Thursday, July 31, 2008

Settle the Damages

House apologizes for slavery and Jim Crow. The House on Tuesday issued an unprecedented apology to black Americans for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow segregation her laws.

I have more thoughts on this issue. The apology is a fine first step. I'm waiting for the action.

The United States has apologized for its wrongdoing to other ethnic groups. The native Hawaiians received reparations of sorts. The First Nation People (I am a descendant) receive reparations of sort with protected land and gaming rights. The Japanese were compensated for their internment during WWII. What about the African-Americans?

Is there a price to make up for over 400 years of enslavement? What price for the people raped (even my family's heritage as Creole people from New Orleans included le plasage - another form of imprisonment). What price for the educated women like my beautiful grandmother who were denied the right to teach in St. Louis? Or my beautiful and highly intelligent mother who was told in 1940 that it wasn't "expeditious" for her to enroll in St. Louis University despite her matriculation through high school at age 16. And what about my father's family who have to migrate from their home in Forest City, Arkansas to Benton Harbor, Michigan to pick cherries? What about the millions and millions who have been robbed of their family land? What price?

I do believe there is some value to be placed on the sufferings of our ancestors that built this country. The very buildings that this resolution was passed was built by slaves. Black people have contributed to this country, died for this country, and still experience the hate of this country. What price?

Some of my modern-day white friends may lament that their family never had slaves or that their ethnic white heritage included discrimination at the hands of the English Europeans. I'm sure some of the white women will blow the feminist trumpet about all they've suffered at the hands of white men by being denied equal access to corporate America. I don't deny this, however, there is nothing that can compare to the systemic, ritualistic, institutionalized torture, rape, and pillaging of an entire group of people throughout the country's history.

I applaud the effort of this truly genuine human being in bringing the issue to the House of Representatives. I would shake Congressman Steven Cohen's hand and thank him for his efforts to bring H.S. Resolution 194 to fruition. It is appropriate in 2008 that an apology be issued, but, what about the damages? In civil law suits, the cases are always settled with an eye on how to compensate the victims for the losses they suffered as a result of wrong. Black people have been the victims or horrendous crimes and the case is before the civil court. We are waiting on the check to settle the damages.

The Pizza, The Flood, And My Bad Wednesday

My husband took the kids swimming last evening as a reward for acting up all day Wednesday!

I think perhaps it was the rain and they were all stuck inside. Perhaps it was because I made them go to bed early Tuesday night so they were up early Wednesday morning. Perhaps it was a full moon. I don't know what it was but my fourteen-year-old son and six-year-old daughter were at each other all afternoon.

Maybe I should've known it was going to be a bad week when my husband was still at home on Monday after taking off last Thursday and Friday to "clean the garage and do some things around the house." My garage is still full. Anyway, the kids go back to school in three weeks so I told them this was a transition week. Tuesday was a work day. I spent the entire day cleaning up, doing laundry, cleaning toilets, moving storage tubs, rearranging the family room. I banished them upstairs so I could just get finished without them underfoot. We had dinner early because my husband had rehearsal and didn't make it home until after 10pm. Did a full and exhausting Tuesday predict Wednesday?

All of the chaos is on the heels of my husband having his once-a-quarter "you need to go back to work" mini-lectures. I just kept quiet and ticked off all the things on my to-do list. I finished in one day what five days at home he didn't. I was not in the mood for what happened last night.

Wednesday afternoon after the kids where screaming and chasing each other around - while I was on a business phone call to my advisor - just seemed to set the stage. Kids almost instinctively know when your attention is diverted or you are absorbed in some big project, that was the case. I escaped the noise to my bedroom, finished my phone call, and promptly came downstairs to punish the motley crew. I thought that would be the end of the crazy day.

My daugthers were anxious when I donned my jeans and grabbed my bookbag to escape to the coffee shop. "Mommy, we want to go, too!!!" I acquiesced to their pleaful appeal and thought I was avoiding being the neighborhood bad mommy because the six-year-old can scream like a siren. I can hear her shrill yells sitting in my van in the old driveway. I can only imagine what my neighbors are thinking about 601.

The evening didn't promise to be any better. My husband called, said he would be home late. I tidied up the family room, made dinner, and had a match-of-the-wills with my son about setting the table. I was at the boiling point and wondered if my lack of an official paycheck was the reason for all this push back.

During dinner the kids where chattering and I was fuming.

My children knew what they had been doing all day and tried to put on their best rendition of angelic beings. The three of them chimed in about what part of cleaning the kitchen they were going to do. They did do a good job. I simply went to my computer, I didn't want to be bothered.

Their father told them he was going to take them swimming. I was mad and relieved at the same time. What they really needed was punishment and bed. They went to the pool at 8:30pm and I went to Target.

I came home to a quiet house. It was just about 9:30pm so I took a shower and came downstairs to get in a few moments at the computer. Then the door burst open to loud excitement.

"Let's hurry up so we can have pizza!" "Hi mommy!"

The girls raced upstairs to take showers and get ready for the pizza delivery. I just listened and didn't comment that Dominoes at 10pm wasn't good for anyone's diet. I just smiled at their excitement.

My doorbell rang and the girls were upstairs in the hallway screaming, "Pizza!!!!!" They rumbled down the stairs so excited for the thick crust duo treat of pepperoni on one side, sausage, mushroom, and pineapples on the other. My husband gave them a slice and a glass of lemonade and sent them scampering to the family room. I was treated to this night-time 4th meal.

Then I heard it. At first I thought it was still raining, it had been raining all day. "Is it raining outside?" I turned to my husband, also sitting in front of his laptop. "No." "Do you hear that?" I asked. "No." Then he heard it, the chorus of drips. The girls left the bathwater running in the tub with the plug down.

My teenager raced up the stairs at the command of his father and yelled out, "Oh NO!!!!" The bathroom and my bedroom were covered in three inches of water. My son let the plug out and screamed, "you dumb girls!" We proceeded to do a fireman's handoff of stacks and stacks of towels. I stayed downstairs, I didn't want to see what was happening. My husband left.

I put in loads of wet, soppy towels. My son came downstairs and said he got it all up. His skinny arms ladden with the heavy wetness. My living room was being assaulted by the torrent of bathwater.

Before my husband left, he punished the girls and made them go directly to bed. "You were supposed to take a shower, not a bath." I was upset. This was the icing on the cake of a bad day. I had even told my son, "see, if you had gone up to take your shower when I told you, this wouldn't have happened." It wasn't his fault, I was just frustrated.

I kept looking at the expanding water build-up on the ceiling and the towels being soaked on the floor. "Please God, don't let this ceiling cave in," was the prayer I whispered.

My husband had returned from a Wal*Mart run armed with buckets, mops, and a Shop Vac. We both thought he could vacuum up the water but by the time he returned, my son and I finished the task the old fashioned way. I did think he could vacuum and save the ceiling, that didn't' happen.

