have been fortunate to be on 3 teams during my 4 years of playing college ball that employed this dynamic. It is one of the purest forms of euphoria I have felt. Winning championships or going further in the playoffs than anyone dared imagine is a life changing and life enhancing experience.
When we are speaking to students and student-athletes, we speak on how working 2gether is greater than being divided in terms of their daily actions. So many young people spend an inordinate amount of time with social media, gaming, and television. Or, if an athlete, an inordinate amount of energy and time on club/AAU/ traveling squads/their sport. We try and (for some) introduce the concept of giving equal attention to your physical fitness outside of your p.e. class. We try to introduce the daily need to meditate or pray or sit quietly with themself and focus on their spirit...on their “why” for wanting to be successful/make their family/their school/ their city/their country/the world a truly better place. We try to introduce the need/desire to nurture their mind with knowledge and a willingness to grow intellectually. The need to place academics on a much higher priority...not the “training of school”, but the actual love for expanding one’s thinking. I say introduce when I know full well that all or almost all children have been exposed to or taught these concepts...but, usually it is as individual concepts. We push that mind and body and spirit work in conjunction with each other each day and while we sleep. If students were taught in each school this truth as a common language, they would do so much better. With school climate finally becoming a mandated part of a school’s accountability report card, maybe it will come to pass.
I encourage all of us to study (I am in the early stage hahhhhh) people like Dr. Mario Martinez, Biocognition, and the field of Neuropsychology (A great place for this is on Soundcloud with The Brain Mechanics Podcast www.soundcloud.com/the-brain- mechanics ). “Biocognition is how our culture, beliefs, and immune system all operate in a seamless unity that creates our experience of health and happiness.” “We are constantly fed how we’re supposed to behave at a certain age.” We definitely have to break from limits that society/culture/family place on us...the limits we have placed on ourselves. A primer that has helped me is at www.colorsofgratitude.com and the blog part that has “gratitude speaks interview series. The post from 5/27/2015 is what I used for this paragraph. Again, working 2gether is greater than being divided.
We also use + > ÷ working 2gether is greater than being divided as a way to move all of us to deal with social justice in a constructive way. I am white. I’m a white, male. I’m a white, male, straight American citizen. I have been fortunate to “be woke”...I mean truly aware and ready to daily deal with what that means since I was 22. I was dropped into a country where everything about me gave me an advantage over everyone else. I tell people all the time that sports (specifically basketball) saved my life. By that I mean it formed my world view. I was always about the 4th or 5th best player on whatever team I played on as a kid. Little League, Boys n Girls Club of Garden Grove, etc... . Then, I started getting better aaaand growing physically. Growing so quickly our family doctor wouldn’t let me play sports at all in the 7th grade. Wow!! I worked on my skills without running too much and not jumping at all. When 8th grade hit, I was beyond motivated. I was really good! Our coach and my dad were like, “you think you’re good in Garden Grove (in the early/mid 70’s) let me take you to Long Beach. We played in a tournament and, and, and teams were Black! and Latino!! I could “squeak dunk” in the 8th grade (I was about 6’1” then & by the end of 8th grade I was 6’4”) so in warm ups I gained respect. “The white boy has springs”. We played several games and I got my lunch handed to me but I also played well. More importantly, the tournament was set up to also have opportunities to sit with the other teams and just talk. My life was changed that day. 1. I knew I had to work to gain respect. 2. Black and Latino people both were athletically gonna push me to get better and were really nice/full of life. The other arena (literally hahhhh) was the Fabulous Forum in the early 70’s. We were fortunate enough to go to a Laker game once or twice a season. We could afford the nosebleed seats and for that I am forever thankful. Up in the top rows were every race and ethnicity in Southern California. We laughed, we slapped five (no high fives yet hahhhhhh), we hugged, we were heartbroken...we were human. It simply seared into my psyche that this was how we were supposed to be with each other. Hell, with each trip each year, we weren’t even instructed any more to “lock the door” once we got off the freeway. Progress!!
The years and the experiences and the education continued. Basketball continued to teach me hard work, discipline, success, failure, how to build relationships/camaraderie. In a way, it also taught me the feeling of being “minority”. In a gym when you are the only white boy, you learn to get better...you learn to listen...you learn to deal with being prejudged based on how you look...I learned from conversations about struggles...I learned about stereotypes I heard from where I grew up were so far from being true. After the gym I got to always be white all the time...however, I gained a point of view that saved my life by making it honest. I always had to be honest with myself. I had to read and research. I had to speak up.
We as white people have no more time to be how we have been for centuries. Being a nice person is not enough. “I don’t see color” is a lie we perpetrate to medicate ourselves from what’s going on. “I have a Black friend” is code for “How could I be a racist”. Racism is a power system of oppression that has been set up by white people (PREJUDICE + POWER = RACISM) that we, by virtue of being white, participate in. I believe that every day the best I can be is an “Anti-Racist Racist). Statistics (ask me please and I will show you) prove that it is still in place. Our Latino brothers and sisters are truly affected, also, as are Asians and Pacific Islanders and Brown skinned ethnicities from every corner of the globe. The fact that we live on stolen earth from our Native American brothers and sisters is a wrong we have never really fixed. We HAVE to join with our fellow citizens in organizing against racism. Only then, will we as white people be truly free. We need to, as men, follow the same path of solidarity with women. The history of the oppression of women is as long as of People of Color. We as “straight” people need to do the same for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. This isn’t being “politically correct”. ( Another term concocted to inoculate white people/men/ straight people from dealing with real issues.)
Times are difficult for everyone regardless of race. We are all struggling with juggling multiple jobs, depressed wages, climate change, uncertain futures. But, we have to tackle this issue of racism. it is an open sore that has festered and is beyond infected. We are at a point in time of history that we either rise up together to make things better or we stay divided and things continue to worsen.
When we truly come together and stop being divided, we can finally make America great. For the First Time.
Michael Gray is a School Climate Enhancer and a specialist in pointing student-athletes in the right direction academically.