Our Black News – Critical Thinking for the Advancement of Colored People
Friday May 7th 2021

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Civil Rights as Film Entertainment Misses the Struggle of the Black Body in the United States

Killing us with smiles, promises, and movies for the mainstream. (Photo: Nate Parker’s New Poster for ‘Birth of a Nation’ Pulls No Punches)

Capitalism…you gotta’ love it. The civil rights movement has been the perfect vehicle to make money off the unsuspecting critical times in United States history. The need to understand history’s invalid actions is only palatable in the form of entertainment, which demoralizes freedom, equity, and civil rights into a ball of nothingness made for the film. Personally, I find it difficult to “celebrate” Black History Month – I was born black… every day I or one of my brothers wakes up not killed by law enforcement is a celebration in real-time and thankfulness. Sometimes breathing is very humbling.

Recently, I posted a critical comment on the Huffington Post section “Black Voices.” The comment was in response to a story about the actors who starred in the “Selma” movie, including Oprah, who used mainstream media time for a faux civil rights march in Alabama in promotion for the movie. My comment: “Question: Why do we have to keep reliving this history via entertainment? The people in the front of this picture (Oprah and friends) have enough clout and money to address any relevant issue in the United States concerning black people. In short, we should not be marching, we should be reading and coming up with a plan. Why would anyone pay to see a movie about history imitating life in 2021? Our priorities are very clear; change does not need another meeting or protest, there needs to be action.”

Some people think “Selma” is a movie made for theaters. The events in Selma were real. In 1964 when Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. travels to Selma, Alabama with Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young, James Orange, and Diane Nash. King and his followers march through Selma before a crowd of white folks and the ruthless Sheriff Jim Clark. The marchers kneel down and put their hands on the back of their heads. One man fails to kneel as his wife and son help him. Sheriff Clark and his cohorts go over to them and try to force the man down. When his son defends his father, Clark nearly strikes him with his club, until Annie hits Clark and knocks him down. In retaliation, Clark and his goons force Annie to the ground. King and many of his followers are subsequently arrested and incarcerated.

The Selma event was one of the many social engineering movements that helped to shape and change the civil rights movement in the 1960s. The movement in the 1960s was about Black people in the United States having a voice, place, and self-leading power to right the historical wrongs put upon us. Unfortunately, when Hollywood hears a great story, there is room to tell it again, and again. This time it is not about working on civil rights in ever, nor is it about asking the nation’s former first black president to re-issue a check to Black America that is not marked non-sufficient funds, or NSF. This story does not bring to light the killing of the innocent or the disfigurement of a colored workforce by denying jobs and education. These stories, like the movie “Selma,” are feel-good publicity stunts cleverly delivered to the American public just in time for the MLK birthday celebration and Black History Month – and nothing more. No film entertainment has ever stopped the killing of unarmed Black men; but a film about it will make millions.

I originally wrote this column on MLK day from my office desk while many attended sanitized (virtual) civil rights breakfast and one-day boutique performances to work on some type of social justice concern.  The plight of Black America has been turned into a revenue-generating cash cow where civil rights are nothing more than a social cabal and a Black person can be killed by the police and the classroom.

In 2021, Black America still has major obstacles in the road to freedom and the creation of fair playing fields. While I like a good movie, I would prefer to work on agenda items that will create wealth and equity for others who will travel my path, not hide behind a bunch of ‘that’s the way we have always done it.’

Best of success to those who financed “Selma,” and other movies on the verge of release that deal with black history. I hope your investment was well thought out and you make your money back and then some. From my purview, the road to freedom and civil rights is still under construction. Impress me and work on today’s real-time issues – history will be there; it is not going anywhere.

We shall overcome? Indeed, someday.

Amazing opportunity for Black Men to become Doctors – High School Seniors Wanted, ASAP!

Our Black News Public Service Announcement 2021

Photo Credit: MEDPageToday (https://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/medicaleducation/88176)

Great opportunity for some young Black men to get a full ride to become a doctor!

There is a program between TSU and Meharry Medical College where the student would go to TSU for three years and then on to Meharry and finish to become a Medical Doctor (MD) or Dentist (DDS) in 7 years instead of the traditional 8 years.

