The issue isn’t white but black

January 6, 2016 1 comment

black and white

I idolize wanting friendship and more contact with people of the same race. One of the common complaints I have about my life is that I don’t have contact with enough black people. I have plenty of white friends—that’s no issue. I have a set of diverse friends: Filipino, Indian/Sikh, Ethiopian/Muslim. But few black friends. I actually can count on one hand the number of black friends who aren’t related to me. My white friends are too numerous to count.

This is a problem. Somehow I’ve made it an issue that it’s important to surround myself with more black friends so I can be more “in tune” with black culture. I don’t fully understand the talk about white supremacy. I only partially understand the idea of white privilege and don’t fully agree with it. Ferguson was a big deal but how did it suddenly become a turning point in race relations? The deaths of Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and Sandra Bland are tragic, but how are they significant in the sense of how they play a larger role in racism?

You’d think because I’m black that these things would automatically make sense to me. But they don’t. I think Freddie Gray was surrounded by idiot cops, Tamir Rice was shot by a cop who should have never been let out of academy, and Sandra Bland paid the price of nervousness around a cop for failing to signal. (I have been guilty of the same when seeing a cop behind me; moving out of the way is instinctive and automatic. I make sure that my failing to signal doesn’t happen now.)

I don’t necessarily see race as the main factor in all these but I do think they play a role on some level. Had Sandra Bland been white, she would have had a slap on the wrist and been let go. A cop who saw a white boy with a gun would have been a bit more cautious about opening fire than making hasty judgments. And Freddie Gray was the victim of being a black man who seemed untrustworthy and would do or say anything to get out of being arrested.

I want to understand these things. I even want to understand these things to the point of agreeing with them. How is that white people get these concepts and I don’t? Is white guilt truly a thing that causes white people to hate themselves and blame their own race for injustices upon other races?

These are all questions I’m asking myself and wrestling with. I may never have a significant friendship with another black woman. And I need to be okay with that. Because I have friendships with wonderful people: secular and religious. They all teach me something and all make me a better person in different ways. And those kinds of friendships transcend all boundaries of race.

2016 Goals

January 4, 2016 Leave a comment

2016

Green indicates easiest, yellow indicates moderate difficulty, red indicates great difficulty.

  1. Journal or blog at least once a month.
  2. Exercise for 20 minutes 3 times a week (Join Anytime Fitness.)
  3. Read a book I enjoy from start to finish before the end of the year.
  4. Pass my editing certification test in June.
  5. Attend the Warrior Mom Conference in Atlanta in October.
  6. Keep my full-time job for all of 2016.
  7. Pray for my boss regularly.
  8. Engage in self-care daily.
  9. Remain healthy from August 2016–December 2016 (Be proactive and work with my psychiatrist.)
  10. Change my full name to my married name on everything.

Welp. I didn’t evaluate the difficulty of my goals until now and it looks like most of my goals will be no cakewalk. Even my “easiest” goal won’t be achievable anytime soon. I’m pretty sure I can accomplish number 10, even though it will be a pain in the rear end. I will have to be vigilant about pursuing number 8. Number 7 doesn’t come easy. Number 4 is a complete toss-up. And I’d like to stay on track with number 1, but I can’t even promise that. Sometimes, I have nothing to write and nothing to say (especially without repeating myself).

Let’s see how this year goes, folks. Happy New Year.

Categories: Goals, Personal Tags: ,

Damn, you’re a good mother.

December 2, 2015 1 comment

mom_mugI bought this mug from knockknockstuff.com, which was originally intended to be a gift mug for Mother’s Day (to another mom). (The back says “Just look how I turned out.”) But I bought this mug for myself, placed it squarely in view on my desk to tell myself each and every day, “Damn, you’re a good mother.”

I have to admit, however, that almost every time I look at the mug, I want to grab it and hurl it against the wall because I don’t believe it. This is my lame attempt to speak truth into my life. And my heart can’t accept it and won’t allow it. Because in my mind, I am not a good mother. I bordered on postpartum psychosis the first time I held my son, dealt with severe postpartum depression for months, and lost time with him for about 20 months. That’s time that I’ll never get back. How could I have been a good mother? A better mother even?

I could run down a list of shortcomings:

  • Full-time working mom with many late nights
  • Previously hands off on his care (eg, creating meals for him, diaper changes, watching him by myself)
  • Daycare (instead of me) teaches him most everything he knows

Beatles_sgtpepper_t-shirt The only plus in my column toward being a good mother? He can say “George” and “Paul” from my Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band t-shirt. (We’re working on John and Ringo.) I think that makes me a serious kick-ass mom. That’s how I justify my terrible shortcomings.

It’s the “damn” part that gets me, I suppose. The idea that I’m so awesome and so amazing, it warrants the use of an (OK, mild) expletive. Perhaps I could tolerate “You’re a good mother.” But “Damn, you’re a good mother” says “Look at me! I’m so awesome that I’m kicking ass at this mothering thing!” Like a black dude looks at another black woman and says, “Damn, you fine!” This mug looks at me and says in a similar tone, “Damn, you’re a good mother.” I’m glad the mug has a period. An exclamation point would probably have been overkill for me.

So, here I am, stumbling and fumbling through this mothering thing, feeling inadequate while I have this mug that tries to tell me otherwise. I can pretend my son gave it to me. The back—”Just look at how I turned out”—speaks volumes. My son is healthy and simply the happiest kid on earth. Sure, he’s a toddler with his whiny, crying phases but he’s the happiest kid in his classroom and the teachers all insist that he doesn’t give them any problems.

I’ve been very hands off this mothering thing until recently. I don’t know whether I’m doing a good job. But I’m in his life and he’s made it almost 22 months so far, so I guess I’m a damn good mother.

Categories: Motherhood Tags:

Main Theme: Politics & News

December 1, 2015 Leave a comment

Politics & News.
So I’ve read in the news that some joker named Donald Trump is running to become the Republican presidential candidate and actually commands a strong lead in the polls! What planet did I land on?
The newest revelation, however, is that I no longer support Hillary Clinton. (Shocking.) I am so over the Clintons. I mean, it only took 23 years. I have my picture from my internship for Sen. Clinton buried away in a box at the bottom. One day when I get over the fact that I blinked at the most inconvenient time for the first time EVER in a photo, I’ll dig it out, scan it, and post it up.

Paris. Syria. ISIS. These are stories that weigh on my heart. Refugees seeking help and new homes.

I’m also really fried with reading news from local affiliate stations. Moms throwing their babies out of windows. Moms driving their kids into hazardous conditions (eg, lake, beach). Toddlers being left unattended in cars during hot weather. Now that I’m a mom, these stories get to me in ways they never did before. Because I briefly experienced postpartum psychosis and almost harmed my child. I feel for these mothers. I feel for these children. My heart hurts and aches for all involved. And I need to disconnect from the news so that I don’t experience the deep fall in my mood that occurs when I read these stories.

Categories: Personal

From the Inside Out

November 30, 2015 Leave a comment

Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame

And the cry of my heart
Is to bring You praise
From the inside out
Lord, my soul cries out
— Hillsong United, “From the Inside Out”

I’m hurt and I’m hurting. I’ve been hurt by people in churches before because, well, we are sinful creatures and that’s what happens. While I recognize that, there’s a certain amount of faith and trust that you place in your church leadership. Sometimes, that faith and trust seem to make them infallible in your mind. So when lousy news comes your way, it can be devastating.

2015 has been a year of significant downs rather than ups. Not just in my personal and work life but also in my spiritual life. For most of the year, my family has not attended church. There’s always been something going on, whether it’s an injury, depression, lack of sleep, or early nap time for the little man. But we’ve attended when we’ve been able to. However, of course, when I either make plans to attend church or have just attended church, an earth-shaking event occurs. In August, it was the departure of an elder and his wife—people we were close to and related to most. In September, nearly 3 weeks later, another elder resigned out of dissatisfaction with the choices of our denomination. That left 2 elders and—honest to God—I don’t know how many deacons. Now, it’s November. And we finally make it to church. There was a big meeting 2 weeks ago and I figured it regarded the position of the remaining elders. Boy, was I ever wrong.

My senior pastor resigned during the meeting. I had planned to attend but ended up working late and just didn’t feel up to it. Now, I’m glad I wasn’t there because I don’t think I could’ve handled the shock of what I would’ve heard. It was a big enough shock for me simply hearing it from another church member in nursery. And that wasn’t even in full detail. One of the elders sat us down after church and explained what happened during the meeting and what led our senior pastor to resign.

All day Sunday, I found myself simply reeling from the shock of no longer having a senior pastor to turn to. It’s like someone I put faith in and trusted for 3 to 4 years broke that trust. So, of course, I too feel broken. Hurt. I hoped I’d never have to go through this again after the pain of what I endured at my last church. As I go through my mind, with each previous church, there’s been an element of pain and broken trust. Why should the present or the future be any different? But I feel as though I need to hope for the best. Funny how I can hope for the best in a church full of sinful people but fail to hope for the best in my own life, a person full of wickedness and sin.

I pray for the restoration of my former senior pastor and his family. I pray for my church because I love my congregants dearly and hope that we are able to survive this storm. I thank God for our sister church in Philadelphia that is willing to help us during this time of need. And I thank God that He is faithful to us even when our shepherds are not.

Categories: Church

Main Theme: Fashion & Sponsored Posts

November 25, 2015 Leave a comment

Fashion & Sponsored Posts.
A few words (maybe paragraphs?) about fashion. Fashion exists for comfort except on possibly rare occasions when all you’re supposed to do is look good. Get some comfortable shoes, some comfortable pants, a comfy shirt, and maybe a cozy sweater to complete your outfit. Are you going to Walmart? Please, leave the stilettos at home. I don’t care who you think you’re going to run into.

I love it when I see a woman dressed to the nines at the airport. She has a short-sleeved (maybe ¾-sleeved) shirt, stiff pants, stiletto heels that only Lady Gaga could reasonably get away with, and no sweater or jacket in her carry on. I stand there with my Old Navy bulky sweater (as a backup, of course, temperature varies in airports and planes), long-sleeved V-neck sweater with a tank underneath (peel off layers, if need be!), comfy jeans, socks, and New Balance sneakers. (Bonus points if you own a clog that allows you to wear socks with it.)

This folks, is my fashion. A Beatles T-shirt and bootcut jeans held up by a belt. Skechers shoes. Done. I’ll also have you know that Chapstick did not sponsor this post even though I use their cherry-flavored lip balm in the winter. Just the right hint of red and I don’t need to look into a mirror to apply it properly.

I am probably the sloppiest fashion person you’ll know. So sloppy, I don’t even take pictures of myself. (Well, mostly because I’m fat now and don’t like the way I look but still…)

You will be hard pressed to find me doing product giveaways on this blog. For one, I don’t blog often enough, and two, the only sponsorship I’d care for is from The Container Store (which, boy, could I take pictures of all the ways I contain my home…). But I am just not into fashion. The stores I talk about are limited. (Have I told you about this great store called Target???)

There’s a jealous part of me that wants to be a mommy blogger—in the business sense of the word. To win sponsored trips to Disney and other vacation resorts for my family. To acquire a nice gift card for myself and another one to give away to a lucky commenter. But the time, the effort, the pretense… I don’t have it. Not only that, I talk about topics that alienate people, not encourage them to come read a post.

So I am just content to be a blogger who’s a mommy. Thanks.

 

Categories: Personal

Main Theme: Race

November 24, 2015 Leave a comment

Race.
I believe I’ve alienated many of the people of color I used to get along with online. I’ve probably annoyed many of them too. But I suppose it’s all right because I’ve always had a hard time getting along with people of color. There’s been a string of shootings, usually involving white cops and black victims. I don’t believe it’s all about race. I think I’ve iterated before that the white cop vs black victim thing is more of a class issue, eg, middle-class person policing a lower income neighborhood. I’ve been challenged on not being colorblind. And the older I’ve gotten, the less colorblind I’ve become. I think that’s OK as long as recognizing color isn’t used as a tool for division.

I’m not of the popular black opinion that white privilege and white supremacy dominate everything. Do I believe white privilege exists? To some extent, but I don’t believe it’s as pervasive as people of color make it out to be. For example, is a white girl who speaks well and dresses professionally more likely to get a job than me? I think so. That’s white privilege. However, if I dress professionally and speak well, will I beat out the white girl who shows up to a white-collar interview in a T-shirt and jeans? Yep. I believe that, too. Being the most qualified for a job doesn’t just mean that your qualifications on paper meet whatever standard the hiring manager’s got. Being the most qualified for a job shows that you’re a well-rounded individual: You look good on paper, can express your thoughts clearly, and know how to dress properly for an interview. White people have the advantage (which I guess is white privilege). But I’m not of the opinion that white privilege can’t be overcome. People of color just need to work twice as hard to obtain something a white person can easily get.

Then, there’s the issue of white supremacy. Please, let’s leave the term “white supremacy” with the groups it belongs to: the KKK, the Aryans, and the Nazis. The term “white supremacy” has connotations of suppressing the advancement of other races. The majority of white Americans do not do this on an active, regular basis. To accuse the average white person in America as being a white supremacist is an insult. Nevermind that the white person may have friends of color. If that white person treats people of all races with respect, love, and kindness, that kills any form of white supremacy they can be accused of. White supremacy is played out in the hatred of other races. Not in the average white American.

I don’t really listen to rap, R&B, and typically “black” music. Not the new stuff, anyway. I noticed I only have 3 stations featuring black artists on my Pandora radio: James Brown, Rihanna, and Nat King Cole. I had a Mary J. Blige station I barely listened to. I had a Mariah Carey station that I didn’t like. I had a Kanye West station featuring songs I would thumbs down. I had a Sean Paul station that I got tired of. Although we’re getting on the dubious side of race here, I had a Michael Jackson station that played mostly Jackson 5 and Motown rather than 80s and early 90s pop.

So I’ve embraced my Pandora stations in all their diverse glory: the 3 black artists I briefly mentioned and Norah Jones, Sarah McLachlan, Aimee Mann, Rebecca St. James, Yo-Yo Ma, Paul McCartney & Wings, The Beatles, Bread, Ke$ha, Britney Spears, Sara Groves, Neil Diamond, No Doubt. I also have an MC Chris station for my husband that plays “nerdcore” and comedic songs, which is a station I also happen to enjoy on road trips. The artists on my Pandora station are overwhelmingly white. And that’s OK! They produce music that I like and my preference for music has no racial color.

 

Categories: Personal
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