Archive for the ‘Media Madness’ Category

25
Nov

Parenting Black

parenting blackFrom the time that they were babies, I taught my children to be respectful of everyone, to hold their heads high, and to fear no one.

I was wrong.

Raising young black men, I haven’t had the parental luxury of painting a world that would open doors for them – if only they worked hard and treated everyone with respect. I’ve always known that I would need to prepare my boys for a world that would judge them often before even meeting them. However, I guess I always naively hoped that one day their world would be different from the one that I grew up in. I hoped that they would be judged on their merits alone, with no consideration to the color of their skin.

I was wrong.

To be honest, I’ve known that race would play a part in my parenting since before they were born. I had to reflect on race when naming them. Aware of studies reported in journals such as The American Economic Review and The Journal of Labor Economics that have shown racial disparity in hiring based on the names of candidates – not just the colleges they attended or their experience – I carefully crafted my children’s names, hoping to knock down at least one hurdle they’d have to face in life.

I taught them to be respectful of everything and everyone – parents, elders, peers, teachers, authority figures, property, animals.  Everything. When growing up in a country that places a higher value on an animal and or a piece of property over that of a child (namely one that looks like mine), we can’t afford to miss the tiny details.

I taught them to hold their heads high and to look someone in the eye when being addressed. Not just because it will show confidence, intelligence, and engagement but serves to dispel any misguided perception that they are insecure, stupid, or lazy.

I taught them to fear no-one and no-thing because God didn’t create a sense of fear in us. But, mama didn’t raise no fools. I explained that should they ever find themselves in a dangerous situation, their best bet would be to run.

I was wrong.

My children were born into a world in which a target was placed on their backs upon birth, and no matter what I teach them or how I parent, that clearly will not change. The only thing I can do is to pray for coverage over them and continue to reinforce that they should continue to…

Be respectful BUT understand that not everyone else will respect you.

Hold your head high BUT not too high should someone perceive that as being threatening.

Fear no one BUT be sure to keep your hands visible at all times.  

After all, you are a young Black man.

20
May

A Hair Affair

dancing in the rain

Recently on my favorite radio morning show, a guest speaker joined the crew to discuss the dangerous effects of hair relaxers on black women. As the speaker was discussing all of the dangers associated with sodium hydroxide and chemical processing of the hair – balding, scalp lesions and burns, dangers to reproductive systems, links to cancer – you could hear one of the male radio personalities in the background bemoaning about how the industry needs to come up with “something” to straighten out hair because he didn’t know if he could work with that (“that” being a black woman’s natural kinks and curls).

Here was an industry expert talking about the dangerous effects of chemical relaxers, and this brotha was essentially grieving about his dislike of natural hair. Oooh, how I wish I could have slapped a handful of lye-based relaxer on his scalp at that very second. Didn’t Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair spell it out enough? Relaxers are dangerous, plain and simple. Yet women around the world subject themselves to the dangers of chemical hair treatments all to attract the attention of men like this.

As I sat there shaking my head at his thoughtless response, I was reminded of how easily influenced we can be by others’ perceptions of us and realized that it is this influence that lies at the root of the issue.

My own journey with natural hair has been a long overdue lesson in true self-love.

Twelve years ago, I decided to do a little experiment. I wanted to discover the real me once all of the fluff and frills were stripped away. So, I cut off all of my hair. Then I cried. For the first time in my life, I had nothing to hide behind. Staring back from the mirror was me. Unmasked and liberated. Gone were the worries about “sweating out my hair.” I could now scratch my scalp, jump in the pool, walk in the rain, and have that pull-my-hair kind of fun. Free at last!

Yet, this feeling was short-lived. Instead of celebrating with me, I endured unwelcome comments from friends, family, and random strangers about how they “preferred my hair long” or didn’t understand why I did what I did. People openly talked about the texture of my hair as if I were an science project. Some even dared to touch my hair. Male reactions were even more noticeable. The same eyes that once admired my presence now darted past me, labeling me as insignificant. No more cat calls or “hey, beautiful” comments caressed my ears as I walked down the street.

I’ve always been generally comfortable in my own skin, but the blatant disdain from those around me dinged my self-esteem. I missed the security of my hair and often considered hiding out under wigs, weaves, and wraps. However, over time, I grew to appreciate my hair’s versatility and fell in love with every kinky, curly, frizzy, tame-me-not strand on my head. I love who I see staring back at me and refuse to alter who I am to be loved, accepted, wanted or appreciated.

Now, I dance in the rain. 

20
Aug

Speechless

For those who know me, you know that there are few things in life that leave me speechless.
Republican Senator Todd Akin’s comment that women don’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape” …
(speechless)

See the foolishness for yourself at Senator Todd Akin comments regarding rape and abortion.

 

19
Jun

Shackles on my feet

Athletic shoemaker Adidas was prepared to release this new sneaker designed by Jeremy Scott despite an initial uproar over the offensive design. Adidas defended the design as being characteristic of Scott’s “quirky” and “lighthearted” style. Hmmm…I didn’t realize that slavery was lighthearted nor was I aware that slave shackles were fashion accessories. If that were so, then I lay claim to being the descendent to supermodels.

There was nothing quirky, lighthearted, or fashionable about slavery. Enough said.

I don’t know who this Jeremy Scott is, but I can almost guarantee that he doesn’t look like me. But, I can’t help but wonder where his creative expression comes from. Could it be the images of young, black men rioting at local malls when the new Jordans come out? Could it be the barrage of news stories that recount tale after tale of someone being shot over a pair of sneakers?

While I’d like to lay blame at the feet of Adidas for not exercising better judgment over the designs on which they stitch their corporate name, I think that we are partly to blame for being the muse behind designs like this. Seems like we’ve simply just traded in one set of shackles for another.

11
May

“Attachment Parenting” … as opposed to what?

The recent Life magazine cover titled “Are You Mom Enough?” which depicts a mother breastfeeding her 3-year old son has started water cooler discussions on the concept of “Attachment Parenting.”

I had never heard of the term “attachment parenting,” so I turned to my trusted Google search tool for answers and came upon the official website for Attachment Parenting International. After reading their mission statement and the eight attachment parenting principles, I am now truly confused about why this seems to be a novel concept. The principles are as follows: (1) prepare for pregnancy, birth, and parenting, (2) feed with love and respect, (3) respond with sensitivity, (4) use nurturing touch, (5) ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally, (6) provide consistent and loving care, (7) practice positive discipline, and (8) strive for balance in personal and family life. One such supporter of API stated that “attachment parenting” means that one has to commit themselves to their children 24-hours a day.

What is so unique about any of this? I consistently and lovingly care for my children and look after them. I provide a safe home in which they can rest. I practice positive discipline. And, I work hard to do each of these things and more every single minute of their lives. It seems that the controversy is simply on the “feed with love and respect” principle. Listen, while I certainly am not pulling the step stool for my toothed children up to the tap for dinnertime, does this mean that I have failed to feed them with love and respect? I think not.

I do not judge any woman’s right to do with her ta-tas what she will, but please spare me the foolishness that if I choose to feed my children a chicken nugget or two that I might have failed to attach to them in a loving and caring way.