They have enough Black young women signed up for the program and no Black young men. If you know any Black male high school seniors that want to become a medical doctor, have a 28 on the ACT, and a 3.5 GPA, I have a possible free ride for them at Tennessee State University.

You can send prospective candidates’ information to Gussie.fuller@gmail.com who will forward it to President Glover and Mrs. Barbara Murrell.

The student’s info needs to be submitted ASAP.

Minnesota Teaching must convert immediately to the ‘Modern Classroom Project’

By Don Allen, M. A. Ed./MAT

Long overdue for Minnesota Classrooms. The Modern Classroom Project
(Photo: Micro-credentials for Don Allen)

The Burning Bush…

Don Allen, Modern Classroom Educator inviting you to join me today.

Twin Cities, Minn…We have been playing this game the wrong way for decades while dealing bad hands to our most vulnerable populations – the at-risk, unprotected, psychologically, economically, physically, and emotionally attacked in Minnesota: Our children of color and middle-class whites. 

We cannot go back to the old normal when the mass return-to-in-class (learning) happens. Many Minnesota Teacher Training programs are ill-equipped to unlearn and relearn what has now become a Modern Classroom system of checks, balance, harmony, and learning outcomes because they too, like K-12 education systems have not pushed the envelope, settling for mediocracy while bathing in pensive static, typically with no obvious cause (data-driven sentence).  For the most part, the traditional curriculum focused on the teacher rather than the learner, but now – we have the opportunity to equip students with higher-level thinking skills by providing rigorous content with clear success criteria, such as rubrics that students use to identify strengths, mastery checks, and areas of growth when they self-assess using student-facing assessments. “If the structure does not permit dialogue the structure must be changed” (Freire); it’s time for the mass conversion to Blended Learning (Video, LMS, Google Docs, Zoom, Google Meet), Self-Paced Structures (Scaffold, Build it, let them climb one step at a time – but get them through it), and Mastery-Based Grading (Check on progress purposely, insert life-skills, check learning trajectories, make sure everyone learns, SPED, EBD) – our K-12 scholars deserve to learn and it’s our duty to serve. (Check out this Black History Literature Review Lesson Plan for “How Watermelons Became a Racist Trope” by William R. Black – December 8, 2014, The Atlanticfor grades 10-12 here.)

Like Moses, I too have seen the ‘burning bush’ and it manifested itself to me in the form of intellectual higher-order conversations with mentors and collaborations about how we find and use the best of what we have in us as teachers and share it with our scholars so they too will be able to navigate life’s challenges and rewards. It’s that simple – it’s the Modern Classroom Project. 

The Last Question Interview: “My name is Jim Vue” the incumbent – Saint Paul School Board 2020

By Don Allen, Host – “The Last Question” on ReStream

His name is Jim Vue.

Mr. Jim Vue – Director, SPPS Board (photo: SPPS, Fair Use, 2020)

He was appointed by the Saint Paul School Board to fill the vacant seat due to the death of Marny Xiong. Mr. Vue says, “To ensure success of SPPS, I am running for election in November to carry out the remainder of Marny’s term.”

My wife and I have been involved in district governance for 10 years. We are proud parents to  five children. I acknowledge the role of a school board director is to lead. Vue says he connects his interests and experience to the role by understanding what’s at stake – and what’s at stake is the health and well-being of many K-12 scholars in SPPS.  Moreover, Jim is concerned his understanding on how his interests intersect with stakeholders in SPPS such as students, parents, teachers, staff and administrators. Read more about Mr. Vue here.

Join me your host, Don Allen for an in-depth interview with St. Paul School Board incumbent Jim Vue on Thursday, October 22nd at 8:30pm (CST). This show will be broadcast on YouTube, Facebook, and many other platforms. To see it in real time, click here.

The Last Question with Don Allen: One-on-one interview with St. Paul School Board candidate James Farnsworth, LIVE!

James Farnsworth (he/him/his) is a committed advocate for the students, families, teachers, and staff of Saint Paul.

Join me tonight, Friday – October 16th at 7:30pm for an interview with Saint Paul Public School Board candidate James Farnsworth on “The Last Question with Don Allen, M. A. Ed./MAT” LIVE via ReStream™.

