I used to be the main one screaming at the top of her lungs about the commercialization of Easter. Ranting about how church folk, some of whom I hadn’t seen in the pews since Christmas or New Year’s Eve, use the day solely as an opportunity to show off their fancy, over-priced clothes instead of worshipping the risen Savior. I’d say, “don’t Black folk know the REAL reason why we get so fly on Sundays.” (research off-day for slaves) I’d go on and on about how department stores and companies take advantage of us. Read more…
If you have any interest in understanding how to raise brilliant and successful African-American children, particularly boys, you have to grab a copy of “Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life.”
Written by married couple Joe Brewster, M.D., and Michele Stephenson—the filmmakers behind the masterful documentary “American Promise”—with the considerable assistance of writer Hilary Beard, this book is a profoundly important work presenting the latest research and innovations that can nearly guarantee improvement in the outcomes for Black children.
Thanks to President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative—and, unfortunately due to the disturbing murders of Black boys like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis— the challenges surrounding Black boys in America have suddenly found a place on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers and websites. But as you know, it’s an issue that we’ve been writing about for years here at MyBrownBaby.
When I was working on my series for Ebony magazine on the state of Black boys in America, which Ebony called “Saving Our Sons,” one of the first people I turned to was my good friend, writer Hilary Beard. Hilary is a three-time New York Times bestselling author who is a master collaborator, working over the years with such big names as Venus and Serena Williams and Angela Bassett and Courtney Vance to bring their stories to life in books such as Venus and Serena: Serving From the Hip: 10 Rules for Living, Loving, and Winning and Friends: A Love Story. In other words, Hilary does the same thing that my wife Denene and I do—helping celebrities and other successful folk tell important stories that advance our understanding of the human condition, particularly that brand of the human condition lived by African Americans. Read more…
There are few things more satisfying to the fathers of female athletes than seeing your daughters out there balling. Whatever the sport, watching them honing their skills and learning how to impose their physicality on others is immensely pleasurable.
But as the father of two skilled female athletes, I was thoroughly disgusted reading a story in the New York Times that profiled the insanity that has taken over the world of youth girls soccer—a place my girls have toiled for nearly the past decade. A majority of the top Division 1 college women’s soccer programs begin offering girls soccer scholarships in the 8th grade, according to the Times—the schools already have their entire rosters filled by the time those future college freshmen are still juniors in high school. The high-stakes system has gotten to the point where parents are driven to near insanity, desperate to snag one of those golden tickets, while the poor little girls are on the verge of nervous breakdowns, waiting for the nod from a college coach before they even know how to spell acne. Meanwhile, the college coaches wind up each year with rosters teeming with girls who peaked early and are no longer Division 1 material by the time they hit 18.
As the father of a teenage daughter, I am absolutely certain that NO major decisions about their long-term interests, proclivities and abilities should be made before the girls hit puberty. No one knows who they are going to be and what they will care about when they emerge from that traumatic human test called adolescence. By the time she’s heading for her senior prom she may HATE soccer—particularly if she’s been locked in the pressurized world of youth soccer for 13 years. It’s ridiculous that these college coaches, afraid they are going to lose out on top players, have continued to give life to this foolishness. Read more…
::sashays past you and gets comfy on your couch::
::does not address lengthy writing hiatus while pouring a cocktail::
I think I’ve had a breakthrough. Not to get all 20-something-lost-middle-american-girl-in-a-stupid-movie on you, but…I realize…this time…I love differently.
I don’t write much about my current relationship. It’s far more exciting to
talk smack about the losers tell tales of dating adventures past. Who wants to hear when someone’s all in love and happy? Pffft! I hate that shit! The internet is for bitching, moaning, whining and watching cat videos! Everyone knows that! DUH!
But this one time, forgive me. Ok?
Whaddayou mean NO?! Ok.
Somewhere on this site, I’ve mentioned the fact that I can hold a grudge at championship levels. I am the Floyd “Money” Mayweather of resentment. I’ve shared that I will go toe-to-toe with my man if I really believe it’s worth it, assuming there’s something to be gained for us. I’ve had trouble learning The Fine Art of Shutting the F*ck Up. I’ve confessed that if you make me mad, my legs close up tighter than Honey Boo Boo’s fist around a french fry. ::Soup Nazi voice:: “NO COOCH FOR YOU!” Read more…
In 1988, I was thirteen years old and I wanted to be a singer. And a dancer. And a lawyer. And a writer.
