Joe Flynn

Perspective: Race And Values

Sep 23, 2020

On the night of September 16, a still unknown perpetrator spray painted the “n-word” on the Center for Black Studies at Northern Illinois University. During the subsequent informational town hall, unnamed individuals attempted to sabotage the evening by interrupting speakers, interjecting racial slurs, and posting provocative and deceptive texts, once again hiding in the shadows.

Perspective: What's It Going To Take?

Aug 19, 2020
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Life during a pandemic is predictably chaotic, as scientists deliver the best available information and elected leaders provide daily infection rates, death counts and contingency plans. That chaos is not helped when there is an incessant stream of misinformation, conspiracy theory and political haggling.

Perspective: Critical Thinking Is Not Hate

Jul 15, 2020
Josh Miller / Unsplash

When I was a child my parents taught me that not telling the whole truth is lying. On July 3rd, President Donald Trump declared that educators are teaching students to hate their own country because critical examinations of history, allegedly, are a web of lies without perspective but with distorted facts.  


Perspective: Looting, Allies, And Accomplices

Jun 2, 2020
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Last weekend, in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery, interracial protests against systemic racism erupted across the nation. The nation once again collectively played out the tried and true tired playbook: Peaceful protest, in some places devolved into rioting and looting, sometimes by sabotage.

Wikimedia, Pics Art

With the onset of COVID-19, social media platforms show their virtues and vices once again. Millions are finding connection, entertainment, and solace, a lifeline of virtual community during a truly twisted time.


Perspective: Leadership In The Time Of Pandemic

Apr 1, 2020

In a few short weeks COVID-19 has come to grip the nation. Practically overnight we are uncomfortably settling into economic uncertainty, self-quarantining, online education, and accepting social distancing.

All the while, unfortunately, the leadership coming out of Washington is often contradictory, confused, and uncertain. It seems as though the most important message on the mind of the White House is how great of a job Mr. Trump is doing -- a dubious, self-righteous, point-missing affront to the grave urgency of the moment, a moment that grows exponentially more dire daily.

Perspective: Why Black History Month?

Feb 24, 2020

In 1926, to push back on both the lack of accurate African American representation in curriculum and unrealistic, offensive representations in popular culture, the great African American historian and educator Carter G. Woodson initiated Negro History Week, situating the week in February, the month of Fredrick Douglass’ and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. Later in 1976, the week expanded to a month.

Perspective: Be There For Each Other

Jan 14, 2020
Taylor Hernandez / Unsplash

Happy new year, listeners. Life can be challenging at times, but sometimes it is more than just feeling down. Depression is a common, serious, treatable mental health illness that affects 7% of adults and teens.


Depression is not simply a bad mood, but a chemically-based phenomenon that needs more than just a good ear or strong shoulder to cry on. Oftentimes friends and family do not know how to help a struggling loved one, typically assuming the problem is simply emotional, not chemical.


Perspective: A Cure For Stress

Dec 11, 2019
Alexas Fotos / Pixabay

Well, what do you know? It’s already the end of the year! Yeah, time flies, right?


Perspective: Thoughts On Impeachment

Nov 4, 2019
public domain

Last week, a divided House of Representatives decided that the impeachment of Donald Trump should proceed and now the sharks are out and there’s blood in the water. Republican supporters, in concert with Mr. Trump, seem to be scrambling to find viable defenses for him, focusing primarily on process over substance even though the impeachment processes for Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were essentially the same. Nixon’s investigation lasted two years before public testimony even began.

StockSnap / Pixabay

Good morning, America. Seriously, is it alright for the President of the United States to make a quid pro quo deal for personal gain -- leveraging desperately needed military funds to a nation in the middle of a war to investigate a political rival? Would you feel that way for all presidents? Republicans have struggled to answer this question. They’ve been tying themselves into knots, casting doubt on everyone from whistleblowers to our intelligence community, asking no questions of the president’s questionable behavior and tactics.

Perspective: Our Nation's Original Sin

Aug 26, 2019
J. M. W. Turner / public domain

In late August of 1619, 400 years ago, the English ship the White Lion landed on the shore of Virginia selling a cargo of enslaved Africans. It is argued this was the beginning of slavery in what would become the United States. However, the practice of the transatlantic slave trade actually predated 1619 by 100 years. Additionally, the Africans in that cargo were not the first living in North America. Africans had been living here freely since the early 1500s.  

Perspective: When Presidents Show Their Backsides

Jul 22, 2019

One of my favorite expressions is, “When someone shows you their backside, then you always know what it looks like.” The nation has spent a week debating whether or not Tweets that challenged four U.S. Representatives of color to go back to where they came from if they didn’t like the country were racist. The reactions spanned the gamut, from incensed to dismissive.  


Perspective: Education And Snowflakes

Jun 19, 2019

Did you know animals and fantasy creature are featured more in children’s literature than non-white humans, combined? So, how does that fact affect all children? Last week, the third Social Justice Summer Camp for Educators ran at Northern Illinois University.

K-12 educators came to NIU campus for four days and three nights to explore social justice issues in education. Since its first year, the size of the camp has doubled from just under 60 campers to approximately 110 with demand for a fourth camp next year.