This program will be broadcast live on Facebook, YouTube, and BlogTalkRadio (audio only). The public pages on Facebook that will carry the interview are as follows:

Black Politics in Minnesota

Our Black News

Minnesota Institute for Research and Public Policy

Race, Color & Status


About James Farnsworth

James Farnsworth (he/him/his) is a committed advocate for the students, families, teachers, and staff of Saint Paul. As a proud graduate of SPPS and the son of two longtime public school teachers, James has a deep knowledge of the challenges facing the district and a proven track record of forming diverse coalitions to tackle complex issues. He’s actively attended school board meetings over the years which has given him an incisive perspective and keen insight into process and governance of a large and complex institution with an over $600 million annual budget. He knows what it takes to be a responsible steward and strong champion of Saint Paul Public Schools.

Read more here (Issues).

What Is Fear? Rhetoric and the News

By Don Allen – Senior Editorial Columnist

In the classical system of rhetoric, there are three principals: public speech; the legal or forensic speech, and the political of deliberative speech (p.3). Using these principals, I respond in my own words to rhetoric.

Recent Examples on the Web

When allowed to dominate rhetoric and drive policy, fear can have immediate consequences.

— Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, “Why do Americans think more immigration means more crime? (audio),” 17 Aug. 2020

Bush, who served as president from 2001-2009, has often praised the contributions of immigrants, a notable contrast to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and policies.

— Hillel Italie, chicagotribune.com, “Former President Bush pays tribute to immigrants in new book,” 6 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘rhetoric.’ When we talk about rhetoric and the news, we speak of a politically charged arena of ‘style’ that have no objectivity whatsoever. Just recently in Minneapolis, MN. A young man who earlier in the day had shot and killed a man was being closed in on by the police. The man, homeless – a resident of the local Salvation Army put a loaded weapon (9mm) in his mouth and blew the back of his head and spine. The police supplied the local media with the unedited video (I’ve seen it several times, it’s sickening), and the media sat on it for more than 30-minutes, just enough time. As a long-time media activist, I felt local media wanted to see what would happen using speculation about the youth that committed suicide might have possibly been killed by a police officer. It seems like there’s a challenge when it comes to the News and how news rhetoric especially in the last 90-days with the killing of George Floyd (locally) and others shapes the narrative about these killings. First off, if the person killed is Black, the focus goes to if he/she has a criminal record as if that it’s okay to shot and kill someone with a criminal record; rhetoric in the news has an advanced decision-making construct driven by fear and capitalism. 

The re-criminalization of some American people only needs a small local or national incident to push the ill-assumed stereotypes (especially Black men) and rhetoric to being the most feared and criminalized caste of people in the United States. What troubles me is the hypocrisy and quickness of Americans and the mainstream media to forget the past and in this instance take advantage and use the agency of a minority body to push their fear.  Malcolm X was right when he said, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.

Of course the mechanism of news. So far, it is highly unlikely to separate news and its sensationalism-rhetoric from a possible normal social construct of how delivery of broadcast news is supposed to work. To even begin to talk about the norm, we would have to start our research well before television existed and start where the meaning of rhetoric and objectivity were abandoned. The shameful part of the process is that some castes of people are strained into a culture that is not our own by simply turning on the news.

Tiger Jack’s Forced Out of Business – the last of the Historic Rondo Businesses


By Lucky Rosenbloom, Contributing Columnist

To:  Minnesota State Representative Rena Moran

        St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter

        St. Paul City Council

        Ramsey County Commissioners

Policy and at the time elected officials, played a major role in the destruction of the Rondo neighborhood that was the model of moral citizens, our homes, families and businesses.  

Tiger jack’s building is the only remaining structure from that historic Black Rondo community.

Due to the construction of the Bridge our family business will no longer be seen, access will be denied and for all real purposes our business will be forced to shut down for both safety and others not having access for business.

As such, we will not be able to pay taxes on the building. With the added disturbance, and the added use being blocked, Tiger Jack’s building will fall victim to the RACISM marginalized citizens met during the destruction of our community I-94.

