Archive for the ‘Found on Another Site’ Category

The Theory Of Justice: One Black Man’s Frightening Encounter With a Cop & His Power

December 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Black men and police stops


The sound of the door slamming behind me echoed in the dimly lit hallway as I walked down the narrow corridor towards my apartment. An officer blocked my path, holding his arm out in front of me as I attempted to walk past.

“Where are you headed?” he demanded.

I tried to remove his arm from my wrist, attempting to walk around him home a few feet away. “Why are you putting your hands on me?” he asked ferociously.

He was a black cop, about 5’7, stocky and in his mid-to-late thirties. I heard my friend Darnell, listening from the hallway, call out, “Hey Pete, stop being difficult!’’

He had left the stairwell moments before me and now stood in front of our apartment. Both the officer and I ignored him.

“I wasn’t putting my hands on you, simply trying to remove your hand from me,” I explained. “Can I go?”

“I need to see some ID,” he retorted sharply.

“For what?”

My lack of deference angered him. Read more…


Thirteen, Black & Afraid to End Up Like Ferguson

December 2, 2014 Leave a comment

black teen boys react to ferguson


A couple of years ago my mother wanted to enrich my knowledge of Black culture. I learned about matters pertaining to many things, though one topic in particular arose continuously: It was the civil rights movement. I heard about the people being thrown in jail and hosed down. How they couldn’t even go to the same stores or drink out of the same water fountains as white people. Then I saw how people fought for freedom and took us out of those particular situations. So that segregation in the government was officially over. Read more…

12-Year-Old Shot By Police: No Safe Place For Black Children

November 24, 2014 Leave a comment

by — Nov 24, 2014

12-year-old shot by police

A 12-year-old shot by police this weekend is dead.

The CHILD, Tamir Rice, was playing with his sister and a friend in a Cleveland, OH, PARK when a grown ass drunk in a bar across the street dialed up police and said a man was waving around a gun, “scaring the s— out of everyone.” That drunk went on to tell the dispatcher that the PERSON they were all scared of was “probably a JUVENILE” and that the gun was “probably fake,” but neither the caller, dispatcher nor cops could be bothered by those details. The police officers responding to the call showed up, guns drawn, told a 12-YEAR OLD CHILD to put his hands in the air and then executed the BOY when he reached for his TOY.

Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old shot by police, is dead. Read more…

Suffer the Little Children: the Effect of Domestic Violence On Kids

November 1, 2014 Leave a comment

effects of domestic violence on children


Growing up in an abusive home, I saw the face of domestic violence in my mother. I saw it in my aunts and in my cousins. The need to love a man that is broken because you have no idea what love is. The desire to fix or heal that part of him because you think that is what marriage or relationship is supposed to be. The women in my family were “ride or die” before I even knew what that meant. They were literally willing to die at the hands of their man.

Each October we spend so much time focusing on Breast Cancer Awareness by turning everything pink, but what about turning it purple? Purple is the color of Domestic Violence Awareness. Which is also in the month of October. How many of you actually knew that? Not me. Not until recently.

The last eighteen months of my life have been about an evolution of change. Growing, learning and striving to be better. I’ve been digging up the roots of my past and trying to figure out why I am who I am. It’s been a journey of self-discovery and immense pain. The pain of violence that I had hidden away and didn’t want to share. Until now. Read more…

‘Justice While Black’: A Must-Have Book for Black Families in These Scary Times

October 14, 2014 Leave a comment

Justice While BlackAs an author, one of the most gratifying experiences you can have is for people to tell you that your book saved their life, or was extremely useful and relevant to them. But when you write a book like “Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System,” your feelings are a lot more complicated. I was hoping it would prove useful to the Black community, but it’s turned out to be waaay more relevant than I’d ever want.

When Atlanta attorney Robbin Shipp and I sat down more than a year ago to start writing “Justice While Black,” it was the specter of Trayvon Martin that hung over the room. The Black community had just suffered through the numbing shock of George Zimmerman’s acquittal. For nearly two decades, Robbin had been witnessing the parade of Black males carted through the criminal justice system in Georgia. For just as long, I had been writing about the stultifying list of African Americans who had been summarily executed by American law enforcement, often for no apparent reason other than their skin color. We both felt compelled to do something, to use our respective talents to make a difference.

