Who are you voting for?

“What I’m hearing from families all across the country is”

“The American People”

“The Middle Class”

“We need stronger leadership in Washington”

“Let me be clear”

Do these phrases sound familiar to you? Let’s just say, if you can master them, you are ready to run for a political office in America. If you’re like me, you are probably tired of hearing them, though.

I often wonder about the families or “American People” these politicians are referring to? No one has ever asked me, my family, or my friends, anything. The more I watch debates and press conferences, I’m convinced our leaders or those seeking to be leaders are more out-of-touch with everyday people’s needs than aliens probably are. It is no secret, they are going to say what they think we want to hear in an effort to get our vote. Republicans say the democrats are lying, the democrats say the republicans. Is it possible they are both lying?

They claim to want a better life for our veterans, education reform, equal rights/equal pay, an end to terrorism, and a decent health care system. Do you notice politicians and their families are never impacted in a negative way by the things they argue about?

Their children receive the best education, their families have world-class health care, and it is usually not their spouse, parent, or child protecting our freedom through our military.

What is probably the most heartbreaking, though, is watching relationships/friendships be destroyed because of political views. We watch candidates on television or listen to them on the radio, and then take their positions to social media which typically leads to a harsh exchange of words between close friends. Sometimes, people either unfriend or unfollow others without saying a word. If we side with the left, then we bash the right, and vice versa. There is no way our candidates are wrong. We eat up whatever they say instead of doing our own research (with an open mind).

During former President Bush’s two terms, conservatives praised him while democrats criticized him. In contrast, democrats think President Obama has done a good job as our commander-in-chief but the republicans can’t wait for him to leave office. Now, we are seeing the same thing unfold as we approach another presidential election.

However, what we fail to realize is that America isn’t ruled by a dictator. Yes, we have a president but their word is not the final say unless it is an executive order. We have a Congress, made up of one hundred senators and 435 representatives, and nine Supreme Court justices. The United States operates under a checks and balances system. Therefore, our executive, legislative, and judicial are equally responsible for what goes on in our nation. When a bill is on the table, no one gets what they want without giving the other side something. That’s just how it works.

I challenge you today to examine the lives and lifestyles of our federal, state, and local leaders. Then take a look at yours and the lives of the people around you. Do you notice a difference?

Who are you voting for this November?

If you liked reading this blog, you will most likely enjoy reading my two books, Tired of Being Black and From the Heart of a Teacher. Both can be purchased through any book retailer including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

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What if we added the word “too”

It’s a cold day in America, figuratively. Blacks and whites are at each other’s throats, calling each other names, and accusing one another of being racist, bias, and/or prejudice. No, it’s not 1960, it’s 2016. Sadly, many Americans back then longed for the days when people could live in this country without injustice, racism, or hatred. Many of them fought and died for freedom and equality.

What is even more sad though is the fact that men and women don’t get paid the same salaries for the same jobs, black students are suspended from school four times as much as white students for the same offenses, and minorities earn about five dollars less per hour than their white counterparts. However, those are small issues compared to the war on the streets—black men being killed by white police officers.

We all remember the tragic stories of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and most recently Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and Terence Crutcher. What is probably the most painful of these situations is the argument over whether or not these guys deserved to die instead of the reality that they are dead. People have lost friends over social media posts when it comes to race relations. Disputes over what lives matter or which ones matter the most has put a bitter taste in the mouths of most American citizens.

The words “Black Lives Matter” seem to bother many people. Those who oppose the movement either respond with “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter.”

This past summer, I had a conversation with my radio show co-host, Tammy Gaitor, about the impact one word could have on the slogan. What if people added the word “too” at the end of “Black Lives Matter?” Would it make a difference?

When black people say, “Black Lives Matter” they are not suggesting that other lives don’t matter. We are simply trying to say that our lives should matter as much as Dylann Roof’s, Timothy McVeigh, and the other numerous white men who manage to keep breathing after they are approached by police.

The Black Lives Matter Movement is about getting everyone to understand that black people want justice. Believe it or not, we want the black people who commit crimes to pay for their wrongdoings.

Not all of us are criminals. Not every move we make is suspicious. We would actually like to build trusting relationships with law enforcement, but both sides have to work together to make this happen.

