BlackFace 101

This is a detour from my normal posts, but I think it’s important that we have an open and honest conversation. I’m black. I’m a woman. I’ve made no secret of that. However, we can’t be afraid to talk about race.

I’ve been blessed to have friends of all nationalities and races. Let’s have a frank discussion about blackface. I’m entitling this BlackFace 101. I recently read an article about a white teen who dressed in blackface to ask a girl to prom. He believed he did nothing wrong.

If that is true, then his parents failed him. Why? Because as a parent, you have an obligation to teach not just tolerance, acceptance and empathy but history to your children. The school’s don’t do a good job of it anymore. They are literally omitting and changing history in the textbooks.  You need to fill in the blanks. Just like I have to do.

Our job as parents require us to encourage and educate our children every step of the way. If you are a parent in 2017, why would you think it is okay for your child to dress up in blackface? If you knew it was wrong and you don’t think it’s a big deal, then stop asking for forgiveness for your child’s ignorance. You failed them. Plain and simple.

I’m black, but I have to teach Munch about all cultures. Not just our own. Not the watered down versions that the schools are teaching now. It is my responsibility to make sure that he knows and respects everyone’s culture. That’s what we seem to be lacking…respect for other cultures.

If you don’t teach your children this, then you are ill preparing them for the real world. We are a melting pot of many cultures and nationalities and ignorance isn’t bliss. I don’t care what anyone says. Preparation for the future is key.

If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children. Mahatma Gandhi

The history of blackface is not something that is ever appropriate. In short, white America’s conception of black entertainers were overly exaggerated. They were mocking us as the socially and racially inferior race. It was pure ignorance.

The fact of the matter is that if you choose to wear blackface after knowing it’s offensive history, you’re in essence telling me that you don’t give a crap about my feelings as a black woman. I’m supposed to take it as a joke. The thing is though…you can’t forget history. I can’t wipe off what happened to my ancestors like you can your painted blackface. It isn’t acceptable and if you do it, at least be man or woman enough to not ask for forgiveness over your ignorance.

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

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Survive

I am a survivor. We are all meant to survive. The thing is that you can never give up. It is not in our nature to give up. We must keep pushing forward, no matter the situation. It’s in our blood. We survive.

Our capture.

We survived.

The slave ship.

We survived.

The auctioneer’s block.

We survived.

The heat.

We survived.

The beatings.

We survived.

The rape.

We survived.

Child bearing.

We survived.

Our children are survivors.

I am a child of a survivor.

I too have survived.

Child molestation.

I survived.

Rape.

I survived.

Sexual assault.

I survived.

Marriage.

I survived.

Divorce.

I survived.

Infidelity.

I survived.

Loss of a loved one.

I survived.

September 11th.

I survived.

The NYC blackout.

I survived.

Job loss.

I survived.

Poverty.

I survived.

Survival is in my blood. Nothing can stop that which God has destined for greatness. Trials and tribulations may come but we were meant to survive.

 

This post is inspired by the Daily Post. The word prompt was survive.

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

 

Better Days

So much tragedy. It’s hard being a parent right now. Tragedy everywhere. May is graduation and prom for most colleges and high schools. It is supposed to be a reminder of the future. Your life begins once you leave those hallways. Or so it is assumed.

I read the horrific story earlier this month about an 8 year old boy named Gabriel Taye that had killed himself two days after being bullied. He was 8. A baby. The same age as my son.

The story last week of Kingston Frazier who was 6 years old and had been shot. His mother ran into the store at 1:15 a.m. and left her car running and the keys in it. Why? I couldn’t figure out why she would do that until I realized that her child was sleeping and it was probably hot outside and she wanted the air to run to keep him cool. Her car was stolen by three teenage boys. Her son was murdered.

The story of Lt. Richard Collins III who was murdered on the campus of my Alma Mater. No reason. Waiting for an Uber with some friends at the bus stop. A white student unprovoked attacked and killed him. Collins was a model student who was just commissioned as a second lieutenant. Set to graduate from another college three days after being murdered. Model citizen.

What do all these people have in common? They are all dead.  They are all boys. Two were murdered by other people. They are all black.

As a mother, my heart breaks as I think about my son growing up and leaving the safe confines of my house. Is it unreasonable? Nope. Given the state of this country, I would argue that it is very reasonable. I worry when he exits my home and goes to school. Schools aren’t safe anymore. Sandy Hook reminded me of that.

I worry because of the color of his skin. That beautiful caramel colored skin is a badge of honor. A combining of complexions of his father and I that reproduced and created this gorgeous melanin he proudly wears. I love it, but I monitor his toys. No toy guns. They are not safe. Tamir Rice reminded me of that.

I worry because he is sensitive. Too sensitive. He cares about other children, but I’m trying to thicken his skin. Teach him how to trash talk. Teach him how to defend himself.  To stand for right and be a good human being. But, he’s experienced bullying. No matter how much you try to protect your children they may fall victim to bullying. Bullies can hurt you beyond belief. Gabriel Taye’s death reminded me of that.

Do I overreact and not let him play in the neighborhood? Yep. Do I live in a bad neighborhood? Nope. But, I don’t trust strangers. Not with my Munch. I don’t leave him in the car. He begs to stay sometimes. He doesn’t like going in the store. Fear grips me but I make him come. Someone could steal the car, take it. I don’t care. Not my son though. So, I never leave him alone. We have to be vigilant about protecting our children. Kingston Frazier reminded me that my being overprotective is not in vain.

All the things that I can give and experiences I can provide that will make him a well rounded young man may not help him. I’m already looking into the top high schools in the area. A better opportunity. A future. A chance to go to college and make something of yourself. You are better than you think and smarter than you’ll ever know. Be of good character. Stay out of trouble. Pray. Give it to God. Lead by example. All those things may not be enough. Lt. Richard Collins III taught me that.

These are perilous times. So many tragedies. So many parents having to bury their children. It’s not supposed to be that way. We are supposed to smile as our children get married. Laugh and love on our grandchildren. Be their support system when bad things happen. We’re not supposed to bury our children. We’re not supposed to pick out suits or a coffin.

Life isn’t fair. I know this. Tragedy happens everywhere. I get this. But, oh I pray for better days. We need them.

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Dear White People

Can we talk?

Can we truly talk about the elephant in the room that you never want to talk about?

Race.

Let’s talk about race.

I’m black.

I’m a woman.

Two indisputable facts that you may have noticed.

I’m a mother.

To a son.

He’s the light of my life.

He’s my Munch.

He’s also black.

Why do I keep mentioning color? Because I need you to see and acknowledge the rich hues in my skin tone. I need you to see my melanin and know that I am black. Can you see the warm coffee colored hues of my skin tone just radiating? Yes?

Good.

Let’s talk.

I’m black. A beautiful black woman who shares a rich history in this country. My ancestors were kings and queens, slaves and sharecroppers. I know this. Many of you know this. But, I need you to stop acting like I’m supposed to forget this country’s history.

I can’t.

Even when the school textbooks gloss over slavery, I have to fill in the gaps and remind my son. Our lives and history didn’t begin and end with slavery. This country where the soil is rich with the blood from your ancestors is a great one.

Now, that you know that I’m black and I love this country can we talk about race? Can we talk about why it is important that we talk about it? Can we talk about the fact that nothing will change unless you stop saying you don’t see color and recognize my beautiful skin tone?

See, if you see my differences that will allow you to see my issues. To understand why some people look at me funny when I accompany you to your small town. Why if you invite me to your bridal shower and baby shower your family and friends are wondering how I got an invite. Because I’m the only black there.

I’m comfortable in my skin and in our relationship to not be offended. Why? Because I know that you love and respect me. Just like I love and respect you. We are friends. We do play dates and mommy dates. We engage.

That’s what most black folks want. People to engage. People to understand that there are some differences that you will never have to teach your children. I don’t want you to think I’m blaming you for that. No, I want you to be mad at the fact that your son can’t give my son a toy gun. Mad at the fact that when our children are playing together in your neighborhood that people think my son was adopted.

Why? Because he’s out of place? He doesn’t belong there. I want you to see the underlining comments that are made by some of your friends and classmates when they get drunk and call me out my name…

Nigger, Black Bitch.

Umm, why do you need to put my color in it? If you’re going to call me a bitch why not just a bitch? Why do you have to say black bitch?

I need you to get mad when you think about the countless black boys and girls that are murdered in cold blood by people acting like the victims were a threat. Why is it only in this country you can kill somebody in cold blood and then have the audacity to call the victim a thug? But, Ryan Lochte though?

Umm, I digress.

Listen white people. We, black folks love you and respect you. We just want the same. Not just for the one black family you befriended but for all those that look differently than you. Recognize our differences, respect them and stand up to the BS that you witness.

Can you do that? Can you work with me and not against me? Maybe, just maybe if we do it…we can make America great again. Together.

Gwendolyn Brooks – Pulitzer Prize Winner

Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African-American person to win a Pulitzer Prize for Literature. She wrote many poems about being black during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Her poems were so vivid. She would write about struggling black people both men and women in a way that would capture the reader. It was in college that I learned of Gwendolyn Brooks and her brilliance when I read “The Mother”.

Her first poetry anthology, “A Street in Bronzeville”, gained the attention of literary experts in 1945. She was praised for both her poetic skill and her powerful descriptions about the black experience during the time. The Bronzeville poems were her first published collection. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. She was the first black to do so. But, it didn’t stop there because she also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Awesome right?

One of my favorite poems by Ms. Brooks is “The Mother”. I read this in college and cried. This poem is so gut wrenching that I knew at that moment that I wanted to write. To put on paper all the emotions and observations of the world I live in. Gwendolyn Brooks, like Maya Angelou, helped give me my voice and for that I am thankful.

The Mother – by Gwendolyn Brooks

Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.

 

I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children.
I have contracted. I have eased
My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
Your luck
And your lives from your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
Your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches, and your deaths,
If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?—
Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.

 

Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you
All.
gwendolyn-brooks

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