Thursday, December 27, 2007
Kujichagulia: To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
(no images, just audio ~ black star "K.O.S." ~enjoy)
day 2 of Kwanzaa is dedicated to self-determination, or defining one's self in spite of what others may say or think of you. self-determination and defining one's self is, arguably, the purpose of life. once we are able to create our own authentic identities for ourselves and by ourselves, i argue that we, as individuals and a people, will have achieved true freedom. it's like being able to be your own boss, and basking in how freeing that can be. but with that freedom comes immense responsibility. let's not take it, or ourselves, for granted.
"The fire's in my eyes and the flames need fanning
With that what? Knowledge Of Self, Determination"
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 5:39 PM 3 comments
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Umoja: To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
today marks the first day of Kwanzaa, the seven days after Christmas that aims reinforce the seven collective principles of African culture. today's focus is Umoja, or Unity.
i have always LOVED this song. for a time, it operated as my theme song, my anthem. i played it daily, sometimes several time a day basking in the strength and beauty of the horns and Latifah's words. even today, i am still moved whenever i hear it, and my swagger becomes that much more fierce.
at first listen, the song may seem not to speak much to "Unity" as it does to female empowerment, but when you think about it, a community cannot rise and achieve FULL unity until all of its members are valued and respected. as audre lorde so aptly stated, "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."
in this Kwanzaa season and beyond, let us focus on trying to celebrate and accept that which makes us beautifully unique.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 5:16 PM 3 comments
Monday, December 24, 2007
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:47 AM 3 comments
Friday, December 21, 2007
i have struggled to define myself for so long.
for years i allowed others' definitions of me become who i was, as least temporarily. as a mother & wife, i'm having a hard time really figuring out who i am. like...who would i really be without all of these titles (mommy/wife/teacher/sister/daughter/visitor of inmate #06XXXXX)?
when i'm still, when there is no one around who needs anything, then who am i really?
& who are you?
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:30 AM 5 comments
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
On a recent trip to the park, I was reminded of the staggering gaps in race and class when it comes to mothering. The park was full of moms—mostly white—with coolers chock full of snacks, toys, screaming, barefoot kids, and Benz SUVs. This world felt foreign to me and about as inviting as a new, awkward kid’s first day of school.
Of the many moms out that day, I was the only Black mother, or parent, for that matter. As I listened to a group of moms discuss plans for their next playgroup and Mom’s Night Out activity, I wondered, where are all the black moms and playgroups for people that look like me?
I hit the net searching for information. First I did searches for African-American moms, mothering, and working moms and playgroups. After punching in a myriad of search terms dealing with mothering, I came up empty handed. Most resources for African-American moms either dealt with stay at home moms, or poverty and African-American moms, none of which answered the questions I had in my head.
Despite the lack of internet resources, I know I’m not alone. My situation is hardly unique. I’m an educated, working mother, who is solo parenting a rambunctious two-year-old son. There are millions of women like me, yet no one seems give a damn. An article on the National Organization of Women website discussed the media’s virtual ousting of mothers of color. It states,
If you read major newspapers and news magazines or watch network news broadcasts, you may have the impression that all mothers are white, married, college-educated and have (or have abandoned) careers in high-profile professions such as law, medicine, broadcast news or finance.
And although they are poorly represented in media reporting on working mothers, African-American mothers have a higher rate of working outside the home than any other demographic. Married African-American mothers with children under 18 have higher rates of workforce participation than other married mothers (82 percent compared to 71 percent of white moms, 66 percent of Asian moms and 62 percent of Latina moms, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
So where are the real representations of moms that live outside of what society deems as the norm? Are we left to fend for ourselves, and continue to feel like outsiders on playgrounds across America? Something has got to change.
We need a place, a resource where both working and stay at home moms (married or single) can come together and share, commune, and find answers together. I have to yet to find that place, so maybe I should stop looking, and create one.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 12:17 PM 10 comments
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
1. not having to wake up at 5:45am: i am SO not a morning person, but have been forced to become one in order to earn a living. when i was in NYC i had to be at work at 7am, and would have to be up, out, and on the train before the sun even got up. it sucked getting up so early, but watching the sun break over the river almost made it worth it.
2. being able to watch the today show in its entirety: normally when i hear the Today Show theme music, i know i'm running late. everyday i need to be out of the house before 7am in order to drop the little man off at the sitter & get to work in time to make copies, write the agenda on the whiteboard, and listen to a little music before my students start pounding on my door. being on break allows me time to catch up on all the fashion mistakes, complicated recipes, and the weather reports in my neck of the woods.
3. spending time with my son: you are probably wondering why this is number 3 on the list. i could have easily made it #1, however, at some point, i want my son to take a nap because i can only watch so many episodes of Thomas & Friends, or read Hop on Pop, or play with the trains. i absolutely LOVE my son, but now i realize that i don't have to have him tied to my hip to be considered a good mom.
4. not having to change out of my PJs: i confess, i'm lazy...sometimes. i don't like to get dressed up to go into the world everyday. i like the softness and ease of my cotton basketball shorts, or ultra-soft capris. i'd rather be barefoot, in shorts, and a tank-top & lounging around my house than stuffed into a pair of slacks and uncomfortable shoes.
5. unlimited options: this is probably THE BEST thing about being a part-time stay at home mom. if i want to stay home all day & let the munchkin run around the house like a madman, cool. if i want to get us dressed and go to a museum, cool. if i want to walk to Borders and browse for books & let him run around in the kid's section, cool. every decision, every idea, every day trip is possible because i don't have to answer to anyone but myself (and bank of america). whatever we want to do, we can do because i'm the boss. the freedom of being able to plan, or not plan, your day according to YOUR needs is priceless.
when i'm working and my students are driving me crazy and it's march or april or november, i always try to keep my eye on the prize: break! although i can't afford to stay home full time, being able to have a few weeks or months off allows me to experience life on the other side of the mommy coin.
each time i'm off i cherish these days, love the freedom they offer, and long to have them again. hopefully one day my passion will allow me to sustain us financially, and i can officially make the switch from part-time to full-time stay at home mom. until then, i will enjoy my time off while it lasts.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 8:48 AM 5 comments
Monday, December 17, 2007
(some of the books i have yet to read, but have owned for quite some time. i will try to get through these over break.)
it's finally here: a break, an extended siesta from the day to day work and struggles of teaching. i've been looking forward to this time since september (lol), and it's FINALLY here!
for the first time since i've ever had a break from anything, i don't have a ticket in hand to go visit beloved. i'm broke & the weather sucks. hopefully we will conjure up a visit before i have to return back to work (crossing fingers). but the lack of travel plans feels very weird and foreign to me. i halfway don't know what to do with myself right now.
(veggie lasagna with spiniach, mushrooms, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, onions, and lots of cheese!)
yesterday, as i do lots of Sundays, i cooked. the stay at home mom in me likes to go on allrecipies.com to see what tasty things people are cooking up. yesterday i made a veggie lasagna & tricked my uber-picky two year old into eating more veggies than he's had in a long while. in an attempt to return to the healthy eating that i exhibited this past summer, i wanted to make something meatless, and although it had lots of cheese (yum!) it was all made of skim milk, and i used whole wheat pasta. it came out quite tasty. the little one ate ALL his and kept trying to dip his fork in my plate. mission accomplished.
one thing i will do with myself over the break is read & write. all the hype surrounding my one page a day goal evaporated. my child got sick, i got sick, and my ideas stopped flowing. i will pick up my story again and hopefully make up for the week i lost. i also picked up the new issue of Poets & Writers, and FINALLY was able to get my hands on Bodega Dreams. i'm excited to read it. will give you my review, not that it matters, when i'm done.
so, what are your plans for your winter break--no matter how long or short?
& what are you reading right now?
give a sista some recommendations.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 8:04 AM 4 comments
Sunday, December 09, 2007
right now beloved & i need your prayers, well-wishes, positive thoughts, whispers to the ears of God, lit candles, and any anything else you can muster.
we are not in a good place right now.
i'm not going to hash out all of our intimate details, because some things are private, but we have been arguing more than talking, and we haven't done either in almost a week. this life is extremely difficult. having to have arguments, as all couples do, via the phone, is completely exhausting and frustrating. having to trust and love across thousands of miles is a test that many fail. the separation, and financial burden, and just the lack of our freedom is taking its toll, BUT i know we are SO much stronger than this & one day will look back on these days and know that because we made it through this, we can make it through anything.
Posted by the prisoner's wife On 11:45 AM 7 comments