Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Race Card?

One of our listserve members honed in on a line in one of my e-mails where I referred to Barack as partially Black. She took offense because she assumed I was referring to the "is he Black enough" non-sense that has been going on within our communities.

I wanted to say this in open forum in case one of our other members either took my comment out of context or was otherwise riled by it. To clarify, I wasn't questioning his dedication or giving weight to the above example of divisive non-sense that we tend to place in our own communities.

I do however, teach a number of life enhancement classes to teens so they can learn the things about themselves that isn't taught in a text book. With one of my classes we are currently dealing with the idea of identity. I've had a number of bi-racial children in my classes and whenever this subject comes up they leap to talk about it. It surprised me how many of their emotional issues came from having to be marginalized. Most of them claimed "black"...when I asked why I got a variety of answers....all of them pointing to at some point in their lives they were forced to choose in order to be accepted. Either they had to be black or white -- never both. I find that odd.

It is now habit for me to openly acknowledge both sides of a person as a lesson to help these kids to love and testify on all of who they are. Children (like adults) often want to fit in. They will claim whatever "group" accepts them without too much explanation. But why do we, in 2008, still make them claim one or the other when they are both? But I can’t teach them that if I know of a bi-racial person and I too only acknowledge one side of their cultural background. So when referring to a person (who I know is multi-racial) I will say a bi-racial person. So that’s what I meant with Barack. We were talking about the “race factor” more so one listserve member's claim that African Americans are only voting for Barack because he's Black. To which I responded "my vote is not based on the fact that he is partially black - if all it took was pigment to earn African American's votes than Jesse Jackson would have been a nominee a long time ago". It wasn't intended to challenge his race but I find it interesting that the subject of multi-ethnic folks is still a sensitive one.

Self-acceptance is hard for any teen – especially those who are placed in the position to deny their cultural experience. Some of them are on Myspace in groups called “white women having black babies”….HUH??? WTF?? I've realized it’s a pathetic plea to belong to something that helps you to define yourself (which is why she ended up pregnant at 12 in the first dayum place but I digress). A white woman can't give birth to a black woman. She can give birth to a bi-racial woman. But in 2008 we are still scared to say that???

Beyond that, a white woman can't raise a black woman. How would you know what being a black woman is about?? From tv? From your friends? Or do you think that being black is just defined by her color (or more so her father’s color)? Trust..if having one black parent was all it took to be black than this whole country better claim the status cuz all of us have been mixed with someone or other somewhere in the lineage. Raise your children in their true culture…bi-racial. Let him/her enjoy herself – ALL of himself/herself. You can’t tell me there’s nothing wrong with being “mixed” (my student's word) while saying in the same breath – but only claim one side! You only hide things that you are ashamed of. You can't effectively preach self-pride while sub-consciously feeding them shame.

I'm teaching them that identity (particularly being black) is more than a color - it is a cultural experience. One that some bi-racial children who claim Black have never had – one of my children was raised by her white father, in white schools, never had so much as an African American friend, doesn’t know one thing about our history – how can you exclusively claim black culture when your experience has only been that of another? Meanwhile, my sista-friend who is bi-racial but was raised by two wonderful black parents (thank God for them) to be a bi-racial black woman-- ok, that I applaud! She made a conscious decision as an adult based on her life experience not on who society told her she had to be. She recognizes both sides of her racial make-up. Why not??? While still giving respect to the weight of her experiences.

But in 2008 we still are trying to minimize being black as just a color or just a bloodline. It is those things but SO MUCH MORE. Heck, there are Arabs that are darker than me -- they don't consider themselves black. Africans often refer to themselves as Africans or their particular culture....not black. It's home, a history of oppression and overcome, it is a specific struggle and a specific strength. It is a black mama who can beat you just as hard as your daddy for not making it home b4 the porch light comes on. It's so many things that words can never cover it all....Don't reduce it to ONLY color.

I teach them not to site slavery rules (a drop of black blood nonsense) that you aren't subject to and were meant to oppress not uplift. That's tantamount to the "reclaiming nigga" craze. bout we don't and just say we did! LOL. I've even heard a child tell me "my mom says if your dad is black than so are you"...huh?? Actually in the days of slavery and mulatto...LOL... the race was based on the mother's status...after all, she’s the one that gave birth! If the mother was a slave so was the child. It wasn't based on the father. Think about it - than all those "masters" would have had to claim their products of rape as white...slim chance of that!