You all should understand the institutional and systemic process this will have relevant to the outcomes shutting down and denied access, business not being visible, safety trying to be at the site and health related issues with respect to construction dirt and machinery close to Tiger Jack’s building.

I will not allow this to happen w/o a battle.  I am saddened that you all will allow this knowing the history of Rondo and our family business and injury during this next months of this project.

“If you bring a problem, bring a solution with it.” Lucky R. Black Pride and Honor Radio-Monday’s 6:30 PM (CST) online wfnu.org or WFNU.94.1 FM Conservative Perspicacity

Open Letter to College Board CEO David Coleman, and Advanced Placement head Trevor Packer – and the Board of Trustees: Where are the Black Literature and History programs in the AP catalog?

By Don Allen, Senior Columnist – Our Black News (MN)

It’s probably better to get along.

Directly after the murder of George Floyd, many major firms went under a ‘pander-demic,’ citing they would make sure that at the foundation of their best practice there would be fair and balanced roles of Equity for Black and Brown people. The most important group in education, besides our state department of education  that has not complied is the College Board who controls AP English and other courses. This is my letter as suggested and edited by the Black AP organization.

Dear Mr. Coleman and Mr. Packer:

My name is Don Allen, M.A.Ed./MAT. I am a high school English teacher in a school that is 100-percent free or reduced lunch and 95-percent minority-ethnic and I care deeply about the future of our students. I am writing this letter to strongly encourage the College Board to develop an Advanced Placement Black American Literature and Composition, Black History, and Black Studies course. We have all heard the old adage that each successive generation should and will be better than the previous, and I am calling on you to make that a reality. My telephone calls to the College Board have been met with harsh disdain and non-reponse, and maybe it’s because of the leadership of AP and the College Board – see here. I understand you don’t speak the same language as the scholars in the inner-city, but author James Baldwin knew it to0: “…the subduers don’t speak the same language as the subdued.”

Don Allen, Senior Editorial Columnist – Our Black News. I do this for free – over 12-years.

Advanced Placement programs play a vital role in developing our students into more educated, thoughtful, and analytical citizens. I believe that such a goal can only be achieved through showing students that racially-based narratives can – and should – change. I believe that academia must evolve, and that begins with amplifying Black voices and narratives. What voices are we silencing by denying a platform? If you offer college-level courses, you must offer college-level discourse. I am imploring you to use your incredible platform and massive influence over student decision-making to create an Advanced Placement Black History Course.

Your own AP Equity and Access Policy states, “We encourage the elimination of barriers that restrict access to AP for students from ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups that have been traditionally underrepresented.” Representation begins with education, but education is still controlled by those in power. I am asking you to take a stand for those very students who, by your own words, have been “traditionally unrepresented.”

Black history has been sanitized in traditional curricula. In order to engage fully and deconstruct prejudice, it deserves more thorough exploration. You have a unique power to provide students with the knowledge and context to be – put simply, better.

You have called for equity, and now you are being called for representation. Imagine the generational ripple effects of a world educated about Black History. I envision a more tolerant, compassionate, and energetic society. One that is focused on equity. One that recognizes the atrocities that have been committed against the Black community. One that gives them a voice to share their own experiences. One that seeks to uphold the values we have already laid claim to, and failed thus far to achieve.

College Board, you have an amazing power to begin a process of healing and connecting. You have the opportunity to take an important first step to dismantling systemic racism in our school systems. Education may not be the ultimate answer, but this is a chance to build a foundation to reach one. It is a travesty that we as a whole are ignorant to a rich and important history that has molded and shaped our present society. Do not continue to perpetuate white silencing of people of color, especially Black male educators.

Thus, I am proposing that the College Board take a stand and create an Advanced Placement Black American Literature and Composition, Black History, and Black Studies course. Your literature cites that students who take AP classes are more likely to be successful in college. I believe that students who take AP Black American Literature and Composition, Black History, and Black Studies courses will be more successful in alleviating racism in the world.

I eagerly look forward to your announcement of a course(s) in development with a committee composed of respected scholars in the field. Anything less is inequitable. 


