Category Archives: World Issues

Gray. It’s usually a gray issue. Not one, not the other, but both.

musketThe power of the National Rifle Association exists because of the money they put into politics, into the pockets and campaigns of legislators who vote and create policy in our country. Please recall that the 2nd amendment was crafted in 1789 and was influenced by the 1689 English Bill of Rights. When it was written and the writers were oiling their muskets by candle light, the right to keep and bear arms meant a VERY different thing than it does now. Automatic weapons that fire rounds of bullets in mere seconds were never meant to be in civilian hands. Of course I believe people have the right to defend themselves. If someone wants to safely own a gun that is their prerogative, but why does it have to be a weapon of mass destruction?

I also don’t feel that removing God from schools is the issue. My children still pledge allegiance to our country under God each morning with their hand over their heart. My children know they can pray to themselves whenever they feel compelled to do so. I also think it is okay to learn about different religions, but it is not okay to force one on a group of students who are not all practicing the same religion or praying to the same God. So I understand why practicing religion is not part of a public school curriculum.

Tried to embed my Facebook post the site rebelled, so here it is:

All of you who are friends with me already know how I feel about guns. And I haven’t written anything about the shooting which happened this week, which is unlike me. But it hurts. I cannot imagine being the person to get that call. Being the first responder on the scene, the spouse of a teacher in the school or the parent of a student and getting that phone call.

Let me just say that I know the person pulling the trigger is the killer, not the gun. I believe that anyone who raises a gun to purposefully kill people is mentally unwell and needs to be treated. What I don’t understand is even debatable is why we are allowing individuals to purchase guns that have a standard of nine rounds a second.

Do you know there are MILLIONS of AR-15 guns owned in the US? The shooting in Orlando at the nightclub 24 shots in 9 seconds. The Las Vegas shooting at the concert about 90 shots in 10 seconds. Do you see what I mean here? Why is it necessary for anyone to own a weapon with that kind of firing power? I am not against the right to carry. I am not against someone owning a gun, collecting guns, etc. Personally, I do not want to own one or be near one, but I don’t want to take that right from anyone else. So please do not tell me that it’s the person, not the gun, because it is BOTH.

Yes, I believe mass shooters have a mental illness of some kind, but you can’t make them get help, you can’t, you can however ban guns which would allow them to kill multiple people faster than I typed this post.

Oh and one more thing, if having teachers carry guns is the solution you feel is best, then you sure as heck better start paying them A LOT MORE and finding a way to 100% ensure the guns remain out of reach of any children.

One of these things is not like the other

Okay, fine, I understand the danger in lumping people into categories. Like All Republicans or All Liberals or All Muslims or All Hispanics. Using the word ALL is a dangerous thing. However, everyone, ALL of us, absolutely need to acknowledge what is happening in our country and choose whether or not they condone it. There is no gray line here, there is no middle of the road. You’re either with the oppressed and you desire to help fix the situation or you are as bad as the oppressor for tolerating the evil and the hate. There is no excuse, there are no reasons, this is completely unjustifiable.

And do NOT try to tell me that there are two sides. No. I don’t want to have to give you that face I make when my eyes get all wide and my jaw juts out in disdain.

Let’s be clear.

One of these things is not like the other.

White Supremacy is not, in any way, the same as the Black Lives Matter movement.

Don’t say it. Don’t even think it.

Don’t try to convince me, don’t make an argument.

You’re wrong.

Listen to me. Black Live Do Matter. And when I say that I am not also saying that other lives matter less or more. I’m not.

Black lives matter is a statement, it means exactly what it says it means.

It DOES NOT MEAN that black people think their lives are more important than anyone else.

White Supremacy is the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races. That is also a plain and simple statement.
I’m not inferring thing here, it is a FACT.

If you’re hurt by this there is nothing I can do to change your hurt, but please know that there is no such thing as reverse racism.

You see, the people who are the most privileged seem to be the same people who talk about reverse racism and who have a problem with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Do you know why?

Because they are privileged and it doesn’t concern them, they haven’t experienced the problem and so it isn’t real.

whatdoyouthinkWhite privilege exists my friends. And if you think I’m wrong than I’m pretty confident you are benefiting from said privileges. An example, I know my boys can wear whatever they want without instantly being labeled a thug, low life etc. I’ve said this before, I have no worries about sending my boys down to get the mail from the mailbox wearing a hoodie. It wouldn’t cross my mind to tell them to consider changing before they left the house that way. Just typing that seems ludicrous, right? It sounds ridiculous and yet it is true. Especially when hate filled people can put a white hood on their head with only eye holes, light a torch and walk down the street screaming about Jews, and somehow that is okay…

Furthermore, I’ve been in a classroom where I was the minority only once while in college. But I’ve been in a classroom dozens of times where I was in the majority and I have seen, dozens of times, professors specifically call on a black student for their opinion because they are black. I can’t even imagine how it must feel to be questioned as if I were the sole representative for my entire race. And don’t even get me started on the people who are mad about affirmative action with employers! No one questions why a white person gets a really great job, it’s assumed that they were the best qualified candidate. #Whiteprivilege

So in writing this and re-writing and erasing and deleting and drafting and starting over… I am asking myself why it is so difficult to write this post.

It is difficult because I am angry. And when I am angry I have a hard time forming words that will then make sense.

A KKK rally in Charlottesville in July 2017

Charlottesville is a city in Virginia. Virginia is a state in the United States. It is the year 2017. Why in the name of God and all that is good in this universe did a group of mostly white males think it would be okay to light torches and walk through the night proclaiming that they are a superior race? And this isn’t the first time, the photo here is from another rally last month!

What kind of backwards, cluster of a racist mess must exist in their brains and in their hearts, for them to feel it was in any way okay to do what they did?
And they say it is because of a statue!?

You know the confederates were committing treason against the United States when they tried to separate from the North because they were defending slavery. Historic monument or not why would you want to maintain a legacy of inequality? Doesn’t seem very patriotic to me. These statues memorialize a time when our courts held that black people were only three-fifths human. And there is still so much inequality in our country, so the removal of monuments that represent the ideology of white supremacy is a step in the right direction.

And due to the evilness in Virginia, due to their pure hatred, three people died this past weekend.

Heather Heyer, a Charlottesville resident was 32 years old, she was peacefully protesting against the neo-nazis, she is dead now because one of the men who was part of the neo-nazi group decided to plow his car into the people protesting his evil.

Two state troopers, Pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, also died Saturday, when their helicopter crashed as they were heading towards the scene.

In total, at least 34 people were wounded and Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia declared a state of emergency.

It is something I cannot begin to understand, nor do I want to understand it. How can hating people and believing you are better than someone else ever be the answer?

So why, in this lovely year of 2017, are there hundreds of organized, official, documented HATE GROUPS in this country that I was one proud to call my home?

While there are so many suffering, struggling, treated unfairly and unjustly, while there is such evil, discrimination, hatred and racism in the United States, I cannot say that I am proud. And honestly, in many ways, I never should have been proud. While the United States has made great strides in improving equality there is still very far to go.

The fact that I had to write something similar to this not long ago is also very distressing to me.

Our President and his administration are part of the problem. They care only about money, power and status. They do not care about people, or the environment. To the current administration the only thing that seems to matter is how much money is lining their pockets. The fact that hate crimes are through the roof and that many of the perpetrators are thanking Trump, just sickens me.

His idiotic, uneducated, whining tweets sicken me.

“Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied…truly bad people!”

“Truly bad people!” The press, not the Nazis. I just can’t even.

All of this being said. As a human race, we’re not perfect. None of us, and we all should always be working on being better people. We should have open minds and open hearts. We should strive not to tolerate each other, but to respect and accept each other.

Our differences and the worlds injustices go beyond color. We are divided by race, by gender, by sexual identity, we are divided by religion, by politics and by class. We are a united nation that is so utterly divided it is heart breaking. And the worst part about it is all the millions of people who think I’m wrong.

scrink.comDon’t let racism and hate and evilness happen around you. Don’t stand there in silence and say that you are not those things. When you see people being oppressed and you choose not to do something then you are, too, their oppressor.


