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Friday, June 7, 2024

Dear Hannah: Mission Statement Part 8 - #CircumspectAboutDisrespect

Dear Hannah,
I'm a #StandupStoryteller.

I'm the brother from another planet.

Strange people think I am strange.

I think that what I experience is strange.

And still I rise.
I am learning to be #CircumspectAboutDisrespect.

Let me show you something ...



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"Daddy's Home" (2018)

(The "Follow The Leader (changED - Volume 2)" Audio and Video Album / Mixtape is also available at TeachersPayTeachers.com) 

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"Mission Statement (Part 8 - #CircumspectAboutDisrespect)"
By Derrick Brown

DBKB8NC2021010 042. Mission Statement (Episode 8 - #CircumspectAboutDisrespect Shooting Script (3-9-2024).txt

Hey folks.

My name is Derrick Brown.

I'm a #StandupStoryteller.

I'm the brother from another planet.

Strange people think I am strange.

I think that what I experience is strange.

And still I rise.

I am learning to be #CircumspectAboutDisrespect.

Let me show you something ...

[SHOW 0002. Isms Dictionary (3-9-2024).jpg]

Few people will admit to acts of racism, sexism, ageism, classism, dogmatism ...

... or even absenteeism, favoritism, narcissism, nepotism, antagonism, cynicism, pessimism and nihilism ...

I actually built this "ism" dictionary years ago ... for a time such as this.

When I made it, I had serious intentions to watch and document how each "ism" was present in our work environment.

As you can see, that never happened.

I eventually identified definitions for more than 50 "isms" in the dictionary.

Not all are negative (think "activism" and "witticism") ... but most of them are.

Nowadays I read this dictionary to amuse, sober, and re-educate myself.

See, when I saw how pervasive these "ism" behaviors are ... I then learned how subtle they are ... and how crafty microaggressive people are at throwing rocks, then hiding their hands ... then gaslighting you ... and making you and others question your sanity ... and criticizing your "sensitivity".

I have also learned firsthand that microaggression is multicultural and multigenerational ... all races, creeds, body types, heights, genders and ages know how to play this game.

So, I am learning how to recognize the "isms" ... and the perpetrators ... especially *me* ... then rely on my natural skills ...

... see, my withdrawn, observant, reflective nature helps me to be quiet (not silent), introspective, precise, concise, and humorous (in a "witty" ... but sometimes blunt manner) about what I might be experiencing ... which makes me a little better than I used to be at handling these matters.

'Cause I get a lot of practice handling these matters ... feel me?

I am not *good* at it ... but I am getting better.

I am learning that being #CircumspectAboutDisrespect comes down to handling *me* ... and the level of self-control I can maintain when I am "going through".

That self-control is what lets me operate as a "wit" ... and not as a "weapon".

Y'all, God has a sense of humor.

So last week at church, one of the stronger young men in the small group I lead announced that he was experiencing subtle, acute racism at his school.

I used to work in his school cluster 20+ years ago ... so I know of what he speaks.

That touched off a passionate discussion ... one where even our quieter members shared their "me too" experiences.

This discussion offered a great growth opportunity ... which means it offered a greater threat.

Imagine the visual of a pastor walking by watching me "lead" a small-group discussion with young men on the carnal ills of racism.

That can go off the rails into several rabbit trails.

We needed to stay on course ... so "captain ... command the ship".

I interjected and asked the group if we could table the discussion ... and promised that I would find a way to continue it later ... with the focus being on embracing the opportunity for self-control more than the obvious threats posed by casual, subtle, and overt disrespect.

We would discuss being #CircumspectAboutDisrespect.

Hit me.

[SHOW 0003. Proverbs 11 14.jpg]

After the small-group session, I sought some wise counsel from an elder ... and paid careful attention to what was shared.

During that counsel, I saw the difficulty my elder has had with navigating this delicate path to self-control.

I saw it in his eyes, and I heard it in his tone and speech patterns.

