Thursday, September 20, 2007
I used to dislike that title "Mommy Bloggers", but the reality is that I am a Mother and I am Political, and I have a dry sense of humor and I am Black, and thus....there are a lot of reasons to read my Christian, yet imperfect, walk, in the pages of this blog. And...."Crazy MBA Mama Blogger" doesn't have a ring to it, nor does any of the other titles I considered briefly.
I have three beautiful and brilliant children with a man that I have been married to for the last 12 years. I wanted to ensure that my children had an active father in their lives but it never really occurred to me that I had picked someone that had a similar "distant" relationship with their own father. Enter God. I have the most family oriented husband around, who isn't surprised that the Chrysler Towne and Country is the closest he'll get to prosperity & virility symbols for a little bit. God is an awesome example when you are searching for models in this life of ours.
Our words of wisdom will include:
1. Accept Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. I'm not preaching against the members of Bedside Baptist but life is too hard to not have a guiding North Star - and as for me and my house, "We shall worship the Lord." People get all bent out of shape because of this or that religion issue - and I have room for lots of questions after 12 years of Catholic Schooling. But when Beyonce is jealous she isn't Latina, Vanessa is sending photos of her musical behind across the web, and Brittney can't listen to a dozen folks holding mirrors in front of her....well people, they need to believe in something that gives to them and doesn't just take from them.
2. Take care of each other. I hated my mother's threats to my brother and I that we were "all each other had." Surely it wasn't true. I have a big enough family, loving aunts, extended family, a great grandmother.... but she was right. when it comes down to it she taught us to be there for each other no matter what. 14 odd tattoo's later - I love my brother with all my heart. Teaching our children to take care of each other is a very important lesson for us.
3. You must out perform racism. Don't have to agree with Colin Powell to understand his words. Don't have to like everything about Dr. Condi to respect her achievements. Don't have to like the fact that this is truer in 2007 than ever before. In our home we will teach our children to outperform every limitation on their life. Will this remove racism? NO. However, I quietly present to you that children with a 1600 Sat aren't questioned about Affirmative Action, the best on the team doesn't have to defend why they were selected, a math genius is able to calculate what they are worth in a job market, and a prima ballerina who can dance to Amerie is looked at as "balanced."
4. You are African-American. In order to live your life with the happiness you deserve recognize that it is your job, and nobody else will see it quite like you - to know "the rest of the story". Media, history books, others - will never be your guide for who you are. If you want to really know about the history of our people, start with the history of your family. There is a rich cross section of history right there.
5. Burn your journals. I mean really, I saved letters from 4th grade through post college, and well - EMBARRASSED. Burn baby burn.
6. Marry Rich. I'm sorry but I will teach this lesson alongside my 101 lessons on independence, entrepreneurship, self-sufficiency and higher education. As my friend says about the golden Rule, He who has the Gold makes the Rules. And I'm just not opposed to integrating financial intelligence with good choices. Save your sighs of my materialism, I will not apologize. And if John and Jack, or Emily and LaToya are standing apples to apples on values, poise, character, loving you......um, financial solvency for $1,000,000 please.
7. Honor Thy Father and Mother that thy lives shall be long...or your life will be painful.
8. Own your mistakes. They will either build you or bury you, and we'll love you even through the painful days.
9. Iron sharpens Iron. You attract people to you that have things in common with you. Be the best person you can be, make the life of someone else better, give back, practice philanthropy along side random acts of kindness, and it will come back to you.
10. Tomorrow is not promised. Live life to its fullest and when all is said and done - can you look in the mirror and say you are proud of what you have become? If so, nothing else need be said. Oh, and....don't forget, go bck to #1 in all things.
Don't have to agree...but hey, I'm talking about my words of wisdom in a society where OJ gets more press than Dunbar Village, a client used the phrase nigger in a story she told me - without any thought of how inappropriate it would be, Sharpton is seen as a role model, only a small group of children no Mae J and 3/4 of all youth know .25 cent - he's not worth .50, and you kinda have to just roll with me on my point here. Barack Obama is questioned for "ummm lack of qualifications" and lack of Blackness.
