Munch & Black History

My munch is in the first grade and decided that he would like to participate in the PTSA’s Annual Black History Month program. The conversation about participation went like this…

Me:  Munch, would you like to participate in the black history month program at school?

Munch: What does participate mean?

Me: You get to stand on the stage and recite facts about someone who is black.

Munch: Yes.

Me: Are you sure munch?

Munch: Yes.

Me: How about we talk about Nelson Mandela? You seem to be fascinated about his life and the fact that he’s dead.

Munch: Okay, mommy. You know Nelson Mandela died because he was old and sick right?

Me: Let’s work on this program.

As I sat there helping him work on reciting “Seven Facts About Nelson Mandela”  I started to get nervous. I prayed and relaxed. I told myself that it’s okay and to go with the flow.

But, in his performance last night I realized the following:

  1. He’s 6. He can remember a paragraph in 3 days. Wow!
  2. This is his first solo performance. No back-up of other children on stage. All him and he owned the stage. Go munch!
  3. He can’t fill 3 minutes. Next, we will work on public speaking and presence on stage. I will pull out my Toastmasters manual to help my munch.
  4. He will make mistakes and it’s okay. Even our President makes mistakes. It’s life. He talked really fast. He gets it from me though. LOL!
  5. He will forget something. He forgot a line,  but he is the only one who didn’t use a paper to read about his character. Again, 3 days folks!
  6. We may need to go back to speech therapy. I truly couldn’t understand some of what he was saying. Is that a lisp?
  7. I was truly proud of him because he’s smart as a whip and he showed real courage by standing on a stage reciting seven facts that he learned in three days with a crazy mom pushing him. For that, I’m truly honored to just be his mommy.

Even though I was like a maniac helping him to rehearse (I cut story time each night to focus on reciting and memorizing) he loved me in spite of my persistence. However, his dad did ask me to ease up on him because I was acting like one of the women on Dance Moms. I’m sure that wasn’t meant as a compliment, so I relaxed and was excited to see that he was #3 in the program. No time for nerves, munch. Let’s do it!

Check out these photos!

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Check out the video of his presentation on my Facebook Page: Post by A Thomas Point of View.

 

Brown Girl Blues

The best way to protect young black, brown, men of color, women of color, is to actually stop profiling, stop the prejudice, and stop the judgment first. – Hill Harper

 

Sigh.

There are too many battles with my beautiful brown babies going on. As a brown girl with a brown boy, it affects me. Personally. The latest issue outside of the “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” movement is the piece I read about how black girls are disciplined harsher than white girls who commit the same crime. Worse than that…darker skinned black girls face harsher or more severe punishment than lighter skinned blacks. WTH?

Yep, that was my reaction. WTH is happening to our brown babies in this country. Really? Are we doing the brown paper bag test on our children? I thought that kind of slave mentality had ended. Apparently not. I am too naive for this country. For those of you unfamiliar with the brown paper bag test it was a test that some blacks used to determine whether admission would be granted in certain circles such as sororities or admission into colleges. If you were as light or lighter than a brown paper bag, you were admitted in. We (blacks) actually used this as a way to determine whether we were beautiful. Based on our complexion. Now others are using it. Today.

A New York Times article entitled “Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differ by Race and Hue” earlier this month just added another piece in a puzzle of growing social issues in which I’m monitoring. In short, the article stated that researchers found that black girls were punished harsher than white girls accused of the same crime and that throughout darker skinned girls were three times more likely to be suspended than light skinned black girls. Excuse me? Yep. You read that right.

To deny that there is such a thing as white privilege is to ignore that racism doesn’t exist. I’m not saying that you are a racist, but let’s be real, you can’t say that you don’t see color and that all these injustices to people of color are a figment of a nation’s imagination. They are not. We need to address the issues of disparity and then try to formulate ways to prevent these kinds of injustices. What about our children? What about our girls?

The fact that the school system is systematically treating girls of different races and then hues differently is a sign that there needs to be change. We can’t continue to hide the fact that racial injustices are occurring all over this country. Even in our schools.

As a black woman, I was fortunate to not have to experience racism in school. I went to a predominately white school at the time (60% white) and my favorite teachers were white. They were the ones who never gave up on me and encouraged me to do better. They inspired and nurtured my love for reading and writing. They helped me pass Chemistry and Physics (by blatantly giving me the answer) because they cared about me. They believed in me. Even when I doubted myself.

There was no color. Just love. Yes, I knew they were white and they knew I was black, but their genuine belief and support in me mattered more than anything. For that, I am thankful.

No, my situation wasn’t the same as these young girls, but that’s because I attended a great school with great teachers and even a great principal. They took the time to learn their students and they treated us equally. Fairly. I couldn’t talk about experiencing racism at school because I didn’t know what that looked like. I never experienced it. I thought everyone had the same experiences as I did. It wasn’t until college that I realized that the world was bigger than my town in Maryland. It was a lot bigger.

College and life shaped my views about the injustices outside of my circle. I grew more aware and socially conscious. I became someone who wanted to seek solutions to the problems that plagued our community. An activist. An intellect. A feminist. A mother. Many titles, but deep down inside…I’m still a little brown girl who hurts for everyone.

One of the best comments I read was by a reader named Kinsey Clark in Athens, Georgia who said the following:

I am a white female, and I was in Georgia’s public school system my entire life. Anyone who argues with these studies is simply wrong to do so. I know I got away with things that my black classmates did not, or I was at least punished to a lesser extent. I hate my white privilege, but I have learned that the best hopes for eradicating it are to accept it for what it is. By denying it, by pretending that I am not lucky to be white in this country, I would be ignoring the problem. I feel too many people don’t speak up against these types of inequalities. I wish I had when I was in school. Racism is still rampant in this country, in ever nook and cranny. It’s simply become so institutionalized in the most subtle of ways, that many of us privileged white folks don’t even notice it. I won’t try to pretend to understand what it feels like to be one who is forced to suffer through it. Yet I will always do my best to put myself in another person’s shoes. I thank the NYT for publishing this article. While protests are roaring nationwide against racist practices by the police, we must continue to shed light on ALL forms of discrimination. The first step to fixing any problem is to let people know the problem exists. I hope school systems will listen and take action.

Insightful huh? Let’s hope that the school systems will listen and take action. For everyone’s sake.

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A Song for Brennan

Because I am a mother. Because I am black. Because I feel pain. I wrote this piece.

 

“A Song for Brennan”

Almost seven years ago, I birthed a king

Difficult conception, difficult delivery, but I had faith

You see I knew death from diseases that you weren’t supposed to get

I knew what it was like to see someone you love lying in a casket as people wept

Silently

 

But I prayed

I prayed for peace

I prayed for my seed growing in my womb

I prayed for you my son

 

I imagined your face being a combination of me and your daddy’s

I imagined singing you to sleep every night with songs I created in my mind

Why?

Because Rock-a-Bye-Baby scared the hell out of me

No way were you going to be up in a tree in a cradle

With the dang wind blowing?

What kind of foolishness was that?

Mess I said

Besides I knew I would never let you fall

 

My job was to protect you

Like wings of an eagle, I would always be there

You were the angel in my womb

God’s favor over my life defined

My chance at redemption

 

I changed

I became a fanatic

Reading everything I could get my hands on

I wanted to nurture you physically, mentally and spiritually

I vowed to protect you

Always

No greater love

 

It’s been an incredible journey my sweet boy

You’ve taught me how to love beyond measure

You challenge me

You inspire me

You love me

You question me

 

But I’ve lied dear sweet boy

Not because I wanted too, but because I had too

I couldn’t tell you the truth when you asked me about the police

I smiled away my tears as allergies when you caught me crying

I laughed and kissed you and said “Mommy loves you so much”

When you questioned the sadness in my eyes the next morning

 

“Is it me Mommy?” You asked

“Are you mad at me?” You questioned

“No baby” I responded

 

Truth is love

That I’m crying for all those mothers that lose

Lose their sons

For walking home from the store

For playing in the park

For walking to school

For

For

 

Being black

Because being black in this damn world

Is killing me

It angers me

That our children are dying

That you will never know

That in the midst of my tears for injustice

That I scream the names

For Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner

Michael Brown, John Crawford,

Jonathan Ferrell, Tamir Rice and the countless others

Who have lost their life

Because my dear sweet baby boy

I want you to know that

Black lives matter

You matter

No More

No more please. No more killing of our black babies and offering up excuses. I’m tired. As a mother to a black boy, this is my deepest fear. A fear that he will not be here on this Earth all the days of my life because of senseless violence. I mean Michael Brown and Ferguson is still fresh in my mind and now we hear about Tamir Rice? How could this happen?

A boy. A baby. Not even a teenager. A child. He is six years older than my son. He is a black boy. He is someone’s son. He is not going to go on his first date. He will not go to his prom. He will not graduate high school. He will not go to college. He will not get married. He will not be a father. He is dead.

How does this happen? Why are our children being used as target practice. No more. I can’t take it. I have a son. I don’t let him play with guns. I don’t let him play video games. I don’t allow him to play alone any where. I organize play dates and I organize outings. Why? Because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that he will be used as target practice and there is nothing no one will be able to tell me.

I’m crying. Literally writing this piece with tears rolling down my face. I’m scared. Scared of looking into the eyes of my son and knowing that because he is a black boy that no matter what I do to prepare him to not be viewed as a threat, he may be killed senselessly by law enforcement. This is heartbreaking to me.

To make matters worse, how the heck can someone like former Mayor of NYC Rudy Giuliani even justify cops killing blacks by saying that “White police officers wouldn’t be in black neighborhoods, killing black men, if you weren’t killing each other.” Are you kidding me? Why would you even say that? To say that our tax dollars don’t buy us the right to have officers serve and protect without killing us or using the stop-and-frisk method because of the color of our skin is of true offense.

Understand this…I mourn all deaths due to senseless violence. But let’s get real, if my son was murdered by someone who is not a law enforcement official we would hopefully see some sort of justice. If it is law enforcement that murders him then the odds that something will happen are slim to none. He will still be dead and his murderer will be free.

My plea is simple:  Please stop killing our children. Please stop murdering my brothers, fathers, cousins and uncles. Please stop protecting those that kill the innocent. Please prosecute those who kill our children. I will go home and be able to kiss my munch, listen to him tell me about his day at school, listen to him tell me how he can’t wait to go to his grandma’s house for Thanksgiving and listen to him tell me that he loves me tonight. I will get to put him asleep, kissing his forehead and sending prayers of thanks to God for another day with him. Tamir’s parents do not have that luxury. They will have to plan a funeral.

Tamir Rice
Tamir Rice

 

I Wish I Could

I wish I could is the most hopeful phrase I know. It’s filled with possibilities. I like possibilities. They give me hope. Hope is promise. I like promises.

I was sitting there watching my son sleep last night and reflecting on how people say that I’m a good mother and I love my son. Great! But, doesn’t everyone? Doesn’t every parent love their child more than their own life? Doesn’t every parent’s heart swell with joy every time they think about their child?

Parenting is hard. Yes, I get tired. Yes, I get frustrated. Yes, I want to run away sometimes and lock myself in a padded cell and not hear the words, “Mom” or “Mommy” for a full 48 hours. That sounds ungrateful though. Not appreciating what God has blessed me with – but it’s the truth. It’s not his fault that I’m tired or this is my busy season at work. It’s not his fault if I get sick and he feels the need to check on me every (and yes I mean EVERY) 10 minutes to see if I’m okay. He’s just concerned.

This weekend was rough. I woke up this morning like “Ugh, I can’t believe it’s Monday already!” We had a great and exhausting weekend with visits to the pumpkin patch, swim class, my nail and hair appointments and dinner with his friends at Pizza Hut. As I stood above his bed watching him sleep (like I do many nights) my heart swelled with immense joy. I was truly grateful and blessed that I have an incredible little boy. As I stood over him seeing him in all his innocence, I started a list in my head. A list filled with hope and possibilities.

I Wish I Could:

  • Capture the sound of your laughter at this age because it is the best sound I’ve ever heard. It instantly makes me feel better and gives me hope that I’m not a bad mother when you get disappointed by me telling you no.
  • Teach you how to recognize, acknowledge and respect God’s favor over our lives. I don’t know why God has continually blessed us and keeps us even when I’m not the best person in the world, but I’m thankful. Truly thankful and blessed and I want you to be better than me in that munch.
  • Kiss away the scary. Sometimes you will wake up and I may not be there to kiss away your fears, but know that I am never far away. I believe in you and I believe in the fact that you are a big boy and this too shall pass.
  • Videotape your memories and thoughts when it comes to expressing your love for Jesus. You continually amaze me when you want to talk about Jesus, tell me about the Bible, be Jesus for Halloween or analyze how God is always watching over you even when I’m not there. You didn’t have a problem yelling out at Courtney’s 5th birthday party last week that we had to sing “May God Bless You” before we cut the cake because you want to honor God with everything you have and I am overwhelmingly in awe of who you are.
  • Always remember that I never wanted children. Because until you came along, my life was just ordinary and it was fine. But, the moment you were in my womb, it became extraordinary and I NEVER EVER want to forget that. It allows me to appreciate you and what you have done for me. Your very existence changed my world view. I am eternally grateful for that.

Motherhood is not always roses and laughter. I know there will be days that we will probably be ready to strangle each other, but I can’t take it for granted. The good or bad both matter and they mean that I am doing something right. I am not perfect. I am trying and I love being his mother because I now have purpose. To do what it says in the Bible, “Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 (NLV)
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My Little Pony

I have an announcement to make:  My son loves “My Little Pony”.  He watches it religiously on Netflix.  He loves ponies.  He loves horses too.  He loves all animals.  That being said, I want to let the world know that I don’t have to defend my son’s love of a show, animals or magical creatures to you or anyone.  You see, when he was born we promised to allow him the freedom to grow and discover new things.  We said we would support him.  We said we would encourage him.  We said we would love him just the way he is. So, why does him loving “My Little Pony” bother some folks?  

Case in point, last month, McDonald’s had “My Little Pony” toys as part of their happy meals. We stopped by McDonald’s on a Monday night after soccer practice and he asked for a nugget happy meal with milk.  He wanted the nuggets in the purple package.  What?  He meant the mighty kids meal (6 piece nuggets).   He then said, “Mommy, I want a pony.”  I said, “Okay, love.” I went up to the register and told the cashier my order.  When I said that I wanted the pony toy instead of the other toy, she replied loudly, “So, you want a girl’s toy while looking down at my son?” I replied firmly, “Yes”.  She yelled to her runner (the person fixing my order), get the girl toy.

What kind of foolishness was this?  Why did she have to get loud as though I didn’t understand my own request?  Why would she think that I as his mother would not get him the toy he wants? I wasn’t embarrassed.  I was angry.  My son shouldn’t have to hear this foolishness.  He’s impressionable.  I never tell him what is a girl’s toy or what is a boy’s toy.  He can play with whatever he likes.  And he did. He was ecstatic to get the purple pony and happily sat down to eat his dinner and play with his pony.  People stared.  I stared back at them.  My son was happy.  I was frustrated and disgusted that people thought it weird that my son wanted a “girl toy” instead of the “boy toy”.  If you know what the show is about, gender doesn’t really matter. Why can’t boys play with dolls or ponies?  What is the big deal? Why can’t we view ponies as gender neutral?  Aren’t there boy ponies?


So, I did some research and wanted to learn everything that I could about “My Little Pony”. After searching on the web I found some disturbing news regarding boys being bullied for liking “My Little Pony”. How could that be?  Isn’t this a child like fantasy world where ponies are based on the six elements of harmony; loyalty, honesty, generosity, laughter, kindness and magic? Wow, they teach how to live harmoniously.  They focus on friendship.  Minus magic, I think I talk to Brennan everyday about these different elements as a basis of principles for how he should behave. 


What is happening that where boys can’t like toys that are based on sound principles that are non-threatening and educational?  Our society has to get better.  Just this year, all kinds of stories about boys liking “My Little Pony”.  Some were horror stories.  Like this one little boy attempting suicide earlier this year. Can a boy like a show that is fun and encouraging without being bullied?  Maybe not, after all this little boy was told by his school to ditch his “My Little Pony” book bag because it is a trigger for bullying.  Really now?


I pray that my son will grow up knowing that he is loved and that it is okay for you to play with any and all toys.  Toys don’t determine his sexuality.  He can play with dolls, trucks, ponies or anything that is not dangerous and parent approved.  His kindergarten teacher told me “I love the fact that Brennan has an imagination.  So many children entering kindergarten having lost their innocence and Brennan is still pure and innocent.” I smiled and thanked her and ran to call his dad to share the praise.  


My son has an imaginary friend and a love for the color purple.  How can I tell him that there is no such thing as magic when I’m trying to teach him about faith.  His imaginary friend plays with him, protects him and plays with him.  I accept that.  You see, I love him just they way he is and I refuse to stifle his spirit by pushing society’s pre-conceived notions of what my boy should play with on him.  He is mine. He was divinely created, grown in a broken vessel and given to God. Let him keep his innocence.

FYI – This is Twilight Sparkle from “My Little Pony”.  She represents the element of magic.  This is the one he received in his happy meal.