Perspective: More Perfect?

May 15, 2019
Public Domain

Recently I subscribed to the More Perfect podcast. Across its three seasons, the podcast takes a deep dive into the Supreme Court and the Constitution. When was the last time you read the Constitution? In all its flaws, like the 3/5 Compromise, it is nonetheless a brilliant document. 


Perspective: When The Message Transcends The Gore

Apr 10, 2019
Susan Stephens / WNIJ



Hitchcock. Romero. Carpenter. Craven. Del Torro. And now, Peele.  

Perspective: Second Acts

Mar 6, 2019

In his 1932 essay, “My Lost City,” F. Scott Fitzgerald introduced his classic quote, “There are no second acts in America.” That is pretty stark and hopeless. Fortunately, the line is taken out of context.

Fitzgerald actually wrote, “I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York’s boom days.” Written only a few short years after the beginning of the Great Depression, Fitzgerald’s iconic and prescient words uncover American optimism and encourage hope, recovery, hard work, and growth.

Perspective: Holding America Hostage

Jan 23, 2019

This week, 800,000 federal workers will miss a second paycheck due to the shutdown of the federal government. On December 11, Mr. Trump declared that he would own the shutdown of the government if Congress did not approve over five billion dollars to fund the construction of a border wall.

Perspective: But Is It Best For Kids?

Dec 17, 2018

One of the most challenging problems facing Illinois education is the teacher shortage affecting bilingual educators. Although a statewide issue, most students affected are concentrated in underfunded low income districts attended by large numbers of children of color, many who come from non-English speaking backgrounds. And this is not an issue for Spanish speakers but over 140 other languages as well.

Accusations That Really Destroyed Lives

Oct 10, 2018

Several times during Bret Kavanaugh’s path to the Supreme Court, President Trump, Judge Kavanaugh, and others lamented how expressing allegations of sexual misconduct was “tearing down a good man,” a “hit job.” Mr. Trump declared “a man’s life is in tatters,” even though Kavanaugh’s approval was all but sealed.

A Curious Encounter -- Part 2

Sep 5, 2018



A Curious Encounter -- Part 1

Sep 4, 2018

Have you ever found yourself struggling with your values? Being an African American social justice educator, I often explore the theme of replacing judgment with curiosity and humanizing others, no matter what. Saying those values is always easier than living them. 

Lessons From Little League

Jul 30, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ


His Dream Is Still Deferred

Apr 9, 2018

Last Wednesday was April 4, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King, without doubt, one of our most beloved and respected historical figures. However, there’s much about his ideas, message, and activities that has been edited from our collective memory.

Two Dates That Echo With Horror

Jan 29, 2018

The morning of January 23 brought the ugliest and saddest of news. A 15-year-old boy walked into the commons area of his school and opened fire, ultimately slaying two and wounding 18 others, casting a scar that will be long visible.

Since the case has been assigned to juvenile court, the shooter’s identity and other details are kept in the confines of the court room; but investigators are desperately trying to find the roots of the shooter’s motives and his capacity to appreciate the gravity of his crimes.

High Court Deserves Reverence

Sep 12, 2016

A visit to the United States Supreme Court -- the marbled home of the judicial branch of our government in Washington, D.C. -- begs reverence.

The Court’s current home did not open until 1935. Before, they convened in a cramped, damp basement room of Congress. Sitting in the actual courtroom, it was insuperable to ponder the important decisions made there -- good and bad -- that affect each of us: the Korematsu decision, the Brown decision, Miranda, Bakke, Bush v. Gore, Citizens United, the Obergefell decision, and more.

Exposing Skeletons In America's Closet

Aug 2, 2016

Our nation is a family, inextricably linked by the DNA of our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of this great nation. Like all families we have our triumphs and joys, our arguments and dissents.

And, like all families, we have our secrets -- those skeletons that lurk just behind a slightly ajar closet door. Skeletons that fracture.

Another Example Of Mindless Attack

May 9, 2016

"Another academically challenged affirmative action parasite steals a place from a qualified White or Asian student."

"Hopefully she gets cancer or AIDS or one of those colored diseases."

"I wonder if she applied as a mudslime or  a foreign student or just a n****r."

These racially charged aspersions are not from a bygone era. Last week, they were posted to a cable news network’s comments section when they reported Malia Obama’s acceptance to Harvard, her father’s alma mater. To their credit, they shut down the comments section.

Budget Inaction Needs Action

Apr 18, 2016

Illinois is in the depths of an historic budget impasse. The democratic-controlled legislature is pushing for tax increases while Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner opposes any taxes. Unfortunately, their inability to find any compromise will affect all Illinoisans, particularly the poor and working class.

Many services have been impacted, including child welfare, Meals-on-Wheels, epilepsy treatments, sexual assault and rape crisis centers, drug treatment programs, juvenile justice programs, and many others.

Express Ideas With Respect

Mar 28, 2016

Free speech is fundamental to democracy and education. It protects us from the suppression of ideas and dissent.

College campuses are among the last bastions of democracy -- spaces where individuals representing a wide spectrum of humanity can congregate to share, challenge, refute, and embrace ideas. But can one really say whatever one feels, inside or outside classrooms?