Black in America: Here’s my story

Yesterday I read a post by a good friend of mine. A good man father of two husband to one a law abiding, tax paying, highly educated black man. While picking up his children he was belittled as a white woman yelled at him calling him a Nigger, telling him to get out of her neighborhood. I felt his pain and confusion as  he tried to navigate his rage while still holding the responsibility of responding as a Christian man in front of his girls.

What befuddles me about this, is the question, why all the anger? Why all the hatred? Why would a grown woman find it to to be socially acceptable to belittle a man who has done nothing to her in front of his children.

Hot on the trail of Beyonce’s Politically charged video “Formation” along with an equally symbolic Supper Bowl performance all of a sudden my social media is a vortex of erupting old wounds, bearing new ones and two side who don’t seem to get each other. I have no answer to the issue at hand. I have only bewilderment, only questions, only a lack of understanding.

So in light of it all I figured what they hey I should share my story. I am black. Born to a light skinned mom and a darker skinned father. I grew up with brothers and sisters who were all lighter than I with green eyes. I knew I was different.

I attended a school that was culturally mixed but majority white. I saw the popular girls. In particular there was one she had crystal blue eyes and straight blond hair. She was beautiful and I wanted to be like her.

When I was in the 4th grade I rushed to perm my hair so it could be more straight just like her. No one ever told me my hair needed to be straight but I just knew it deep down that is what it supposed to be.

My parents are well educated and I grew up in a middle class home. We speak properly and I was told that I talked “white” by my peers.

When my mother had her first child she named him Michael David. At our neighborhood pool a white woman told her that, that was a white name.

I was a proud member of the girl scouts in a majority white troupe. We had a lot of fun together. When the girls asked me where I lived they told me that my neighborhood was dangerous. The same neighborhood where I road my bike and walked my dog and knew my neighbors and was never threaten, I learned was a dangerous place.

I transitioned to a majority black middle school where I quickly took to the task of redefining myself. I think this is where I first learned that I could have two sides to who I am. I wanted to talk black, I wanted to dress black I wanted to be accepted.

When I came home I was told that my diction had worsened due to my school.

I played soccer the majority of my life. I love the game and I was good at it. One year I played for a majority white team and it was fun. During one intense defensive exchange with another player from a different team, the girl called me a monkey. I was rightfully upset but when I shared this with my teammates they said I was making something out of nothing.

On a family trip we begged the truck drivers to honk their horns for us as many children do. Instead of a honk the drivers held up middle fingers. I watched the man’s snarling face. He was so pleased with himself. Giving the F U sign to a kids seemed like the highlight of his day.

In college I was spat at. In college I was called a nigger. In college there were no repercussions for those who did these things. I was disillusioned.

I hung out with a white guy from my dorm. He wasn’t my first white boyfriend but he would hang out with me in private but when we crossed paths on campus he wouldn’t speak.

One time while in the car with my dad he got stopped for a routine traffic stop but they asked him to step out of the car. They then seated him in the back seat of the cop car to run his plates. I sat anxiously awaiting and praying.

I was in TJ max one day and the sweetest little girl came up to me and called me a Nigger. Her mother apologized profusely. I knew that she learned this from the very person who apologized to me.

We vacationed in Hilton Head. I was told by a white friend of mine that what looked like racism was really classism. It was a pretty silly idea to begin with that the two are not intrinsically tied together but I humored his argument.  But Hilton Head is known as a vacation hot spot for the elite. Here we were among them. My dad dropped us off at a public swimming pool near our own villa, me and my two sisters. When our hands touched the gate people got quiet. We were children. A man on the balcony called security. Apparently there was a pool designated for our cluster of villas. A reasonable thing but we were carted off. I couldn’t help but feel the disgrace.

Here I sit now. Watching some police officers act without accountability. Watching judges dismiss cases without having to give a rationale. Watching a lack of due process applied to even a criminal who has basic rights under the law. Watching a child with candy in his hand and nothing else killed. Watching others call him a thug and digging up how many detentions he attended to defame his character. Watching a man being shot and left in the street like a dog. Watching a 12 year old boy shot in the park, watching a young man shot and killed at the gas station for playing his music too loud. Watching the disparity  of unfair sentencing. Watching my friends family and neighbors telling me that everything is ok. That there is nothing to be concerned about. That racial tension is dead. Watching the republican candidates address a question about police brutality not by suggesting higher accountability for those who abuse their powers but taking the time to applaud the police with no mention of change. (Don’t get me wrong honest law enforcers should be praised)   All I am doing is watching. All I am doing is waiting. Everything disillusioned…. I can’t understand why you can’t see the problem.


7 Handy Tips for Traveling with a Toddler while pregnant

Its a tradition in my husband’s family to travel to the beach every summer. I mean, who wouldn’t love that! The feeling of sand beneath your toes, hearing the blue waves crashing against the shore, and having the sun kiss your skin while it melts away your memories of work memos, lunch meetings and the likes.

BUT there’s a catch.

You have to travel 18 hours in a car with a 13 month old to get there AND you are 5 months pregnant and look as if you swallowed your very own personal beach ball. Still want to go?

This 18 hour trek took us 2 days, approximately 5 temper tantrums, one emotional breakdown from me and lots…I mean lots of CCM! So of course I felt the need to document the hilarity of some of the things that I learned as a new mom on this trip.

1. Don’t Do it! If ypoolou can afford to do so, FLY! I repeat just don’t do it! 18 hours with a toddler in the car who can barely sit still on a floor for more than 2 mins. Plus when we stopped halfway he was a giant ball of energy that had been stored up that whole trip.

And don’t forget the pregnancy on top! I’m talking swollen feet, hot flashes and lots of urinating for the pregnant mommy! Just Don’t! 2. Sometimes Your Husband is Actually Right! My baby boy is well over 25 pounds and meets the height requirement for his forward facing car seat. Yet like any other Googling Mom, I have read all of the articles forward and backward and upside down and know all of the safety requirements, so when my lovely husband suggested that we turn his convertible big boy seat from rear facing to forward facing, I put my foot down! “DON’T YOU KNOW THE EXPERTS SAY TO KEEP THEM REAR FACING FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE!!!” with indignation in my voice.

Turns out my hubs was right. Forward facing, when your child is big enough, is the only way to go on a long trip. Baby can see us, we can see him, and it makes it much easier to pass things his way. Which I found myself doing a lot of!

3. Jude enjoys socio-political puppet shows! Lets face it Jude cannot really understand everything I say and I was bored (and I’m quirky) so I took his teddy bear, Mr. Fluffykins, and created several political satire productions for his viewing enjoyment.  If you haven’t tried this already, it is really fun to talk about geo-politics while using a high pitched voice and moving around a teddy bear!

4. Inanimate objects make for great toddler distractions!  My little Chicken Pot Pie, as I like to call him, has never really understood toys. You hand him a stuff dinosaur and he goes for the empty ketchup bottle and has a blast. My suggestion is to have several strange things on hand to distract your toddler for the road. The following are not pre-approved by any sort of board and should be allowed under close…CLOSE…supervision, but here is what worked for my love:

  • Pillow Cases
  • Random Wires (Not plugged in of course)
  • Cardboard
  • My husband’s Blender Bottle (1000x better than a rattle)
  • My Umbrella (this captivated him for hours on end)

The List goes on, if you have it, they can play with it! … Well for the most part.

5. Baby food squeeze packets are amazing! My husband and I like low prices (who doesn’t?) so we stay away from those fancy organic baby pouches. But we discovered something amazing! Instead of buying those high priced pouches (Target $1.40 or something for 1), The apple and yogurt section of your grocery store has organic low sodium, low sugar pouches for a fraction of the cost (Target $2 for pack of 4). SCORE! If your child is anything like mine forget the spoon, he sucks those things up through the straw in 2.5 seconds flat. Its impressive. And mommy and daddy don’t have to stop to feed him.

6. Baby Jude Loves, and I mean Loves Blue Grass!  I’m not sure if this will work for all the kiddos out there, but him watching us toe tap, slap our thigh, clap, and play air fiddle to David Crowder’s I Saw The Light cover all while hootin’ and hollerin’ and baby is a happy camper. All giggles and leg kicks from the back seat. Watching him makes me smile.

And finally if you’re still debating on going cross country with your little tykes…

7. REVIEW POINT NUMBER 1! I am already thinking ahead and I realized how in the world  am I going to travel with a toddler and a 6 month old next year? The plan is to save up my pennies to pay for a flight! However I will say this, watching my boy touch the ocean for the first time was worth all the madness.