One out of four ain’t too bad, I suppose.
I also wanted to be Oprah.
Yes, as in THE Oprah Winfrey. I wanted the big, eighties, feathered hair. The Fashion Fair make-up. And the ability to ask white people provocative questions without fear of the consequences.
For a little brown girl growing up in Louisville, KY, the idea of a young black woman from the South, hosting and ultimately owning her own talk show and production company, was foreign and fascinating and worthy of my admiration.
And though I’d set Oprah in the forefront of my vision, I have to give my mother credit for never, ever, ever telling me that I couldn’t be a writing, dancing, singing, litigating talk show host. By virtue of her not discouraging my lofty ambitions, she taught me that I could be whatever I wanted. To this day, it has never occurred to me that I can’t do whatever I choose to do if I work hard and said task is the will of God for my life. Read more…
Recently, I came in contact with a woman whose ignorance aroused a rant out of me so dangerous that the ears of bystanders were bleeding and steam was visibly escaping my person. Was I mad? Ha, I was livid! Let me explain.
This woman, who I shall hereafter refer to as “Helpless,” was a customer at a retail store that I had the misery of managing. As I rang her up she said something along the lines of “Girl, stores is busy today, but you know it’s the 1st.” My mind was elsewhere so I was paying only half attention, but I caught enough to get the implication. “What does that mean?” I asked.
Helpless looked at me in disbelief. “Girl, you know what that mean standing up there wit dat weave in yo hair.”
I can assure you at this point I came to: ”Excuse me?!”
Yes, I understand now that Helpless was referring to welfare. However, I was more than bothered by her ridiculous insinuation that having a weave is synonymous with people who wait on government checks, or at least people who know the details about when benefits arrive and how and where they’re spent. Read more…
Madonna, the mother of two black Malawian children, referred to her white son, Rocco, as the N-word, and then got buck when fans pulled her card for slinging around the offensive racial slur on Instagram. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman showed passion and over-the-top emotion moments after leading his team to the Super Bowl and Twitter exploded into a racist tirade of Klan rally proportions, with
people animals calling Sherman all kinds of foul, racist names. Sarah Palin terrorized Facebook with a post dedicated to President Obama, quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., to make some insane, confused, dumb ass request for the most powerful man in the free world to “stop playing the race card.” And the editor-in-chief of a Russian magazine posed for a feature photo using a half-naked black woman, literally, as her chair. Her effing chair.
Is it me or have white folk (not all, but enough to notice) gone completely mad? I just… like… for real, people? I was out yesterday with my children, honoring the Prince of Peace on the holiday celebrating the efforts of a man who fought federally-sanctioned terror against Black people in the American south, and I come back to my Facebook feed only to find all this madness? Read more…
I caught the beginnings of the airing out of The Shriver Report, Maria Shriver’s multi-platform, nonprofit media initiative on the state of women, on the Today show earlier this week, and I have to admit: I was observing the series of TV interviews and the home website with a healthy bit of skepticism. You know me: if there’s no evidence that women of color are being included in the conversation about women, motherhood and how money, education, work and politics affect us all, I can’t hear, see or feel any of the words, thoughts or deeds you’re offering.
- 1 in 3 American women, 42 million women, plus 28 million children, either live in poverty or are right on the brink of it. (The report defines the “brink of poverty” as making $47,000 a year for a family of four.)
- Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, and these workers often get zero paid sick days.
- Two-thirds of American women are either the primary or co-breadwinners of their families.
- The average woman is paid 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, and that figure is much lower for black and Latina women; African American women earn only 64 cents and Hispanic women only 55 cents for every dollar made by a white man. Read more…
My God, those cheeks—that sweet, bright smile stretched across that bubbling brown sugar pie of a face. Jahi McMath’s pictures, full of energy and life and delicious girlpie goodness are all-at-once beautiful and heartbreaking—the sad last chapter of her young life, a brutal tale of surgery gone awry and seeming medical indifference, a travesty. I want to hug her. And wrap her mother, Nailah Winkfield, into a warm embrace.
No mother should bury her child.
Not in this way.
Not in a hail of uncertainty and doubt, begging and fighting, court orders and legal briefs and press conferences and clandestine exchanges between emotionless hospital officials and coroners and people who promise miracles, even when miracles totter precariously on the impossible.
