In a world where ignorance is at an all time high, it is time to bring things back in to perspective.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Struggle With Stuff

It took me a long time to realize just how materialistic I was. I had to have these designer jeans.  I had to have that designer purse. And I was gone die if I did not have the latest Air Jordans. My mother liked nice things and she taught me to like nice things. There is nothing wrong with liking nice things. When you value stuff more than people that's a problem.  When you think you need stuff for people, that's a problem.  When your obsessed with stuff, that's a problem. There is a lot of "stuff". getting in our way these days.

Now I have my own daughter and I like making sure she has nice things. But I don't want her to put too much value on that stuff. I want her to see the value of herself, the value of her family, the value of her friends and the value of thinking about more than herself. That's what is really important.  This is something I struggle with constantly. How do you keep balance and teach balance?

Just last week I saw a coupon for additional 25% off Kate Spade.  If you know me you know I love handbags.  I didn't buy myself one for my birthday.  I found the cutest pink bag, put it in my online cart and was about to checkout and I stopped. I didn't close out the page I just went to another page for awhile.  Well I ended upon the phone with my brother talking about holiday plans. They were having a 1st birthday party for my niece and nephew.  I looked at the calendar and seen if I planned carefully I could go.

So instead of my beautiful new pink Kate Spade bag I will have my first mommy daughter trip with Anaya. We will have the chance to spend a dew days with my brother and his family. Plus, I will get to see one of my oldest friends from college. That is way better than that pink bag.  As I booked my flight I realized this was the reason I didn't buy the bag. I didn't need the stuff I needed the people.

As I see stats on FB about people going out to buy all these things and going out on Thanksgiving to shop it breaks my heart.  We are so engulfed in this consumerist and individualistic life that we have forgotten about what's important. In order to get a "deal" for ourselves we will abruptly end time with our families to go stand in line. Then we will totally disregard the fact that we are also keeping the people who work in these stores from their families. It's not right. We are putting "stuff" ahead of our families and the families of others. I will not participate in any of these Thanksgiving "sales" but this doesn't end my struggle.

I will have to continue how to consciously make sure I don't put emphasis on stuff. My daughter imitates everything I do. I do not want her to imitating me putting stuff first. While I am happy about making a good decision this week. I know tomorrow will present another opportunity.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Open Letter to Disney and Mattel

I can recall as a child my mother was very deliberate in making sure I had black dolls to play with.  There are many stories in my family where we joke about my mother ready to fight another woman in the store for the last black Cabbage Patch doll in the store.  I even recall when I moved on to Barbie dolls my mother searched high and low to make sure she found me a black Barbie doll.  She was extremely upset that she could not find a black Ken doll and that was the only white doll she ever purchased for me.  My mother understood the importance of a child seeing images that resemble them.  She also knew that kids learn a lot from the dolls they play with.  

When Princess and The Frog debuted in 2009 I was extremely excited.  I was pregnant with my daughter at the time and I can remember thinking my daughter will have an opportunity I never had in my childhood.  She would have chance to see a princess who looks like her.  You see we had a few black dolls, but never a black princess.  I also thought that it would now be much easier for me to find black dolls than it was for my mother, unfortunately I was wrong.

When the movie debuted there were quite a few items you could find with Princess Tiana on them.  The next year when the next Disney movie came out Princess Tiana items began to quickly disappear.  Then she became one of the Disney Princesses on various items.  However, even that was misleading many times.  Either Princess Tiana was not on the item at all or sometimes on the packaging but not on the actual item.  I could not understand why you could not find Princess Tiana items?  Why did she have to be grouped with the other Princesses?  Princess and the Frog had only been out for about a year whereas Snow White debuted in 1937 and Cinderella in 1950.  Why could she not have more time alone?  It was extremely upsetting for me and it just did not seem right.  I then found myself on these same search missions for Princess Tiana items similar to my mother’s.

In my anguish I initially did what my mother taught me - write.  I wrote a letter to Disney and submitted it on their website.  I never received a response.  Then I decided to write Target.  I spend so much money there that I feel they should know the concerns of their customers.  I did receive a response from Target stating to try online or other stores.  While I appreciate the response the young lady did not seem to understand that I had already done this.  


On my search for Princess Tiana and other black dolls I go to several stores in various areas and I search online.  However, the results are all the same.  Either there is little to no Princess Tiana items and black dolls or they are very questionable.  For example, on one of my trips to Target as usual I strolled down through the toys aisles.  As I made it to the Barbie aisle I was utterly disgusted.  First, there are very few black Barbie dolls, which is a problem in and of itself.  Then I could not help but notice the So in Style black Barbie next to another white Barbie.  


This enraged me.  With so few black Barbie dolls why must the couple in the store look like a video vixen?  Then right next to what I call suburban Barbie.  What messages are you giving our children who come and see these two Barbie dolls next to each other?  As I shared this story with a friend she told me that Kimora Lee Simmons was actually the designer of this doll.   

