Why my Major changed from History to Human Development… (Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month)

Broken bones, abrasions, cuts, scrapes, concussions, sexual violations, emotional wounds. This and so much more, only this isn’t a description of crimes against people in third world, developing countries. These occurrences happen here, and often, they are plaguing children here in the U.S. in high numbers. Our states, cities, neighborhoods, homes. Right after high school, I knew I wanted to teach History! Who we are is what we came from, knowing the stories, the truth the events that bring us to the present day. My mother was a teacher, her stories about teaching were never about the curriculum or structure, but the involvement  and the nurturing position she played in these children’s lives. Oddly enough having a mother so aware of the needs of safe spaces for children, I grew up with an abusive stepdad.  So the teacher my mother was, were the exact teachers that helped me through my life. I wanted to be that for another child. A space of refuge for a heart ignored and a small soul broken.

April, in addition to it being a month to support Autism, which is also very important, as children with disabilities receive higher chances of being abused, it’s also a month we bring Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness to the surface, which is where it should always be. If you would just sit and think about the best and worst parts of your childhood, we could remember who was there and the feelings we had in those hopeless moments. If you have ever suffered from abuse WHY is always your first question, as a child and still later as an adult. What if as a society we could ask not only WHY but HOW?  If you question it then you can get to the root of it.

My switch from History to Human Development was not a drastic change, because History is the basis for the WHY and HOW of my Human Development focus. What happened in these situations where children were abused, what happened to their abusers, neurological or environmental contributing factors or both. How can we work on prevention not just the aftershocks  of this earthquake. How can we stop putting band aids on these issues. I did want to teach, to help children escape and feel love and safety at least at school if they didn’t at home. I now want to teach families on how to help our children before they arrive. We were all once children this issue isn’t for just parents and educators but everyone. We all have to do our best in building our villages.

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Responsibilities of being a hero…

Sweet brown baby faces, small brown hands and feet, the delicate touch of a tiny brown baby. I had the opportunity to visit a daycare site for class. I frequent this location, mostly because it’s close to home and I adore their views on children, nature based child led education and their structure or lack thereof. Which for small children that is the perfect atmosphere for independent learning, and that’s the goal right? Our children developing based on their desire to absorb information. I have tried to get my children into this program. Knowing full and well, even through work and their partnerships within the community, that I could never really afford this place at $2,500 a month, that’s more than our home could scrape up even if we survived off of a top ramen diet.

There was a boy that I hadn’t seen there before in the2-3 year old room. A little black boy, just to give you an idea, we were both one if the very few black people there. Him more than me, the infant room was full of non-black babies but a black teacher (let that sink in, make historic connections to the image “mammy” “The Help”) she probably loved her job and she was probably treated well, but sometimes it stings to see. He saw me sitting in the corner as quietly as I could, he came up to me and said “Hello… what’s your name…what are you doing” the general 21 questions children ask. He sat down next to me, generally during these observations you don’t want to interact with the children, allowing them to naturally go about their day. He started to touch my arm, my exposed skin, didn’t bother me, then he stood up and touched my face. With one hand then with both hands. He said nothing but I felt everything. Later after my observation I asked a teacher about him. The teacher said he was new to the school, his parents moved from Maine, they adopted him from Detroit. I asked are they black, it’s less obviously offensive to ask if they’re black not white.

I ran into a white woman, who adopted a black child. She said she didn’t know any black people. So that probably meant she knew little about black people, our interactions and community, even if she took an African American History course she would be completely ignorant about our daily culture.  In the malls or parks I observe white women with black girls and most times the condition of that child’s hair is heartbreaking. I ran into a white grandmother at the park, with her black adopted grandaughter, she asked me about her hair problem and said her daughter was having trouble styling it. I have tons of encounters and observations. So there seems to be a disconnect when white people adopt their black children. I had a white friend who had biracial black children and voluntarily ignored their identity making such statements, ” They are my kids they aren’t black.” But they are black and ignoring doesn’t make it less true.