I first read the story of Jahi’s horrific medical descent while riding shotgun in the car with Nick, running Christmas errands with our girls, and I couldn’t believe the words splayed across my phone. A 13-year-old girl went into surgery at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland to have her tonsils removed, afraid that she wouldn’t wake up from what doctors told her mother was a routine procedure. She came out of the anesthesia alert and asking for popsicles, and then started bleeding, first lightly, then profusely. According to legal petition filed by her family, nurses met her mother’s queries about Jahi’s condition with blithe concern—gave that baby cups and paper towels and pitchers to keep Jahi’s bleeding from making a mess, but calling doctors only after her grandmother, herself a nurse, got buck and demanded someone come tend to that child. Shortly after, Jahi went into cardiac arrest, the petition continues, and then slipped into a coma. Read more…
We have enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another —Jonathan Swift
And there’s the rub.
I do not prescribe to Religion (with a capital R; as defined by general society). I do pursue (follow, worship) Christ religiously. There is a difference. One is a noun that often implies that my practices and activities alone can get me to God and Heaven. The other is an adverb that describes the intensity and consistency of my desire for Him in my life. The latter indicates a relationship not unlike a child’s pursuit of a parent or, if that doesn’t grab you, a lover of their beloved.
However, I do think it’s important for me as a parent to examine my notions of religion in order to understand and position Christ as a viable option for my child who, inevitably—and if I’ve done my job right in teaching her to think critically—,will find herself skeptical of Christianity: The Religion. Read more…
Revolution (noun) \ˌre-və-ˈlü-shən – a sudden, extreme, or complete change in the way people live, work, etc.; the overthrow of a system.
I suck at New Year’s resolutions. Don’t get me wrong; I’m pretty decent at setting professional goals and breaking my neck (literally, it feels like sometimes) to meet them. But when it comes to “resolving” to make changes in my life personally (i.e., them 50lbs I need to drop or being a better *insert role here*), I often allow life to wreck havoc on my intentions after about 30 days into the New Year.
I suspect I’m not alone.
So I’ve decided that we should rethink this whole thing. Overthrow the old system! Of course, we want to be better on December 31, 2014 than we are today. Better moms. Better dads. Better people. But this recent article by James Clear for Entrepreneur Magazine got me thinking about how I go about reaching my goals in a whole new way. Read more…
There’s a running joke between my son Mazi and I about who’s more Mr/Mrs Christmas around the MyBrownBaby household. Both of us absolutely stan for Christmas music. Like, with an almost fanatical zeal that’s wholly unnatural. We start playing it religiously the day after Thanksgiving, and we pump up the volume big time when we’re decorating the tree, hanging lights outside, and wrapping presents. Best believe, too, that when our feet are under the table at Christmas dinner—no matter whose table it is—our Christmas play list is bumping in the background. It’s that serious.
Every year, I add on a few more songs to our play list—some of them old treasures that I’ve discovered on iTunes, others new offerings I’ve heard on the radio and purchased at the store or online. Old standbys include beautiful Christmas songs by Kirk Franklin, Whitney Houston, Dianne Reeves, Anita Baker, Brian McKnight and Harry Connick, Jr.; this year, I added on songs from Justin Bieber (at the insistence of my girlpies!), Jason Mraz, Macy Gray, Musiq Soulchild and Tamia, CeeLo Green and Mary J. Blige, plus some classic offerings by Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong that I copped on Spotify. (Please note: Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” is an obvious tradition and should be on every Christmas music playlist ever known to man; he most certainly is on all five of mine. I stretched a little in the list below, however, by putting a funky version by Macy Grey, who is one in a long line of singers who remade the classic version.) Read more…
Oh, if a simple blog post about Black Santa can get Fox News’ Megyn Kelly all riled up, let me hip her to some African American family truth that’ll make her effing head explode: practically every African American family I know sticks not only to Black Santa, but brown people on any and every item that has a face on it.
If we give birthday cards, we’re reaching for the Hallmark Mahogany joints with the Black people on it. If my daughters wear shirts with people’s faces on their chests, you best believe those faces are brown—or the shirt will not get bought. Art that I spend my hard-earned money on? Black artists. Black faces. Same for pillows, wallpaper and magazines I display on the tables throughout my home.