Our conversation provided no answers ... but I have learned that there are no *answers* ... only guided, iterative approaches that we improve as we grow.

Let's move ...

[SHOW 0005. 2 Timothy 3 16-17.jpg]

My guidance comes from reflection on my experiences, and my one true source of independent, timeless wisdom.

See ... I trust that these words that I read ... and revisit during triumphs and challenges ... will always help me.

They are the same words ... but I am never the same person when I read them.

I have been changed ... taught, trained, corrected, *rebuked*, and matured ... by experience, hope, and healing.

Let me show you something ...

[SHOW 0010. Proverbs 27 17.jpg]

My first encounter with this truth taught me to confront fears, and become more transparent in my relationships ... which would help people see both my gifts and my "stuff" (my issues and challenges).

Being "seen" would help me confront my weaknesses ... then strengthen both weaknesses and strengths by walking shoulder-to-shoulder with other strong, mighty men.

When the smoke cleared, though, that goal met with some triumphs, and some challenges.

Suffice it to say ... that a brother learned the hard way ... to be careful about transparency.

Everybody does not need to know your *stuff*.

I have become much more discerning about who I show *me* to ... and nowadays that's not a lot of people.

In recent years, this studio (and its setup) has become the safest space I know ... outside of my wife and daughter.

It is a warm space that facilitates transparency, hope, healing, and change.

See, my camera sits right here, and I have a monitor right here that lets me see *me* while I record.

This one-man setup was designed to help me overcome my fear of the camera, and my frequent displeasure with the sound of my voice ... and the fear of engaging my own countenance.

Watching me write and speak through my challenges has become a powerful, cathartic experience.

It has helped me to see that I am "me".

See … reading, writing, and speaking are my greatest strengths.

They are a three-strand cord that is not easily broken.

Writing is organized thought.

Writing about my experiences requires me to focus on "thinking through" rather than "going through".

Reading is "interpreting organized thought".

Reading about my own experiences helps me understand the nuances of human interaction and conflict.

This helps me deal with what I feel ... which helps me heal from what I feel.

Speaking allows me to examine my own heart ... for its abundance (good, bad, happy, sad, and ugly) generates my words.

Feel me?

Let's keep going ...

[SHOW 0015. Ephesians 4 26.jpg]

Anger is my constant companion.

It was once my greatest enemy.

I have accepted that it may always be with me.

So, I am learning how to make it my friend.

Several years ago, I read a book called "Spiritual Leadership" by J. Oswald Sanders.

What I read helped me see anger in a different way ... as a thermometer more than as an albatross.

Anger is a leadership trait that can motivate strategic action & resolution if I do not become "too" angry (so angry that I cannot pray, think, learn, grow, and "go").

If I cannot pray and think, then I am too angry.

If I am too angry, then I need to stand down ... until I am back in control.

This is much easier to do now that I can recognize when I am "there" ... that is, when my chili has completely warmed, and is about to boil.

Feel me?

Let's keep going.

[SHOW 0017. Proverbs 18 21.jpg]

Our building is filled with microagressive adults and children.

They combine to generate an exhausting "daily drama" that feeds on itself.

I navigate and survive by avoiding unnecessary adult and student interactions.

I am careful about when I walk up and down hallways, visit the bathroom, and make copies.

I am also intentional, though, about visiting other "safe" classrooms, and leaving my door open ... which allows former students to easily visit me.

Handshakes, Snickers, fruit bars and kind words go a long way towards generating a good will that combats this "daily drama".

This week, the drama reached a critical level.

God has a sense of humor.

Our former boss got "investigated" (after the filing of an anonymous complaint by one of my co-workers) for errors of omission and commission - then was kinda promoted.

The details are beyond the scope of this discussion - but I understand them well.

Our new boss is a high-conflict person who was kinda demoted.

I had a conflict with our new boss not too long ago (when they were not my boss) that resulted in them no longer speaking to me.

These details, too, are beyond the scope of this discussion - but I understand them well.

Several other co-workers have said "me too".

Another co-worker lost his wife after a lengthy illness.