Lastly I teach them that no matter what your cultural background -- no words will sum up who you are. There is no word(s) that can reach the totality of blackness, whiteness or any other label you give yourself. Which is why it's important that for the basics (race) you use all the vocabulary afforded to you. Trust, no matter which you choose you will spend the rest of your life trying to figure out all of what that means to you. Don't force yourself or let anyone else force you into denying parts of who you are. Identity is a full bodied experience that has too many avenues for potential. Let's start off with a proper road map. You are bi-racial. To only acknowledge half of your journey leaves you with no choice but to never reach your full destination.

I say identity at it's core is accepting and loving ALL of who you are despite what society has put you through. If you have a white mother...who raised you, loved you, cherished you – raised you to be a contributing factor to society (like Senator Obama, Alicia Keys, Halle Berry and countless others) it is reckless not to acknowledge that part of you when identifying yourself. Out of respect for self, not divisiveness. That mother with her experience (even her cultural/racial experience) raised you – embrace that. You have that right. Just like I have the right (and responsibility) to respect, honor and claim both of my parents and their contributions to who I am.

Now I did have one kid pose a question -- if it's experience than why can't a white person who hangs out in black clubs and listens to rap claim black?? Good question. Remember I said it isn't just bloodlines and color. Those two things are a factor. Not only that but

  • because they don't have our cultural history or future. Identity is something you are born isn't something you get to switch at leisure
  • How racist is it to think that you can experience blackness from just music or clubs -- through sex with a black person or having black friends?? Being black is so much more than that - music, hair, skin color -- doesn't even scratch the surface

I find it horrible that in 2008 folks still feel pressured (especially kids) to be forced to choose between one culture or the other. To publicly dismiss part of who they are. None of us decide the circumstances of our birth. What is wrong with being born of both cultures and acknowledging that? Especially with all of the identity and self-acceptance issues these kids have stemming from race. They will have a whole other host of issues to doubt themselves over – I say get over the hump of the obvious and embrace it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary Supporters Unite

Every woman should know...

When to leave well enough...ALONE

As I watch the DNC, I feel sympathy for those who take an active role in voting and walk away with crushed dreams. I've had to vote for what I thought was "the lesser of two evils" in previous I feel your pain. I feel no frustration towards those who need time to get past their disappointment. However, come November, it's time to unite behind the common goal. Until then, take your time...

What does get me??? Clinton supporters who flip the ENTIRE script! The ones who get into this "I will vote for McCain because he has experience" mode. Er??? yes, but how has that experience fared for the country??? Horrible policy is horrible policy. And yet, the pony you want to ride is "well at least he has more experience at being horrible". This is a positive???

I would suggest you keep your eyes on the prize EVEN if the path you thought you were going to take has a detour sign. Up until the primaries clearly Hillary's supporters were of the belief that McCain did not represent thier values and hopes for the country. While, Barack and Hillary had different paths to get to a destination, they were still heading for the same destination .

Pearl for those that don't vote or who are picking a nominee out of spite:
Step out of security and step into substance

Now I respect everyone's right to choose their candidate but my sincere prayer is that we individually choose the candidate who represents your vision for the country. If the only reason you are voting for someone is because they are old (in political years), female, or black - wtf??? It's the issues that are important - it frosts my cookies when folks can't get past their own insecurities....but I guess (as I say to those who are still pissed Hillary lost) that's the way the cookie crumbles...
Be you Rep. or Dem. if you chose your candidate based on your aspirations for our country than I salute you - may not agree with your pick - but salute your choice none the less and wish you sincere luck in the race. If you are choosing out of spite...aren't we too old for that??? Isn't the consequence too high for tom-foolery??

To the woman int the McCain Ad...I understand she is disappointed that Hillary wasn't the nominee. However, listening to her, I can't help but notice, she missed the entire point of Hillary's speech! How can you claim to be a supporter when you clearly haven't listened to a word Hillary said. It's time to UNITE for the common goal. I know there are many other Hillary supporters out there just as lost and determined to move forward in a petulant manner -- that is not the way to success.

Barrack has more political experience than some past President's (Grant and Cleveland) and on par with others (JFK had only 13 full years experience before being nominated) and less than some others...same with Hillary and McCain (more than some, less than others). He is not the youngest president BY FAR (Roosevelt, JFK, Clinton, Grant and Cleveland were all younger than him) why not focus your vote on who of the two NOMINATED candidates represents your political interests... I think Hillary (whose DNC speech was wonderful) said it best -- did you vote for her or for the issues and policies the Dems stand for??