Raise your hand if you went to a church that had a Black Jesus on the big stained-glass window behind the pulpit at your church. Bonus points if his hair mirrored scripture and looked like “lamb’s wool” and his feet were the color of “brass.” Triple that if you’ve ever purchased a card from a drug store that didn’t carry the Mahogany line, and colored in the faces/hands/feet and anything else that looked like skin with brown crayon/marker/anything that can make the characters look like you and the people you love.
What you know about the wrapping paper with the Black Santa on it?
Oh, it’s out there. I got some, please believe it. Read more…
As the mom of a teenage girl and another girlpie well on her way to becoming one, this news feels like the Fourth of July: the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy says Black teen pregnancy rates fell 51 percent between 1990 and 2009.
Campaign CEO Sarah Brown says the massive drop is due to three factors: more teens are waiting to have sex; teens are reporting fewer sexual partners, and; teens are using contraception more. “In short, the credit for this remarkable national success story goes to teens themselves,” said Brown.
Still, Brown took us adults to task for not giving our kids credit, noting that nearly half of Americans “incorrectly believe the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. has increased over the past two decades.”
This could be because at every turn, social conservatives—from the big-mouthed-but-clueless hypocrites in Congress to the loud-mouths-out-for-ratings TV and radio talking heads to your nutty neighbor next door—shout from the rooftops that American women, women of color specifically, are nothing more than promiscuous harlots sucking the system dry to support kids we can’t afford to raise. Those same mouthpieces are the ones who cheer on cuts to the federal food stamp program, welfare and Medicaid—programs that provide a safety net to our most vulnerable: children—all while spending their every waking moment trying to dismantle sexual health and reproduction programs and obliterate our lawful rights to reproductive choice.
The very face of those attacks is young Black women—teens included. So it makes sense that Americans are deluding themselves into thinking our daughters are promiscuous, fertile hookers just one hot-and-heavy sex session away from making a gang of babies. Read more…
Daddy smelled her perfume first. And then it hit me in a wave. It was the first Thanksgiving that I’d made up my mind not to be sad that Mommy wasn’t here to cook and eat and celebrate family with us. As a thank you, she made her presence known. For this—for her scent, for her spirit, for the memories she created, for the almost four decades God gave her to be in my life—I was grateful.
After I ran into the bathroom and cried for a few minutes, I closed my eyes real tight and breathed really easy and talked to her—told her “thank you” for being my guardian angel, told her that I was still madly in love with her, told her that she’d be so very proud of her grandbabies, with their smart, pretty, sporty, amazing selves, told her that I’ve been trying my best to make her proud. I told my mother, too, that I missed her so—that I just know she must be having a time in Heaven.
Today, I am remembering that moment. And making an addendum to my talk with Angel Mommy, one that specifically thanks her for being a kind, respectful mother to her grown-up daughter. Earth Mommy was strict and no-nonsense, sure. But she was also a mother who was keenly aware that once she was no longer financing my life and I was out from up under her skirt and her roof, she had to respect my flow—that she had to stand back and let me make my own decisions, even if, quietly, she thought they were big, gigantic, fat mistakes that I would regret. Read more…
It was mostly her eyes.
Doe-eyed, some would say. My granny would’ve said, “that baby done been here before.” They were wide with wonder. Framed with eyelashes that waved at me like fans in slow motion. It was like she could see me. Really see me. And I saw her.
She was juicy in a way that only babies can be. With cheeks that made you want to kiss them forever. Only a few months old when I held her the first time, I felt an ache in my heart. I wanted to take her home with us. Adopt her if it was possible. She was the god-daughter of my husband’s best friend and his wife. The mother was a struggling teenager facing a tough life.
I suppose I didn’t realize how tough.
We didn’t take her in. Although I firmly believe that God placed that baby girl in my heart, I listened to my circumstances instead. I’d just had my first miscarriage so “maybe I was just feeling emotional because of that.” Hubby and I were newly married so “could we really afford to take in someone’s child?” And given the issues, “maybe the mother didn’t want to leave her baby.”
I listened to every other voice but the one I knew was true. Read more…
By AYA de LEON
I would have held my breath if I’d known. A couple weeks ago at preschool my daughter made an art project where she had to choose between paper doll forms of several colors.
