Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Fugitive in My Own Home

Some days are better than others. Most days leave me feeling beaten and looking bedraggled. I am constantly at the mercy of my two toddlers, as their disposition often sets my day.

I know, this is a deplorable state to be in. After all, what self-respecting Black woman allows a 2 year old to determine her agenda? The very idea is blasphemous! If no one else, a Black woman should be able to keep her child in line, right? Are we not renowned for ruling with iron fists and steely gazes? The truth is, all the bravado Panther and Tiger Moms exhibit in public is only attributed to long, hard years of struggle at home…the beginnings of which are spent lying on the ground in a fetal position, wailing in defeat.

My day begins much like other mothers’ around this nation, if not around the world. I wake up, put on a robe, and head to the kitchen to make breakfast. Notice, I have not washed my face or brushed my teeth yet. My first concern is getting my kids their breakfast. Once the older two are safely off to school, I am free to turn my attention to the younger two. In the olden days, I would drop the big kids off so that my husband could have more time to groom himself and possibly sleep in a few minutes longer. Unwashed and smelling like sour bread (and looking just as palatable) I prayed that my car would not stall or run out of gas on the way. That all ended when my husband caught sight of me coming into the house one morning. He compassionately offered to drop the girls off before heading to work, and I happily accepted.

This of course gave me more time to deal with Fric & Frac, also known as Stone & Liya.

Most people don’t know what I have to endure to pound out a single blog post. This morning for instance, I have just emerged from the shower and am typing from a secure location – sopping wet. I have ten more minutes before the children come looking for me. I have to think and type quickly.

Once they have their paws on me I will be at their mercy for the remainder of the day; or at least until they’ve fallen asleep at noon after a morning spent tormenting their mother.

Since she wakes first, Liya generally sets the tone. At 22 months, she is entering a phase that closely resembles a temperamental teenager. She’s moody, aggressive, and unpredictable. Like many teens, she is a poor communicator, so I’m never certain what she wants. I find myself wiping spills of water when all she really wants is milk.

Oh Jesus. My sister just called me and pilfered valuable writing time! after a hastily whispered conversation, she informs me about some new shoes she’s wearing to work. How marvelous for her. I wonder if I’ll get to wear shoes today. My days are often spent barefoot in the kitchen…or barefoot outside retrieving my little darting darlings. Stone, whose body bears an uncanny resemblance to his name, is the hardest to coral. I generally have to bribe him with a cookie, which only adds more girth to his frame. It’s a vicious cycle.

Back to what I was saying.

One of the biggest battles between my children and I is over food. When their requests for bites of my hastily assembled meals are refused, they go from polite insistence to unrepentant seizure. Helplessly watching four hands pluck the choices bits of meat or sweetest fruit from my plate, I can’t help but wonder if this is what a villager feels like when a marauder comes into their camp. I feel so powerless, held at bay by their double sided imp and cherubim faces.

My children undress me in public. I have lost track of the number of times I’ve had a skirt lifted or a nipple exposed while speaking to a cashier or teller at the bank. In the beginning I was horrified, but since my dignity and self-esteem are in the garbage, I hardly take offence to public nudity…especially not my own. Still, I am aware that I have a duty to society, and try to use the drive through wherever possible.

“Oh! Your children are so adorable! Would they like a lollipop?” asks the bank teller from the safety of her desk and monitor, 20 feet away.

“Yay! Yoyipop!” they cry in unison.

Refusal will only bring a meltdown, so I relent. Sometimes it’s just easier to say yes.

“Yes please,” I say sweetly to the teller, cursing her inwardly as she sends  the candy down the plastic chute. The whore either has no kids, or has forgotten what it’s like to have toddlers hyped up on sugar.

As we drive away I cannot open the plastic wrappers fast enough. My only consolation is that I will gain three or so minutes of silence while they eat their confections before becoming bored with them and abandoning them altogether. I will find the discarded yoyipops, a month later, covered in lint and floorboard dirt. I will then curse the teller all over again.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by it all, and the pressure forces me to the sofa. Maybe if I take a moment to collect my thoughts and reinvigorate my spirit, I can carry on? This, of course, is not to be tolerated. My children do not like to see me resting. They make their displeasure known by clambering all over me, at times pulling or beating me, occasionally sitting on my face and often passing gas on the object on which they are sitting. I want to cry sometimes. There’s no point hiding. They always find me. And when they do find me they scream,  irritated that they had to come look for me in the first place. Indeed they are better at crying than I am.

