Teaching Urban Children & Adolescents

Critical Race Pedagogy in Urban Contexts

Is Beyonce a Feminist since she associates with Adichie? My Response

Posted by Venus Evans-Winters on December 17, 2013


Let’s not mis-appropriate Adichie. I’ve heard white supremacists invoke Martin L. King name to make their points and sell their message of “equality.” Similarly, Beyonce is begging for equality to access capitalism as well as equal access to demean other women via a very controlled limited image of femininity and girl power. I’m not saying the Bey may not be coming to some sense of conscience but she has a long way to go. She’s like the white liberal female teacher in my class who “just want everybody to be treated the same.” They aren’t interested in liberation from white supremacy patriarchy or transformation of society. They want ACCESS to power. Well, she has it (maybe), but at what expense. I think it’s dangerous to give anyone with money, a vagina, and power the title “feminist.” Is Superhead a feminist (she negotiated her own price)? I believe the difference between Nicki Minaj and Beyonce’ is that Minaj knows she is being prostituted by the industry, but Bey thinks she made it because she’s the new Madam-Pimp in charge. Beyonce may be more dangerous to our daughters than Nicki. I will bounce to Bey, but I will not hand her the mic to speak for my feminism(s). There have been much stronger role models who have taken their clothes off in the name of art and feminine power–google Erykah Badu.

“For every second given to Beyonce & beats, a Black girl is being beatened, maimed, or sold into prostitution and told, “bow down bitch.” ~@ileducprof (Twitter)


Posted in Gender and education, Professor's Monologue, Race and education | No Comments »

Shock Doctrine and Chicago’s Public Mis-Education

Posted by Venus Evans-Winters on August 26, 2013

The Shock Doctrine Comes Home to Chicago.

What is the Shock Doctrine? Here is a brief synopisis (from http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine):

“The Shock Doctrine: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters — to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in the prison cell or the Taser gun on the streets.”

So, where did the shock doctrine begin in Chicago? With high unemployment? Maybe it began with the destruction of public housing to build luxury condos on profitable land. Or, was it with NCLB, testing mania, and reports of schools failings and community violence? Maybe it was with the presidential election of Barack Obama from Chicago, IL, which served as a smoke screen of deception. We may not agree on how the shock doctrine in Chicago began, but we know that it ends with a dream deferred.

Recommended Reading:
Linkography —> CriSis in Chicago Public Schools



Privatization/Shock Doctrine

Chicago Teacher’s Union Report

Demolition of Whitter Library/Community Center-NBC

No-Bid Supes Academy

Appeal to the United Nations

Charter School Funding Increases While Neighborhood Schools Closed

Education Reform in Chicago: An Overview

Henry Giroux on Chicago

Influence of the Joyce Foundation in Chicago

Rahm Emanuel & Chicago’s Teachers


Rahm Emanuel Lowers Bond Rating for Political Leverage

Students Disrupt Chicago Board Meeting

Rebel Diaz,Chicago Teacher (music video)

I would like to thank Lance Fialkoff for the this list of resources.

In peace,

Dr. V

Posted in Educational Policy, Race and education, Recommended reading | No Comments »

Left out of the Conversation: Pre-service Teachers

Posted by Venus Evans-Winters on January 26, 2011

In reviewing commentary on the state of U.S. education taking place around the world, one might not immediately notice that one very important group is being left out of public conversations and debates on educational change. Ironically, the same group that is being left out is a group that policy decisions will directly effect for at least most of their working adult years. When tuning into television programs, reading newspapers, and listening to radio commentary on the poor state of education, we very rarely hear from this particular group of stakeholders. Thus far, we catch quick glimpses of veteran teachers, novice teachers, school administrators, politicians, parents, corporate leaders, and even popular culture icons (i.e. Oprah and John Legend).

However, the one group missing from the conversation are soon-to-be teachers. We need to hold them responsible for the future of their profession and the nation. We must ask them their views on what they believe to be the best method(s), policies, and curriculum that will guarantee every American child a free and appropriate education. Publicly, we haven’t asked or heard soon-to-be teachers (individual or collective) perspectives on what should be done to solve the growing challenges of educational failure, under achievement, school push-out, school violence, and low teacher quality. We also have not systematically challenged teachers to question their own assumptions about race and class in America.

Because it is widely known that novice teachers have a major influence on students’ development, especially in the early years and for those attending high poverty schools, teacher educators and others must make a concerted effort of mobilizing pre-service teachers to enact their voice in educational politics. Too many pre-service teachers (and others outside of education) believe that education is value free; however, those of us who teach future educators know all to well that new teachers are the most likely to bring their own values and philosophical beliefs into the classroom context.

Everyday their deeply held beliefs drive practice and decision-making in the classroom. So, why should there be more focus on giving attention to soon-to-be teachers: 1) Research shows that most new teachers fall back on teaching methods in the classroom that they are most comfortable with, and 2) that they learned as a K-12 student; and, 3) most new teachers enter the classroom with pre-conceived notions of students different from themselves (e.g., non-Whites, lower income, and students with IEPs). Sadly, the commonly held belief is these certain groups of students are not capable of learning or do not value education. Yet, these will be the majority of students in classrooms.

According to recent demographic statistics, African American, Latino/a, and English Language Learners will make up the majority of U.S. classrooms in less than a decade. In many central cities, racial/ethnic minority students already make up the majority of students enrolled in public schools. However, the majority of students entering the teaching profession are White female students from middle class two parent families. On the surface, it appears that these White female teachers will have little in common with the student populations they serve. On the other hand, I fundamentally believe that there is hope not only in our nation’s students, but also in the next generation of teachers. But, this hope begins with the necessity to engage incoming teachers in critical and uncomfortable conversations about race, class, gender, and language equity at this moment in their professional development.

The nation cannot afford to wait to promote teacher activism and critical consciousness in the next generation of teachers; social justice and humanitarianism should begin before soon-to-be teachers leave the confines and safety of college classrooms. Those of us in higher education and teacher preparation programs must figure out how to better prepare teachers to view themselves as community activist and change agents. Our children and nation’s future depends on all stakeholders taking part in important democratic conversations, such as the possibilities of public education for all, including educators themselves.

Suggested Readings:

Delpit, L. (2006). Teaching other people’s children: Cultural conflict in the classroom. New York: Norton.

Giroux, H. (2005). Border crossings: Cultural workers and the politics of education. New York: Routledge.

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List of Online Resources for Black and Brown Scholar-Activist

Posted by Venus Evans-Winters on February 10, 2014

List of Online Resources for Black & Brown Scholar-Activists

Affirmative Action Across the 50 States http://affirmative-action-50-states.tumblr.com/

African American Policy Forum http://aapf.org/

Asian American/Asian Research Institute (AARI) http://www.aaari.info/

Center for Disease Control (CDC): Race and Disability http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdisabilityandhealthstatus/index.html

Children’s Defense Fund: Children’s Research & Data http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/

Critical Race Theory Resource Guide http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~jp49/

Freedom School Partners http://freedomschoolpartners.org/

Grants for Educators: NEA http://www.neafoundation.org/pages/grants-to-educators/

History of Racial Segregation in Education http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/brown/brown-segregation.html

Indigenous Children and Youth http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuideIPleaflet9en.pdf

Journal of Blacks in Higher Education http://www.jbhe.com/

Mexican American Study Project http://www.chicano.ucla.edu/research/mexican-american-study-project

Multicultural Gifted Education http://www.drdonnayford.com/#!sample-ford-harris-matrices/czwk

Native American Records in the National Archive http://www.archives.gov/research/native-americans/

Paulo Freire Project http://www.freireproject.org/

School to Prison Pipeline Data: ACLU https://www.aclu.org/school-prison-pipeline

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture http://www.nypl.org/locations/schomburg

The Combahee River Collective Statement on Black feminism http://circuitous.org/scraps/combahee.html

U.S. Population by Race/Ethnicity http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

U.S. Poverty: Brookings Institute http://www.brookings.edu/research/topics/u-s-poverty

Compiled by Dr. VEW

Posted in Educational Policy, History of Education, Race and education, Recommended reading | No Comments »

Where is the Black woman’s voice on race in America?

Posted by Venus Evans-Winters on July 17, 2013

To Mr. White (Professor & Blogger):
I’ve been reading much of your commentary on race in America, and in particular, in the Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin case. It’s no secret that I keep an extra eye open (that 3rd eye) when looking at how White male liberals examine race in this nation. I’ve even openly criticized how so-called race scholars examine race from a male perspective and/or elitist perspective. I appreciate your analysis of the Zimmerman trial and cultural critiques offered. I appreciate the men (and women) of African descent who are providing a cultural, if not race-based analysis of this case.
However, I must admit that it’s scary how African women in America have not been full participants in this commentary. I am interested in your views about why/how you believe a white man like yourself has been given so much public attention, while Black women’s/mothers voices have been practically ignored or bastardized? Do you discuss in any of your written analysis conversations with communities of color? For instance, white women dominate the jury. White men dominate the legal representation. At what point do Whites sit back, watch, and allow the Black community the opportunity for social, political and cultural critique? Even more, at what point do Black women be given the space to critique and analyze? It’s like the Black male elite and white male liberal CONFIDENTLY grab the microphone and dominate the conversation.
Again, not saying you aren’t good at what you do. You are. But, wondering if you’ve examined your privilege at such a vulnerable time for Africans in America, young Black males, Black mothers and the least of thee. I’m interested in an spiritually-filled intellectual conversation.

~Venus a.k.a. Nzinga’s daughter (‪#‎BlackEdu‬)

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Hearing the Voices of Black Teachers: Loud and Clear

Posted by Venus Evans-Winters on November 7, 2012

During a #BlackEdu chat on twitter this week, many were shocked to discover that less than 5 percent of U.S. teachers identify as African American. A bigger surprise was to learn that more than 80 percent of teachers who teach in urban schools identify as White. Of course, those of us in the field of education and teacher preparation, know that there is a relationship between underachievement in urban schools and the low percentage of African American and Latino/a educators. Research shows that White teachers from middle class families perceptions of the abilities of Black and Latino/a students may influence students achievement. Positive perceptions may lead to positive student outcomes; whereas, teachers’ negative perceptions of students’ abilities can lead to negative student outcomes.
For me, two important messages should be taken from this week’s twitter #BlackEdu chat. One take away message is that high schools and universities must do a better job of recruiting (and retaining) minorities into the teaching profession. Many African Americans are turned off to the teaching profession before they even enter college. Many college bound African American youth attend schools where they were exposed to hyper-testing, dehumanizing discipline policies, and uncaring teachers. Unfortunately, after high school, the teaching profession is the last career they want to seek. We should begin teacher recruitment programs in high schools and extend extra financial and academic support to interested students into the college years.
Another message that should be taken from the #BlackEdu chat with teachers, is that Black scholars and the Black community, in general, must do a better job of visibly supporting African American teachers. Many Black teachers are isolated within their school buildings, due to cultural and racial differences. Black teachers may feel a sense of isolation, due to differences in student expectations (e.g. behavior and learning), cultural knowledge (e.g. African American mores), and identification with students (e.g. compassion for students’ challenges outside of school) compared to their White counterparts.
In past research and social media conversations, I have equally praised and criticized teachers, especially as it relates to cultural competence and lowered expectations for students of African descent. Also, I’ve been forthright about the need to better prepare teachers of color to support students, by providing accessible professional development as well as better preparing Black teachers in their content area. My stance still remains, however, I now strongly believe that Black educators need to be at the center of educational reform and dialogue. We salute all of our teachers, but a special gratitude is extended to those teachers of African ancestry who are in the trenches serving students and the community daily.

Posted in Race and education | 4 Comments »

#BlackEdu reading for February 15, 2011

Posted by grumpyblackgrad on February 8, 2012

This essay focuses on the “achievement gap” over time and in the context of larger patterns of American academic achievement in national and international arenas. This particular focus on African American academic progress over time (and the achievement patterns of White, Black and Latino students from 1970 to the present) stands in marked contrast to the traditional practice of merely comparing the educational achievement of Black students to the gains of students from the White majority.

Anderson 1 – History_of_Achievement_Gap-1

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The History of Black Education: Readings of Interest (#BlackEdu)

Posted by Venus Evans-Winters on February 8, 2012

Recommended readings on the “History of Black Education” & “Deculturalization Practices in Schools” (and powerpoint by Dr. V, Deculturalization in Images):

Black Education: A Transformative Research and Action Agenda for the New Century by Joyce E. King (Jun 2005)

Black Self-Determination: A Cultural History of African-American Resistance by V. P. Franklin and Mary Frances Berry (Oct 1992)

The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935 by James D. Anderson (Sep 9, 1988)

The White Architects of Black Education: Ideology and Power in America, 1865-1954 (Teaching for Social Justice, 6) by William H. Watkins (Apr 1, 2001)

Posted in History of Education, Race and education, Recommended reading | No Comments »

Awareness, Reflection & Transformation

Posted by Venus Evans-Winters on January 3, 2012

I have taught pre-service teachers for nearly 8 years, and I have witnessed similar thought patterns when it comes to their beliefs about racial/ethnic minority students. Most of the pre-service teachers I encounter identify as white and are typically from majority white middle class suburban neighborhoods. Much of what they know about African American and Latino/a students is based on what they read or see in the media (e.g. movies, music videos, internet, and news). For example, most undergraduate students enrolled in my courses enter the class believing that racial/ethnic minority students, especially those who live in large cities, are violent, from “broken homes”, live with parents who don’t care about education, and are poor. They also believe that students attending urban schools don’t have access to quality teachers, attend school in squalor conditions, and are “at-risk.” Never mind that no one is ever able to define what the term, “at-risk” really means.

Even more destructive to the positive educational development of urban students, in my opinion, is that many pre-service teachers believe that because a child may experience these kinds of living situations, they inevitably will not care about school. Consequently, many soon-to-be teachers have come to believe, or learned somewhere in their teacher education courses, that it is their job to save Black and Brown children. Ironically (or maybe not), it is my role to deconstruct their misconceptions and preconceived notions of the “other,” all while I am living and teaching as the other in their presence for approximately 16 weeks. My work is challenging, however, I don’t see it as anymore challenging than what many urban students experience while trying to learn in classrooms that are often devoid of their lived experiences.

My challenge is to meet the educational needs of my predominately white students, while attempting to carry on serious conversations about race/racism, class/classism, and historical processes of white supremacy. These are conversations that are uncomfortable for adults who have existed within racist and classist frameworks all their lives, so one can only imagine how difficult these conversations are for young people who do not yet understand their racialized and gendered places in matrices of domination. Yet, as the facilitator of knowledge, it is my responsibility to imagine how students might experience not only these uncomfortable conversations, but it is also my role to predict how they may respond emotionally, cerebrally, or tangibly (in the present or future).

Pedagogically, teaching “race” and “racism” is complicated and messy. To make the process less messy, I use the following  framework: awareness, reflection, and transformation. It should be stated that the process is more cyclical than linear. To begin, the goal at the onset of each semester is to bring about awareness (of race, class, gender inequality; race and gender oppression; and historical processes of educational disenfranchisement). After awareness, I then engage students in processes of reflection. Compared to awareness, reflection is not easy for most pre-service teachers. For example, even though what they are exposed to is usually based on myth and usually only reinforces stereotypes, awareness can be achieved from television, and teachers might encounter information about inequality in the teacher education curricular.  By the time, students reach me, they assume they already know what social and educational problems exist. In the awareness process, I challenge and debunk these assumptions.

Nonetheless, reflection is difficult because many pre-service teachers still need help in sharpening their writing skills, in analytical and critical thinking, and questioning their own assumptions about the social world (which is usually everything the media and their parents, grandparents, educational, and religious institutions have taught them). This process requires much writing (and reading) and questioning, which is something that many professors scramble to find the time for as well. Fortunately, most critical pedagogues live to read, write and question, not only our students, but also our own assumptions and biases and those of colleagues. Once students have reflected on critical issues and challenges in schooling and the educational system, then nirvana (is this a good word choice?) is reached once the pre-service teacher can conscientiously transfer what she is learning in her daily life.