I am not against a little girl being a fashionista however; this doll says it is for ages 3 and up.  My daughter just turned 3 and I cannot in good conscious give her this doll.  But more importantly while we have the black So in Style Barbie can we also have the black I Can Be dolls in the store?  In the stores you see white I Can be a doctor, astronaut, president and much more.  Apparently, the only thing black Barbie can be is a fashionista (or video vixen you decide).  You search online and there is an African-American I Can Be a Doctor and Teacher that is supposedly available in stores only.  Problem is that they are not available in any stores I have seen.  All I could do at the time was shake my head and sigh.  

I shook my head because I fully understand how much children learn from toys.  I can recall overhearing a little black girl in the store with her mother.  She was excited as she walked down the Barbie aisle trying to convince her mother to purchase several Barbie accessories.  Then she began to explain to her mother that this is Barbie pointing to the white doll and this is her husband pointing to the white doll.  She did not have the opportunity to point to a black husband and wife because there was not one available.   

Some think that I may go to far in continuously speaking about the lack of black dolls, but I assure you that this is a very real problem.  In  A Girl Like Me teen filmmaker Kiri Davis re-conducts the “doll test” that Dr. Kenneth Clark conducted in 1947.  The results were heartbreaking.  Fifteen out of twenty-one children preferred the white doll.  They referred to the white doll as the nice one or the pretty one.  I am suggesting, that we can no longer allow it to be acceptable for only the white doll to be pretty or nice.  Our children must learn that the black doll is also beautiful and nice.  However, we cannot teach our children this if we do not have the black doll available to us.  

According to 2012 Nielsen Report on African-American Consumers, by 2015 African-American spending is projected to reach $1.1 trillion.  That is trillion with a ‘T’.  Clearly, African-Americans purchase goods and services when items are made available to them.  Let me be clear, like my mother I will not purchase any doll or item that does not have a positive black image.  There are many more like me.  I believe it is important that my child sees positive black images and that she understands that black is beautiful as well.  I do not want my child to submit to the self-hatred in believing that only things that are white are beautiful.  

Our world is changing and the faces of the people are changing.  It is no longer adequate for only white faces to be on everything offered to people of many colors.  I applaud the efforts of those like Sheri Crawley who created Pretty Brown Girl dolls because of these issues.  I immediately supported her and purchased one.  I also believe that it should not only be on the Sheri’s of the world to offer us beautiful dolls in various colors.  Disney, Mattel, and Kimora Lee Simmons should offer us these beautiful dolls as well.  Further, all the other brands who use Barbie and the Disney characters should offer this as well.  When I walk into Stride Rite there should be Princess Tiana shoes next to the Cinderella and Snow White shoes.  When I walk in the party store there should be a Princess Tiana section like the Cinderella and Snow White.  Lastly, when I walk down the Barbie aisle there should be more than two black dolls and some of the bags and accessories should have a black face.   I should not feel like I am on a nation wide manhunt just to find a black doll.

I know that I am not alone.  I have so many friends and relative who have these same complaints.  At what point will you recognize that there is a need for these toys?  How long will you continue to ignore the African American population and the $1.1 trillion they are spending? When will you finally make the toy aisle look more like the world?


Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I believe in Jesus so I believe I will have eternal life
I guess that's why I'm the eternal optimist
Always believing it will get better
It has to right?

Certainly there is so much wrong in this world
But there are some things that are right
I know that eventually it will have to change
You see I was taught King's dream
And I became a dreamer too

I dreamed of the day where 17 year old boys are not chased and shot walking home with skittles and a soda
I dreamed of a day where I don't have to go comfort a mother who has to bury their young child lost to violence
I dreamed of a day where a woman would actually  get paid equal pay for equal work
I dreamed of a day where everyone really did have the same opportunities
I dreamed of a day when we had more males in college and none in prison
I dreamed of a day where no person was hungry because all this food we have actually reached all the people and fed them
I dreamed of a day where Manna House is not necessary because no one is homeless
I dreamed of a day where all kids got a good education no matter their skin  color, where they live or how much their parents made
I dreamed of a day where people who claim to be Christians actually acted like Christ

I know your thinking I got a lot of dreams.  I do.
Now let's work to make these drams a reality.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


I was asked to give a reflection for the 7 Last Words portion of the Maundy Thursday Service at my church.  For many reasons I chose the first words.

 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

There are times in our lives when we need to forgive and when we need to be forgiven.  It usually more difficult for us to be the one to forgive. Often  it is because it is those who are close that we love, like our family close friends that when they hurt us, it really hurts. And that makes it hard to forgive. Even if the hurt is unintentional we still find it hard to forgive. Now look at Christ on the cross. Here he is being hurt by the very brothers and sisters he is giving his life for. And even in the pain of being hurt by those he loves.  He asks for forgiveness for us all.  If we are to really be like Christ we must forgive those who have hurt us. We must ask to be forgiven by those we hurt. Even in the middle of the pain seek forgiveness.   Let's free ourselves from the sin and burden of un-forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a word of action start acting today.  Forgive.  