So what am I to do? The only thing I CAN do I suppose: Endure. They are so young. Surely they do not understand the pain they are causing their mother?  Deep down, somewhere deep, deep, DEEP in their little hearts, they love their mother, and plan to repay her for months of lost sleep and weight gained.
Okay gotta go! Here they come!!!
Happy Friday, one and all.

How Does the Media Profit by Besmirching the Reputation of a Dead Child?

They said they would come for him, but I didn’t believe it. I should have had less faith in society’s veneer of decency…then perhaps I’d be less shocked.

In the month since Trayvon Martin has been murdered and buried, tidbits of information surrounding the circumstances of that night have been investigated and/or leaked to the media. Anyone who has been following the case knows who the characters and what their (presumed) roles are in this tragedy. What is unclear for some is what the motive for killing an unarmed child walking home from the convenience store might be. I have my theories, but it is up to a lawyer to prove or dispel those.

My friends and I have been following this case very closely. We do hourly searches for new information. We attended the ‘Justice for Trayvon’ rally in Atlanta this week. We pray that the truth will be made to prevail in the face of this calamity. Some of us stay away from the comments section that proceed articles that discuss Trayvon Martin and his killer George Zimmerman, but some of us scour them to determine what the pulse of the nation says. A lot of it has been ugly. I knew there where racist sycophants amongst us, but I never imagined a cross section of America to be this cruel.

I am sure by now, Reader, you are well aware of the smear campaign being launched by a segment of the American media. Their goal is to paint 17 year old Trayvon Martin as a more “menacing figure” than his parents and the liberal media would have us to believe who was “dogged by a troubled past” at school. After trolling his MySpace and Twitter pages, they were able to unearth two images of Trayvon sporting gold teeth and tattoos. These, they say, were evidence of a boy entrenched in gang culture – not the baby-faced imaged “being forced down our throats”. (I refuse to link the articles purporting these ridiculous theories, as I will NOT drive traffic to them from my site, but the trolls among us know where they can pick up this garbage. I’m sure they would be happy to direct to towards the cyber sty.)

The more I read, the more amazed I am by the majority’s need to demonize this dead child. As weeks stretch on into months, the legend of Trayvon grows with time. When we first heard about Trayvon, he was about 6 feet tall and 140 lbs. By the end of this week, gun rights advocates and White supremacist would have us believe was actually 6’3” and twice that weight. Every day that goes by, Trayvon adds another inch to his height, and 10 more pounds to his girth from beyond the grave. Add the hoodie he was wearing, and Presto! You have a verifiable gangster prowling the streets of a gated community. Astounding!

Have a look at these “menacing” images. What do you see? As someone who remembers the age of 17 quite vividly, I’ll tell you what I DO not see: a thug or a killer. And what are his tattoos of? Praying hands encircled by rosary beads, and the name of his mother on his wrist. Nothing says “killer” like a tattoo of the name of the woman who birthed you, does it?

I see a kid who was messing around on his webcam, possibly in his bedroom or a game room (note the dart board behind him) who was wearing a white singlet because it is hot as HELL in Florida. ALL. THE. TIME. This is a kid who was exploring a part of hip hop culture, something White teens, may I add, do every day in the comfort of their suburban homes. And let’s talk about White teens for a moment, shall we?

All these keyboard Kamikazes and Comment Nazis are on a mission to sully the reputation of this deceased child. To what end, I wonder? Is it so that they will not have to take a look at the mess in their own homes and backyards, basements and bedrooms? You might recall an incident a few years ago here in Georgia in Rockdale County in the city of Conyers. Conyers is a middle-to-upper class environ, with well bred, church-going families. Seventeen teenagers tested positive for syphilis, about 200 others were treated for exposure and about 50 reported engaging in group sex and other “extreme sexual behavior.” Between the hours of 3pm to 7pm, these children – children as young as 15 – would engage in perverse sexual acts with each other, quickly spreading the disease and its symptoms from one to another.
Now, disgusting as that may be, let’s assume something far worse were to happen. Let’s assume one of these children were kidnapped and raped by a marauder strolling through the neighborhood. We’ll call her Becky. She’s a blond 14 year old. In the midst of pleas for the child’s safe return by parents and teachers, let’s pretend that the media looked into the checkered past of poor Becky. Well, of course she was singled out to quench this man’s appetites. Surely he cannot be to blame? After all, Becky was constantly and consistently engaged in casual sex. Surely something about her aroused this primal reaction in him?

