Teach Dem Chirlin'

Five days a week I invest a lot of emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual energy into teaching in a Suspension Site. I'm on the front line witnessing the heartbreaking battle that today's poor, young black and Latino children face. It's not a pretty picture. I worry about the state of affairs for black folk in this country. Especially when so many of us are born to single mothers and being institutionalized and labeled as criminals from elementary school. 

I've had students tell me, "What's the point of trying when you know nobody wants you around. Not your mother, not your father, and definitely not the cops". Or "Yeah I take a gun to school because its not safe to walk through my block without one". Or "Smoking everyday gets me right to take on the day". My children (students) are depressed, spiritually barren, and carry to much of the world on their shoulders. People love to place blame . . . on society, parents, teachers, the list is extensive. Bottomline: Everyone must take responsibility for their actions!

Just because you were raised in the PJs doesn't mean you have to be a reflection of your community. Be the change you want to see in the world. 

 

My heart goes out to the McPhail family who lost their son to senseless violence. And to the family of Troy Davis, who last evening lost his life to lethal injection, I pray for your strength. In the words of one of my favorite bloggers, Field Negro, "What a country. Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson are alive, Charles Manson is alive, and Troy Davis is dead.  *shaking head*" It ain't right . . . it ain't right. Today in class I hope to have a conversation about the Troy Davis case with my kids. I want them to realize how dangerous it is being a young Black/Latino male living in the Hood. Scratch that living period. They are locking us up with a quickness. These kids have no fear. They don't seem to care that just by looking and dressing the way they do they "fit the description". 

 

When I thought I was having a boy, I began a journal I titled the "Lessons I will teach my Black son". Yeah it's that serious and ya'll know I'm extra!

My biggest fear in life is to have to raise a son. I didn't live through, slavery or Reconstruction or during Jim Crow but I am definitely going to raise them with some of the sentiments of those times. Many will disagree and say in the twenty-first century how could you think to raise a child to be this way. Listen, shit is real! If you don't have a healthy fear of the cops and the "justice" system and you feel that the system is in place for you, WRONG ANSWER. We don't have "the complexion for the protection" {Paul Mooney}. So back to my journal... I made a lot of notes and read a lot of books on the industralized prison system and the history of law inforcement in this country which lead me to make a list of the survival skills I want my children to live by. Check it out. Oh and if you are reading this please leave me some comments. Woudl love to here your thoughts on the manner.

Here were a few of the "lessons" I want my children to eternalize:

  1. If you are in your bed/home for the night and someone calls you to go out STAY your ass in the house and tell them you'll check them tomorrow. So many things happen to people that once said, "I wasn't even suppose to be here. I was doing something else."
  2. Choose your friends as if your life depended on it. Once people reveal their true essence to you believe it. As my mother always says, people reveal their true nature at the beginning of your relationship with them. Don't ignore red flags. "All youth must be wary of the company they keep. They should be taught that if something doesn't look or feel right, they should leave immediately." (Source)
  3. Being part of the "cool" crowd is over-rated. 
  4. Ignorance is real! Common sense ain't common! 
  5. Being a "snitch" can save a life. Never be afraid to tell when you know something is immoral, criminal, or unjust.
  6. If you hear loud voices or are in a situation where people begin to get loud, LEAVE! Why? Simple, first comes yelling, next comes violence. Don't get caught up in wanting to see a fight or what's going to "pop off" {my NYC lingo}.
  7. "Stay away from guns altogether. Don't own one, and don't hang out with anyone who does. Children have absolutely no reason to possess a gun. If, for some reason, you wind up with a gun in public, NEVER point it at a police officer." Source
  8. " If you're stopped or otherwise find yourself in the presence of an officer, obey every command. Don't talk trash. Don't show attitude. Don't make sudden motions. Never place your hands where they can't be seen. Never give a false name or any other false information. Memorize the officer's name and the vehicle number. Your ultimate goal is to get home alive so you can get a lawyer if you need one." Source
  9. "Never carry contraband of any kind on your person or in your vehicle".Source
  10. "Always carry proper ID on your person and proper documents in your vehicle". Source
  11. "Don't hang out where police regularly cruise. If you do, you're asking for trouble. Police cruise trouble spots".Source
  12. "Don't duck and hide when a police car appears".Source
  13. "If you're being arrested, don't resist and multiply your problems. You can't win by resisting".Source
  14.  "Put the names of your parents, an attorney, your principal, a teacher, a close friend, a role model, a mentor, a bail bondsman and others on speed dial in your cell phone".Source
  15. "Get to know at least one officer by name in the police department".Source
  16. "Stay away from peers who hate the police. These trash-talking friends are nothing but trouble waiting to happen". Source
  17. "Never forget your are a black person in America! Meaning don't wait for your "Nigger Wakeup Call" before you begin to remember how much of the word views you.


