#GivingTuesday

familyThe title of this blog I realize is a cliche.  People always have catchy titles and phrases for the different days of the week to draw attention to their posts.  This title is sincere.

Our son is 5. He is an only child. He is smart, creative, resourceful, independent, strong-willed, giving & selfish at the same time, and athletic.  His birthday was in November with Christmas just weeks after.  He is accustomed to receiving a lot of gifts (not from us) from aunts, uncles, cousins, etc who adore him primarily because everyone else’s children are grown, gone, and don’t care! I do not like to use the term “spoiled” to describe children, but our son is somewhere in that category of privileged.

Being a social worker and educator and haven been raised the way I was (all social justice-y and action-oriented), I have tried to explain to him the plight of vulnerable people with less than enough resources.  This usually happens when we are sitting at a particular red light where there is usually a man with a sign asking for money. My son always asks about that man (or whomever is standing out there). I usually over-explain. My husband rolls his eyes. My sons sighs. I am disappointed.  He has gone with us to serve food to the hungry, donate toys to the needy, is very aware of racial injustice, asks what the news anchor is talking about, etc., etc., etc.

“Maybe he is too young to get it” I often think, always searching for an appropriate book (that I should probably write) or opportunity to show/explain appropriate & effective giving. Then today in the mail this arrived

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YAY! What a way for us to start 2016 explaining to our son about those who need something he has – the ability to run and play sports without hindrance – he gets that!.  He LOVES sports and anything vaguely athletic.  He was 3 years old reciting the names of countries, recognizing their flags because of the Men’s World Cup Soccer tournament in 2014!  I have a chance to help our son truly understand giving. I think he’ll get it.

How do you explain need, poverty, vulnerability, disability, etc to your children? How do you get your children to participate in giving?

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Thanksgiving Thanks for My Privilege – Day ??(I’ve lost track of the days and am behind!)

I made a valiant attempt to do 75 days of posting honoring my mom and 27 days of Thanksgiving Thanks posts, but…life, job, family all got in the way! LOL How do I become a full-time blogger? I guess I go on sabbatical…1.5 semesters and counting…Until then…

PrivilegeI have read several friends’ posts and a few articles this month on privilege.  Most of these authors write about one’s ability to complain about having a name misspelled on a Starbucks cup, complaining about a commute to work (in a car), or complaining about all the SPAM messages on one’s tablet, etc…Peggy McIntosh made popular the notion of naming, acknowledging, discussing, deconstructing, and then doing something about privilege.  McIntosh started with the BIG one, white male privilege.  Other scholars followed suit with able-bodied privilege, Christian privilege, heterosexual privilege, etc.  As I used each of the privilege worksheets in class with my students and facilitated discussions I became increasingly uncomfortable with my own privilege. What? A woman of African descent has privilege?!

The first time I said it out loud in class my students looked at me oddly. After all I had allowed them to follow that typical pattern of thinking in which we only view women and people of color as oppressed individuals.  Which is one perspective and depending on who, what, where, how, and why that vulnerable oppressed persona may fit. As I write this blog I am waiting to hear the Grand Jury decision on officer Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown.  I am 44 years old and I feel as if I have sat-in-waiting many many times before…so, I fully acknowledge that there is still a great amount of oppression for youth, men, and women who have brown, red, yellow, black skin; accents; unacceptable documentation; not enough resources….

AND another reality of 2014 is that many people who have the life I have had and currently have, also have much privilege. I grew up with more than enough resources. I have an advanced degree. I have a full-time job. I am heterosexual, born in the U.S., and am able-bodied.  Yes, I am a proud woman of color. I have many challenges based on those two identities – separated and combined.  But at the intersection of all of my identities, I am privileged.  Primarily because I can use my socioeconomic status to combat what comes my way based on biological sex and race. I am thankful that I have enough privilege that I can Code Switch and take action. It’s often exhausting work and sometimes I refuse to do it. But mostly I acknowledge my privileged statuses, and use them when and as I can to combat the isms. I’m also attempting to make our 4 y.o. son aware of his privileges…that’s another blog!

Today I am very thankful that my momma raised an aware, proud, activist Black woman! Thanks momma! Privilege comes with responsibilities.

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