I was at work that day. Perhaps I was standing in front of my students talking about racism, or gender bias, or the craft techniques that make a poem dazzling. I was oblivious to the fact that my daughter was taking a massive race/gender test at her preschool. What color doll to pick. They had beige, tan, light brown, dark brown.
So many of us are haunted by those studies in the sixties of black children, quoted for decades in literature and captured on video. Which is the pretty doll? The smart doll? The good doll? The loveable doll? Time and again, the children picked the white doll.
I’ve been vigilant. I don’t allow her to play with white dolls. Dora the Explorer is the lightest the dolls get in our house. Her books are heavily weighted toward stories of African heritage girls. I have even written a children’s book with photos of kids, adults and families with natural hair called Puffy: People Whose Hair Defies Gravity. Read more…
Cristy and Kylie Austin
A biracial teenager in Kansas has put her own name on the line in the long-raging debate in the African-American community about whether black-sounding names do our children a disservice: The girl legally changed her name from Keisha to Kylie.
We’ve talked before on MyBrownBaby about the conflicted emotions many African Americans have about these names. It’s an issue that can turn a polite dinner party upside down: Are they giving a child a handicap right out of the gate, ensuring she won’t ever get called in for the interview? Are they a sign of racial pride that should be celebrated—white folks and uppity Negroes be damned?
And how about the names derived from liquor or designer labels, like Courvoisier or Nautica? Is it okay to laugh at them, or should those parents be applauded for their creativity and freedom from pretense?
In the case of the former Keisha Austin, 19, of Kansas City, the freedom she sought was to escape the bullying and ridicule that she says has been directed at her by her mostly white classmates since she was a little girl. Read more…
Let me tell you, it’s so good to know I’m not alone in my hatred for what Black radio is serving our kids (and us grown folk!): A new group out of Chicago is going after radio stations and their advertisers for filling the airwaves with misogynistic, violent, sexually-explicit music.
The Clear the Airwaves Project, led by founder Kwabena Rasuli, says the music being played on radio should be for adults only, and inaccessible on free, public radio that our kids can access at any time. But instead of protesting outside Chicago’s Hip Hop stations, Rasuli’s group is getting gully: they’re protesting the advertisers who hawk their products between songs whose lyrical content make hardened criminals and porn stars blush.
For the past two months, The Clear the Airwaves Project has been standing outside black-owned McDonald’s restaurants on Chicago’s South Side, holding placards with warnings about the music being played on the station and its easy access for kids. Their thinking: if radio stations refuse to stop playing music that consistently disrespects Black women, celebrates illicit drug use and refers to its audience as nothing more than a bunch of broke niggers who can’t keep up with their rampant excess, perhaps taking away their money source will make the radio station’s listen.
“We feel that the music being played on the radio is influencing our children and is detrimental and should be for adults only,” Rasuli told the Chicago Sun Times, noting that in about 90 percent of the songs, artists are dropping the “N bomb” and in about 80 percent, “they are calling our sisters the B-word.” “This is music that encourages girls to be strippers and young men to kill each other, to pop mollies or Ecstasy pills, and to be unrealistically materialistic.”
Say that. Read more…
Hell. Yes. A federal prosecutor is reopening the investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson, the teenager who was found dead inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in his Georgia high school gym.
Michael Moore, The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced he’ll be conducting a “formal review” of KJ’s death, with the FBI helping him get to the bottom of how, exactly, the beautiful, multi-sport athlete ended up dead and so incredibly disfigured that when they found his body some 23 hours after he went missing, he looked like Emmett Till 2.0.
Moore said he reopened the case after reviewing police documents and interviewing specific people involved in the initial investigation, which ended with Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine insisting KJ’s death was nothing more than a freak accident caused when he fell into and got stuck upside down in a 700-lb, 7”-tall gym mat he may have reached into to retrieve a shoe. Prine made that pronouncement not even a day after KJ’s body was found at his Valdosta, Ga., school, sans an autopsy and coroner report. Read more…
The best books are written in such a way that the reader becomes totally engaged in the story. We identify with the characters. The plot is suspenseful. We laugh, cry or both.
Such is life.
Everyday we breathe, we write another page in our personal books of life—through every season or major event, more chapters. And just as an author quickly establishes in the first chapters who a character is and what the reader should believe about that character, we parents establish character in children, helping them and everyone around them understand what they should believe about themselves. Author and psychologist Irene Kassorla says that the “pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand,” I submit that this is only the case when you become an adult.