Take  a moment to truly look within and ask ...
Have you forgiven those who wronged you?  Do you believe that God has truly forgiven you of your sins? 

Now let us go to the Lord in Prayer. 
God of forgiveness and creator of new life. Please forgive us of our sins.   Help us to understand what forgiveness means. Help us to act and seek forgiveness from those we have hurt. Heal our hearts and help us to forgive those who have hurt us. True forgiveness Lord, not just speaking the word forgiveness but truly acting and experiencing forgiveness. Free us from the sin and burden of carrying things we need to forgive. In Jesus name we ask. Amen

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lesson 8.  With God you can do anything.

People who really knew my mother for years can tell you she was a good mother but not always a good Christian. In fact, when I was young she was alcoholic who smoked a lot of cigarettes.  When I was about 6 or 7 years old we joined the church. My mother had a new relationship with God and she stopped drinking.  Years later I asked her how did she stop drinking?  She said, “I asked God to take the taste from her mouth and he did.”  That was powerful to me.  I have worked with people addicted to drugs and alcohol and I know how difficult it can be for them.  I have also had many difficult times in my life.  Even in the most difficult moments I believed that God would bring me through.  He came through every time.
It does not matter if you are facing hard times, trying to face an addiction, or starting a new season of your life with God it is possible.  You must pray and ask God for direction and strength.  Then you must believe that He will deliver.  There is no problem to big or small for God.  With man it is impossible with God all things are possible.  Do not try to out God in a box because He is too big for any box you have.  Trust God and have faith.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lesson 7.  Stand up and be heard

My mother participated in numerous civil rights events.  She picketed Jefferson Bank, was an active member of the Congress of Racial Equality, and protested for affordable housing, and marched for equal rights for all people.  My mother also believed in writing companies, elected officials, and anyone else to inform them of her experiences and opinions of what was right and wrong.  There was no an election that was held in which she did not vote.  She was going to be heard.  Even when she was wrong, she was going to be heard.  
My mother did not tell me about her actions in the Civil Rights movement.  Once I learned all she had done I was proud.  I vowed that day that I would always make sure that I voted.  I don’t care if we are electing a dog catcher I am going to the election booth.  When I think about my mother and those who died for this right did to make this possible I know that I must stand up and be heard.  You must vote.  Every vote does count and elections have consequences. If you are not standing up to be heard then you must accept what happens and do not complain about anything.  Not only is it important to vote but it is even more important that you become an informed voter.  Do not accept everything you hear on the radio and see on television as the truth.  Learn the truth for yourself.  
The other lesson here is the power of the pen.  Whenever I tell my husband about something I don’t think is right he responds, “Are you going to write a letter?”  Absolutely!  I watched my mother write and I have no problem sitting down writing a letter.  As a constituent or customer I will be heard.  I will tell you if your employees are not treating the customer right.  I will tell you if I do not think you are voting in the interest of the people.  I will tell you are neglecting a large market with your products.  I will tell you if I think a $4 charge to spend my money in your bank is ridiculous.  You cannot expect anything to change if no one demands it to change.  I have written numerous letters and received some good responses and stopped patronizing companies who do not respond well.  (Remember it’s the principle).  The point here is that we do not continue to accept bad service, products, or representation by anyone.  Stand up and be heard.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

Lesson 6. It's the principle.  

As I previously stated my mother smoked cigarettes.  I always hated the smell of smoke.  I remember me and her friend begged her to stop smoking.  We kept telling her this can kill you (we were right).  She did not really listen to us.  
The day they announced that the price of cigarettes was going up to 75¢ my mother said she was going to quit smoking. My mother did not smoke another cigarette.  After smoking since she was 12 years old she quit cold turkey with no type of smoking cessation program.  She said she was not going to pay 75¢ for a pack of cigarettes.  It was the principle.  I think my mother would flip four times if she knew how much cigarettes cost now.  
Loretta Hall was truly a woman of principle.  There are several stories I could share about her and her principles, some funny others not so much.  Nevertheless, she did teach me the importance of having principles and keeping your principles.  I have definitely adopted some of her strong will in sticking to your principles.  For example, anyone who knows me well knows that I do not watch a certain television station because of the negative images they have consistently portrayed of African Americans.  I stopped watching this channel probably about ten years ago.  Although there have been some things I heard advertised I thought I may watch, I will not watch this channel.  It’s the principle.  
Unfortunately, our society has gotten away from the importance of principles.  We now go with what is easy instead of what is right.  If we do not instill in our children the importance of principles we will have another generation repeating this mistake.  As Malcolm X said, “If you do not stand for something you will fall for anything.” Whatever you believe in, stick to your principles.  Do not waiver just to go with the masses because there are many people who end up with a lot of troubles following the masses.  Don’t be a carbon copy of everyone else be the original you.