In 2007, I better have a lot of wisdom to share. My husband and I both do. We are raising young black children at a time when their lives still aren't valued, we still have to teach what to do if the police ever pull you over, and we have extensive rules about being a girl and what it means in a majority culture school where you are examined for more than your academic achievements but as a representative of an entire race. in 2007. and as I said - your faith in an omnipotent God has to carry you where your sanity and understanding of race, culture, politics and religion will not.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I don't have a lot of sadness for Michael Vick but I do look at the impact of our society priorities, media bias and passive coverage of key issues on the growth of black boys.
Here's some of the story from the website where I found out some of the details about the story:
I learned about a case of segregation-era oppression happening today in Jena, Louisiana. I signed onto ColorOfChange.org's campaign for justice in Jena, and wanted to invite you to do the same.
Last fall in Jena, the day after two Black high school students sat beneath the "white tree" on their campus, nooses were hung from the tree. When the superintendent dismissed the nooses as a "prank," more Black students sat under the tree in protest. The District Attorney then came to the school accompanied by the town's police and demanded that the students end their protest, telling them, "I can be your best friend or your worst enemy... I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen."
A series of white-on-black incidents of violence followed, and the DA did nothing. But when a white student was beaten up in a schoolyard fight, the DA responded by charging six black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
It's a story that reads like one from the Jim Crow era, when judges, lawyers and all-white juries used the justice system to keep blacks in "their place." But it's happening today. The families of these young men are fighting back, but the story has gotten minimal press. Together, we can make sure their story is told and that the Governor of Louisiana intervenes and provides justice for the Jena 6. It starts now. Please join me:
The noose-hanging incident and the DA's visit to the school set the stage for everything that followed. Racial tension escalated over the next couple of months, and on November 30, the main academic building of Jena High School was burned down in an unsolved fire. Later the same weekend, a black student was beaten up by white students at a party. The next day, black students at a convenience store were threatened by a young white man with a shotgun. They wrestled the gun from him and ran away. While no charges were filed against the white man, the students were later arrested for the theft of the gun.
That Monday at school, a white student, who had been a vocal supporter of the students who hung the nooses, taunted the black student who was beaten up at the off-campus party and allegedly called several black students "nigger." After lunch, he was knocked down, punched and kicked by black students. He was taken to the hospital, but was released and was well enough to go to a social event that evening.
Six Black Jena High students, Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (16) and an unidentified minor, were expelled from school, arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder. The first trial ended last month, and Mychal Bell, who has been in prison since December, was convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery (both felonies) by an all-white jury in a trial where his public defender called no witnesses. During his trial, Mychal's parents were ordered not to speak to the media and the court prohibited protests from taking place near the courtroom or where the judge could see them.
Mychal is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31st, and could go to jail for 22 years. Theo Shaw's trial is next. He will finally make bail this week.
The Jena Six are lucky to have parents and loved ones who are fighting tooth and nail to free them. They have been threatened but they are standing strong. We know that if the families have to go it alone, their sons will be a long time coming home. But if we act now, we can make a difference.
Join me in demanding that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco get involved to make sure that justice is served for Mychal Bell, and that DA Reed Walters drop the charges against the 5 boys who have not yet gone to trial.
From my maternal grandmother who though it practical to talk about how the men we dated looked: "You remember you have to look at him every morning. and every night." I was particularly progressive about marrying a man who was able to talk to me and inspire me, beyond his individual looks. I told my grandmother that we had a history of fine men who were not fine in their character already and I wouldn't be joining the obsession with pretty boy men. So then she went practical, "if not for you, please think about my grandbabies." I was irritated with this advice and told her with a straight face that every baby is cute. Then in her early 70's she replied, "Don't forget - monkey's are cute too, and I don't want one of them for a grandbaby either." Point taken. Let's not act as if looks don't matter and that you can ignore the obvious - my grandmother has always been very practical. I was engaged to a fella for about 2 weeks in my youth, and she indicated, "If you just wanted an Imond (not a typo, a reference for something short of a diamond) I can buy you that." I gave up. I married a cutie who had everything else too.
