Saturday, May 29, 2010
I've had a chance to reflect on today's outing, both before and after it took place. I think it's fair to say that each of us felt that kaliedoscope of swirling emotions beforehand - - - anticipation of the upcoming experience, excitement about the chance to make a statement about Conflict Free legislation, commitment to the idea of raising awareness of the unspeakable horrors which are commonplace to those innocents living in these war-torn areas of conflict . . .
I know I was also nervous about what kind of reaction we'd receive; I wondered if the store manager would be callous or dismissive, I wondered what reaction (if any) we'd receive from patrons or passersby. As you have likely read already, our experience was very positive, and I find myself even more energized about the chance to do more, to make the most of those opportunities which are all around me.
Last year Mr. SillyPants, Blueberry, and I met the fabulous Tami in Chicago and participated in Lisa Shannon's Run for Congo Women. I wrote about the event here. Lisa Shannon has been an inspiration to families like mine all over the country--- families who work for social justice and who work to be good global neighbors.
letter). We felt like our support for Congolese women and Congolese families made this simple local action MAKE SENSE. It makes sense to end the deaths of an estimated 45,000 people per month in a country wrecked by civil war and a nation whose wealth of resources are being mined to fund death. Yeah, so we did it. We drove a mere 3 minutes to deliver what could be a lifetime to our sisters and brothers in Congo.
FB friend Lisa Shannon
May 29, 2010
Dear Steve Jobs,
We, as Apple consumers, ask you to please make Apple the industry leader in compassion, not just sales. Please put your full support behind the Conflict Minerals Trade Act HR. 4128 as it is written.
We urge you to continue Apple’s unique and groundbreaking leadership in the technology industry by helping to stop the deadly conflict over minerals in eastern Congo. Advocating stringent trade regulation of tin, tungsten, and tantalum will help stop the deaths of an estimated 450,000 per year in Congo.
Estimates have placed the cost of this legislation at 1 penny per piece of technology. We know that Apple consumers would readily support this miniscule increase in cost to ensure compassionate trade practices around the world.
Thank you for your support of the legislation that will “Guarantee Conflict Free.”
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
(This video clip is from www.adoptionlearningpartners.org . They have a whole series of video clips and an informative website about adoption)
I really can relate to this mom's experience and her reflections about "seeing the whiteness around her" as an important part of mothering children of color. She starts the interview off slow, in my opinion, but her words quickly gain strength and power. She "got me", of course, when she summoned the words "white privilege." Hello girlfriend!
I noted the other night we had a house full of teens and I found myself "counting color." It was an odd moment, but I was aware that my youngest son, who was in all his glory, was in the midst of a moment. I wondered how the room "looked" to him - was he seeing himself in the Little Tykes slam dunk contest, or the pick up game of home-run derby? Did the laughing faces look like the world to him? In fact, the house was filled with 7 people of color and 6 white people. (FYI: It looked like 8 English first language speakers and 5 English as a second language speakers).
I WANT Blueberry to feel the centered love and identity that this young man so eloquently articulates. I know (I mean I REALLY KNOW) that raising him with love and with opportunity isn't actually going to be "enough" - it's not enough if we don't talk about race and identity and adoption and belonging and being and becoming. It's not enough if we don't "see" our own whiteness in the context of his blackness. Or, his blackness in the context of our whiteness.
Of course, living in the midwest, I take the smart young man's words about "living in a diverse setting" to heart. I'm concerned about raising Blueberry in a neighborhood that is middle/upper class and mostly white. In fact, the non-white families in our neighborhood are mostly not black families. I'm accutely aware of this dynamic. Mr. Silly Pants and I think about what's next - and at the moment we think we'll wait to engage this question in a serious way until Waffles is well into his college life (he'll be a HS senior next year - so we have about 3-4 years).
So, yeah, this gave me a little tap on the back - a reminder - don't lose sight.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The title, "Study: White and black children biased toward lighter skin" hints at the outcome of a test aimed to re-create the landmark Doll Test from the 1940s: it all too quickly yielded "white preference" results. It's 2010 folks. It's time to talk about these things instead of being so self assured that we successfully practice racially neutral behaviors - I include myself in this "we".
Anderson Coopers piece on AC360 (Monday night's episode) is quite shocking. I'm horrified, worried, and angered by our collective inability to anchor change in the deepest fabric of our culture. A friend of mine wrote on FB, "there is no such thing as a colorblind society and as white parents it is our duty to proactively teach our children to combat the images media bombards on us and to not be racially bias." I agree wholeheartedly.Let me add, this is hard and constant work - work well worth it, but it's not easy. Vigilence is necessary.
Hit all the hot links from this video series on the link above- and check out the upcoming episodes this week:
The series runs all week....watch it! (At the moment you can't restream the first night's episode).
Soak it in...please.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
I received an e-mail today from a student I had awhile ago. The note said, "Thought you might like this." Attached was this image ------>
I love my "diamond" lecture. I love hatin' on diamonds to engage some critical thinking.
Passion. That's what it's all about. I know I'm planting the seed when a person remembers... that's what it's all about.
These are the moments and connections that make me love being a teacher.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
There is a school in the eastern part of our country where this ENTIRE Tim Wise film was just recently shown to a student group (You can find this film on youtube in 6 parts). A teacher/ally writes about the impact of this video. In an e-mail he says, "I'm continuing with an interracial dialougue group at our local high school...I'm helping coach student facilitators to lead the group. This week we showed [this video]. It sparked some lively discussion and seemed to especially have quite an impact on the white students."
This is the work I want to do - to take this colleague's model and bring it to my school. I have a ton of data about how to create affinity tables, how to form parent groups, how to address equity issues, and how to build alliances with our local school board. It's a matter of breaking through the data collection phase and working on the implementation of one idea - as a springboard to others.
I hope I can really tackle the great ideas that others have put to work in other districts - perhaps in my free time this summer. Uh-oh, did someone say free time? I need a crew to move this along. Volunteers?
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Mr. Sillypants here, taking a moment to offer a guest blog entry, one which is actually somewhat clandestine, if you must know. (Ms. Plum is sitting on another couch as I post this - - - I think she assumes I’m doing my charting . . . mum's the word.) Although this is our family blog which details and reflects on the experiences of our daily lives, it is no secret that the brains, brilliance and passion behind this ongoing effort lies almost exclusively with our beloved Ms. Plum. And, on the Eve of Mother’s Day, I cannot think of a more appropriate thing than for me to jot down a few words about the miracle which she is to me, to our family and to so many others.
Many of you who read our blog regularly actually know Ms. Plum in another context, as a family member, close friend, acquaintance, coworker, fellow adoptive parent or as a fellow champion working for social justice. (Perhaps you fit in a number of these categories.) Others of you have come to know Ms. Plum solely through the things she writes here. This blog, her labor of love, as it were, is somewhat of an ongoing examination of those things within our lives which are powerful, meaningful and cause for reflection and discussion.
Today, I want to reflect on something else of vital importance, that is, the miracle of Ms. Plum.
Our particular love story is one of interesting twists and turns, of joys and struggles, of bliss and missteps. Above all, it is one of love and support. In the years we’ve been together, we’ve sold three properties and bought another, cried numerous times when children left for travel abroad (and cried even more in joy upon their safe return), sent two children to college, attended countless soccer games (outdoor and indoor), worked to train a frenetic Golden Doodle and trudged through the daily tasks which are part and parcel of building a life together.
We’ve also known the heartbreak of saying goodbye to a beloved parent and the ineffable joy of welcoming Blueberry into our lives. We know the rewards of raising a family and building a life together. We’ve had opportunities to struggle with critically important questions and even more opportunities to laugh at the truly funny things which occur every day.
In all of this, there is the miracle of Ms. Plum.
Loving, compassionate, intelligent, resourceful, caring, warm, ambitious, emotional, passionate, patient, kind, funny . . . these few words are accurate but actually do a woeful job of truly capturing the unbelievable person she is. An amazing mother with seemingly endless reserves of energy, patience, understanding and love, she has taught me volumes about what parenting is all about.
Her children love her for the mother that she is. I love her for the spouse that she is. All of us, readers included, love her for the woman she is.
Both Ms. Plum and I are pretty typical people in relationship, much like many of you who read our blog - - - we’re happy, functional and working hard to be good to each other and to those around us, yet we’re also imperfect, broken, damaged. Life has a way of doing that to the best of us.
Ms. Plum sees my brokenness, my imperfection, my faults - - - those warts which I cannot hide; rather than sweep them away or try to “change” them, she embraces them, celebrates them . . .
This is simply a way of life for her, embracing those around her for the people they are, without reservation or judgment.
Those of you who read our blog also know of her passion for examining and discussing issues of racism, white privilege, discrimination and inequality; you know of the “fire in her belly” which causes her to speak out against the injustices which are present no matter which way you turn. In this work, one which has become a way of life for Ms. Plum, she has been a source of growth, self-examination and change for me. I know that she has been this for many of you, as well.
Many times, her work for justice and equality has been less than popular. (You know, those of us with privilege don’t like hearing about racism.) But, rather than proclaim her observations and pass judgment from an “ivory tower” (as many in privilege are wont to do), she includes herself as part of the problem and asks those of us around her to join in the struggle to change the system and work for true and lasting equality for all.
Even though this is an unpopular stand for some, Ms. Plum simply cannot be silent - - - the issue of discrimination is simply too important to stand mute, even though the storm rages around her. This is another labor of love for her, one which reaches more and more people every day.
Truthfully, I’m absolutely wild about this woman.
When we first started to date and fall in love, Ms. Plum told me she wanted to be someone’s “perfectly imperfect woman,” describing someone who was both “real” and “magical.” She is exactly that, not only to me but, as a mother, sister, daughter and friend.
Happy Mother’s Day, Ms. Plum. You are truly a miracle.
I've witnessed some disturbing language among some young folks I care deeply about. I'm deeply distressed when I read this word, for instance, as part of FB exchanges among a group of young white teenaged boys.
I've done a fair bit of reading and thinking about who is using the word and how. I'm particularly worried about the ways white youth are using the word as part of their own local vernacular.
I've weighed in on several conversations in communities with whom I discuss these things about my feelings about the word, it's use, who uses it and how, reclamation, and avoidance. I think Tim Wise's position from a Boston College talk is pretty darn close to my position. Of course, he articulates it better. (Yeah, I'm a Tim Wise groupie). I am interested in his distinction between the written word and the spoken word - it's something I'm still thinking about myself.
This is a conversation I think is best left to the community who has suffered at the hands of white oppression. It's not my conversation except to pledge: I will NOT use that word. Ever. Period.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
p.s. this would be an argument for having kids when you are young - this 21 year old with 'guns' has oodles more energy for wheelbarrow silliness than I could ever muster - plus he's a native Spanish speaker (we value languages in our home) - and he's the apple of Blueberry's eye!
Monday, May 3, 2010
Like a watch battery...mine has not been working for 2 months.
And picking up the special laundry detergent I need to wash cloth diapers....our supply was low.
And hoping the Cavs beat the Celtics. GO CAVS!
And kicking the soccer ball around the yard with Blueberry.
And planning summer fun - our family plans are slow to gel - individual plans are pretty well set.
And picking lettuce in C's hoop house (green house) for our dinner salad tonight - OMG, YUMMY!
And rocking Blueberry and singing songs to him while the laundry dries in the sun on the line. Fresh.
And reading Good Night Moon for the 5th time today - just because he loves it.
And hugging Mr. Silly Pants when he arrives home from work - just because he loves it :-)
And anticipating having all 4 kids home this Sunday night. Because I do so much of what I do for my family.
I have been in a good and productive conversation with some people I greatly respect regarding moving my learning along. I've got a lot of work to do as I learn to be an ally and and advocate. I don't "do" my work well all the time. But I try - and while my effort is imperfect, I've made a pledge to allow myself to be perfectly imperfect in this work, I've given myself permission to ask a lot of questions, to be open to mentoring, and if I make a mess, to clean it up the best I can and move on.
One insightful person wrote to me today and said, "We could talk more about .... what it means to be an ally - and how one's intentions/approach get called into question... suffice it to say, I have an understanding of this....Unfortunately, it's an additional symptom of the larger dis-ease that exists with the virus of oppression..".
I was most interested in using the words "dis-ease" and "virus of oppression." I must consider how these words influence how I think and act on this journey. Because that's what I'm doing.....making the journey. The concept of "dis-ease" sort of brings my mind into a gentler frame - I think that's a good thing. A gentler framing of where we each are, and how one might encourage movement, and acknowledging that none of us knows what we don't know. Words can become ways for me to remember how to affect myself and how to work for the good of my community. So, I am mulling over how "dis-ease", in particular, informs what I say, how I say it, and when I say it.
Finally, if you haven't read Tim Wise's recent piece on immigration, it's here. Go and read it. Tim has a very good grasp of the issues surrounding immigration (and Arizona) as they relate to racism. I'm furious about what is going on in Arizona. I'm furious and so is Tim.
And then there is that damn BP oil spill. I LOVES ME SOME BIRDS!!! (Migration is in full swing - the warblers are here, the warblers are here!). My binoculars will be out in full working order this weekend.
It's a lot to digest - I crave line dried sheets and soccer balls and garden grown lettuce...so here's to more of that!