TED.com is a website that I became acquainted with through one of my teaching colleagues. According to the website:
“TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.
You can find talks about various topics, from education to religion to technology to entertainment…Lots of very intriguing speakers, some who are well-known, such as Al Gore, to less well-known people, who, in their talks, inspire us, teach us, persuade us, fascinate us…
I came across a new TED talk today that I felt I had to share. This talk was given by Tony Porter at the first TEDWomen conference held just this past month. Mr. Porter is the co-founder of A Call to Men, a non-profit organization “committed to ending violence against women.” In his presentation, he discusses the “Man Box,” and how living in the “Man Box” causes men to live in bondage to what some men think being a man is all about. He discusses how much of living in the “Man Box” leads to violence against women. Nonetheless, he concludes his talk with a profound statement of liberation that we all, men and women, must hear.
Below is the video of “Tony Porter: A Call to Men.” Play it for every man you know. But as a woman, I feel it is also a call to me – to further understand these issues so that I can understand that there are other men who are trying to break free of the “Man Box.” I need to understand these issues so that when my husband explains the “Man Box” to our daughter, that I will be able to understand right along with her.
I am the wife of a man who has long broken out of the “Man Box.” Nonetheless, let us all seek to understand the men in our lives to support them breaking out of their own “Man Box.”
I haven’t posted in quite a long time, not on a regular basis, as you can see. Life got in the way (this is not a bad thing at all). See, I’m a wife of almost 10 years (yea!), a mother over 6 years, a teacher over 10 years, you get the idea. And your life is no different – I mean, we’re all busy.
One of the areas of greatest concern to me now, as a mother and teacher (in a private school) is the state of education today – public education, that is. Our daughter is in first grade in the public school system, and I’ve found myself dismayed by the education system in this country. Civility is no longer valued among students, teachers are not respected, some teachers deserve not to influence our children’s minds. So one of the things I focus on is education.
To that end, my posts will probably focus more on the topic of education, since the need for education reform is staggering. We all need to engage ourselves in this effort, because if we don’t, we’ll decline into third world status…literally. And our children, so precious, deserve so much better than that.
To that end, I want to share this video. It’s entitled “Lost Generation.” It’s less than two minutes long, but in that less than two minutes, a great message about our young people needs to be heard – and spread across this country.
Take a look…
Our children deserve so much more than what we’re giving them.
As many of you know, I teach high school – grades 9 and 12. As they often share with me different aspects of their lives, I am increasingly flabbergasted at the amount of time children spend online. I am actually floored that their way of making friends and interacting with those friends is no longer face to face, but through mediums such as Facebook and MySpace. I am amazed that young people feel a sense of loss when they don’t have access to these sources of relationships. I’m looking back at those last three sentences as I describe how I feel about this online world in which our children engage – flabbergasted, floored, amazed…
(Actually, I shouldn’t be all that amazed. Email has become a vital method of communication in our offices and businesses as well as between our families and friends.)
Maybe I’m overreacting. After all, our daughter will be four years old this spring, and naturally she is increasingly interested in computers, particularly in viewing videos online (since her daddy and I spend a lot of time at the computer). I often think about how we’ll navigate that world with her as she begins elementary school in less than two years.
I was recently made aware of a PBS Frontline program that will air tonight entitled “Growing Up Online,” where “Frontline Investigates The Risks, Realities And Misconceptions Of Teen Life On The Internet.” And lest you think that the only concern is encountering sexual predators online, this program will also discuss “cyber-bullying” and achieving “instant ‘Internet fame’.”
Here are a few quotes from the program’s press release:
“Jessica Hunter was a shy and awkward girl who struggled to make friends at school. Then, at age 14, she reinvented herself online as ‘Autumn Edows,’ an alternative goth artist and model who posted provocative photos of herself on the Web, and fast developed a cult following. ‘I just became this whole different person,’ Jessica tells FRONTLINE. ‘I didn’t feel like myself, but I liked the fact that I didn’t feel like myself. I felt like someone completely different. I felt like I was famous.’”
“Through social networking sites, kids with eating disorders share tips about staying thin, and depressed kids can share information about the best ways to commit suicide.”
“John Halligan’s son was cyberbullied for months—first at school, then online—before he ultimately hanged himself just weeks into the start of eighth grade.”
Here is a preview video of the broadcast:
(If the video isn’t displayed, click here.)
Whether we’re parents, grandparents, teachers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, or mentors of young people, this should be of interest to all of us. What do you think? Are our children growing up too fast in this online world? What should be done about it? And do you plan to watch the program? (Note: the program will re-air several times and also appear online – according to pbs.org.)
To all the fathers out there, today’s your day! It is a day where your children cook you breakfast in bed, for a change. It is a day where your children reflect how wonderful and beautiful an influence you have been in their lives. It is a day when we all think about the sacrifices our fathers have made for us.
Yet, I know Father’s Day is not always a joyful time for some. For some, it is a time to try to forget, because daddy was abusive to you. It is a time to forget because daddy didn’t pay attention to you. It is a time to forget because daddy didn’t teach you how you should be treated by men. It is a time to forget because daddy abandoned you. It is a time to forget because daddy just let it all happen to you.
If this is you, I understand, at least a little bit. My father didn’t teach me the things fathers should teach their little girls. My father didn’t teach me what I should look for in boys. He didn’t teach me that I shouldn’t allow myself to be treated a certain way. When it came to relationships, I was on my own. More than that, he looked the other way.
Yet, I can’t blame him. What I know is he did the best he could with what he had. He didn’t know his primary job was to teach his children how to become responsible adults. He didn’t know he was supposed to teach me that men are supposed to honor me. He didn’t teach his son how to be a man.
I did the best I could to fend for myself. But emotionally, I became a basketcase.
Nevertheless, I love my father. He’s not perfect, but he’s my daddy. He’s always been my daddy, and he will always be my daddy. No matter what. And I sent him a card letting him know just that. That I appreciate all he did, and still does, for me. I can’t blame him for what happened to me emotionally – I myself made some bad choices. And while I don’t blame him, I forgive him.
I’m thankful for my husband, Manchild, who is the most thoughtful daddy I’ve ever seen (not that there aren’t others out there; I just know about this one quite well). He is intent on teaching our daughter right from wrong. He is intent on teaching our daughter how valuable she is. He is intent on teaching our daughter how men should treat her by how he treats her. In fact, her daddy is a wonderful model of what she will hopefully look for in a man as she grows up and matures.
Fathers are so incredibly important to the healthy development of their children. In my mind, they can make or break their emotional and spiritual growth. So to all the fathers out there, understand the role you play in your children’s lives. Listen to their cries – audible or not. Listen to their shouts of victory. Listen to their moments of defeat. Be there in their moments of fear. Reach out and establish boundaries for them. Be ever present in their lives. You have a power and influence mothers were not designed to have. Because…
Fathers are Wonderful People
Fathers are wonderful people
Too little understood,
And we do not sing their praises
As often as we should…
For, somehow, Father seems to be
The man who pays the bills,
While Mother binds up little hurts
And nurses all our ills…
And Father struggles daily
To live up to “HIS IMAGE”
As protector and provider
And “hero or the scrimmage”…
And perhaps that is the reason
We sometimes get the notion,
That Fathers are not subject
To the thing we call emotion,
But if you look inside Dad’s heart,
Where no one else can see
You’ll find he’s sentimental
And as “soft” as he can be…
But he’s so busy every day
In the grueling race of life,
He leaves the sentimental stuff
To his partner and his wife…
But Fathers are just WONDERFUL
In a million different ways,
And they merit loving compliments
And accolade of praise,
For the only reason Dad aspires
To fortune and success
Is to make the family proud of him
And to bring them happiness…
And like OUR HEAVENLY FATHER,
He’s a guardian and a guide,
Someone that we can count on
To be ALWAYS ON OUR SIDE.
Helen Steiner Rice
School’s out. I’ve got about 10 weeks off. Vacation! You’d think? Rest? Probably not.
Yes, I’m a bit unsettled.
I’m not quite comfortable with where I am right now. I’m about to be a stay-at-home mom for the summer. How in the world do women who do it full-time, all the time, actually do it? During the school year everyday, I drop my daughter off at daycare (which is on the campus of the school where I teach). I teach, discipline (right!), grade papers and tests, attend faculty and departmental meetings, and serve in other functions I’ve assigned myself at the school. Everyday. And when I (and sometimes my husband and I) pick up our daughter, I get to see the wonderful artwork she’s prepared at the hands of her wonderful teacher, get reports on how she never has a potty accident (she has been dry when she wakes up for the past couple of weeks!!!), and watch her run to me screaming because she’s excited to see me everyday when I pick her up after school.
She’s home for the summer. All day. Everyday. What do we do?
Now I not so clueless as not to know. Really. We have story time a couple times a day. I’ve actually decided to lose the 15-20 pounds this summer by taking her with me in the stroller on my walks each morning. But she won’t play with her toys by herself (she is an only child, and there aren’t children her age in the community in which we live, at least not that I’ve identified yet)!!!
So I’ve been researching what type of inexpensive activities are available for a three-year old to partake in. No. Activities I need for her to do outside of the house!!! I’ve got a plan. I may have found a place to take her a few times a week. That might just do it.
So I’m an unsettled mom.
I’m an unsettled teacher. Not particularly satisfied with my teaching this past year. I’ve determined I am going to work over the summer to revise my curricula, prepare in advance (didn’t have a chance to do that last year because I was taking care of my mother before she passed last summer), and be ready when the school year arrives in mid-August. Related to all this, I’ve got to prepare materials for my performance review this fall. Not a good year to do this, since I didn’t have the best of years. But it is giving me an opportunity to reflect a bunch.
I’m an unsettled teacher.
I’ve also decided that I’m going to put together a proposal to publish a supplement for a textbook I use in one of my courses. My first attempt at publishing! But even preparing the proposal seems to be a bit daunting.
I’m an unsettled would-be writer.
Let me not go on, because I’m unsettled in a variety of areas, and it’ll get a bit too personal.
I say all this to say that I’ve not been writing posts because, frankly, I’m unsettled. I’m especially unsettled because I feel my focus is a bit off. My area of specialty is Bible. I study scripture. I teach Old and New Testament. That’s what I do. Yet, I’ve not introduced it much on this blog. Why?
I’m trying to figure that out. I’m not a Bible-thumper. I don’t believe in beating people over the head with it. But I also know that God is real in my life. And I’m currently praying and seeking answers to the unsettledness I feel right now. It’s like I’m not where I’m supposed to be.
And as I read this, the unfocused nature of this post, I see my own unsettledness right before my eyes.
So excuse me as I try to figure it out. Posts will come. But I’m trying to figure out, in my heart, what they’re supposed to be about. What I’m supposed to share. What I am really supposed to communicate here.
Thanks for listening…reading, I should say. Comments are welcomed.
Back in the 80s and 90s when I worked in corporate America, I loved to wear beautiful suits. It was always my intent to purchase suits that I didn’t think I’d see on anyone else at any particular time (living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin). It’s not that I had goo-gobs of money to spend on one-of-a-kinds; I just prided myself on being a shopper of fine clothing of relatively reasonable value without breaking my wallet too much.
In the late 80s, I was participating in a training class for a large organization I worked for. When I arrived at the classroom, I took my seat, waiting for the class to begin. As I looked around, a woman walked in the door of the classroom wearing a beautiful black suit. I admired it for its intricate detailing and stitching throughout. I also noticed that the suit looked terrific on her, as it was a well-made suit. As she walked closer to where I was seated, I made an observation that absolutely made me sick that day – she’s wearing my suit, on the same day I had the same suit on myself!!! I was absolutely mortified!!! Really!!!
From that day on, I vowed I’d never wear that suit again. And I never did. In a sense, I felt violated. Of course, the woman wearing the suit didn’t do anything wrong. She merely had great taste, as I did. Yet, I felt as though I was being copied. I felt as though, as writers would say, I was being plagiarized! There was more than one of me! And if there was more than one of me, one of those “me’s” was not needed.
How ridiculous, you say? Yes, ridiculous it is. Until I can afford to purchase one-of-a-kinds (which I don’t even have a desire to do), there will always be a woman who is wearing those shoes I just purchased yesterday. There will always be a woman who is wearing that same blouse I bought last week. There will always be a woman who is wearing that same dress I bought last month. And I might even personally see that woman donning those shoes, that blouse, that dress. And get this…she might even look better in those pants than I do (which, at the moment, is entirely possible given the 15 pounds I need to drop).
Yet, I no longer have this feeling that I’m being copied, that I’m no longer unique when I see someone sporting “my” clothes. After a fire consumed all of my belongings while I was attending graduate school in the early 90s, I had to learn to shop differently to regain a small portion of what I’d lost and to try to rebuild (after not having renter’s insurance). And I wanted the same stuff I had before. Nevertheless, I couldn’t afford to pour out the same amount of money as I did before I entered graduate school. So I found discount shops and outlets (Loehmann’s, T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s, Filene’s Basement, and now, Value City), which means that I will someday see another woman in my clothes, on the exact day I’m donning the same outfit.
Does that mean that I’m no longer unique? Absolutely not!
The outer garments does not a sistah make!
It’s what’s inside that makes all of us unique. It’s what God has blessed us with that makes us one-of-a-kind. I am guaranteed that there is no one like me on this earth (that should be a relief for my husband), and that no matter what I wear, I have gifts and talents the world needs. I’m just trying to figure out what the world needs and how I can get it out there.
Ladies, has this ever happened to you? Have you ever felt like you’re a carbon copy and therefore, that you’re not needed?
Let me reassure you – it’s a lie! Don’t believe it!
What makes me unique?
All of these experiences inform who I am. And no one, absolutely no one, has experienced what I’ve experienced collectively. Together, these experiences make me one unique woman. And no one can take that away.
I’d like to know, what makes you unique?
My daughter will be 3 years old on May 20th. I am so excited! I see her personality developing each day, her sense of independence, her vocabulary – it’s so incredibly amazing!
My husband and I try to teach our daughter how to make good choices. Even though she is (and will be) an only child, we refuse to allow her to grow up being a spoiled brat. I don’t think it is proper for a child to get everything under the sun just to get her to do what she should do, or learn how to do.
We also teach her how valuable she is. As a Black girl, she will encounter ignorance in her lifetime, most likely sooner rather than later (I know – both my husband and I experienced it at a young age), because while we are more aware of diversity in our society, we’ve not arrived. So we teach her how great she is because there will be those who will disrespect her and try to impose their ignorance upon her. She will know the truth so she can learn to handle the disrespect. I’m not trying to be negative here; I’m a realist, though. Could I be wrong, though? I hope so.
When children don’t learn how to respect others for their differences, terrible things can happen. We saw evidence of that recently with the killings at Virginia Tech. Please understand, this is not another post about that incident. It was (and still is) an important moment in our history – no doubt. I don’t wish to rehash it. Nevertheless, it’s so important for each of us to understand the importance of respecting others. And it’s incredibly important for parents to teach their children how to respect others. We can see what happens when 1) children are disrespected over their lifetime, and 2) when children aren’t taught to handle the pain which happens as a result of disrespect. And unfortunately, I see everyday that many children aren’t learning these important lessons.
Nevertheless, Gayla McCord at Supernanny Rules offered a poignant post a few weeks ago entitled “Things We Should Teach Our Children” that you absolutely must read (I’m just now getting caught up on my comments and reading). Please read Gayla’s post. She stresses the importance of teaching our children to respect others. And when you read it, please share it with others.
Thank you, Gayla, for sharing your heart.
One of the great things about being here in the world of blogging is I’ve been able to begin developing my voice to attempt to talk about some things that are important to women (and men too!). Since I’ve started, I’ve met so many great people who’ve encouraged me along the way, tagged me for memes, wrote great comments, linked to my blog, joined my MyBlogLog community, interviewed me for their blogs, featured me on their blogs, and added me to their blogrolls. To be mentioned in some way in this world is an incredible honor to me.
Well, there’s more!
Crunchy Carpets and Keith have graciously chosen to bless me with the Thinking Blogger Award started by Ilker at The Thinking Blog. Thank you for “thinking” so highly of me; it’s hard to know what to say. Nevertheless, in light of their honor, I’d like to pass it on to the following five folks who make me think (this list is not comprehensive!!!):
Thinking Blogger Award #1 goes to Manchild at When Least Expected™ – Sure, he’s my husband, but to see the thought that goes into everything he says really just blows my mind. I see it firsthand and I know that what he writes is from his heart and soul. He’s never afraid of what people will think about him, he doesn’t care about the status quo – he just challenges just about everyone who reads his blog. He genuinely cares about people and their own personal and spiritual growth, not only in the blogging world, but in the physical world as a whole.
Thinking Blogger Award #2 goes to Camille at Now – Camille is a wonderfully gifted writer who writes with incredible insight. A person with so many gifts and talents, it comes out in her writing. She offers some very raw and revealing moments at times, but it’s not soupey or necessarily sentimental. It’s just very real.
Thinking Blogger Award #3 goes to Alexander at B.I.D.E.: Spiritual Commentary on Current Events – B.I.D.E. stands for Benevolence In Dharmic Exploration. Alexander, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, really takes the time to discover what’s going on in the world and writes about spirituality and faith related to the world’s current events. He even covers those tough stories about “ugly” issues that many people don’t want to talk about.
Thinking Blogger Award #4 goes to Jennifer at Goodness Graciousness – Jennifer writes with incredible grace. I really can’t describe what she does over there. Her “desire is to put thoughts of goodness and graciousness into the universe.” All I know is every time I visit, I come away with something thoughtful and beautiful.
Thinking Blogger Award #5 goes to The New Parent – For those of you who are parents, I recently discovered this wonderful place where we can learn how to educate ourselves to raise thoughtful, well-behaved children. I’ve not really come upon a parenting site like this one. The father of this site is a new parent (hence the name), but somehow, he has a wealth of wisdom on how to change the world by changing our children.
Final thoughts – for my winners of this award, if you want to nominate your own “thinkers,” here are the rules of engagement:
If, and only if, you get tagged, Write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
- Link to Ilker’s post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
- Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).
Manchild, Camille, Jennifer, Alexander, and the New Parent – thank you for making me think!
Last week, the Rutgers University Women’s Basketball team played the University of Tennessee in the NCAA championship. If you haven’t heard, nationally syndicated radio host Don Imus and executive producer Bernard McGuirk (and others), commenting on the Rutgers women’s basketball team on his show “Imus in the Morning” said the following, in part (click here at MediaMatters.org for a detailed account and video of the incident):
IMUS: That’s some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and –
McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.
IMUS: That’s some nappy-headed hos there. I’m gonna tell you that now, man, that’s some — woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like — kinda like — I don’t know.
McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.
…ROSENBERG: It was a tough watch. The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.
Many people have commented on Imus’ remarks, calling for his resignation. It was racist and sadly, FCC-supported. While I support the move calling for his resignation, I did not write this post with that intent. This post is a call for people in this country to think a bit more critically to understand that contrary to the popular children’s rhyme, sticks and stones hurt, and words hurt as well.
I was styling my daughter’s hair this morning as I listened to a Black radio talk show host addressing Imus’ racially-charged criticism of women he hadn’t met and didn’t know. My daughter is beautiful, intelligent, a great person, a superstar, as my husband, Manchild, says, “destined to achieve greatness,” and a gorgeous three-year old Black girl with very curly, beautiful hair. We constantly affirm her in who she knowing she will encounter ignorant remarks such as those Don Imus and his cohorts so insensitively made. I grew up in the Midwest/North, yet, racism was and is still alive and well. And being called out of your name, while knowing inherently the filth directed toward you isn’t the truth, it still penetrates, it still hurts. So when (notice I said “when,” not “if”) our daughter hears racial slurs spewed across the airwaves or in her face, she will know the truth. I pray it will not penetrate her soul. I pray we will impart so much of how much we love and esteem her and how gloriously God views her that her spirit will not be damaged.
Unfortunately, the damage has already been done to some. During the Michael Baisden show (a nationally-syndicated Black radio talk show airing weekday afternoons), a young Black girl called and expressed her views about Imus’ epithets in the form of a powerful poem. She read the poem with such passion that it’s difficult to really hear the pain and anger in her voice as she read it over the air. Michael Baisden posted the poem on his forum at MingleCity.com. I offer the poem here as well.
By Yvonne Espinoza
We’re violent because this is all we know
You taught us this along time ago
We’re violent because you made us this way
You beat us naked, you hung our people,
Raped our kids and stripped us of our pride
And you now wanna ask why?
Give us a reason not to be
You can’t, it’s impossible
Because to give us a reason, you’d have to right all the wrong you’ve done
But you can’t and if you could then
You’ve only just begun
You’d have to beg for mercy, plead and cry
You’d have to feel the pain we felt
The pain that took lives
You go through the hardships,
The trials and tribulations,
The suffering, the heartache, the dying babies
You sit on a boat full of hundreds of sick,
Old people living to die
How about you dance to make money
Look ignorant on t.v.
Go to jail for nothing
Harassed because others don’t like what they see
Have your people get beat to death
By those who get paid to protect
You eat trash to survive
How about you watch your people and babies die
Get sold for a dime
Kill themselves because they don’t want to live this life
We went through it then and we go through it now
And you know it’s true, and you still ask why?
How dare you have the audacity
Who made you king?
Despite common belief and despite what you think
There is only one king, one God
And he walks with me, with us
The ones who were forced to live in grief
Who were cut, killed, raped and beat
Like animals, brainwashed to think like you
You hacked away, pulled and dragged us down
Until we didn’t want to be Black or Brown
We didn’t want to be Colored or Negroes
We wanted to be High, Suddity, White Folk
We though if we looked, smelled, and act like you
We could live a regular life, and though we tried
You still continued to beat and lay us out
To hang us from our necks, to laugh at our bodies
You could never blame us for being this way
Because you taught us violence
So how dare you think of forming any kind of alliance
Now we know that two wrongs don’t make a right
But since we have none,
Why should we spare your life?
It’s your fault for all of this
And if you didn’t teach us violence
Then who did?
It couldn’t have been us
Because, remember, we’re ignorant!
You should be careful what you say
Because your words have power
Say it enough and it’ll come true…
I know you’ve heard of karma
God have mercy on you.