RSS

Monthly Archives: January 2014

A President for the 21st Century

image

Have you ever worked with someone or known someone who performs a task just because it’s always been done or because it’s always been performed a particular way, without regard for purpose or end goal? Who has no interest in the fact that it could be completed more effectively or efficiently? I am, by all accounts, an impatient person. So this makes me want to tear my hair out!

And this is exactly my feeling about Congress and this country, in general. And I can’t be alone. Partisanship aside…C’MON!!!

Last night, our President reminded this nation of who we should be if we would get out of our own way. Stop making everything so difficult and get to the job at hand. This is a new era with new challenges; stop dragging collective feet and invest in TODAY… the issues of today.

I was glad to hear the tone of a second-term President ready to exert executive power. Americans need jobs, our kids need access to education (Prek thru college), technology and innovation are critical, we can’t be bruisers and fight always and fair pay is fair. It won’t be easy, but it ain’t rocket science! And if it were, we have great minds who could figure it out.

It will take cooperation.

ACA was voted into law, get over it! America elected a Black president (twice), get over it! Marriage equality is here, get over it! Pope Francis is shaking up Catholicism, get over it! Women bring home the bacon AND fry it up in a pan, get over it! Young people don’t get mired down in race and culture; get over it! We need to take care of our veterans, get over it! We have to fix the planet that we hurt, get over it! People do not need high-powered, automatic weapons to hunt, get over it! Everyone in this country at some point was an immigrant, get over it!

WHEW!!!!

Now, can we get to the America that our President talked about? The one founded on opportunity, equality, perseverance and freedom? I would like to catch more than a glimpse before I die.

 

Tags: ,

MLK 2014

wpid-20130808_220206.jpg
H Street, NE, Washington, DC

Last week was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. This summer was 50 years since the March on Washington. And people, we still a long way to go…

I’m sure he would also have a lot to say about this country’s spiritual health, but would be reinvigorated by Pope Francis. They both upheld strong beliefs in tolerance, inclusiveness, youth and social media (at least I think MLK would have). They would have an awesome interdenominational energy!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Civil Rights, Family, History, Politics, Race, Youth

 

Tags: ,

Real Talk: Prejudice

Sometimes we have to look into the mirror. And better yet search our hearts.

I have a dear friend whom I consider my sister. I admire her immensely and frequently refer to her as Superwoman (that is my ringtone for her). However, she falls shy of perfection, as do we all. Her 14 year-old son has his first crush and she is Caucasian; I should point out that he is African American. It is important to note that her son attends an elite, all-boys school that has mostly white students; the girl attends the “sister” school. And my girlfriend is upset, to put it lightly.

She called me about a week ago, asking me to talk to him about it. She assumed that I would “talk some sense into him.” This week, she called me exasperated telling me how she was stressed out and crying for the last two weeks. I was alarmed wondering what had happened.

“I already told you what was going on…”

I was stunned because alarm level was waaaay too high. Something did not add up.

“Did he say that he only liked white girls? Or did he say that he found black girls ugly or stupid?” No…(crickets)… I’m lost.

Then she launches into the history of black men and white women. How they were lynched, persecuted and unfairly accused. Which is preaching to the choir because I was raised by parents who were extremely involved in the civil rights movement, Pan-Africanism, Afrocentricity, etc. In college where we met, she used to say that I was so “militant.” Fast forward.

“Has this girl made you think that she likes him because he is black? Or because he plays sports? Has she made any demeaning comments regarding race?” No…I don’t get it. I mean, I do…but, I don’t.

When she saw that I was not going to tow the line, she got upset. Her voice raised and she kept cutting me off.

“He knows better and I feel how I feel.”

I quietly listened until I felt her running out of steam.

Now. As parents, we have dreams for our children. We envision what we want their lives to be and the accomplishments we want them to make. And then, there’s reality. Our children must live their lives for themselves. I cut her off anticipating how she would react to that statement of fact; I was not finished and it was my turn. ūüėČ As parents, we also tend to burden our children with our mess/baggage/wounds. I don’t know what hers are exactly, but they are deep. She seems to hear me.

Then, she informs me that he has broken household rules: staying up too late, talking on the phone until midnight, being disrespectful when speaking to her. Now, those infractions warrant her disapproval. I told her to punish him for those but to be sure to delineate those actions from his choice to see the girl in question.

I told her to remember her first crush (careful to not use the word love). The overwhelming nature of it, the all-consuming urgency, the euphoric power that it held. However, many times these young “relationships” burn out quickly, but not when constantly condemned.

“His hormones are raging, defiance is high and if you keep protesting he will continue even if she has lost her luster, because you say no.” We all know how great it felt to stick it to our parents as angry teenagers full of angst!

“Perhaps you should concentrate on the fact that he’s a positive, intelligent young man. He has a good heart, loves his family and enjoys sports. The next girl could be Asian, the next one African American, then Latina…who knows…”

She starts up again about how she feels and that she knows her son and believes that he is only going to date white girls although he has not said it. “Then cross that bridge when we get to it. Because if that’s the case, there is some level of self-hatred.” But inside, I don’t believe this to be the case and I don’t think she does either.

“And then, we were talking about the situation and he said that I was prejudiced!” Weeeeeell… I could literally see her clutching her pearls. “You are prejudiced and so am I. The difference is that I recognize it and continue to work at it.” Let’s just say that did not go over well.

My son attends a bilingual school and is almost fluent in Spanish. His school is diverse with a high concentration of Latina girls. Although he is only five, he will attend this school through fifth grade. I understand that his experience is different from my own. When he starts liking girls, Latinas and maybe other races will probably be on his radar. I need to be okay about it.

Everything has not changed, but some things have. I told my friend that this generation of kids do not have the separations that even we had; the lines of music, culture, clothing, politics have been blurred. And isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that what many of our ancestors worked, lived and died to have? Then I had to hit her with some MLK. Haven’t we taught our children that they can do what they want and be who they are? That they should be judged by the kind of person that they are? You can’t raise them that way and then hit them with exceptions later. Content of their character rather than the color of their skin, right?!?

I can not adequately express the depth of my friend’s despair. I am concerned for her, not her son. She is distraught in a way that upsets me. I told her to give it some space and “to be still.” Then, I told her I loved her and even when we disagree I love her still.

 

Tags:

Seeing Deeper

(Photo credit: Nikki Kahn, The Washington Post)

As a “lifer” (someone who grew up and attended school for 13 years on the Cathedral close), the National Cathedral has always been a special place for me. I have many great memories in the Cathedral and miss it terribly. I always mean to take my children there to share its beauty but have yet to integrate it into our busy life. Whenever I have a great city view I¬†look for the Cathedral’s tower, although it has been blighted for the last few years by what I call bunny ears (the scaffolding on each of the towers “peaks”- I’m sure that’s not the architectural term. My middle school religion teacher would cringe as we studied the building as part of our class.).

Anywho… this morning on the radio I heard that the Post had an article about the Cathedral today and I had to check it out. This week, the Cathedral is hosting, Seeing Deeper, free events that would tap into attendees’ spirituality, including Tai Chi, yoga and “extreme polyphony.” The chairs that occupy the nave were cleared for these public offerings. That is an eerie yet beautiful sight.

Interestingly, a lot of what the article described resonated. I would love to not only attend classes there, but believe that it should be the location of both morality and policy discussions. The church used to be¬† the heart of communities and we’ve lost that. Although I do not practice religion in the traditional sense, I believe strongly in spirituality and believe that people today need to more often look into their hearts for solutions.

It saddened me to learn that the Cathedral is now charging a $10 admission, but unfortunately I understand the necessity.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Education, Reflection, religion

 

Tags: , ,

A Teachable Moment

image

Today my daughter turned in a project for her AP Government and Politics class. As she washed dishes, she informed me that if Congress does not agree on spending by the 15th, the government could shut down, again. Apparently, one of the articles that she used for her assignment listed seven items that Congress needs to address by month’s end.

I said that I recalled that the previous measure was only a temporary fix. And the word is, another shut down is unlikely. She was quiet.

“Could another shut down could impact receiving money for college? I mean, if it lasted longer this time?”

I nodded. A decision on federal spending or lack thereof impacts everything.

“The private scholarships that you applied for would be safe as long as the organization or entity itself did not receive federal funding. If it did and relied upon it, it could cut or reduce what amount awarded…unless it is an endowment of some kind…”

Silence. “So the FAFSA that you just completed…”

“This is why people were so upset. Inability to make certain decisions doesn’t just impact federal employees.”

Gotta love it when a real-life lesson is received.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Education, Family, Girls, Politics, Real Talk, Youth

 

Tags: , , ,

Milk’s Favorite Cookie

image

Apparently the economic “slow down” has spared no industry. Snack foods are also feeling the pinch.

I was on the phone with my aunt and she was munching on something. I finally asked “is it good?” because her smacking grew increasingly. She chuckled and apologized.

“You know what I’m eating…”

OREOs, of course. Her favorite. Then, the conversation took an unexpected turn. She launched into an earnest tirade about how Nabisco has been cutting corners.

“Did you know that the cookies are thinner?” I did not. “They’re the thickness of the knockoffs that you can get in the same aisle.” Interesting…

And apparently that isn’t the worst of it. The imprint on the cookie that was always placed ever so precisely, is sometimes off-center and she even saw one that was inverted so it read backward! Further, they’d become so chinchy with the icing, that she now buys Doublestuff. You heard me.

“Those used to be disgusting with too much cream filling, but now they have the same amount the regular ones used to have.”

This part of the conversation lasted about an hour- I promise you. At first, I was a bit concerned by her level of sincerity. Then, I found it amusing but I dared not laugh. This was serious, a sign of the times. And Auntie does not excite easily.

¬°Ay Dios Mio! Where will it end?!?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 9, 2014 in Family, Fun, Politics

 

Tags:

It Ain’t So Bad….

image

I was going to post about the frigid weather until I heard the words of Monika “Nikki” Payne this morning. In 2007, her husband killed her 7 year-old son, 2 year-old daughter, then himself. Years followed of drinking, body piercings, partying and tattoos; she was trying to find an identity because she was no longer a mother or wife.

Four years later her mother died suddenly. She said she went to church that Sunday for the first time in years, to curse God. But when she left that day, she began to change.

Today Nikki is a motivational speaker and committed to God. She admits that on some days it is hard to get out of bed. On such days, she tells herself four things:

1. She is going to get up and honor God.
2. She is going to honor her mother.
3& 4. She is going to honor her children.

Say a prayer for what you have and lift your bowed head.

Learn more at http://nikkispayne.com/.

 

Tags:

 
%d bloggers like this: