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Lies We Tell Ourselves

King James, Miami’s revered icon, just wrote an open letter to thank his father for being absent from his life. He believes that opting out of the two parent household, sisters, a dog and the home with the picket fence was instrumental in forming who he is today. He has beaten the odds and I don’t take that away from him. Yet this is where we part ways.

For every apparently successful adult who was raised by a young inexperienced single mother, there are three more who are doomed to become statistics in crime, poverty, and lack of education. An overburdened community with sparse resources is expected to step in and fill in the gaps. This social worker knows what it is to try and patch up preventative care to stem the loss that our children feel. And I think of how much more impactful it would be to have two emotionally and physically involved and invested parents to partner with me in the work that is yet to be done with young people. Please note that having two parents isn’t the cure all especially if techy toys and money replace quality time and family connection. My parents were emotionally distant for years but they CHOSE to remain together and I’m eternally grateful. I had a head start in life and that sense of stability was key in keeping me emotionally balanced.

I would have liked to meet the younger Lebron, the one who yearned for a father to be in the stands cheering him on. To pat him on the back for making good grades. To sit him down and teach him the ways of manhood. I have yet to see a child whose eyes doesn’t cloud over in pain at the mention of an absent dad.

The lies we tell ourselves eventually become our truths.

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Random Thoughts, Uncategorized

At The Line of Thirty-Nine

I’m admittedly one of those chicks that is doing well for what people may think is the “over-aged” range. I get the “I wouldn’t put you pass your twenties.” I politely smirk but on the inside I’m giving myself high-fives and doing cartwheels. Damn right I look good! I wasn’t part of the junk food generation and took no part in the drug and drinking life. Weed never touched my lips and sex wasn’t casual recreation. I gained 30 pounds since high school, lost ten and kept the rest all in the right places. I’ve gotten braces, said no to the “creamy crack” and hello to a full head of locs. I said no to cow milk (hormonal hell) and yes to almond milk; a more health conscious life. My trainer gets on me for missing sessions but I’m trying to do right by my body. I may look young but my mind and heart is light years ahead of this 5’3” frame.

Thirty nine won’t be the year of aging jitters lined with endless regrets. I remember when Oprah turned forty and my nineteen year old self couldn’t figure out what was the big deal about getting “old”. I laugh because like Oprah, I’m celebrating the beauty of aging and aging oh so graciously. I get the “old lady” comments from former students and young family members. I’m out of touch they say. Old fashioned and stuck in my ways. I own that and more.

I own my values and beliefs. I believe in commitment of one man to one woman; that the cow and the milk comes in one package, not piece-mealed until she’s turned into dry powdered milk. I believe in friendships that come with passports stamped with words like loyalty, endurance, and adventures. I believe your word is your bond, strong work ethics is a must, and an unwavering moral compass makes for clean living. I believe in solitude to think, crowds to enjoy and balance to keep me sane. I believe in living my best life now. My twenties was full of mistakes and my thirties was about making it right.

So this is it! The last of the thirties! No fan-fare and no parades please.

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Lay On The Couch

I had been trying to make it to this minister’s wives group for the past five months. Schedule did not permit and the hour and a half ride to get there almost didn’t permit either. I don’t regret pressing through the snarled rush hour traffic now.

I am a wife, a pastor’s wife at that. I work full time, I am involved in professional organizations. Work follows me home sometimes. I am active in my community. I am making room to grow our family of two to three. I am a daughter to a cancer patient. The eldest of her two, the only girl, the one with the broad shoulders to bear this oftentimes unbearable weight.

I would have walked barefoot through the Saharan desert to make this group; to sit among women just like me. Women who wear multiple hats and dress for multiple roles. I love my friends dearly but sometimes being among strangers who have one commonality allows freedom to share certain things.

I have been careful not to drag my friends into my cluttered mind as it relates to being a pastor’s wife. It keeps the drama down and the friendships pure. My friendships aren’t based on church gossip and lore. So trekking down south to a two hour meeting every few weeks will allow me the space and time to breathe fresh air.

My husband, who believes I’m Superwoman, thinks I can do one of these groups on the north end. I believe so too. But I’m more interested now in being fed rather than being the one to feed.

I meet ladies who don’t look like me or may not even think like me. Our one thread of faith and a sometimes lonely role binds us if for but a moment in time. My turn to lay on the proverbial couch and let someone else take the lead.

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Grisham Got In Our Grits

I had the pleasure of sharing in what educators call some “higher order thinking” type conversation the other day. It’s a monthly book club of ladies who meet in exquisitely furnished restaurants and discuss all things bookish. This was my first go around with the “Divas” and I scrambled to join because they were reading one of my fave writers, John Grisham.

Admittedly, John (we’re on a first name basis) had not written anything that caught my attention of late. Imagine my delight in finding that he brought back Jake Brigance of “A Time To Kill” fame for a second round. Sycamore Row, his latest venture into southern law and intrigue starts with a suicide and takes us on a pick up ride through the sweltering heat of Ford County, Mississippi. This story teller for the ages doesn’t disappoint as he brings back some old characters and hurls at us many new ones, unrepentant in his descriptive tale of the south, circa 1980’s.

There is a scene in the book where Lucien Wilbanks (picture a grisly Donald Sutherland) reprises his role as Jake’s pseudo-mentor. Back on the wagon and excited about this new case that Jake has, he proceeds to explain why having blacks on a jury to decide whether a black woman should gain the $20 million left to her by her white employer would be a bad idea. To paraphrase he says, “I know black folks more than any other white person in this county.” He stands his ground and maintains that everything is about race in Mississippi.

Grisham got real deep into the grits of the Black conscience. A black woman who stood to be the wealthiest woman in Ford County (black or white) would find no blacks in her corner. After all, they would still be poor and she would be living high off the hog.

The crab in the bucket mentality still rears it’s ugly head in small towns and big cities alike. Wherever there are black folks there will be envy and divide. How many times have I heard someone say, keep your business to yourself cause the haters out there are like vultures waiting to tear it down. I, in my naïveté, still think of people as essentially good for the most part until I see them cut a brother or sister down professionally or personally with no remorse.

In my own professional ventures, I have had a Polish Jew and a Cuban woman give me more support in moving towards goals than some Blacks I just thought would have my back. It is in my nature to share what I learn and know, friends remind me not everyone does the same. Lucien Wilbanks, in one a gloriously sober moment spoke some sense.

Yessiree, Grisham is back. Totally unapologetic about his tale of race relations in the South. He could have time stamped it 2014 rather than 1988 and would have still been in step with the times. Yes John, everything is about race everywhere.

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Being Pretty Is A Must

Black female college student is barely in her first month in school when a white classmate reaches over to touch her hair and says “Must you always look so pretty?” A loaded question for any chocolate girl growing up in today’s society. This isn’t going to be a black girls versus white girls blog. So calm your nerves way down.

It’s In Us
Call it a Pan-African thing, but no matter where women of African descent call home today, there is something within each of us that harkens back to our roots. I recall flipping through National Geographic as a child, seeing the women with elongated necks coiled with raw metal; of ears that dropped to shoulders heavy with gold; of clothing that made our skins the perfect backdrop for every color under the skin. Black women have NEVER met a color that didn’t like us. So…yeah we do pretty really well.

It’s Through Us
Today I sat and unabashedly watched an older woman with gray hair. I marveled at her smooth skin. There were no crows feet roosting on her face and no laugh lines renting space. She and so many of her generation make me eager to age–and to age oh so graciously. Her visage tells me that she’s lived a good life, she’s been loved and she has loved well. It speaks of a life that’s been lived in moderation, where excess is a stranger.

It’s About Us
I may not have grown up buying clothes from the top shelf stores but I knew that I couldn’t come out the house looking any kind of way. I had clothes for every occasion and was discouraged from blurring the lines. Clothes were ironed every Sunday of the week before being put in the closet. My first roommate couldn’t understand why I ironed my jeans and t-shirts. She was white. I gave her that. It’s a Black thing.

It’s In Us
My mom was recently hospitalized and was ready for discharge. When I asked if she wanted to wear the clothes she came in, you may as well have stuck a knife in her heart and turned it. No Black woman, no matter how low she has been brought will think to walk out looking less than the best. So your girl had to drive all the way back to the house and actually make sure that I found a skirt and top that “matched”.

It Is Us
I stopped making apologies for being mindful of my appearance a long time ago. There are those who are perfectly comfortable coming out the house looking any kind of way. I was never one of them. I’m mindful not to let it get in the way of living and relating to others, but what I look like is part of who I am. So yes being pretty, looking pretty, feeling pretty is an absolute must.

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Doodlers Dig Deeper

Google does the “most” (term for going the extra mile), when it comes to honoring a famous person. From pop up characters to puzzles, I would text another geek friend when they hit the mark with the visual appeal. So it’s Black History month and why am I feeling like they need to give me more than what I’m getting? It’s day two and I know I should give it some time but we only have 26 more days left! Google doodle came out the gate with Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist.

I have nothing against parading out the recognizable figures of Black History, but there is more to Black History than the few faces that were scattered in our history books.

I took an African history course in high school at night. The only one amon my peers. I don’t even recall why I took it. Maybe I just wanted to get out the house and this was my way. But after the six weeks was up I was the better for it. Learning of kings and queens of now lost and defeated tribes in Africa brought balance to my perspective in life. The women looked like me. Joan of Arc would not be the only female leader I would learn of.

Even now as I grapple my memories to recall a name I’m saddened to say I can rattle off more of Europe’s nobility than I can of those from Africa and the Caribbean. Having an entire year of AP European History versus six weeks of African History (one night a week at that) could have played a part.

So Google Doodlers, I will need you to come correct. Don’t pacify me with the standard song and dance history figures. Not taking away from their influence. But there are way too many stories past and present that have been left untold about the African-American experience.