Category Archives: privilege

White Like Me

If anyone were to ask me what was one of the most essential “ah-ha!” tools for learning about White Privilege I would say, without pause, “White Like Me” by Tim Wise. If you haven’t read it, you’re in luck — the movie will stream for free for one month. Here are the details —

I might add, “The Color of Fear” would be my other immediate response.

I revisit both in my personal work. Go and read them/view them.


I am not Trayvon Martin’s Mom

This gallery contains 2 photos.

I distinctly remember one of the days I had to really own my racism. Yes, that’s right. I’m a white mother of 2 black boys and I’m a racist. Shocked? You shouldn’t be. As a white person with white privilege, … Continue reading

Tilling the Soil (or sand)

This is an exercise in contrasts.

In the first case, I met this young man a few weeks ago while walking in an area just west of Hadero. He was hand tilling this plot of land. It was hot. The soil had just had a good soaking with rain. His tools are all that you see. No shoes. Nothing else. Hard labor. And the rewards of his labor are barely enough to get by – – the season of hunger lingers during this time before harvest.

This next image is what’s happening today at our house. Our home backs up to a park. We have a sand volley ball court in our backyard – we call it our private sandbox and hope the cat isn’t pooping in it.   Mr. SillyPants has taken the initiative and is rotatilling  the plot so that the sand is nice and fresh for summer fun and especially for long hours of sandbox fun for Blueberry. The tiller belongs to our neighbor. The choice to maintain the sand lot is ours; the city doesn’t have maintenance in the budget and Mr. SillyPants is happy to donate time and a bit of labor to public park upkeep (oh there is a lot of garlic mustard that gets picked too in the wooded area behind us). Otherwise, the sand is packed and the weeds creep into the space. Recreational choice. Ours. We had lunch before the tilling commenced – and breakfast. And the fridge is stocked. Oh, plus no shortness of fresh, clean water.

This is a study in contrasts. You are witnessing where my mind is these days. (And yes, Blue is wearing ear plugs, as is SillyPants – – the musician/physician never works without them, and neither does his little side kick).

Wild and “Free-ish”

Marian Wright Edelman: Training him how to walk, what to say, and how to act so he won’t seem like a threat. Teaching him that the burden of deflating stereotypes and reassuring other people’s ignorance will always fall on him, and while that isn’t fair, in some cases it may be the only way to keep him safe and alive.
Frances Cudjoe Waters: The clock is ticking, and my husband and I must prepare to have the same talk with them that our parents had with us: You are bright. You are funny and smart and sometimes silly. Your laughter and smiles fill up the room when you enter. And your warmth and your hugs fill my heart with more happiness and joy than any one person has a right to expect in one lifetime. You are capable of being anything you want to be in this life — even President of the United States. But when you walk out of the safety, protection and loving arms of our home, you are walking while black, and only our prayers can protect you then.

For both of my sons

“#truestory #trayvonmartin #unionsquare #millionhoodies”

I dont’ know how to credit twitter pics – but this was on my feed tonight.
This guy could be my biggie boy, Waffles. (OK, Waffles is only 19 – but have y’all seen Waffles lately? In a word, scruffy. Sorry pal, I know you’ll read this. And I love ya like crazy. You know I’m proud of  the man you are, in every way. Even if I wanna cut your hair and give you a razor. )
And yet, I don’t fret for Waffles safety.  I don’t NEED to advise him to walk with his hands visible, with his eyes alert and ahead of himself, with his head uncovered and his senses at calm attention. I don’t feel compelled to remind him to  always give off the air of being a ‘prospect, not a suspect.’ It’s ok if he runs across the neighborhood lawns or he and his pals ride bikes at 3 a.m. in the neighborhood because they are crazy boys trying to stay up for 48 hours. I don’t advise him about how to handle a traffic stop in his rusted out beast of a vehicle. I give him regular mom advice. (And plenty of it, rest assured) Let me restate: I give him regular WHITE MOM advice for her WHITE SON. This is our shared privilege. We haven’t earned this privilege, it is ours because we are white.
But this boy of mine, the little one, the one I call Blueberry, will need a different kind of regular ‘ol Mom advice. It will be infused with details I am still learning to provide — and with which I will need some help from those who live in skin like his.  He’ll need to know so much more. The “Kissing Hand”  his big brother gave him as he departed back to college from spring break won’t be enough to protect and inform my sweet youngest. Niether of us have that kissing magic.  We both wish we did. Our whole family wishes we did.
These are my sons. I love them. They are my heart. And I won’t be quiet about it.
Please, if you are not parenting children of color, read these and put an end to racial profiling, ingorance, and claims of colorblindness. If you are parenting children of color, read this to build your strategies and your resolve.
Help me change the world for my sons. Help me change the world for BOTH of them. Help me raise my voice for justice.
I have no more words, and mine pale in the company of those who know so much more than I do – – but I have love – – and that love is fierce for my sons.  I will not be silent.

Twinkletoes in Cape Town

In January, middle biggie left. Again. Another biggie gone. Another biggie stretching out her wings and naming another place ‘home.’ Another place that Blueberry can name on the world map because someone he loves is there.

Twinkletoes is spending the spring semester studying at University of Cape Town, South Africa.

 I’m not gonna lie, Twinkletoes in Cape Town is pretty much the coolest thing on this year’s busy calendar. My cool cat kid is doing cool cat stuff. Here’s the update!

She’s taking 3 classes: Global Change Ecology, Astronomy and Xhosa.

She’s got a few clubs she’s joined: Ballroom, mountain and ski, diving (that would be SCUBA – she’ll get her diver certification), and a volunteer program for the township debating league.

I have a few comments about the last 2 clubs. First, I can’t believe she is going to get SCUBA certified. One cherished memory I have of sweet Twinkletoes is on a boat on the gorgeous green waters of the Indian Ocean in Kenya. Twink was 5 years old. She feigned sleep on the boat to avoid an amazing snorkeling experience. I think this is her way of making up for that missed opportunity. And she wins.

Second, I am so proud of her sense of service. Twinkletoes writes, “Today I was at 8 hours of training for coaching a Township Debating League. The student organization “Ubunye” does the Township Debating League and it is really cool. Volunteers coach students in grade 8-12. Each pair of volunteers is assigned a school and coaches about 10 students. I’m excited!” If you have ever argued with Twinkletoes, or ‘debated’ a topic with her – – um, you know she is going to rock this club. She’s going to be a great student coach.

I’m so proud of my daughter. She’s curious, she’s generous, she’s compassionate, she’s responsible, she’s intelligent (underscore), she’s kind. Twinkletoes both knows who she is and is open to her own ‘becoming.’ As a parent, I raise my children to live in the world just as she does – fully, responsibly, and with passion and conviction. I ask my kids to be engaged as they experience.  To embrace as they endeavor. Twinkletoes does it with her own special flare – and it makes me smile from deep within my soul.

Plus, who doesn’t love penguins?

She ended a recent e-mail with ” I was accepted to the Uganda program that will take place next winter break.” (I left out the $ request…bwahahahaha).  I guess that means she’ll be leaving again. She’s getting a Global Health Certificate from UW – Uganda is part of the program.

I’ll miss her one more time. I can’t wait!

The Hat

When the hat comes out, I know something good is on the horizon. I remember when Mom bought this hat for herself –  50th birthday –  Pea Island, NC. 

Pea Island was the day we saw our first roseate spoonbills. Well, maybe we had seen these birds before, before we knew how cool they were. But, probably not. My childhood didn’t have much opportunity for travel from Ohio (I remember 2 long car trips – once to Florida to visit my grandparents and once to Cape Hatteras  – – when I was 6. Mom loved Cape Hatteras so much – it became her dream destination).

Mom worked hard, single parented, didn’t have money, opted for freebie local vacations – we call them staycations now. But a few things changed when we kids were all grown up. She got to a few places. And, on our own, we often got there with her. Cape Hatteras & Pea Island was her dream 50th. We had that dream (feeling that crush of loss and mourning in my chest and thinking, THANK YOU GOD for Pea Island time).

I lost my mom way too soon  – but so much of my life as her daughter comes rushing into my sight when I pull out her hat. And, so much of the path of my own life too.

And so, when I’m traveling I wear “the hat”. My head gets burned in the sun. The wind blows. My hair gets dirty, sandy, limp, a hot mess. I wear Mom’s hat. It protects. As she did. If you’ve seen pictures of me traveling, chances are you’ve seen me wearing this hat. (I’ll spare you the photo journal – and yes, in some of the photos I’m wearing both the hat and the binocular harness – SCORE!).

When I get out this hat, I know good things are about to happen. I love traveling more than anything else; more than driving a new car, more than having a closet full of clothes or shoes, more than gems or jewels (seriously, does anyone like gems and jewels?), more than a daily coffee purchase, more than shopping, more than buying a fancy juicer (but omigod I want a juicer!),  more than eating out, more than paying the biggies college tuitions…get the idea? Life with Mr. Sillypants and Blueberry (I married so young the first time; when y’all who are my age-mates were having your fun, I was breastfeeding non stop for way too many years to count!) is a good life. I am so grateful. And, I am grateful  for the hat, and all it taught me about “today.” (I miss you Mom). Today, the hat is in the luggage. Today, I am humbled by the good and hard work of Mr. Sillypants so that I can take out the hat.

We’ll be off the grid for a week – leaving the home to our ragtag entourage of 20 somethings with a full ‘fridge and reminders to let the dog out.  (OK, not really off the grid. I exaggerate. There will be FB updates, because what would the biggies do if they couldn’t see their baby bro on FB?) .


(crap, as I just finished this I remembered how close I am to 50….wowzers)