Thank You, Brad and LL

11 04 2013

I consider where I live, college-town, Missouri, to be the pseudo-south.

I wrote the opening line of this post then realized I really do NOT know enough about Missouri’s slave and civil war history.  So I stopped writing and got down to reading.  I decided to actually read more than just other people’s opinion about the song “Accidental Racist” (a newly released collaboration of LL Cool J and Brad Paisley – lyrics available here).  I decided to read history.  Now, I am not going to claim it was in-depth research – it was Wikipedia.  But I am going to claim that I now know more than I did a few minutes ago.

I went and examined a little bit of history to see if it could shed some light on my current day perception of race relations in Missouri.

And, it did.

And for that I am grateful to Mr. Paisley and Mr. Cool J.

I am a white mother of a black son who thinks about race all fricken’ day long.  But I have never taken even 10 minutes to read the racial history of the state I am raising my trans-racial family in (hangs head in embarrassment).

I read modern-day writings on race.  I read modern-day rants on race.  And I feel all over the place.

I feel lucky we live in a community where we see other trans-racial families every day.

I feel grateful my son will go to an elementary school that has a significant African-american population and is also considered a great place for education.

I feel dumb-struck when I am jogging and see that one of my neighbors has a rebel flag hung in his garage.

I feel fightened when it is 5 am and my family stops at the single gas station open for miles only to find ourselves parked next to a pick-up truck that’s roof liner has been replaced with a rebel flag.

I feel angry when I notice a tattoo of the rebel flag peaking out of the extended arm hole on a young man’s t-shirt at the gym.  (I also feel grateful that tattoos hurt – I hope that one hurt a lot.)

The rebel flag, yeah, that is something that provokes strong feelings in me.  And it is the jump off point for “Accidental Racist”.

I always believed I knew what the rebel flag stood for, and it does not jibe with Brad Paisley’s claim of southern pride.  I guess that is okay.  Maybe the meaning of a symbol is actually subjective enough to be considered an opinion not a fact.  To some degree I think that is what Paisley and Cool J are proclaiming in their song.  And, everybody is entitled to an opinion.  But opinions are best when backed by education and experience.  (To read a variety of educated opinions about the song, go here.)

I am sure everybody who has heard the song has an opinion – most not as educated as they think.  I am sure there are even more people like me.  People who haven’t actually even heard the song (country/rap cross-over duet – I think I’ll pass) but who researched the lyrics and then formed opinions.  Maybe they even read an opinion piece about the song – probably written by somebody who looks like them – or is in the same place on the political spectrum as them.  My hope is that each of those people, (those with deep interest in race relations – and those who normally never think twice about it) –  will spend a some time educating – or re-educating – themselves in an effort to back their opinion.

Maybe we will all learn a little something.  Even if all the things we learn are random and not directly related to each other, even if we never come to a consensus, we will have advanced our understanding of race in this country, as individuals and as a whole.

Maybe that wasn’t Brad and LL’s plan.  But maybe it was.





Not A Product Girl

10 01 2013

I am not a product girl.

I did recently invest in some fancy-pants product for Little Dude’s hair.  Holy big-bill, Adoptive Mama’s.  Apparently the first question on any adoption application should be, “Are you prepared to spend the equivalent of your child’s education fund on his/her hair product?”

It is really, really, really, really hard for me to invest $25 into a bottle of co-wash only to decide it doesn’t work that great.  On the other hand, I do like product experimentation.  I am a fan of “trial-size.”  Even better than trial-size is freebies-at-friends’-houses.  If I come to your house, I will NOT bring my own shampoo or any other hair stuff.  I will want to try yours… (free trial-size in your bathroom just waiting for me).

Here is an idea… maybe I should start knocking on the doors of our African-American neighbors and asking them if we can use their bathrooms.  Then I will quickly wash/style Little Dude’s hair while they wonder what the hell we could possible be doing in there….  Pretty sure this plan will not help us fulfill our other goals of developing more friendships with African-Americans.  Which is more important, friendships with people who look similar to my son, or how my son’s hair looks???  (Another important question for an Adoption Application perhaps?)

As I said, if I do stay at your house, I will show up empty handed when it comes to my hair, but I will be toting a big jar of “Angels on Bare Skin” by Lush. It is the only product that I am loyal to in my own beauty regime.  Please do not judge the product by the way my face looks in pictures.  I assure you, my wonderful combination of wrinkles and pimples is due to the fact that I often forget to wash my face post work-out.  What my face WOULD look like without this product… well, I don’t even want to think about it.

For those of you unfamiliar with Lush, they are a U.K. company and all of their products are made with fresh ingredients.  Unfortunately, their marketing is too hip for someone like me to understand.  And they refuse to use race or really, really specific descriptions to describe what their products are best for.  So, I recently bought an $8, teeny-tiny bottle of shampoo from them that will not do anything for Little Dude’s curls.  I have since discovered if you want to actually know if their products would be good for African curls, you need to go to the Customer Review part of their website (exhausting) or get a copy of their newspaper style catalog.  (Too much work for this Mama.  However, I can assure you, I did muster up the energy to send them a complaint email with some helpful suggestions for ways they could improve their marketing materials.  You are welcome, Lush executives, er, um, team-members.)

Despite being worn-out by Lush’s hip marketing, last week I decided to do my quarterly clean out of my shower.  Yup, four times a year, no matter how tired I feel, I muster the energy to throw away the dull razors, empty shampoo bottles and slivers of nasty soap that have accumulated in my bathroom.  When I am done, I feel like a super-organized, domestic goddess.

shelf

When I was clearing off my shelf, I was going to toss my empty “jar” (actually a cardboard canister because Lush loves the rain-forest) of Angels on Bare Skin.

two jars

You know the empty container that I was using to hold up the new, full container?  And then I realized, I just couldn’t do it.  I would miss Anthony too much.

Who is Anthony?  Well, another part of Lush’s pretentious enlightened corporate culture is that any product you purchase is adorned by a sticker featuring a portrait of the employee (who I am sure they refer to as a team-member) who made/packaged it.

For about six months I have been showering with a photo of Anthony.  And, what can I say?  Anthony really knows how to make a great skin cleanser.  Anthony inspires me.

this anthony

My newest jar of product was made/packaged by Leanna.  No disrespect to Leanna… she seems to be equally skilled in making product.  But somehow, she just doesn’t inspire me the way Anthony does.

this Leanne

Disclosure:  This post was not sponsored by Lush or by Anthony’s mother, although I am sure she is very proud of him.





The Aftermath

5 11 2012

The Librarian:

Well HE isn’t exactly running but clearly this is going to be trouble, she thought as she saw the pre-schooler hurrying down the hall.

As he ducked into the bathroom foyer she told her co-worker, “I am going to have to keep my eye on him to make sure he doesn’t go in the restroom.”

Why cant THEY keep track of their kids, she contemplated as she eye balled him drinking from the fountain and interacting with a white pre-schooler who arrived shortly after him with her mother.

The Kid:

I am not running.  I am not running.  I am NOT running, the boy’s brain repeated as he skipped and scurried down the hall as fast as he could while not EXACTLY running.

I am winning.  I’ll get the first drink.  I will DRINK all the water in the fountain before they even get there, he told himself.

Mom’s right behind me and she hasn’t even yelled yet.  I am almost there.  GREAT, the step-stool is here.  HA, I found it all by myself.  I am going to drink, drink, DRINK.

The Mom:

Well, he isn’t exactly running.

This has been the best trip to the library we have had in a LONG time.

Jeeze, these books are heavy… what was I thinking?

No point in raising my voice now, I will close the gap in a second and he went exactly where I told him to.

Wow, that librarian is CONCERNED.  Should I do my normal nonchalant claim, raise my voice and give him a command to ‘wait’ so it is clear ‘the black kid is my son’?

No, not going to bother. 

We are all back together now… just gonna aim a big smile at the librarian and forget about it.  After all, it is kind of her job to pay attention to these things.

Relaxing a few feet from the drinking fountain with the two giant bags of books resting on the floor.

Quiet – do NOT say anything.  Your kids are cooperating perfectly withOUT you.  If you interfere they will start to squabble.  They are taking turns.  Keep quiet so you don’t spoil it.  Wow, they really are doing great today.

We are in NO hurry.  Silence your brain and relax.  Let them take turns drinking on their own time table.  There is no reason to rush them so Do. Not. Rush. Them.

The Kid:

Finally tired of drinking, walks a few steps towards his mom to ask a question.

The Mom:

Spies her neighbors headed down the hallway with their grandchildren.

At the same time, she is looking at her son standing just a few feet away, contemplating what he just asked her.

The Librarian:

After watching the scene for MORE than a few minutes makes her move.

Cutting BETWEEN the black boy and the white woman he is talking to, she stares down at him.

“Where is YOUR mother?” she demands.

The Kid:

Silence

The Sister:

Silence

The Mom:

“I am HIS MOTHER,” she states clearly.  “Thank you.”

With a follow-up, loud and snide, “Thanks for your concern,” as the librarian moves back across the hall and behind her desk WITHOUT acknowledging a thing.

“Look here’s Mr. Chris.  Boy that baby is sure growing up and starting to look like you,” she says to the neighbor who has arrived at precisely that moment carrying his grandson.

“Say hello to Mr. Chris,” she says to her kids.

Resist the urge, resist the urge.  Do not blurt out the story of what just happened to Chris,  she coaches herself.  DON’T do it… The kids are listening.

“Oh, hello Ms. Mary,” she says to Mr. Chris’ wife.

“Say ‘Hi’ to Ms. Mary,” she tells the kids.

NO, Ms. Mary does not need to hear the story either… keep quiet,  she chides herself.

Is she watching us?  Does she see me talking to these upstanding, WHITE, senior-citizens?  Look, we are a part of the community?  Look! These are our neighbors who know and respect us, her brain screams as she picks up the book bags, grabs hands, says good-bye to the neighbors and prepares to leave the scene.

The Kid and His Sister: 

Mumble hellos while preparing to leave.

The Kid:

“Mom, I still want a bagel, ” he says as he buckles himself into the car seat.

There is an unusual quietness in the car as they drive to the bagel store and then head home.

When they arrive at the house, the boy, searching for control, thinks, There is NO WAY I am letting my sister get out of the van through this door.

The Mom:

Here we go with the stupidest fight on record; daughter refusing to get out of the van on the other side, son refusing to let his sister move past him.

I really can’t take this, she thinks after trying to solve what is becoming a nasty and physical confrontation between her children – the same children that had been getting along great all morning.

She moves towards the house throwing a promise to read the new library books towards the kids who are continuing to squabble.

Both kids panic when she goes through the front door and scramble out of the van to follow her.

Terrible parenting, she thinks.  But at least we are all in the house now.

The Kid and The Mom:

Shortly thereafter the kids are gathered on her lap for a cozy reading session.  A tiny skirmish breaks out – typical of what happens 1,000 times a day in the house with competitive, close-in-age siblings.  Except this normal event causes the boy to completely fall apart.

His body goes limp.

Tears stream down his face as he is racked with sobs.

She knows she needs to pick him up but he is thrashing now.

She knows she needs to hold him tight despite him fighting her with every ounce of his body.

Fucking librarian, she repeats over and over in her head while rocking her son and whispering.

“I love you.  I love you.  I love you.”

The Sister:

Later that afternoon, the sister (who happens to be a securely attached bio child) is practicing her skipping while leaving a big box-store.  Watching her own feet in awe she hears her mother yell her name from BEHIND.

Quickly looking up, she realizes the woman she was following, the woman she thought was her mother, is a stranger.

She rides home in the car silently.

She does NOT tell her mother what is wrong.  She does not tell her mother that anything is wrong.

Upon entering the house she immediately goes in search of her security blanket, Pink.

The Mom:

After checking in with the father, whom she called home from work to help re-regulate the son, she can’t figure out where her daughter has gone.

She was sure her daughter would run in the door to show her father her new glasses.  Confused, she searches for her.

She finds her upstairs frantically looking for her blanket.

“I know where ‘Pink’ is,” she says locating the blanket and handing it to her daughter.

As she sees her daughter’s eyes well up with tears a light-bulb goes on.

“Honey, are you upset because you thought that other woman was me?” she asks.

“It is no big deal.  I was right there the whole time.  I could SEE YOU the whole time.”

The daughter begins to cry in earnest.

She gathers her daughter onto her lap and sits down in a chair.

“I will never let you get away from me.  It is fine.  I am your mother.  I watch out for you and your brother.  You are fine,” she repeats.

The girl is wracked with sobs.  No matter what her mother says she can’t calm down.  She cries herself to sleep at 4 in the afternoon.

Fucking librarian, the mother thinks over and over as she holds her daughter.





On A Roll With Reviews: Yes, Chef By Marcus Samelsson

20 09 2012

More than a month ago in this post, I promised to review Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson.  I had completed the book and was excited to share my brilliant insights thoughts.  Then PJ broke her arm and that threw my schedule off.  Two days ago she got her cast off, I think that means I can probably get back to the post.

The real question those of you who haven’t read the book yet but are fans of Samuelsson want to ask is, “Is the book as yummy as Marcus?”  The answer is unequivocally, yes.

The truth is, I was NOT a Samuelsson fan before I read the book.  I know to some of you that is simply blasphemy.  In reality, I didn’t know about him until he was on Top Chef Masters a few years back.  When I saw him on the show I recognized he was Ethiopian and did a quick google search.  And then I promptly laid the reputation of an entire nation that I love on his back (seems fair.)  I can’t even remember what he did on the show that bothered me, but it was enough to make me turn off Top Chef Masters and to write him off (being the forgiving sort that I am.)

Last year, when he held a fundraiser to provide famine relief, I took notice of him again most notably because people I respect, respect lust after him.  However, just recently, I also found out that I have a few friends, FRIENDS WITH CHILDREN FROM ETHIOPIA NONE-THE-LESS who do not know who Samuelsson is.  When an Ethiopian is famous around the world for something other than running, and when said Ethiopian looks like this…

Source: Mike Coppola/Getty Images North America

we should all know who he is.  But it is more than being Ethiopian.  How about the fact that he is a trans-racial adoptee who has won every major award in his chosen field?  Shouldn’t that get our attention?

Also, note-to-self, snap judgements based on a reality show probably are not the smartest way to go.

This summer, I put myself on the waiting list for his autobiography before it was officially released and had it in hand a few weeks later.

I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it.

In an effort to avoid, once again, a third grade book report format, please allow for a few bullet points.

  • Marcus was born in Ethiopia.
  • As a young child he and his biological sister were adopted by a white, Swedish family.
  • His grandmother taught him to cook and inspired his love for the culinary arts.
  • He paid his dues, or whatever it is called in the foodie world, in what seems to be both a typical and a somewhat extraordinary fashion.  Honestly, I know nothing about the journey most chefs take to make it to the top in fine-dining and found this aspect of the book fascinating.
  • He has returned to Ethiopia and established a relationship with his biological father, siblings and extended family members.
  • He won the second season of Top Chef Masters, has received many major culinary accolades and prepared a White House State Dinner.
  • Being adopted and being black played a role in every aspect of his life while simultaneously playing almost NO role in any aspect of his life.  And if that doesn’t make sense, I suggest you read not only Yes, Chef but also How To Be Black (which I reviewed here.)

Unlike most books I check out from the library How To Be Black, I returned this book to the library on time, which means I will not have any brilliant direct quotes in this post.  You will just have to trust that my interpretation is EXACTLY what Samuelsson was saying….

My favorite part of the book was at the end, where Samuelsson makes an attempt to sum up the role race has played in his life.  He acknowledges the labels OTHERS have given him… is he Black?  Ethiopian?  African-American? a Swede?  And he points out that these are LABELS OTHERS GIVE HIM.  Get it?  Labels from others don’t define him (us).  The fact that he has received so many different labels is proof that the label has more to do with time and place and probably most of all it has to do with the label-er, not the labeled.

If Saumelsson wasn’t so driven, hard-working and successful, I would give him the label of eye-candy.

I think you will enjoy this book.  And I really look forward to a time where my son is old enough to read Yes, Chef and see Samuelsson for the inspiration that he is.

.

*My version of WordPress will not allow me to use italics in the headline.  I actually know the book title should be italicized.





Reality Show Audition: What W0uld Y0u D0?

25 05 2012

In recent months, I have had multiple experiences that were reality show worthy.  Up until now, my embarrassment kept me from blogging about them.  However, today’s experience wasn’t completely embarrassing (at least not for me – and my kids are too young to be mortified by my behavior.)  So, I thought I would write about today’s incident, and then, perhaps, I will summon the courage to write down the first and second incident.

Title:  Auditioning for What W0uld Y0u D0?

Alternative Title:  How I Staged A Mutiny At Great Clips.

PJ is a twirly girly.  She twists her hair into knots on a daily basis.  This unconscious behavior even occurs in her sleep.  The only thing that seems to help is keeping her hair short, which she loves.  When she first started twirling I told her if she didn’t stop I would cut her hair as short as Little Dude’s (#2 clippers).  She got super excited.  It took me weeks to convince her that that wasn’t actually a good idea.

I like short-hair on girls, but I despise the process of getting a hair-cut.  So I avoid it when possible.  PJ’s hair has been growing for a couple months. She vacillated between wanting to wear it in pony tails and wanting to have it cut.  Late last week, she decided on short and has been begging me everyday since to take her to the stylist.  Today, we finally made it to Great Clips.

When we showed up they had a 20 minute wait which would have made us late for swim class.  Much to PJ’s distress, we needed to postpone the cut for an hour.  They explained we could not put our name on a list or make an appointment from in the store, but we could go on-line to make an appointment.  Not a very convenient system, really, but okay.

After swimming we headed back to Great Clips, not having gone on-line but willing to take our chances with the wait.  When we got there we were third in line and another stylist was supposedly on her way in.  About 5 minutes later, she called and said she forgot she was scheduled, but would head in shortly.  The fact that I know this is testament to just how small the store is and how everyone in there knows exactly what is going on with everyone else.

I broke out a game and tried to keep the kids happy while we waited.  It probably took about 10 minutes… it is hard to keep track of time while simultaneously keeping my kids from destroying a public building.

When it was PJ’s turn, the stylist, Kit, was available.  Kit and I talked about the cut PJ wanted and she went to work while Little Dude and I settled into an empty chair across the aisle.

As previously mentioned, I am a hair cut freak.  I hate getting my hair cut.  And I hate getting the kids’ hair cut.  So, I actually try to tune out when the kids are in the chair.  But I could hear Kit chatting PJ up.  The first thing she asked her, “Are your ears pierced?” caught my attention. I don’t know what PJ replied, I am pretty sure she doesn’t know what pierced means.  Then I heard Kit say, “Well, maybe you can get them pierced this summer.”  To which I replied from across the salon, “Or, when she turns 13.”  I was pretty annoyed as piercing is clearly a personal family choice and I don’t need to start arguing with PJ about it now, thanks to KIT planting ideas in her head.

Of course, Little Dude was being Little Dude so I really did not have time to wallow in anger.  I was needed to help him investigate how the hydraulic system worked in the chairs, how blue the lollipop I bribed him with was turning his tongue, and whether he actually could drink from the water fountain by himself.

Despite the chaos, it was impossible to miss the drama that began to unfold.  A middle-aged woman of Indian descent sat down in a stylist named Brenda’s chair.  After a bit they came to an impasse.  The customer explained that she did not like her current haircut which she received at another salon.  However, she did like the haircut that Kit gave her previously.  Apparently she did not know the right words to use to describe the style.  (I can so relate to this… I have no idea if I want my hair stacked or wedged or undercut… I don’t know what these words mean.  I now take photos in and say, “Will this work on my hair?” )

I am not sure whose idea it was but Brenda turned to Kit, while the customer moved to another empty chair in the salon.  Brenda started by saying, “We are having a communication problem,” (which sounded to me like she was saying, this woman’s English sucks.)  She then explained the situation to Kit and said, “Since she liked the cut you gave her, she is going to wait for you.”

I don’t remember how I cut HER hair.” Kit replied in a loud and curt tone.

The conversation between Kit and Brenda continued while the client sat less than 10 feet away.  Including the three stylist, me and my kids, and the other clients there were 11 people in the room, ALL of whom could hear EVERY WORD that was being said.

Kit was basically ranting, “If SHE wanted to see me, SHE needed to request me as soon as SHE walked in the door.”  Part of the crisis was that she had another client waiting that had specifically requested her.  But I am sure all of this could be remedied by talking to the woman directly.  Instead she just went on in a disrespectful tone.  She kept referring to the client as SHE even though SHE was sitting a few feet away. It was insulting to the client and uncomfortable for everyone in the room.

Thankfully, Little-Dude-The-King-Of-Destruction, Little-Dude-The-King-Of-Distraction, pulled me away from the drama.

Next thing I knew, PJ was finished.  The client, who still had not had her haircut, and I were both at the reception desk when Kit started giving her a lecture.  Kit’s voice was raised and she was explaining ad nauseum that the client SHOULD have requested her, or booked her appointment on line.  She then went on to explain, ad nauseum, that another one of her clients requested her specifically and had already come back twice today to see her (which we ALL already knew from her previous rant.)

She was LECTURING this other adult, a woman who was probably older-than-her, about how she would HAVE to wait, or something. I didn’t quite get it – despite standing less than 12 inches from both of them.  She just kept going on and on and on.  And the client said nothing, nothing, nothing… just stood there politely.

Finally, Kit ran out of steam.

She turned her attention to me and started explaining the technical details of how she cut PJ’s hair different.  I was avoiding looking at her.  I replied something non-committal and tried to get her to take my debit card.  BUT she KEPT talking to me.  She seemed to be seeking validation and trying to prove what a reasonable person she was. But she was kissing up to the wrong lady…

I finally said, “It really does not matter to me.  I just want to pay and go.”

She said something, I honestly don’t know what it was, but somehow it encouraged me to explain, “I have listened to you talk enough and I really just want to get out of here.  Your complete lack of professionalism with the way you talked about this lady in front of her as if she wasn’t here was outrageous and I just want to go.”

So Kit began to explain how SHE was JUST TRYING to explain that you can check in on-line and if you want a certain stylist you need to say so right away.

I said, “No, that is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about YOU talking about this client in front of her and the rest of us.  There is no excuse for being rude and unprofessional.  It has nothing to do with the computer system or the way people check in.”

Of course she had an immediate epiphany – NOT.

She continued to try to explain to me how the line was long and how the system worked.

So I leaned down on the counter, clasped my hands together and calmly tried AGAIN to explain that it was HER BEHAVIOR that was the issue.  There is never an excuse to talk about someone in front of them as if they were not there.  Nor is it ever okay to talk about a client in front of a room full of other clients.

At some point in the conversation Brenda stepped in to tell me about the other stylist who hadn’t shown up.  So now I was trying to explain professionalism to Brenda at the same time as I was explaining it to Kit.

I remained calm, and realized it was probably a waste of time.  I actually wanted the conversation to end, but I also was NOT going to accept their excuses.

Kit finally rang my card.  The mistreated client looked over at me and said, “Thank you.”

I replied, “You are welcome.  I certainly hope you are never going to come here again and never going to give them any of your money.”

At which point she tried to explain that she really was trying to leave and was just trying to pay Brenda for her time.

I gathered my children and left.

The client walked out after me and said, “Thank you,” again.

I said, “I know that was a waste of time.  There really is no point in trying to explain manners to someone who obviously was not taught them by her mother.  “

The client said, “Your children are lucky to have you.”

Then, from behind us another client appeared.  It was the elderly lady who had come back multiple times to wait for Kit.

She said, “I decided not to give them my money.  I will go somewhere else.”

I have no idea if a comment was made about me or the other client after we walked out, or if the elderly lady was just moved by my speech alone.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.

I stood up for another person… in front of my kids… which SHOULD matter more to me than what Kit and Brenda think.

When we walked outside John Quinones of What W0uld Y0u D0? was NOT waiting for us… thankfully.  Because that guy really drives me nuts.





More Thoughts On Trayvon – Equally Incoherent

4 04 2012

Is the Trayvon Martin story continuing to unfold (not as fast as it should), or are new stories being created on the back of the original story (some of which are important and some of which are silly)?  I think it is all of the above.  Regardless, I am paying attention.  Some days, I am depressingly riveted by new details about the night Trayvon was killed.  Some days, I am desperately hoping the law enforcement and judicial circus in Florida will produce a hero.  Many days, I read stories on-line while trying valiantly to avoid letting my mouse scroll down to the comment sections.  Never, ever, ever read the comment section on any story that has anything to do with race.  Not unless you have a six-pack handy and a plan to move to a different country.

Here are a few of my more recent thoughts – probably as incoherent as the first batch (which can be found here), but still itching to be put down on paper.

Geraldo Rivera and Blaming the Victim

 “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman,” adding that Martin “wore an outfit that allowed someone to respond in this irrational, overzealous way.” Later that night on The O’Reilly Factor, Rivera denied blaming Martin for his own death, but nevertheless advised young minority men to avoid dressing “like a wannabe gangster,” because “some knucklehead is gonna take you at your word and the tragedy is gonna result.”

According to Trayvon’s girlfriend who was speaking to him on the phone at the time, Trayvon put his hood up AFTER Zimmerman started following him.  Maybe a hoodie in-and-of- itself is gansta wear (news to me – and every sport team and college in the country).

I absolutely understand that someone wearing clothes that are obscuring their face does make it difficult to judge them their intentions.

Of course, we don’t shoot every devote Muslim woman in this country.

Nor do we shoot allergy sufferers,

or old people caught in the rain.

Heck, we don’t even shoot guys shoveling snow.

I dare say a snow shovel is much more deadly than a bag of skittles.

Trayvon Wasn’t Perfect 

Apparently Trayvon was caught at school with a baggie that at some point contained marijuana.  This is not something that could ever have happened to me.  HOWEVER, this is something that could have happened to at least 85% of my good friends in high school.  Where are those people today?  Lots of them are lawyers.  A few of them are doctors, others are Airline Pilots, Engineers, Stay-At-Home Mothers, Small Business Owners and “suits” working for large companies.  They are family raising, tax paying, very much alive, mainstream citizens.  True, almost all of them are white.  Regardless of color, none of them deserved to be shot dead even when they were pot-smoking, shop-lifting, back-talking, punk teenagers.  And neither did Trayvon.

People Who Work For Justice Are Using Trayvon’s Murder to Raise Awareness

Yup, lots of air time is going to those in the civil rights movement.  See, the civil rights movement didn’t actually die with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  There are thousands of dedicated individuals who work tirelessly on social justice issues everyday.  And when the general public finally sits up and takes notice, these folks seize the opportunity and try to use it to better the living condition of Americans.  You can call it exploitation, you can call it opportunistic, you can criticize all you want.  It is simply smart.

These people who you are criticizing for jumping in front of the news camera, actually try to jump in front of the news camera every day.  Media exposure is a major part of making change happen in a democratic nation.  However, most days no television camera is interested in them.  When the cameras are interested, they will be there.  They will fight for the memory of Trayvon and they will try to educate about all the other potential Trayvons that can still be saved.  They will do this today while the cameras are focused on them.  And they will do it next month when the cameras are focused on the Kardash1ans.

Trayvon’s Parents Will Build Careers From This Tragedy

Yup, they might.  Their lives might change direction completely.  At some point in time they may draw salaries from a foundation created after their son’s death.  They may go on a speaking tour.  SO WHAT?

Did you wear a “LIVESTRONG” bracelet back in 2004?  Did you object to Lance Armstrong exploiting his cancer?  Do you think he doesn’t draw a salary?  Oh, but that was HIS cancer.  What about the Susan G. Komen Foundation?  Exploitation of a relative’s death or God’s directive to make a difference in this world?  What about John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted fame?  A perfect example of a man who allowed the murder of his child to propel him into important work.

If Trayvon Martin’s family brings good into the world because of this tragedy, and if they continue to put food on their table while they do it, we should all be grateful.  As for me, if my son was murdered, well, I only hope I would be that strong.

Trayvon’s Picture

When I first started seeing the primary picture of Trayvon I couldn’t believe how young he looked.  I suspected the picture might not be brand new.  I thought about if that fact bothered me.  I decided it didn’t.  It is irrelevant.

Now I have seen pictures of Trayvon with a “grill” (ridiculous looking gold teeth which seem to be removable, much like jewelry.  I have seen no claims as to whether he was wearing them the night he was murdered.)

One thing is for sure, when I see a kid wearing gold covered teeth, I feel like shooting someone.  I just can’t decide if it should be the fool who started this trend or the dentist who actually did the work.

*The “you” in this post is the proverbial you.  I doubt it is really YOU, dear reader.





Where The R0ad Show Meets The G0ng Show

30 03 2012

Last Friday, I spent 12 straight hours in the car with the kids driving to the house I grew up in.  They did great.

However, on Tuesday it was time to get back in the car and start home and the return trip was destined to be much more of a G0ng Show.  My kids were exhausted from spending a long weekend at my parent’s house.   Less sleep than usual, no Daddy, a minor virus, and a highly charged, emotional environment left us all drained and now we would be flying down the highway, pulling a U-Haul Trailer, crammed into the small cab of a pick-up truck.

To get home we would first drive 6 hours west to spend a night at my sister’s, followed by driving 8 hours south the next day.  On Tuesday, I had my 11-year-old nephew to help me out, but he would then stay behind at his house.  So on Wednesday, I would be on my own again (and by “on my own” I mean in charge of driving, not running the U-Haul trailer into anything, refereeing the kids’ fights, changing the DVD player, dodging water bottles that would be thrown at my head, and not getting lost).

A few highlights of our adventure.

Highlight One:  When pulling a trailer (which I had no prior experience doing) it is important to only use wide-open parking lots that can be entered and exited without actually having to do any backing up.  At some point we had a “back-seat emergency” (I honestly can’t remember what the issue was – let’s just call it Back-Seat Emergency Number 327).  The first place to pull over with an appropriate parking lot was an “adults only” book, video and (I believe) live-performance arcade.  My daughter looked out the window and said, “Is this the dentist?”  My nephew could not stop laughing.  I am not going to ask how my nephew had such a clear understanding of what this place was – that is my sister’s problem to figure out.  But I appreciated that he was really giggling but also embarrassed as this was about the same reaction I had.

Highlight Two:  My son insisted on wearing a purple and black, shiny, ruffled, can-can skirt for all parts of the long drive.  In what I think was a nod to subtlety, he chose to wear it inside out so the violet lame’ wasn’t showing, only the purple ruffle.  Still, he was a young boy in a very fancy skirt.

Pulling into a truck-stop in rural Illinois I was keenly conscious of his outfit – as was everybody else.  I finally looked at one trucker who was staring, but half-smiling and said, “Hey, it is safer than him wearing a hoodie.”

Highlight Three:  We were in the car long enough for my son to conquer the chest clasp on the last remaining car seat which he had heretofore been unable to open.  Do you know that NO company makes a product for this particular type of genius?  Sure, when kids get older you can put something on the seatbelts to keep them from unbuckling.  But kids in true car-seats can’t possibly open the buckles – except Little Dude – so no product is actually made to prevent this occurence.  It has been suggested that I buy a model of car seat with tougher-to-open buckles.  Since none of my son’s grandparents can  release the buckle on his seat, and he has now succeeded at opening the buckles on three different models of car seat, I don’t think that is a realistic solution.

On day three of this road trip I was prepared with the only thing I could find at L0wes that I thought might keep him buckled in – a multitude of rainbow velcro straps.

Little Dude left his buckles alone for about four hours, then he planned his big escape.  I pulled over at the nearest exit and looked for a big parking lot where it would be easy to u-turn with the U-haul (see Highlight One).

So we were here – in the “Visitor’s Lot.”

I was a little nervous to be hanging out in this parking lot.  I was not afraid of a prison break, but was conscious of the fact that every move I made was being watched by guards who were thinking, “What the hell is that lady doing?”

As I tried to figure out how to best apply the velcro straps, Little Dude kicked off his shoe and it went under the truck, coming to rest equidistant between the front and rear tires and the left and right side.  Now that I had given the guards plenty of time to crowd around their cameras, I needed to get down on my hands and knees, stick my behind in the air and shimmy under the truck while trying not to scrape my knees on the blacktop.

In the meantime, PJ once again played, “guess what type of business we have pulled into.”

First she asked me what the business was.  I lied sue me and said, “I’m not sure.”  She looked around and concluded we were at a tennis facility.  I believe it was because of the high fences then she announced, “And I can see two guys walking around.”  I am pretty sure they didn’t have racquets, but I was too busy crawling around under the truck to take a good look.

Highlight Four:  With about two hours left to drive PJ asked, “What’s adopted mean?”  I quickly turned off the radio and prepared myself for an important talk.  Since Little Dude seems to avoid the topic, lately I have been hopeful that PJ’s probing will provide insight and context.  Plus, he was stuck in the truck with us (thanks to the velcro job), he couldn’t casually wander away as he seems to do at home whenever sensitive subjects come up.

I replied, “I think you know what adoption is.  Little Dude is adopted.”

She then said, “But what does it mean?  Am I adopted.”

I replied, “No, because you grew in my tummy.  But Little Dude grew in his Ethiopian Mommy’s tummy.  But he was supposed to be part of our family, so he came to live with us.”

She replied, “Can we adopt a puppy?”

He was happy with the additions to his car seat.

I am happy to be home.