The Young Girls in My Class

Afro shillouetteI have the insane and unashamed pleasure to teach a class full of young girls with black and brown skin who are first-year college students. In my 15 years of teaching, I have not ever had more than 2 or 3 girls of color in 1 class at a time. And today I almost cried in class at the sight of them with all their color and beauty and focus. They inspired this little ditty (it needs a beat behind it):

The young girls in my class make my heart sing, my face smile, my toes tap, my belly tickle, my fingers snap, and my head…click to the side in joy & pride

The young girls in my class got sass, beauty, brains, intent, power, glitter, focus, confidence, steadiness, and all that is #blackgirlmagic

I could not have been the young girls in my class. I was shier, quieter, homlier, maybe I was as smart, but couldn’t do my hair, I had no style or sass – not at their age, and I rarely spoke up or talked back…or at least that is my recollection when I look at the young girls in my class – they amaze me and daze me and I can’t wait to hear them speak about whatever and everything

The young girls in my class will run the world. I will learn from them as much as they will from me. They are bold, empowered, educated sisters on a mission and they make my heart sing, my face smile, my fingers snap, my belly tickle, and my head…click to the side in joy & pride.

To the bad ass young girls in my class – go ‘head and do your thang!

 

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Sharing Your Ectopic Pregnancy Story

Some time ago, a friend and I began a research project on women’s experiences with ectopic pregnancies.  Our study has led us to solicit women’s stories for a book of hope and encouragement.  Part of what we found in our study is that the women interviewed who had experienced an ectopic pregnancy: (a) did not know what an ectopic pregnancy was, (b) were not offered any type of counseling after their diagnosis and in many cases, not even after emergency surgery, and (c) found their lives had been altered and their relationships and view son pregnancy changed forever.

The book project is open to those women who participated in the original study and to any woman who would like to share her story and offer hope to others.  Stories will be published anonymously (unless the author wishes to reveal her identity).  Please share your story or refer a friend, family member, or colleague to our book project.

Guidelines for first draft:

  • Each story should have a time-line worked into the narrative of how many weeks pregnant you were (or if you didn’t know you were pregnant), how you found out you were having an ectopic pregnancy (at ER, doctor’s office), if you were misdiagnosed and sent home, if you had surgery. The details are painful, but so important for people to read. It could save a life.

 

  • Tell the story of what you experienced emotionally, who was there for you or not there for you in the moment, days, weeks, years that followed.

 

  • Here is the main message: Share what you learned, and/or what you hope others might learn. Both women enduring an ectopic, loved ones, doctors, nurses, other professionals.   Another key is what others could have done differently to add to your comfort/support.

 

  • Share where you are now: How have you moved forward; and if you are still contemplating next steps, share what your thoughts for the future are. If you have had children, adopted children, gotten a new partner, etc. please feel free to share that also.

 

  • We are asking for roughly 5 double spaced typed pages, using MS word as a format.

 

  • Not required, but if you would like to please send a photo of yourself and/or a photo of you and your now children or someone who is mentioned in your story. Give us specific permission to use the photo by typing at the end of your story “I give Shannon and Laurie permission to use the photos attached in the upcoming book on ectopic pregnancy stories.”

 

  • A short bio on yourself (2-4 sentences), where you live, your hobbies, occupation, etc. and anything else you would like mentioned.

 

  • Deadline for first drafts is due by November 14, 2014. We will then work with you to create the final draft by early 2015 and hope to publish soon after.

 

 

YAY for Malala: Honoring My Mom Day 13 (or there abouts)

teacherAs a woman of color living in American I never take my education for granted. The two oldest siblings in my grandmother’s family were the only two who were allowed to & able to go to college. They are proud Tuskegee and Fort Valley State graduates. My mom, who did not grow up in the south but still faced obstacles as her New York guidance counselor told her she should go to trade school. She ended up earning a Master in Social Work degree from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). My path was made easier through the scarifies and struggles of my grandparents and parents, although not without challenges. Like many 1st year students I goofed off a lot and skipped some classes and that first report card shocked me back into shape!

Each academic year in one of my books I put a picture of Charlayne Hunter-Gault;  in another book I put a picture of the Little Rock Nine; and in another book a picture of James Meredith.  The pictures are my inspirational reminders.  I think I am going to add a picture of Malala Yousafzai.

Today I sent all my students an email and challenged them to:

  1. appreciate fully the privilege of an education,
  2. come to class prepared,
  3. not procrastinate,
  4. be engaged and proactive learners,
  5. think critically,
  6. inspire someone else to pursue a higher education or complete high school,
  7. pledge to tear down any obstacle they see for others in receiving an education, and to
  8. hold me accountable for facilitating discussion and learning.

I, in return challenged myself to give them 100%+ each day I meet them and to hold them accountable for being responsible for their own learning.

We should ask ourselves “What would Malala do?” http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/10/10/355054344/pakistani-teen-malala-yousafzai-shares-nobel-peace-prize?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=2034

Honoring my mommy: Day 10 of 75

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1.  Every 67 seconds someone is diagnosed wirh with Alzheimer’s.
2.  Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
3.  Women make up two thirds of people living with Alzheimer’s.
4.  African Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk than Caucasians for developing Alzheimer’s.

Read more quick facts here: http://m.alz.org/facts-and-figures.asp

With the support and strength of family & friends today I walked 3 miles to End Alzheimer’s. It was such a beautiful event. Flower pinwheels in different colors for you to decorate & plant: orange for those supporting an end to Alzheimer’s, yellow for caregivers, purple if you’d lost someone to Alzheimer’s, and blue for those living with the disease. There was exercising, music, crafts, ringing bells, cheering young people, families, dogs, and tears. It was cathartic. I’m prepared for next year!

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Honoring my mommy: Day 10 of 75

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1.  Every 67 seconds someone is diagnosed wirh with Alzheimer’s.
2.  Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
3.  Women make up two thirds of people living with Alzheimer’s.
4.  African Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk than Caucasians for developing Alzheimer’s.

Read more quick facts here: http://m.alz.org/facts-and-figures.asp

With the support and strength of family & friends today I walked 3 miles to End Alzheimer’s. It was such a beautiful event. Flower pinwheels in different colors for you to decorate & plant: orange for those supporting an end to Alzheimer’s, yellow for caregivers, purple if you’d lost someone to Alzheimer’s, and blue for those living with the disease. There was exercising, music, crafts, ringing bells, cheering young people, families, dogs, and tears. It was cathartic. I’m prepared for next year!

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Honoring my Mommy: Day 9 of 75

PedometerToday I walked. When I was in my 20s I was an avid exerciser. I went to the gym 3-5 times a week and exercised at home. Then I got busy…and lazy. My mom smoked until I was 8 years old. She never ate breakfast. She usually skipped lunch. The only reason she occasionally ate dinner was if we implored her or she was out with friends. Her friend from elementary school says that my mom was never much of an eater. Her only exercise was when she was shopping (walking the malls and stores). I remember her favorite foods: potato chips, snickers bars, butter pecan ice cream and Pepsi.  She was just like her dad, my grandfather. Habitual snackers and not full meal eaters.

She was a slender size 6 most of her life. But she was not healthy. In addition to battling Alzheimer’s she is a breast cancer survivor and the cancer came back aggressively in 3 organs as her mental state was declining. She died from complications related to untreated cancer and dementia.  I know a few things about cancer and prevention through eating and exercise.  I don’t know much about Alzheimer’s. I know she and grandma both suffered from it and I want to fight it. I also want to set a good example for my active son by eating well (which we do) and exercising (which he and hubby do, but I do not). Today was a very small step in that direction. Here’s to the beginning of getting physically active and being more healthy! Tomorrow another mile in the fight to End Alzheimer’s!

Honoring my momma: Day 7 of 75

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I have lost track of what day I’m on and I’ll get back on track this week! I’m leading a team on Sunday which I spontaneously called “Sunflowers for Rae.” My mom loved flowers and bright colors so the name seemed appropriate. I raised $400 which I think is awesome considering I am NOT  a fundraiser type of person. I’ll soon be partnering with the NH/MA offices to do outreach and education to communities of color on Alzheimer’s.