12 November 2012

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay Jr. in 1942, is best known for prizefighting. He won the Golden Gloves and the light-heavyweight championship at the 1960 Olympics. Then he turned professional and won the heavyweight title in 1964. When he became a "Black Muslim" and a conscientious objector (refused to serve in the United States Army) he was stripped of his title. However, he came back to regain the championship in 1974. He lost it in 1978, but regained it later that year before retiring. To view his official professional boxing record click here: ALI STATS.

A quote from the official Muhammad Ali website:
"His early relationship with the Nation of Islam and his insistence on being called Muhammad Ali instead of his 'slave name,' Cassius Clay, heralded a new era in black pride." Muhammad Ali was named Cassius Clay after his father, and his father was named Cassius Clay after the 19th century abolitionist and politician (1810-1903).

He has participated in many humanitarian efforts.
"For his humanitarian efforts, Muhammad has been the recipient of countless awards. His recognitions include:
• United Nations Messenger of Peace in 1998-2008, for his work with developing nations
• Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the United States of America's highest civil award
• Amnesty International's Lifetime Achievement Award
• Germany's 2005 Otto Hahn Peace Medal, for his involvement in the U.S. civil rights movement and the United Nations
• International Ambassador of Jubilee 2000, a global organization dedicated to relieving debt in developing nations
• State of Kentucky's "Kentuckian of the Century"
• The Advertising Club of Louisville's "Louisvillian of the Century"

Other honors include an Essence Award, an XNBA Human Spirit Award and recognition from the National Urban League; 100 Black Men; Givat Haviva; the Oleander Foundation; The National Conference of Christians and Jews; TIME magazine and many others." -http://ali.com/legend_man_humanitarian.php

Famous M. Ali quotes about racism:
"Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong."
"I know I got it made while the masses of black people are catchin' hell, but as long as they ain't free, I ain't free."
"No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end."
"Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?"

"Ali’s publically pronounced leadership and his unflinching public remarks clarified the linkage between racism and militarism, a message which was eventually echoed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in later speeches such as King’s “Riverside Church” speech and his “Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam”. Also Ali’s unapologetically brash style of public speaking shared the sense of confidence and humor that is found in the speeches of Malcolm X" -Communication Currents

He has appeared in several motion pictures.

From ali.com: "Muhammad Ali remains active in civic and humanitarian enterprises. His annual Celebrity Fight Night has raised over $45 million for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute, as well as large sums for other charities."

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09 November 2012

Great African-Americans

While back home last time (born and raised in the South) I picked up a coloring book called "Great African Americans".

 It's a fairly boring coloring book (for my 2 and 3 year olds, but maybe not for older kids), but an awesome collection of great African-Americans. There are 45 African-Americans shown who helped shape our country! Each has a couple paragraphs under their picture telling of their accomplishments. This morning when my son brought it to me and asked me to read it to him I got an idea. I'd like to try to post about each one of these great African-Americans here. It''l save you a bit of legwork when you're looking for an African-American history lesson for your child(ren), and it'll save me legwork later on when I want to pull out another African-American hero story.

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Satin-line Your Winter Hats

It is very important to line your winter hats with satin to protect your hair from the hat fabric. Last winter we bought a satin-lined winter hat from etsy.com, but this year I'm going to attempt to line one myself. I am NOT a seamstress, but this video makes it look fairly easy. I think I can do this. I'll let you know how it goes.

Update: What I ended up doing was to buy a satin cap from Walmart and sew it on the inside of my daughter's winter hat using a sewing machine. So very easy. Easier than I thought. You can do it too!

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07 November 2012

The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Adopted Child

This is the most important post I ever have or ever will blog. I wish I could share the information in this post with every single adoptive parent. The absolute best thing you can ever do for your adoptive child is to make a lifebook for him or her. I found out about lifebooks a while ago and had always planned on making one for my daughter, but not until I started making it and then read the finished product to my daughter did I realize how very important it is.

Like I said, when I started the lifebook I was doing it thinking it would be an easy way to tell my daughter about where she came from, and that's about it. I had no idea where to begin, how to word it, or what to include. So I did a "lifebook" search on Amazon and came across this book:

It's "Lifebooks: Creating A Treasure For the Adopted Child" by Beth O'Malley. I adore this simple little book. It has helped me work through my feelings about my daughter's adoption (feelings I didn't realize I had), and to create a beautiful, well-worded story of how my daughter joined our family.

The author lists the different pages a lifebook should have, gives suggestions as how to word sensitive situations, and gives several examples of each page. 

I bought an album with matching paper and stickers from Hobby Lobby, borrowed a straight-edge cutter and a couple fancy-edged scissors from a friend, and went to. "Lifebooks" told me step by step how best to create this treasure for my child.

It covers every situation, even when you have almost no information on your child's life before he/she came to you. It covers domestic adoption, international adoption, and fostering. The author also explains why a lifebook is such a very important  piece of an adopted child's life.

I highly recommend this book to every adoptive family out there, and highly suggest you create a lifebook for or with your child today. It's not near as hard as it seems. Promise.

My daughter adores her book. We put her name on the front and she refers to it as [Destiny]'s book. She asks us to read it all the time and has learned some bits by heart. It has also been a wonderful way for her older brother to learn about where she came from.