But in the months leading up to the book’s release and in the two weeks since “Justice While Black” has been out, the nation has witnessed an outrageous number of African Americans dying or suffering at the hands of law enforcement. As the book’s publication date approached, I was even asked to pen an essay in the October issue of Ebony, looking at the issue from a dad’s perspective, because the topic of the book was so incredibly relevant. Read more…

Bitter B*tch Disorder: 5 Telltale Signs

September 19, 2014 Leave a comment

 By Eva

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

– Widely misattributed to Plato and/or Philo of Alexandria, but you don’t know and I don’t know either because neither of us was there, dammit… Source: Wikipedia, assorted Instagram posts, fortune cookies and tea bag tags


woman in rollersLife can be hard. That’s just a fact.

And your outlook has a lot to do with just how hard it is. A positive mindset can help dig you out of a negative situation, not by magically fixing it, but just changing how you frame and view it. Everyone gets into a rut sometimes. The people that (loudly) choose to STAY there, though? Those people…male or female… are bitter bitches.

And they’re allll around us. Worse yet, are you one of them? It’s not too late to change that, buttercup. Recognize these 5 red flags? Distance yourself or fix it. Read more…

Mac N’ Cheese Sex: It’s What’s For Dinner

September 13, 2014 Leave a comment

 photo mac-n-cheese-eva-said-it-the-industry-cosign_zps074a26ec.jpgBy Eva

When I think of mac ‘n cheese (spelled here in the warm, ooey gooey way intentionally), it’s like picturing a steaming bowl of “made-with-love” in my hand. I mean, it is perhaps THE most comforting of all the comfort foods. And what’s more comforting than a hot bowl of mac n’ cheese, right?

A hot bowl of mac n’ cheese sex.

I mean … a hot bed of mac n’ cheese sex. Assuming you can’t find a bowl to fit into. I mean… Anyway. I digress. But it’s real, kiddies. And there’s no processed cheese involved…unless you’re kinky like that. Freaks.

You ever just have a need for your partner? Not necessarily a lustful need, but an emotional need? A feeling that maybe you just need a naked, vaginal hug? Well, this is THAT sex. After a tough week of meetings, travel, and general grump and stress, I found myself tired and just wanting the naked closeness that only intimacy can provide. It wasn’t even about wanting to get off. Orgasm is a proven stress reliever to the body, but this time, my soul was stressed. We were beyond “I need a hug.” And the need was more about us being as close as two humans can physically be, in the most vulnerable way possible. There’s magical healing in the power of touch; a decompression and exhale that happens…and it presses a rest button somewhere in the universe that grounds me. Read more…

‘Promises Kept’ Offers a Gold Mine of Tips on Raising a Successful Black Child

March 14, 2014 Leave a comment

by — Mar 14, 2014

Promises KeptIf 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…

Fathering Female Athletes, and the NY Times Article that Nearly Made My Head Explode

February 11, 2014 Leave a comment

by — Feb 11, 2014

African American Girl Playing Soccer

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…

Not Like Oprah: Teaching Kids To Shine On Their Own Terms

February 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Beautiful African American GirlIn 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…

I’m A Black Single Mom and Black People Stereotype Me Like Crazy

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

frowning black womanBy NIKEYTA ROBINSON

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…

Eff Madonna, Sarah Palin & the Naked Black Woman Chair.

January 21, 2014 Leave a comment

by — Jan 21, 2014

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…

LeBron James’ Love Letter To Single Moms On The Shriver Report

January 16, 2014 Leave a comment

by — Jan 15, 2014

Lebron James and Mother Gloria James

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.

But I did give it a second look yesterday after articles on Jezebel and Time painted a bleak picture on the state of women in America. Some of the report highlights, as outlined on

  • 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…

Meditation On Jahi McMath, Brain Death, Compassion and a Black Mother’s Love

January 10, 2014 2 comments

by — Jan 10, 2014

Jahi McMath
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…

Shaped By God: Encouraging Faith—As Opposed to Religion—in My Child

January 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Teaching Faith to Children

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…

Forget 2014 New Year Resolutions: Try this REVOLUTION For Moms & Dads

January 2, 2014 Leave a comment

New Year Resolutions 2014

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…

The Best R&B and Soul Christmas Music Playlist Ever

December 23, 2013 Leave a comment

by — Dec 23, 2013

Christmas Music Playlist R&B and Gospel

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…

Megyn Kelly, Black Santa and Other Colored Things That’ll Make Her Fox Head Explode