Don Allen, M.A. Ed./MAT

AP Literature and Composition Teacher 


Black on Black Crime and Fixing the Police

The iconography of a cold dead Black body lying on a tarred road covered with a sheet, hanging from a tree, choked to death by a policeman, or burned alive by a mob creates a seductive voyeurism which has been a part of American history and culture as long as there has been such. A historically designed “picnic” of the most irregular making.

By Don Allen, Senior Editorial Columnist – Our Black News

How different would it be if this were the case? (Photo: Fair Use – Google Search, Facebook)

America’s law enforcement has always been the legal arm of the American sanitation of Black and Brown bodies. What took place in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and what continues to be the juggernaut of American normalcy past, present and future is the targeted and designed intellectual marginalization, arresting, imprisoning or killing of Black men by some type of law enforcement, be it the police in the streets, or a boardroom. In the broad sense, these killings send a disturbing message on many fronts: 1. Self-destructive behaviors are not always Black and White; and 2. The same reasons some white police kill black men is the same reason black men kill Black men; they see no future or value in the Black body. To understand the meaning of the civil war raging in the Twin Cities, we must be clear on how flat characters fit into a thick plot charged with white privilege, race-baiting, and racism.  We must begin by defining the meaning of normalcy in a manipulated society within a dominant-white patriarchal construct that cannot rescue nor redirect itself from historical assumptions of the Black body. For example, saying a Black male is “angry” has a far different meaning from saying a non-Black is “angry.” If a Black person can identify a flaw-in-process to find a better way to complete a task, he’s trying to pull a fast one. If a non-Black student sees the same flaw and works in an attempt to fix it, the response is: This guy is great! We should get him a job in the boss’s office. In the one case, a single consciousness rewards privilege. In the other case, many are damned by the double consciousness about Black people that becomes the normative historical target of fear-generated assumptions; and yes, I might be smarter than you – so you not wanting to work with me because of my skin-color makes you an idiot.

Questionable deaths, especially the deaths that provide a platform of tension and propaganda between Blacks and Whites make for good television news ratings. Like the police, the mainstream media has done a great job of hyping up the assumed non-normalcy of Black men. At this point, it is highly unlikely to separate real news from high-impact television and print news sensationalism. Today, news is not ‘news,’ it’s style and who does it best.  

This is my reflection on what’s happening after talking to dozens of high school students out in the street protesting, watching three Black teenagers car-jack an older white woman in daylight hours, and seeing youth that look like me looting the Midway Footlocker. Yes, I know that Mr. Floyd should not be dead and his death represents many layers of generational and structural racism that have never gone away; man-made, taught, and practiced in the high levels of organizational communication. But how do we address the black and brown bodies that still cause community damage in the form of perverse actions that include the rejection of education?

There are many inside the Black Lives Matter movement, the NAACP and the Urban League who will deny that black-on-black crime is even the issue. One might argue with the exception of BLM because of no formal 501(c) 3 status, the NAACP and the National/Local Urban Leagues can benefit from protesting police murders more than black-on-black crime simply because structural and institutional racism do not want to deal with this embarrassment. This was seen earlier in the week when Minnesota’s governor and lawmakers went public on wanting to look directly at an issue put in front of them many times in the last two-years: the blight of Black Minnesotans in Minnesota. In any case, structural racism wins again.

This is a message to all high school seniors (and their parents). If you were planning to enroll in college next fall — don’t.

by Diane Klein

1. No school will be “back to normal” in fall 2020.

2020 is a wash…

No one knows whether colleges and universities will offer face-to-face instruction in the fall, or whether they will stay open if they do. No one knows whether dorms and cafeterias will reopen, or whether team sports will practice and play.

It’s that simple. No one knows. Schools that decide to reopen may not be able to stay that way. A few may decide, soon, not even to try. Others may put off the decision for as long as possible — but you can make your decision now.

Even if some face-to-face instruction resumes, no one knows if it will last for the whole semester or all year. If there’s anything worse than resigning yourself to a freshman year spent online, it would be moving across country or across town, into a dorm room or an apartment — only to have to move out weeks or months later, with no guarantee of any refund, with further disruption and dislocation. Or worse yet — going back to school, only to have a family member fall ill, or to get sick yourself, when COVID-19 makes a resurgence, as it almost certainly will until there is a vaccine — which in turn is unlikely before January 2021 at the soonest.

Even if schools offer in-person face-to-face instruction this fall, don’t imagine it will be just like last fall. In fear of enrollment declines and loss of endowment values, schools are cutting expenses now — freezing all faculty hiring, and preparing to raise faculty course loads and class sizes, even as they shrink course offerings. Minimum class sizes will go up, meaning specialized and small courses may disappear. Many classes that “migrated” online as an emergency measure in March 2020 may never come back. Faculty members forced to teach this way may find themselves required to go on doing so — regardless of whether they were ever trained to teach effectively online.

Will schools budget fully for the extra- and co-curricular activities that make campus life the memorable and unique experience that it is for so many? I wouldn’t bet on it. The same goes for the support services so crucial to success for first-generation students and others from historically underrepresented groups.

If you wouldn’t be satisfied with the bare-bones, minimum-contact all-online remote instruction being offered at the institution right now — don’t assume things will be any different, or any better, in fall 2020.

2. This is no time to be making one of the largest financial commitments of your life.

The United States economy has suffered a massive shock, and the consequences are ongoing and unknown. Even before this crisis, college students could not be confident they would be able to get a job after graduation that would enable them to repay a six-figure debt. Student loan debt is a huge political issue, and it is possible that the way we finance higher education in this country may change a great deal under a different presidential administration. But this, too, is unknown.

Most schools will allow you to defer for a year. Consider taking them up on it. And if they won’t let you, well, a school that admitted you once will probably admit you again (or a different one will). Declining numbers of college students also mean that schools that can afford it may offer more favorable financial aid packages in a year’s time. Those who have sat out a year may find themselves in a better position to finance a college education in a year’s time than they are right now, when so many families are facing serious financial uncertainty.

3. Let go of FOMO.

There are other important, worthwhile things to do if you take a semester or even a full year off. Here are just a few of them:

Work on a political campaign. There’s an election in November 2020, have you heard? If you care about what the world will look like when you’re an adult in it, get involved. Don’t like any candidates? Then get engaged in issue activism. Like student loan debt, health care, the environment, women’s rights, voting rights. Find something you care about.

Up your technological literacy. Yes, yes, we know everyone under 20 is a “digital native,” but my academic colleagues have found that many college students are actually not as familiar with digital educational technology platforms as many of us assumed. Even when in-person instruction resumes, it’s a safe bet that many more classes will be delivered online. Those with greater fluency in these platforms will be better prepared for that future. For example, how are your Blackboard skills?

Develop more life skills. This tip is not directed at the many, many American teenagers who already have jobs and significant domestic responsibilities as well. It’s directed at the hothouse flowers who arrive at highly selective institutions having won the science fair or debate tournament but never done a load of laundry or cooked a meal. Now is the time to learn.

Get a job (or volunteer). The coming economic downturn may be very severe, and I am not suggesting that teenagers compete for minimum-wage jobs with workers who are primary earners in their families. (And I know many high school students work already.) There are all sorts of work that can be done. Help homeschool younger siblings or become an online tutor. Free up working adults in your household, who may be out of sick leave or other support and must return to work. Get involved in community groups — online, if necessary; in person, when that becomes possible.

As an admitted freshman, it is not your responsibility to spend a fortune or go into debt to help a cash-strapped financially-mismanaged institution stay afloat. If they won’t be around a year from now without your tuition dollars, you’re better off finding that out without enrolling and accepting the substandard education that will be the best they can do under these circumstances.

You’ve already had some precious parts of your senior year stolen from you by this virus — sports championships, the prom, graduation. And if you’ve spent the past few years of your life looking forward to starting college in the fall of 2020, it’s understandable that you are still hoping it will all work out somehow, and you’ll be able to go. If you do, the school you attend may be like something out of The Leftovers, at best, a faded version of what you saw in those glossy online brochures, at worst, a decimated institution with a demoralized and shell-shocked remnant of faculty, staff, and students. If you defer or postpone, what’s the worst that can happen? Your dream school reopens in the fall, and provides in-person instruction all year without any problems. And you miss it, and become a member of the class of 2025, instead. That doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

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