Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Kwanza! Happy New Year!

Each year I try to celebrate Kwanzaa by making a small fruit basket for each of the children in the family with gifts of books and games. They especially love clementines, apples and pears but I also try to add a new fruit that we have never tried. This year I have found a special book with a complimentary theme to give them, D is for Dragon Fruit, An Exotic Fruit Alphabet Book by Monique Duncan.   This book allows "children to travel around the world and learn about a colorful variety of fruit from A to Z."  Ms. Duncan has embarked on her own creative path by establishing a publishing company, Sweet Pea Books, which exemplify the principles of Kujichagulia, Ujamaa and Kuumba.  Find out more about her story by visiting,

Kwanzaa brings us together as a family and a community but the principles we share and talk about are needed throughout the year.  So let us begin the new year with The Nguzo Saba - The Principles of Kwanzaa and extend them throughout the year.  At Maple Sugar Child, I will focus on the values and  principles of Kwanzaa in our everyday life throughout the year.

The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa are:

Unity: Umoja (oo–MO–jah) -to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah) - to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah) - to build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.
Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah) - to build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH) - to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah) - to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee) - to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Return to Children's Focus

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Child is Born

In the heat of the season we sometimes forget the true meaning of Christmas. This gentle book reminds us of the true Christmas story as told by Margaret Wise Brown, the author of the popular, Goodnight, Moon and illustrated by Floyd Cooper.  In her quiet poetic style Margaret Wise Brown brings alive the miracle of Christmas highlighted by the luminous illustrations of Floyd Cooper. This is a Nativity book to inspire all ages and is our Book for the Season.  Merry Christmas!  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas at The White House

Michelle Obama's theme for this Christmas season is "Simple Gifts." As she explains the greatest blessing is  being able to be with loved ones, enjoy freedom and reach out to others in need. The theme is about family and helping community.  I am so proud to see the wonderful work our first lady is doing for the children of this country. Her program, Let's Move! encourages families to exercise and develop healthy eating habits. Her message is very important to the African American community where families are facing major health issues. Adopting a healthy lifestyle should be a priority in the African American families. In this video, she reminds everyone to support military families especially during the holidays.

This season the Obamas have both managed to spotlight  their interest in children and families. President Barack Obama also published his first children's book,  of Thee I Sing A Letter to My Daughters. He begins with, "Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?  A great message  for all children. The book illustrated by Loren Long published by Random House pays tribute to thirteen ground breaking Americans and the ideals that shaped our nation. Sales will go to a scholarship fund for children of  soldiers injured or killed. Of course, he dedicated the  book to Michelle - whose fierce love and daily good sense have nourished such wonderful daughters.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO)

Do you know a young gifted  person in high school or college who can use assistance in reaching  their career goals. SEO  (Sponsors for Educational Opportunity) provides mentorships for high school students and paid internships for college students. For more information about the programs they offer for young people visit

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

The JBHE Bulletin is a great resource for information on higher education for Black parents. To subscribe to their weekly bulletin for updates, visit Here are a few old post relevant to parents and teachers:

Articles from the JBHE Bulletin February 4, 2010
New Study Identifies Factors Contributing to Black Male Success in College
Charlita Shelton, president of the University of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has published research on a large group of African-American men who were college dropouts but went back to school to earn their degrees. She identified four factors that are important contributors to black male academic success:
• Self-determination and a strong sense of self-identity which give black men an internal motivation to succeed;
• Taking academic courses with a relevance to black men’s chosen career;
• A high level of family support and a sense of obligation to the family to succeed; and
• Financial support from government sources and academic counseling at institutions of higher education.
Dr. Shelton is a graduate of Western Michigan University. She holds a master’s degree from National University in San Diego, as well as a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. in human development from Fielding Graduate University.
Bucknell Expands Its Participation in the Posse Foundation
Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, has become only the second educational institution in the country to commit to enroll a third group of low-income and minority students through the Posse Foundation. Bucknell now enrolls groups, or posses, of 10 students from public high schools in Boston, Washington, D.C., and now Los Angeles. Under the Posse Foundation program, universities agree to select at least 10 low-income students from the public school system of a particular city. The selected students receive full scholarships. They will become a “posse” and they will participate in pre-college training and meet regularly when they enroll at a particular university. The University of Wisconsin is the only other educational institution in the country that has enrolled three posses.
The Black Colleges With the Lowest Student Graduation Rates
At 25 historically black colleges and universities, two thirds or more of all entering black students do not go on to earn a diploma. The lowest graduation rate was at Texas Southern University, where only 12 percent of entering freshmen go on to earn a bachelor’s degree. At the University of the District of Columbia, Rust College, and Virginia Union University, the black graduation rate was 15 percent or lower.
Many of the private black colleges have puny endowments and therefore are not able to offer generous financial aid packages. And many of the students at these schools come from low-income families with few resources to pay for college.
December 10, 2009
Study Finds Harlem Children’s Zone Programs Eliminate Black-White Academic Achievement Gaps
The Harlem Children’s Zone is a community-based program seeking to provide education, social services, and healthcare to children and their families in a 97-block area of New York City. The program includes two charter schools that serve more than 1,200 students in grades K-12.
A new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research co-authored by Roland G. Fryer Jr., a professor of economics at Harvard University, finds that the black-white academic achievement gap has been virtually eliminated by children participating in the Harlem Children’s Zone schools. The study was unable to conclude whether the charter schools were the principal reason for the success of the students or if the organization’s other social programs were major factors in the students’ achievement.
Study Finds Black Children Cope Better With Problems in Their Environment Than Their White Peers- Published: August 17, 2008 in Psychology & Sociology
Melvin Wilson, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, recently completed an eight-year study of white, black, and Hispanic children in three different regions of the country. His research, published in the journal Prevention Science, found that black children had the highest exposure to risk factors that lead to behavioral problems. These factors included high rates of mobility, low or fluctuating family income, substance abuse by parents, being raised in single-parent homes, and living in high-crime neighborhoods.
But despite the high exposure to these risk factors, black children showed no higher incidence of behavioral problems such as deviant behavior, violence, or being disruptive in school than white or Hispanic children. Professor Wilson believes that black children who are exposed to many risk factors develop a sort of immunity allowing them to better cope with the problems of life.
Professor Wilson’s study did show that many black children tended to “internalize” their problems associated with the various risk factors. While these black children were no more likely than their peers to develop behavioral disorders, the study states that the internalization of problems by black youth could lead to greater stress, anxiety, and depression.
November 5, 2009
High-Ranking Universities That Are Making Progress In Increasing Enrollments of Low-Income Students
Last week JBHE published its rankings of the nation’s leading universities in enrolling low-income students. UCLA and Berkeley led the group by a large margin.
But it is important, too, to note which high-ranking universities are making progress in increasing their percentage of low-income students. We are pleased to report that since 2006, 23 of the nation’s 30 highest-ranked universities have shown an increase in their percentages of low-income students. Two universities had the same percentage as was the case two years ago and only five showed a decline in the percentage of low-income students. The largest gains were at Harvard University, Emory University, MIT, and Stanford.
Washington University, Cornell University, UCLA, Vanderbilt, and Carnegie Mellon University were the five high-ranking universities to show a decline in low-income students in the 2006 to 2008 period.
Over a longer, five-year period from the 2003-04 academic year to the 2008-09 academic year, only seven of the top 30 universities have shown an increase in low-income students. Harvard has shown the largest gain. In 2004, 9.4 percent of Harvard undergraduates were from low-income families. During the 2008-09 academic year, the figure had increased to 15 percent. Princeton, MIT, and Emory University also posted significant gains over the five-year period.

The University of Massachusetts Has an Innovative New Plan to Increase the Racial Diversity of Its Medical School
About 16 percent of the population of the state of Massachusetts is either black or Hispanic. Yet only 5 percent of the physicians in the state are black or Hispanic. In an effort to increase the number of minority doctors in the state, the University of Massachusetts Medical School is setting aside 12 places in each 125-member first-year class for students in a new program designed to increase racial diversity at the school. The new program will give high school seniors who are members of minority groups, or who are the first generation of their families to attend college, the opportunity to gain admission to college and medical school simultaneously. Students accepted into the program would study at one of the five undergraduate campuses of the University of Massachusetts. If they graduate and maintain a high academic standing, they would be guaranteed a spot at the medical school. Attractive financial aid packages will also be used to attract minority students to the program. Students applying for the program will sign a pledge to practice in Massachusetts after they complete medical school.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Maple Sugar Child

Maple Sugar Child is a celebration of the African American child. The name comes from a poem by Langston Hughes:

Winter Sweetness

The little house is sugar,
Its roof with snow is piled.
And from its tiny window,
Peeps a maple-sugar child.

The inspiration for this blog comes from a book that I am writing. Black Child, Black Love encourages African American parents to take a pro-active approach toward building self-esteem and finding the giftedness in our children.

To understand why building self-esteem in African-American children so important let's start at the beginning... Several million years ago a little child walked up right and left a footprint on the earth of Africa. Today anthropologists revel in the excitement of that footprint as they try to unravel his (her) story. Some of humanity's greatest development and best success stories took place in that small corner of the world.

Today every child needs to leave his (her) own footprint on this earth. African American children need the opportunity to be able to nurture their talents and reach their potential. They need to know their history and they need to know that they are loved so that their story will be one of success.

Maple Sugar Child will provide information and inspiration for raising children in a multi-dimensional world. In the end it is about the joy of parenting and working with children. It's about building character and self esteem. It's about our future and the potential to create a new and better world.

Return to Children's Focus