I read an article by a black child who was adopted by white people. Who plunged her into their predominantly white  schools, neighborhood, church and community. She shared a story of having to cut her hair because it was so matted. How she felt like such an outsider and alien. She looked different, she knew it and so did everyone else but her parents forgot to encourage her cultural identity. Great, they thought they were doing something noble d amazing by adopting a little black child from the hood, truth is they most likely provided her sufficient safety and protection from her possible horrendous situation which yes Thank You!!! But just realize there are responsibilities to being a hero…

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Lasagna Part 3: Using a new recipe for becoming a new woman…

I was gone for 2 weeks, my largest fear was losing my children, not phyiscal loss but will they remember me and love me just the same as before my departure? I had only seen them once, between my space, support and burn center rules. My tears were always for them, not me, because who was “I” anyway? I was here for them, who was I, my independent existence had evaported into the abyss. Before them was there even really a ME? Of course there was but who was SHE? Who was I and who am I now? Before my children arrived and after they grow up what is the relationship with myself like? I had given everything to them and other energy consumers, my children gave me life though, so I believed and still believe they deserve my sacrifice. Sitting there with bandages and this new physical appearance, looking at my breast crying, laughing and silent. Sitting in my own space, looking at my eyes trying to find my soul, realizng SHE is still in there give HER life!!!! Being a mom was the beautiful choice I made, being me was supposed to be effortless, and not suppressed. I love my kids with my whole heart… scraping away the dead flesh off my wounds in the shower, as an adult woman. I am finally finding the security to let my love for me increase. Really, how had I truly loved them so much and forgot to love myself.

 

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My black is…

My black is… me figuring out what my black actually is. Me, trying to piece together the history of my existence beyond the event of slavery. I watched, years ago, James Baldwin speaking on the “racial problem.” “Baldwin’s nigger, that’s how I got my name,” James Baldwin. “My history is a bill of sale,” Watching this gave me an understanding of my lack of culture my hollow definition of what or who I am supposed to be. What was I to the lens of many was a product of rape and pain, then I had to realize their lens was just the same as my own. To look at someone and not know who they are is a very different experience than when you look in the mirror and feel the same disconnect with yourself. What is slightly different than James Baldwin in 1969 London v.s. 2018  in the U.S. is the ability to purchase a kit from 23 and me that will allow us to “find out” who we are of course not “discover” because to discover is finding a brilliant situation or moment and smile and rejoice “ah hah!” This moment of uncovering our biological makeup for black Americans is more a painful realization of a loss of oneself. I, myself have wanted to purchase these kits for a long time, but the fear and anguish of that discovery keeps me shielded from the information I didn’t have from my grandmother, great grandmother, great-great grandmother, but by a testing kit is almost more emotion than I am ready to experience. No stories, no tales, no traditions, just a percentage breakdown on paper that tells me who I am. No language that connects me to a possible culture…French, Spanish, Chinese, Armenian, every time I see people on the street who have no idea who the other person is but start speaking a language passed down culturally through their families, they have a connection that me as a black American cannot relate to, well beyond the “Heeeyyyyy girl,” and eye conversations. Watching Black Panther really revealed to me how dangerously close I was to understanding and relating to Killmonger, although I don’t want to destroy anyone but the ones who actually oppressed my people. I honestly feel if I ever visited Africa, where my DNA test says my family originates from, I would fall to my knees in absolute breathtaking pain. HOME?!!?!?!

The conversation between James Baldwin and the West Indians should give insight to the transparent cultural soul to the Black American:

“They started a conversation with me, they wanted to know where I was from, I said Harlem. That answer did not satisfy him. He asked, no, but where were you born? And I didn’t understand what he meant. I was born in Harlem, I was born in Harlem Hospital. I said. I was born in New York, none of those answers satisfied him. Then he said, where was your mother born? And I said she was born in Maryland. And I could see he didn’t understand it, he was growing more and more disgusted with me. He started to get more and more impatient. Where was your father born? My father was born in New Orleans. Yes, he said but man where were you born? My mother was born in Maryland, my father was born in New Orleans, but yes, before that where were you born….”