After much consideration I have decided to share my daughter's lifebook with you. I think it is just that important. However, I have erased and blurred much of it to keep personal information personal. I share it to give you an idea because when I searched the internet for an example I found none.

Like I mentioned before, I made it easy on myself and bought an album with matching papers and stickers. Then I borrowed a straight-edged cutter and a couple pairs of fancy-edged scissors. I am not a scrapbooker, so was nervous, but it turned out easy to do. I used photos from the internet, and ones that friends and family found and emailed to me. When I finished I couldn't wait to read it to [Destiny]. I was disappointed to discover it just could not keep her two year old attention. That's when I went to a couple craft stores and bought 3D, shiny, colorful stickers to add to the book. It worked.

If she were older I would have had her help make the book. Instead I left a couple places for her to add her own drawings when she gets a bit older. Also, because of her age, I paraphrase a bit and skip parts she won't yet understand when reading it to her. For example, she won't be able to understand the birth certificate law or care about it until she's older, but it is an important part to include for when she is older.

I know. It seems daunting. Just start. It'll come easier the more you do. Besides, it doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be honest and heart-felt.

Please feel free to post any questions you might have.

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05 November 2012


I'm back. I hope. Oh my. I have so much I want to post. Our family grew in June and I have things saved up since then, and actually since before then, that I've wanted to share. I will get there, friends. For now a quick family update.

Long story short we supposedly have a slim chance of conceiving, of it being a healthy pregnancy, and of me carrying a baby to term. As I've mentioned before, the way we found this out was by our first baby being born still. Afterward, during the adoption process, we became pregnant and put adoption on hold to see if the pregnancy would result in a baby. It did and on this blog I refer to him as "Miracle". Since that supposed slim chance was still there, and because we strongly felt we were meant to adopt, we applied for adoption again and our second daughter, referred to on this blog as "Destiny", came to us. Then I felt that somehow another baby would be born to us. Thanks to a friend we learned about the treatment methods of a certain doctor and in June our third daughter was born to us. Here on this blog we will refer to her as "Phenom". Phenom is now almost five months old, so even though the holiday craziness is starting, the new baby phase is calming, so I'm hoping to return to this blog. Here's a not-us-at-our-best, but best-one-we-have, recent family picture.

Here's hoping I can catch up soon!

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26 September 2012

White Mama, Black Baby

A friend shared an article with me and I'd like to share it with you. Click here to view it: White Mama, Black Baby. I'd also like to share my thoughts about it.

Firstly I'd like to address the statement, "More people don't start thinking about having children until their late thirties and early forties, a time when fertility becomes a challenge." While that may be true it is not the reason we adopted a "black" baby. Fertility problems may have been one of the reasons we adopted, but it had nothing to do with adopting a "black" baby. Celebrities can adopt whatever race of child from whatever part of the world they wish. It does seem that most have been choosing to adopt "black" children lately. There must be a reason for it, and it looks to be because it is the "in" thing to do. But I do not know them personally and cannot judge. There are children of all races, including Caucasian, who need good homes.

Next I'd like to address the questions, "Many question whether Whites are truly up to the challenge. Will the child be exposed to Black culture? How will he or she develop a healthy sense of self? Does the parent realize that a postracial America is an illusion?". Yes, I do agree, it is a challenge. If a transracial parent takes it seriously it can at times be overwhelming to even think about all the added responsibilities of adopting a child of a different race. We expose our transracially adopted daughter to the "black culture" as much as we can. But more importantly we are making an effort to expose all of our children to all cultures. Though we could do better at this, we are conscience of the need and are making an effort. As the children grow older we will be able to make a stronger effort. I believe a transracial parent needs to recognize the absolute necessity of exposing their transracially adopted child to the culture of his/her birth. It is the only healthy way to raise a transracailly adopted child. It is a must. This blog follows my journey discovering what this means for our family. A transracially adopted child can have a healthy sense of self. But it comes from a lot of hard work on the parents' part. There is much to be done to help your child achieve this, even if your child is born naturally to you. Add on the fact that your child is transracially adopted and you've got yourself a full-time job. But we love our children as much as a parent who has a child born naturally to them loves that child, and the extra effort is just something that must be done because we love our children so. Not that it is in any way a handicap, but a parent of a child with other special challenges has added responsibility. And that parent learns how to deal with those extra responsibilities in a way that is best for their child. In that way it is similar. It is just something that is part of our family and daily life. Anyone who has any sense can realize that a "postracial America is an illusion". If a parent didn't realize it when they first adopted the child they soon will. Oh the reminders people give you on a daily basis!

The comment about the NABSW, well, I've heard it before. I've read it on their website. And quite frankly I have to agree with them. Their mission is to strengthen "black" families so they are able to keep their children. I'm all for that, for families of all races. Of course it is better for a child to be raised by parents of the same race. But it is not better for a child to be raised by a mother of the same race who is addicted to drugs, doesn't know who the birthfather is, and has four other children she cannot take care of  as opposed to a "white" stable couple. No. This is not racial profiling. I am merely offering an example. The same can be said of an unstable "white" mother and a stable "black" couple. What about family members of the birthmother? Can't they take in the child? I know for a fact that the answer very well may be a resounding "no". What about "black" adoptive parents? Can't "black" couples adopt "black" children? There are studies/statistics that I won't look up now that show there are not near as many African-American couples hoping to adopt as Caucasian couples.

"'But if White parents treat race as if it doesn't matter, kids have to figure out what it means to be of color on their own,' says Judy Stigger, an adoption therapist at The Cradle, a Chicago-area agency that offers courses for families that have transracially adopted. 'They tend to move away from home and seek out ways to become part of their ethnic community.'" I 100% agree with this. Caucasian transracial adoptive parents have a responsibility to their child(ren) to teach them about the African-American culture. What does this mean? Well, for one thing it means teaching them about what every African-American mother should be teaching their child(ren) - the African-American heros who helped build this nation yet who are not mentioned in our school's textbooks. But that's a different subject I have blogged about before, and will blog about again later. It also means listening to AA music in your home (we listen to mo-town because even if I were AA I'm pretty sure I wouldn't allow rap in my home), hanging art by AA artists or of AA people, cooking meals popular throughout the AA culture, making a point to involve AA people in your child's life especially those who are successful since the only ones they'll see in the media are athletes and rap artists, and so much more.

 I encourage everyone to read the two stories shared in the "Racial Awakening" section of the article. Being "color-blind" as a transracial parent is so harmful to the transracially adopted child. Diversity, no how hard it is to come by, is very important for a transracially adopted child. He/she must see people who look like them.

In response to the first paragraph of the section "A Loving Home", I say yes, it is a "lifetime" and even daily job to empower your children and educate others. But it is just a challenges that a transracial family has. Other families have challenges. This is ours.

"...few Whites are truly equipped to help Black children prepare for survival in America. 'You would need to change your circle of friends, move to an integrated neighborhood and unlearn the racist history you learned about being an American,'" Yes. I totally agree. I am aware of this and yet do not feel I am even nearly equipped as I should be. I'm working at it though.

This I just want to share: "Still most agree that, ultimately, what children need is a loving home. That's particularly the case for Black children, who are less likely than others to be adopted. If children aren't adopted by the time they're 8 to 12 years old, especially Black males, they likely never will be. Then their chances of being jailed or having kids at an early age skyrocket, states Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York City." One comment: Yes, love is most important, but love is not enough for a transracially adopted child. It just isn't.

"There have also been numerous efforts in recent years to find more Black adoptive families. Nijole Yutkowitz, director of resource and community development at The Cradle, which since opening in 1923 has facilitated more than 15,000 adoptions, says a big part of her job is educating Blacks about the process. She holds information sessions to discuss cost and myths around adoption. 'The goal,' she says, 'is to ensure that African-American birth mothers have an array of options when choosing an adoptive family.'" Good. I very much think birthmothers deserve this option. I have a great respect for birthmothers. Even ones who have not taken very good care of themselves or their unborn child. Ultimately they have made a very hard decision for the betterment of their child. No matter how much a birthmother realizes she may not be able to care for her baby, the decision is not an easy one to make. But, it is their decision to make. Not ours. Not the NABSW's. Not the adoption agency's. It is hers.

Thank you, dear friend, for sharing this article.

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30 May 2012

An Acceptable Prejudice?

Some adoptive parents may feel a bit obligated to vote for an African American president if their child is African American. Something I have noticed in the transracial adoption world is that a lot of transracial adoption parents are Mormons from Utah who would assumingly vote for the other presidential candidate. In light of the upcoming election I found this article to be especially interesting. It compares prejudice against Mormons to Jim Crow.

An Acceptable Prejudice?
May 29, 2012 - 3:00am
It was a fairly typical lunch at an academic conference in the East after the New Hampshire primary in 2008. There was a smattering of endowed professorships and international reputations at the table, perhaps eight academics in all.

Along with the sweet tea and penne pasta came the inevitable skewering of George W. Bush.

"Never has a president experienced such horrible poll approval numbers in the midst of a war," one professor quipped.

"That is, if you overlook Harry Truman," I interjected into an uncomfortable silence.

It was going to be that kind of meal.

Dessert made its appearance and talk turned to the relative merits of the developing college basketball season and presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were hotly debated – the state’s primary promised to be a pivotal one. Then it was onto the Republicans, and Mitt Romney’s name popped up.

"I couldn’t vote for a Mormon," one professor said. There was some polite (or perhaps impolite) head-bobbing. "It’s a cult. Very intolerant, and their opinions about women, and, well ... ” and his voice trailed off.

I mentioned I had just been hired at a college in the West with a sizeable student and local population of Mormons -- Idaho State University, in Pocatello. I wondered rhetorically whether anyone said the same thing in 1960 about voting for John F. Kennedy because he was Roman Catholic. Or for then-Senator Obama because he is African-American. There was that same uncomfortable silence again. I think they felt sorry for me.

I’ve attended numerous scholarly conferences since that lunch where Mormonism has been discussed, and it is amazing to confront snide and disdainful comments and even overt prejudice from intellectually and sophisticated academics. And it seems perfectly acceptable to express this bias. Mormons are abnormal, outside the mainstream; everybody knows that. They don’t drink alcohol and coffee. Their women are suppressed. They don’t like the cross, and their most holy book seems made up. And there’s that multiple-wives thing. At one session involving a discussion of Utah’s history, several dismissive comments were spoken, rather blithely and without any sense of embarrassment. Belittling comments were made about Mormons' abstemiousness, and there was a general negative undercurrent. The LDS Church was referred to as the Mormon Church, something many members object to. They don’t mind being called Mormons, but their church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or LDS Church. At least some of the professors who were making these remarks knew that.