The girls know how to take showers. They both know how to pull the plug if they take a bath. They were supposed to just get in and out. Perhaps their excitement overtook them. Maybe my husband should've been upstairs with them since it was his bright idea to take them swimming in the first place and then promise them pizza. Maybe I should've been in my room like I usually am at 10pm and not downstairs writing so I could call out, "turn that water off!"

It is Thursday morning and my laundry room is filled with sopping wet towels. The two girls are sleeping soundly, my son is in his room dreaming, my husband left for work. My ceiling is buckling under and the constant drip-drip-pour-pour of the water is filling buckets. It is cloudy outside and more rain is expected. I hope today is better. Tonight, the girls will take a modern day version of a bird bath!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

White Woman Privilege as Revealed Through A Color Purple

I don't consider myself a radical activist by any stretch of the imagination. I do consider myself free, at 44, to be able to share my observations about the world. I am also less concerned about what people think, after all, a few decades ago, I would be considered middle-aged. It is with this disclaimer in mind that I share some thoughts that occurred to me this afternoon as I watched a particular scene from Steven Spielberg's production of Alice Walker's The Color Purple.

It was a rare Wednesday that I had a few moments to actually watch TV One. I was doing my daughter's hair and the channel was running an all-things Whoopi Goldberg afternoon. The movie was keeping her quiet while I untangled her curly hair.

The scene with Miss Millie and Sophia in the town square really bothered me. I've seen it possibly a dozen times through all the years. I even traveled to Chicago to see the live production of this acclaimed production. Today, I saw this scene through the eyes of a mentor, a teacher, a community participant, observer, and a writer.

In the movie, Miss Millie, is the Mayor's wife. The period was the late 1920s. It was in the town square. Miss Millie walked over to Sophia's children and stole a kiss from one of her three little ones. She did the usual ooooh and aaaah that sometimes happens to black mothers and black children. Then she did something she shouldn't.

She was still ooohing over the child and said to Sophia, "you're children are so clean, do you want to come work for me, be my maid." I wish this blog had voice-activation so you could hear the condescending tone of her Southern-bell voice. Sophia reacted with a resounding, "HELL NO." Sophia was not the docile, timid, battered wife Celie. Sophia was strong-willed and spoke up for herself.

"What did she say?" The white citizens standing across the street exchanged glances at each other as the dialogue between Miss Millie and Sophia continued. Miss Millie asked her the same question and Sophia responded with her same answer. Well, Miss Millie was insult and you just can't insult the white wife of the mayor in a late 1920s Southern town.

Sophia must have known the mob gathering around her meant her no good because she screamed, "get my children outta here!" One of her male family members grabbed up the children and took them out-of-harm's way. He was the same family member that had screamed from across the street, "Miss Sophia NO!" As she balled up her fist to hit Miss Millie in response to her slapping Sophia across the face. Her other male family member was sitting in the family car, holding the baby, while the white attendant was pumping gas. Sophia was not a domestic and she was from a wealthy, land-owning black family. I'm sure Miss Millie knew exactly who she was when she asked the question.

Sophia immediately found herself surrounded by white men and white women yelling at her. She was screaming, "someone help me," but no one black could and no one white would. She was alone, finally succumbed to a full-face punch that sent her big-boned frame to the grown, her dress fluttering up, revealing her panties. No one covered her womanhood.

What bothered me throughout this whole scene were the white women. They were whispering, nudging their husbands, gasping that one of their own were so insulted. This struck me because of the enduring legacy of racism at the hands of white men to protect the flower of white womanhood. Flashes of the many black men lynched because a white woman (often falsely) accused him of raping her. I thought of the many black women, post Emancipation, who were domestics, even those with educations.

Sophia was hauled off to jail, likely beaten and possibly raped by her white jailers for close to ten years. What was her crime? Refusing to be Miss Millie's maid and defending herself from a physical assault. When she was released, she was a shell of her former self, gray-haired, limping, swollen face, puffed eyes, lowered voice, whispered tones.

Sophia was known as a strong women. Prior scenes in the movie included her marching her pregnant self off to marry Harpo, fighting him back when he tried Mister's tactics of physical abuse, and sending Squeak flying across the room in the juke joint. The men were even afraid of Sophia, brilliantly played by Oprah Winfrey. It was known that she came from a line of strong women who were taught to stand up for themselves. She was no maid. Miss Millie and the townspeople knew this.

After her illegal incarceration, separated from her three children, she was released on parole old, broken, and Miss Millie's domestic. This time it was the early 1930s and Miss Millie had a car. Sophia tried her best to hobble behind her as she shopped in the store and tried to whisper encouragement as Miss Millie drove her new car, a toy purchased by her husband, still the Mayor.

The old white woman got what she wanted. Sophia's freedom was lost because of white woman privilege. She was vindicated in her eyes.

Alice Walker's story touched on so many themes, this was the first time I fully realized the white woman privilege of Miss Millie. Even when she had a moment of mercy, while driving her car, she proudly proclaimed that she, herself, was going to drive Sophia to see her children. She offered this as if she was the holder of all things good and was in the Christmas mood to be benevolent. She told her that she could have "ALL day," on Christmas.

Her promise was kept, she drove out to the vast land owned by Sophia's family. Multiple generations were waiting inside to greet her, Celie and Sophia's three children where on the front porch waiting her arrival. Sophia hobbled from the car, timidly greeted by her youngest child, brought inside by the other two. She was warmly hugged and honored and greeted by the family she hadn't seen in almost a decade. Inside was a beautiful scene, outside was chaos.

Several of the men had emerged from the house, whistle clean in their suits, watching Miss Millie. Miss Millie couldn't get the car out of reverse. She was jerking and pushing her feet on the pedals, bravely telling herself she could do it. It is likely that she was scared, the car was careening around with dirt flying up, she even ran into the car owned by the black family. The black men ran down the steps, running near, a few made it to the car, trying to coax Miss Millie to let them help her. Her years of conditioning to be afraid of black men kicked into high gear and she was screaming and hollering.

Inside, Sophia could hear the ruckus and as Celie was taking her coat off, Sophia knowingly pulled it back on.

When she came outside and found a frantic Miss Millie hugging a tree, she must have known her visit would be short-lived. Sophia offered to have one of the men drive her home so she could spend more time with her children. "I don't know him," was Miss Millie's tight-lipped reply. "Well, my sister Odessa can squeeze in." "I don't know her either." Miss Millie won again and Sophia's visit was cut short.

We don't see Sophia again until toward the end of the movie, but this particular scene really struck a cord with me today.

I have been involved in the racial healing and understanding in my little piece of St. Louis. Today, while watching this movie, I thought that this could easily have happened in some of the hundred-year-old estates of "historic Kirkwood." There was a poor, black side that served as domestics and nannies to some of the storied families of this near-West County suburb.

White women, here, and throughout America, have had the benefit of white privilege and racism. They have often stood by in compliant silence or loud accusations as black men and women where lynched, when little Ruby Bridges was going to kindergarten, when the Little Rock Nine was integrating Central High School in Little Rock, when Bull Connor was turning water hoses and dogs on black civil rights marchers.

Black women have cleaned the homes of white women and raised their children while these same women were having tea and planning Daughters of the American Revolution events. Throughout history there has been a precarious relationship of the gentler sex. Sojourner Truth proclaimed, "ain't I a woman" after witnessing a white man drop his coat so a white woman could cross the wet road without getting her delicate shoes wet. This question is the same question black women are asking of the white feminists.

Today, standing on the cusp of a black woman as first lady, I'm mindful of the loud silence of the white women Democrats. Cindy McCain is a documented adulteress, husband-stealer, prescription pill addict, embezzler, lover of plastic surgery, heiress, multimillionaire. The press is ever-so-kind to her while ripping Michelle Obama to shreds for everything. Black women are not afforded the same courtesies as white women. If a black woman is educated and well-spoken, she is called "angry" "bossy" "loud." If a white woman who is educated and well-spoken speaks, she is called self-confident and assured of herself, a proud member of feminist America.

White woman privilege gave birth to the suburbs as a result of their white flight from urban centers. White mothers didn't want Sally growing up next door to Roosevelt. The suburbs became exurbs and gated communities as blacks entered the middle class and affluent classes. The exclusive neighborhoods, redlining, and covenant clauses kept black people out of certain neighborhoods.

The fairer class has benefited the most from affirmative action and equal employment opportunities, despite the myth that the black people are taking all the spots in college and business. White women have been the primary beneficiary and while they still make less than white males, they make more than black males and black females, thus increasing the overall financial status of white families. Their entry into the workforce in the 1970s changed the landscape as their need for childcare and todays worklife-balance programs. Black women have always been "working mothers" relying on extended family to take care of their children while they cared for white children.

For years since slavery, white women have been complicit and complacent when it comes to the ill-treatment of black people, black women. This viewing of A Color Purple reminded me that even in 2008, there are white women who think it is an honor for a black or brown woman to work for them, to tend to their children, to clean their homes. It is these women that worry me the most for they are the ones that cried "rape" or "attack" at the site of a group of black men and "insult" at the audacity of a black woman to stand up for herself and let her know that she was one sista that couldn't be insulted, bullied, or forced.

It is 2008, close to 80 years since the period of American history depicted in the film. Sadly, as things have progressed, they have remained the same. White women still have exclusive clubs and look funny at me and other black stay-at-home moms who dare to venture to the park, library, bookstores, or playgroups for designated mommy & me time. The very ones who are gaining admission to the halls of corporate America are holding the purses of advancement so tightly, black women have turned their backs and opened their own businesses.

Yet, it is 2008 and there is the possibility of change. I know a group of progressive white women who are at least giving more than lip service to trying to understand white privilege. These women have attended community meetings, book clubs, group discussions, and impromptu ice cream trips to try to understand their fellow citizens who have been gently kissed by the sun.

My hope is that the Miss Millie's of the world will stop the next time they think about being rude or discourteous to a black or brown woman. My hope is that they disrobe of the unflattering garment of prejudice and hypocrisy and don the robe of peace, justice, and humanity.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

So Now You Want to Apologize

So 143 years after slavery, the House is proposing a "non-binding" amendment to finally apologize for slavery. Let's see, it took 143 years to realize that stealing people from their family, their homeland, their lives and transporting them over dangerous oceans to a foreign land, raping their women, beating and maiming the men, destroying families, stealing children, selling husbands from wives, selling sucking children from mother's breasts, using men as studs, diluting the race by continuous rapes, enslaving one's own children as a result of rape, causing division between the different colors of the races, not allowing the people to keep their genuine birth names, destroying their customs, languages, killing them if they read, cutting off limbs if they try to write, imposing a system of institutionalized fear, passing laws to keep them enslaved, using their free labor to build the country, taking out insurance policies in the event of their death, purposely engaging in mass-marketing designed to portray them as sub-human to justify the enslavement, all of this for over 400 years and 143 years after the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation, 57 years after the last black man was lynched usually for the alleged crime of looking at a white woman, 40 years after the assassination of a man of peace, 43 years after the descendants of these enslaved people were given the right to vote by law but as late as 4 years ago, were still denied in parts of America, 40 years after the Civil Rights legislation, 54 years since segregation was deemed illegal, 3 years since the country's deplorable treatment after a natural disaster was captured on cable television, now you want to pass a non-binding resolution to apologize for slavery and Jim Crow?

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Part of me feels like it is the drunken, abusive husband, after the 100th time of beating his wife to a pulp and her bags are packed to leave him that he comes, only half-heartedly, with his hat in hand to apologize for all the years he degraded her, called her names, sent her on emotional tailspins, kept money from her, beat her senseless, raped her at will, threatened to take away her children, locked her out of her own, and too many crimes to number, he decided to apologize...without having had the professional counseling to make sure he doesn't do it again.

America is an addict. The country is addicted to racism. It fuels the fire of the country boys like Toby Keith to openly write and perform a song on lynching. It allows the rhetoric of why can't the black people just get it together while going home to million dollar McMansions and secure jobs gained by granddaddy's contacts. The country is so addicted it is institutionalized in everything from school to hospitals to grocery stores.

Is an apology enough? After all these years when America suffered through the worse president in history and is enduring a needless war, when the homes of minority men and women are foreclosed on because of greedy, white, mortgage brokers misleading them into subprime loans, when HIV/AIDS is killing 500,000 black people and we send money to Africa to fight the AIDS crisis on the mother continent. When rich, white actresses can adopt an African boy and is heralded for her humanitarian efforts while not feeding the hungry right here in this country, those who have the same skin color and heritage as her son. America is addicted to racism when black boys are sent to prison for the same crime and for longer periods of time while the white boys are sent to "counseling" after their parents lawyered-up. In this country when white womanhood is still held as the flower of femininity and black women are stereotyped as being unwed mothers or loose women when in reality they are some of the most conservative. Is it enough when the fabric of many urban black families were destroyed with the help of government aid that forced the black father/husband to leave his children/wife so the family could receive "government cheese." Generations later, it is on wonder there are so many black children growing up in fatherless homes. All this and now the apology?

It is enough to "make me wanna hollar."

I want the apology with the substance. Make urban schools equal to the rich suburban schools. Demolish the gated communities and exclusive zip codes that are pathways to opportunity for many upper middle and rich kids. Hire the college educated black man and send the ex-con, high school drop out white man back to get his GED. Get rid of the legacy admissions in the nation's prep schools and Ivy League colleges. Give every black person born in America a free college education to make up for the years and years of denied financial opportunity. Eliminate the huge barriers to entry for black businesses and college admissions. Shred the culturally-biased standardized testing and hire qualified teachers who want to teach. Stop busing in black kids to all white school districts without hiring black teachers to be in those classes. Teach black history along with American history so all students have the clear understanding of their country. Tell the truth.

The apology is a good start, but all these years later, it, alone, is not enough.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Keep Your Guilt...Give Me Your Black Berry

I don't want your guilt...I want your Black Berry!