Voting for McCain is not "payback" for Clinton loosing. Are you kidding me??? And again How old are you?? To vote according to spite is pathetic and reckless at best. As a country, whoever you vote for, we collectively (along with our children) will have to pay the price. Stop making it about your ego, step out of security and into some substance - and vote for a candidate based on their policies.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

O-B-A-M-A!! O-B-A-M-A!!

Here is the text transcript of the highly raved-about speech from Michelle Obama last night:
Via CNN:

Michelle Obama: As you might imagine, for Barack, running for president is nothing compared to that first game of basketball with my brother Craig.

I can’t tell you how much it means to have Craig and my mom here tonight. Like Craig, I can feel my dad looking down on us, just as I’ve felt his presence in every grace-filled moment of my life.
At 6-foot-6, I’ve often felt like Craig was looking down on me too…literally. But the truth is, both when we were kids and today, he wasn’t looking down on me — he was watching over me.

And he’s been there for me every step of the way since that clear February day 19 months ago, when — with little more than our faith in each other and a hunger for change — we joined my husband, Barack Obama, on the improbable journey that has led us to this moment. But each of us also comes here tonight by way of our own improbable journey.

I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector and my lifelong friend.

And I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.

And I come here as a Mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world — they’re the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future — and all our children’s future — is my stake in this election.

And I come here as a daughter — raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.

My Dad was our rock. Although he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his early thirties, he was our provider, our champion, our hero. But as he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk, it took him longer to get dressed in the morning. But if he was in pain, he never let on. He never stopped smiling and laughing — even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my Mom a kiss. He just woke up a little earlier, and worked a little harder.

He and my mom poured everything they had into me and Craig. It was the greatest gift a child could receive: never doubting for a single minute that you’re loved, and cherished, and have a place in this world. And thanks to their faith and their hard work, we both were able to go on to college. So I know firsthand from their lives — and mine — that the American Dream endures.

And you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name, even though he’d grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine. He was raised by grandparents who were working class folks just like my parents, and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. Like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities that they never had for themselves. And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.

And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and to pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

And as our friendship grew, and I learned more about Barack, he introduced me to the work he’d done when he first moved to Chicago after college. You see instead of going to Wall Street, Barack had gone to work in neighborhoods devastated when steel plants shut down, and jobs dried up. And he’d been invited back to speak to people from those neighborhoods about how to rebuild their community.

The people gathered together that day were ordinary folks doing the best they could to build a good life. See they were parents trying to get by paycheck to paycheck; grandparents trying to get by on a fixed income; men frustrated that they couldn’t support their families after their jobs disappeared. Those folks weren’t asking for a handout or a shortcut. See they were ready to work — they wanted to contribute. They believed — like you and I believe — that America should be a place where you can make it if you try.

And Barack stood up that day, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about “The world as it is” and “The world as it should be.” And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two, and we settle for the world as it is — even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations. But he reminded us that we also know what our world should look like. He said we know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves — to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn’t that the great American story?

It’s the story of men and women gathered in churches and union halls and high school gyms — people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had — refusing to settle, determined to mold our future into the shape of our ideals.

It is because of their will and determination that this week, we celebrate two anniversaries: the 88th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, and the 45th anniversary of that hot summer day when Dr. King lifted our sights and our hearts with his dream for our nation.

I stand here today at the cross currents of that history — knowing that my piece of the American Dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me. All of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work. The same conviction that drives the men and women I’ve met all across this country:

People who work the day shift, kiss their kids goodnight, and head out for the night shift — without disappointment, without regret — see that goodnight kiss a reminder of everything they’re working for.

The military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table. The servicemen and women who love this country so much, they leave those they love most to defend it.
The young people across America serving our communities — teaching children, cleaning up neighborhoods, caring for the least among us each and every day.

People like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters — and our sons — can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.

People like Joe Biden, who’s never forgotten where he came from, and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.
All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do — that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.

And that is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope.
That is why I love this country.

And in my own life, in my own small way, I’ve tried to give back to this country that has given me so much. That’s why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities. Because I believe that each of us — no matter what our age or background or walk of life — each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation.

It’s a belief Barack shares — a belief at the heart of his life’s work.

