Baltimore Blues

I am hurt over the destruction that is occurring in Baltimore. We have to be an advocate for change and nothing comes from rioting. I understand the injustices that occur in our community. I am a black woman raising a black son, but to sit here and destroy your community serves no purpose. I will not co-sign with someone who says it’s anger manifested and it serves a purpose. It does not. Because those same folks are sitting at home typing on their computers unaffected. They are not going to bring their happy butts down to Baltimore to clean up what you messed up. Stop fooling yourself.

I grew up poor. I’m not rich. Just because I don’t live in Baltimore doesn’t mean that I can’t empathize with your struggle, but burning down your community is not the answer. Haven’t we learned from the Detroit Riots, Rodney King Riots, Newark Riots and Watts Riots? What happens? The same issues you are supposedly fighting against still continue only you’ve brought down your property value and oops, no one vacations in Detroit. Money is lost. Everything in America is about economics. Will the 16 CVS stores that suffered reopen in the affected neighborhoods? Maybe or maybe not. What if they make a decision not to reopen? How will residents get their prescriptions? Not just the young people, but the elderly who walk to their local CVS? To assume people have insurance to rebuild, buy another car or fix their property damages in an already dilapidated area is to assume from the comfort of your home that they may not truly be poor. Because a lot of poor people are in essence “riding dirty” and don’t have insurance.

baltimore-riots-10People know better which is why I support the mother that whooped her son’s butt. I’m a mother. I didn’t raise you like this. Read a book and learn from our history. Are you a rioter or are you a social agent for change?

Note: To see the video, please click on the title of the post if you are viewing it in your email.

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I Need You to Fund Me

I want a Michael Kors handbag. This bag specifically…

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This bag is only $358.00 from Macy’s. Oh, it’s in my favorite color. I’m 40 now and I think I should have this bag. I would carry it everywhere for at least 3 months. It would look good with my blue pumps or my black moto jacket.

I can’t afford it, but I still want it. What can I do?

Oh, I know…

I’m going to create a Go Fund Me account and send it to my friends. You know about Go Fund Me right? It’s the number one personal fundraising website. Everyone sets up a go fund me account. Random Facebook friends, bloggers I don’t know or people I see on television who don’t have enough money to send their kids to camp, travel to Australia, save your home from foreclosure or help to pay for your dog’s medical expenses.

It’s kind of weird though…some of the requests. Some are sad. Some are humbling. But, if you can ask strangers to pay your mortgage, why can’t I ask you to give me a handbag? I know it doesn’t seem practical or that I should ask my friends, family or random folks for help funding my bag, but I think I should. I would put it under the category called Dreams, Hopes and Wishes. I dream hope and wish to have this blue Michael Kors Handbag.

So, you know what? I’m going to create a Go Fund Me account.

Here’s what I said:

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If you would like to donate to my need for this Michael Kors bag, please feel free to donate. All money collected will allow me to look fierce this spring/summer.  Check it out:  My Go Fund Me Page

Love you dolls!

(Please note that this is a satirical piece. I’m not requesting donations for a handbag.)

Yep, I am officially depressed

So, this is what happened. Last year in November I bought a 2012 Nissan Maxima. I was excited. My first grown up purchase. Well, two months later I was living in the hotel (multiple pipe bursts in my kitchen with flooding) and I pulled my beautiful baby out the hotel garage and scraped the driver’s side door on the yellow concrete posts. Ugh. The damage to my car was $2,900. I had to get it fixed. I just got the car. So, I paid the $500 deductible and got “Blue Magic” fixed.

I resounded to pay attention and not get distracted by life because I couldn’t afford another expensive lesson. Well, in June of this year, I went down the wrong way of a roundabout. I realized it and began to back-up when I was hit by another driver who couldn’t see me. Damage to both cars, but no injuries and I thankfully didn’t get a ticket. God was watching after me on that one because I was praying that the officer’s would have mercy and make it affordable. I sat there in shock and realized I can’t afford to keep paying these dang deductibles. I hadn’t had the car a year. What was happening?

My mom didn’t make me feel better. Her response, “Kee, you need to be careful and pay attention.” Like a petulant child, I yelled “I know mom and you ‘re not helping. I’m already depressed. I laid in bed crying.” I said, “I didn’t tell you that when you got into your two accidents within a month of each other.” She said, “No, but I told myself.” She reminded me to count my blessings that I didn’t get a ticket.

As I’ve been sharing I’m exceptionally happy. I said it out loud. I didn’t just write it, but I woke up and thanked God for his continued blessings over my life. But, I always knew that something would happen because I was happy. I didn’t know what form the happiness thief would take, but I knew it was coming. Would I be prepared? Would I crumble? Would it be that bad that it would destroy me? All the questions that I kept pushing out my mind. I wasn’t going to “think it” into existence.

I just went with the flow and enjoyed the moment. Then it happened. I was checking my emails on my Ipad this morning before work and got the renewal information from my car insurance company. My insurance was increasing by 117%. I sat there dumbfounded with tears in my eyes. All these thoughts ran through my mind:

  • I can’t afford this.
  • That is more than my car note.
  • How will I be able to live?
  • OMG, I want to die
  • I would be better off selling my car and paying off the balance and buying a vehicle outright

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I was freaking out. It was way too early to start calling folks and asking them to pray, encourage and remind me that I will be okay. I was already planning on how I would pack up my spot and move back home with my mom with a defeated attitude. I was lost. I was officially one step up from being in a crack den or on the streets or living in Blue Magic. Yes, Blue Magic is roomy and all, but I couldn’t bring my baby to living in our car while trying to get bootleg wi-fi so he can watch Disney Jr. and Netflix on his Ipad. (I told you I was having a mental breakdown).

I called my best friend who said, “Wow! Call around. Stop freaking out! You have 6 weeks to find another insurance company. Do your research.” I sniffled, “Okay, thank you. I will do it.” I hopped in the shower and got dressed and headed into work. I prayed to God that Blue Magic and I will not have to live in a seedy part of town dodging bullets. I went about my normal routine and arrived at work 15 minutes early. I started trying to get insurance quotes to see if I can get a cheaper rate.

I sent a text to my other best friend to let him know and seek his counsel. He replied, “It’ll be okay. You’ll find something. It was your two accidents in one year and the fact that you were at fault for both and your car is considered a sports car because of the horse power. It’s going to be expensive, but you will have to budget and make some adjustments.” I sat there listening to him with tears streaming down my face, “This is one of the worst days of my life. Definitely the worst day in the last 15 months. I can’t breathe.” “Stop overreacting please. I will help you” he replied.

As I sat at work frustrated I decided to go see my good friend to get her advice and perspective. I had already received quotes that were more than $300 over what my current insurance company was going to charge me. I was spiraling downhill fast. She said, “Don’t let this get you down. I am claiming it. You will be saved from this situation. We are not going to give the happiness thief satisfaction in seeing you defeated.” I just put my head down on the table and sighed.

I went into my office after lunch still consumed with this travesty of injustice on my mind and in my spirit. I checked my emails and read my devotional from Bible Gateway called “His Princess Today”. I got too busy to read it yesterday so I opened it up and this is what it said:

Come to Me

I saw you before you were born. Even then you were on My mind, My daughter. I knew you were coming, and I did everything possible to express My love to you and extend My invitation to you. Now that you are Mine, I want you to continue to come to Me. Come to Me when you feel strong and when you feel weary. Come to Me when you are rejoicing and when your spirit is crushed. I ask you to come not only to give you rest, but also because there is so much more I want to teach you. There is more of Me I want to reveal to you. You see, I did not create you for this fallen world. I created you for Paradise, but the curse of sin tore us apart. I’ve conquered sin and death for you through the death of My son, so come to Me… and live.

Love,
Your King who is waiting

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and
carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you,
because I am humble and gentle,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28–29

I realized that I went to everyone with my problem (that I could think of without disturbing) but the one who could truly put peace in my heart and remind me that He will carry my burden. My burden is heavy. I told you yesterday I grew up poor and I was determined not to go back to the poor house and God was reminding me that His yoke is easy and I should take that. Wow! I sat there with tears in my eyes apologizing for my selfishness and realizing that HE NEVER FAILS!

Yep, I am officially depressed, but you know what? I will get through this because it is a temporary setback. Sometimes we all need a reminder to stop going to everyone first. Go to Him first. My grandma used to say, “Trouble don’t last always” but I know that my God is a burden bearer and he can carry this burden too.

Be blessed my loves!

Parental Privilege: Spanking or Not

I’ve read many posts on whether or not you should spank children. Not just in light of the Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings player), whose case unfolded last week, but in general. My opinion is simple….YOUR CHOICE. I can’t tell a parent how to raise their child or how discipline should be handled in their home. The reason is that I am not in your shoes and I know for a fact that you have to find what works for you and your child. Now, before you start thinking I’m an advocate for child abuse. Let me be clear….I’m not. I don’t condone violence of any kind and especially towards children.

There is a difference and in my opinion, a big difference between child abuse and spanking. Child abuse is defined as:  mistreatment of a child by a parent or guardian, including neglect, beating, and sexual molestation. Spanking is defined as: to strike (a person, usually a child) with the open hand, a slipper,etc., especially on the buttocks, as in punishment. Now that we are all clear on the definitions, I want to reiterate that I don’t condone child abuse or violence in any form. As a parent myself, I think it is imperative that we find forms of discipline that work to mold healthy and productive citizens. However, I hate the argument that because I believe in spanking that I am destroying my child and he will grow up to beat on others. That statement in itself is flawed because I don’t beat my son. I spank him if it is a spankable offense. 

What is a spankable offense? An egregious offense where he knows better or running in traffic. Not much would ever be considered spankable because he’s only six. However, I implore the 3 warning rule in my parenting. This is where I give munch 3 chances to correct the behavior on his own before consequences are handed down. This is not a spankable offense. This means it is timeout in his room with no television, an hour of French work, no Ipad, etc.

As a child growing up, my mom employed the same techniques. Altering the punishment to fit the crime and not spanking out of anger. Did I get whopped with a switch (absolutely! I’m from the south)? Do I do it? No. Do I believe her spanking me has damaged me? No. There were other things that were more harmful than her spanking. But, I never believed that she enjoyed spanking me or my siblings or assumed that her spanking was detrimental to my psychological or emotional health.

I grew up in an era of spank first and talk later. I can’t judge Adrian Peterson on the crime he’s accused of, but I can tell you that it breaks my heart to see the photos of a four year old boy who was whopped with a switch and it left marks. I’m heartbroken. Too much force was used on this child. No four year old child should ever have to endure the feel of a switch. It’s obvious that Adrian is strong, so I question whether or not he could have used his hands instead of a switch. But, he didn’t. So, he has to know that his choice was poor.

Adrian has a right to discipline his son. Society may so no. We want people that spank their children to go to jail. Some punishment should happen, but I ask you about this child (also from Minnesota) that was 9 year’s old that was suspended from school and boarded a flight to Las Vegas, Nevada last year. Apparently, the parents have asked for help with their child and never got it. He had prior trouble because he had stolen a car. A 9 year old stealing a car? Wow!

The parents were told that he was a minor and hadn’t done enough bad things to qualify for the help that they were requesting. The father sobbed as he recounted how he asked the officer to watch him spank his son. The officer said if he saw him hit his son he would be arrested. He sobbed saying that it was a double jeopardy damned if I do damned if I don’t situation. The father said,  “If I whoop my son, I will get locked up. If I keep on letting my son do what he’s doing, I get in trouble.”

I felt the father’s pain and I ask you, what do you do when you know you can’t spank your child and no one is helping you? There are rules to everything in society. How are we taught these rules? What are the consequences of those rules? Even adults make mistakes and don’t learn the rules, but spanking a child to help enforce the rules that you are teaching is acceptable. But, child abuse is not. We may not agree on how to raise our children, but I think we can all agree that we don’t want chaos in our society because no one can follow the rules.

Child Abuse Photos from Peterson case
Child Abuse Photos from Peterson case

The Defining Moment

Today I was saddened to hear the news of Maya Angelou’s untimely death.  She was an incredible poet, author and entertainer.  She was simply a strong woman.  A strong black woman. She helped me love and appreciate the curves in my hips when I read “Phenomenal Woman”. She helped me see that the pain that I held when I couldn’t forgive folks kept me caged like a bird and she taught me that the best revenge is simply to rise and be heard.  To stand up and show the world that they aren’t hurting me.  To move past the pain.

She told me in her poem that haters will hate, but still I rise.  She taught me to not let them see me being down trodden.  Rise.  She taught me that just because I’m a woman and poor doesn’t mean that I can’t reinvent myself.  She did and accomplished so many things in her life that it is a shame that some will never know how deep her footprints in the sand of life really are. Incredible. Talented.  Phenomenal. Strong.  Able.  Those are just some of the words that I would use to describe her.

The poem “Still I Rise” was the defining moment in my life that I truly learned to love and appreciate the blackness of my skin.  I learned to appreciate and love being a woman and I learned to move past the injustices that were done to me.  You see it wasn’t Amiri Baraka with his words of rage that had me raising my fist in solidarity of my people, but it was in the love of the words that spoke to someone who got up and got over the heartaches of this world. 

There are very few people that have influenced my life in such a profound way that I have not personally met.  Few people that have helped lay the foundation and appreciation for my racial pride.  She was one of the reasons that I became an English major.  Her writing inspired and awakened me in the rooms of my college dorm and in the classroom where I found my literary voice. A voice each day that I’m learning to use.  

So, for folks who don’t know this poem, “Still I Rise”, I’ve shared it below.

Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my livin’ room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meetings of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise

When Life Gives You Lemons

I’ve always loved that quote, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  I don’t know why it’s one of my favorite quotes.  I think it has to do with the fact that I grew up poor and my Momma could make a meal out of anything.  I mean anything.  Have you ever had a taco salad with Doritos and French Dressing?  Yum.  



I was nine years old when my parents split up.  That was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn…responsibility.  I had to be responsible for the management of my household while my mother worked swing shifts in the military.  She cooked meals and left instructions for me on how to warm them up in the oven and feed my siblings.  She was serving our country and was serving dinner.  The roles had shifted in my family and I had to step up to the plate and learn responsibility.  But, I didn’t want to.  

I was nine and while I understood that there was no one but me to do it, I wanted to be a kid.  I never told my mom.  I did what any well behaved child with a crazy black momma would do.  I stepped up to the plate.  I became responsible.  I picked my sister up from school, walked her home and picked up my brother from the babysitter on my way in the house.  I warmed up dinner while helping my sister with her homework and playing with my little brother.  He was one.  I fed the kids, bathed them and put them to bed.  I sat down and did my homework, cleaned the kitchen, bathed and went to bed. I did this for a little less than three years until my mother decided to not re-enlist.  We relocated from Texas to Maryland and my life never was the same.

Life had given me lemons and I had to make lemonade.  I had to go to a new school, meet new people in a new state where I knew nothing about.  I hadn’t visited Maryland.  What is this state like?  I hated it.  I didn’t like change.  I wanted to stay in my house in Texas with my friends and make it work.  My mom wanted more.  More time with us and more opportunities for us.  But, I couldn’t see this.  

Of all of the things that happened in my past I realized that this statement about making lemonade out of lemons is my theme.  I’ve learned how to start over with nothing.  I’ve learned that life is not fair, but you keep pushing forward.  I’ve learned that the only shame one should ever feel is if they stop trying to make a better life for their family.  That’s what my mom did. She made a way out of a no way and when there was no money, she made miracles.  She was in God’s favor and he continually blessed us. 

The most important lesson I learned came from my momma:  She said as a parent you wish that you could wipe every tear that falls from your child’s face.  But, when I can’t I need you to go to God in prayer.  He will fix it.  She was right.  So, when life gives me lemonade, this is what I do now: