You know how much I love an inspiring story about bellas making their way in the world…

Meet Window Snyder, head afrobella in charge of security at Mozilla Firefox. Her Kenyan-born mother, Wayua Muasa, taught her to program the early computer programming language Basic, when she was five years old. When I was five, I was all about Smurfs and Fraggle Rock. Go figure.

I love that Window is doing great work for my internet browser of choice, and knocking down doors within her field. That’s my kinda lady. (Thanks to Nichelle, by way of Talking Stuff for that one!)

Did your high school have a debate team? Mine did not, but I’ve always been fascinated by the art form — it’s a world that I simply don’t understand, where speed speaking and conviction are necessary tools for victory. HBO is screening an incredible array of documentaries every Monday this summer, and last week’s screening, Resolved, gave amazing insight to the stories of two debate teams — Matt and Sam from a rich Texas burb, versus Richard and Louis, two inner-city debaters from Long Beach, California with crazy skills. This documentary made me laugh, cry, and admire the discipline debate requires from its contestants. All of the debaters were great, but Richard and Louis are especially amazing to watch. I sincerely hope they take the opportunities they’ve been given, and go far in life.

I haven’t yet watched this week’s doc, Hard Times at Douglass High: A No Child Left Behind Report Card, which I know will just break my heart. The series continues through August, and I’m already setting my DVR for The Black List, which includes insightful interviews with Toni Morrison, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Thelma Golden, among others.

Even if you don’t have premium cable, you too can get an excellent documentary fix this week when CNN’s Black in America hits the screen. Soledad O’Brien’s six-hour television event promises to examine the issues, successes and struggles of black men, women and families.

I’m definitely looking forward to that. It premieres in a month — Monday July 23rd and Tuesday July 24th at 9pmET/PT.

I find it kind of interesting that there’s this recent uptick in multifaceted documentaries about African American life, and such a dismal lack of diversity on television sitcoms and dramas. Click here to read an interesting piece about the lack of black people on TV for the upcoming schedule of new network programs, and what the NAACP is trying to do about it. I find it extremely disconcerting that Cleveland Brown is being described as “television’s great black hope for the 2008-09 season,” and I agree with Racialicious— my WTF-o-meter went wayyyyy off when I heard that news and saw the photo of the cast. But maybe that’s just because deep down, I’m a South Park fan.

I say, meh. What say you, bellas and fellas?

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chocopina says:
June 23, 2008, 10:55 am
I live in Baltimore and saw a screening for Hard Times at Douglass and it is a very well made film. It also was very hard for me to watch because it is so real and portrays life for kids in the city so vividly. I hope the movie helps to shed light on the some of the issues No Child Left Behind has created.
J. Diva says:
June 23, 2008, 11:20 am
Hands down, South Park is sooo much better than Family Guy, even though both shows are hilarious. But yea, with Girlfriends going off air, there once again is going to be a lack of intelligent black shows on television. My question is, who the hell keeps giving Flavor Flav (see: Coon) television shows? By the way, BET should be taken off air. BET Jazz is cool though...I love when they play Calypso/ Soca music.
tanya says:
June 23, 2008, 11:46 am
I LOVE Firefox and I'm glad to know that when I surf the web, Window has made it possible for me to escape unharmed from the soup of viruses and phishing sites that are out there. She's such an inspiration. Go on with ya bad self, Window!
afrobella says:
June 23, 2008, 12:42 pm
Whoops! That CNN special doesn't air till July, bellas -- have to fix my post when I get home from work!
TJ says:
June 23, 2008, 1:57 pm
Great post! :)
edessedesigns says:
June 23, 2008, 1:59 pm
Ms. Snyder is such a major inspiration! Thank you bella for posting about her!
Mrs.Mckinzie says:
June 23, 2008, 2:00 pm
I am a fellow Baltimorian who went to public school so I know first hand the problems that the educational systemn face.Life is going to be so hard for these children without an education,but in there minds life probably can't get any worse then what it already is.Something has to be done to fix this major problem with the school systems,but the kids don't have a will to learn anymore,all they want to do is fight because of ther frustration ,and pain.We don't have many parents anymore there is mainly drug addicts,and abusers.
J. Dakar says:
June 23, 2008, 2:04 pm
Five years old?! I hated programming in my college courses. That's definitely a good look with Ms. Snyder, though.
Joenell says:
June 23, 2008, 2:50 pm
i would really like to see resolved; i went to a predominantly black high school and i was captain of the debate team for two years. my 11th grade year we were state champs. we had a hispanic coach who believed in exposing us to a world that the majority of us knew very little about - we were taken to any tournament he could find, and while we were always the smallest team we always left with the most awards. the private school children were NOT happy with us! five years later i still have very fond memories of mr. garza and all he did for us. on a different topic...this new firefox is craaaazy. i love it!
Stal Herz says:
June 23, 2008, 3:25 pm
My mom is a teacher in Los Angeles. Her class is 100 percent Spanish Speaking and, though she teaches 4th grade, I would say 70 percent of them can't read on that level. The schools make them teach towards the standardized tests, so that all that matters is the scores and funding. Still, she is amazing and teaches them everything under the sun. Not many like her though, which explains how they got to her without being able to read. As far as progressive TV Shows, the Boondocks is the best. Shows everyone for who they are. Love it. Cool blog. -Stal
afrobello says:
June 23, 2008, 4:11 pm
Naturally BET nor TV One are going to investigate our lives. Then again, I wouldn't expect CNN's series to do more than gloss over reality to make white viewers comfortable.
Lauren says:
June 23, 2008, 8:15 pm
Fellow Baltimorian as well, although I don't live there anymore, but its in my heart (and my accent). My grandmother was president of the Baltimore City Teacher's Union for many years and tried desparately to fight the deterioration of the public school system. I know that looking back she never thought that the city would seem to leave its kids behind so readily. Although, why wouldn't they? Baltimore's downtown area has been going through a huge gentrification since the Ravens won the Super bowl, the city was making decent money off of "The WIRE", and Baltimore is a great place to live if you work in DC. Yet I know its hard for these kids, to look at others and see better schools, with better equipment, with better facilites and not be angry. We have to remember that children don't ask to be born. We as adult bring them into this world and are solely responsible for them and we must fight for our children. But parent's are so bitter and frustrated with their own lives that they can't see how they may be affecting their children. I see it in my own family. The help must come from the system and us! My great Uncle went to Douglass and was a huge supporter of the school. He passed away last year and 30 people from his graduating High school class came to the service and we aren't talking abouta class that graduated recently. These people had a serious connection with my uncle and loved him enough to not only stay in touch but come to share their memories of him. I don't know that the same feeling of camaraderie is there anymore, I doubt it. Maybe its a generational thing? How many people do you keep in touch with from high? I plan to watch the documentary- although I don't really need to, I have cousins at City, Poly, and Pimlico High Schools- and their lack of interest in anything outside of rap and the newest sneaker tells me enough about what needs to happen.
sho nuff says:
June 23, 2008, 8:46 pm
awesome post! i will spread the word about ms window snyder! girrrrrrl, don't sleep on family guy--it is hilarious =)
Eshe says:
June 23, 2008, 9:04 pm
I did debate in high school and absolutely loved it. I tell people that I wanted to do debate since seeing the ONE episode a debate was featured on Different I did Lincoln-Douglas Debate and the disparities in team funding were crazy. I am from GA and my team raised money by holding a tournament every year, selling Halloween carnations and money from our own pocket during each trip. But I knew other schools, one in particular, that had a HUGE team and traveled every year on the interest ALONE of its endowment.
Bebroma says:
June 24, 2008, 8:43 am
Firefox is amazing, and Window makes me proud!!! I didn't know that, and will definitely be dropping it in conversations. Five years old??????? When I took BASIC programming in high school I thought I was going to die.
Jenene says:
June 24, 2008, 4:32 pm
Hard Times at Douglass High will break your heart. My mom taught in Harlem until last year and she was saying the same frustration those teachers felt was what finally led her to retire. Mostly teachers are a highly dedicated lot. It's that dedication that stops them from walking out the door and never looking back. But when you facing a population that is so unfazed by lack of achievement and unconcerned about their futures, they just want to scream. To spend the day walking the hallways at school when you can just as easily go inside and learn something is beyond me. My mom also taught young adults for the GED. She asked them what they did while playing hooky. Most of the said they realized after the fact that even playing hooky got to be boring, but by then they had missed so much school it was easier to drop out. People we have got to do better!
Isa says:
June 26, 2008, 2:23 pm
Firefox rocks, and so does Window. Seriously, learning Basic at five?! That is awesome!
T says:
June 26, 2008, 2:45 pm
Hi Afrobella, I came across your blog through Glamour. I saw both documentaries that you mentioned, and they were most excellent. The sutdents stick with you for some time, and it really hurts my heart to know how many students we are leaving behind (I am a former teacher). If you have not checked out Paulo Freire, then you definitely should. He is the education theorist who inspired the students in Resolved. I studied him in college and he reassured and motivated. _Pedagogy of the Opressed_ is his most popular book.
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