Would we be disgusted by any media outlet who made such an assertion? Absolutely. Would there be massive cries for the firing of any journalist who proposed something so heinous? You bet’cha.

But why stop there? Let’s take it a little bit further. Let’s ask ourselves what part Natalie Holloway played in her disappearance. What business did the 18 year old high school grad have hanging out in night clubs? She had to be drinking…isn’t that what they do in night clubs? Perhaps the media should have gone through her diary and photos taken with or by friends. She was 18 after all. If she was in a night club, she couldn’t have been all “mom and apple pie.”

Jaycee Duggard and Elizabeth Smart: what was their portion in their rapes and abductions. Were their parents not to blame? After all, one of them should have been picking up Jaycee from school. If they had performed their parental duties, she never would have been taken. If Elizabeth’s father had set the alarm that night they went to bed, Brian Mitchell never would have been able to enter their home undetected, would he? If we apply the same standard that Tray Martin and his parents are receiving to these cases, these are fair questions.

But that’s just it: They are not fair. They are vile.

I sat in my home fuming about Geraldo Rivera’s ridiculous comments earlier in the week when he alleged that Trayvon’s hoodie was just as much to blame for his death as Zimmerman.
“His parents should have made him take the hoodie off,” he said. “They should have known that when you see a minority child in a hoodie, there is going to be a visceral reaction from others.” (I’m paraphrasing, so here’s the video. http://video.foxnews.com/v/1525652570001/geraldo-rivera-trayvon-martins-hoodie-is-as-much-responsible-for-his-death-as-george-zimmerman/ )
His parents should have told him that hoodies draw suspicion. Where have I heard that before?

  • Your parents should have told you not to look a white man in the eye, it could get you whipped.
  • Your parents should have told you not to drink out of this water fountain or enter this establishment from the front door. It could get you killed.
  • Your parents should have told you not to look at White women a certain way. It could get you killed.
  • Your parents should have told you that those locks/natural hair/afro makes you look unkempt, threatening and angry. You will never get a job looking like that.
  • His parents never should have let him leave for school in those Jordans. Now he’s dead in the street.

We have all these rules that are supposed to govern our conduct and mode of dress in order to make certain people feel more “comfortable” around us, and for what? Are these not the same people who very often emulate the conduct and mode of dress we create as a culture?

Wow. How far have we really come? Geraldo could have used that moment to reach across the growing racial divide that feasts on fear based on the fashion choices made by minority youth, but instead he chose to pander to those fears, explain away foolishness and lay blame at the feet of a corpse.

And that is the sad, sad thing. Trayvon Martin is a corpse. Someone’s son was inhumanely ripped from his family and all the media wants to do at this point is look into how his 10-day suspension contributed to a bullet ripping into his chest? How wearing an item of clothing to protect him from an evening drizzle justifies the seizing of his living breath? How some fake gold teeth and a sloppy smile made him a menace – and an unarmed one at that? Who gains from tarnishing the memory of a child, barely cold in his grave? What dark, demonic pleasure does broadcasting these irrelevant details satisfy?

America, America. You bill yourself as the land of the free and the home of the brave. Was Trayvon Martin not free to walk back to the home he had just left? Was he indeed not brave when he fought off his pursuer, even to last moments when he howled in horror? Listen to the 911 tapes again, and remember why we’re having these protests America. A boy who went out to buy some candy is dead. Does anything else really matter?

Love Me Like a 90’s Love Song

My seven year wedding anniversary is coming up and my husband has been asking me what I’d like as a gift to commemorate the occasion. The seventh year of marriage is supposed to represent several major milestones, namely the age for perfection and a benchmark by which to judge the success or failure of a couple’s marriage. It is conventional belief that if a married can make it past seven years, their marriage can withstand the most tectonic of events. Given the state of marriage these days – and how abruptly they appear to end – I’m not convinced that this belief holds much truth.

I kicked around a few ideas, none of them particularly exciting.
“I guess I’d like something useful, like maybe a dishwasher or something,” I mused. “Or maybe a bigger rice cooker. You could upgrade the one you got me three years ago.”

My husband didn’t even bother to look at me after I made my lame suggestions. Finally, after much reflection, I came up with the perfect token with which he could express his love.

“Write me a love song,” I ordered.

“What?”

“A love song,” I repeated. “But not just any love song…it specifically has to be one from the 90’s.”

“Okay…”

Pleased with my edict, I proceeded to give him further instructions.

“You have to dress up in tapered pants, find some patent leather shoes with plastic soles, let your hair grow into a short afro and cut two lines in the side, and find a collarless black jacket with shoulder pads that only slightly matches your tapered pants.”

My husband giggled (he actually giggled) when he had a firm image of how ridiculous he’d look in this get up in his mind. He promised that he would see what he could do.

Many people in the M.O.M Squad came of age in the 1990’s, when some of the greatest love songs ever were written. Babyface convinced many a filly (myself included) that by virtue of their existence, they could pervade a man’s thoughts on two occasions only: Day and night! *swoon*. According to Ralph Tresvant, I didn’t need a man who would give me money. All that was required to ensure a woman’s contentment and satisfaction was a man with sensitivity. (Go ahead, sing it with me – A man like me.)

For years I believed him, and wasted my better years giving boyfriends passes for forgetting anniversaries or not coming by or calling when they promised they would. All was forgiven the moment they affected even the most miniscule display of “sensitivity”. Usually this came in the form of an apology letter, wrapped in professions of love and fidelity. I was never quite certain how to feel when those relationships were ended by confirmed allegations of cheating.

Then Mary J Blige burst on the scene, fueling this absurd quest for real love with a single entitled by the same phrase. So, clad in a baseball jersey and Tek boots, a mob Black teens and twenty-somethings hip-hopped our way from dance floors to bedrooms in search of “real love”. Many of us were left jaded and disappointed. What was to be done? En Vogue came along and championed our cause, proclaiming that charlatans were Never Gonna Get It (My Lovin’), and with this new found piousness all previous wrongs would be set to right.
In the interim, Joe, Johnny Gill and Silk were desperately trying to convince us that this new quest for virtue was all a terrible idea. They wanted to know what turned us on, and cry “my my my” while they freaked us. Again, many a lass fell victim to the beguiling words of these lyricists and into the waiting trap of the neighborhood philanderer.

As ethereal, unrealistic and dreamy as this era was, I much prefer it to what we view “love” as in our society today. When the culmination of a relationship is summed up in gruff commands to Drop your pants (!) Drop your booty(!) GIVE it to me(!!), Booty, BOOTY, BOOTY!!! I think you might be inclined to agree that we are in a pretty sad state.

So with that in mind, I have charged my hubby to transport me to my favorite era and return me to a time when I had complete trust in love. I wish I could point him to a modern R&B artists who might offer him some lyrical creativity, but when the Babyfaces of our day – by whom I mean Ne-Yo and Bruno Mars – dolefully wail for us to put our hands on grenades and jump in front of trains as proof of our affections, I become hesitant.

Perhaps he can draw inspiration from I Got Nothin’ by Darius Rucker, which is one of the best love songs ever written and sung in my humble estimation. Is there room in the R&B spectrum for this level of brilliance? One would hope so.

In the meantime, this Black man had to go country to write a swooner in the new millennium and I guess I’ll have to trade in my Teks and Timbs for cowgirl boots.

Do you remember the 90’s? What were the songs that did “it’ for you? Do they ever cross your mind? (See how I did that? ;) )

Gone Scoutin’

  Lawd, I hate nature – or rather I hate being outside IN it in the dark and rain.

This weekend the girls’ Daisy troop had a mother-daughter weekend camping trip at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Several of the Daisy troops in the area attended as well, and in all there were about 60 little giggling girls scampering around the building at any given time.

Our all Black troop must have been an oddity. As we set up “camp” by laying our sleeping bags on the carpeted concrete floor, the girls from the other troops peeked into our room, assessed us for a few seconds, and ran off laughing hysterically. They did this several times until one of their parents told them to come back into their rooms and settle down. I didn’t mind, personally. I thought it would be a good ice breaker. After all, we would be sharing time and space together for the next 18 hours or so.

I passed other mothers in the hallway, trying to get their green, brown and blue eyes to meet mine so that I could nod and acknowledge their presence or offer a nonverbal greeting. Their eyes remained firmly fixed on the floor or looking just past me, as though I were a phantom in the aisle and not really there. The ice, therefore, remained firmly unbroken.

The Girl Scout event promised to be a fun one none-the-less. We went on a night hike (in the rain) to look for nocturnal creatures using four of our five senses. It was decided that it would not be in anyone’s best interest to try and taste a nocturnal animal. We were utterly disappointed when it became apparent that we were the only woodland creatures foolish enough to be scurrying about in the drizzle. However, I did hear a wayward goose calling out in the darkness. Our line leader managed to keep the event interesting, pulling possum pellets and owl wings from her purse and letting the girls sniff various odors from the very pleasant (like cinnamon) to the not so pleasant (like skunk musk).

Damp and tired, but invigorated by the prospect of getting some s’mores, we trudged back to the main building where a roaring fire was waiting for us. Each girl was given their marshmallow by the month they were born in, and after each treat was roasted, I looked around for an opportunity to join a different group of moms’  in conversation. After all, was that not the point of coming to a Scout event: To “make new friends”? As a former Girl Guide myself, perhaps my judgment was clouded, but I expected that as adults we would demonstrate courtesy and how to conduct ourselves amongst strangers, by at least offering an introduction or acknowledging the presence of strangers who may be unknown to us, but still part of the same organization. Surely, these are women and girls who share our same ideals? Their turned backs in our direction said otherwise. Had it not been for our Den Mother’s insistence on singing campfire songs, I daresay there would be no spirit of camaraderie exhibited at all. The irony that were doing the very opposite of the refrain make new friends/but keep the old/ one is silver and the other gold  did not escape me. Still, it was nice to have some meager manifestation of my romantic notions of what a Girl Scout camping trip ought to look like become a reality.

After a long night of telling “ghost stories”, and eating left over GS cookies and snacks, we informed our protesting girls that it was time to go to bed.

“There’s a movie playing tonight,” I informed them.

They gasped with glee.

“Where? Where?!?”

“It’s on the back of your eyelids, and you’ll miss it if you don’t look behind them.”

I never said the words “go to sleep”, but within minutes, their gentle snoring filled the room. I hardly slept a wink, of course. Aya had taken my pillow and I don’t do well on the floor. I would have preferred to stay awake, but I was exhausted after having worked the morning before. I passed the night doing a series of motions that mixed sumo wrestling and napping. I was grateful when the rising sun ended my ordeal.

I woke my girls fairly early and took Aya to brush her teeth. Cheryl, our den mother was already up, eating breakfast and forwarding pictures from all of our endeavors so far. I smiled and said good morning to her, which of course she did in return. We were the only people in the bathroom with a few other moms and daughters filed in. Maybe it’s a function of my upbringing, but I thought it was common practice to greet someone when you walk into a room. We remained ungreeted and unacknowledged until one of the mom’s asked me if the sink she was standing in front of was working.

“I don’t know, but you can use this one as soon as soon as we’re done,” I offered.

She grunted and waited for us to finish.

Maybe she just wasn’t a morning person.

I tried to find some common ground in one of the other mothers who looked like she was of mixed Asian descent.

“How did you sleep last night?” I asked, knowing that the night had to have been rough. It was cold and the floor was hard. The answer was a no brainer, and the question was meant to break this wall that was dividing us, or put a chip in it at least.

She remained silent, again not looking at me. Finally, her kindergartener spoke up.

“Horrible. It was horrible!” she cried.

I nodded and agreed.

“Yeah. It was pretty bad.”

With no further invitation to continue any conversation, I went to get my coffee.

At this point, I was done with all these mothers and done with the event. These women had proven themselves, rude, excluding and frigid. My disdain for them was only heightened when I heard a group of them conversing outside about what a “blessing” it was for someone to have organized an event at their church and how “fortunate” they were about how it was “impacting” their youth. I quickly picked up on their Christianese dialect, which only served to disgust me further.

What Christ do you serve that compels you to be so dismissive of your neighbor? Does your Jesus command you slight another group of women because they look different from you? What brand of “godliness” is this? Because whatever they were serving up, I wanted no part of.

Today marks one month since Trayvon Martin’s murder, a crime that has me more conscious of race than I have been in a long time, and I know that I am not alone. It has brought the subject back to the forefront for us as a nation: Black and White, Jew and Hispanic. There are certain ambiguities surrounding Trayvon’s case, but one thing is glaringly clear: the root of this tragedy lies in prejudice, suspicion and mistrust. I am not calling any of these women racist – not by any means. After all, I don’t know them. But judging from their actions, I believe I can safely conclude that they did not believe that neither I nor any member of our all Black troop was worth getting to know. And is that not at the heart of all prejudice? Judging someone’s worth before you form a relationship with them?

All hope is not lost though. Just before we left for our hike, Aya made a new buddy. The little strawberry blond called out to her mother as they sat on the ground clasping hands.

“Mommy! We have something in common!” she said excitedly.

“You must both like blue,” her mother said knowingly.

The two girls nodded enthusiastically and grinned. Her mother and I shared sheepish smiles and turned our attention back to the naturalist, who was giving instructions on our impending morning hike.

The event, though short gave me much food for thought. As I said, race is in the forefront of my mind, but it doesn’t direct my life. I am racially conscious, but not racially controlled. In the wake of Trayvon’s murder, I am reminded of the bevy of inner city outreaches and gang rehabilitation programs that exist in our nation. Has there ever been a suburban outreach program for Whites to help them get over their fear of Black kids in hoodies? I can’t think of one. I would have hoped that a godly organization like the Scouts would have served that purpose, but there seems to be an obviously failure in my thinking in that regard. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe in my kids’ generation, it and other organizations like it CAN be.

In My Wildest Pipe Dreams


A pipe dream is an illusory fantasy or idea that will not work.

It’s probably because I caught the service for humanity bug when I went to South Africa last year, but I have this recurring pipe dream where I travel around Africa holding village seminars with young writers; female writers, specifically.

When I was about 9 or 10, there were three things I wanted to be: a baker, an actress and a writer.

I never imagined that becoming a mother would propel simultaneous careers in all three spheres, as I now spend a fair amount of time baking and acting for my children. I must say, I am GOOD at it. I can whip up a bowl of pancake batter from scratch and re-enact all 30 scenes from Barbie and The Diamond Castle on cue. Remuneration for my efforts comes in the form of sloppy kisses, “thank –yous”, and scattered crumbs on recently swept floors – none of which is going to get me any closer to an Oscar or that spread in Harper’s Bazaar – but are nice to have all the same.

Since my path in life has taken me firmly away from Hollywood’s gilded streets, I am left with an inordinate amount of time to day dream about what my life would be like if I were a celebrity writer with loads of free time and good will. My first order of business would be to procure a trademark accessory, like Bono’s sunglasses or Angelina’s ever present head cloth for use in the Middle East. I think mine would be an afro pick. Afro picks are incredibly useful. From straightening tangles to picking locks and fending off wildlife, an Afro pick is an indispensable tool.

Pick in hair and laptop underarm, I’d traverse the expanse of my beautiful Continent, seeking out young girls who like me, want to immortalize their words in written form.

My first stop would be Mauritania, largely because I’d be guaranteed a good meal. Mauritania is the only place where a fat divorced woman is the most desirable of the lot. The fatter a woman, and the more times she’s been divorced, the greater her attraction. In the rural areas, Mauritanian girls are force fed from pre-pubescence and discouraged from exercise. What must that be like?

I drank milk until it came out of my nose, I can imagine one of my student’s writing.

And what did that feel like? I’d ask.

Like I was drowning in a sea of camel’s milk.

For no justifiable reason, other than I would be in search of excellent jollof and mud cloth, I’d take my trek to Burkina Faso, where my group of elite students and I would sit under a baobab tree and discuss everything from the village whore to the best utensils to grind pepper with.

Use words like slattern and slate, I’d instruct. These are excellent describing words and alliteration can never be used enough in literature, as far as I’m concerned.

What is alliteration?

After instructing them to pull out their dictionaries, I am dismayed to discover that no one has one. This is a mud village in Burkina. I should have bloody brought one myself. I make a mental note to do that when I head over to Sudan.

After making sure that there will be no Janjaweed on my tail, I finally persuade the village elders to allow a small group of girls to join my writing class.

Make sure you tell them to write about how to fetch water, says a withered old man.

At first I balk, thinking: How chauvinistic! But then I concede. Perhaps it’s better for these girl to write about more mundane topics rather than revisiting the horrors of rape, murder and pillage at the hands of blood thirsty Arab marauders.

With 56 countries in Africa, my pipe dream would prove monumental, if not impossible altogether to achieve. The logistics and finances involved to bring it to bear would be a nightmare. That and my failure to get my own children to read independently make it a far less plausible possibility.

I don’t seem to have the patience to teach or persuade anyone to read, let alone write.

What’s the craziest pipe dream you’ve ever heard – or had? Go on! Tell!

Are Men More Sensitive When it Comes to Money?

I was on my way into my secret blogging spot (Panera) when I had a random thought about money – more specifically what would I do if I suddenly found myself without any? My husband is the major breadwinner for our home, and considering that last year I brought in a net $2,000 from my earnings from my part time job, it’s fair to say he is the ONLY breadwinner for our home. $1800 of that $2,000 I earned was spent on shoes and Chic-fil-a.

As I drove to my destination, ducking Holcomb Bridge’s numerous potholes and a goose carcass, I found myself wondering what life would be like if my husband lost his job and we became destitute. I took comfort in the knowledge that we would never truly be destitute. We are blessed with enough good friends and family that they would never allow that to happen to our children. At the very least, they would offer us their floor to sleep on if that was all they could spare.

But then I wondered: Would my husband accept that help? Men are terribly proud when it comes to accepting help, and more so when there is the perception that they have failed their family in their role as a provider. Of course, this is an extreme example. Anyone would feel a sense of failure if they suddenly found themselves entangled in the tentacles of poverty. How about in a familiar scenario involving one spouse makes more than the other? What if the higher earning spouse is the woman?

My husband and I actually lived this scenario for about a year. He wanted to try his hand at entrepreneurship and I had a steady job in human resources. With my blessing, he quit his regular 9 -5 and went into real estate. We’re both very frugal as a rule (except where my purchase of shoes is in question course), so our standard of living did not suffer much when there was no longer a second paycheck coming in every two weeks. When he did get a check, it was in exorbitant lump sums, and those were always happy days for us, of course. Still, I was the only one earning a steady and reliable check. Eventually the housing market came crashing down around us all, the checks stopped, and the liabilities came rolling in. Fortunately, he was recruited by a web company within weeks of getting out of real estate.

I think the only reason this worked for us is because we have the same attitudes towards money. I have never judged an individual –a man in particular – by how much money he makes. As far as I’m concerned, having a lot of money is not an indicator of how generous you are, and I value generosity more than I do wealth. My husband is a very hardworking and generous man, which is why I didn’t mind shouldering a little extra weight of our financial burden for that brief amount of time.

Sometimes, I wonder if my husband is in the minority, though. I know several men who tie their self-worth directly to a dollar figure, and if that dollar figure does no line up with their expectations, they fall to pieces. Their coming unglued is sometimes exacerbated when their partner or spouse makes more than they do, even if that amount is as miniscule as a dollar more on the hour.

I asked a gentleman at Panera what his attitude was on the whole matter. Wearing a black shirt and tie, and Kenneth Cole slip-ons, he said that as far as he was concerned, there is nothing wrong with a woman having greater earning potential than a man. In fact, it was to be expected, given how much education women have these days. He said as a man, his value lays in how hard he works for his family.

“Do you think your view is a result of the age bracket you’re in?” I asked.

He looked around, as though pulling out a memory. Finally, he shook his head.

“No. I have an uncle who has been married 30 years and his wife has always earned more money than he has. At the same time, there are some cats in their 20s who absolutely won’t stand for their woman to earn more money than they do. It really depends on how you see yourself.”

I thanked him for his time.

So here’s an open question to both sexes: Do men’s and women’s attitudes towards money and earning power vary based on their sex, or as individuals? From what I’ve seen in popular culture, the answer lies in the former. Pop culture tells us that a man is defined by what he does and how much he makes. Is this a fair and accurate way to sum up the value of a person?

I’ve got my coffee. Over to you.

Trayvon Martin’s Murder is a Human Issue, Not Just a Black One

America’s legacy is that it is a land of contradictions. Inscribed on the Statue of Liberty are the words:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

- yet every day American forces forage for those same tired and poor individuals with the intent of casting them out of this country. Founded on the ideals of liberty, equality and brotherhood (modeled after the French Revolution) America shook off the shackles of England’s tyranny and declared itself a free nation; a free nation that championed a brutal system of slavery for over 400 years. Now, interred in that same spirit of contradiction, comes the case of the murder of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old child who was walking back to the home of friends from a convenience store and subsequently shot for “looking suspicious.” This case should therefore serve to sadden us, but not truly come as a surprise.

To my great delight, Trayvon’s murder has garnered a global outcry, as well it should. Gone are the days when humanity largely existed in isolation. With the advances in communication and travel methods, our world has become smaller and smaller. Our borders do not protect us from the events happening in other corners of the globe. When there is an uprising in the Middle East, we all feel it. When there is a tsunami in Japan, we are all devastated. When a man pursues and fatally shoots an unarmed teen, it resonates with every person in possession of a soul – or at least it ought to.

As the details surrounding the events leading up to Trayvon’s murder become more public, so ought to become an increase in concern for anyone who does not settle nicely into what a trustworthy human being looks like, at least in the state of Florida.

Shielded by local law enforcement and “Stand your Ground”, the now infamous George Zimmerman has still not been arrested because there is no evidence to show that he did not kill Trayvon in self-defense, according to Sanford’s chief of police. Indeed, there WAS no evidence…until this morning, when a 16 year old girl revealed that she was on the phone with Trayvon who told her he was fleeing a strange man who was hounding him. Had the police checked his phone records, they would have discovered this. Instead, they treated him like the criminal and suspected drug addict that Zimmerman accused him of being; Zimmerman, who was a complete stranger and who has no powers of repute, other than effective stereotyping.

Why should this be of concern to you? Because this could potentially happen to you or someone you hold dear. Florida is a state that attracts visitors from around the globe. Miami, Busch Gardens, Disney World and its numerous vacationing and tourists’ spots make it worthy of its renowned reputation as a place to unwind. It is also a state that enacted the Stand Your Ground law, which essentially reverses the idea that a person who feels threatened should flee their attacker and gives them the right to inflict harm a perceived assailant, fatally if need be. Since this law was enacted in 2005, several would-be homicide cases have been dismissed and the shooters have gone free. The details of those cases are unknown to me, but I do know that in Trayvon’s case he was the hunted and Zimmerman the attacker, not the other way round. As time goes on this is only going to become more evident.

Over America’s tumultuous history, certain segments of society have been viewed as less than favorable or just downright “dangerous”. Then seen as enemy aliens, the American government seized the assets of Japanese Americans and sent them to internment camps during WWII. When the Irish first settled in this country, they were castigated by fellow Caucasians who saw them as little better than niggers. Today, ordinary Arabs (or anyone blessed with features resembling Arabs) are vilified for the attacks on September 11th , when none of these people had anything to do with those attacks at all. Native Americans, Mexicans, Blacks…we all have a cross to bear when it comes to how the majority in our society views us. The problem is when that view transforms into something lethal. We cannot condone a system that says it is alright for one person to shoot and kill another, simply because he/she does not like the look of that person – and that is precisely what the police in Florida are doing.

If we remove the lens of race from the details of this case, the conclusion would be no different. What George Zimmerman did on that day was wrong, and what the Sanford Police Department did was deplorable.

Trayvon was lost and scared that day, and Zimmerman’s bullet tore into the flesh of a kid whose last cries were a howl for help and a cry for his mother.

If Trayvon had been a 17 year old girl Saudi walking the neighborhood in a hajib, Zimmerman would still be wrong.

If Trayvon had been a 17 year old Hispanic boy with spiky hair and tattered jeans, Zimmerman would still be wrong.

If Zimmerman were Black and Trayvon white, Zimmerman would still be wrong!

All it will take for this tragedy to be repeated again will be pervasive prejudice residing in the mind of a deranged individual with a right to carry a firearm and an itchy finger. If we don’t demand justice and real change, I suspect that there will be many other Trayvon’s before the year is out.

This morning my 3 year old son, lumbered into my room, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and seeking a hug. I picked him up and nuzzled my nose into his neck. He smelled musty, like he’d been playing outside in the rocks and dirt that are a little boy’s constant companions. I whispered “I love yous” into his ear and we gave each other a series of high fives. As they often do, my thoughts turned immediately to Trayvon’s mother, who will never again be able to hug her son or audibly express her love for him. I can’t imagine what her life is like today. I pray often that I never have to.

On the right side of this page, you will see a link to sign a petition demanding that George Zimmerman be brought to justice. He must be charged with a hate crime, for what he did that day was purely motivated by his hatred/prejudices against a certain race…the same as my son’s. If you believe in righteousness, please sign it. Take a stand and make your voice heard. Any human who has been the subject of prejudice knows that it is imperative that we all speak out. You may be protecting another child who might suffer the same fate as Trayvon otherwise.