From my paternal grandmother, "Dead folks can't smell flowers." A very pointed lesson from a woman I wasn't very close to. If you want to do something for someone - do it while they are alive. Do things that matter to people while they can enjoy them. I have an uncle that recently died and although it broke my heart - I have a lifetime of memories, letters and experiences that tell me - all is well. As I saw so many people say on 911 - "I have no regrets." I take that as a pointed lesson in marriage - if he was gone tomorrow would he know, really really know, how much he means to us.
From my mother, "Life isn't Fair, the sooner you learn it the better off you'll be." I thought many things were not fair growing up. My mother helped me to learn - the world owes you nothing. Some people find it harsh. I am thankful for those early lessons which taught me about the pitfalls of believing that life would be fair. She often told me, these grades are for you. I heard countless times, "I've already passed 3rd grade - what you get is all on you." Got it mom. I got it. Yet the best advice came when I didn't know what to do about becoming a stay at home mama. I was worried about my MBA and resources when she said, "You can't read to them forever. You won't be able to rock them to sleep at nap time in a few years. Enjoy each day and don't think if you aren't there you can recapture it later." An accomplished career woman, I held her feedback to my heart on the many days when we didn't have nickels to rub together.
Words linger for a good long time. I was also the 1988 Debutante Queen at a major African-American society event in my youth, and I was there without my father. That isn't really a good experience when you father is really known locally - it brought unwanted attention to being in a single parent household. Funny thing is, winning was only a part of the experience. My date looked at me in the haze of celebration and said "You were a queen long before the announcement." He came from what I thought was the perfect family but he cautioned me that everything that glitters is not gold. Puts into perspective needing anyone to validate your life, even at 16.
As parents my goodness, there are so many lessons to teach. I'll share my thoughts in another post about what I'll impart to my kidlets.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
In a recent interview with Beyonce she responded to a question about her Latina support noting that "I'm just jealous that I wasn't born Latina." You can read about the entire interview at Latina.com.
Raising a daughter in 2007 shouldn't be so hard, but surely it is.
I learned about the interview at What About Our Daughters - a really interesting blog that works to bring awareness about issues facing women from a variety of angles. I have to tell you I blog about just about anything but lately I've stayed away from critical world issues, content to talk about my little world. Without cable, access to BET, or enough time to enjoy television, I thought I was becoming exempt from discussing the impact of pop culture or recounting what the truth the news does not tell. Guess I can't afford that habit any longer.
Being a beautiful Black girl is hard enough without looking up and seeking the last pop icon declare she's jealous she wasn't born Latina. Nothing against Latina's but Ugly Betty star America Ferrera is holding down the fort. She is confident, secure, beautiful and last I read - proud of her heritage. Sigh. Shake my head. Beyonce? I'm telling my seven year old, my dear, "Let me upgrade you."
With my French name truly I have vivid memories of almost getting my butt beat for the unending debate about heritage in school. I grew up with pictures of Native Americans in my great grandmother's hallway, and watched our elders respond haphazardly that those folks were our ancestors. When I mentioned in school that I was 1/8th Indian, a playground full of kids almost ended my admiration of long french braids down the back of your head as a fashion style. I didn't recognize then that the issue of sensitivity in central city T-Town was the thin line between knowing your background and denying who you are. I am African-American.
My roots and ancestry clearly show, like most people, that there are a lot of other nationalities and ethnicities in play. My blue-eyed baby boy was a treat, but all of his pictures are colored with the brown crayola crayon. This lesson I learned on the playground has stayed with me for a lifetime.
I admire Halle Barry for knowing and articulating that she is a black woman, even though her mother is white. No debate here about her heritage and her pride, she is dealing with reality. A reality taught to her by her mother that when you look in the mirror and stand before the world itself you are Black. I still have to wonder if Angela Bassett would have gotten more work if the world was a different place. Scratch that. I know.