The truth is, we aren’t the only writers of our stories. As children, the “story” of our lives was likely begun by our parents, or whoever was responsible for us at the time. Some of the writing was good: there are intriguing intros with just enough good stuff to keep those who “read” us wanting to learn more. For others, the writing was bad. Real bad. With missing pieces and everything. Yet regardless of whether our early lives were good, bad or somewhere in-between, we still got stuff on our pages. And it impacts us even when we’re grown.
Now granted, characters and people certainly change. Especially when there are big events, conflicts and changes in their lives. But even then, if a character is firmly defined at their core, then that’s what’s going to come through as they face new scenarios and circumstances. Otherwise, the story—the life—feels inauthentic. Read more…
Editor’s Note: I penned this piece in January 2010, when analysts were exploring the expansion of the federal food stamp program. The running consensus then was that more and more, Americans of all ages, races and backgrounds were increasingly depending on public assistance to feed their families. Now, three years later, that expansion is going away, leaving children vulnerable to hunger here, in one of the richest countries in the world. So I figured I’d dust this story off. It is still relevant, if not more, as rhetoric over the food stamp program reaches fever pitch.
* * *
It’s the cheese I remember—a congealed, yellowy-orange block in non-descript paper, with, I think, blue writing. You needed the might of Solomon to cut through it, it was so thick. All I could manage were chunks—never firm slices. Read more…
We all know them – they are sold in stores everywhere now: antibacterial wipes that promise instant sanitization and destruction of all germs, when you have no soap and water handy. But despite their popular use, are they really doing their job? Are antibacterial wipes really effective?
There’s an antibacterial wipe to suit all purposesSuch is their popularity that antibacterial wipes now come in all shapes and sizes, suited for a range of different functions. They are often packed in a roll in a dispenser which allows you to pull out a single wipe at a time – especially convenient for use in the car or when out and about, especially with a young child or handling animals or just the general outdoors. Some are even designed to be used around the home, such as sanitising countertops in the kitchen.
While all antibacterial wipes are embedded with an antibacterial solution that is designed to kill most bacteria on impact, there can be differences in the formulation, depending on the intended surface. For example, wipes that are intended for the hands and other parts of the body will usually have a milder antibacterial solution and will often incorporate moisturisers into the formula, so that the skin can be soothed at the same time. On the other hand, antibacterial wipes designed for cleaning around the home will be impregnated with much harsher solutions, as household surfaces are far less delicate and sensitive than human skin.
But are they killing germs or spreading germs? Read more…
You’ve seen them. Maybe you’ve even been them.
They are who I call the “SUPERsaved.” They spiritualize everything. And when I say everything… I mean, errr-thang.
It rained today? “God sent the rain to stop my husband from speeding.” (No, He didn’t.)
That extra five dollars the cashier accidentally gave in change? “The Lord knew my need.” (Lies you tell. Give it back.)
A former pastor of mine used to say “some of y’all are so spiritually minded you are no earthly good.” And it’s true. Even Facebook and Twitter posts are evidence. Instead of getting on the phone to their congressman or senator, the super-saved will post something all witty-ish like, “Unlike the government, God never shuts down.” And no, He doesn’t. But really?
And yet, on the other other hand, I totally get it.
No judgment (and only a smidge of snark) here. I mean, what’s the point of having faith and believing in someone greater, higher, and stronger; someone who is a redeemer, if we can’t apply that faith to the everyday circumstances of our lives, right? (But you still don’t get a pass for that five dollars. Give it back.) In fact, nowadays, we all need to encourage ourselves. We all need to remind ourselves that God is. Period. This is especially important when the not-so-great effects of life and living come knocking at our front door. Read more…
When married couple Joe Brewster and Michelle Stephenson decided to turn a video camera on their kindergarten son to chronicle his journey through New York’s prestigious Dalton School, it didn’t take them long to realize they had something on their hands rarely seen in American media and popular culture: a real-world depiction of middle-class African American life.
Brewster, a psychologist, and Stephenson, an attorney, kept the camera running over the course of 12 years, recording moments painful and sublime, joyful and sorrowful, as their son Idris and his best friend Seun grew up on camera from 5-year-olds to high school graduates. The couple, who also dabbled in filmmaking, sifted through 800 hours of footage to create a groundbreaking documentary called “American Promise” that’s been racking up awards and rave reviews ever since it debuted earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the special jury prize.
