Celebrating Takerah Townsend

Mr. Blondin says:
The words that come to mind when I think of Takerah are CONVICTION, ENTREPRENEUR, and JOY.
Takerah came into my African American Culture class with other members of the BSU to talk and share cultural stories and perspective with my students. I didn’t really know her until that day, but she made an impact with her voice, leading the 8th graders in dialog about Blackness, Black Power, and Black Girl Joy.  She talked with them about Black Beauty and I still have in my Socratic Seminar notes from that day, “Takerah speaks with CONVICTION!”.   As the conversation turned to systemic oppression I pivoted to our Essential Questions of the day: “What can we do about it? Where does our power lie?”  It was Takerah that first attempted to answer this question:  “We can buy Black”, she said, and I heard and saw that conviction as she talked about the power of money and the necessity of circulating and keeping the dollar in the Black community.

When class was over, Takerah pivoted, and I saw the businesswoman come out of her.  She operationalized her message to the students and told them about her online business, tying it directly to her message of the importance of buying Black – Takerah the ENTREPRENEUR. I remember watching my students, all girls during that quarter, look at Takerah in awe. I could read on their faces that they were thinking, “Dang! Girl has her own business?!?” She inspired my students that day, and all she had to do was share and show her values – this is a powerful ability that will aid Takerah well in the future. Takerah doubled down on this message during our Black History Month celebration, sharing her business and the importance of buying Black with our entire school!  I remember watching her from the wings of the August Wilson Center thinking that she was the perfect ambassador of a message that began with Marcus Garvey.

Finally, it was her JOY that helped solidify our relationship.  I invited the BSU back to my African American Culture class toward the end of the semester as we analyzed “The Princess and the Frog” for cultural references while eating some authentic gumbo.  Takerah broke out in song with her friends, singing along with the movie, happy and sharing in a cultural celebration with her peers and a group of ladies who looked up to her.  She ate two bowls of gumbo during that half-day, and shined so brightly!  When we left, she thanked me for the food with a big ole’ smile on her face and shared her joy with me: “I can’t call you Mr. B anymore; is it ok if I call you Gumbo?”  To this day, Takerah calls me “Gumbo”.  I’ve gotten a few nicknames over my short time at the school, but “Gumbo” is my favorite, and it brings me joy every time I hear her say it.

Takerah, you have so many talents to give the world.  I have no doubt that your entrepreneurial spirit, presented with conviction and joy, will help you achieve the goals that you set for yourself!  I am honored to continue to watch from the wings as you go about your journey!  Go get ’em!

Mr. Gumbo Blondin