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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why You Should Be Talking About Race

Note: Cross posted from curlykidz.


If you have values to impart to your children about equality, it will take more than vague statements about everyone being “the same.” Kids are smart. They know very well that we are not all “the same.” What they need to hear is that we are all uniquely different, and they need reasons to value that uniqueness. You, parents, need to find ways to value people of color. Find ways to compliment and seek out positive statements to impart to your children. Have frequent, open conversations about race. Talk about slavery, talk about segregation, talk about miscegenation, talk about stereotypes and hurtful language…talk, talk, and then talk more! Kids need to know what is acceptable and they need to see with eyes that are wide open, not color blind.Note: Cross posted from curlykidz.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Gratitude Sunday

I had a really bad day today,

But I didn’t.

It really should have been a really terrible, horrible, very bad day.

  • I lost track of time while laundering/web surfing this morning (not totally unusual), and didn’t wake the girls up until 30 minutes before we would need to leave the house to arrive at church on time if we had to make a stop on the way (which we did, my cupboards are bare).

  • Needless to say, I didn’t check the dryer till it was time to get dressed, and all the clothes were still damp. Additionally, now that it is no longer 105 degrees by the time the sun rises  in my utility room, bras hung up to dry will still be very damp three hours later....

Note: Cross posted from curlykidz.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween 2010: Batman & BatMom v. Poison Ivy, Squared

Cross posted from curlykidz.

Halloween 2001booclamshellHappy Halloween 2003(1)1 Tyler Halle Daija2007-10-31 Halloween Doomtown @ Rawhide 052008-10-31 Halloween at Rawhide 026 

It’s no secret that Halloween is a pretty big deal around here. Not so much for the trick or treating, but for the dressing up. We get really into it and usually have a theme every year… fantasy creatures, wizard of oz, racecars, things that fly, Grease, Pirates, ancient Egypt… and we trick or treat for a block or two, then we head to some spooky Halloween festival with friends.   

batman_jpg_fyukfcujjvThis year, we were supposed to be The BatFam. Unfortunately, my Bat-Mom signal was a little off, and I couldn’t find a ...


Friday, October 22, 2010

Sorry Willow...

I know that there is a severe shortage of diversity in the tween pop circuit. I know that our young girls are hungering for positive reflections of themselves in media. So I understand the appeal of the video, the temptation to take what we can get, even the justification that something is better than more

Sunday, October 17, 2010

fall-colors road trip



Halle, Sassy and I are heading out to retrieve Daija from Biker Country (Tyler is having a sleepover with his Big and Rico will be home guarding the house). The weather is finally cooling down around here (for those of us who consider the mid nineties “cooling down”). We’re going to make the most of it so we’ll be taking the scenic route home! ...

read more Cross posted from curlykidz.

Gratitude Sunday

Note: Cross posted from curlykidz.

Today I am so thankful for my little people. They drive me crazy sometimes (last night being one of those times), but as much as they pretend to hate each other, they don’t. Last night Tyler was about to knock out an obnoxious, (unflattering description) girl at the ASU Women’s Volleyball game. All the kids wanted to see Sparky, and she kept pushing up to the front and getting in his face yelling. She almost knocked Daija & another of the younger girls from our team down in the process, and Tyler was poking tapping her arm, “Little girl. EXCUSE ME. Little girl.” Once he could finally get up to Sparky, he got his ticket autographed with Halle’s number....

read more at curlykidz.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spiral Piggy-Back Braid & Three Strand Twists

Daija is spending the week with Biker Grandma & Grandpa… this is the hairstyle she went with. From what I hear, it’s holding up really well and has been very popular around town. We'll see how it looks when I pick her up on Saturday! Fingers crossed… you know ...

Note: Cross posted from curlykidz.


Fun Friday


Note: Cross posted from curlykidz.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dear Daughter

STARLINGS 6-18-2010 6-02-50 PM 2048x1536I know you’re being pulled in a lot of different directions. I know that you don’t want to disappoint me, but you don’t want to look like a baby to your friends. I know that sometimes it’s easier to go with the crowd than create a conflict. I know that sometimes it’s easier to let someone else take the lead rather than make a tough decision. Sometimes it might seem like if you let someone else set the pace, then they’re responsible for whatever happens.


Note: Cross posted from curlykidz.

Dear Daughter

Black Women Like Their Books Trashy

Note: Cross posted from curlykidz.


Sometimes people say some shit that’s so stupid, you actually catch a case of stupidity yourself. It’s like the stupidity flowing out of their mouth infects you. There you are, in a state of shock, trying to figure out what the FUCK you can say to cure them, except you’re mouth is hanging open and you can’t speak. It’s like you’ve been hit upside the head with a stupid stick.


Note: Cross posted from curlykidz.


Cyndi has a PSA for little & not so little boys...

swords-samurai-swords-alloy-blade-a-classic Kid's Crest Sparkle Fun toothpaste will NOT disguise the holes you put in the living room wall while playing with the samurai swords that belonged to your great grandfather.

Blue gel doesn’t turn white. It just stays blue, and stains the wall. It will also cause your mother to spew obscenities, after which you will get a lecture from your father that lasts a solid 45 minutes (and counting)....

Wordless Wednesday

Note: Cross posted from curlykidz.



Note: Cross posted from curlykidz.


Wordless Wednesday


Note: Cross posted from curlykidz.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thanks for stopping by!

I've been blogging over at wordpress for a while now, but decided to start putting my feed here as well since I've been following some blogspot bloggers pretty actively of late... as you can see you can subscribe via RSS or email subscription. I'm also working on importing the archives from my blog at myspace into my wordpress blog, so you'll see some oldies but goodies cropping up here several times a week.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

she slays me...

OK, so Daija was sporting a fairly low maintenance hair style today... the front of her hair gathered into a ponytail on top, and the back gathered into a ponytail in back.  Several dress up changes had done some damage to the top ponytail, so after I pulled her pajamas on, I set out to redo the top ponytail.  As I'm trying to gather her hair all up on top of her head, she looks at me with a frown and says,
"Why you doing my hair like a giraffe?"

Friday, October 06, 2006

ADHD: history of the "overbalance of fire over water"

A-D-H-wut? Oh, ADHD. It means attent.......hey that cloud looks like cookie monster!

"How many ADHD people does it take to screw a light bulb?"

Only one, but it took several light bulbs and several months to get it done because the ADDer.....

  • Paid for the lightbulb then left it in the shop on the counter.

  • Dropped another light bulb out of a hole in his/her shopping
    bag didn't notice and ran over it with a truck.

  • Bought the wrong sort of lightbulb because s/he couldn't be bothered checking which sort of light bulb was needed cause that's boring.

  • Left the light bulb under a pile of clothes for several weeks before s/he got around to trying to put it up.

  • Couldn't remember who s/he gave the ladder too so decided they had to go buy another.

  • Took the old light bulb down put it on the floor next to the new light bulb got distracted by an idea in his/her head.

  • Ran to get notebook to write idea down idea forgot about light bulb for an hour as other thoughts came to mind, remembered lightbulb couldn't figure out which was the old light bulb and which was the new light bulb

      Who invented such an inhuman thing as a light bulb?!


OK, enough with the jokes.  A fellow blogger who I've found inspirational, AnGeLa, posed a question about the prevalence of ADHD outside the US that I think will wind up inspiring a series of blogs.

"My son was just diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. I just don't understand . . . We pay plenty of attention to him!"

First, I must give props to Google... I didn't find until page three.  It usually comes up in the top ten links in other search forums.  There are others like use similar scare tactics, and of course there are those that claim adhd can be cured or that your child can unlearn ADHD and those that offer free lawsuit information.  One of my favorites is the one that tells parents that ADHD is a result of parents not raising their children by biblical principles for the last 100 years or so

There was never a reason for creating the labels ADD and ADHD in the first place, unless you include expanding drug-company profits and a plan to drug and debilitate millions of children.  

There aren't enough 'highly qualified' medical professionals who specialize in ADHD... not just to diagnose, but to provide ongoing treatment beyond refilling prescriptions.  In addition, the information available to parents who attempt to research ADHD is often questionable, conflicting, and confusing.  Finding a support base is challenging, both in your community or online.

ADD and ADHD are fake "diseases" created so parents can legally sedate their children. Your child is not special, your child is just a shithead.
~ response on an internet bulletin board

There is a wide misconception that ADHD is a drug company driven disorder, or a result in lax skills in modern parents.  I've spoken with people who think ADHD has only been around since the 1980's.  Most ADHD websites will indicate that ADHD has been a diagnosis, under different names, for about 100 years... but I found a source even older than The Story of Fidgety Phillip (Dr Heinrich Hoffman, 1845). 

			tried healing ADHD kids 2500 years ago! There is, however, considerable evidence to suggest that ADHD is not a recent phenomenon. 2500 years ago, the great physician-scientist, Hippocrates (493 BC) described a condition that seems to be compatible with what we now know as ADHD.
He described patients who had.... "quickened responses to sensory experience, but also less tenaciousness because the soul moves on quickly to the next impression". Hippocrates attributed this condition to an "overbalance of fire over water". His remedy for this "overbalance" was "barley rather than wheat bread, fish rather than meat, water drinks, and many natural and diverse physical activities".


An interesting description from "The Father of Medicine", huh?

A lot of people will make the argument because there's no blood test or x-ray to diagnose ADHD, that it's not real, or that it just got made up recently.  But there are a lot of medical conditions throughout history that existed LONG before there was a test to diagnose them, or a way to treat them.  Does that make them any less valid?. 

We've had diabetes for hundreds of years, and we've had hypertension for hundreds of years, and we've had asthma for hundreds of years. . . . We've had cancer. We've had lots of things for hundreds of years. That doesn't necessarily make it a good thing. And when you sit back and you allow yourself to be informed by research . . . our studies show that these kids have bad outcomes when we don't help them.

So, what's our responsibility as a society if a child has a bad outcome for untreated asthma? Should we treat it? Yes. If he has a bad outcome for untreated ADHD and we can do something about it, would it be ethical to withhold treatment or say, "Well, just let parents handle it?" I took a Hippocratic Oath that said that if I could intervene and help in a medically responsible way that was safe and effective, that was my job. And that's my job as a medical scientist, as well.
Dr. Peter Jenson, former head of psychiatry at the National Institute for Mental Health

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

ATA SmartBrief

Cyndi Whitmore ( thought you might be interested in checking out an excerpt from ATA SmartBrief.

If you have any doubts that we live in a society controlled by men, try reading down the index of contributors to a volume of quotations, looking for women's names."
--Elaine Gill,

American author

Designed specifically for aviation executives like you, ATA SmartBrief is a FREE daily e-mail newsletter. It provides the latest need-to-know news and industry information that maximizes your time, giving you an edge over your competition.

Sign up for your very own free subscription to ATA SmartBrief.

Air Force One

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Reflecting Versus Reacting

From: "Ellen C. Braun"

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Imagine with me for a moment that you have just arrived home from a

"Honey, I'm so hungry, do we have anything good to eat?" you ask
your spouse.

"Hungry!" Spouse exclaims, "How could you possibly be hungry; you
ate tons of food at the party!"

Or, how about this scenario:

"Sweetheart," you begin as you turn towards your spouse to express
yourself, "I'm really very hot. Would you lower the thermostat

"Hot!" Spouse practically shouts, "I'll tell you what hot is- go
outside in the sun, then you'll feel hot! When you come back
inside, you'll realize that it's very comfortable in here."

{End of imagination exercise.}

Reflecting an emotion- towards a child, spouse, or friend- will make
all the difference in the world in how their self-esteem and
relationship with you will develop.

I can honestly say that if I had to choose one article that is the
most essential for parents to read, it would be this one! Read
more here:

To our children's success,


43 Remson Ave, Monsey, NY 10952, USA

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Live, from the kitchen...

Current mood: annoyed 

I'm in the kitchen multitasking... cooking dinner and on the phone with reservations to change Ro's itinerary and check on the company's policy on emergency travel for employees.  I'm holding patiently while Ms. Fabulous Reservations Agent it searching the policy (made me feel less dumb, I couldn't find it either). 
Daija appears.
Momma, I am so tired of Halle.
Really, Daija?

Yes.  I am JUST SO TIRED of Halle.

Why are you tired of your sister?

Because I told her two times to clean up the poop.

Daija... what poop?


Daija, where is the poop?

In you room.

Daija, can you show momma the poop?


Damn dog.  Anyone want a Shih Tzu?  Ms. Fab Res Agent declined as politely and professionally as one can while choking on laughter.











death, dignity, and a last HURRAH with family

I got an email followed by a phone call shortly after I arrived home yesterday afternoon.  My dad's sister has will be going into hospice next week, and the call has been put out for all available family to travel to Minnesota for a last hurrah.  Aunt Diane is currently in the hospital due to dehydration.    After putting up with Crohn's Disease for close to 30 years, and numerous surgeries, they have finally taken out so much of her intestines that she is unable to maintain enough fluids in her system even with being fed intravenously and receiving IV fluids.   Coupled with this the arthritis in her hands has made it hard for her to take care of herself.  She has become so weak that she can hardly walk even with her walker.   

She will be released from the hospital Monday, for a couple days, during which we (my wife and I) will be taking her out to a Casino so she can try to enjoy herself for a day or two.   After which she will return to the Hospital and enter the Hospice... and At this time she is going to refuse all medications and IV feeding, except for pain killers, so she can pass quietly into the hereafter with no more pain and her dignity intact. 


Having spent my childhood doing the military family moves every three or four years, my visits to Minnesota were few and far between. I don't really have any memories of Diane beyond hearing my parents talk about her and seeing an occasional picture.  But she's expressed a desire to see everyone in the family, so I am trying to go.  I'll need to fly to MN Sunday and would return last Monday or Tuesday, but Ro's flight home wasn't till Monday.  I thought I had a plan to send the kids on sleepovers with friends whose parents would be taking their own children to the bus stop Monday morning... but that plan is starting to look sketchy.  Ro called this morning to see how things were going and I told him about plan B because I wasn't sure plan A was going to work... bless him, he called back about an hour later and told me to change his flight to Sunday.  I'll probably be leaving before he gets in, but at least I'll only need to get a sitter for the day. 
Halle was only two when my grandfather passed in 2001, so aside from Herbie (RIP), she doesn't have much experience with the actual loss, even though she talks about "Boppa" like she remembers him.  Last night we had about an hour talk... very tearful.  When Halle last spent the night with Chaz (her best friend until the day they die), she saw something on TV that got her worried about dying.  I think she cried more about Aunt Diane, who I don't think she really knew existed, than Tyler did when Boppa died.  But I told her... like First Woman in Grandmother's Gift... Aunt Diane has lived a long life, and a good life, and she is not afraid.  It is her time to die, and she wants to see her family and then cross over to the other side... making room for new life here on Earth.


Wednesday, November 07, 2001 11:25 PM

I spoke with Tyler after I picked him up from school today. The conversation flowed smoother than I expected, and I know he is forewarned, but I am sure that as the reality of this sets in he will have questions or maybe some acting out or depression. I asked him if he remembered what was in his body, and he said yes, his spirit, and that spirits held love and care. We talked about how bodies sometimes got old and stopped working or sometimes they could get hurt really badly and stop working, and he said, yes, and then the body dies. We talked about how the spirit is forever, and that when a person dies it is their body, but the spirit doesn't die. Tyler said spirits are stronger than any bad things and they are even stronger than houses. I asked Tyler where he thought spirits went when the body dies, and he said, up there. I figured I could work with that theory, and I said yes, the body becomes part of the earth and that the spirit goes to the spirit world. I reminded Tyler of the verse in our bedtime prayer...

Mother Earth, bless & father sky keep
Ancestors watch me while I sleep
Protect my heart, protect my home,
Protect my spirit as I roam (this references dreaming)
Sister moon and brother star watching over us from afar, bless (and then we list family)

I reminded Tyler that ancestors are members of our family who have already died and whose spirits have gone to the spirit world, and that they watch over us, protect us, and guide us, particularly through our dreams. I asked him if he remembered what the Great Spirit was, and that it was the thing that makes life, the force that is in every living thing. I reminded him of a conversation we had long ago when he picked up a meal grace I didn't approve of, where I had explained that God wasn't a man sitting in the sky deciding who deserved food and who didn't, but that God is a great spirit that is everywhere and in everything that lives, and that the great spirit is in the earth and the sun and the stars and the sky, that the great spirit lives in him and me, that the spirits inside us that make our bodies work and our minds think are all part of the same great spirit so god isn't 'out there', the Great Spirit is 'in here' and that we are all a part of the great spirit and the great spirit is a part of everything. I said to him, you know boppa is pretty sick right now. Tyler responded yes, and that Boppa was going to die. I explained, as we have discussed before, that everything living has a time to die (we've lost several fish), but that Boppa's body had been getting older and older and some parts of it were very worn out and that his body was really hurting badly. I explained that his spirit might have to leave his body soon, I told him that when our spirits have to leave our bodies that they go back with the great spirit so that they can be everywhere, that we can't see or touch their bodies anymore, but the spirits are always wherever we need them and that we can always tell them we love them. I explained that boppa was a little confused about the changes in his body, and a little nervous about his spirit, but that right now he really needed to know that we loved him, and that we don't want Boppa to be worried right now. We went to the hospital tonight, and I told Tyler that I knew he might have questions, but that we would need to talk about them later... I told Tyler that if I squeezed his arm or hand, that I needed him to help me out by telling Boppa that he loved him.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Daija and Halle, Live from the back seat...

I'm editing this post because the back seat entertainment really started this morning. 

the trailer

I have several books that I had as a child, that I've had so long I don't know quite how I got them, but whenever that was, they were already old.  I've been trying to get Tyler to move away from paperbacks he's read over and over and trying a couple of these classics.  Monday night, I found success and he chose Black Beauty for his nightly read & respond.  Daija, not to be outdone, chose Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  I put Huck away, but I keep finding him all over the house.  Daija gets him out, I put him back, Daija gets him out, I put him back... not so much because it's inappropriate literature for a child of three years, nine months... but because Huck is 58 years old.  OK, so not the story itself, but this book, is 58 years old.

the opening act

This morning we leave for preschool, and Daija smuggles Huck out to the car.  I reminder her that the contraband (she always has contraband) must be left in the car when we get to the preschool.  She agrees (she always does) and announces she is going to read to me.  I buckle her into her booster seat, she opens the book in her lap, and we start our commute.

I don't remember Mark Twain writing much about an octopus... but Daija is aware that "O" stands for OCTOPUS, therefore, if there is an "O" in the book, the book is about an OCTOPUS.

Daija likes the story, and expresses her desire to take the book into the preschool.  I express my desire the book stay in the car.  She screams NO.  We have a brief discussion about how Momma's are to be spoken to.  She says, in a more favorable tone of voice, that she doesn't want to leave the book in the car.  I explain that I do not want the book to get broken or lost.  Daija responds, in her "Silly Rabbit" voice, that the book will not get lost.  I restate that the book must stay in the car. 


she says as she lays the book in the center seat.

Look at this book.  Someone will take it out of our car.

I frantically yank the plastic off my bottle of starbucks and pray the caffeine kicks in quickly enough to make a strong rebuttal that no one will break into our car to steal a 58 year old copy of huckleberry finn... and wonder how much it's going to cost me to put Daija through law school.

the final act

I wound up leaving work early because Tyler was in the nurse's office twice complaining of head and stomach aches.  We went home, where I was almost immediately hit with an extended family crisis, then went and picked up Halle & Jelani from the community center and Daija from daycare. 

On the way to daycare, Halle and Jelani are chatting in the back seat.  I'm preoccupied with the family issue so I didn't catch the whole conversation, especially since Jelani tends to mutter.  But here are the snippets I did catch out of Halle's mouth...

Real mermaids don't have those things up here.  But mermaids are real.

I think by up here, she was referencing the bikini top or seashells often depicted on mermaids' breasts.  I leave that alone, and interject that no one has ever been able to take a picture of a mermaid to prove they exist.

That's because we live in a DESERT.

I don't hear much because I'm choking back laughter.  When I manage to tune in again, Halle seems to be theorizing that God created mermaids.

[static, static, static]

God... [pause] Who VOTED for God?

[static, static, static]

I wish I knew what was in the clouds.

[static, static, static]

Jesus is like... Jesus is just like awesome.

[static, static, static]

How am I supposed to drive in these circumstances?  And poor Jelani, having to hold the other end of that conversation!

The objectification of multiracial youth

One of the things that disturbs me about the infamous "What are they?" questions from complete strangers, or the "Oh, just look at hair hair!" exclamations, where people are not complimenting "her" so much as they are talking about her like she's not there or can't hear them, is not that I think the people who initiate this kind of dialogue are ill intentioned... it's the objectification and the sense of "otherness" that comes with it. Even though the oohing and aahing is intended to be a compliment, and maybe for the parents it is... it's an affirmation that we are accepted... and since many of us in multiracial relationships have experience rejection in some fashion... perhaps just from thoughtless comments made by strangers, but in some cases, outright rejection by friends or family members.  I know people who have been the recipients of outright hostile stares to people who have been disowned from their families.  Speaking from my racial perspective, which of course won't apply to every white mother of biracial children... I experienced a loss of some of that white privilege when I started dating interracially.  It was immediate and pronounced... so I can see how it might be tempting, after experiencing that loss and rejection, to want to bask in that acceptance.

But from the perspectives of our children, what is it like for them to be asked or to overhear their parents being asked (with whatever frequency) to justify their existence?  Quoting from Does Anybody Else Look Like Me?, psychologist Maria Root says, "It is the combination of inquisitive looks, longer than passing glances to comprehend unfamiliar racial-ethnic features... and comments of surprise .. along with disapproving comments and nonverbal communication that begin to convey to the child that this otherness is undesirable or wrong."

This is, of course, a sensitive area in our home right now, where one of my three children is expressing unhappiness with her appearance, with her ethnic name, and questioning whether or not she belongs to me, in terms of whether or not I really gave birth to her.

I find myself wondering more and more, about how this affects children.  In Hate Hurts: How Children Learn and Unlearn Prejudice, the authors write, "Often, our children find themselves fed up with being the "answer-givers" - with having to serve as the cultural educators.  This is particularly the case when your child is one of only a few like herself (or the only one) amid a larger populating of people who share a common race, culture, or religion.  This frustration is very real.  As educators in classrooms across the country can attest, some kids are asked the same question umpteen times a day by their peers, adding up to an incredible number of times they are forced to give the same answers over and over."

This is something that my 10yo son has expressed - he indicates he is frequently asked by friends, including his closest friend, about his race.  Part of me resents society expecting my children to educate a racialized society.  Yeah, I knew it wasn't going to be easy to be in a multi racial/cultural/faith relationship... didn't expect that raising multi racial/cultural/faith children was going to be a walk in the park.

But that doesn't mean that I signed myself, or my children, up to carry the collective racial baggage of American history, or to somehow heal society with our existence.  My family is not a traveling educational exhibit.  My children are not part of a petting zoo.

Rather than intrude on my privacy, usually because I caught them staring (which was considered rude back in my day), by pumping me for personal information... if a complete stranger really wants to learn more about multiracial children, why not walk up and ask me if I could recommend any books or internet sites?  Are the personal and individual combination of my children's ethnicities, relayed in 30 seconds or less, really going to truly give this stranger a better understanding of race relations, where we are, how far we still need to go, or what it's really like to be a "racial other?"  One can mask it as an attempt at understanding, but it's just as likely to be morbid curiosity or an attempt to fit my children into a preconceived notion... aka a stereotype.  Why should my children be singled out as 'others' just to appease the need of a stranger to fit them into a category, and apply whatever internalized stereotypes they have about [Africans, Muslims, white women/black men who date outside their race].



Bill of Rights
for Racially Mixed People

By Maria P.P. Root

Not to justify my existence in this world.
Not to keep the races separate within me.
Not to be responsible for people's discomfort with my physical ambiguity.
Not to justify my ethnic legitimacy.

To identify myself differently than strangers expect me to identify.
To identify myself differently from how my parents identify me.
To identify myself differently from my brothers and sisters.
To identify myself differently in different situations.

To create a vocabulary to communicate about being multiracial.
To change my identity over my lifetime -- and more than once.
To have loyalties and identification with more than one group of people.
To freely choose whom I befriend and love.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thoughts on children's media, sexual objectification, and racial stereotypes

So when we last talked, I was just about to go see Disney Live at Dodge Theater. Daija enjoyed it, until it was time to go... she was definitely tired and started melting down. I wasn't real impressed with the venue (the seating wasn't stadium style enough, which makes it hard for little people to see), and I didn't think the show was much better. I mean it was cute, but it was no Disney on Ice. I also noticed something that bothered me... Cinderella (fairy tale origin is Chinese... how did she turn blonde?), Snow White (fairy tale origin is German), and Belle (fairy tale origin is French) were all dressed in the traditional apparel they're usually portrayed in, but with very modest necklines... not a hint of cleavage. So when Jasmine (fairy tale origin purported to be Arabic or Persian) came out in the low rider genie pants and push up bra... well... given other things on my mind lately it was just glaring that only the brown skinned Princess was dressed like a tramp... essentially portrayed as an object of sexual gratification. In the original fairy tale as well as the Americanized version, Aladdin marries a princess, not a concubine... and this story originates from a period of time in culture that still today does not permit women to parade around half nude. If anything, with the locale supposedly in the middle to far east, one would logically expect a woman of elevated social status to wear clothing of the era... like Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Mulan, and Snow White wear clothing that is in keeping with what women of their station traditionally wore during the time period of the story.

Note that although it is considered an Arabic tale either because of its source, or because it was included in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, the characters in the story are neither Arabs nor Persians, but rather are from the far east. The Far Eastern country in the story is an Islamic country, where most people are Muslims. There is a Jewish community, regarded by others with a prejudice. There is no mention whatever of Buddhists or Confucians. Everybody in this Far Eastern Country bears an Arabic name and its King seems much more like an Arab ruler than like an actual Chinese emperor. The Country of the tale was a mythic far-off place, definitely eastwards.

Last weekend, I watched Walt Disney Pictures: The Wild, which was much cuter than Madagascar (2005) (which I really didn't care for). But I noticed a similarity between The Wild and Madagascar that I found bothersome when I first saw Madagascar, which was before I resurrected my dormant interest in such racial issues and was consciously thinking about where and how some children are picking up the message that it's better to be white.

In both movies, a group of (American) animals escape from New York City and inadvertently sail off to Africa. In Africa, the Animal Americans are met by hostile or off-balance native Animal Africans, with fanatical and/or cannibalistic religious beliefs. Additionally, the Animal American at the top of the food chain in Madagascar begins to lose his civility in this environment and begins to regress into baser Animal African behavior. The movies both end with the Animal Americans, along with some Animal Africans they have rescued, sailing off just as quickly as they can, to return to their lives of captivity in a zoo in America.

It really made me wonder what the kids are getting from this subconsciously. I wonder, especially with Halle, whether these story lines are becoming part of her internal perspective on Africans. Yes, she understands that not everything on TV is real... but at the same time, everything she sees is being catalogues in that little brain. While none of the movies that she's watched have pointedly said, "it's better to be white", she's picked up that message from seeing repeatedly in media that the standard of beauty is white... despite all the books and dolls we have that depict other races. So she's seeing these animals with human characteristics who appear to believe that would rather live in cages on display in America than to live in Africa. How is that going to impact her perspective of Africa and Africans, and how will she internalize messages like this with her heritage? I know that some African Americans don't really identify with being 'african' american because the significance of any particular culture has been lost. But that's not the case with our family, since Ro is adamantly African, or Sudanese, but does not consider himself African American... to the point that if he will check 'black' on forms, but will check 'other' before he will check African American. So on the one hand the kids get these negative messages about Africa, and on the other they have this role model that is fiercely proud of his culture and adamant about retaining it.

Wish I had conclusions for some of these posts... most of the time I just find more questions.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What ARE they? (Follow Up)

So Christie asked if I'd come up with any good responses to the infamous "What are they?" question, or ways to handle the zooing/petting. No pressures, she says.

When the kids (and I) were younger, I rarely hesitated to respond with a snappy comeback or snide response. Where'd my 2yo get his curly hair? I permed it. Is she yours? No, I just thought she was cute so I snatched her from a cart outside.

But as the kids are growing up, so am I. As tempting as it is to fight fire with fire (a dumb (or rude) question deserves a dumb (or rude) answer)... something about it just doesn't quite sit right with me.

First of all, there may come a time, particularly for my son, when a smart answer *I* encouraged might come out of his mouth at an inappropriate time. And it may jeopardize his physical well-being. I can't afford to bank on the fact that I live in a changing society... there are some situations where what my child says, and the manner in which he says it, may have a profound impact on the outcome of that situation. I'm thinking of something Tim Wise wrote about, that I've heard echoed from Black friends, in regards to corporal punishment, to the effect that the lesson is better taught at home by the hand that loves the child, than by the (White) establishment. This isn't corporal punishment, but better my children learn from me that race isn't something we can afford to be flip about, than the hands of some racist who has the power or authority to mete out their brand of justice.

That's probably a little paranoid. God/ess willing, there will never be a time where my son or daughters is standing at the wrong end of a gun or knife, or across from a racist school official or police officer, where how they answer that question will determine what happens next. Even so, stereotypes abound... and I don't want anything that I taught my children to reinforce any negative stereotypes someone else holds about 'mixed' children, their mothers, their fathers, or how they are parented.

I'm one of those mothers who has 'gotten old' and is appalled by the lack of manners in kids today. I was raised to respect my elders, and in a military family at that. Yes ma'am, no ma'am. Regardless how thoughtless or intrusive 'those' questions and compliments are, I cannot bring myself to teach my children to respond with a smart answer. I've also become very aware of how my children process and record my every reaction, my every word, and every opinion I voice. So that leaves me in a conundrum with the smart answer... I have to be the change I want to see in the world, right?

So I've actually given this topic a lot of thought, and Christie gave me just the right amount of pressure to try and organize my thoughts. I want to be able to answer, and teach my children to answer, questions and reactions from others in as graceful a manner as possible, in a manner that is respectful not only to our family and our right to privacy, but in a way that is respectful to the asker, who is usually well intentioned.

Does Anybody Else Look Like Me gives several good suggestions.

"Where did you get your (straight/curly hair, blue eyes, Asian eyes)... "From God" (godess, nature... DNA)
In response to the petting... "Thank you, but I feel uncomfortable when people touch her hair."
In response to Where is s/he from, is s/he adopted, "This is a personal matter I don't care to discuss." or "WE are adopted."

For us, I'm encouraging the kids to talk about how they see themselves, and how they feel comfortable answering. Last week at school, I peeked into Halle's classroom, and a little boy (who was dark skinned, but I didn't look closely enough to determine what his race might be) commented to Halle, "But she's white and you're brown." To which Halle responded, "So? It doesn't matter." I had seen them talking just after Halle spied me by the door. Right before I left, Halle ran up to me to relay the conversation... and to confirm that she had been right in her answer. I told her, "You're right, it doesn't matter. You are black AND white and loved all over." She asked, "What is daddy again? just African?" and I replied, "Daddy is Sudanese. Mommy is American. You are Sudanese AND American."

And she smiled.

"Violence merely increases hate... adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, September 15, 2006

ADHD gadgets... part 2

Y'all remember the Watchminder, right? The short version is, it was a GREAT idea, but the product just didn't deliver. If you want the long version, see my review in the link.

So the next step in my quest for something other than myself to follow Tyler around and redirect him is the TIMEX Ironman Data Link USB Watch.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'm ready for a beer and a pair of 'crack pants'

Having a home warranty with a $50 deductible is nice, but it's even nicer to keep that $50 for yourself...

I just unstuck me a flywheel... Fixing a Garbage Disposal from Home Repair, an About GuideSiteTM.

Stuck Flywheel / Disposal Will Not Run (makes a humming noise)
If the garbage disposal won't turn on but makes a humming sound when you flip the switch, it won't do that for long. That means you have a stuck flywheel and the reset button on the unit itself or the fuse or circuit breaker in your electrical service panel will trip and turn off very quickly. The flywheel is stuck because something is lodged between it or the impeller(s) and the shredder ring.

(See Anatomy of a Garbage Disposal).

  • To start the repair, turn off power to the garbage disposal at the electrical service panel.
  • Reminder: Don't ever put your hand down into the garbage disposal hopper (grinding chamber).
  • Take the offset wrench that came with the disposal unit and insert the wrench into the flywheel turning hole in the bottom of the unit. If you don't have the wrench you can pick one up from the hardware store that sells your garbage disposal.
  • Once the wrench is inserted, turn it clockwise to dislodge the stuck impeller or flywheel. When it dislodges, you'll feel the flywheel turn freely.
  • Another approach is to try and use a wooden broom-handle or similar wooden object to free the stuck impeller and flywheel from the top of the unit through the drain.
  • Place the broom-handle into the hopper and against an impeller. Use leverage to try and free the stuck flywheel. As before, when it dislodges you'll feel the flywheel turn freely.
  • Once freed, turn the power back on at the panel but don't turn on the disposal yet.
  • Go back to the disposal and press the reset button.
  • Run some tap water into the disposal and quickly flip the switch on and off turning the disposal on for a short burst. Turn on and off again quickly. That should spin the flywheel and the dislodged obstruction should be washed down the drain.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Who's reality is it? 7/4/06 2:39PM

The other week I blogged about attending a Roosevelt School District Board Meeting.  I mentioned feelings of validation because the board president and district superintendent both sought me out after the meeting adjourned.  I had been so nervous to speak in that forum about the topic I wanted to address:  the growing reports of hiring and firing practices that favor one racial group over others.  This is a topic I feel strongly about, for obvious reasons... but even stronger than my fear of public speaking was my fear about how I would be perceived in addressing what was sure to be an overwhelmingly non-white audience about racial conflict.

I confided in a friend that I once made a very passionate commentary about stereotyping interracial relationships as being between black men seeking white women as status symbols.  I made these comments in a largely black forum where they weren't well received.  The feedback I got included a response that basically accused me of thinking I was the Great White Hope.  That phrase, like AmeriKKKa and others I've heard since, didn't have a historical or cultural significance to me at the time.  Ironically, "Fight of the Century" occurred on July 4, 1910... 86 years ago today.

But I digress.  Needless to say, it took a lot for me to stand up in a room full of people whose race is subject to discrimination. So on the one hand, I felt very validated to have these two men who hold positions of authority in my community seek me out.  But some of the content of those conversations was unsettling.  One of the men, Hispanic, adamantly expressed his belief that there is not a racial divide... and that those who had spoken in the public comment portion of the meeting (mostly black), were not concerned about the children the school district serves, but their own personal benefit.  The other man, White, lamented that he just doesn't see it... there at the district office, everyone gets along.

My kids don't attend school in RSD anymore, and I didn't feel knowledgeable enough to make blanket statements about whether or to what degree racial conflict exists in our community or the proportion at which black vs. hispanics are being hired and fired and phased out of jobs.  I said as such, but added the disclaimer that I know people in the district who I respect, that feel very strongly that there is a problem, and a big one at that.  But at the time and ever since, I have pondered those conversations and wondered... were we all sitting in the same room?  Did either of you HEAR what I heard? 

I went back to the board meeting archives and watched/listened to some other discussion, and searched online for more articles about the district.  The concerns I heard in that meeting were expressed in other meetings and in media.  When you have THIS many employees and THIS many members of the community you serve, standing up in a public forum and talking about this topic that is largely taboo, how can you possible be unsure whether or not there is a problem?  If you don't see it from your corner office, does that mean a hostile work environment doesn't exist?  If you are not at the receiving end of discrimination, is it always obvious to you?  I'm not talking about obvious acts of racism; we can all see that.  But the more subtle ones*.  These thoughts turned to white privilege, especially after my friend thanked me for facing my fears and addressing the board on the topic.  She said something about me putting a new face on it. 

I was far less eloquent than many other speakers whose concerns these men seemed willing to dismiss as non existent.  Since I am not employed by the district, nor do I have children enrolled in the district... is the weight of my perception or the value of my opinion greater than those of the non-white employees voicing criticism, or the black mother whose daughter is facing expulsion for defending herself in a fight, where the (non black) perpetrators are reported to have received no repercussions?  And if so, is it because I am a potential 'customer' to be wooed back, or is it because I am white?  Robert Jenson, who authored a compelling article on white privilege (that I'll post separately, it changed the way I think about race), says it more eloquently than I can.

...I speak with the assumption that people not only will listen, but will take me seriously. I speak with the assumption that my motives will not be challenged; I can rely on the perception of me as a neutral authority, someone whose observations can be trusted.

I'm a little afraid my friend may be right about me having put a new face on it... although not just, as she said, because I am someone whose children left the district and wants to come back... but also because they were more willing to listen to concerns and opinions expressed by someone who looks like me.


*when I'm at my neighborhood Target... the cashiers almost always ask me if I'd like to apply for a Target card.  I can't recall ever hearing the clerk ask the non white person in line before me if they'd like to apply for a Target card.  Now if it's hard to believe that I'm hardly ever in line at my local Target with any other white folks,  I live in a community where only about 4f the population is white. Is it their race?  Is it their accent?  Their dress?

Viewpoint: Amerikkka

I know that for most of us ( and by us, I mean, those of us who were born in the post Civil Rights Era and/or who got the whitewashed version of American History that I received ), this term may be shocking and disconcerting. It's not a phrase that I'd seen in writing before the other day, but I figured I knew what it meant from the context...

The political spelling of "America" with "KKK" equates both the show and the status quo of society in the United States with the Ku Klux Klan, a white-supremacist organization

Knowing what and who I know, I also figured there was some history behind it. Took me a damn long time to find anything that wasn't a tribute to Ice Cube's AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted album.

"K" replacing "C"

Replacing the letter "c" with "k" in the first letter of a word came into use by the Ku Klux Klan during its early years in the mid to late 1800's. The concept is continued today within the ranks of the Klan. They call themselves "konservative KKK" or "klonservatives".

It was common among 1960s and early 1970s United States leftists to write Amerika rather than "America" in referring to the United States. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5] and is still used in political statements today [6],[7] It is likely that this was originally an allusion to the German spelling of America, and intended to be suggestive of Nazism, a hypothesis that the Oxford English Dictionary supports. It may additionally have been an allusion to the title of Franz Kafka's 1927 novel Amerika.

In the 1987 TV miniseries Amerika, it denoted a Soviet-conquered United States of America.

In broader usage, the replacement of the letter "C" with "K" denotes general political skepticism about the topic at hand and is intended to discredit or debase the term in which the replacement occurs. [8] Detractors sometimes spell former president Bill Clinton's name as "Klinton" or "Klintoon".

A similar usage in Spanish (and in Italian too) is to write okupa rather than "ocupa" (meaning a building or area occupied by squatters [9]), which is particularly remarkable because the letter "k" is not found in native Spanish words. It probably stems from the Basque language, Euskera, which does often use the letter "k", and is spoken in a region which abounds in political radicalism. This is particularly associated with Spanish anarchist movements.

"KKK" replacing "C" or "K"

The most common usage of the letters "kkk" in alternative political spelling is the spelling of "America" as Amerikkka. A reference to the Ku Klux Klan, this is often done to indicate the belief that the United States or American society is fundamentally racist, oppressive and corrupt. The earliest known usage of "Amerikkka" recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is in 1970, in a journal called Black World. Presumably, this was an extrapolation from the then already widespread "Amerika".

The spelling "Amerikkka" came into greater use after the 1990 release of the Gangsta rap album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted by Ice Cube.

The San Francisco Bay View regularly spells America as "Amerikkka". [10], [11], [12]

The letters "KKK" have been inserted into many other words, to indicate similar perceived racism, oppression or corruption.

My viewpoint... This spelling, Amerikkka, speaks to a feeling that is not new or unusual in minority groups, and it's origins stem not just from the racist history of our culture, but was coined and used by some of the very movers and shakers of the Civil Rights Movement that fought segregation and frankly, made Ameri*c*a a place where it's possible for a family like mine to exist. It differentiates an system of oppression, a culture steeped in institutionalized racism (Amerikkka) from a land and a dream and an ideal (America). 

That might be splitting hairs... like the fine line that makes the difference 'nigger' and 'nigga', the use of which (nigga) is a whole 'nother debate where I find myself standing on both sides.  The term AmeriKKKa creates that same knot in my stomach... not because it offends me, but because I have to face the cold hard fact that we're not done yet.  We don't all live in America YET... there are some places in this country where blacks, hispanics, non christians, and homosexuals still live in AmeriKKKa.

It's easy to point to my black partner and my black and hispanic friends and my 'non white' community and feel complacent about the fact that the world has changed.  YES, we've come a long way.  But, in the words of an American Poet...

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

         -- Robert Frost

Friday, October 21, 2005

We've Moved!!!

Or, our blog has.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Take me out to the ball-game...

Play slideshow

This slideshow includes 22 photos

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks... errr... nachos and cotton candy. Here are some pictures at the 2005 Perform Air Baseball Outing. I was *really* ambitious and escorted five kids to the game (with a little carpooling help from friends) - Tyler invited his friend James and Halle invited her friend Chaz. A good time was had by all... and I lived to share the pictures.

Friday, September 30, 2005


It was a HUGE weight off my shoulders to go over there and get their things today at lunch. I told her the kids wouldn't be coming back and I was there to pick up their things and withdraw them from the school. The secretary said she had anticipated as much when the kids weren't there this morning, and thanked me for being patient so long. She said that she knew it was too little too late, but that they had someone new, who would be starting on Monday and going through inservice training. Apparently after conferences last week they were just deluged with feedback from parents that mirrored what I (and one or two other parents) have been saying. I'm not sure what exactly that means for the current 4th grade teacher's employment status, although I suspect that he will no longer have a job.

I meant to also write that the new school has a classroom for severely disabled/low functioning students and they have a peer mentor type program, which I think is just fantastic. The district is supposed to be one of the best districts in the Phoenix metro area, so I'm pretty excited about all this working out.

New School Monday

The kids will be starting at the new school Monday. I found out Wednesday that the after school program at the community center filled their vacant position. I dropped off the rest of the registration forms for the school yesterday and did the community center registration last night. This is all good timing because yesterday afternoon I had my final straw with the charter school. The kids aren't learning anything there anyway, so I decided they just weren't going to go today. I'm going over there in about 20 minutes to pick up their things and notify the school they won't be back. God that's going to feel good.

I should know this afternoon who their teachers will be; the principal is considering placing Halle in their multi-age group (MAG) which I'm excited about. He said he feels he has a very strong teaching team at the 4th grade level and that two of his 4th grade teachers have been with the school for quite some time, so I’m hopeful regarding Tyler’s placement as well.

The kids are starting to get excited again; I told them a little over a week ago that it was almost a sure thing and would be happening in the near future they both got hesitant. After we went to the new school last week they seemed past the jitters and looking forward. Last night when I told Tyler he wasn't going to be going to school today he was disappointed at not saying good-bye to his friends, but Halle didn't bat an eye. She and two other girls were like the three musketeers at the summer camp she went to, and one of those girls goes to del Norte and the after school program at the community center. And they are definitely excited about being able to go to the city of phoenix after school program; they both always enjoyed that a lot.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Tyler's 'Big Brother'

Just a quick update... the meeting with Tyler's 'Big' went well. I'm not sure if it was a coincidence or if Al knew Tyler was interested in aerospace, but he brought him a book about different kinds of flight as a gift. They had their first outing on Sunday - went to McDonald's, swimming at Al's condo in the community pool, and then to Baskin Robbins. Tyler said he had a great time.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Suicide bomber says he was kidnapped, forced to target mosque

Associated Press
Sept. 19, 2005 07:10 AM

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide bomber captured before he could blow himself up in a Shiite mosque claimed he was kidnapped, beaten and drugged by insurgents who forced him to take on the mission. The U.S. military said its medical tests indicated the man was telling the truth.

Friday, September 16, 2005

It's parents' job to set boundaries

It's parents' job to set boundaries
Sept. 6, 2005 12:00 AM
With three teenagers in the household, I qualify to talk on teen curfew issues. I welcome police enforcement of teen curfews outside the movie venues at Chandler Fashion Center and Ahwatukee's AMC 24, especially since many of these kids are young - as in seventh and eighth grades.

But police enforcement is a non-issue for our family. We've always set curfews and not allowed our kids to just "hang out."

About two years ago, my daughter, then age 12, was invited to "hang out" at the Chandler mall with some new friends. "Please, Mom, my friend has a cellphone. We'll be f-i-i-i-i-ne."

Sorry. In my book, 12-year-old girls just hanging out at the mall is an invitation for trouble. No matter what kids that age may think, their judgment is not refined yet.

Oddly, when I called the other girl's mother to explain that my daughter wasn't allowed at the mall without an adult, the mother seemed surprised. She saw nothing wrong with the practice and had been allowing her daughter to do so for some time. My daughter pouted and complained, but she learned.

As teenagers and as adults, we are known by the company we keep. And my teens, whether by personality or necessity, are drawn to friends whose parents also prohibit "hanging out" to just hang out. If they do go to the movies or an event, I know the name of the movie/event, the start time and the end time. And if they're going to someone else's house, we parents all agree to talk and verify plans so both sides know what's going on.

Similarly, we rarely visit the movies at night, and especially not on Friday and Saturday nights. Matinees or late afternoon shows offer better pricing, and few movies these days are worth $9. But even without a price differential, we shun the AMC 24 in Ahwatukee on weekend evenings to avoid walking through the often smoky teen (and sadly, preteen) gantlet.

Having a 17-year-old son raises different issues. With teens driving, the issues are not "hanging out" but who's driving whose car.

But I did get him a cellphone. There comes a time when I may not always know where he is, and I have to trust that after 17 years his sense of right and wrong is intact. He is, after all, only one year from being an adult and teen years are transition years for ever-increasing responsibility and freedom.

Perhaps what bothers me most is parents and teens who decry the lack of entertainment options, as if hanging out in front of a movie theater or at the mall is the only social option. Some of the most fun people I've met in life grew up in small towns where you learn to make your own fun. And I think this is where other parents need to stay more involved with teens and offer to host parties, events or game nights that allow teens to get together for fun. Teenagers are really fun, interesting people if you take time to talk with them.

Parenting isn't easy, but it's a parent's job to set boundaries, and a child's job to test those boundaries. Setting a reasonable curfew and safe guidelines for how teens spend their free time is a parent's job. Police enforcement should be a last resort.

But perhaps parents will begin to get the message if curfew times are reiterated and enforced.

Katrina Shawver of Ahwatukee is a writer and mother of three. She can be reached at casadeletters@

Queenie Mama

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PHX, AZ, United States
I’m a thirty-something Unitarian Universalist-urban-professional-hippie-ghetto-trailer park-country-anti-racist-pro-choice-standing on the side of love-1983 station wagon driving-single-ADHD-volleyball/boxing/wrestling mom of three multiracial children and two bad-ass dogs.

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