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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