A lot of the problems young folks have is simply they are left unsupervised way too much. I used to complain about how overprotective Daddy and Mommy Haskett were, but now I thank them.

 


 

Post Baby Workout

Beginning last Thursday I began going to participate in the Daniel Cruz Post Pregnancy Get Your Ass Right Workout Plan. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for two hours until Labor Day we will be training together. It will be quite interesting . . . {written on 7/21/11}

Fast forward a week. We ain't did nothing!! Two hours workouts, one crunch, a push-up -- Nada. I've been too tired! D reminds me everyday since last week that I've been losing weight -- yeah right-- I don't see it. I'm borderline depressed. This extra fat around my belly is the worst. I can deal with my shoe size increase and wider hips but a big gut and a big butt is not cute no way any day.

Everyday {Monday through Thursday} I wake up at 4:30 in the morning, pump, drink 16 ounces of water, and roll out to ride the 7:00 train into Manhattan. I teach my GED prep class until 1:00, then I go to Chipolte for lunch. I get back home at approximately 3:15. As soon as I get home I pump again, because at this point in my day I have lopsided tits and an extreme pressure on my chest. So I pump and relieve D of babysitting duties {really Lil' D and I go take a 2-3 hour nap}. Two days a week I tutor two little girls for an hour-- more prep. Come Friday I am drained. Every Friday I go to my hair stylist and sit in her chair nodding hard as she blows my hair straight.

 

What's a girl to do? I'm working like a Hebrew slave to maintain the lifestyle I've been accustomed, but I'm sacrificing the precious essential part of life-- sleep. Oh forgot to mention Lil D is not sleeping through the night yet so I'm up 3-4 times feeding her. AND I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT EASY ON MYSELF AND GIVE HER CEREAL BEFORE 6 MONTHS.

Woe is me . . . 

No Sleep for Papi + Mami

I feel like I haven't gotten a good night's rest in six months. Know what when I think about it I really haven't. Lil' D is sleeping longer through the night, but having to go to work and not being able to take cat naps has been making me drained. When we come home from work we are exhausted! On my 15 minute train ride I get the BEST uninterrupted sleep. Yesterday the conductor said to me, "You get on this train and lights out!". I laughed and told me just don't let me miss my stop.

Lil' D with her loose jeggings

Her facial expression is too cute!

 

Dark Girls-- Very Long

For those of you who do not understand the term "colorism," it is a practice and worldview based on the bias of color tones. As a result of whiteness and the European aesthetic being propagated as the standard of beauty, many cultures and peoples perpetuate generations of bodily and psychological damage of attempting to obtain these phenotypes as much as possible. Source {One of my favorite blogs}

 My mother has this print in her dressing room

"You have three daughters? Oh okay so she's yours too?" These were the words an Afro-Caribbean woman asked my mother about me when she met my sisters and I. She didn't comprehend that yes this dark brown child was produced by a light brown woman. I take that back, she understood it she just figured I had a different Daddy and was the step-child. Nothing hurts more than having your own kind disregard, disrespect, and bad mouth you. Growing up in Baltimore and attending magnet schools I was used to the diversity of cultures and skin tones. While in elementary school I was ridiculed constantly about my complexion. The viciousness and cruel words were most often from my Black male peers.  I can remember vividly lying on my bed in tears relaying my school day to my mother. 

