Mommies in Black and White

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Category: School/Community (Page 2 of 7)

Listen with Purpose. Respond with Passion.

I wish I had more time and energy to listen. To listen to my kids, my husband, my friends, my family, my community, people in need. Recently, I attended events where I listened to families praying for medical miracles for their sick children, to teenagers explaining what it means to be homeless. Most powerful, however, was the unexpected opportunity to listen to a sweet, precocious little girl tell me, a stranger, about her family – their struggles with poverty and her sadness over their separation from her sister.

Listening is hardit means accepting responsibility for what you learn and, if you do it well, it means truly working. Working to understand someone else’s point of view. Working to push down your need to jump in, to clarify, to offer solutions or share your point of view. Working to understand someone else’s pain, fear, hope, desires. It can be emotionally draining.

If I’m honest, I’m not always a good listener. Suppressing the desire to interrupt, speak my piece, correct and connect with a “me too” is a personal struggle. Sometimes, just staying focused is a struggle. We all get tired, drained, preoccupied with a million other things that keep us from being present.

Jebeh and I set out with a goal to listen – to our kids, to each other, to our friends, family and community – to accept some responsibility. And in turn, respond with passion. Passion and perspective so we can all grow together. We continue to pursue that goal.

It’s been two weeks since we’ve posted on this site. That’s on me. I’ve been helping a friend get an important project off the ground. Similar to the mommiesinblackandwhite.com project, she was inspired by LISTENING to her students. By allowing them space and time to grapple with tough topics and personal struggles, she learned. She accepted responsibility. She responded with passion.

Here’s the result: http://www.genderedpodcast.com/

Please – if you believe in listening and responding with passion, keep supporting these efforts. Listen. Read. Share. Comment. Together, we can make real change where it matters most, one transformed perspective at a time.

Confessions of an African Hockey Mom

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Hockey is not the sport I grew up watching. Basketball was the sport of choice in our house and my first love was dance. My father thought hockey meant skipping school. He used to say, “I better not catch you girls playing “hockey.”” We all knew he meant “hooky,” but it was too fun to not correct him. The first time I actually saw a live hockey game was when our team danced on the ice between periods. Little did I know, I’d marry a man who is a huge hockey fan. My husband played the sport since he was five, and his father before him, and I’m sure his grandfather did too. I joke with my Liberian family and say it’s genetic.

When our oldest turned four it was time to teach him how to skate. My husband gave me a shopping list a mile long and sent me off to the sporting goods store. I was about to be initiated into hockey mom status. The shopping spree and final bill left me in shock.

Next step, training. For me. It takes a professional hockey parent to know how the pieces of equipment fit together and in what order they need to be added to the puzzle. Imagine learning on a squirming four year old boy.

Sticker shock and puzzle pieces gave way to joy. Joy at seeing the game through my son’s eyes. Joy at the love of the game expressed through his smile, excitement and connection with his teammates. Love for the game grows in me a little bit more each time I wrestle with the gear. Okay, maybe not then, but after, when he’s up and running onto the ice.

To be fair, I’ve had to learn some lessons the hard way. So, I’m sharing for all those newcomers for which “hockey” is a foreign word, or maybe implies skipping school…

  • Breezers are not only really good cocktails but they’re also protective hockey shorts
  • Hand warmers, an electric vest, a Parka, a blinged out knit headband, and great Sorrel boots are essential for your health
  • Don’t be a fool, leave your leopard print jeans at home and rock some snow pants
  • Grab the mini cowbell that has your child’s name and number and ring that bell like it’s going outta style
  • Icing is a penalty – I’m still not sure what kind, but I’d rather have it on a cake
  • The Hockey Shack will be the closest thing to a day spa that you experience for a long time
  • Grab a blanket – indoor rinks are just as cold as outdoor
  • You can fit two hockey bags in your trunk – it’s like a jigsaw puzzle
  • You’ll have skate sharpening and coffee runs down to a science
  • Rink Ratting is another term for informal scrimmage
  • Breathe, if he’s the first Liberian-Scandinavian to play professional hockey, he’ll mention you

Whether my children play this sport for a short period of time or make it a lifelong career, I wouldn’t have my initiation or our family’s experience any other way. I’ll just keep dancing and cheering by the boards, rocking my snow pants and mad cowbell skills!

How to Talk to Your Kids About Race

If you’re reading this then you are already engaged. You care and are curious. You likely “want to do this right.” But, most of us don’t have a clue where or how to start talking to our kids about race and racism.

Do we start the conversation? Wait for them to make a comment or ask a question? Lean into that teaching moment at the grocery store? How do we know if we’re doing it right or inadvertently reinforcing negative stereotypes and unhealthy assumptions?

Yes, we can do it wrong. But we shouldn’t be fearful of trying. Engaging is a step toward breaking down the taboo of speaking about race and racism in our communities and recognizing its numerous manifestations. Engaging is a powerful statement that you won’t ignore it or let is reside in a place that “doesn’t effect you.” Engaging means you are willing to listen, learn, and grow along with your kids.

A few weeks ago I started digging through my teaching resources and searching for additional tools to share in this post. Ironically, that same day the link below popped up in my inbox. So, instead of recreating a list, I’m sharing Musing Mamma’s post. She has great insights and links to some key resources to get those race and racism conversations flowing with your kiddos in a healthy and productive way.

Engage away!

Talking To Kids About Race: Resources for Parents

 

Lessons from Mr. Rogers and “The Butler”

http://www.mprnews.org/story/npr/469846519

I came across this story last month and filed it away. I wanted to share and comment but didn’t initially have the right words. Last night I (finally) watched the movie The Butler. And there they were – the words I wanted to write.

Two powerful lessons revealed themselves both in the story about Mr. Rogers and Mr. Clemmons and in The Butler. Lessons that I hope we will all consider, share, and let influence our perspective and actions.

  • Mistrust is built through life experiences and continued systemic racism.

Think about the effort it takes to trust again when your heart is broken, when you feel betrayed, hurt, or mislead by someone. Now, consider this on the grand scale that African Americans (or other minority groups) have experienced. Mistrust must be healed with patience, understanding and real work that earns trust.

  • Servitude is a powerful weapon.

I saw this in The Butler and I recognized it in the article referenced above. Servitude is a powerful weapon. It not only spreads compassion, hope and love; it battles ignorance, hate, and mistrust.

We must all find our own ways to support healing and rebuild trust in our communities, schools, and homes. I encourage you not to shy away from these efforts. It might not always be easy or feel good, but hard work usually isn’t and usually doesn’t. Undoing hundreds of years of mistrust is hard work.

Even better, if your efforts include servitude you will be wielding a powerful weapon in the battle for healthy, happy, just, and inclusive communities.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Butler

 

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