It seems as if white guilt is a "free pass" card for many liberal whites. It allows some to hand out a hot dog at their church's "outreach" in the poor neighborhood but then leaving if none of the "underprivileged" join their youth group. White guilt doesn't serve any purpose except to make some white people feel good about themselves for not being racist. It doesn't level the playing field.

Yes, white people in America, whether their family was here at the very beginning or they are a recent European immigrant, have benefited from white privilege. The very essence of whiteness means access. It means opportunity. It means possibility in a country that is still so addicted to racism.

I don't want white people to feel guilty of the ease of their lives. I don't want them to hand a poor black person a $10 as they drive by in their Lexus, Mercedes, and BMWs. I want them to hand that poor black person their Black Berrys filled with all their contacts through prep school, college, graduate school, and business.

Keep your guilt, give me your contacts, your opportunities. White privilege is what allowed our president to be in the white house, it was his father's business connections that cleared the path to Republican power. The current Republican nominee boasts about being almost at the bottom of his class, his father and grandfather's connections as admirals in the United States Navy were used to get him into school, his wife's money and connections used to put him on the path to Republican Power. He and our president are "legacies." Many of the nation's prep schools and Ivy League institutions of higher learning have spots reserved for legacy admissions. It is affirmative action by any other name. Keep the guilt, give me the connections.

I thought of it this morning. I have my Masters of Business Administration. I am a full-time writer, organizer, mentor, and teacher as well as a mother. As an entrepreneur, I want access to the power brokers, the creditors, the bankers that determine the fate of business in America.

All the meetings at the golf course, at the Presbyterian all-white churches, the exclusive country clubs, and the ladies teas that happen out here in West County. I want the names casually whispered while sipping a cappuccino at Companion Bread Company on Clayton Road in Ladue. I want favorable rent and a storefront like the Lily Pulitzer and other designer stores catering to the uber-rich. Just a few hours with the Black Berrys and the connections.

Equal access and equal opportunity only serves to broaden the economic empowerment of entire classes of people. At some instances, white guilt is white privilege. Poor white people, rural white people don't feel guilty, they are in the same economic class as any poor urban black and brown people struggling through public schools. It is only the liberal (and I'm not picking on liberals, I am not a right-wing conservative) whites that have the luxury to think about their advantages due to race. The uber-rich whites, likely conservative, are not the ones meeting for coffee, discussing and unravelling the lessons from Tim Wise or Michael Eric Dyson. It is their very luxury to think about it that also gives them the responsibility to do something about it.

Keep the hot dogs and notebook handouts, they are not where the real wealth and opportunity lie. They are just used to assuage white guilt and prevent black and brown protest. Put the same, shiny Mac books in the hands of every urban and rural middle school student. Hire the same tutors for every high schooler. Offer free SAT and ACT prep to every high school student. Enroll the capable black, brown, and poor white students in Algebra, Physics, and French, don't just reserve those for the "gifted" - code for the rich kids. Let's not have a Long Beach school where the honors English class is filled with white kids and the other English classes are filled with black and brown kids who don't have new books (as depicted in Freedom Writers). Remove the metal detectors and police from the urban schools and fill them instead with some of the white liberals who have businesses, connections, and capital. Teach entrepreneurship and opportunity. Give every kid the full set of new, updated books, new gymnasiums, full libraries, computer labs, qualified teachers, and dedicated volunteers. Truly level the playing field.

Give black women and brown women the same respect the white, feminists women receive. Echoing Sojourner Truth, "ain't I a woman?" The CNN "Black in America" propaganda piece tended to lean on the side of either the tragic mulatto or professional single black woman who couldn't get a man or the morale-lacking Jezebel single mother, full of stereotypes. White women have children out-of-wedlock and have the connections to either adopt them out or the health care to get abortions. Or are in the same position as poor black women, trying to wade through America on minimum wage, lack of adequate child care, lack of access to quality health care, lace of privilege. Give the connections, keep the hype. Level the playing field.

Black and brown business owners want real access to the Chamber of Commerce, Knights of Columbus, Toastmasters, and every other club that makes it possible for white businesses to succeed. Give the same access to capital and investors. Advertise in black and brown owned publications, get rid of the "Non-Urban Dictate" and spread around the marketing dollars, hire black and brown professionals, level the playing field and then let the game be played fairly.

White guilt only serves white people. It allows some white people to sit around and talk about how bad they feel for the poor blacks, whites, and browns while going home to million dollar mansions. Keep the guilt, it is not what is needed in 2008. Tim Wise talks about white privilege a lot. He doesn't do it to make white people guilty, he does it to make white people aware.

In my little town, there are no black teens working in any of the small businesses downtown, despite "help wanted" signs. Many of the black teens have put in multiple applications to even chain restaurants, still no black kids hired. Keep the guilty feelings, take action, and open the door to opportunity. Black and brown and poor white people can't take anything from the rich, they won't deny a white child an opportunity or any of the other arguments used against equal opportunity.

One day, in my lifetime, I truly want to see an America where the fields that are ripe for harvest are open for all to go out and pick what they want. Opportunity, for all. No, I don't want your guilt...give me your Black Berry.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday Tears

My four-year-old daughter and fourteen-year-old son were overcome with tears this Thursday afternoon. It was heart wrenching...and funny.

The four-year-old is the youngest of a trio of girls - her six-year-old sister and ten-year-old cousin. The two older girls made a game of "club" and "secret language" that decidedly excluded the younger girl. She kept trying to infiltrate this older girlie exchange and finally gave up in a burst of frustration, "they hate me!" She did this while billowing to the floor like a deflated balloon. I was trying to mail a package to my son in Japan so this was a public display of emotion. She wouldn't be comforted. The older girls were sitting down in chairs with the look of Cheshire cats and eyes of mischief.

We left the Post Office with hopes that the rest of the errands would be tear free. The younger girl sat in the middle of the two older girls in my old, 1998 Chevy Venture. How they managed to talk over her is still amazing. Her little pigtailed self kept looking up woefully from sister to cousin, hoping for an "in." It didn't happen at World Market.

Peace finally came at Target. My errand of just milk turned into a small collection of school supplies along with the frozen fruit bars the youngest girl loves. The tears melted into laughter as they gleefully looked at new book bags and lunch boxes. They were each clutching their Build-A-Bears and finding common ground. I gave a stern look to the older girls and told them I was onto their little game. They complied. There is nothing new under the sun.

My fourteen-year-old son's burst of tears was from being told to do the dishes. It is summertime so he spends most of his evenings up - courtesy of an extended howl out night. He sleeps uninterrupted until about noon, also one of the pleasures of summertime. He was sleeping when the girls and I left for errands. I came back to him and a friend sprawled out in my family room playing video games. My son slept on the sofa last night so his covers were a crumpled mess.

He gave me a little lip about how he just woke up and why did he have to do the dishes. I told him to just take 10 minutes and get them finished and that I had been up at 5:30am cleaning up their mess from last night. He pouted his way to the kitchen and started slamming bowls and slapping the counter with the dish towel as he was making the dish water. I just ignored his tirade until he started talking about how this was "unfair" and I was "disrespecting him." Why did he do that?

Are kids today not supposed to do chores? I often have to tell him that cleaning up is part of the price of living in a family. It is not high up on my list of favorite things to clean the toilets, do laundry, sweep, mop, and an endless supply of to-dos. I am a firm believer in teaching children to work at home so they can handle their responsibilities. It is not my philosophy that kids are just supposed to have an easy time with either their mother or hired housekeeper cleaning up their messes. My son kept saying his little sisters could do the dishes and they were old enough. I told him not yet and for him to just do it without the lip. Maybe it is because it was raining outside but his face was covered in as many tears as the water in the kitchen sink.

He kept his tearful mumble up and I finally said, "enough" and told his friend to go home. I was not going to have a further exchange with him and his buddy. The young man willingly complied, something told me that he knew his mom was like me.

My son finished his chores with his lips pouting out. He hung his head and went upstairs to change clothes. His dad is home for a couple days and thankfully didn't come downstairs to try to "solve" this mother-son exchange. Teenagers have this misguided notion that the world revolves around him.

He packed his book bag and left, with permission, to go to his friend's house. I imagine they are over there now complaining of how "unfair" and "unreasonable" his moms was to make him to dishes! Just imaging the complaining he will do when I tell him it's his turn to clean the toilets.

The tears were overflowing this Thursday afternoon. I hope the sun comes out soon!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Non-Urban-Dictate...What? They Don't WANT My Money!

My girlfriend send me some very interesting information. I am a firm believer in turning over black and brown dollars a few times before it hits the mainstream. It is not because I am separatist or racist or elitist, it is because I am a realist. I am also a graduate of the University of Iowa with my Masters of Business Administration in marketing. I know the business of branding, strategy, targeting is to bring in the consumer. There are many big consumer products companies that do a pittance with Black and Brown advertising and there are some who deliberately choose to ignore this very powerful consumer block.

This post, courtesy of my girlfriend, conveniently outlines those companies who have labeled their marketing materials with a NUD. This labeling means their Brand Manager are not to pursue multicultural media in favor of reaching black consumers. I saw this trend happening when the 2000 census gave our Brown (Latino, Hispanic) brethren a slight nudge in the population numbers. American companies (Hallmark Cards, Inc. included) jumped all over themselves to make their products more Hispanic. They dropped black marketing like a hot potato and went after Hispanics with everything from an entire grocery aisle of foods to Spanish on EVERY product. The last time I checked, black people were still a formidable financial force in this country.

I teach my children to NEVER spend money with any company that will disrespect them in any way. They have seen me walk out with a cart full of items due to poor customer service or lack of respect. Respect in retail is very simple, a "hello" and "how are you" go a long way, as well as not following me in the store (it is still happening at Dillard's). The older I get, the more disgusted I get. I refuse to enrich a populace that makes it a point to ignore my buying power (five degree family, two homes, stay-at-home mom, you do the math).

Tom Joyner wants this information to reach his listeners.
You have probably heard of "NUD" as a result of the Tom Joyner morning show related to Comp USA.

NUD (Non Urban Dictate) is the acronym for a very subtle andl ittle-known marketing term specifically directed toward people of color. "Non Urban Dictate" These three words essentially mean that a company is not interested in the Black consumer.

A NUD label means that a company does not want their marketing and advertising materials placed in media that claim an urban audience (black folks) as their main target.

There are legitimate reasons for companies not using urban radio. It may be that Blacks don't index high in certain categories or that a company's strategy is to market to the Black consumer down the road after they have established a strong position in their primary target.
But, NUD usually means that a company is not interested in the Black consumer.

Companies evade discrimination liability by embracing it as theory rather than policy. As a service to Black consumers, the Urban Institute will list all companies that have a NUD policy. Armed with this information, we feel that Black consumers will be able to make informed buying decisions.

Here's a list of Companies with NUD policies:

1. Starbucks (and they just announced 600 store closing!)

2. Jos. A Bank

3. Comp USA (and you wonder why they closed down!)

4. Weight Watchers (find another way to lose that weight!)

5. Keebler (gotta give up the cute little Elf cookies - full of high fructose corn syrup anyway!)

6. Life Savers (find another breath mint!)

7. Continental Airlines (bad service, losing money anyway)

8. Northwest Airlines (Ditto)

9. America West Airlines (this one may hurt, but Southwest Airlines is still $1 in my book)

10. HBO - Apollo Series (time to cut the cable!)

11. Paternal Importers

12 Calico Corners

13. OMScot

14. Pepperidge Farms (Not my Chessman Cookies!!!! Giving it up people, FYI - this is a Campbell's Soup Company!)

15. Ethan Allen (don't buy their furniture anyway)

16. Busy Body Fitness

17. Mondavi Wines

18. Builders Square

19. Don Pablo

20. Lexus (Get a Toyota or Mercedes if you have to!)

21. Aruba Tourism

22.. Ciba Vision

23. Kindercare (they warehouse kids anyway)

24. Grady Restaurant

25. Eddie Bauer (this brand strategy has always been the preppy, prosperous, white young man which wasn't enough to prevent several store closings - see my earlier post!)

Knowledge is power.

We are in a recession/depression. Middle class and even upper middle class families are feeling the pinch with $4.11/gallon gas and $3.89/gallon milk and $8/lb chicken. These companies will feel the economic impact by ignoring a significant segment of the population. Starbucks, as noted on a previous blog and as been widely reported, is closing down several of their "underperforming" stores.

The only color that matters in business is ultimately green. All consumers should be respected. One of my favorite coffee shops, happens to be owned by a black couple, is 17 miles from my Kirkwood home. They are always busy and serve all consumers. A lot of their regulars are white. Good customer service wins each time and even large companies can't afford to discriminate.

Take note and take action, especially as the school shopping season is upon us!

Please forward this information on to any other consumer that you consider a friend and advise them to do likewise.

Remember, you CANNOT act wisely unless you are informed wisely.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It is the Economy...and Consumers...and Retailers

My cousin-in-law sent the following information to our family website. It is the economy all the way around. The United States is a consumer-nation. We don't produce anything. The stimulus checks that were sent out didn't stimulate the economy. How could it when Wal*Mart was promising people they coud cash them for free and then spend them on their Chinese-made goods? We are in Biblical times, it is like the years when famine hit and Joseph wisely stored up grain (remember the fat cows that ate the skinny cows, well the nation under President Bush is in the skinny cows!).

If you have gift cards, hurry up and use them!!
Just passing this along - FYI
Ann Taylor closing 117 stores nationwide A company spokeswoman said thecompany hasn't revealed which stores will be shuttered. It will let thestores that will close this fiscal year know over the next month

Eddie Bauer to close more stores. Eddie Bauer has already closed 27 shops in the first quarter and plansto close up to two more outlet stores by the end of the year.

Cache closing storesWomen's retailer Cache announced that it is closing 20 to 23 stores thisyear.

Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines closing 150 stores nationwide The owner of retailers Lane Bryant , Fashion Bug , Catherines Plus Sizeswill close about 150 underperforming stores this year.The company hasn't provided a list of specific store closures and can'tsay when it will offer that info, spokeswoman Brooke Perry said today.

Talbots, J. Jill closing stores. About a month ago, Talbots announced that it will be shuttering all 78of its kids and men's stores. Now the company says it will close another 22 underperforming stores.. The 22 stores will be a mix of Talbots Women's and J. Jill , another chain it owns. The closures will occurthis fiscal year, according to a company press release.

Gap Inc. closing 85 stores. In addition to its namesake chain, Gap also owns Old Navy and BananaRepublic . The company said the closures - all planned for fiscal 2008 -will be weighted toward the Gap brand.

Foot Locker to close 140 storesIn the company press release and during its conference call with analysts today, it did not specify where the future store closures - all planned in fiscal 2008 - will be. The company could not be immediately reached for comment

Wickes is going out of business. Wickes Furniture is going out of business and closing all of its stores, Wickes, a 37-year-old retailer that targets middle-income customers,filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

Goodbye Levitz / BOMBAY - closed already The furniture retailer, whichis going out of business. Levitz first announced it was going out ofbusiness and closing all 76 of its stores in December. The retailer dates back to 1910 when Richard Levitz opened his first furniture storein Lebanon, PA. In the 1960s, the warehouse/showroom concept broughtLevitz to the forefront of the furniture industry. The local Levitz closures will follow the shutdown of Bombay.

Zales, Piercing Pagoda closing stores. The owner of Zales and Piercing Pagoda previously said it plans to close 82 stores by July 31. Today, it announced that it is closing another 23 underperforming stores. The company said it's not providing a list of specific store closures. Of the 105 locations planned for closure, 50 are kiosks and 55 are stores.

Disney Store owner has the right to close 98 stores. The Walt Disney Company announced it acquired about 220 Disney Stores from subsidiaries of The Children's Place Retail Stores. The exact number of stores acquired will depend on negotiations with landlords. Those subsidiaries of Children's Place filed for bankruptcy protection in late March. WaltDisney in the news release said it has also obtained the right to close about 98 Disney Stores in the U.S. The press release didn't list those stores.

Home Depot store closings (E. Brunswick, Rt 18 just put up theirclosing sign) ATLANTA - Nearly 7+ months after its chief executive said there were no plans to cut the number of its core retail stores, TheHome Depot Inc. announced Thursday that it is shuttering 15 of them amid a slumping U.S. economy and housing market. The move will affect 1,300 employees. It is the first time the world's largest home improvement store chain has ever closed a flagship store for performance reasons. Its shares rose almost 5 percent. The Atlanta-based company said the underperforming U.S.stores being closed represent less than 1 percent of its existing stores. They will be shuttered within the next two months.

CompUSA (CLOSED) clarifies details on store closings Any extendedwarranties purchased for products through CompUSA will be honored by athird-party provider, Assurant Solutions. Gift cards, rain checks, andrebates purchased prior to December 12 can be redeemed at any timeduring the final sale. For those who have a gadget currently in for service with CompUSA, the repair will be completed and the gadget willbe returned to owners.<><<> >

Macy's - 9 stores

Movie Gallery - 160 stores as part of reorganization plan to exit bankruptcy. The video rental company plans to close 400 of 3,500 MovieGallery and Hollywood Video stores in addition to the 520 locations thevideo rental chain closed last fall.

Pacific Sunwear - 153 Demo stores

Pep Boys - 33 stores

Sprint Nextel - 125 retail locations New Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse appears to have inherited a company bleeding subscribers by the thousands, and will now officially be dropping the ax on 4,000 employees and 125 retail locations. Amid the loss of 639,000 postpaid customers in the fourth quarter, Sprint will be cutting a total of 6.7% of its workforce (following the 5,000 layoffs last year) and 8% of company-owned brick-and-mortar stores, while remaining mute on other rumors that itwill consolidate its headquarters in Kansas . Sprint Nextel shares are down $2.89, or nearly 25%, at the time of this writing.

J. C. Penney, Lowe's and Office Depot are scaling back

Ethan Allen Interiors: The company announced plans to close 12 of 300+stores in an effort to cut costs.

Wilsons the Leather Experts - 158 stores

Pacific Sunwear will close its 154 Demo stores after a review of strategic alternatives for the urban-apparel brand. Seventy-four underperforming Demo stores closed last May.

Sharper Image: The company recently filed for bankruptcy protection andannounced that 90 of its 184 stores are closing. The retailer will stilloperate 94 stores to pay off debts, but 90 of these stores haveperformed poorly and also may close.

Bombay Company: (Freehold Mall store closed) The company unveiled plans to close all 384 U.S.-based Bombay Company stores. The company's online storefront has discontinued operations.

KB Toys posted a list of 356 stores that it is closing around the UnitedStates as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. To see the list ofstore closings, go to the KB Toys Information web site, and click on Press Information

Dillard's to Close More Stores. Dillard's Inc. said it will continue to focus on closing underperformingstores, reducing expenses and improving its merchandise in 2008. At the company's annual shareholder meeting, CEO William Dillard II said the company will close another six underperforming stores this year.


Warner "Ace" Aldridge, JrCo-Host of the Praise Mix Down on 100.3 The Beat8101 Appleton DriveSt. Louis, Mo"The farmer plants seed by taking God's Word to others,"-Mark 4:14

There is nothing else to say.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What Shall I Say of These Things?

Gas has hit a national all-time high of $4.11 a gallon.

IndyMac bank has been taken over and other banks stand on the brink.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake testified before Congress about the state of the economy.

President Bush in response to the state of the economy said, "I'm not an economist. I'm an optimist...I do believe we are growing." The rest of the nation doesn't see this growth.

We've spent $750 BILLION on the Iraq War.

We spend more than that on importing oil.

The Consumer Price Index is at the second highest rate in 26 years.

The nation's leading economist and architect of Former President Ronald Reagan's supply side economics and trickle-down theory was on NPR Tuesday, July 15th. He stated, "this is deeper and longer than the last few recessions. They lasted a year, then recovered." That was from Professor Martin Felstein.

President Bush, in the waning days of his failed presidency, wants to eliminate any possibility of ordinary people to get home loans. He is moving swiftly, with his Republican cronies, to do away with down payment assistance.

Have we become a country that is only for the wealthiest of the wealthiest few?

My little suburb, Kirkwood, can't seem to build million-dollar McMansions fast enough, squeezing out the more traditional, 100-year old homes. The taxes on a $395K home for sale was quoted at $4900 a year.

My grocery shopping habits have changed. I pass over the organic chicken and even the "natural" chicken. My meals are including more rice and pasta. My kids are drinking more water and treats like eating out are more rare.

When I do eat out now, usually for a meeting, I order appetizers or split a meal. Yesterday, my husband and I had brunch at Majestic Restaurant in the Central West End. We love this Greek Restaurant and it has been a favorite of our's for ten years. The generous portion sizes and family atmosphere have always been the attraction. Yesterday, I noticed the bacon was less thick and fewer pieces than normal for my traditional breakfast at $5.15. I pointed out to my husband that the recession is hitting everywhere.

I am preparing to buy school clothes and school supplies for my children. The department stores and even Target aren't top on my list for my daughters. I visited Once-Upon-A-Child resale store and have been conversing with one of my Mocha Mom friends about clothes swapping. I am not going to buy lots of new crayons, markers, paper, and new book bags like I did last school year.

My elder sister called me on Sunday and rather nonchalantly told me she had to have surgery. I went with her to the pre-op visit and learned she has a very large tumor resting on her colon, invading her gallbladder, and reaching into her liver. She is only 55. She has lived through discrimination as a tall woman, born in 1952, and coping with epilepsy. She had medical issues including a couple grand mal seizures over the last five years, so she missed her age-50 colonoscopy. Yet, her sweet, gentle innocence looked at me and said, "my life is in God's hands."

I watched The Today Show ( briefly this morning and Matt Lauer was interviewing three top economic advisers regarding the economy. He had flip charts next to each of them with their three top things to fix the economy. The one that made me the angriest was Forbes. He, along with the Republicans, tend to think we aren't in a recession. He talked about more tax cuts (i.e., making permanent President Bush's tax cuts), strengthening the dollar (i.e. letting more foreign companies buy up America much like InBev bought up Anheuser-Busch). The one I really liked was Crammer when he said get rid of ethanol - that will help with the food prices and turn to natural gas - that will eliminate our dependence on oil. The lone woman on the panel suggested we keep the prices high (gas) to reduce the demand and eliminate our consumer nation status (we buy a lot of foreign goods). I listen to this and I wonder, will any of it make difference when every day people drive down I-44 heading east into St.Louis, alone in their gas-guzzling cars.

My brother-cousin is leaving in a few days. He has been here for close to three months. His mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away a month later. He stayed to close up her estate. I have come to cherish spending time with him. He will be greatly missed.

School starts next month. My youngest son will be a freshman. He is in a "good" school district. There will be other kids who will start and not finish. California just reported that one-fourth of their students will not finish high school. That includes 30% of Latino and 41.1% of Black students. My stomach cringes. It is not all the teachers. It is not all the fault of No Child Left Behind, even though I detest that deplorable and underfunded program. The teachers can't fix family problems, poverty, lack of health care, lack of jobs, and gang violence.

I'm sitting here pondering these things. CNN reported yesterday that mortgage brokers knowingly lied to borrowers, steering them to sub-prime loans for the higher commissions. NPR did a story earlier this week about a Latina who was tricked into a loan that ended up with mortgage payments of $3000 a month, she ended up in foreclosure a month later.

"Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you." James 5:1-6.

I'm sipping a nice cup of Ethiopian Yigarchaffe and I wonder about all these things.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Paying Homage to Foremother Writers

I woke up this morning and thought about all the black women writers/poets that have picked up pen before me.

I looked in my Norton's Anthology of African American Literature and found something quite appropriate for this election year.

"Aunt Chloe's Politics" by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911)

Of course, I don't know very much
About these politics,
But I think some who run em'
Do mighty ugly tricks.

I've seen 'em honey-fugle round
And talk so awful sweet,
That you'd think them full of kindness,
As an egg is full of meat.

Now I don't believe in looking
Honest people in the face,
And saying when you're doing wrong,
That "I haven't sold my race."

When we want to school our children,
If the money isn't there,
Whether black or white have took it,
The loss we all must share.

And this buying up each other
Is something worse than mean,
Though I thinks a heap of voting,
I go for voting clean.

Written in 1872

Sunday, July 6, 2008

He's Not Perfect...

He's not perfect...far from it. There are moments he gets on my last nerve like when he drops his size 13s in the middle of the walk-way or when his work-out-clothes could win the contest for smelliest clothes. He spends too much time listening to old school jams on his laptop and snacks more than I'd like, no, he is not perfect, but he is a good father.

The greatest gift I've given my girls beyond life and a knowledge of Christ, is a secure relationship with their father. I am married to a "in-the-house" black man. He cooks Sunday breakfast and dinners, he lets the girls play "beauty shop" with him and he always gives them a big, burly bear hug. The girls scream in delight and glee when he walks in the door. They run and jump in his arms with the assurance that his 300 lb frame will hold them tightly. He has given them honor in not only his name and his presence, but in his unconditional love. He has changed their diapers from the moment they took their first breath. His big hands try to wield a hair bow with the dexterity of a quilter, his dimpled smile assures them their thick hair is the most beautiful in the entire neighborhood. There are moments I step back and watch him interact with his daughters and I pray for God to keep him strong, healthy, and in their existence.

My husband and I are like other couples, there are moments we get on each other's nerves and can't stand the sight of the other. We don't always agree, I'm organic and he's a hole-in-the-wall Chinese fanatic. We both enjoy reading and art and taking our kids to cultural events. We agree to disagree on some things and we are both involved with them. His strength is in his presence and there is something about a deep, booming voice telling the kids to "do what your mother said do," that gives me a quiet reassurance. My strength is in my creativity and sensitivity. I miss it at moments, he misses it at moments, but together we have made a commitment to their lives.

He goes to work every day in his high-stress job and prays daily for God's strength. He tells me everyday it gives him great joy to see his family well cared for and secure. He pays the bills and keeps us afloat finacially. He made sure his family would be well cared-for in the event of his death, especially if that happened while the children were still minors.

I wish I could give all children what my two daughters and three sons have - a father who is in there, good, bad, and ugly, even when he may not want to at times. I wish I could give the kids I mentor someone who constantly reassures them of their beauty (my girls) or their ability (my fellas). He talks to the boys and has often played the mediator when my rants about the dirty (pick one - kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, family room) gets on my nerves with all their stuff. He makes them speak respectfully and isn't afraid to get in their faces when need be.

He has always tried to hold the older ones (ages 21 and 19) accountable for their actions. He insists upon responsibility and accountability and is the type of father who marched his 13-year-old son back to the electronics department at Wal*Mart and made them take back the "explicit language" video game they sold to an underage minor. I know my son was mortified and embarrassed and my husband's anger on his face was enough to send the clerks scurrying to take back the game, even when the shrink wrap was taken off. I was very proud of him at that moment.

It is 2008 and I've had a belly-full of news regarding our teenagers and young people. My heart weeps for our future and there are moments when I feel like my Saturdays are wasted with the girls I mentor. There is a spark and when I feel like the future is all washed up, I simply have to look at him being "Daddy." My husband will do something like spend hours putting together the girls beds and teaching my youngest son how to honor his sisters by carrying their new beds up a flight of stairs. He will also use that booming voice to make my son spring-into-action if he forgets to take the trash out.

The music in our household is the sing-song voice of my girls as they take delight in the attention lavished upon them by their big daddy and older brothers. The brothers protect them fiercely, even the one in Japan declares his undying allegiance to their protection. The youngest son and resident big brother at 14 is aware enough to tell his little sister when a pair of jeans have become too tight or when a cartoon is inappropriate. I step back and smile because all the lessons my husband and I have instilled in them come out when I least expect it.

