Tag Archives: waterbury

Where I’m From: How My Father Shaped My Views on Race And Crossing Color Lines

11 Jan

me and my Dad during my high school days, him with his Jewfro, me with my pencil thin eyebrows and cowl-neck sweater

me and my Dad during my high school days, him with his Jewfro, me with my pencil thin eyebrows and cowl-neck sweater

My dad turned seventy-seven this past weekend.  Happy Birthday, Dad! In your honor, I wanted to take a look back at how you helped shape my views on people, in particular, how I feel you shaped my sisters and my views on connecting across color lines, as we grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut.

My dad, Paul Grossman, was born in Staten Island, New York, and grew up in Brooklyn, before moving to Waterbury when he was in the eighth grade.  A great storyteller, I love to recall his tales of mischief– […]

Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds – Reader’s Choice Contest Winner: Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

30 Mar

Thanks to all of you who nominated woman artists and songs for the final selection of WJSS Weekend Sounds honoring Women’s History Month.

The nominees were all listed and this morning, Darla’s sleepover friend, Sophia, the only one besides me awake at the time, selected the winner.

And, the winner is…… […]

WJSS Weekend Sounds: Parliament – One Nation Under A Groove

7 Apr

Seventeen and underage, I remember being in this club Farmer’s in my hometown of Waterbury, Connecticut.  At Farmer’s my girlfriend and I were in the minority, just like black guys and girls were in the minority, definitely not always by choice (read: selective doorman policy), when they frequented my disco haunt, Nite Life.

Inside Farmer’s that night, was a black undercover detective, I think that’s what he was, that, or a policeman.  He frequented Nite Life, so I knew him, and had chatted with him a few times.

He told my friend and I that we shouldn’t be there.  That it was dangerous for us to be there.  I didn’t pay much attention to him.  Sure, I had heard stories from friends, black and white, that perhaps less than desirable people hung out at Farmers–that there were drug dealers, and I don’t know what else, but when you are young, you’re invincible, and don’t want to listen to hearsay or some middle-aged man talk to you about supposed danger.  A few black friends and acquaintances of mine from high school were there.  And, like everyone else packed inside the spare space, I just wanted to dance and have a good time.

Then, Parliament Funkadelic’s One Nation Under A Groove came on, and I made my way out to the dance floor.  It seemed the anthem wouldn’t ever end. As danger dissolved under funketeer angel wings, I wished it never would.



Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Erykah Badu featuring Stephen Marley Sing I’m In Love With You via Melodies and Harmonies FB Page

25 Nov

An old high school friend of mine, Warren Leach, recently created a Facebook Open Group page, titled Melodies and Harmonies (The Unsung, Underplayed and Underappreciated)

–I’ve reposted Warren’s words on Melodies and Harmonies’ About page which gives you the lowdown:

This is an Informal page to Post, Share and Enjoy Unknown, Un-Hyped, Unsupported, and Under-appreciated Artists and Music… Artists with Ability, Heart and Skill… Leaning towards Neo-Soul, R&B, and Anything Breaking New Ground…Also this is a Page to support local artists with a story to tell

All Good Music is Welcome…
We all Appreciate good music and the vision and voice of the artists… I just ask we keep cursing on the page and in the music to a minimum..
There is quite a range of titles featured, and you are welcome to post your own.  As Warren admits, there are posts by well-known artists like Adele, Amy Winehouse and Curtis Mayfield, but there are also posts of artists that are lesser known–to me anyway, like sultry R & B singer, Sy Smith,  or singer, multi-instrumentalist, and dj Vikter Duplaix, who started out his musical training singing in church choirs in Philadelphia and Augusta Georgia, where he was raised.
There are lots of 60’s, 70’sand 80’s soul and funk songs I remember from my youth–perhaps a reflection of the age of the group members who are posting songs.  That’s all good with me, especially for when I’m in a nostalgic mood.  Finally, there are also posts of up and coming local talents from my hometown of Waterbury, Connecticut.  I enjoyed a wonderful rendition of The Black Keys’, Tighten Up by Brittnee Maia.

I am posting a song that was posted by Kevin Perry on Melodies and Harmonies that I’ve always thought was beautiful, but hadn’t heard in quite some time:  Erykah Badu’s I’m In Love With You, featuring Stephen Marley.  Makes me wanna slow dance in my living room–too bad it’s just me and my cat here right now.  Enjoy! …and please visit and join Melodies and Harmonies.  That way we can all share with one another our untapped music discoveries, and I can keep building my music library.