Where were you born… a question most black Americans cannot answer… including me.

 

In the Light of recent events…

Pulse nightclub, Mandalay Bay Las Vegas, Virginia Tech, Sutherland Springs, Texas church, Sandy Hook, Florida High School, University of Texas Tower shooting (1966)… Why give the date of the last one, well it then depends on your definition of “recent” everything is relative right? Maybe 1966 for some, is recent, but is it recent for all? Of course, that’s not even the first mass shooting ever recorded, but what does that sound like when you sit and think about dates and “recent events?” It is not about things being recent that they now require attention, but society needs “recent” moments to zero-in on their always present but quiet issues.

Gun control and only gun control, are we sure that is all we need to be pushing for? Are we absolutely positive that controlling the weapon helps the situation? Why do we believe with so many issues in this country a Band-Aid on a bleeding wound is the only treatment? Social programs and the policies that encourage or implement them. Building strong children and families, the broken homes, abusive homes, uncontrollable anguish some people face, poverty consumed, mental illness issues all things that people may not always associate with gun violence. But really these arguments should be considered. Emotionally whole people, mentally stable people generally are not the ones who are finding weapons to hurt and kill anyone. Everyone has pain one way or another in life but coping techniques, safe encouraging spaces, love, acceptance, understanding, mental healing institutions, counseling services. We need to be looking at this gun violence issue as a societal issue what changes do we need to make as a society to try and combat these horrendous moments. It is true, you can kill less people with a butter knife than an assault rifle, we should definitely look at removing excessive and dangerous weapons from the grasp of most people, but can we say providing resources, help, insight on positive growth and development, mental wellness, wont help? I think we need reform in various areas, we don’t need to start a movement “In light of recent events,” it needs to be now, and just because it has always been time.

 

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To forget to “be”…..

 

I feel as a mother, and a lot of time observing mothers it’s a constant struggle with our responsibility to “do” motherhood and our natural desire to “be” a mother. To “do” motherhood is to wash clothes, put the band aid on, brush teeth, take to school, do the homework, make the meals… then the less energy consuming to “be” the mother, kiss the scrapes, tell the jokes, hear the laughs, run and jump, wipe the tears and hug the hearts.

I find myself doing motherhood way too often and at the end of the day going over the moments I forgot to “be” a mother. I feel as if I know what to do as far as the idea of the “be” oddly enough it feels as if I am hesitant to act on it.

I want love from my children, more than I have ever wanted it from anyone anywhere. Possibly the vulnerability of pouring my heart and soul into them is terrifying but what happens if they don’t love me back. I mean, they love me, I guess, but do they know my love for them extends beyond the snacks and toys? I love them hard, I love them aggressively, I love them intensely it consumes my being. If I showed them the immeasurable amount of love I have for them I’m sure they would think I’m insane. They are mine, I feel, but I know better, my heart is theirs they carry it with them whether they want it or not. I’m always theirs.

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Internal Doppelganger

Hesitantly looking into the mirror, it reveals your empty soul with each painful glance. The reflection never seems to look like what you wish it did. You don’t even know what you would wish to see even if you could change it anyway. You close your eyes to hide from yourself, hoping somehow you will disappear into something better than what you see with open eyes. You open them one by one still the same, same what exactly? What is this, who is this, those eyes, this mouth, nose, ears, face it feels so foreign to what’s real if you can even figure out what’s real. This is all temporary, I  must’ve been someone else in my past life, but who? Because whoever they were I feel like them now… all of what I see isn’t me, this shell I will use until my next trip. I think my previous and present lives are between transferring stations. I am that person and this person simultaneously. Which would be great if their identities were not so different from each other. When I leave this body my hope is that my next being doesn’t battle with the other ones. Let my next journey be one of peace and calm isolated thoughts. Let the mirror and my soul be one with my heart, mind and body.

 

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