Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Black Does Crack

I’m a month shy of another birthday and I still get the “well you don’t look it” comments followed by a quick side eye. Not sure if it’s my stature, face or choice in clothes that lead people to say what they say, but I take it with a grain of salt. Flattery gets you nowhere with me. A young client said she looked me up on Psychology Today and her friend asked “Well how old is she?” My client’s response was “You know Black women. Their black don’t crack. She can be anywhere between twenty and eighty years old for all I know!” That made me laugh. Close enough. I’ll be forty-three and proud of it.

But it got me to thinking. For the most part, they’re right. Black does not crack. Women of other cultures (albeit reluctantly) agree that there’s something about our skin that belies our age. Our energy speaks to that of younger years. We’ve got that “go getter” aura about us. No wilting flowers here! What we project to others lead many to think we will one day be just like Elijah, where God will simply pluck us up from the earth in a blaze and carry us to glory.

But our black does crack. There are cracks in our collective spirits as women of color that go unseen. Our husbands and children are oblivious to it. Our parents have no clue. Our closest friends would be shocked to see the leakage taking place in our lives.

Yes our black does crack. Each time you have to over advocate at the doctor’s office for a mammogram a few years earlier than your insurance requires, a crack is created. You fill each cancer question with a yes and they still want to deny you the biopsy because “you’re not old enough”. You come in with twenty questions about your health and damned if only two get answered! The minute you start “WebMD-ing” your health care provider, their eyes glaze over and you stop because your mama raised you to be polite and not cuss.

Yes our black does crack. Each time we have to overcompensate in leadership positions. There’s that impatience from others when we speak. We are too intense, too serious, too angry. What do we know? We’ve only been educated and qualified to do our jobs. The suppressed looks of surprise when we talk through doors for the first time and our voices don’t match the locs/hair weaves/or mountains of curls on our head. Bill collectors voice meets Black skin and the world screeches to a sudden halt.

Yes our black does crack. Each time we have to teach our children how to protect themselves from the evils of this world; to know the difference between overt and subliminal attempts to demean them. Each time our Black husbands come home with yet another story of how he was passed over for something or other and you can’t help but wonder why. Where you have to be his number one cheerleader each and every day because the media and society (as the slave masters before them believed) say he should be good for nothing but breeding and breaking his back in the fields.

Yes our black does crack. When we’ve committed to living in our communities but the health food store is way out yonder. You drive and see everything that can be fried is just a few dollars within reach and everything that’s broiled or baked is not. Knowing that just one generation before, your ancestors plucked what they needed from the earth and needed no modern medicine to heal them. Fast forward to now and everything’s suddenly become “holistic” and suddenly out of reach. Them same leaves grandma used to mash up in the bowl before she boiled and gave to you now cost a pretty penny sitting in pretty bottles–in the store.

As our faces continue to age backwards, our body, mind and soul continues to come under attack. There is nothing easy about being a Sistah in a world that loves you via appropriation of your natural beauty. Your hair looked like Medusa when you were growing out your baby locs; it now looks like something cute and fashionable on someone else. Nostrils and lips that were once parodies in cartoons are now the number one requests at the plastic surgeon’s office. The derrières of our mothers which were (honestly) earned from heavy lifting and hard work are now what sends many in droves to the gym! All poor and lackluster attempts at seeking the eternal youth they believe we possess.

Where are the cracks in your life? Is your soul barren? Is your health compromised? Is your spirit suffering from the silence that’s threatening to snuff it out? Don’t spend your lifetime perpetuating a lie.

Family, Journey to Mommyhood, Life Coach

What I Know About Parenting

Having nieces and nephews run around our home is not a common occurrence. Two live in another state, one is away at college, and yet another–well this “Neni” just can’t quite schedule her into my über busy planner. I have a better chance of seeing a Blood Moon than baby sitting anyone’s kid at any given time.

So my “experience” in parenting is snatched from an article read here and there, several college level courses in human behavior/development, meaningful work as a social worker with preschoolers and adolescence, impromptu baby sitting requests, taking a child during Sunday service for a few minutes, and watching life long friends raise their children from infancy to adulthood. I’ve managed to throw that all in a bag and come up with a few things I know to work.

Turn Off The TV
My niece walked in on me watching Supernatural the other day. Anyone whose watched this show knows it is not Blues Clues or whatever that doctor girl’s name is. I had to find Andy Griffith as my extra station each time she decided to walk back in the room. That would get old real quick if she actually lived with me. Age appropriate television watching is hard to find these days. Time their tv watching carefully and keep it to a minimum. You want to raise kids that use their own imagination and not rely on other’s.

Take Them Outside
Keep your little one’s activity level going throughout the day. Kite flying, beach-going, martial arts, ballet, tree climbing, whatever it is, keep their healthy bodies going. Obesity is no longer just an old man’s problem.

Teachable Moments
Use every waking moment as your classroom time. From practicing math when you bake cookies to problem solving during a sibling spat, turn it all into a lesson. I took along my 7 year old niece on a clothes shopping expedition. Between comparing and contrasting utensils in the kitchen aisle and stressing the difference between “matching and complementing”, that little girl is well on her way to becoming a domesticated diva.

Every Kid Is Special
So your five year old just scored a 24 on the ACT and is headed to Stanford.
That’s all fine and dandy. Just tame that parent tongue and watch what you say about other parent’s little geniuses. Having them eat cereal on their own and clean up after them self is not cause to break out the marching band. They are expected to increase in levels of responsibility. Worse thing you can do is raise a self-centered brat. He or she won’t have too many play dates. Jumping up and down alone in a bounce house is not cute.

Don’t Hover, Don’t Snow Plow
Helicopters are really noisy and no one wants to stand near one for too long. Helicopter parents are no different. Let your child fall and scrape their knee. Unless they are hemophiliacs, it’s okay if they bleed out a bit. They won’t be a child for too long and no one wants to see you at the job interview giving the evil eye when they turn your baby away. Pushing your child to do what they really don’t want to do will only breed resentment. Little Johnny came to you and said that football wasn’t for him. Respect his wishes and find something else to get him active in.

So no, I’m not the poster mom of the year much less the poster mom to be. But it’s oh so much fun to sit in the best seat in the house and see parents do their best (and sometimes not so best) at the most important job in the world.


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.