(Melodies and Harmonies facebook group page)


This Post Coulda’ Been A Contender

17 Aug

As I drove toward my hometown of Waterbury, Connecticut yesterday, while visiting my sister who now lives a few towns over, I searched for songs on the radio that would match the anticipation of eating my favorite pizza  from Dominick and Pia’s–pizza I’ve been eating for over 30 years, pizza with the thinnest, crispiest crust, mellow tomato sauce, and I swear there must be some kind of magic unicorn dust sprinkled in with the cheese, because it makes all other pizza cheeses taste like Elmer’s Glue.

What was even better than my anticipation of getting my mouth around a slice of that pizza, was the brainstorm of ideas that flooded my head about the perfect post I could write for my blog.  I hadn’t intended to get pizza for the purpose of writing a post, but as I drove toward downtown Waterbury, the vision became clear.  Only problem was, that when I stepped up to the doorway, I was met with this news….. […]

Oh, Great! Hometown Waterbury Teacher Calls Student ‘Black Boy’

9 Jun

Great–I brag on my About page, and in a prior post,  Keeping It (Un)Real In The Dirty Water, about growing up in the diverse town of Waterbury, Connecticut.  About going to a high school that had a 40% black student body, and how these experiences helped shape me, and fueled my desire to make positive race relations an important focal point in my life.

And, now this middle school teacher, Kathleen Pyles, had to go ahead and ruin it all by calling one of her students, “black boy!”  Way to go, Kathleen!  Thanks a lot.

And, thanks, Huffington Post, for shedding light on this highly disturbing incident.

Kathleen Pyles, Connecticut Middle School Teacher, Allegedly Made Racist Comment, Called Student ‘Black Boy’

Posted: 06/08/2012 10:53 am Updated: 06/08/2012 2:22 pm


Kathleen Pyles

Kathleen Pyles, a math teacher at North End Middle School in Waterbury, Conn., is on paid leave while school officials investigate allegations that she addressed a black student with a racist remark.

Kathleen Pyles, a math teacher at North End Middle School in Waterbury, Conn., is on paid leave while school officials investigate allegations that she addressed a black student with a racist remark.

Parents and the NAACP spoke out during a Board of Education meting Thursday, accusing Pyles of inappropriately calling a student “black boy” when she couldn’t remember his name, WFSB reports.

Officials told the Waterbury Republican-American that Pyles called the boy by the wrong name, and when the student pointed out the mistake, Pyles responded, “How about black boy? Go sit down, black boy.

The incident allegedly occurred in May, and surfaced when another child reported it to his mother, who then took the issue to the school, according to NECN.

“I couldn’t believe it, it was shocking to hear a professional like that, say something like that in a room full of students,” former NAACP President Jimmie Griffin told WTNH. “I couldn’t believe it.”

A number of parents are shocked and outraged, and are calling for Pyles’ dismissal. Waterbury Public Schools COO Paul Guidone tells WFSB that “appropriate action” will be taken if the investigation finds that the allegations against the teacher are true.

“We wish to assure parents that we take this allegation very seriously,” Guidone said. “We do not tolerate or condone the claimed behavior from our staff.”

The alleged incident in Waterbury is just one of several reports of racial insensitivity among the nation’s teachers.

In March, a Virginia high school English teacher allegedly asked the only black student in the class to read a poem in a “blacker” manner.

Jordan Shumate, a ninth-grader at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Va., says he was reading aloud Langston Hughes’ “Ballad of the Landlord” when teacher Marilyn Bart interrupted him.

She told me, ‘Blacker, Jordan — c’mon, blacker. I thought you were black,'” Shumate told The Washington Post.

In Georgia, parents of Beaver Ridge Elementary School expressed outrage at the school district’s response to reports of slavery being used as examples in math word problems — which included references to violence and abuse.

One question read, “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?”

A teacher responsible for the assignment has since resigned.


SOURCE:  www.HuffingtonPost.com, Kathleen Pyles, Connecticut Middle School Teacher, Allegedly Made Racist Comment, Called Student, ‘Black Boy’, June 8, 2012