December 17, 2013 Leave a comment

by — Dec 17, 2013

African American holiday cards

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…

Black Teen Pregnancy Rates Drop By 51 Percent—Thanks To Responsible Teens

December 12, 2013 Leave a comment

black teen pregnancy ratesAs 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…

Kandi Burruss & Mama Joyce Make Me Grateful My Mom and Dad Practiced Hands-off Parenting

December 11, 2013 1 comment

Mama Joyce and Kandi

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…

Picking the Brown Doll: Why Images Matter

December 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Brown DollBy 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…

If You Suck At Reading Others’ Emotions, Your Life Will Suck

November 14, 2013 Leave a comment

by — Nov 13, 2013


How good are you at reading other people’s emotions?

I thought I was pretty good at it—though my wife might be of a different mind on this—but I just found out I’m about average.

The New York Times has a fascinating test on its website that throws pictures at you of eyes, lots of eyes, and asks you to guess the mood of the person at the time the picture was taken.

There’s no overestimating how important a skill this is for each of us. How often do we use the skill in our relationships or our jobs when trying to decide whether to approach someone—a spouse/colleague/boss/child—with a difficult or important request? Everyday we call on these empathy skills in one way or another—and those of us who are less skilled in this area probably have less successful love relationships and are less successful on the job.

I know it’s a skill that children are notoriously bad at developing. My 11-year-old consistently astounds me with her cluelessness at recognizing the moods of the other people in the house when she launches into some ridiculous request or bit of drama. In fact, I think our dog Teddy is a more skilled reader of our moods, particularly those of my wife Denene, than is my little one.

I just pray that one day my daughter wakes up and realizes that the skill was sitting there all along, unused. Read more…

As Violence Explodes in PG-13 Movies, Parents Have to Say No to Hollywood

November 12, 2013 Leave a comment

ChuckyThreeALL_468x332As parents, we spend a lot of time worrying ourselves about the sexual content in movies that we consider for our children, but a new study in the journal Pediatrics reveals that our concern may be misplaced: the level of gun violence shown in PG-13 movies has tripled since 1985 and now exceeds the level found in R-rated movies.

In a country where gun violence has been reaching epidemic levels—from random mass murders to the senseless killings subsuming many urban neighborhoods—we all should be extremely alarmed that our children are absorbing epic levels of violence presented to them in the form of entertainment. Along with the rampant violence featured in video games, our little ones are being trained to develop a cheapened view of human life.

As parents, I think we have to be hyper conscious of the material we are presenting to our kids, because they’re not necessarily going to announce to us that the material is inappropriate. While my 11-year-old daughter is sensitive to violence and killing and is repelled by such material in films, my son reveled in it when he was her age. So the parental inclination is to let him watch the stuff way more than he should.

But we can’t give in to the inclination.

Is there any wonder that the explosion in violent films shown to young people coincides with the huge increase in mass shootings committed by angry and disillusioned young men?

The researchers studied gun violence in films since 1984, when the PG-13 rating was introduced. PG-13 is short for “Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.” Read more…

To Avoid Stigma, Biracial Teen Changes Her Name from Keisha to Kylie

November 6, 2013 Leave a comment

by — Nov 6, 2013

Cristy and Kylie Austin

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…

‘Clear the Airwaves Project’ Wants Violent, Explicit, Misogynistic Music Off Chicago Radio

November 5, 2013 Leave a comment

by — Nov 5, 2013

black radio

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…

Federal Prosecutor Reopens Kendrick Johnson Gym Mat Death Investigation; Video Of Gym Released

November 4, 2013 Leave a comment

by — Nov 4, 2013

Kendrick Johnson Gym Mat Death

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…

{Faith & Motherhood} Developing My Child’s ‘Character’: The Greatest Ghostwriting Gig Ever

November 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Raising Black Children

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…

With Food Stamp Cuts Looming, Remembering The Government Cheese

October 29, 2013 Leave a comment

by — Oct 29, 2013

Government Cheese

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…

Are Anti-Bacterial Wipes Really Effective?

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment

anti-bacterial wipe

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…

{Faith & Motherhood} Teaching Children To Pray—Purposefully and From the Heart

October 24, 2013 1 comment

Girl Praying

You’ve seen them. Maybe you’ve even been them.

*raises hand*

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…

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