Even if we have a criminal record or we have just committed a crime, it is not okay to shoot us. The law requires due process. When we break the law, read us our rights, search us, arrest us, and take us to trial. Cemeteries weren’t built for criminals, jails and prisons were.

If you really believe “All Lives Matter” then that means you believe that Black Lives Matter, Too!

Rodney Jordan is the author of the books, Tired of Being Black and From the Heart of a Teacher.

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Until…

All Lives Matter…until a black life is taken.

Black Lives Matter…until a black life takes another black life.

The Oppression of Black People Matters…until a man decides to protest the national anthem.

The National Anthem Protest Matters…until I want to listen to Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, or Nicki Manaj.

Can’t you see? Everything matters…until…

Until someone asks us to do something that goes against what means the most to us. Think about the rich young ruler in the bible (Matthew 10:17-27). This young man ran up to Jesus and asked what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus listed a number of commandments and the young ruler said, “Master, I have done all of those things.” However, when Jesus asked him to sell all of his possessions and give to the poor, he went away sad because he knew what he owned.

We are all about a protest or a movement until it reaches a point where we can’t go against the grain. It’s easy to sit down during the national anthem but it’s hard to sit down during games until change happens. It’s easy to take a knee against oppression, but it’s hard to stand against rappers who continuously produce and promote music that disrespects black women, uses racial slurs, and/or encourages gun/gang violence. We flood social media when a black man is killed by a white cop but are silent when a black man kills another black man. Then, we have the audacity to get mad when someone mentions black on black violence, yet today, I saw so many posts and tweets about people being silent when black people are killed. Isn’t that the same hypocrisy? I’m confused.

Whether you are a person who gets mad about white on black crime or black on black crime, you are an individual who focuses on color and not crime.

We can’t get mad at white people for being selectively silent when we do the exact same thing. We can’t get mad at them for only speaking up at convenient times because we are guilty of the same crime.

We either saw the video, heard the audio, or read the transcript; Terence Crutcher was killed for no good reason on a highway in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I hope the cop who killed him is arrested, prosecuted, convicted of murder, and serves he rightful sentence in prison.

Let’s not make this about Kaepernick’s protest, though. The two have nothing to do with each other. The NFL, NBA, and NCAA can omit the national anthem from their games and it still will not get the attention of the enemy. It still will not prevent the next black man from being killed.

If you want to get the attention of any “oppressor,” you must hit them where it hurts—in their pockets. Believe it or not, the wealthiest people in this country are where they are because of what people want, not because of what people need.

Normally, I would list the names of my books and encourage you to read them. Tonight, just focus on what you can do to bring about change.

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Who’s Sitting in Your Classroom?

About three and a half years ago, my dad ran into my seventh grade social studies teacher. Her first question was, “So what penitentiary is that Rodney Jordan in today?”

My dad responded, “My son is a school teacher now.”

Her eyes got real big as she said, “Clearly we are not talking about the same Rodney Jordan.”

My dad assured her, they were.

About a year later, he found himself having the same conversation with one of my friends from back in the day. My old buddy mentioned being in jail on four separate occasions since graduating from high school. Apparently, he was looking for me each time, only to find out that I was in Northern Virginia teaching kids, coaching basketball, and writing books. My dad said the guy was so blown away, he came back at the end of the day just to confirm that they were talking about the same guy.

I must admit, middle school was probably the worst years of my life. I was constantly serving after school detentions, in school detentions, and out-of-school suspensions. I probably spent more time in the principal’s office than I did in my classes. It seemed like my teachers were calling my house every day. Finally, when I was twelve years old, my mother said it was time for me to go. She gave my dad the option of raising me or she was going to send me to an All Boys Home until I was 18 or 21.

When I got older, I learned that many people like my former social studies teacher and my old friend had lost all hope for me. They figured it was only a matter of time before I was sentenced to life in prison or life in the cemetery.

What they didn’t know was that I always had a heart to succeed, I just didn’t know how. I wanted to behave in class but couldn’t figure out how to do that and deal with the pressure of fitting in with the kids around me. I wanted to be an honor roll student but no one cared about my report cards until I started bringing home failing grades in the fourth grade. Somehow, the A’s and B’s I earned between 1st and 3rd grade were overlooked.

