The Burden Of Proof

This morning, my husband left our home to run some errands, wash the car, and get his hair cut. He went alone. I was still in bed, sleeping in on a Saturday morning. As is my normal routine, I said a quick prayer for his safety while he was out and about. I imagine most wives might do the same for their husbands. Or moms might do the same for their sons, sisters for their brothers…wanting their loved ones to come back home safe and sound.

My husband is 38 years old, college educated and works an office job every day. He is a dedicated brother and son. He is gentle and kind and has a huge heart. He is really, quite simply, a really nice guy.

My husband is a black man, a tall, large black man at that, and it’s because of that I pray every time he leaves the house.

Unless you have been under a rock for the past 2 weeks or so, you can’t  help but to have heard about the growing uproar about 17 year old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by a volunteer neighborhood watch leader, while coming from the store where he was getting candy for his brother. Trayvon was holding a package of Skittles candy and a can of iced tea when he was murdered.

It seems that Trayvon’s only crime was being a black male walking alone in a gated community. If you have a black brother, son, cousin or father, this is the story of their lives.

The burden of proof falls on good men like my husband all the time. The burden to prove that they are not robbers, or rapists, or murders, or drug dealers. The police stops just because “they fit the description”. Clutched purses in stores or elevators. Being judged because they wear jerseys or their pants sag low, like all of the popular rappers that are on the radio. In a way, it seems that I’d gotten jaded to reading or hearing about black (or brown) men being harassed by the police. The men I know just knew they had to charge it to the game and govern themselves accordingly. Black mothers and fathers educate their sons about how to behave if stopped by the police: speak clearly and politely, don’t act belligerent, have slow movements.

Trayvon Martin didn’t even the courtesy of being able to prove himself, it seems. He didn’t get a chance to explain that he was coming from the store and going back to his dad’s house, who lived in that community. Some dude with a tin badge and a 9mm, decided he saw a strange ni.gg.er in a neighborhood that SURELY he didn’t belong in, shot first and asked questions later. Trayvon Martin will not get a chance to graduate high school, go to college, get married, or have kids. He will not get the chance to PROVE himself, in life.

This is why I pray for my husband, and for my brother, who is only ten years old than Trayvon and even for my 62 year old father. The wrong circumstance and the wrong person and they could easily be a Trayvon, not getting a chance to explain their very existence, having to prove yet again…

…that they have a right to be a black man minding their own damn business in the United States of America.

Please help Trayvon Martin’s family get the justice he deserves and sign the petition asking for his killer to be arrested and prosecuted.

He never even had a chance...

(Editor’s note: Comments that are off topic and/or racist will be deleted. I am not even entertaining THAT.)

Reciprocity

I’m not a mother, but I hope to be in the near future, and I know that quite a few of my readers are moms.

I read the Motherlode blog on the New York Times website pretty regularly and I came across this parental quandary today:

Can my daughter hang out with you guys after school?” That’s the question A. hears from a fellow mother nearly every week (and sometimes more often). After school, or when she needs to work a weekend or an evening shift, this mother seems to have settled on A. as her go-to emergency baby-sitting option.

In the great game of reciprocal child care, not all parents play fair. You may always be there for a friend who calls with “I’m running late,” or “I just got a last minute, hard-to-get doctor’s appointment,” but is she always there for you? This is A.’s quandary, and the mooching parent isn’t really a friend, but the single working mother of a friend of her 8-year-old daughter.

The result is that her daughter’s friend spends a lot of time at A.’s house. Her mother texts A. at the last minute, asking if A. can pick the little girl up from school with A.’s daughter, and keep her just until the end of the workday. The other woman is relatively new in town, with no local family, and A. thinks there’s no one else to help out — if she doesn’t pick the child up, who will?

But the requests are frequent, and rarely reciprocated. A. works too, and the extra little girl in the house on school nights, or coming along on after-school errands and weekend activities, can be a problem, not to mention a financial burden. A. finds herself with three kids in tow for meals and everything else, and her fellow parent, even with gentle reminders, never pitches in. As a final straw, the little girl is all too comfortable with A. She bickers with A.’s children, and begs for candy and treats on errands. These “play dates” aren’t even fun for A’s daughter anymore.

A. knows she needs to say something — but what, and how? She’d like to maintain her daughter’s friendship. She doesn’t mind helping out once in a while. And she suspects that there’s no money for a baby sitter there, and A. can relate to that.

Read the rest of the article and comments here: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/03/parental-quandary-the-mooching-working-mother/

The mother in this scenario is a working single mother, BUT this scenario could apply to any parent or caregiver. It does take a village to raise children, but at what point does a parent set boundaries that are necessary for their own kids?

What would you say? How would you handle? 

 

They Reminisce Over You, My God

I am still very much unsettled by the untimely death of Dwight “Heavy D” Myers. And of course, celebrities pass away all the time and of course it’s sad. But thise one, touched a bit closer to home. I am a 80s baby and came of age during the Golden Age of hip hop. And Heavy D was only 44, which is  only six years older than me. And he cold rocked a party and never, ever cursed. I will miss him and the music.

Here is a brilliant article on why Heavy D mattered to hip hop.

Here is his last interview:

Here is my favorite video by Heavy D and the Boyz featuring Mr Al. B Sure!:

And nothing could be more appropriate than this classic, done by Heavy D’s cousin, Pete Rock:

Sparing The Rod

I was 15 years old when I got my last spanking (or whipping, if you prefer). I’d snuck off to see a boy in another neighborhood and gotten a few stolen kisses. My parents couldn’t find me for almost an hour and panicked. The welts on my ass and the embarrassment at being in high school and getting spanked by my daddy,  in hindsight, weren’t really worth  it.

So when I was perusing my Google Reader this morning, I came across this article at Racialicious, written by LaToya Peterson. In it, she talks about how the use of corporal punishment is viewed through a progressive/feminist lens, with the mindset that discipling children with violence, leads to children becoming violent or acting out in violent ways.

However, as LaToya points out, it’s not quite that simple when raising a black (or brown) child.

She writes:

Despite some parents desire to be peaceful, their children are still operating in a violent world. So even if you raise a home that is nonviolent, how do you keep violence away from your door? How do you teach your children to respond to a violent world? The idea that violence begets more violence is a true one – but at the same time, blocks and neighborhoods can be taken over by very small groups of determined and violent people. Suddenly, all the neighbors live in fear of a handful of people.

******

So discipline wasn’t all physical. Large parts of it are modeling, intervention, appealing to reason. But sometimes, kids don’t want to hear it. And it’s one thing to ask an eight year old to heed what you say – yet another to ask a willful fifteen year old to do the same.

So what should parents do, when words fail and their children are on a collision course with the criminal justice system?

*****

To some, spanking is a cut and dry issue. Some will never, ever believe its necessary. Some people will never, ever believe you can raise a decent person without spanking. ….. Sometimes, you need your child to fear you because they cannot understand the consequences of the life they are choosing. I watched this happen time and time again, particularly with the men I knew. There was discipline, there were beatings, but then there were also those beatings with the undercurrent of fear behind them. Fear that you are going to lose control of your child to this other, evil, more seductive world. Fear that despite your best efforts as a parent, your child is heading down a path that leads to prison, drug addiction, or life as a drug dealer or street thug.

*****

If the choice ever came down to putting my hands on my child because I am fighting for their life? I’d probably do the same thing I’ve seen all my relatives do.

I’m ultimately not inclined to use any kind of violence other people these days. I know how seductive and easy that starts to feel, the exertion of control through physical means. And I know how easy it is to just allow yourself to react and react and react. So my solution is not to do it at all.

But I’m not going to take some Leave It to Beaver style moral high ground. I’m going to be raising black children, and I need to make sure they survive. If my child is on the path to start having run ins with the police, they’re going to have to go through me first.

Because unlike the criminal justice system, I care.

Please go and read the whole piece because there are some reference to a movie that tie her article together but I didn’t want to get bogged down in that.

It got me to thinking about how I was raised and how my husband was raised and how discipline was administered to us. We got whippings and were placed on punishment. I also think about how parents have to instill discipline and respect for authority in black and brown children in order to for them to survive in a world where they are often stereotyped as soon as they walk out the door.

As ya’ll know, Myron and I are trying to start a family of our own and though we don’t have children yet, I am not so naive to think that we won’t have the same issues to deal with due to the fact that our society has not yet caught up with our idealism of all folks being viewed equally. The more things change, the more they stay the same it seems. Yet, you still have to raise and protect your kids.

If you are currently a parent, do you spank your children? If you don’t why not? If you aren’t yet a parent, would you spank your kids??

Just To Get By

I was listening to the radio Tuesday morning and the morning show DJ was talking about that McDonald’s was planning to hire over 50K people nationwide on ONE DAY – April 19th. Check out the article HERE. However, I appreciate the the DJ for keeping it real with his audience, which was primarily “urban”. He told his audience that though they may say they would never work at Mickey D’s, if you are out of work and need to pay those overdue bills then you do what you need do. He also mentioned that the positions ranged from entry level up to management level. His sidekicks on the morning show were co-signing in agreement. When you need to eat your pride needs to take a backseat!

So what do you think about McDonald’s hiring blitz?? Are you too good to flip a burger to feed yourself or your family?? What wouldn’t you do just to get by?? Do Do you have friends or family who’d turn their nose up at this opportunity?

Whitewashed

Piggybacking off my post from yesterday about Grant Hill and Jalen Rose, I came across this article on the Clutch Magazine website. Peep this scenario:

Michelle* graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from an esteemed university in New York City four years ago. After sending out over forty resumes to prospective employers, she only received two calls for interviews. Michelle was smart. She was the President of the school’s Black Student Union, a member of a historically black sorority and had graduated cum laude.

Perplexed by the lack of calls (mind you, this is pre-recession), Michelle sat in front of her computer screen. A friend suggested she make a few changes: get rid of any organizations that scream, “I’m black”. Delete “Black Student Union” and delete “Delta Sigma Theta.” So she did. And after another round of emailing resumes to prospective employers, Michelle was pleased with the response: 12 interviews and a number of immediate job offers.

I have to say that the further along I’ve gotten in my career I’ve removed some indicators of my race but mainly because I’ve simply run out of room on my resume. It wouldn’t take much to figure out I’m black, since I went to an HBCU.

Have you had to downplay your ethnicity in order to get an interview???

Remembering The Dreamer

 
 

Thank you Dr. King



 Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state’s segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured? Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Read the full text of “Letter From A Birmingham Jail”by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.