When my daughter at age 7 questions her beauty because she doesn't look like her class mates, its a renewed opportunity to help her appreciate her beauty and her characteristics, her culture and style, her individuality. She relates more to KeKe Palmer (Jump In, Akeelah and the Bee), than Hannah Montannah - but KeKe isn't quite getting the exposure of her counter parts. That process is enhanced when she can look at her family, friends, peers and others who are Black and beautiful. When we read her History books we often help tell the "rest of the story" to ensure that even in 3rd grade she has a firm understanding of our country and our culture. Jamestown was our first chapter in history this year, and we spend many days rewriting what the text book offered for fact. At all opportunities we look for the reality of our culture and our contributions to society.
Don't ask me why its important for her to know about Dr. Condi, Dr. Logan, Venus, Serena, Veronica Webb, Tyra Banks, Hazel Taylor (great granny doesn't have a web page - but she should), Avonia Harris, Soror Astronaut Mae Jemison, Rosa, Coretta, Sojourner, Maya, Oprah, Octavia, Angela Bassett, Michelle Obama - my future first lady, ME.....and the list continues. She has to be deeply connected to all of our images (some I like and some I appreciate less) so that she defines for herself true beauty. As we encounter growing pains and the opportunities to reinforce intelligence, grace, the arch of her back, and span of her hips ...... I'm glad it is happening now.
I pray she isn't quoted aspiring to something else as she's knocking at 3o's door. With all that she has been given, I pray she is confident about what she is and what she is not. She isn't in need of another culture, we've got enough work fully embracing, representing and upholding this one.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I have 2 children that are easy going. Both are boys. So, by saying that I went on a AG adventure clearly I'm not talking about exploring the depths of Lego Land or Star Wars. I eagerly embraced a celebration in Chicago to help a beautiful 7 year old girl go through the rites of passage at American Girl. Little did I know I should have been earning my Mommy badge all along. Traveling with another family is A HIGHER CALLING. Women traveling together with 7 year old girls, CRAZY. Well, crazy when you are a type A submitting to someone else's itinerary and plans. (or lack thereof....) I had been operating on too little sleep to qualify for being in my right mind. In fact, I've failed right mind membership effective immediately following this trip.
So, here are the new rules that benefit from my lessons learned:
1. Thou shalt confirm all accommodations in advance of travel. Stand in the mirror and say, "Shame on you, shame on you. " When you fail to investigate where you are staying, you deserve whatever you get. If you are closer to 40 than 30, you are no longer capable of sleeping anywhere.
2. Thou shalt calculate the time for all segments of the trip, before making any decisions. There is no excuse for not examining a map, mapquest, and good sense before you get surprised that you are eating at 10:00 p.m. In this day of technology it was proof that I was completely out of order - both in organization and diet.
3. Speaking of eating, thou shalt pack snacks of nutritional nature, bottled water and emergency alternatives for any excursion. Way back in the day when I realized how often I would get caught off guard with extreme hunger when I was nursing - a friend scolded me for not being prepared. She would lose her mind if she know I was traveling 4 hrs. and then some with nada. (I instead purchased snacks at a gas station for the girls, to the tune of what should have purchased a carload at Sam's.)
4. Thou shalt exchange more than phone numbers to establish quality communication. Email has made us lazy about communication. Try this on for size:
A. What do you want to get out of this trip? (Share your goals)
B. What is your budget for the trip? (Are we on the same page)
C. What is included in our "day out?" (Who's handling which expenses for what part of the celebration - including taxi, tax and tips?)
D. How do you want to handle challenges or issues that arise? (Let's hope for the best and plan for the worst. I qualify my attitude is a possible worse case scenario.)
E. What is your definition of a celebration? (You have been around me in the past - How would you like to plan the day?)
F. Do you have any concerns about traveling with me? (Let's talk about them in advance.) (Give me your pet peeves.)
G. Does my desire for an itinerary or agenda bug you? (Danger Will Robinson, DANGER.)
5. In the event that we are traveling with multiple family members - please alert all guests to the elephant in the room. Maybe some families have the capacity to behave in front of guests - but, well - mine don't. I am quietly apologizing for friends I invited over with little regard to the unspoken issues.
6. Keepeth your mouth shuteth.
When you think "well I would" stop thinking immediately. Unless it is your activity and event, shut up. And then, if you can't roll with it, bow out gracefully.