See it’s what he did all those years ago, on the streets of Chicago, setting up job training to get people back to work and afterschool programs to keep kids safe — working block by block to help people lift up their families.

It’s what he did in the Illinois Senate, moving people from welfare to jobs, passing tax cuts for hard-working families, and making sure women get equal pay for equal work.

It’s what he’s done in the United States Senate, fighting to ensure that the men and women who serve this country are welcomed home not just with medals and parades, but with good jobs and benefits and health care — including mental health care.

See that’s why he’s running — to end the war in Iraq responsibly, to build an economy that lifts every family, to make sure health care is available for every American, and to make sure every child in this nation has a world class education all the way from preschool to college. That’s what Barack Obama will do as president of the United States of America.

He’ll achieve these goals the same way he always has — by bringing us together and reminding us how much we share and how alike we really are. You see, Barack doesn’t care where you’re from, or what your background is, or what party — if any — you belong to. That’s not how he sees the world. He knows that thread that connects us — our belief in America’s promise, our commitment to our children’s future. He knows that that thread is strong enough to hold us together as one nation even when we disagree.

It was strong enough to bring hope to those neighborhoods in Chicago.

It was strong enough to bring hope to the mother he met worried about her child in Iraq; hope to the man who’s unemployed, but can’t afford gas to find a job; hope to the student working nights to pay for her sister’s health care, sleeping just a few hours a day.

And it was strong enough to bring hope to people who came out on a cold Iowa night and became the first voices in this chorus for change that has been echoed by millions of Americans from every corner of this nation.

Millions of Americans who know that Barack understands their dreams; Millions of Americans who know that Barack will fight for people like them; and that Barack will finally bring the change we need.

And in the end, And in the end after all that’s happened these past 19 months, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago. He’s the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, inching along at a snail’s pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he’d struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her something he never had: the affirming embrace of a father’s love.

And as I tuck that little girl in and her little sister into bed at night, You see I think about how one day, they’ll have families of their own. And one day, they — and your sons and daughters — will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They’ll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, how this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming. How this time, in this great country — where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House — that we committed ourselves, we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.

So tonight, in honor of my father’s memory and my daughters’ future — out of gratitude for those whose triumphs we mark this week, and those whose everyday sacrifices have brought us to this moment — let us devote ourselves to finishing their work; let us work together to fulfill their hopes; and let us stand together to elect Barack Obama president of the United States of America.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Friday, August 22, 2008

When the dog bites, when the bees sting, when I'm feeling sad...

Every woman should know
how to find, keep, and list her favorite things. It's essential. These are the things that you reach for when your emotions (be they sad or glad) run high. It's the pure reflection of your light. It's not biased to anyone or anything except you. You don't have to explain them, you don't have to share them and yet they sustain you through the "times of your life". They are the things that speak to you, move you, understand you ... when no one else can. Welcome to my world and the things that help me to keep my balance


Favorite Movies:

♦Under the Tuscan Sun
♦Love Jones
♦The Boys of Baraka
♦Gone with the Wind (don't ask why)
♦Murder in the First
♦Million Dollar Baby
♦What's Love Got to Do With It
♦Love and Basketball

Favorite Books:

♠The Coldest Winter Ever
♠The Mis-Education of the Negro
♠What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day
♠The Red Tent
♠The Darkest Child
♠A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story
♠A Million Little Pieces
♠The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours
♠Blood on the Leaves

Favorite Quotes:

♦Peace is always still around me cuz I keeps me what they call...a piece of steal..LOAD your piece of steal..thank ya Jesus! -- MaDear "Diary of a Mad Black Woman"

♦"No! Do or do not . . . there is no try!" -Yoda

♦"May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live. May you live to be a hundred, and me a hundred minus a day, so I'll never know good people like you have passed away. Peace, love, truth and soul." - Moody's Moods

♦"I do not like this. I do not want this. Yet, I trust God with this. I don't know why Our Creator saw fit to take my joy at this time, but I know that His will is good, perfect, and acceptable."

♦"They should name a gender after you. The word woman can never encompass all that you are. Looking at you doesn't do it. Staring is the only way that makes any sense. And I'm here, trying not to blink so I don't miss anything." - Adam Sandler in the un-cut movie "Spanglish"

Favorite Music:

♠Bob Marley ~ Legend
♠Joe Sample and Lalah Hathaway ~ Song Lives On
♠Ella Fitzgerald ~ Mystery Lady