 

I am very thankful for my mother. When I would come home teary and depressed she would share stories of her childhood growing up in Jamaica. Although she is not dark-skinned she was teased and ridiculed about her short, course hair texture and being poor. They would call her "picky-picky head". Her stories and our conversations about skin-color and hair texture are what helped to shape me into the confident woman I am today {having a Daddy that emphasized the importance of self-love was invaluable as well}. She always told me that people who make fun of others do so because they have hang-ups about themselves. Self-hate is a bitch, and can be a monkey on your back riding you to say and do things that are counterproductive and hateful.  

 

Within the Black and Latino community, we celebrate having light eyes, straight hair, and fair skin ALL THE DAMN TIME. To have all three of these physical features is the ultimate prize. Funny . . . many of the people I've met with these traits are not so sure of themselves and often have major character flaws. Remember, the prettiest people do the ugliest things.

 

Before Lil' D was born I would fantasize about a little baby with my husband's whiskey colored eyes, his thick eyebrows and long lashes, and my chocolate complexion. In reality I was blessed with an almondy baby {yes almondy is a word according to Martinthat is the perfect blend of D and myself. Because I was bombarded with people guesstimating the looks of my unborn baby it was something that was on my mind frequently. Once she arrived I heard, "Wow she's lighter than I thought" or "She's got to get darker than this", or "Look at the top of her ear, she is going to be real brown". REALLY! Let's talk about the fact that her mother delivered a healthy baby with 10 fingers and 10 toes. I didn't post pictures of her on Facebook purposely. I was amazed at the number of people who messaged me for a picture of my child. Just saying she favors her dad was not enough. Listening to the comments of others I realized I have to work overtime to teach my children to over look skin-color and not prejudge based on physical attributes. I know it will be especially hard in a world that idolizes all things light, bright, and damn near white. Giving them the knowledge to create their own standards of beauty will be the mission.

 

I think about Lil' Wayne's comment on brown skinned girls and I cringe.

"My daughter is the first and last dark skin child I’m having. The rest of my baby moms [are] light skinned chicks. I even got an Asian baby moms to make sure I have a daughter with good hair. Too bad we had a son.”


How does he expect his oldest daughter to feel about herself when the first man in her life doesn't find her chestnut skin beautiful, but flawed. He better hope she doesn't grow up and have the Lil' Kim syndrome. Does he love his mother? He's an ignorant ass, but what's sad is that many people of color feel this way. 

 

Carol's Daughter is the brainchild of a beautiful chocolate sister, Carol Price. Whyare their new brand ambassadors Cassie, Solange Knowles, and Selita Ebanks? I mean really. . . just continue to perpetuate the stereotype that "light is right". Its a shame and I'm sure the company's executives will have a well fabricated excuse as to why three woman, 2 of mixed heritage, are representing their products.

What's a chocolate girl to do to get some play? I love Italian's Vogue's effort to have a "Black" issue {check it here}. It is a sad state of affairs.

Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

 

 

 

After watching this and reflecting I began to think about the unconscious decisions I've made as a result of the prejudice directed towards me because of my skin color. Things like who I chose to marry, the colors I love to wear, even how I wear my hair. I once read a book about a woman wanting "couture babies". She meant her children being not just "regular" black, but bi-racial. She wanted children with light-skin, long hair, and non-negroid features. This is not me, even though many people think this is my mentality. When people were introduced to my husband, especially black woman they would often tell me things like, "Oh your children are going to be so cute." Really?! Why? Because my husband is Latino, well let me get more specific he is non-Black Latino. I wonder if he was my complexion with my hair texture if they would feel my children would be so attractive. I know the answer to that already, nope!

 

When I was very young I would tell my parents I was marrying a Puerto Rican. I don't know why I had a fixation with this ethnic group. At that time I wasn't able to distinguish between the various ethnicities in the Latino culture. I just knew that a Puerto Rican man was the one for me. I guess I was fascinated with their olive skin, wavy hair, and their Spanglish accented speech.  When I think about it today I know it goes deeper than this. Growing up and being teased relentlessly by African-American boys truly scarred me. 

 

Why is it that when many Black men "make it' his preference in a wife is a fair skinned woman?

Why is it okay for white people, like Snooki, to tan themselves to the point of cancer?

Why do Black music entertainers caste only "exotic" fair skin women for their videos?

What's up with this "long hair don't care" bullshit?

Why do you feel telling me I'm pretty for a dark girl is a compliment?

 

White supremacy you won.  The Willie Lynch mentality you won. Mission accomplish.

 

Bottom line this is what Lil' D will be taught...

Just because you have an "exotic" complexion {one of D's co-worker's description} and your hair is not course don't think you get a pass. A pass to be elitist and pretentious. BEING WELL LIKED AND HUMBLE are better traits to have than feeling special because you are light-skinned with long hair. 

BEAUTY IS ONLY SKIN DEEP AND UGLY IS TO THE BONE!

We all are victims of this vicious cycle. Shit I have blonde highlights right now and I prefer straight hair to my natural curly texture. I sometimes feel I will be fighting an uphill battle. Teaching Lil' D to love herself and celebrate her African features {people are dying to get them!} is the key. It's going to be hard becuase I even have to check her father at times.

 


 

Beautiful Shades of Black



30 Birthday/First Mother's Day

This was an eventful weekend for me. I celebrated my 30th birthday on Saturday and Sunday was my first Mother's Day!

My birthday consisted of my sisters, mother, and I going to my fav spa (Juevenex NYC) for Korean Scrubs and massages on Friday. On Saturday we went to the movies to see Jumping the Broom. Great movie, especially if you are into romance and sappy love stories like I am.

On Sunday, D, Lil' D' and I lounged around the house until late afternoon. After being lazy all morning we decided to got to the mall to eat and to exchange my gift. Yeah I know. . . D spent a lot of time choosing a special gift and I returned it. What can I say I am "particular" about things and this time I refused to give him a list of what I wanted. Bad idea. The "you should know me by now" speech was for naught because we had to go shopping all over again and I was not in the mood. Yup I wasn't in the mood to shop. Scary I know.
 

On the way to exchange my gift

After our mall adventure

Thoughts on my 30th Birthday

A year and a half ago I thought this day would be filled with party preparations and a big hotel ballroom soiree. I planned to have an ice bar and chair massages . . . the works. Fast forward several months, my focus shifted from planning a big celebration to planning a bangin' nursery for my little one, finding a top-notch child care center, and learning all I could about labour & delivery.

When I turned 25 I planned a big soiree {well not really big because it was in my house} and it was a big deal. Now after living 30 years and having a different set of values and priorities a big to-do just seemed like to much work. Yeah, I know you're thinking, "You plan events and planning your own is work?" I would say yes. My OCD is out of control when its something I have to do for myself, so it was best not to obsess about my pregnancy and a party. In less than a year I'll be planning Lil' D's first trip. I 86ed the whole big first birthday and decided instead we will start a new tradition- visiting a new country each year of her life. Next year Europe . . .

I'm out of my twenties and I'm feeling myself {if I do say so myself}. I've accomplished all but a few of my life-long goals {the few including being a millionaire--now days I'll settle for a thousandaire {student loan debt free} and learning to speak Spanish}. I'm officially grown, working on the sexy part {orangtan tits + a flabby belly = not cute}.

Lil' D with her aunties

 

First Day Back to Work

My first day back to work was Monday. Lil' D stayed with her Abuela and all went well. I only called once to check-in with her and that was at 1:00 p.m., no need to harass anybody because I'm going through baby withdrawal. I dealt with it {silently}. To make me smile through my gloomy separation anxiety my wonderful little sisters sent me a sweet note attached to an Edible Arrangements' bouquet. Thanks Lennie + Olivia! Love you much!

Upon returning home D decided we should commemorate the day with a backyard photo shoot. Check out our pics below.

Loving the rose gold graduated beads necklace and earrings O3 purchased me for my birthday.

O2 got me a wonderful shimmering eyeshadow case that is HAWT{put some on at the beginning of the day--as you can see by 5 p.m. it was all gone}. 

Day two of work some kid stole my FRIGGIN' PHONE. So much for a stress-free transition back to work.

 

Back to Work Again

Today I got a surprise! My parents purchased me a Kindle for my birthday and it arrived UPS. I already downloaded two books from one of my favorite authors Brenda Jackson. 

 

My new Kindle is not what I want to post about, its my maternity leave. It's over! Due to the neglience of my PayRoll Secretary, my oversight, and just a F'ed up system I have to return to work four weeks before my planned date. I really dropped the ball, and I forgot a lesson I learned at a very young age.

Lesson: Never rely on others to do their job when it concerns your wellbeing. Handle shit yourself, so when things go wrong, as they often do, you have no one to blame but you.

I could really kick myself! Six weeks of maternity leave is a JOKE! Just like I wasn't prepared to have my baby two weeks before my due date, I am not prepared to return for another month. Oh well this is just more motivation to get my shit together {By shit I mean my financials}. So on Monday I'll be back on the grind. Lil' D will be in good hands with her Abuela, so I'll try not to fret.

 

As you can see I am prepared with at least 3 weeks worth of frozen milk. Pumping at work has me a little vexed. I planned to pump three times a day, on my preps {8 a.m, 11 a.m., 1:30, and 3:30}. That should prevent me from getting engorged. It seems like a lot of milk. I know it will be because it seems like when I'm away from her I produce more. I got to read up on pumping at work. {Look--> Lil' D's placenta in the background there is wondering when its going to get planted.}

Motherhood Realization

It's 3:17 in the morning, Lil' D and I are once again having our ritual crack of dawn bonding sessions. As she is sucking the life out of me (joking) I am thinking about all the things I will have to give up and sacrifice in order to maximize her life. There goes weekly mani/pedis for that immersion Chinese nursery school and monthly spa days for ballet practice. It's going to be rough on a sista's appearance, but as I gazed into her little unfocused eyes I know beyond a doubt this little one is my motivation now and forever.


I love being a mother...I am more aware. I feel things on a deeper level. I have a kind of understanding about my body, about being a woman. ~ Shelley Long

 

Taken by O2Weddings Photography~ Lil' D's first professional shoot 

New Realizations

 

  1. I now know I can do almost anything with one hand-- Wishing my Nigerian sister was in the states to teach me how to "Back" my baby.
  2. Seeing Lil' D's smile has been the highlight of my day for the past 26 days.
  3. I spend about 16 hours with her a day. When Big D wants to hold her once he gets home from work I sometimes feel like I want her only to myself. #selfishmuch
  4.  Breastfeeding isn't so bad. Pumping is though! #sorenessmuch
  5. I will try to talk myself out of spending all my disposable income on this little one's wardrobe.
  6. Coupons and discount codes are now a way of life.
  7. I feel this pressure to make sure every aspect of her life is near perfect as possible.
  8. I have to let go of the negative feelings, thoughts and energy. It's impossible to control fate, so I need to let go and relax.
  9. I need to start wearing a girdle. Stat!
  10. Being a Mommy is the best job in the world. After labour pains and a gassy baby, motherhood is sooo worth it.