For me, transformation should take place in the heart, mind, body and soul, with implications for the classroom (interactions with students and content), family, spiritual life, and citizenship in a democracy (e.g. activism, voting, organizing, etc.). However, with only 16 weeks in the semester, and self- and societal imposed barriers of race, class, and gender playing out in the higher education classroom, it is difficult to achieve nirvana amongst pre-service teachers. Nevertheless, in the meantime, I keep reminding myself to stick to processes of awareness, reflection, and transformation, even if I am the only one willing to go along for the ride.

Posted in Preservice Teachers, Professor's Monologue, Race and education | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Teaching Context

Posted by Venus Evans-Winters on March 30, 2011

Recently, I traveled to Chicago with approximately 25 pre-service teachers and two colleagues, who teach in the area of social foundations of education. The pre-service teachers on the trip signed up and volunteered to participate on the trip for additional in-class credit. The pre-service teachers represented a diverse field of interests, including biology, bilingual education, music education, library science, English, agriculture, geography, special education and elementary education.

Amongst the group of soon-to-be educators, there were males and females, with ages ranging from 21-40+, and the group was comprised of majority white students and students from suburban communities. A few students students identified as bi-racial, Latino/a, and Asian. A few of the students were reared in rural communities.

In charge of organizing and chaperoning the group of pre-service teachers were two African American faculty members and a white female faculty member. All three of the faculty participated in the program as a part of a larger program supported grant. Even though the 3 day (pedagogically speaking, this is too short) urban immersion trip took place in a majority lower-income/working class, high density, African American community on the southside of Chicago, none of the college participants identified as Black or an “urban” resident.

Oddly enough, I was the only one in the group who actually was born, reared, worshiped, and schooled in Chicago. I was born in Cook county, reared in Englewood, attended Head Start and K-4th in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Even after migrating to a south suburb, my entire family and cultural identity remained in the heart of Chicago’s parks, museums, libraries, transit system (the CTA and “El”), cultural centers, and homes, due to the fact that my grandparents, godparent, aunts, uncles, and cousins were/are in the city. In fact, my parents attended and are active alumni of two of the CPS high schools where our pre-service teachers observed, during the trip. And, I was less than a mile from where I was raised and attended school.

Due to patterns of white flight and (re)gentrification of the city of Chicago, most collar suburbs of Chicago are majority Black and majority poor and working class communities; therefore, most of us reared in the “inner-city” of Chicago and later re-located to collar suburbs, experienced the same cultural richness and destitution in the suburbs similar to that experienced in the (neighbor)hoods of Chi-town. Side note: Does Riverdale even count anymore as a suburb?

Anyhow, needless to say, taking those from outside of the city into the city always brought mixed emotions for me, personally and professionally. How will these so-called “white” “privileged” pre-service teachers perceive the homes, streets, businesses, and black and brown bodies on the south side of Chicago? Will the pre-service teachers have a level of intellectual and cultural sophistication to appreciate both the resilience and adversity that most city students and families experience? And, will I be able to drop my guards and not be defensive about what is spoken or not spoken about what the pre-service teachers observe on the CTA, the “El,” in schools, and on the streets?

In this digital context, I don’t have the time or material space to address the reflection questions posed. I put them out in the digital sphere to be shared and pondered publicly. I want readers to think of the possibilities and consequences of teaching out of context (i.e. a lecture hall).

A few things that I will say is:

  • Many of the pre-service teachers were open-minded about what they saw and heard, while others were in a state of fear, shame, remorse, and contemplation. I am more concerned about those who displayed a sense of repulsion toward/against/for anything that was perceived to be “urban,” poor, Black and Brown.
  • Many students on the “urban” excursion acknowledged the adversity many lower-income and working class youth and families encountered, but lacked the cultural and intellectual insight to acknowledge the resilience and resiliency fostering qualities of city residents.
  • As for me, I was absolutely guarded. It was difficult to hear my native home, cultural mileu of familiarity and comfort, mother’s tongue, and people bastardized, castrated, and debased by those who one day might teach our nation’s young people.

