Family, Uncategorized

The Case For Fatherhood

The US Census Bureau reports that today 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 — a total of about 17.4 million — are being raised without a father and nearly half (45%) live below the poverty line.  Startling statistics about life as we now know it. 

I often wondered about living as part of that 1/4. My parents were obligated to remain married and I thank them for that sacrifice. Immigrant households have always had different views for the purpose of marriage. And as I even still struggle with that concept, all I have ever known is having a father in my life. I am now more certain than ever that the benefits have outweighed the cost for me. 

Fathers provide a sense of security. I’m your typical 21st century chick. I took my womanhood marching orders early in life. Yet, being in a home where I knew the bills would be paid and my needs would be met, left me time to worry about other things–like excelling at school and living my life. My dad was a hard working man who brought home the pay check, handed it over to my mom, and between those two, they made magic happen. 

Fathers are your relationship templates. They are the first to show you what it is to be loved. How you should be loved and who you should avoid. They set the bar for every other man to fulfill. My husband knew when he asked for my hand in marriage he was taking with him a young woman with a very clear idea of what marriage should or should not be. It’s both in the lessons taught and untaught by fathers that children learn. 

My teenaged self would have loved to live in a home where there was no rules, no curfews, and no discipline! All the things my dad provided. Truthfully, he didn’t have the “fun” parent role. I didn’t run to him with all of my teenage frustrations. I had mom for that. But when I needed a car in college he paid half. When I needed to be picked up from working late nights (five minutes from home) to go back to my college dorm (thirty minutes from home) for that first year, he was my ride. When my working self didn’t need his money to buy my prom dress, he insisted that I take it anyway. When I told him that I liked my then boyfriend and now husband, he cried.

I rest my case. 

  

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Current Events, Uncategorized

Black On Black Racism

My psyche has been slammed in every direction these past two weeks by reminders that I am Black, I am Haitian and I am irrelevant. 

A recent trip to Negril, Jamaica brought me back to my island roots. A group of us took our trip off the “all-inclusive resort” beaten path in search of some adventure. I was reminded of being in the “yard” or “lakou”, buying drinks from a shanty-looking building held up by a few pieces of wood. Eating curry crab from a woman on the side of the street. Getting fresh lemon grass to make tea with back home. A heat so palpable that only an ancient, bat-ridden cave with cool spring water can be the remedy.  To feel welcomed not because I’m a tourist but because I look like them makes all the difference in the world. A country that has strived to live in its motto of “out of many, one people.”

Now to hear that not one but two island nations, Dominican Republic and now Turks and Caicos, have basically told me that I am not wanted makes me feel just that–unwanted. A recent reflection activity laid bare the memories of the Center for Disease Control accusing Haitians of being the bearer of AIDS. I didn’t give blood until I was 31 years old. And then it was only for my preemie niece. Years and years of being told directly or subtly that “you are Haitian, so your life doesn’t matter.” 

I am curious to see how the DR can determine whose a person of Dominican ancestry. Their complexions are like mine and when I hear my dad speak of his Dominican grandmother, I understand why he and my brother share the same curl pattern on their wavy close cropped head. I understand my dad’s fluency with Spanish. I understand the history of a people who co-mingled and made a life sharing an island for centuries. 

Turks and Caicos has jumped on the idiocy band of racism and prejudice. I am not even sure if you call it racism between people of the same race. But to call it prejudice, to call it bigotry just isn’t enough. An example of yet another one of humanity’s methods of degrading each other just because. 

I’m searching for age-old answers to the why’s and the how’s behind what DR and Turks Caicos has now laid bare for me to see. I’m searching for ways to cope with these feelings of inadequacy. Why my people? Are we not clean enough for you? Is our hair not straight enough for you? Are we not light enough for you? Are we not smart enough for you?

We set the trend and wrote the book on how to unseat your slave masters. We, the Pearl of the Caribbean, now tarnished and set aside. 

Why?

http://www.sentinel.ht/politics/articles/international/3663-make-haitians-lives-unbearable-says-turks-and-caicos-minister

Grief And Loss, Life Coach, Uncategorized

All About Perspective

I believe mental health professionals remain in a constant state of reflection and soul searching. We are diagnosing ourselves at every turn. Taking our temperature, checking our pulse, all things one does to remain sane and to keep the crazies away. 

Enduring the absence of a loved one tends to send one into reflection overdrive. It has been no different for me. A recent personal character survey ranked Perspective as number one of my top 25 character traits. Why am I not surprised?!

While folks are quick to judge, lash out, or be angered, I have opted to just sit back and watch these days.  I was usually game for a rousting match of wits. I now opt to travel a different road. Elevating my blood pressure because of differences of opinion just isn’t my cup of tea. Allowing myself to be swallowed into the vortex of slights and misunderstandings (real and imagined) just doesn’t cut it. Drama was never a friend of mine. But these days, I’m not even trying to associate with those who are magnets for the foolery. 

Perspective causes your patience to increase. A 45-minute ride in the wilds of foreign island, on a hot bus, on bumpy roads, becomes less of a nuisance and more of an adventure.  Planning a lunch date with a 20-something whom you have little in common with, becomes less of an obligation and more of a chance to build a relationship. Meeting deadlines, raising children, balancing budgets, all potentially stressful events and undertakings. All potentially rewarding and enriching experiences. 

It’s all in perspective. I didn’t lay down my gauntlet and decide to become a carpet for folks to parade about on. But I did become someone who not only picks my battles, but my weapons too. 

Faith, Uncategorized

A Different Spirit

Twelve men went to spy out the Promised Land. The land that God had specifically set aside for His people. It wasn’t a question of if He gave it to them, but rather when He would give it to them. Twelve men, did the recognizance trek. The Book of Numbers chapter 13 chronicles their trek. Ten came back with tales of evil giants and insurmountable challenges.  They slandered what was to be God’s promise for His people. There was no way Moses could carry out the mission. Not with all these hurdles! 

“Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” Caleb and Joshua were not blind to the fortified cities or the powerful enemies that Canaan held. It was a conscious decision to overlook what was evident, see beyond the challenges and choose to see the “fruits” of this land of milk and honey. 

Twelve men went, saw, and came back with different reports. The majority believed it could not be done. The minority did. Imagine the looks on the ten’s faces when Caleb and Joshua came back singing a different more hopeful tune. Get with the program. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t make any waves. 

Visionaries walk a lonely experience. You walk alongside people you call brother and friend. You reach your destination. You see the same thing.  Yet at day’s end, your vision is not theirs. You’re a mother figuring out the education system. A husband debating on what’s the next move for your family. A college grad at wit’s end about career expectations. We all have a Canaan Land that God has promised us. Question is, what do we see when we get there?

Are you focused on the giants or the fortified walls? Or can you see beyond that to the flowing milk and honey? 

Joshua and Caleb would be the only ones to enter the Promised Land. Their faith, tenacity, and seeing beyond the obvious propelled them into their destiny. They were richly rewarded for their obedience. 

“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”