Monday, November 19, 2007

Giving Thanks for Our “Covenant” Children

Read this post on the Jamestown Project's blog, the Democracy Spot

This past Thursday millions of Americans paused to give thanks for the multitude of blessings in our lives. As we gathered around our dinner tables amidst the turkey, stuffing, and sweet potato pie, I hope that we did not forget that the annual ritual of appreciation is about more than a feast or the harvest, or even simply reconnecting with family. From the earliest recorded Thanksgiving celebrations in 1619 in Jamestown, Virginia and in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Thanksgiving has always been about the future – a celebration that boldly embraced hope, generations to come, and optimism for tomorrow.

As we move into this holiday season, it is the perfect time to celebrate our children. One of my favorite sayings is that while children are less than 50% of our present population, they are certainly 100% of our future. History has shown us time and again that social movements can rise or fall on the shoulders of youth. An inspired child who dares to dream and even more daringly chooses to believe in that dream can, and will, change the world. Yet children are likely the most overlooked, undervalued of all citizens in our society.

The Covenant with Black America inspired a movement. When The Jamestown Project was asked to help move The Covenant goals into action, I was determined to ensure that we officially extend the “call to action” to children. We must keep our arms as open to children as their hearts and minds are open to love. We must embrace them as partners, nurture their souls, and inspire them to action, but also remain willing to learn from their idealism and commitment to simple truths.

I wrote I Dream for You a World: A Covenant for Our Children because I am inspired by my daughter’s simple questions that uncover truths that do not have to be: “Why do healthy foods have to cost so much?” “Why did the city allow lead into our water fountains at school?” and “Why do we keep so many Black people in jail?” I wanted to give her the guidance, inspiration and the tools to do her part, even at her young age, to create her own answers and to erase the ugly truths that her questions reveal.

Monday, July 30, 2007

In Memory of Ndome Essoka: February 1970 – July 2007

My sister’s best friend!

Some of us have many friends. We have friends from elementary, middle, and high school. We have friends from college, work, and motherhood – the circles go on and on. I am one who chooses to live life that way. I network. I connect. I care. I keep in touch. My circles of friendship are expansive. Like the slinky toy that fascinated me so much when I was 10, my circles connect but the ones at the end are so far from the beginning they have little or nothing in common.

And then some of us have few friends. My sister chose this path. She has no time and no inclination to entertain my endless circled slinky approach to friendship. Instead she’s narrow and deep. There are few friends, but those friends have been there through elementary, middle, and high school. Through college, work, weddings, and motherhood. Like the lighthouses we used to worship at the Vineyard, these friends are omnipresent and stoic – they’re her guideposts in deep oceans. These friends are so few and deep, that they are also lighthouses in my life, ever present through it all.

Today it rained in my life, and the storm was not my own. It was my sister’s, it was the family’s, it belonged to other hearts and minds. Yet when you loose a light so bright, a guidepost in your ocean, a foundation that you thought would be ever present, the storm affects us all. Our ships can veer off course, until we finally see that if concentrate on faith despite the fear of the darkness, then maybe, just maybe, we will guided by the lighthouses in heaven’s ocean.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Mothers!

As the legendary civil rights leader Dorothy I. Height has said, “We have survived because of family.” But what I know for sure and what I can add to that is that “families have survived because of mothers.”

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus!

First and foremost, the stories of the scholar athletes were OVERLOOKED. I watched the footage of those 10 young women, and listened to their coach tell their stories. Stories about scholars, hard work, perseverance, and brilliance – one of these young women is even an accomplished classical pianist. I looked at their faces and saw my 7-year daughter – a buffed aspiring athlete – and I cried for them, for my little girl, and for all of us. I cried for their ugly introduction to race in America at a time when they should have been celebrating an accomplishment so outstanding most of us will never experience. I promised myself that I would not open my mouth to speak about this MESS without first honoring these young women and their incredible stories of accomplishment. Mr. Imus’s unconscionable and despicable remarks, as well as the media circus that has followed, have had the distressing effect of diminishing these incredible stories.

My second thought is as the old African-American saying goes – Imus cannot steal our joy. To me, this is not really about Imus, and quite frankly I could care less if he is a racist. He probably should lose his job, but quite frankly I have thought very little about that. Whether he is suspended, loses sponsors, viewers or is fired: this will happen again. Either Imus or someone else will do it UNLESS THERE IS REAL AND SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE IN AMERICA.

The REAL issue is deeper, more important than Imus. What does this say about racism in America ? Is it permanent, as my dear Prof. Derrick Bell argues in Faces at the Bottom of the Well? Is it in the air, do we breathe it in w/o even knowing or feeling it? What does this say about the need for us to TAKE ACTION yes AFFIRMATIVE ACTION toward real inclusion, real solutions, and real democracy in this country. And most importantly, what are YOU AND YOU AND I going to do about it?