Pedagogically, I used every moment as a teaching moment to explain processes of gentrification, government financed suburbanization, racial profiling, government loans to Arab and Korean businesses in poor neighborhoods; corporate flight and waste, machine politics, redlining, racial and class-based segregation, the history of white terror on black communities, legalized loan sharks (e.g. check cashing places) and the presence of police and military tactics in majority Black and Latino/a schools. Attention was also given to the history of resistance and activism in Black and Latino/a communities. Frankly speaking, I’m not confident that ANY professor, of ANY background, could have provided such an extensive and passionate political, economic, and social backdrop. I was exhausted at the end of the day.

In sum, the lesson of the day is that when teaching the next generation of teachers about teaching urban children and adolescents, significant attention must be given to teaching about the larger social and political contexts in which students are schooled.

Recommended Reading(s):

Payne, C. (2008). So much reform, so little change. The Persistence of failure in urban schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Posted in Preservice Teachers, Professor's Monologue, Race and education | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Role of the Teacher Educator in Preparing White Teachers to Teach Non-White Students

Posted by Venus Evans-Winters on February 7, 2011

Feminist education — the feminist classroom — is and should be a place where there is a sense of struggle, where there is visible acknowledgment of the union of theory and practice, where we work together as teachers and students to overcome the estrangement and alienation that have become so much the norm in the contemporary university. — bell hooks

Due to demographic shifts and trends in the U.S. school age population, new teachers will need to be adequately and responsibly prepared to teach a group of students who may not dress, worship, or talk like them. Consequently, teacher educators must educate soon-to-be teachers beyond basic child development theory and (the often limited) history of American education. Teacher educators have an imperative ethical obligation to prepare the next generation of teachers to teach and serve all students and families, and not simply those students whom are perceived to be the cultural norm –  white, middle income, heterosexual two parent family, able-bodied, protestant, and English speaking.

What makes the role of teacher educators more critical has less to do with demographic shifts and trends, but more to do with the fact that those groups of students who have traditionally been marginalized in our democracy are now becoming the majority student group in public schools. Of course, most teachers feel that they have the ability to teach students, regardless of a child’s skin color; however, many pre-service teachers feel anxiety about teaching students who appear to be “culturally different.” Future educators are disenchanted with the possibly of teaching in classrooms, where students may have different norms, values, traditions, or languages that differ from their own.

Explicitly speaking, most pre-service teachers feel some discomfort about the possibility of having to teach racial/ethnic minority students from working and lower-income families, and students who have moderate to severe learning disabilities. And, of course, a budding teacher’s biggest, often unnamed fear is to find herself teaching in a high poverty, high density school. Yet, the reality is that the majority of teaching jobs will be concentrated in lower-income and high poverty school districts.

So, the question is what is the role of teacher educators in preparing our future teachers for teaching all students and serving all communities? The role of the teacher educator is to provide a safe space where our future teachers can experience discomfort in a pedagogically fabricated comfortable space. This begins by:

  • Engaging future educators in reflection of basic social realities (of teaching, professional and personal identity).
  • Unmasking social inequalities, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, classism in education, schooling and in society in general through discussion, readings, and research.
  • Exposing the social reality of, and historical processes of, white privilege inside and outside of school contexts.
  • Fostering in future educators a critical consciousness that serves the purpose of connecting teaching to transformative practices in a democracy and eradicating injustices in society.

All of the above requires that the teacher educator and pre-service teachers take risk, and such risk takes place through on-going reflection, dialogue, and self-critique. It is my hope that such authentic and honest conversations would create in future educators the courage to teach “the other,” while simultaneously working to (re)construct their own identities as cultural workers.

Suggested Readings

Evans-Winters, V. (2009) Leaders cloaked-as-teachers: Toward pedagogies of liberation. In S. Groenke &

J. Amos Hatch (Eds.), Critical Pedagogy and teacher education in the neo-liberal: Small openings, pp. 141-156. New York: Springer.

Friere, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.

hooks, b. (2003). Teaching community: A Pedagogy of hope. New York: Routledge

Posted in Preservice Teachers, Professor's Monologue | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »