Tuesday, February 21, 2012

He's Writing My Testimony

Thank you all for reading "life as I know"  I really appreciate you stopping by and commenting.  "Lifers" know I can be very sporadic with my posting and occasionally there are long gaps between posts.  There is of course a good reason for it, but one I am not ready to share.

I have been confronted with some truths as of late, I knew they were coming, but none the less they have me in a place where I must make a decision.  In order to make the best decision possible I need to suspend a few preoccupations.

When I return my hope is that my story will be so great that it sheds light where you need it and helps heal.
I must go to work now, I must be still and I must listen so I will know the way to go.


Until Next Time,
Be Blessed

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Role Models

I LOVE my work.  I feel truly fortunate that I get to do what I enjoy and people pay me for it.  Honestly what's not to like?  I get paid to share knowledge, spread joy and encourage peace, calm and community.  Teaching needle arts is therapeutic, relaxing, and social (that's what both the student and I get from it).

Just a short while ago I was told that I couldn't "just sit around knitting all day".  Well not to jinx it, but apparently I can.  Some people's words should be taken with a grain of salt, and we all know we need less sodium in our diets, so why not just ditch the negative altogether.  Role models are those we look up to as inspiration for our own future successes.

When I was in college and having a rough time, I would say "If I don't graduate, I'm going to be the black Martha Stewart".  Well I did graduate, but that's not the reason I didn't become the next Martha.  As we all know I had a great window while she was in the clink, but it occurred to me that wasn't really what I wanted to do.  And heck, I'm not nearly as organized as Martha.  I realized what I liked about Martha was that she was her own boss.  She was an entrepreneur.

Don't get me wrong, I'm surrounded by business-minded people, I mean as far back as I can remember my father has had his own business.  And historically African American business owners were the pillars of their communities having boutiques and restaurants, floral shops and funeral homes and everything in between.  Somewhere along the way though a generation was lost and the people they look up to are not their parents or even their ancestors, but people from their own generation who have skills they probably won't ever possess.

Instead of doing what you think will get you "crazy paid"  how about finding out what you really like and figuring out a way to make it pay you.  Madam C.J. Walker's thinning hair paid her several times over, making her the first African American millionaire.  Mary McLeod Bethune wouldn't let the fact that there was no school for girls deter her...she started her own, now look at the legacy she left.  Use your creativity, your imagination, your divinely given gifts to get what you want.  Find proper role models to emulate.

I still love Martha, but my new role model is Madam C.J. Walker, and that's because my girls need to see successful people that look like them, so they know its possible (and seriously the woman made a fortune off of a basic thing).  Their role models need not be models, and rappers or even actors.  They need to be the ancestors that were first and the pioneers of today that keep blazing trails of innovation and creativity in business, politics, art and the humanities.  Their role models are myself and their father, my father, their grandmothers, our aunts and uncles.  We have to be role models so they will have a model of success to follow.  Wo/Man up!

Until Next Time,
Be Blessed

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

It's Black History Month...

My middle daughter reading a plaque at Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
And in case you didn't know, I'm black.  (Well technically I'm brown...well that is figuratively anyways.  Try explaining color to a preschooler...but then why should I have to?)  Back to the main thought, since I'm black I shall revel in all the glory that is heaped upon my children for the next 20 days.  Well not really since my children happen to attend a predominately African-American school they get more of a well rounded education than many others.  Their projects throughout the year have a more statistically accurate representation of the different races of people that make up this country.  Additionally I don't leave the complete education of my children to the school system.  If I did they might think playing "slave and slave catcher" at recess was cool.  That being said, there is a reason that we have Black History Month.

It is a sad reality that color is still an issue in this country.  I'm sorry let me be more specific, race is still an issue in this country.

"

race

2   [reys]  Show IPA
noun
1.
a group of persons related by common descent or heredity.
2.
a population so related.
3.
Anthropology .
a.
any of the traditional divisions of humankind, thecommonest being the caucasianMongoloid, andNegro, characterized by supposedly distinctive anduniversal physical characteristics: no longer intechnical use.
b.
an arbitrary classification of modern humans,sometimes, especially formerly, based on any or acombination of various physical characteristics, as skincolor, facial form, or eye shape, and now frequentlybased on such genetic markers as blood groups.
c.
a human population partially isolated reproductivelyfrom other populations, whose members share agreater degree of physical and genetic similarity withone another than with other humans.
4.
a group of tribes or peoples forming an ethnic stock: theSlavic race.
5.
any people united by common history, languageculturaltraits, etc.: the Dutch race."


Since race is still an issue in this country we have "Black History Month".  Without it I honestly don't believe students would receive any type of education with regards to the contributions of African-Americans to the development of the United States.  Until the narratives of people of color (Latinos, Asians, Natives) are included in the lesson plans and national standards of learning for future generations; there will exist a need to inject students with a month here and a month there of focused knowledge about said groups.  

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where 1.) my parents were college educated 2.)  they were readers and  3.) they were proud of their ancestry.  I grew up reading "Black Americans of Achievement" books; (I've started giving them to my girls to read now).  Because my mother worked in library when I was younger, I was afforded a seemingly limitless knowledge base. Of course we had encyclopedias but they were limited and I wanted to know more, so I read.  My parents of course encouraged this and I read about Fannie Lou Hamer, and Matthew Henson,  Ida B. Wells, and Mary McLeod Bethune as well as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and countless others.  Even if my parents weren't college graduates I'd still have grown up knowledgable because they did, and only one of my grandparents was a college graduate.  My ancestors were dedicated to the education of the future, and I will be the same.  

In high school I had the opportunity in my AP English class to do a self-directed learning and I chose to focus on the writings of African American authors - otherwise I wouldn't have been introduced to Zora Neale Hurston, or Langston Hughes in a school setting until college.  (I wish I could find that paper now).  I enjoyed that class immensely because it let me step away from the status quo and allowed me the opportunity to explore in depth how narratives vary across ethnic lines.  Now don't get it twisted, I also read "Ethan Frome" that year, and Sylvia Plath, however had I not been in an AP class the odds of me having the chance to read the works of African-Americans would have been drastically reduced.  

My education was further enhanced when I went to college, and majored in Afro-American and African studies.  I was truly fortunate to be able to pay to learn about my history (there's only a hint of sarcasm there).  Honestly we are all severely lacking in education on the history of our country...and if the Tea Party has anything to do with it, we'll be even worse off.  

During this very auspicious month you'll get a little more of ME!  I do not believe we live in post-racial America (sorry Mr. President).  Unfortunately there are places I still wouldn't venture to after dark (places not far from where I live).  There are things I know are racially motivated in this country (with regard to politics) and I know there is a long way for this country to go if it is ever to be what the founders desired (cough, cough).  As the month goes on, you'll see more of me.  I hope you are not offended, but this is "life as i know".  

Until Next Time, 
Be Blessed