So, our department's current vibe is a lot of sad, a lot of mad, and a palpable air of distrust.

See, both my old and new bosses look like me.

I am embarrassed by their past actions ... which leave me doubtful about their future actions.

My co-workers may feel similar sentiments ... but may project them towards me just a smidge.

I do not know this for sure ... but it feels like there may be some fact to my fiction ... and perhaps a bit of fiction to my fact.

During one of my recent morning journeys, a trusted co-worker introduced me to four simple agreements that align well with lessons from my one true source of independent wisdom.

The agreements are simple, yet powerful...

Agreement 1: Honor Your Word (Proverbs 18:21 New International Version (NIV) "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.")

Agreement 2: Take Nothing Personally (Proverbs 12:16 (NKJV) "A fools wrath is known at once, But a prudent man covers shame.")

Agreement 3: Do Not Make Assumptions (Proverbs 12:23 (NKJV) "A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims foolishness.") ... (Proverbs 12:24 (NKJV) "The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor.")

Agreement 4: Do Your Best

I understand the nuances of these agreements.

Honoring your words is not about counting them (though I do that sometimes) ... rather, it is about making them count.

Taking nothing personally does not mean to never feel that way ... rather, it means to never act that way ... to never say "ouch" ... and to never let them see you sweat.

Assuming nothing means never thinking you know why anything happened ... or what they felt ... or what they meant ... or who is "right" and who is "wrong".

Doing your best is about realizing how hard it is to be good with your words, and to take nothing personally and to assume nothing in a microagressive environment ... then giving yourself space, grace, and mercy to make and correct those mistakes.

Hit me.

[SHOW 0020. James 1 19-20.jpg]

I mentioned earlier that even though it is more important to make words count, I do count words sometimes ... because when I am irritated, my #StandupStorytelling can become #StandupSurgery ... where I offer incisive, confronting commentary more than prayer, grace and mercy.

I want to tell you that these confrontations are to promote growth.

This would not be true.

When I reach that level, in my mind I am speaking directly to whatever level of devil is present in my atmosphere, and I am commanding that devil to leave.

Those words often have the opposite effect, though.

I am offering these addresses to audiences who do not listen well ... so my words will at best be misunderstood ... at worst, they are often misinterpreted and used against me ... in short, I may be fueling and facilitating the folly myself.

This is when I need to listen more than I talk.


[SHOW 0021. Proverbs 18 2.jpg]

In my time, I have served choice words to more than a few people.

My words can penetrate souls and provoke a lot of reactions.

This school year, though, those words have met some vigorous retorts from young people who ... even when they might be strong in their wrong ... will still argue and debate.

I have also witnessed several students participate in my class while apparently under the influence of controlled substances.

Even when no drugs are involved, students are sometimes under the influence of arrogance and its cousin ignorance.

These influences are easier to see when I am listening.

I cannot learn or discern when I am talking.


[SHOW 0022. Proverbs 26 4-5.jpg]

Sometimes you let that fool go.

Sometimes you let that fool know.

I have been taught to confront gently, and in private.

However, I have sometimes chosen to gently confront microaggression in public ... because doing so in private presented a threat, too!

Guess what?

I would likely take an "L" either way.

I am pretty sure one such confrontation led to a lot of covert scrutiny from my former evaluating administrator.

Though that covert scrutiny may be one of the reasons they are my former evaluating administrator ... in hindsight, the confrontation was not worth the scrutiny I experienced.

Still, I think the real lesson here is to count the costs of confrontation ... even when you think it is necessary.

On to the next one ...

[SHOW 0023. Geom u7t AI Cardi B translation.png]

I am not sure if this requires confrontation or not.

This was shared by a co-worker who offered it for a laugh at the end of a tough week, but it fell flat.

I have now been advised about this teacher (and the one teacher who "loved" it) and what the joke may reveal about their attitudes towards students of color.

Next one ...

[SHOW 0025. Proverbs 4 23.jpg]

Children mimic adult microaggressions and boundary infringements ... and may not know any better.

I am sometimes more transparent with students than I should be ... so keep your guard up when that trouble starts to come around.

Next one ...

[SHOW 0030. Luke 6 45.jpg]

I remember this about myself and others ... what is in you, will come out of you ...

Next one ...

[SHOW 0035. On Deck (Connections - Triple Threat #000.003 KEY).jpg]

When I really pay attention to my daily environment, it is apparent that it lacks wisdom, maturity and growth.

That does not mean that our environment needs to receive that wisdom from me.

However, I am always looking for opportunities to share contextual wisdom.

That opportunity came recently through my version of a new addictive online game called "Connections".

The goal of “Connections" is to group 16 terms into 4 named categories.

My spin was to group 15 terms into 5 categories of 3 terms each ... 'cause good things come in "3's" ... "father, son, holy spirit" ... "butcher, baker, candlestick maker" ... feel me?

When I shared the key, I offered "free commentary" on each grouping, especially the "mind, will, and emotions" one.

I shared that the Hebrew word for heart ("leb") means "mind, will, and emotions".

The heart is the intersection of the mind, will, and emotions.

That is why we must protect it ... for out of it flows the springs of life ... including the words that reveal our heart's contents.

I think my words were well-received by some students ... but not the student I may have been talking to indirectly.

And still I rise ...

... but maybe I don't need to be trying to influence that student.

Perhaps I should leave them to their own devices.

After all, when the student is ready ... the teacher will teach.

Next one ...

[SHOW 0040. Proverbs 12 16.jpg]

Don't say "ouch" ... and never let them see you sweat.

Next ...

[SHOW 0045. Proverbs 12 23-24.jpg]

Telling a "smart" man to conceal knowledge can lead you down a rabbit trail ... consider this interpretation instead ... not everyone needs to know about your missteps and corrections ... not everybody needs to know your thoughts and viewpoints either ... your wisdom does not necessarily make the world a better place ... but sometimes, you gotta let that fool know, right?

This one tells me to be diligent about addressing my own mess ... because the cost of not doing so is being enslaved by your feelings generated by the actions of others ... this is a worse fate than slavery itself.

I am getting ready to close ...


I have generated no answers today, folks.

But I have searched myself, and have been guided by the lamp that lights my path.

Being #CircumspectAboutDisrespect requires that I examine my own motives, then count the costs (twice) before I engage in any type of response.

In the end, my goal is always to produce a better version of me than the one who walked the halls (or avoided doing so) last week ...

... a version who is better able to respond to the pressures and ills of life with patience, grace and self-control.

This searching ... along with well-placed breaks and rest ... will help me get there.

I trust and believe in the process.

I hope that sharing it gave you something concrete and meaningful.


Grace and peace.


About Derrick Brown (Standup Storyteller)



I am Keisha's husband, and Hannah's father.

I am a “standup storyteller.”

I fuse rap, spoken word (poetry), oration (traditional public speaking), singing, and teaching into messages of hope, healing, and change that I write, direct, and produce to help people who help people.

Everything must change - and stay changED.

Tradition begins and ends with change.

Change begins with me and the renewing of my mind ... then continues through efforts to effect small-group discipleship (equipping others to equip others) with audiences that respect and embrace mentoring, mediation, and problem solving as tools of change.

I am the product of my mentoring relationships, peacemaking (and peacekeeping), and problem-solving ability.

My education began when I finished school.

After school, I enrolled in a lifelong curriculum that includes classes in ministry, entrepreneurship, stewardship, literacy, numeracy, language, self-identity, self-expression, and analysis / synthesis.

My projects execute a ministry that has evolved from wisdom earned through lessons learned.

I want to share this wisdom to build teams of "triple threat" fellows - mentors, mediators, and problem solvers.

We will collaborate in simple, powerful ways that allow us to help people who help people.

I now know that power is work done efficiently (with wise and skillful use of resources, interests, communication, and expertise).

Copyright © 2024 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.



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