Yes, Mormons do not embrace the cross as a symbol of Christianity, but it is because they consider it representing state-sanctioned execution and intense suffering. I regard it as a sacrifice on my behalf. Who’s right? Various Christian denominations think that during communion the wine and wafers actually are transformed into the body and blood of Christ – and over the centuries Christians have been derided as cannibals. I was raised to believe that the Eucharist represents the sacrifice of Jesus. Nothing more than different perspectives and beliefs.

Mormons are excoriated in popular culture (see: "The Simpsons") for the way their church was created by someone who was kind of a con man. And the translation of the Book of Mormon was accomplished with a hat. And the Golden Tablets have been lost. Hmmm. The stone tablets of the Ten Commandments were misplaced, too. And a burning bush talking? Really? It comes down to faith, as it should. Not some sort of ignorant bigotry.

Many of the academics consider themselves liberal, socially responsible, and broad-minded individuals, the repository of the best in America. They’re proud of themselves for voting for Barack Obama (a bit too smug maybe?). They would splutter and bluster and be generally outraged to be considered prejudiced. None would consider saying anything similar about African-Americans, Muslims, Jews, Native Americans . . . well, you get the idea. But anti-Mormonism is part of the same continuum that contains discrimination against any group. Why, then, is it allowable publicly express bias against Mormons?

In 2009, The Daily Beast compiled a listing of the top 25 safest and 25 most dangerous college campuses in America, based on two-year per capita data from 9,000 campuses with at least 6,000 students. The two states with the highest proportion of Mormons did pretty well in the safest category: #5 was Idaho State University, Pocatello, where I work;  #13 was Utah State University, Logan, and #17 was Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. No Utah or Idaho schools were on the most dangerous list.

And yet, nestled in the midst of all the good publicity, was this comment about BYU: "Joseph Smith’s golden plates would have been safe at Brigham Young." Would the Daily Beast have said this: “The tablets of the Ten Commandments would have been safe at Brandeis University" or "at Notre Dame University?” Not very likely. But this sort of flippant and biased comment about Mormons is somehow socially acceptable. Responsible people don’t use "Indian giver" anymore (and we shouldn't). But we Welch on deals and get away Scot-free. I have a sprinkling of Welsh and Scottish blood in me, and I don't appreciate those comments.

So what, exactly, is so awful about being Mormon?

To finish reading this article click here:

Inside Higher Ed 

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02 May 2012

Slant Parts and Coils

We use Proclaim rubberbands from Sally's. The hair clips are from Target, I think. I used water and Aussie Moist Conditioner to  create the finger coils. I LOVE Aussie Moist Conditioner! Have tried a few other expensive African-American hair style products, and nothing works better that Aussie Moist Conditioner.

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Octo-Braids with Star Part

We use Proclaim rubberbands from Sally's. The hair pretties are from Walmart, I think.

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15 April 2012

"Shades of Black": A Celebration of Our Children

by Sandra L. Pinkney
photographs by Myles C. Pinkney

This is a book of photos of children in different shades of "black". It compares the different shades of skin to things in a child's world - vanilla ice cream, a chocolate bar, a licorice stick, a peach, a pretzel, popcorn, etc. It also uses items in a child's world to describe the different textures of hair a black child may have - cotton balls, lambs wool, a rope, etc. Then it uses precious stones to describe the different colors of eyes a black child may have - Tiger's-Eye, Unakite, Lapis, Onyx. The last page of the book reads,


I come from ancient Kings and Queens.
When you look at me, what do you see?

I am Black
I am proud to be me."

I very much like how different skin tones, hair, and eyes are compared to things a child can relate to. The photography is beautiful, as are the children in the photographs. The only issue a person may have with this book is the author obviously subscribes to the "one drop rule", though maybe not by that particular name. There are children of mixed racial backgrounds in this book. Some look "white", one has Jewish features. Though this does not matter to me I mention it in case it bothers a reader with a child(ren) of mixed racial background(s).

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15 March 2012

"How I Was Adopted"

by Joanna Cole
illustrated by Maxie Chambliss

"Sam has a joyful story to tell, a story completely her own, yet common to millions of families - the story of how she was adopted."

In this book there is a forward titled "A Note To Families: Adoption and Love" explaining how this book is helpful to children who were adopted. There is another part of the forward titled "A Child's Questions" where the author gives suggestions as to how to answer questions a child who was adopted may ask. The last part of the forward is titled "Raising Your Adopted Child".

In the story Sam shares where she lives, and what she likes. She says that she loves her parents and they love her too. She shares how her parents told her she was adopted when she was one week old. The book briefly explains how babies are born - an important part of explaining adoption to a child:

"They [Sam's parents] said that every baby grows in a special place inside a woman's body. That place is called her uterus." A cartoon picture is shown of a woman in a swimming suit with a drawing of a baby inside her. "When a baby is ready to be born, the woman's uterus squeezes and squeezes, and the baby comes out into the world!" Sam and her parents are looking at a book that shows a cartoon drawing of a woman from about her navel to the top of her thigh. You know, the one that cuts of the leg closest to the person looking at the picture. It shows four pictures - the baby inside the woman, the baby's head pushing out of an opening at the bottom (it does not look like a woman's private area, just an opening at the bottom), the baby's head out and someone's hands on the baby's head, and the baby halfway out of the woman.

Then the story goes on the tell how "many children stay with the woman who gave birth to them" but "Some children do not. Some children need to be adopted..." Sam shares that she "did not grow inside Mommy's uterus." She "grew in another woman's uterus." She then shares things about her appearance. I would note that the parents and child in this story all seem to be Caucasian. She goes on to tell some things about her personality. Then she shares her adoption story. It starts with pictures of her parents before she was born, tells about an "adoption counselor", how the phone rang, when they first met their baby and took her home, how her "our friends and relatives came to welcome you", and how she grew as a baby.

The story ends with Sam saying she loves to hear her adoption story. She ends by saying, "Every girl who was adopted has her own story. Every boy who was adopted has his own story. Do you know the story of how you were adopted?"

I like this book. It is well written toward what a child can understand. The illustrations are fun with cute details in the background. When my children are a bit older I think this book will become part of our home library.

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01 March 2012

"Black" Music

Though I haven't decided against including African art in our home, I feel it more important to include African-American art. Our family is a musical family. We listen to music all the time and have "dance parties" with the kids. My husband's big hobby and talent is musical theater. He directs the church choir. I've loved music for as long as I can remember. Our children seem to have a love for music too.

I've been wanting to include African-American music in our family's music for a while. However, the African-American, or black, music I grew up hearing is not something I want my kids exposed to. Neither is the popular black music of today. One day I had an epiphany. It seemed so simple an answer I don't know why I haven't thought of it before.

My Caucasian/white son loves Jackson Five's "Rockin' Robin". We use Pandora on our TV, internet, and phones. So one day I created a Jackson Five station. Best thing ever! We hear all the catchy mo-town songs that are awesome to dance to. Sure there's the occasional slow love song that's a bit too grown-up for the kids (no bad language, just too much about love-makin' kind of stuff), but all you gotta do on Pandora is thumbs-down it and you'll never hear it again.

{Quick paragraph about Pandora. you can find it at pandora.com. It's free and user friendly. You can create any kind of "station" you'd like and name it what you want. You can add songs to the station to help the website identify what type of music you'd like to hear on that station. (We also have a kid's songs station.) Then it does the rest! Based on what you've entered it chooses other songs it thinks you'd like and plays them like a radio station. If for some reason you don't like a particular song you can thumbs-down it and you won't hear it again. Easy-cheesy and pretty awesome.}

We hear Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, The Emotions, The Temptations, and many, many more great artists. I didn't realize how much I LOVE this music and knew all the words until I heard it all again. You may be surprised as well.

What about you and your family? Any favorite music artists you listen to to include your African-American child's culture and heritage in your family?

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23 February 2012

Infant Hair Saver

Months ago I purchased a satin fitted crib sheet for baby girl's crib to help prevent hair breakage. I tested it for a good long while before telling you about it to see if it'd help her hair. It has done great! I ordered it from Infant Hair Saver dot com. These "hair savers" were invented by a mother of four who had problems with infant hair loss in her children. She personally hand-crafts each one. " The Infant Hair Saver is a square or rectangular pad made of a washable, high quality satin with a thin 1/4" non-slip foam backing. " She also has available "Mini" Infant Hair Savers for carseats and strollers, standards crib fitted satin sheets (which is what I purchased), and can create custom sized fitted sheets as requested. The crib sheet has been tried and tested with us and that's why I'm endorsing this product here. We will use this product with all our children - ethnic hair or not. Happy shopping!

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21 February 2012

It's A Big Big World: Everybody's Different

I saw this at our local library and decided to check it out.There are five episodes all about how everybody is different in different ways.

The first episode "World Tree Cuisine" focuses on how everyone wants their favorite food to be included in the celebratory cake. It points out that we all have different likes and tastes.

The second episode "Ick Alone" a fish named Ick wants a bird named Burdette to move out of the jungle. Towards the end we learn it is because he has heard that birds eat fish and he is afraid. After admitting to his friends what's bothering him he learns that different birds eat different things. In my opinion, it opens the door to teaching children how to deal with someone not liking them and not wanting to play with them without knowing why, and also how to talk about what might be bothering them about someone else so they can learn the truth about that person.

In the third episode "One Monkey Too Many" Wartz the frog wants to be a monkey and tries unsuccessfully all day with his monkey friends. In the end he remembers all the wonderful things about bring a frog and decided to just be him. I think it can help young children begin to learn that they can like themselves for who they are and how they are different from everyone else.

The fourth is called "Ant Ray Vision". The main character, Snook the sloth, follows a butterfly to see the world from a butterfly's point of view. Another friend, Bob the anteater, tried to follow ants to see the world from their point of view, get to know them better, and make them love him. Snook does it the right way by being gentle and observant, and Bob tried too hard. Children learn how the world looks from a small creature's point of view, and in the meantime can learn that everybody sees things differently and so has a different opinion of the same world.

The last episode is called "The Big Race". A relay race is organized and we see that everyone runs/flies/swims/etc. the race at their own pace. Again a show of how everyone can do things differently but not any one way is or right. Everyone "get[s] around" differently. Children also learn that no matter how fast we run there is always someone who can run faster, and that's okay.

We will be adding this DVD to our home library.

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13 February 2012

Jim Crow

We've all heard about the Jim Crow law and have a pretty good idea of what it meant, but I want to learn more. The more I learn the better prepared I am for questions that may arise in the future.

First of all, why "Jim Crow" law? History.com reads, "In U.S. history, any of the laws that enforced racial segregation in the South between the end of the formal Reconstruction period in 1877 and the beginning of a strong civil rights movement in the 1950s. Jim Crow was the name of a minstrel routine (actually Jump Jim Crow) performed beginning in 1828 by its author, Thomas Dartmouth (“Daddy”) Rice, and by many imitators, including actor Joseph Jefferson. The term came to be a derogatory epithet for blacks and a designation for their segregated life." Click here for the entire article.

Jimcrowhistory.org reads, "The term Jim Crow is believed to have originated around 1830 when a white, minstrel show performer, Thomas "Daddy" Rice, blackened his face with charcoal paste or burnt cork and danced a ridiculous jig while singing the lyrics to the song, "Jump Jim Crow." Rice created this character after seeing (while traveling in the South) a crippled, elderly black man (or some say a young black boy) dancing and singing a song ending with these chorus words: 'Weel about and turn about and do jis so, Eb'ry time I weel about I jump Jim Crow.' Some historians believe that a Mr. Crow owned the slave who inspired Rice's act--thus the reason for the Jim Crow term in the lyrics. In any case, Rice incorporated the skit into his minstrel act, and by the 1850s the "Jim Crow" character had become a standard part of the minstrel show scene in America. On the eve of the Civil War, the Jim Crow idea was one of many stereotypical images of black inferiority in the popular culture of the day--along with Sambos, Coons, and Zip Dandies. The word Jim Crow became a racial slur synonymous with black, colored, or Negro in the vocabulary of many whites; and by the end of the century acts of racial discrimination toward blacks were often referred to as Jim Crow laws and practices." Click here for the entire article.

Watch The Birth of Jim Crow on PBS. See more from Slavery by Another Name.

Basically Jim Crow law separated "the races in public places (public schools, parks, accommodations, and transportation) and prevented adult black males from exercising the right to vote". We can all read the plain stated facts like this one, but what I'm looking for is a more personal view of Jim Crow law. Quote from jimcrowhistory.org.

Jimcrowhistory.org reads:

For the vast majority of southern blacks, the terror of Jim Crow meant that they were forced to live "behind the veil," in the words of the black intellectual, W.E.B. Du Bois. Scholars refer to these masking tactics as "dissembling," or a psychological ploy in which blacks assumed the appearances of non-confrontation. For Du Bois, this life of masking created a "double consciousness" for blacks: the awareness, driven home by the racist institutions and all-present racial stereotypes, that one was both an American and yet deemed inferior by the larger society because of one's African origins. American but not American. Du Bois writes of it this way: "It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at oneself through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."

To cope with the fact that whites refused to acknowledge the humanity of black Americans, most blacks had to mask their true feelings and actual personalities whenever they were in the presence of white people. Sometimes, this masking meant shuffling and feigning irresponsibility; and sometimes it meant turning the other cheek and walking away rather than responding to white insults. But almost always, it meant conforming to a pattern of racial etiquette in day-to-day affairs.

Blacks avoided looking whites in the eyes; and black males and youths knew not to look, even indirectly, at white women or to touch them accidentally. Blacks were expected to stare at the ground when addressing whites of both sexes. Black customers usually were not served first in stores when white customers were present. They usually were not allowed to try on clothing in white businesses, as it was commonly believed that white customers would not purchase clothes that black customers had tried on. Black shoppers almost always were expected to wait patiently for white clerks to address them before speaking. Adult African Americans were seldom afforded titles of respect by whites, such as the terms "Mister," "Mrs.," or "Miss." They were instead referred to by their first names or by the words "boy," "girl," "auntie," "uncle," and, frequently, "nigger."

As I read this I thought of how I'd feel if I were a black woman during these times. No protection from police officers and laws. I also thought about if my little daughter were growing up during these times and that hurt me more. To think if innocent children being treated like they were trash straight from birth.

Jimcrowhistory.org continues:

The great African-American writer Richard Wright vividly remembered his first understanding of what it meant to be black in a white world. It happened in Arkansas when he was just a small boy. One day he and his friends got into a rock-throwing fight with some little white boys who lived across the tracks in the nice part of town. The black kids threw cinders from the rail tracks, and the white boys threw cinders, too, but also broken milk bottles. One bottle hit Wright in the head. He was stunned because it seemed that the boys on his side knew not to throw bottles because that would be unfair and might seriously hurt the little white boys. The white boys did not seem to care. Wright had to be rushed to the doctor for stitches. But, the greatest shock came to him that evening when he ran down the road to meet his mama, who was returning home after working all day in "the white folks' kitchen." He knew she would understand. He knew that she would tell him what to do next.

"I grabbed her hand and babbled out the whole story. She examined my wound, then slapped me. 'How come yuh didn't hide?' she asked me. 'How come you always fightin'?' I was outraged, and bawled. Between sobs, I told her that I didn't have any trees or hedges to hide behind. There wasn't a thing I could have used as a trench. And you couldn't throw very far when you was hiding behind the brick pillars of a house. She grabbed a barrel stave, dragged me home, stripped me naked, and beat me till I had a fever of one hundred and two. She would smack my rump with the stave, and, while the skin was still smarting, imparted to me gems of Jim Crow wisdom. I was never to throw cinders any more. I was never to fight any more wars. I was never, never, under any conditions, to fight white folks again. And they were absolutely right in clouting me with the broken milk bottle. Didn't I know she was working hard every day in the hot kitchens of the white folks to make money to take care of me? When was I ever going to learn to be a good boy? She couldn't be bothered with my fights. She finished by telling me that I ought to be thankful to God as long as I lived that they didn't kill me."

These videos give a few more personal insights:

We Wear the Mask
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To Thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream other wise,
We wear the mask.

--Paul Laurence Dunbar (1895)

To learn more visit jimcrowhistory.org.

All photos taken from www.loc.gov.

01 February 2012

Origins of Black History Month

"Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

"The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass...."

Follow this link to read the article in it's entirety: history.com.

Follow this link for many more videos on black history: The History Channel.

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The Parenting Dilemmas of Transracial Adoption

The following information was given to us by a local transracial adoption education group:

It's common for adopted children to grapple with questions about where they come from and how they fit into their new family. But those questions can be particularly hard to navigate when adoptive parents and children don't look alike.

Today, approximately 40 percent of adoptions in America are transracial - and that number is growing. In decades past, many American parents of transraical adoptions simply reject racial categories, raising their children as though racial distinctions didn't matter.

"Social workers used to tell parents, 'You just raise your child as though you gave birth to her,' " Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, tells NPR's Neal Conan. "An extreme majority of transracially adopted kids... grew up wishing they were white or thinking they were white, not wanting to look in mirrors."

Pertman's organization has conducted extensive research on transracial adoption in America. He says turning a blind eye to race wasn't good for anybody. "We don't live in a colorblind society," he says.

University of Chicago professor Gina Samuels - who is multiracial and was raised by a white family - has also researched the experiences of children of color who were raised by Caucasian parents. She tells Conan that parents who take a colorblind approach to raising their chilren often do so with the best of intentions.

"[It] reflects maybe how they hope the world will be someday," Samuel says. "But oftentimes what this ends up doing is having children [meet] the world - the real world - unprepared."

And when parents choose not to address racial difference within the home, Samuels says, "then there's not a family norm of having the ability to come home and talk about it." And that means kids don't have a healhty way of coping with some hurtful situations.

Pertman, who is also the author of Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming Our Families - And Maerica, says the experience is a lot like a marriage.

"When you marry someone who's of a different race and ethnicity, you don't pretend that it didn't happen," he says. "That doesn't mean that everybody has to deal with it in exactly the same way... But pretending that race or ethnicity is not and issue in this country - or in one's own family - is not the optimal formula for success." [copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

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28 January 2012

Our New Tree Topper

A few posts back I talked about Santa's skin color (Jesus & Santa, Black or White). In trying to have more ethnic faces in our home decorations (not just Christmas though) we purchased this angel. I saw it, and ones like it, at Walmart months ago, but because we live in a predominantly white state I thought they would still be there for the after Christmas sale. I was right. Lots of them were on the clearance aisle the week after. So we got our beautiful new angel tree topper half off. Love it!

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16 January 2012

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: I Have A Dream

In January 2010, about seven months before our daughter was born, I decided to explore this Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday myself. I posted my findings on our private family blog. Today I want to share that with you.

"Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Growing up I was taught to ignore or even act appalled by this holiday. There is some understandable reason for this. Some African-American people take this holiday to extreme and create extreme situations and do extreme things on this holiday. This is something you wouldn't understand unless you were raised in the South. However, racism is something I have (and am still) growing out of. While I believe no one, of any race, can say they are completely un-racist, racism is an ugly thing. I won't go into it, but bottom line, no if ands or buts, we are all children of God, period. If you believe this you can in no way practice racism.

"Today is a break in ingrained tradition. Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Today is the first time I celebrate, or at least learn why others celebrate, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I have checked out a video of Martin Luther Jr.'s speech and plan to watch it - something most people who are against this holiday have never done. I have checked out his autobiography. I do not know what I will find. I have never been taught about him. I do not know what the outcome will be. But, the point is that I am willing to learn.

"What has brought all of this up? I think you have a pretty good guess. Adoption. Yep. We do not know from what background our child will come. While I never fully ascribed to racism it has been with me since birth. And while our child may not be African-American it cannot hurt for me to learn. In fact I believe it will do me good.

"February is Black History Month, you know. Is it still called Black History Month?

"While some of my family will shake their heads and say, "What has the West done to our [Peach]?" I choose to carry this out. Close-mindedness is not an attribute I wish for my children to have.

"Lest you misunderstand, my dear family who I love very deeply, this is not a post against you. This is a post against racism."

A week or so later I posted a follow-up.

"I read the first few chapters of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. It's a great book and I am enjoying learning about this man who has so long been a mystery to me. I don't have the time to finish it and the other books I'm reading and still be a mommy and wife, so I'll have to finish it later. However, I learned a great deal, and didn't stop until I got to a point where I felt I knew enough about him to form an opinion of my own.

"This book was not technically written by Dr. King. Clayborne Carson complied his journals, letters, college papers, etc, to create this book and wrote it as if Dr. King wrote it himself.

"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born and raised Atlanta, Georgia. He was born into an upper middle class black family - the son, grandson, and great-grandson of preachers. He was raised in a good Christian home and was encouraged to get an education. He started college at the age of fifteen, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology, then got a Bachelor of Divinity Degree, then a Doctorate in Systematic Theology. He was a very intelligent man who was intrigued by human nature and studied the many works of scholars past to form his own opinion of the world.

"After receiving his doctorate he married a gal from Alabama and they had four children. Before the children came Dr. King was offered a few teaching jobs in the North where segregation was not present. He was also offered a preaching job in Alabama at a church that happened to be across from the place where Jefferson Davis took the oath as the president of the Confederacy. He and his wife discussed his future job and their future lives. They did not want to raise children in a segregated environment like they were raised in. They wanted to live in the North. After much praying they knew that Dr. King needed to take the job in Alabama. They felt that the Lord had blessed them with the opportunity to receive education and experiences that could help the people of the South.

"I was very impressed by this book and this man. I wrote down a few quotes that stuck out to me. The first and most impressionable one is, '...we may conquer Southern armies by the sword, but it is another thing to conquer Southern hate...'. This really hit home and instantaneously stung me and brought a tear to my eye. How true. How sad, but how very true.

"Another quote I jotted down is, 'I saw economic injustice firsthand, and realized that the poor white was exploited just as much as the negro. Through these early experiences I grew up deeply conscious of the varieties of injustice in our society.' See, as he grew up what he saw in the world shaped the person he became. He became very concerned with classes of people and Christians treating each other unfairly. He could not bring himself to be tolerant of hypocrisy.

"'I could never adjust to the separate waiting rooms, separate eating places, separate rest rooms, partly because the separate was always unequal, and partly because the very idea of separation did something to my sense of dignity and self-respect.' It is an odd thing for me to try to comprehend. I did not grow up in a world of segregation. Although I grew up in the South I cannot understand these separations just because someones skin is a different color. It's baffling.

"One of the many scholars Dr. King studied was Henry David Thoreau. Dr. King says, 'Henry David Thoreau's essay "On Civil Disobedience"... made my first contact with the theory of nonviolent resistance... I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good... no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice...'. This brings me to the march on Washington D.C. and his speech in front of The Lincoln Memorial. He was one of the few organizers of the march. I watched the DVD of the original coverage of the march and his speech. The people were reminded time and time again that this was a peaceful protest. They were polite and nicely dressed in suits and skirts. The ladies wore hats and the men wore ties. It was a beautiful thing to watch. Throughout the movement Dr. King was adamant that every protest and every demonstration be peaceful. He would not tolerate violence.

"Did you know there were 350,000 people there and that 30,000 were white? Did you know there wasn't a single violent incident? Did you know that people came from across America, some on foot? Did you know it was and still is one of the largest marches on Washington D.C. and that is was and still is one of the most peaceful?

"'...nonviolent resistance[is] one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their quest for social justice.' Dr. King's protests and demonstrations consisted of marches, sitting in the front of buses where only white people were permitted to sit, sending children to sing in jails, and things of the sort. Not to say that some people didn't do violent things, but not this man, and not under his order.

"The only part of his speech I knew about was, 'I have a dream,' and 'little children'. I am sure not many people know how he talked about his white brothers and sisters. This is not a quote from his speech, but it is similar to what he talked about in his speech. 'The Negro who experiences bitter and agonizing circumstances as a result of some ungodly white person is tempted to look upon all white persons as evil, if he fails to look beyond his circumstances. But the minute he looks beyond his circumstances and sees the whole of the situation, he discovers that some of the most implacable and vehement advocates of racial equality are consecrated white persons. We must never forget that such a noble organization as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP] was organized by whites, and even to this day gains a great deal of support from Northern and Southern white persons.' He was very much a man who believed we are all God's children.

"One last quote I wrote down is, 'Through education we seek to change attitudes and internal feelings (prejudice, hate, etc.)...'. Dr. King believed that education - the removal of ignorance - was the key to racial justice.

"Briefly, my overall opinion of Dr. King is that he was a good man. He was a Christian man. He was a man trying to make a difference for good in the world. My opinion of the march and his speech is that they are awe-striking. I feel like it was something that needed to be done, and I honestly think Dr. King was chosen by the Lord to be the one to do it. I honestly believe he was fore-ordained and this was his holy calling.

"The Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln was supposed to make all men equal regardless of his color. The march took place one hundred years later. One hundred years later The Emancipation Proclamation had not yet been honored. Why? Racism. Stubbornness. Pride. People of the South ignored The Emancipation Proclamation because it came from a man who was not 'their' president. After the Civil War people in the South hung onto their loss. They couldn't and some still can't let it go. Why not? If they had things would be so very different. Things would be so much better. This is my opinion.

"Now hate has begotten hate. I am positive that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be highly disappointed in the way that some African-Americans celebrate his holiday. Some use this day as a day for free reign of hate and persecution toward Caucasian people. Some Caucasian people in certain neighborhoods do not leave home on this day.

"Neither race is without fault. Neither race can be grouped together as having one particular attitude toward the other. It is an individual choice. I have made mine."

Today, after having learned even more, I would write this post a bit differently, but I wanted to leave it original to the time it was written.

image courtesy of clker.com

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