Wake up and stand up and speak out!

And then keep doing it. Admitting you see the problem does not fix the problem. There is much to be done.

One day I hope we can all celebrate our differences, and on that day, truly stand united.

Now, there is a positive note in all of this, and that is the thousands of people who put together peaceful rallies to show solidarity.


Who voted? WhoVille, the Grinch, Moving On #thefutureismymotivation

lincoln-680x365Now I know many of the readers of this blog are in the UK. Thank you for that :) And maybe you are not following what has happened in the US. Though I think the entire world has been watching. I don’t know how you feel but my brother called me this morning and he said something which resonated with me.

He said that in the Dr. Seuss story of the Grinch. The Grinch took everything from Whoville overnight and yet on Christmas morning the Whos all woke up and came together, they held hands, they sang around the tree. img_7010Their unity, their choice to come together and hold onto what they still had which was each other… That is what we need to do. Now, I’m not saying “he who shall not be named” is the Grinch. I’m not saying that, but maybe, just maybe, if we unite together in a profound way which shows America and the rest of the world that we cannot be broken and we will see good prevail, maybe “he who shall not be named” will see his heart grow three sizes. Who knows? #who

My best friend Natalie messaged me to help console and calm me. She shared “Dan (Rather) rather sums up my feelings: we have a system with built in checks and balances by the constitution and bill of rights. Presidents are powerful, but they are not ALL powerful.” This is Though both the Senate and the House are now Republican leaning… But I need to have faith that everyone, EVERYONE, in a non-partisan effort, will have their eye on, “he who shall not be named” and he will not have an opportunity, no room for error, he will need to step up to the place and be a leader the rest of the popular vote can, if not get behind, at least say okay we can get through the next four years.

I voted for Hillary Clinton.

I’m 35 years old, but I have never in my life seen such a divide with regard to the presidency. Trending hashtags right now include things like #ImStillWithHer #NotMyPresident and trending news like “Immigration to Canada.” I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve also never seen someone like Vladimir Putin be one of the first people to congratulate a newly elected US President. He is not someone I want in the ear of an American leader. I think this speaks for itself in so many ways. But this cannot be what we do. Maybe let ourselves have a time of mourning so to speak, get the emotions out, and then we need to pull up our bloomers and get on with it.keep-moving-forward-martin-luther-king-jr-quotes-sayings-pictures

Where do we go from here? Hopefully, since “he who shall not be named” is a business man he will be able to create a plan and take strides to help build our economy and create new jobs. And I think this needs to happen across all classes and skill sets. This man seems to know a thing or two about strategy. Sadly though I wish I could believe a word he says. Although those nicer than I have phrased it as such, “uniquely fact-challenged candidate.” Hopefully he will be able to bring on an administration who will be able to get the facts straight. Even when the truth hurts. We cannot allow racism, sexism, ageism, ablism, none of the -isms, we cannot allow those platforms to become a way of normalcy. That cannot happen. We cannot let that be our future. We need to continue to speak out for justice and for respect for all people. Notice I did not say tolerance. I don’t want people to “tolerate” each other, I want us to appreciate and respect each other.

It’s time to figure out who to improve our democracy. We need to continue to love, to give each other hope, to stare evil in the face and not back down. I know I sound like Care-A-Lot Care Bear and there should be a rainbow shooting out of my chest right now, but I have to find something, some glimmer of light to hold onto.

imagesI know I will need to say his name eventually but right now it is too raw, this is my day of mourning. Maybe tomorrow.

But I’m not going to say anything is rigged. I’m not going to be one of those people. There were record turnouts at the poll and that is a good thing. Voting is a right, but it is also a privilege not all people have and I am glad the people voted.

Moving forward. Not even the President of the United States can change who I am. They cannot change how I raise my children. They cannot change how I treat myself, my colleagues, my neighbors. Any sort of change still begins with each of us. Obviously, collectively, we hold way more power than we realize. We need to take this to heart and, for lack of a better phrase, use it for good. What can we do to repair and mend what has been damaged? What can we do to create new paths forward to improve the systemic issues we now see so clearly and how can we improve the policy making process? As my brother so often tells me, this is no time to be complacent.

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand.”


To stand, to kneel, to teach


Many students and NFL players are following in the footsteps of Colin Kaepernick who has chosen to kneel during the national anthem before football games. This should speak loudly to the fact that people are in need of an outlet for their frustrations with our society and the areas of our country in which justice is lacking. Though frustrations isn’t even close to being a strong enough word.

william-wilberforceThere are so many injustices people are battling each and every day and racial injustice is most definitely a big one. People are being shot and killed and so much of this is coming from a place of fear. I do not fear that my two white sons will be shot and killed should they ever find themselves in close proximity to a police officer. I do not fear that my children will be frisked or searched or watched if they are standing with a group waiting for a bus. This IS happening with young black men. This is something their mothers fear.

I wish with all my heart and soul that all humans were treated equally. It hurts. It hurts to think about these things. Why does a black man have to consider the clothing they wear before they walk down the street? Racial profiling should not exist. Judges should not be saying they are doing a black person a favor by putting them in jail and white people should not be placed on probation for the very same crimes! It’s not just African Americans being profiles, Hispanics struggle, Native Americans, as well as Middle Eastern. No legislator should ever say the words “black parents need to teach their children to respect police.” And black parents shouldn’t have to have discussions with their babies on how to “survive police encounters” due to the excessive amounts of police violence happening.

Does any of this have anything to do with the national anthem? Are we not the land of the free and the home of the brave? Maybe. Maybe not.

be-openmindedFor me, when I hear the national anthem I think of the many battles heroic service men and women have fought in order to keep our country free and safe. To me standing for the national anthem is something which makes me feel good, I’m showing support for my country, I’m showing support for the many people who have fought for the freedoms we have. The injustices which exist in other parts of the world are so horrific every single day with countless people dying and no one ever knowing their name. People fleeing their country as bombs are falling and bullets are flying just outside their doors. When I stand to the national anthem those are the thoughts I have and those are the feelings I have, this is an emotional thing for me.

For Colin Kaepernick it means something different. When he chooses not to stand it makes me sad because I see him dividing himself from his team and I see him choosing not to stand in respect of those who have died to serve our country. But that is NOT why he has chosen to kneel. He isn’t purposefully deciding to be disrespectful at all, that was not the catalyst and when you think about it, the people who have fought and are fighting for our country are also fighting for our right to the very liberty of being able to choose to kneel, stand, sit, do the chicken dance, right? For Colin Kaepernick, I believe he is choosing to kneel because it has gotten attention and when people ask why he isn’t standing he gets an opportunity for dialogue. He gets a chance to speak about racial injustices and be a voice for an issues which is very real and very hard to talk about. Do I feel he could travel to colleges and schools and churches and talk about this via other platforms which might be more effective, yes? Why? Because the people he needs to reach with his message are not just the oppressed.

comfortzonesWhether he cares to or not, he needs to be able to reach the population of people who are furious with him for not standing during the anthem, because I believe it is likely that many of them “do not get it.” Often times they are the people who need to hear a different perspective, they need to see through different eyes. But as soon as you kneel during the anthem, they close their eyes, they close their ears and they close their hearts to your story. Should they be so narrow minded? No. But like I said, the national anthem is an emotional thing for millions of people, many who have lost family and friends who serve.

So see, there are so many multiple facets in this discussion. So many opportunities to teach, share, listen and come together in a new understanding of what is going on, but instead we have created yet another dividing line in our society. Those who stand and those who kneel. This has not fixed the problem. I wish we could find common, middle ground so we can work towards solutions together.

How deeply do culture and community impact schools?

Over the past two weeks I have had the pleasure of hearing from two well-known people from Hollywood that don’t really have an education background and yet their statements regarding education have given me much to think about.

My background has been split between studying early education and human services. In addition to studying I have also enjoyed volunteering my time with the Christina School District as needed. Then there is the fact that I am a parent of three children which I feel makes me a person who should be able to talk about education from that perspective as well, because I feel that I am an engaged parent who cares about how my kids are doing in school. Truly, I want all kids to do well, excel and thrive in school so they can then go into life as young adults with their best foot forward.

Becoming_MariaNow let me circle back to the speakers I have had the pleasure of hearing from recently. On September 15 I listened to Sonia Manzano discuss a variety of things, as her talk was regarding her book “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx.” The book takes place from her childhood up until the first audition she had on Sesame Street.

In the book she speaks about what it was like growing up as a young Latina woman who felt the world didn’t realize she existed based on the fact that the majority of things portrayed in the media was about white people and white families. She talked about how she grew up in a home of abuse and alcoholism and her parents spent a lot of time complaining and fighting. Her escape was in shows like “Leave It To Beaver” where families showed love and support for each other. However, she realized while watching that there weren’t any people like her in the show.

sonia-manzanoAs an elementary student in the South Bronx, Sonia did well. She was at the top of her class. Her teachers always called on her and anything she said was lauded, even if she was painting her nails at the same time at her desk. The teachers weren’t expecting anything of her or the other kids in the school. They weren’t really learning much, they were just spending time off the streets. Then her 4th grade teacher “broke free from the curriculum” for a class and took them all to see West Wide Story. This was a pivotal moment in her childhood because there she saw the people of her culture singing and dancing and it was magical for her and she wanted to be part of that.

Sonia Manzano eventually went on to play Maria on Sesame Street. A show geared towards urban, inner-city kids, to give them a safe place where they could flourish and learn. Sonia said she eventually also became a writer for the show and many of the stories she wrote for characters paralleled her own life. She was able to write about things that might be a little sad, but then turn them into something where the characters rose above a challenge and became better for it.

She spoke about the issue of teachers not being afforded the time to break away from curriculum now. I know in Delaware especially the curriculum is incredibly timed and rigid. Between teachers being so stressed and overwhelmed, there is a high demand of finishing lessons on time, even if students aren’t grasping the content. This is actually the topic of a position paper I am writing for one of my classes right now. I’ll share that final paper when I’m done. I believe it is important to evaluate students, but not to the extent that the system is failing them because of how rigid it is. In my opinion, children should be treated more as individuals, portfolio based rather than a list of numbers and percentages.

igotschooled-bookNow let me move into talking about the speaker I heard from last night, M. Night Shyamalan. He was in Delaware talking about his book, “I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Education Gap.” The event was hosted by DelaCORE Leaders, Senator Bryan Townsend and Teacher of the Year Megan Szabo.

I think it’s important to stress that M. Night Shyamalan made it very clear that all five of the keys have to be used together in order to see the achievement gap close. It can’t be one or some, it has to be all of them. He also made it very clear that he was only talking about the 17% of schools in the US who are currently failing. These keys might benefit other schools, but he was only talking about inner-city schools, not other areas.

The title of Shyamalan’s book obviously explains right off the bat what I was wondering when I found out he would be talking about education. He’s a writer, sure, but he writes movies, thrillers, what could he possibly know about education. He explained this before diving into the book, along with Delaware’s most recent teacher of the year, Megan Szabo. He told her, and us as part of the audience, about how he and his wife wanted to give scholarships to inner-city students so they could go to college. They invited five students to a dinner to celebrate their scholarships and he got excited at the thought of being able to meet these future doctors and presidents. He was sure that his money for their education was going to make a huge difference in their life. He couldn’t wait for the moment, and then he met them and he realized, they were scared and they weren’t ready for college. Through no fault of their own mind you, but because the schools they attended their whole life has set them back and left them unprepared. He said it felt like he had set his GPS to locate a place where he could make a difference for these kids and then he got them all together to give them money and his GPS said “You’re 3,000 miles away from your destination.”

Night+ShyamalanThis was the beginning of an hour long talk in which M. Night Shyamalan talks about the five years of research he put into finding 5 keys which, when used together, could save the inner city schools across the US and close the achievement gap. Between equating many things to basketball, a sport he says he loves to play, he at one point tells the story of being in Philadelphia, scouting for a location for a movie, going into a school where the students were miserable and the atmosphere was prison-like, and feeling like he had been elbowed. He said he is a good basketball player, but when you elbow him, he is a GREAT basketball player. He said in that moment in that school, he felt elbowed and he knew he had to devote his time into figuring out why a school four miles away from the city, full of white students, could be so much better than a school in the city full of black students.

The issue of race did come up and I am glad it did, because as so many people want to say it’s an excuse and it’s a cop out, I disagree. I see that black students living in the city do have many more obstacles than my kids going to suburban schools as young white boys. I am aware of this and it breaks my heart. My kids come from an environment in which they are told they are doing great, they need to apply themselves and they’ll be doctors or archaeologists some day. They are told this in my home, in their school and in the media. So I think about what young black students are seeing and hearing and it’s not the same. Whether I want to believe it is or not, it’s simply not. And this reminded me of what Sonia Monzano said about being Latina.

So then when M. Night Shyamalan spoke about one important key for closing the achievement gap in these schools, he said “the culture.” Much of what is keeping these students held back is happening OUTSIDE of the school in their neighborhoods, communities and in the news around them. So when they go into school they shouldn’t be yelled at by the guards to empty their pockets and then ushers into classrooms with dim lighting and bars on the doors. And that made sense, no, it MAKES sense. It’s true. Culture is a huge thing. He explained the culture of a school should be consistent from teacher to teacher, classroom to classroom and from one grade to another. You should walk into the school and immediately see well lit halls with brightly colored college banners.

Another key to closing the achievement gap is more time in school, whether through longer school days or longer school years. Because again, in these 17% of schools the thing holding them back is OUTSIDE the schools. They need to be able to be in school longer, pending the school environment is desirable. This makes sense to me. This is why organizations like the Boys and Girls Club can become such amazing places for inner-city students to go, because it’s a safe place outside of school. No students want to hear they will be in school longer, but he explained the need and how important it really is by describing the summer slide.

What is the summer slide? Well, it’s when students are not involved in any sort of educational activity during the summer months. Kids in the inner-city actually fall back three months during the summer. So if two students leaving 2nd grade are on the same level. But one of them is in the inner city and the other is not, it is likely that the student in the city will fall three months behind whereas the other student in the suburban area will likely gain a month. Even for me, I’m terrible at math, I can see how after a few years you now have two students who are no longer on the same level.

There were teachers in the room who seemed to really get it and accept what he was saying, but there were others who did not. This didn’t surprise me. Why? Because one of the things M. Night Shyamalan said was that throwing more money at teachers is not the answer. He said teachers are the most selfless workers out in the world. I wish he were correct and in many, many, many ways he is, but I have met teachers who would not be better educators with more money and they aren’t good now. Maybe it’s the school they are in, maybe it’s the stress they are under, but I feel like if you choose to be a teacher and you realize that you are harming the children in your class because you are putting everything else above their success, well then it’s time to leave and let a new teacher take over. Don’t get into teaching if you’re looking to become a millionaire. Get into teaching if you’re looking to make a difference in the life of children. Period. Please do not misunderstand this to think that I mean teachers don’t deserve to get paid more. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I DO think teachers should be paid more for all they do and the importance of their job. However, I also believe that paying teachers more is not he fix for closing the achievement gap.

So when M. Night Shyamalan boldly told teachers in the room that increases in salary were not one of the five keys in closing the achievement gap I think some of them rolled their eyes and tuned him out from that point forward. Skeptical of everything he said because he’s a very well paid screenwriter and what would he know. Well, turns out, he knows a lot, he knows a lot about inner-city schools and it’s because he listened and he researched and he spent years studying this topic for the sheer fact that he WANTS to see all schools, all students, succeed.

So what are the 5 magic keys for closing the gap with the 17%?

  • Longer Hours (in the school day or the school year);
  • Small Schools (500 students or less allowing for a more consistent culture);
  • Using evidence-tested teaching methods via Data-Driven Instruction (this did not mean 80 assessments across districts and states although he didn’t articulate that very well in his talk);
  • Leaders who spend their time on instruction instead of administration (a school should have a leader who evaluates and teaches the teachers and they should also have a manager who does administration or operational work);
  • Identifying and retaining the Best Teachers, including a fresh approach to the tenure system. (Some teachers are NOT helping students, some teachers should simply not be teaching in the 17% of schools, he said they might do very well in another school, but not in those schools).

In short, haha, I know this hasn’t been short by any means. I see parallels in what Sonia Monzano and M. Night Shyamalan said about education in the US. I see that race and culture are huge issues, bigger than what most people are comfortable talking about these days. I see the need for somehow having a way to oust the teachers who are letting down our kids. Sorry for any teachers reading this, maybe I’m not even talking about you specifically, but I have seen great teachers and terrible teachers. I know who I want to teach my kids.

I’m sure I could continue writing for hours about other things I took away from these talks, but perhaps that can wait for another day. If you read this far, pat yourself on the back, and please know I thank you.

Happy Saturday!

Policies. Myths. Facts. Baltimore.

We talk about myths and facts in class a lot and how societal perceptions are very often based on myth. A lot of people think white privilege is a myth. It is not. I learned a great deal from one of my favorite professors, Dr. Norma Gaines-Hanks. Amazing woman. I had a three-hour class with her (HDFS 235: Survey in Child & Family Services)  and never once felt bored or anxious to leave. I went into the class incredibly naive. I’m sure there are many things which I am still naive about or ignorant to, but I feel thanks to her class I can actually see why there are people in Baltimore, who feel like rioting is the only thing they can do to be heard.

Now, it might seem pretty ludicrous to embed a Fresh Prince episode into this post but it’s fitting. Carlton feels the police were just doing their jobs when they were pulled over. Will explains to him later in the episode that they were stopped because they were two black men driving in an expensive car in a nice neighborhood. The police officer did not believe them that they were given permission to drive the car. He arrested them both. In the clip below you will see the scene between Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv and the police officers in the station.


  • Black drivers (12.3%) were about three times as likely as white drivers (3.9%) and about two times as likely as Hispanic drivers (5.8%) to be searched during a traffic stop in 2008. (Bureau of Justice Statistics)

I had a long talk with a friend last night because I was hearing about the riots in Baltimore surrounding the tragedy of Freddie Gray’s death and I was upset to say the least. Just as I was upset with the rioting in Ferguson and in New York.

This is the fact…

imagesMy white son is less likely to be pulled over in a predominately black neighborhood than someone’s black son would be pulled over in a predominantly white neighborhood. Why?

My white son is less likely to have to get out of their car to be searched at a traffic stop than someone’s black son. Why?

I am not a police officer. I do not want to be a police officer. I have respect for authority and I know that I could not emotionally handle the responsibility they face every day. Not all police officers are bad people. I don’t believe police officers wake up in the morning thinking they hope they get to shoot their gun.

But I do believe there is a huge racial injustice happening in our country and it has been happening for far too long and I wish I knew how to fix it. But I don’t. It shouldn’t be a problem.

All lives matter. Every single one of us is someone’s son or daughter. Every life means something to someone.

Would the media go on and on about a peaceful protest in Baltimore? No. Probably not. There were groups of people holding signs and protesting peacefully yesterday but did anyone see pictures or videos of them online or tv yesterday?

Why does it take more violence to get attention? And what will this type of attention solve? Why is this a debate which is spanning over a century!?

Quotation-Patrick-Lindsay-justice-support-Meetville-Quotes-281I am a 34-year old white female. There have been times in which I was discriminated against because I am white, there are times I was discriminated against because I’m female. I can count those times on my two hands. I have a black friend who has been pulled over 7 times in one year. 7 times! Failure to yield when there was no traffic coming is one of the reasons he was given. Pulled over for a brake light being out and then asked to step out of the car because he told the officer he knew the brake light was out and he hasn’t been able to fix it yet.

martin-luther-king-jr-quote-unarmed-truthI heard on the radio this morning a black woman saying she has taught her sons how to talk and how to dress so that they are less likely to be in a tricky situation. While I am grateful she is helping her sons to learn skills to help them grow into respectful young men I do not agree that their clothes or the way they talk should be what decides if they get arrested or not.

Equate it this way. When someone tells a rape victim that they are partly responsible for their rape because they had on a tight outfit… is that an appropriate statement? Hell no. Do you see what I mean here?

USA_2009._Percent_of_adult_males_incarcerated_by_race_and_ethnicityThis is happening all across the country. It isn’t just Ferguson, Baltimore or New York. We hear about those instances because someone has to die and then riot.

The disparity is real. This is not a myth.

Consider Dearborn, Missouri.

More than half of the people Dearborn police arrested in 2011 and 2012 were black, according to reports they submitted to the FBI. By comparison, about 4% of the city’s residents are black, as are about a quarter of the people who live in Metropolitan Detroit. Over those two years, the department reported arresting 4,500 black people – 500 more than lived in the city. As a result, the arrest rate for blacks, compared with the city’s population, was 26 times higher than for people of other races.

One thing we can do is to make sure that all agencies report complete demographic data so we can get a more complete picture of the disparity. Not all agencies report race. If this is a nationwide issue then this should be a nationwide policy.

12-300x195But how do we show why someone is accused or pulled over? If there are 25 white men pulled over in a week and 20 black men pulled over. What are the chances that the 20 black men were pulled over due to a stereotype versus the white men and how do we collect that type of data? Is it possible to get that data objectively? Probably not. But without that type of data the percent distribution of total arrests may not show a clear picture. Data sets are incomplete without this information.

This post is getting long and rambly.  But this is an issue which is really eating at me.

Rioting is wrong. There is no way throwing a chair through a window, burning down a senior center and a CVS and blowing up cars will ever be the right thing to do. Rioting is only going to cause more problems. Rioting is going to force authority figures to point at the rioters which are not the root of the problem. We need to work together in a more peaceful way to get to the bottom of this issue and find justice.

The gift of giving food to the hungry

braeden-presenting-3bHunger is a world issue.

There are many people and foundations who help feed those in need.

My son, Brae, age 10, has developed his own project to feed the hungry and it is called 3B: Brae’s Brown Bag Foundation.

Here is a bit of what 3B is all about:

3B stands for Brae’s Brown Bags. I came up with this idea after winning the 2013 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and sitting with the First Lady Michelle Obama at the Kids’ State Dinner. She asked me how I could pay the experience forward. I’ve been trying to do that ever since!

I am learning a lot about food scarcity and issues related to being homeless or poor. These are things I didn’t know much about only a few months ago. I think 3B is something which could be implemented at schools or recreation centers for under reached children who have high percentages of obesity. I learned that many people who have a hard time finding food to feed their family have an even harder time finding healthy food options that they can afford.

3B bags have three healthy snacks and a water bottle with a note from me. My Mom and I wrote a grant and received $500 from for my project. people asked me what kind of super hero power I would want if I could have one. At first I said I would like to have speed or read minds, but I think that kids can be their own super hero. I think if people see what kids can do and they let kids rise to the occasion than we can help the world and that is the best super power ever.

It’s important to me that people understand 3B bags are unique. They are healthy and encouraging to people. It’s more than just a hand out, it’s a message of hope.

We have two stops to make next week to hand out bags to those in need. One is on the Monday before Christmas and one is on the Saturday after Christmas. But people are in need of food at all times during the year.

If you ever have the desire to help out you can create your own “Brae’s Brown Bag” and have it in your car in case you come across someone in need. Or you can check out Brae’s donation page and see how to help with in-kind donations or monetary donations. Every little bit helps.