7. Lower Your Expectations.
There once was a Saturday Nite Live skit that focused on dating options for the ugly, "Lowered Expectations." I remember thinking it was so crude. But, you should lower your expectations, have grace and operate in flexibility because that is a mandate in traveling. (God is not through with me yet.)
8. Travel Flush
I plan to blog about an interview with Veronica Webb, one of the first Black Supermodels. I was reflecting on something her husband told her when she went back to work - "The children have to realize that wealth requires sacrifice." My travel experience was filtered through a desire not to waste money. Largely because I did not have money to waste. If I had been flush some of my experiences would have been easier to withstand...and that my readers, is my personal issue. Duh, if you don't have the resources then , maybe you should delay your travel. Money breeds flexibility.
9. Beyonce say's let me upgrade you - but when you are working with children, my new theme is "Let me right size you." We teach children what to expect and I am learning to help lower expectations. Do something small in grand form vs. something large on a wing and a prayer.
10. Speaking of prayer, pray more.
If you know you are high strung and need a lot of grace, pray that God gives you lots of grace to extend to others. When you travel, pray a whole bunch. In fact, stop reading and pray for all of your friends right now. Surely, that's what I should have done. More prayer shall breed more growth into the persons we aspire to be.
I'm not going to let the devil win. One might think I would give up on trips and traveling. I will travel again, with children and with friends. If iron sharpens iron then....I'll sharpen up for my next adventure.
Our Michigan family came to visit us and we all acted a little like the children. We squealed with glee at the prospect of basically a 36 hour visit - it had been too many months since true quality time. Well, true to real life, nothing quite went as planned. Folks who share a love for our god and our children (but not a stitch of DNA) got on the road at dark thirty to drive 6 hours to see us. Later we found out that work demands and life in general meant that Mr. D had so little sleep that he actually should have been tucked in bed - not on his way to see a 3, 5 and 7 year old. (Hey, we may be a bonus but we know we are not the main attraction.) Yet, he and our Ms. Eva came to give hugs, talk in run-on sentences, squeal and chat, update and hug some more.
Colin Powell (featured on a Starbucks cup) said that all children need a laptop - the lap of an adult that loves them for teaching life lessons, clarity about right and wrong, hugs and a safe place to land. I'd like to believe that we are really good parents - but we've got a really deep bench. Like the Detroit Pistons, its nice to cheer for the starting line-up, but you know if you are getting a win the whole team has to show up and show out. Our support team shows up and shows out.
Case and point - a friend came over recently and my kids would not allow me to have an adult conversation. They were as excited to see Ms. Mary as I was, and they count her as one of their friends. Her attention reassures them that all is right in the world.
Over the last month transition and schedules have been a doozie. Auntie Angie has been here soo much that I was wishing we had a 5th bedroom. Now I doubt she'd want to stay in it - but hey, can't blame a mom for trying. The working mom debate is overrated - I've lived every part of the debate. As a self-employed business owner, there are times I just need a guaranteed hug giver when I'm not there. It isn't often, I do the best that I can, but hey - I'm heartened when the face isn't mine at the bus stop - its a face that loves them to their core. Every mother needs a friend that isn't married and doesn't have kids for real. I know she's trying to change that but we have to watch our prayer life to make sure we are praying for her hearts desire and not our own. (The perfect job in some other state is really overrated, too.)
One example leads to another, and another, and still another. I'll keep writing about them because the stories are endless.
The impact of these relationships is clear. The impact of a seasoned married couple has so many lessons and advantages to offer I barely know what to write. We've got the platinum family plan. Sometimes I think I'm spoiled, even greedy. At a time when they could be oblivious to anything but the pending birth of grandchild #1 - they are still making our lives richer and more blessed. From swinging in the back yard to back to school shopping for three - our children know they are loved by the family they have, and the family we've made. I'm so thankful for them.
We're in a new church, we have new neighbors and we are busy. Very busy. Maybe the greatest gift for us isn't all the people who love us, but the desire to minister to other lives and the hope that one day we'll be seen as the family for others who don't share our DNA, but wallow in our imperfect love.
Got Milk? Got Family. Thank God, we've got family!