An expert in getting back up again – writer, speaker, teacher

Download free eBooks by author Anthony Carter

The # 1 Cause of Drama (Broken Agreements) And What to Do About It

All issues, drama, chaos and confusion can be traced back to the same source. A broken agreement.

Somebody didn't hold up their end of an agreement and decided to go in another direction.

Most of us make agreements all day with all sorts of people.

Many of these agreements are not verbalized.

They remain silent, hidden, agreed upon with no discussion regarding what it is we are both needing in this situation and what it will require from both of us.

We all prefer mind reading, hints and suggestions, and my personal favorite: passive aggressive behavior.

While none of these things work long term they do provide endless hours of entertainment and create predictable and unsatisfying results.

Why focus on some forward movement when we can whine and moan about what somebody else in not doing?

So what does an agreed upon course of action look like?

For starters we get very clear about what we're agreeing to do and what we will not participate in despite the consequences.

For many years, I agreed to be the broke, whacky, fucked up artist because it allowed me a space in my family and an opportunity to claim an identity.

Years later I met my wonderful husband who asked: Why would you choose to live like this?

With that one question my life was transformed.

My identity then became one of financial solvency, savings accounts, artistic expression (beyond the desperation that goes with being "discovered" and "picked") and home ownership.

I switched the agreement with my family of origin and folks still ain't happy.

I switched our decades long agreement without discussion with or consent from them (family).

I'm not sure if people don't want you to change or feel threatened because now the agreement (in most cases to play small) is threatened.

Folks get their dander up when you switch up the game.

I've been agreeing to all sorts of tomfoolery at my job with my young people that is based in fear and with no input from me (silent agreements).

I will come in swinging with a simple, effective, agreed upon set of rules and they will get on board or move along.

I plan to push, demand and orchestrate a very different type of agreement between myself and my students. Our previous agreement was based on me surviving the homophobic environment that limits my ability to share intimacies and personal anecdotes (my strong suit that provided great teacher -student relationships).

For one, I allowed myself to shrink and be less than my brilliant self.

No one should ever allow themselves to be reduced.

As I begin to show up and be less dependent on being "safe" (which means being unseen), I change our silent and highly dysfunctional interaction.

I must keep in mind that folks prefer fucked up and familiar as opposed to new, exciting and uncertain.

Whenever we change our agreed upon dealings, there is a major upset and some immediate and unforseen push back. It shows up in all sorts of interesting ways and has only one function- stop change and prevent new agreements/arrangements.

What most of us perceive as drama is honesty showing itself as anger, disappointment and a refusal to see things from another's viewpoint.

Most of the time when things are not going as planned (our way), the immediate response is to find the cause and assign blame.

Finding blame (a highly effective tool for preventing any serious dialogue or change) is always a way to find fault with another and make sure nothing changes.

Here is the drama portion- one person wants change and the other is getting all their needs met or at least enough of them to adamantly resist change in any form. Hence, drama.

Or better yet, one party changes the arrangement without notifying the involved parties and much discussion never occurs about the changes.

While this might provide chuckle worthy material for sitcoms and movies, it wrecks havoc on real relationships no mater what our true intent.

Here are a few suggestions to prevent this type of foolishness in everyday life.

Ask- what are we trying to do and what did you agree to do? Fell free to share the same information with your conversation mate.

Tell the Truth- How many times have we rehearsed the truth in our minds and offered something else when given the chance.

Get super clear on the vision of the type of relationship you are trying to create.


Are Your Children Being Taught by Fascists?

Being bullied didn't make me hate learning, it made me hate schools and the rampant and unchecked fascism that dictated everything from what we wore to what we could watch on TV.

All of the policing changed when Roots hit the air.

All the white teachers and administrators sanctioned the consumption of this epic without any deep discussions about slavery and its present day ramifications.

Frightful and gutless individuals dictated what young black children could view and ultimately emotionally handle.

To dump something of this magnitude into the laps of young and impressionable students and not offer explanations or provide the space to discuss what we'd seen was evil.

Education at its best involves something more than silence, abject obedience and the ability to regurgitate facts and useless information.

Many black folks mistakenly believe that if someone is taking our money and allowing us into certain places there needn't be questions or any evaluation as to whether we are getting our money's worth.

Having parents who grew up amidst violent and relentless government sanctioned educational segregation, they attempted to rectify their perceived educational shortcomings by sending us to parochial schools.

This grand experiment, like so many in education, failed abysmally.

My parents, like most adults reared in an outdated school system, had no idea what education can provide or the mental landscape it can widen when it's not undergirded by fear and blind obedience.

A recent conversation with my dad highlighted the fact that much of education is not based on what students need (what is best for young people).

We agreed (which rarely occurs) that our current educational system worked when young folks who lived in an agrarian society (which many families did) needed to work in the Summer.

None of the young folks I know need to work in the Summer.

This is true for most young people in this country.

Whether it was the South Bronx, Harlem, or Compton, not one student ever told me they would be tilling the soil in the hot sun all Summer.

Everyone involved with school aged children understands this concept and yet we refuse to demand a restructuring of our educational system.

Our young people look to us for influence and instruction regarding ways of being and navigating the world.

What message gets sent when we allow failing systems to exist?

How can we trot out ridiculous slogans and tired mottos regarding "success" and "never giving up" when we as a nation have given up and consistently taught folks the fine art of learned helplessness?

A few pointed discussions about what our students are learning and why could yield marvelous results.

Post these discussions and a powerful plan that focused on a different rubric (on something that was not standardized) would give students a different focus and a way to personalize and excel in their educational pursuits.

I have worked with many students whose brilliance could not be measured on a test.

I have had students who were incredible problem solvers and natural born diplomats.

There is no way to measure or teach this skill and more testing and Summer School won't change or alter this dilemma. We should value our young charges and what they are learning.

Transforming our educational system is not strictly the job of teachers and administrators.

Teaching and learning can take place at any time in any arena.

Remember,the patrons in our barbershops and the creators of pop music spend a great deal of time instructing our children by default.

Modeling the type of behavior we want to see our children emulate is the single most powerful thing we can do.

If we want our kids to develop problem solving skills, tenacity and perseverance, do we give up (on life and its challenges) when things get uncomfortable, scary or unfamiliar?

Do we yap incessantly about success and big dreams yet keep our life visions and goals thimble sized?

Mentors and adults that dream big, take action and create results offer one type of teaching.

Adults and mentors who sit around with nothing grand to guide or inspire them send another message.

Kids are short, not stupid.

Many times I have had conversations with students about behavior and choices and felt ignored or unheard.

Some time later, I have heard my words repeated when the same student was faced with a similar challenge or wanted to inspire or encourage a friend to rethink a very familiar response.

To value education in this country, we must value people and be courageous when it comes to changing and challenging a system that is only designed for a few.

We must value our students minds and the intangible gifts each one brings to the world.


Why Not Selling Out is a Bad Idea

When I was 14, my new set of parents no longer allowed us to eat spaghetti.


Six Dead Kids Who Needed More than Safety

Whenever I have worked with young people, the issue of safety is obsessively focused on. You can't touch them (unless it is in front of other people and even then it's frowned upon). You can't be too involved or concerned and above all you can't share any personal information that would provide real world insight (see Seth Stambaugh's firing for proof).


Switch to our mobile site