27 August 2007

511 Days left

I almost think I should not put this person's full name on here.... But I want you all to be ready in 12-24 years when you hear that this person has murdered his own mother.

The full name is Pursyphane Ewuzznme Darling Jones. WHAT!?! Yes. That is the name.

School so far has been cool. Best start in all my six years of new school years. Students have matured a bit. And there have been no fights with soup cans in socks.

Wedding over the weekend reminded me of how I dread the actual event. Marriage is awesome, I'm sure. The ceremony and the party and all it takes to get all that stuff ready is a headache. Congrats to the brother for getting engaged to his lady. Wishing them many stress less days until the day finally comes next summer.

Oh, yeah. Good news, I think. Gonzalez resigned. But is that really such a good thing? We all know that G-Dubb is just going to put someone else in there who is likely worse than Roberto. Only hope is that there is only a year and some months left of it all. January 20, 2008. Can we all wait, though? Can we all continue to suffer the consequences of all the people who voted for him? Those are the questions.

Some hope: Thursday I talked with Kate after trying to do it for two years. She said her parents voted for this man, but are understanding their mistake. They have seen the light.

Hopefully others will open their eyes and see the same things they are seeing. Though with all the conservative, fundamentalists out there, I am sure many of them will not take the big blinders off their eyes to see reality. They will continue to vote for issues that are really not that important to the successful running of this nation. They will continue to focus on those issues and the stability of their incomes. Regardless of the fact that their taxes (or lack of them) are what is causing bridges to fall and schools to fail and babies to die. Why are they all about saving unborn children, but not the living ones who a small amount of tax money would help their lower income parents take care of their living children?

Whole different issues. Discussed a whole 'nother time.

21 August 2007

Ring the bell... School's back in

Went back today. The first time I haven't been nervous. I was actually well prepared by 1pm yesterday. It was nice seeing the kids again today. That is really one of the best parts of teaching -- the chil-run.

Only problem is that at least two times today a large thought popped into my head -- that I still had 180-something more days to go. I really should not be thinking that so early in the year.

But so far, so good. One day down.

19 August 2007

There's something wrong with the world today

I cut off another 1/2 inch of my hair. Now it is really short. I still like it.

Two of my sisters are in medical school. They constantly have stories to tell or new info to share that they have learned. The younger one is doing some rotations in clinics and hospitals in Rolla, MO right now. She was pretty stoked the other day when she saw her first black patient at her current clinic. Little did she know that not only did the woman have issues with being beaten by her man, but also issues with the baby she was carrying. Nothing seemed to be wrong with the baby, just the mother's mental state with regard to naming the being in her stomach.

She told Peggy that her friends had been telling her not to name the baby what she wanted to name it. But she really liked the name and thought it was super unique. That should have been a warning to Kid Sis #2 already. The lady kept talking about how she thought the name would be great and that on first look, no one would even know how to say it. That was her reasoning for picking the most bizarre middle name for her baby girl.

I'm sure you are wondering what the name was. Prepare yourself.


Seems kind of strange, yes. Just say it phonetically. It is a variation of the phrase "It wasn't me."

What is wrong with people? The baby will have two middle names. First name is some Greek goddess (I believe Persephone), then it is Ewuznme Darling, then the last name which is a pretty common last name.

It's not even just an American thing. There was a couple in China want to name their child @.

Help me understand.

The other day I saw a man in the store wearing a backpack. At first I was a little perturbed, no one really wears backpacks in the store. Then I looked a little bit closer and saw that there was a bird inside. The backpack was a bird cage. Do people really love their birds that much that they need to create a carrying case to bring them into the public with them? I'm sure the birds would get really excited seeing the outdoors, but in a way that they would want to be set free, not caged, teased with the trees, then brought into a store with crap they can't peck at or shit on.

As if that backpack were not strange or unusual enough, there is a company now who is creating bullet-proof backpacks targeted toward suburban America. I guess I would be afraid for my children, too, in a society where the gun laws are increasingly becoming lenient. Here in MO you are now allowed to shoot and kill anyone who steps onto any part of your premises with out your permission. And there has been the conceal and carry for some time now. The bags are supposed to be bullet- and knife-proof.

This is the world in which we live.

18 August 2007

A message to brown people in the USA

Racism is the systematic mistreatment of certain groups of people (often called people of color) on the basis of skin color or other physical characteristics. It can be subtle or blatant, conscious or unconscious, personal or institutionalized.

Racism is not our fault. It is something that has been around since just about the beginning of time. There tends to always be a dominant group that discriminates and uses its status to keep those who do not look like themselves down.

However, in some ways there are things people of color can do to make some changes.

First, realize that it is not your fault. Even the actions that follow are not your fault. They all stem from the racism and white privilege that has been perpetuated for the longest time. Our actions are just a byproduct of these two things.

Although it is not our fault, there are steps we can take to change things within ourselves.

First is to recognize that most of us suffer from internalized racism. This is the process where people of color believe and act on the negative messages we receive about ourselves and our group. We also transfer racism in such was as insults, criticisms, slurs, violence – the list goes on. How many times have you heard a person of color tell another person of color that they are too dark, or too light, or that their lips are too big, or that their hair is too nappy? How many times do you turn on the news and hear of black on black crime? I heard one person say that they commit the crimes on people of color, who look like them, because they want them to suffer the way he suffers; that he wants to take out his frustrations on the people who look like him. Crazy.

When people are hurt from the effects of racism, they often decide to transfer or re-enact that hurt onto some one else.

There are other things we people of color do that are examples of internalized racism. When we see someone on TV speak on certain issues and they make some type of mistake or say something that is against the mainstream, we say that they are misrepresenting our people in a negative way. Yet, when someone asks us individual to speak for our people and answer a question in a way that represents every person of color’s view on _____________, we get offended.

We talk about peoples’ appearances. People who do not straighten their hair are seen as nappy, instead of naturally beautiful. People who have natural hair typically are only seen as beautiful if they have natural hair that is the texture of Tracee Ellis Ross (Joan of TVs Girlfriends). Skin color is always an issue – sometimes people are really into the lighter skin tones, sometimes the darker skin tones. But historically, the darker your skin the more teasing, and harsh treatment you will face.

What we all need to do is first hold our arms out. Look at your skin. It is beautiful. Recognize the beauty that makes people of colors skin. The variety. The tones. Amazing. Beautiful. Then do the same with your facial features and hair textures and tones.

Next we need to address the comments people make about each other. If you have not been witness first hand, then you have probably seen the show Yo Mamma on MTV. This is playing the dozens. This comes from slave times when after the long journey over to this side of the world some enslaved people would inevitably have ailments – missing eyes, cut off limbs, scars, mental issues. When they were to be sold these folks would be grouped into twelve and sold that way as one. The other enslaved people who were not malformed and were sold individual started picking on these dozens, and we see where we have come from there.

Playing the dozens, joning, cutting someone up, shit talking – what ever you call it, it is the same. People find something about the person and make fun of it. Typically what they make fun of deals with their features or their mother’s features. You should really sit and think back to the jokes you remember. If you don’t remember the punch line, how did the jokes start, that is the important part. What was it talking about? The ones I remember most deal with someone being
a. too black
b. too yellow
c. too ghetto
d. too white-acting
e. too black-acting
f. too ugly
g. too fat
h. too skinny

What is the point? It is all to demean someone and make them feel terrible about themselves. And what are they making them feel bad about? Just the things that the dominant society has targeted people of color for since the beginning. We have internalized their beliefs and turned it all into jokes.

But for many it is not a joke. The comments are real. Some families chastise members of their family when that person has skin that is either too light or too dark. They tell their children not to stay in the sun too long for fear of getting too dark. They tell them they need more sun so they are not too white. They tell them that they must have been smoking or else their lips would not be darker in color. They tell them that they have to put chemicals in their hair for it to be acceptable. They tell them they must cut out their locs so their hair can be acceptable. They must talk a certain way and act a certain way in order to not be seen as trying to be accepted by or fit in with the dominant culture.

It is not our fault. All these things are a result of what that dominant culture has done to us since the beginning.

However, it is our duty to try and love each other. To understand the hurt. To accept each other. To not redirect our hurt onto others who are already suffering.

Once we truly love ourselves and can heal ourselves, it will be easier to attack the monsters of white supremacy and white privilege. That is a whole different thing in itself. Something that the dominant culture must come to understand they experience and benefit from. That, too, for some, takes time. They need to recognize and see the resulting pitfalls many people of color face due to their privilege, and the concerns people of color face every day that the dominant culture has no idea about or ever has to consider. Once we are all aware of ourselves then we can truly change our society.

We must love and understand each other and ourselves.

14 August 2007

I am free from chemicals

I thought I could wait until December to do it, but I just went ahead and did it. And I feel great! I look great! People have said it is a freeing process, but I never imagined it would feel so good.


I am super excited to be part of the nappies!! It is natural and it is beautiful. And it feels great!

What a difference a year makes

A year ago at this time I was apprehensive about the year and the people I would be working with. Completely opposite this time around.

Last week I spent two days with a bunch of faculty and administration. Totally amazing. Totally eye opening in so many ways. I'll go into detail on some of the things later. And will write an opinions and editorial piece on it for Clean and Articulate later this week. I'll let you know when it is up. I'll just say it dealt with racism, white privilege and people of colour's internalized racism.

Of course there were people at the workshop that I still do not like even hearing their voice or seeing across them across the room, but I am an adult and can handle all that shit. Shining points were all the awesome people I had a chance to talk with about various issues and life. The new counselor rocks. Do people still say that? Not sure, but she does. So does Gretchen, who I've known, but never really talked with in depth before.

Today is the first official school function. Luckily it is only for a few hours. So I can kind of ween my way back to being in the school and not having some sort of panic attack at the thought of having to be there for nine months and having to deal with some of the people for almost 8 hours a day.

My schedule pretty much is awesome. Just have to hope that the new crop of kids has matured a little bit so I don't have to be a hard ass for much longer than a couple of weeks. But with them, at least with track and Study Hall last year, I kind of enjoy being a hard ass to them. And I think they react well to that. What does that say about their upbringing that they respond better to harshness than to kindness? Hmmm....

Today is going to be a busy day. Hope to get this old furniture moved out, new furniture moved in. Get a hair cut. Trade in my school computer. Meet the new teachers. Buy a desk or a table or something. Talk to Cassandra, who I have neglected for about a week. Make sure Leo returns from Memphis safely (not that I have any control over that, but it will be on my mind until he returns late tonight).

But first, I will shower.

03 August 2007

Reaching today's youth

First meeting for school is next week. Not totally looking forward to it. Then the major meetings start on the 14th and classes begin the next week. The end of my free days.
I really enjoy teaching. One thing I do not like is that I really cannot tell if I am making a difference with the students. Occasionally I have a teacher moment and can tell that something I said in or out of class has really clicked and might change the way a student lives, but that is kind of rare.
Despite the fact that I am the only teacher in the family, all my siblings are constantly working with kids and making their lives better.
Big ups to Big Bro who is making things happen with the chil-run. He got a new job that is really something that will hopefully make the world these children exist in a better place. And they do it across the country, too. Even have some schools they are connected to here in St. Louis.