The film opens today in New York, next Friday in Los Angeles, Nov. 8 in Atlanta, and throughout the fall in other cities around the country.
The filmmakers also collaborated with writer Hilary Beard on an accompanying book, Promises Kept: How to Help Black Boys Succeed in School and in Life—Lessons Learned from the 12-Year American Promise Project, that offers many surprising and important findings about the raising of black boys, as discovered by Brewster and Stephenson during their odyssey at Dalton and in consultation with a slew of experts. I spoke at length with Brewster and Stephenson earlier this year while I was working on a series on black boys that I wrote for Ebony magazine. Read more…
The little girl had to be about two, not much more, and she had this little purse thingy that she was absolutely fascinated with—much more so than the high school football game her mother had dragged her to. I noticed her waving it in her mother’s face, an attempt to get her mama to play with her. The mother? She wasn’t having it.
“I don’t want to play with that,” she snapped, without even looking at her baby.
When the little girl gave another feeble attempt to get her mother’s attention, the lady was all sharp edges and thunder: “I said, I don’t want it,” she seethed through gritted teeth. “Sit it down, shit.”
Now Nick missed all this, but my heart just sank when baby girl wandered away from her mother and her two friends, and started trying to get my husband’s attention. He happily obliged her attempt to join her in playing with the purse. I chimed in with compliments on her shoes and telling her that I loved her afro puffs—something, anything, to make her smile. To deflect from the fact that her mother was acting the donkey toward her baby girl, who was looking for some motherly attention on a Friday night at 10 p.m., when she should have been home in her pajamas, in her crib, sleeping in Heavenly peace.
Peace wasn’t on her mother’s mind. Neither was kindness, particularly when it came to her daughter. Still, though I was disgusted by her behavior, it wasn’t at all surprising. I know Black moms love our babies and that we care for their every need just like any other mom—even and especially when we have to make a way out of no way. But my God, the cursing, the beating, the emotional abuse that I see some Black moms unleashing on their children in the street, at the mall, on public transportation, in school, out in public, hurts me to my core.
Now I’m not stranger to the mean mom. Y’all need to ask about my mom; she’s legend with “The Look” and, yes, the switch. With her, children were to be seen, not heard, and any misstep, no matter how slight, might incur the wrath. She was a great mom. But mean as all get out until I got older and had babies of my own. And she wasn’t alone: I grew up surrounded by Black mothers—women I loved and who loved me back—who were just plain mean. For no good reason. Read more…
Adrian Peterson’s son is gone from here—the 2-year-old victim of a senseless beating, allegedly at the hands of Joseph Patterson, the boyfriend of the little boy’s mom. And I can’t get that baby, the circumstances surrounding his death and especially his mother off my mind.
Details of what happened last week are scant; no one is even 100 percent certain, as news organizations have reported, if the toddler’s name is Ty and the mom’s name is Ann “Ashley” Doohen, or if it’s true that Patterson beat and choked the child after the mother left her son in the boyfriend’s care at her Sioux Falls, SD, home, or if there’s any truth to the rumors that Adrian Peterson, an NFL MVP running back who plays for the Minnesota Vikings, didn’t even know that child was his until three months ago or that he saw him for the first time on Friday, while the baby was on life support, fighting for his little life. Read more…
When should your kid start dating?
If they start as early as 11 or 12, they are more likely to engage in unwanted behaviors during their teen years than students who start dating later, according to a new study to be published in the December issue of the Journal of Adolescence.
The group that researchers classified as “early-starting”—those who began dating at 11.6 years old, on average—reported twice as many acts of abnormal or delinquent behavior as the groups classified as “on-time” teens (those who started at 12.9 years) and those classified as “late bloomers” (those who started at 14.9 years). Those behaviors included lying and cheating, picking fights, truancy, disobedience and running away.
Researchers said they also had increased risk of unsafe sexual activity and alcohol use, according to the study.
As the father of two girls, ages 14 and 11, I crave this sort of information about the possible effects of my daughters getting involved with the opposite sex. In our house, there’s no way in hell that either one of them would be allowed to engage in something that could be classified as “dating” before age 16, but that’s just us. I’m aware that the rules are different in other households, and I don’t pass judgment on those who choose to handle this differently. Read more…