No, my husband is not perfect, his shoes are under the dining room table, his cracker crumbs are saluting me from under his chair, oneof his socks is under the coffee table, but he is perfectly there, perfectly trying, and perfectly an involved daddy...and that gives me hope for tomorrow.

What About Our Daughters?: 22 y.o. Black Woman to 11 year-old Black Girl Gang Raped By 20 Men and boys: "That girl, knew What She Was Doing"#links

What About Our Daughters?: 22 y.o. Black Woman to 11 year-old Black Girl Gang Raped By 20 Men and boys: "That girl, knew What She Was Doing"#links

I read about this and wanted to simultaneously throw up and cocoon my two daughters!

I am sick to my stomach about the behavior of our black men and our black women in the poor neighborhoods.

It is timing in a way that I came across this post after (1) spending my Saturday with a couple girls I mentor who live in a poor neighborhood, (2) watching the HBO documentary about Douglass High School in Baltimore MD, and (3) thinking about Come on People by Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin Pouissant.

What is wrong with us!!!!!!!! I am a member of this black community. I don't want to be. The color of my skin makes me part of it, but I don't want to be right now. I hate this!

Rape is so brutal and then to have it happen to an 11-yar-old. Where are the real men to stand up and protect this baby? Where are the real men who will beat the crap out of the offenders? Why the black women like the 16-year-old who organized this rape and the 22-year-old who blamed the victim are allowed to go free baffles me! I don't want my daughters anywhere near them.

I was sharing with my son, age 14, my feelings and thoughts about the ignorance of some of our people. He told me I was "stereotyping mom." After reading this and other posts recently, I'm not stereotyping. I think this is one of the things that has kept Al Sharpton and other so-called black leaders silent, the misbelief that black men are victims of the white men! No, white men did not engage in this depravity! Black men did!

God help us. From Africa to America, some black people are the worse of humanity. We have to stop this!

Eric Michael Dyson and to an extent, Cornel West are among those "intellectual" black leaders who indict those of us who have chosen to move our children out of the city. He tells us, black, middle to upper middle class, educated, that we should move back to the neighborhood to help save the neighborhood. Every-once-in-a-while, my guilt register rings off and then I have to stop and look around. No, the white man did not make these people leave trash on the sidewalk and steal a shopping cart and leave it in the neighborhood. The white man did not tell them to blast their music, walk around with tracks in their hair, or pull their pants down. The norms of these types of neighborhoods and not the norms I want my daughters to be raised around. This is part of the madness. Some of the people don't want to change and the ones that do are ridiculed. Some manage to make it out and don't look back, it is like a war zone and in order to not be numb to the violence, they have to leave! This incident, along with the one in Dunbar Village is the reason I won't live in a poor neighborhood.

I know I may get comments about stereotyping poor neighborhoods, but lets shine a light and let the roaches be seen! This is somewhat the premise of Come on People. I initially dismissed the book as a brother attacking black people, but after I read it, I realized they were trying to help the poor, black, urban neighborhoods that are imploding!

I began to think about how it can be saved. Why don't the women do a "Brewster's Place" and ban together, get mad, and run the raping men out! Why don't they pick up the phone and call the police? We can not protect ignorance!

Mothers, fathers, be parents. The minute I became a mother, twenty-five-years-ago, my life ceased being mine. Every decision I made was for my sons and then my daughters. I went without so I would feed them. My self-reliance and pride kept me seeking better jobs and my degrees so I could provide for them. I taught them the values my father taught me, I insisted upon their accountability and responsibility. I made tough decisions regarding my 21-year-old back when he was a teenager. I modeled the behavior I wanted in them.

I taught my sons to open doors for ladies at age 2. I made them address elders with respect, Mr. or Ms. So-and-So. My husband and I made our sons accept their punishments, whether from school, us, or even society. We always used moments to try to teach them. We offered to them unconditional love and accessibility, but we never allowed them to make excuses for failing a class, missing a test, or for my elder son, becoming involved with the wrong crowd. There were times we separated ourselves from our eldest in order to teach him. More and more black parents, mothers, need to raise their sons like they raise their daughters. We know society will be harder on them as black men, but we must not coddle them because of it. We must teach them resilence, accountability, responsibility. They must know, like my sons know, to protect their sisters, mothers, daughter with their life if necessary.

What is the lesson in the gang rape of an 11-year-old black girl? Where is the public outcry? When will righteous black men protect and honor the virtue of ALL black women? When will black women get mad enough? When will we change?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Stop Being Afraid!

God has not given us a spirit of fear!

People! Wake up! It is time to put fear where it belongs - in the trash can! Better yet, shred it!

We have become a nation of cowering, teeth-chattering, covered-eye, fraidy-cats!

Parents are afraid to discipline little Johnny in the grocery store for fear of the security-cameras that will be turned over to the CPS.

Women are afraid of their husbands if they stay home since the man makes the money.

Men are afraid of their wives if they work because their masculinity is in jeopardy.

Whites are afraid of the "big, bad, black man."

Blacks are afraid of "The Man"

And the devil is standing back watching the chaos with glee on his face!

Stop being afraid, it makes the heart race and the breath skip.

As a fearful people, we are watched from satellite, from cameras everywhere, and from our neighbors.

As a fearful people, we are deemed "unpatriotic" if we don't wave the red-white-and-blue or wear a flag pin.

As a fearful people, we have let the mainstream media hijack our critical thinking skills and have succumbed to a few talking points.

As a fearful people, we didn't stand up to speak out against an administration that let hundreds of thousands of her poorest citizens perish in a natural diseaster.

As a fearful people, we let a small segment tell us what God thought when we didn't have the courage to pray and ask HIM ourselves.

As a fearful people, we let ourselves become strip-searched in the airports and fear our brothers whose skin color or last name is different than ours.

As a fearful people, we let our government wire-tap and spy and invade our privacy in the name of stopping the illusive terrorists without realizing that the enemy has become the establishment

When will we wake up?

This election primary season saw the worse of this "fear" with attack ads and name-calling.

We played into every racist and sexist stereotype that has been in existence since the beginning of the country, yet

Hope prevailed and we have a nominee with a brand that says "Change we can believe in."


The fear peddlers are at it again, and we are going back in our cocoons

Get out!

Stop being afraid of the kids on the block with their pants around their ankles, walk up to them and tell them to pull the pants up.

Stop being afraid of the poor, black, brown, yellow, white or whatever woman with a bunch of kids, go and tell her there is a way for her to do better for herself.

Stop being afraid to teach the kids respect.

Stop being afraid to write an article to tell the truth.

Stop being afraid to boycott companies that are against the common good.

Stop being afraid to turn off the TV, block BET, Vh1, and the rest of the misogny.

God did not give us this spirit of fear!

We can be the change we want! Be courageous and strong, open the door, walk outside, and talk to your neighbor!

This has to stop.