Tag Archives: Diversity

Radical Self Care

I just returned from Puerto Rico, and I’m realizing I don’t do this kind of radical self-care often enough.

Every morning, I got up to walk. I love my daily walks with Yappy. It’s usually dark, and I’ve got to stop a half million times to allow him to sniff, try to reach the errant, tossed away chicken bone or pop a squat. I often go back out for a quick walk without him. These last few days I’ve walked close to 5 miles every morning, coming back to the hotel drenched in sweat, feeling alive and a little more tan.

I picked up some yogurt from the market, got cleaned up and headed to the beach. I enjoyed the sounds of the ocean, lulling me into a morning nap facilitated by early drinking and an edible or two. I read a trashy book, hit the ice cream shop for lunch and relocated to the pool in the afternoon.

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I discovered a little carry out shop across the street from the hotel; they make the best calzone crust I’ve ever had. I also purchased a bottle of rum and have practically had Cuba Libres on tap the last several days.

beach

I lounged in my king sized bed, channel surfing in the evenings, briefly considering going out, or at least going down to the cigar bar to smoke and drink in the luxe lobby.

Lounging stayed winning during this brief reprieve.

I’ve experienced so few moments of irritation over the last few days that they seem almost a distant memory. Oh, I remember them though and Holy Homeboy, white folks are at the heart of each moment. Now, just remember that part of what precipitated my quick vacation scheduling is having been pushed to the brink by white folks during a meeting on diversity and inclusion, so this is a sensitive thing right now.

Practically empty beach, no please come stand in front my chair to take your selfies for 15 minutes.

Whiny group of 10 traveling together who asked if I would move chairs so they could also sit together at the pool. This chair? The one I’ve been sitting in for 90 minutes? No. I’m good. Cue their melodrama of moving to another row to sit together. #theaudacity

I had time to do a lot of thinking and reflecting on this trip, but honestly…I didn’t. I thought I might take some time to think about my next career moves, maybe spend some time thinking about some of the volunteering I’ve been doing. I thought I might think about finding my way around this dating thing. I thought I might think about a lot of things.

Instead, I gave my brain a much needed rest. I thought about very little. I rested.

beach

Why is it that I had to hit a wall to embrace just doing nothing for a few days? I mean, I know that the daily routine isn’t designed for just being without expectation, but wow, not doing anything for 3 days should not feel so radical or costly. And yet it does.

I’m glad to be home, waiting for the boarder to bring Yappy home. I’m looking forward to getting back into my routine for a few weeks. I’ve got a trip to Hawaii in a few weeks for work. I’m looking forward to freshening my tan and enjoying time with colleagues.

In the meantime, I’m going to find a few minutes every day to just be, to just breathe and to just rest.

Challenging all of you to do the same.

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Thoughts on Being Invisible in Adoptionland

Hope shared an interesting tidbit with me today. We were recently asked to participate in a video for our adoption agency recruiting other potential adoptive parents for older foster kids. We haven’t decided to do it yet, I’m leaving the decision up to Hope. She was telling me about the reaction she gets when she shares that she is adopted.

Hope said most of her peers are like, oh wow, that’s interesting. But, invariably, there is always at least one person who says they don’t believe her because her mom is black.

#recordscratch

Say what now?

Yeah, Hope says, kids think only white people adopt kids, especially black kids. They think we’re rare. That’s messed up, right?

Uh, yeah, that’s messed up. I am so done!

Of course, there are folks of color who adopt, but we’re largely invisible. Unless it’s a transracial adoption (POCs adopting white children) we just sort of blend in. Our voices in the adoption sphere tend to be muted and the few of us who are vocal and visible are just not enough of a critical mass for folks to take a shine to us. I just made the wonderful list by Healthline of the best adoptive mom blog (Second year! Woot, woot), but I’m the only person of color.

The only one.

This invisibility means that folks think we aren’t here. It leads grown folks and kids to think my daughter is just joshing them by saying she’s adopted because if it was true her parents would surely be white.

Sometimes it feels like the only reason we’re invited into adoption spaces is to help white people raise children of color with free advice and well wishes. This phenomenon makes it hard for people like me to construct our support systems, our villages. There may not be folks comfortable talking to us, building relationships with us, not having one-sided transactional relationships involving our kids. It makes for a lonely journey unless you hunt down and/or fall into your safe space that includes folks who are willing to share their lives with you.

Adoption journeys require intimacy.  As parents we open our homes and our lives to children; children who need homes have to find a way to learn to live with and hopefully trust these parents. The people around us don’t simply play voyeur; they often are parts of our extended family and close friends. Even if they don’t see everything; they see a lot. Parents and kids need specific support systems, and those systems must be safe enough to share some our darkest secrets about our wins and our challenges.

We are invisible, we aren’t able to even build the scaffolding necessary to create what we need.

It is so hard sometimes.

And on top of everything else, our absence from the adoption narrative makes kids doubt my daughter’s adoption story.

That’s effed up.


What the Election Means – Real Talk

Well, I’ve managed to endure 4 of the 5 stages of grief post-election.  I skipped ‘bargaining’ because well, there isn’t really a reason to go through that one with a national election. I’ve landed in this place of acceptance about the presidential election.

I’m disgusted by it, but it is what it is. #resignation

It is an interesting dilemma when a candidate can win the popular vote, but not the electoral vote, but you know the way representative democracies are set up…

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So here we are, a nation that elected a candidate with no political experience, who has maligned bunches of folks and declared numerous enemies, puckered up to Putin, who is ensnared in multiple law suits, and after retweeting and reverbing countless racist tweets, memes and theory was openly endorsed by the Klu Klux Klan.

Yeah, we did that. #Murrica

I worked on Capitol Hill for a member of Congress early in my career. Many of my colleagues are Hill or federal government employees or alums. It is noble and can be difficult work. These folks are educated, hard workers, have a non-partisan depth of knowledge and expertise that is essential to keep things running—right down to the cafeteria workers and janitors found in many a hallowed hall.

They endure partisan changes with every election.

While I do worry about the governance implications of a Trump presidency; I am a student of government. I know that even when one party controls all of the points, our system is designed to resist a cliff fall. Oh, there will be change and there will be pork barrelling like a mug; I fear some of it will be very bad, very bad for regular common folk like me, but at a national, global, macro level, I’m not sure what that will look like. I do know that we’ve seen a trend in higher ed for years of bringing in corporate executives to run colleges and universities with the goal of making them leaner and meaner. The results have been mixed at best.

It is and will remain a mystery what will unfold here as we watch Trump’s post-inaugural 100 days of policy making beginning in January.

I’m more concerned about things at the local level.

All politics are local.

It’s not just the Trump presidency, it’s not just the down ballot races, it’s the local school boards, city councils and board of supervisors. It’s the judges, state and district attorneys, the sheriffs and the aldermen. It’s the appointments that they make over agencies like Children and Family Services.

It’s the ripple effect in my community that deeply worries me.

Do these folks embrace that rhetoric? Do they think it’s ok to “grab ‘em by the p*ssy?” After exonerating innocent defendants will they still, 20 years later, go to the media and claim they are guilty?  #centralpark5 Or do they think all that stuff is just a bunch of hogwash and that “he really didn’t mean it!”

Will they stop me? Will they treat me fairly? Will I be given the benefit of the doubt? Will I or my daughter die at their hands because, as an African American living in an urban area (though not the inner city) I was risking life and limb just going to pick up my prescription due to the all the hellish crime surrounding me in my quiet suburban neighborhood?

Did they vote for him? Will they vote with him and Pence in concept in the future? Will they infantilize people of color and women as though we are unable to make decisions for ourselves?

And that’s just within the system.

I never made a personal proclamation on social media to “unfriend” me if someone was a Trump supporter. I had one person troll me and I dealt with that in the manner that you would deal with a troll. Otherwise, I might vehemently disagree but I am willing to engage and I’m willing to try to see the world from their vantage point. #neverscared

And now, I wonder who I can trust. Did the unabashed abandon of “political correctness” or as I like to call it, home training, appeal to folks’ inner monologue about women, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, and whomever else got dragged during the campaign? Do they now feel it’s perfectly acceptable, nay, encouraged to say these things out loud to any and every one without shame of any retribution?

Was the America that they wanted to return to have me and mine using a different bathroom because my brown skin might give them cooties?

Was it a belief that black and brown people are ne’er do-wells who don’t want to work or need to be legally managed?

Do some of them think that I’m less than I really am?

These are the questions that will make me shudder during the next four years. It is the reality that we have normalized abnormal behaviors and speech. No, we didn’t normalize it, we either found it so meaningless as to outright dismiss it or we were cool with it or found it so meaningful so as to even lukewarmly embraced it.

Even with a lot of gray, we validated hate speech this week.

We made it so ok to be an asshole that we can now tell our kids, “Look, you too can grow up to be an asshole.”

And K-12 teachers are already reporting the increases in race and immigration based bullying after a year of campaigning. Oh, kids are also calling folks deplorable, but some of the rhetoric is, in fact, deplorable. My daughter talked to me yesterday about how worried some of her friends were; about their futures; about being bullied for being different.

Isms are learned. Hate is learned. This stuff isn’t innate. We bear the burden of having taught our kids that a large group of folks in this country believe that this foolish, childish behavior was ok.

It’s ok to have different view points; it’s ok to disagree.  Not every disagreement is hate speech or tone policing so we need to stop accusing folks of it when it’s not. Not every episode of poor home training related behavior is malicious. There is room for grace and the need to take advantage of teachable moments.

As mom to Hope, I try to teach her grace and how to respond to these moments appropriately, even as I quietly bemoan the need to do so. I hope that others are doing the same with their kids.

I often feel so stretched parenting Hope alone, but I know that my commitment to civic engagement is going to deepen as a result of this election. I need to start going to more community meetings, school board meetings, Board of Supervisors meetings, and the like. I need to be sure decisions concerning me and my family are not made without me.

This election is a sign for me to continue to work to create the world I want for me and my daughter. It is and always should’ve been a call to action for those of us who resist oppression in any form.

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President whomever, certainly plays a role in that, but #realtalk, that kinda change starts at home and in your hood.

 


Girl Bye

I am not here for Rachel Dolezal.

I am not here for her brand of blackface.

I am not here for the flippant and co-opted use of the term “transracial” to explain her choice to identify as Black.

I am not here for the ability to put down and pick up privilege at will and at the expense of an entire culture.

I am not here for a faux brand of “keeping it real.”

I am not here for the appropriation of color and culture.

So, check it, this week the parents of Rachel Dolezal, president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, went on local TV and blew up her spot as a White woman who’s been posing as racially Black for nearly a decade. Apparently, Ms. Dolezal has a special affinity for Black folk, culture, skin, hair, etc, etc.; so much so, that she simply put it on.

No really: She. Put. Black. On.

hellnah

She put it on like it was a sweater and carried a culture and history around in her handbag. She constructed a back story, you know, “of the struggle,” complete with a fake Black father. She darkened her skin. She permed her hair and/or scored some fabulous curly fro wigs, dreads and braids. She taught Black history. She painted Black and Brown bodies and stories, some she claimed to be autobiographical. She fought the power with a fro and an afro pick.

Oooooh weeee. Wooosaaaaa.

That’s what’s really interesting to me. She’s “committed to the cause,” with a clear interest, personally and academically, in Black life and Black issues; she has a compelling CV dedicated to civil rights, equity and inclusion. I’m here for White allies. I’m here for White folk who take a personal and academic interest in the African diaspora.

And I’m all down for inclusion…authentic inclusion.

But…I can’t with this chick. I cannot.

I’m not sure what her deal is; honestly I don’t even care, but this idea that you can just decide one day that because you like a culture so much that you’ll just…become a member…

#nope #memberapplicationdenied

#allthenopesinnopeville

But Rachel wasn’t about that life, she wanted a different connection, a different identity, so she just created one. Really girl? Really?

REALLY?

It takes mega-privilege, epic-privilege, next-level kinda privilege and serious cajones to just recreate yourself as a different race, especially since you still could just drop that identity when it suits or benefits you, and you know that folks who you knew “before you were Black” have receipts.

Rachel Dolezal is a liar, plain and simple. She’s co-opted stories like mine, being a Black woman, and actually profited from it. I just can’t!

I am not here for her foolery.

I’m not tripping over her being president of the NAACP—be an ally of any shade and be a leader—I don’t care; I’m tripping that she created a life and a set of experiences out of thin air, simply because she wanted to, because she “felt” Black, because ultimately “we’re all from Africa..”

Gurl… #smh

Race, ethnicity and identity are complicated things; they are. And lots of folks struggle to construct their racial identity, struggle to figure out what and how to acknowledge contributing heritages, struggle to either find a box to fit in or create a new box for themselves. And generally I’m not one to get too huffy on how people identify, but I do have a problem with racial and cultural appropriation, and I believe this is what Ms. Dolezal has engaged in. I’ve got a problem when you construct a whole false reality based on another race and culture. Where’s the respect in that? Imitation isn’t always flattering and putting on Blackness isn’t either.

Ms. Dolezal is expected to address the controversy in what is probably expected to be the most interesting NAACP meeting in recent history. I’m curious about what she will say. I’m curious about how and why she chose Blackness. I’m curious to see how the world responds (especially Black Twitter; I’m guessing the clowning/dragging will continue, just head there and search #AskRachel and commence to cackling).

I’ll watch, ‘cause I’m petty like that. But I’m guessing there is nothing she’s going to come up with that’s going to get drafted to my team.

I’m not claiming Rachel. #nopenopenope

I hope she puts that tube of self-tanner down and unleashes that sew-in and lives as I do, in her own skin, with some visits with a professional somewhere.

I am not here for Rachel Dolezal.

#girlbye


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