I was an angry kid. I didn’t understand why my mom and dad weren’t together. Instead, my mom, siblings, and I lived in a two bedroom duplex with as many as eleven other family members at one time. I hated the fact that we were poor and my mom couldn’t afford to buy us name brand shoes and clothes like the popular kids. As a result, I felt like I had to find a way to make up for what I didn’t have. I had to learn to tell jokes. I was disrespectful to my teachers, only because my friends had me feeling like it was the thing to do.

It wasn’t until I met Mr. Wilson in high school that I realized I was okay, just the way I was. He challenged me to overcome what was around me and work for the life I wanted which is the same message I have for my students today, “If you don’t like your life, start working now to change it.”

While I’m not a celebrity, I have accomplished more than people thought I ever would. I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, I have published two books, I’ve been featured in magazine and newspaper articles including the Chicago Tribune, I’ve had a host of television and radio show interviews, one with Sybil Wilkes of the Tom Joyner Morning Show. I was voted the Most Outstanding Teacher for the city of Manassas, at the end of my second and third years of teaching. I have also received nominations for several state and national recognitions as an educator.

As teachers, we never know who is sitting in our classrooms. We never know why children say or do the things they do but it is important to show them love, regardless. Some of our students who present the greatest challenges will turn out better than those who follow all of the rules and complete all of their assignments.

Let us stop worrying about who they will be tomorrow and remember that they are somebody today!

If you enjoyed this blog, you should definitely read my books, Tired of Being Black and From the Heart of a Teacher.

 

 

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Start of a Movement or Momentum of a Trend

It’s been a little over two weeks since Colin Kaepernick set America on fire with his protest of the National Anthem. Since then, several players have joined the movement in an effort to raise awareness of the way people of color are treated in this country…so they say.

I wonder how many of these protestors still celebrate the Fourth of July. I wonder if they know that when America gained its independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, black people were still enslaved, by law, until 1865—almost 100 years later. Moreover, the first three words of the Preamble are “We the people.” Well, when the Preamble was written, black people were considered property, not human beings. Those infamous words referred to wealthy white men yet it is still a major piece of American History.

I wonder how many of these temporary activists consider themselves to be Democrats. I wonder if they know that black people weren’t even allowed to attend the Democratic National Convention until 1924. In fact, most blacks were Republicans until former president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, introduced his “New Plan” following the Great Depression. Do they know why they vote Democrat? Back in the day, black people believed in working hard and providing for their families so government assistance was out of the question. Black families were against homosexuality. Yes, the same things the GOP stands for today.

I wonder how many of these athletes listen to music that disrespects black women while they are warming up for the big game. When was the last time you saw or heard an athlete protest or boycott Lil Wayne, Nicki Manaj, or Young Jeezy because of the distasteful music they produce which only depicts black people as gangstas and hoes? When was the last time you saw them marching down the streets of Chicago urging young people to put their guns down? I’ll wait…

I am not convinced there is a good motive behind this movement. I think it is just like the other protests we’ve seen in recent years—it will disappear as soon as the news cameras do. We live in a bandwagon society. Issues are important to us when they are trending. Remember when people were talking about Sandra Bland? Lamar Odom? Trayvon Martin? How often do you hear those names now? Where are those people who were shutting down highways and bridges because they want justice? Just curious…

As long as we want change with our mouths but not with our hearts, things will always remain the same.

Please like, follow, and share my blog.

I am a 5th and 6th grade STEM teacher in Northern Virginia. I am also the author of two controversial books, Tired of Being Black and From the Heart of a Teacher. You can download or purchase them from any book retailer.

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My Hand, My Heart, Your Flag

A few weeks ago, highly decorated Olympic Champion, Gabby Douglas was under great scrutiny for not placing her hand over heart during the national anthem at the Olympics. Last night, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick took things a step further when he sat down during the national anthem. This morning, the former NFC Champion QB is catching hell on social media due to his reasoning for the unpatriotic act. “I refuse to acknowledge a country that continues to oppress black people,” Kaepernick told a news reporter.

Every person has the right to say and do as they please. In fact, you even have the right to be wrong in America. However, my question for Mr. Kaepernick is, “what have you done to counter this oppression you speak of?”

Ordinary blacks like me get up and go to work daily and will never make $15 million a year like Colin at our current jobs. Our careers doesn’t come with potential endorsements from multi-billion dollar companies like Nike. However, we ordinary people do more to combat the struggles of this country than the people who have the most power—athletes and actors.

I get that we blacks are fed up but we can’t blame white people for any oppression we feel. We raise our kids to value monetary things instead of education and family. Black mothers get their hair, nails, and toes done but send their children to school looking a hot mess. Black fathers are too busy partying and getting laid, leaving women to raise children on their own. Just to name a couple of our downfalls. For anyone reading this saying, “I’m not like that,” you already know, I’m not talking about you but you get the point. We complain more about injustice than slaves did. Remember, if it wasn’t for them taking action, we’d still be isolated today.

Our children have opportunities in front of them that our ancestors could only dream of yet we don’t expose them to those opportunities. We’re too busy making sure they are cool and have things they don’t need like hundred dollar sneakers.

Therefore, if we are going to be mad at anyone, let’s start with ourselves and our race. We are the oppressors. We choose to be gangbangers. We choose to be drug dealers. We choose to be deadbeat dads. We are our own enemy. Let’s fix us, first, and then if things don’t change, we might just have an argument.

Rodney Jordan is a young black male teacher in Northern Virginia. Jordan is also the author of two books, Tired of Being Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009EPUJM6/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 and From the Heart of a Teacher https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Teacher-Rodney-Jordan-ebook/dp/B00KXB2784/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1470829478&sr=1-1&keywords=from+the+heart+of+a+teacher.

 

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“Eye” See Color

Try to engage an adult, especially a white person, in a conversation about race…I guarantee you, the first thing out of their mouth will be, “I don’t see color.” Do you believe that? I sure don’t!

The truth is, we all see color. However, society has taught us to “walk on egg shells” when it comes to controversial subjects such as race.

There is nothing wrong with seeing color. The problem is judging an individual or stereotyping them, based on what they look like.

When you see me, you can’t tell me you don’t see a young black man. You can’t tell me you don’t see chocolate brown skin, big lips, or knot balls on my head. Just say you’re more interested in getting to know me before forming an opinion. Don’t be quick to call me a successful black man because you see me in a suit teaching children or the opposite—a thug because you see me walking down the street in a black hoodie.

It’s a shame that in 2016, a reasonable white person feels silenced because of the color of their skin. Believe it or not, many of them agree with black people on many issues. However, we never give them a chance to speak. We blacks find it hard to accept the fact that not all white people are privileged, rich, or republican. We have drawn the conclusion that they will never understand. Not knowing, they already realize that. They are just asking for the same thing we are—don’t judge me. Accept me for who I am. Give me a chance.

In the same way, white folks should get it out of their heads that we are uneducated, poor criminals who are all democrats who are only on Earth to cause trouble.

Slavery ended a long time ago. The evil spirit that haunted this country for hundreds of years is still here but many of its carriers are gone. So many people have moved on from that wicked way but we as blacks refuse to accept it. How can we ever unite though?

It’s a shame that in 2016, there are black people who can’t speak up about what we do to ourselves or each other. Racism is alive. We all know that. However, what about the drugs we sell each other, the times we abandon our kids/families, the moments we think it is okay to take another black person’s life? Then, if a black person speaks against it, they suddenly become an Uncle Tom, a puppet for Fox News, or a sellout. Can we make up our minds please?

It’s a shame that in 2016, there are a number of white people who speak as if they have been profiled before. Just because something isn’t your reality, doesn’t mean it is nonexistent altogether. Before you speak, ask yourself, “What if my child didn’t come back home?” The government makes sure we have something to fight over and the media keeps the fuel going.

Maybe you don’t want to see color. Maybe you don’t want to be viewed as a racist. What you can’t deny, though, is that we all see color, we all judge, and we are all prejudice in one way or another.

Rodney Jordan is a young black male teacher in Northern Virginia. Jordan is also the author of two books, Tired of Being Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009EPUJM6/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 and From the Heart of a Teacher https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Teacher-Rodney-Jordan-ebook/dp/B00KXB2784/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1470829478&sr=1-1&keywords=from+the+heart+of+a+teacher

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