Month: August 2013
Successful people vs Unsuccessful people.
Good Morning 🙂
I thought it was a great time to write this, as I was thinking about it and ranting about it on Twitter. It just happens to be Wednesday, a day I’ve designated for thought-provoking posts, and it is the 50 year anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I was watching the speech being aired on MSNBC during Chris Haye’s All In timeslot with my younger brothers, aged 12 and 13, and I remembered a time where I said something about an event in Black history and they had never even heard of or knew what I was talking about. I said, “Didn’t you learn that in school?” They said, “No. We only learned about Rosa Parks sitting on the bus and Martin Luther King being an activist and getting shot and killed.” I asked if they emphasize or acknowledge Black History Month at school. They said no. I then asked if they knew who our nearby airport was named after and his significance (the full name of the airport is Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, or just shortened as BWI or BWI Marshall). I had never actually taken the time to really think about that. I guess I just assumed that Black History Month was taught and celebrated in most schools in the United States.
I spent much of my childhood in city neighborhoods, one of those being Baltimore City. I went to Leith Walk Elementary – School #245 (they never let us forget which number our school was). Black History month was vibrant and exciting. Hallways and classrooms plastered with posters and drawings of prominent Black men and women; spreads of red, green, and black; a new Black history fact or story every morning read to us over the intercom every morning by Mrs. Greer, our principal; and the singing of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” This was normal at Leith Walk. Even when it wasn’t Black history month, school was very festive. If you go to the school’s website, you’ll be greeted by the ‘school song’ that I so vividly remember. We’d have huge assemblies complete with students singing and dancing on stage, and a few older Black men and women who had come to talk to us about the 50s and 60s in the United States. I specifically remember having an assembly that probably took up most of the school day (aside from lunch) for a living legends assembly that honored great people in the community. I met then-Baltimore mayor, Kurt Schmoke, and Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D) several times. I have even met Martin O’Malley (although that is because of my father). But anyway, not to stray from the topic, Black history was a big deal as a kid. And it was fun and fascinating to learn. Believe it or not, they showed us Alex Haley’s “Roots” in third grade. I’ll never forget the mortified looks of my fellow classmates when they saw the naked women on the screen.
So in the summer of 1999, we moved to Randallstown in Baltimore County. Still a predominantly Black town, but far less congested (classes of 18 vs. City schools classes of nearly 40), a bit more affluent, and no city noises that I was used to. Still, Black History month was a big deal, but not nearly as much as it was at my previous elementary school. I stayed in this area until I graduated from high school and went to college. Sometime before then, my younger brothers started school in the same school district, my older brother had the same experience as me, in fact, we did not attend the same elementary schools but his school, Walter P. Carter Elementary, was another very enthusiastic school. I mean, that school is even named after a civil rights leader! My parents and brothers had moved to a different area of the county while I was away at college, and this area is predominantly White. Schools here do not emphasize Black history, and some do not even acknowledge that slavery occurred. Which, is understandable, there aren’t many Black people around here. But my brothers are not as familiar with these things as my older brother and I are.
Now one may argue that all those things are overboard and unnecessary. Maybe we don’t need to teach it in schools. Maybe Black History month is just a band-aid for the Black community. But I am amazed at how school districts, hell, even different parts of the SAME school district differ in their teachings of American History. A sorority sister of mine interned in Allegany County in Western Maryland, and was told by the principal not to talk about Rosa Parks or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was so surprised that a principal specifically instructed teachers not to teach that type of material. And no offense, the locals of Western Maryland can sometimes be very unkind and intolerant to people of color. The fact that the schools are not teaching these things is probably contributing to that. There have been many times in college at Frostburg that I can remember racial slurs being written in random places on campus, or neighborhood folk just being obnoxious and yelling things like “White Power” out of their car windows.
I don’t often feel very strongly about many issues, but I can honestly say that this issue intrigues me. I’m usually one to recognize prejudice, while still maintaining the understanding that not everyone thinks that way (the optimist in me), but today, I can really see how regional values are important. While we’ve come a long way from slavery, legal segregation, Black suffrage, President Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the election (and re-election) of President Barack Obama we have not yet completed this journey. And we have to keep working at it.
Thanks for reading.
The Daily Post has weekly photo challenges posted every Friday with a different theme. Let’s see if I keep this up…
Click here to see The Daily Post’s picture for the week!
This week’s theme is: Carefree 🙂
It’s a picture of my younger brothers racing each other from the mailbox. No shoes, no reason, just running.
My family is still grieving, but they’re taking care of business as far as arrangements. Anyone whose family is from a different country knows that this is a huge task. When my grandpa died in 2010, my father had a casket custom made somewhere in the United States and shipped to our house (which was weird, looking at and opening a casket that would be sent to Nigeria), and sent it to Nigeria himself so he could see it before it reached its destination. There’s also a lot to deal with because I’m not sure where they’re burying my grandma, I would hope it’s near her late husband, but I’m not sure. Anyway, there is a lot to do, but it’s getting done and my parents are being productive.
People have been coming in and out of the house offering condolences since yesterday, so I’m pretty much been making food all day. People have been so kind, some of my friends called or sent their kind thoughts to me after either hearing about it or seeing my posts online, and that’s awesome. Sometimes I truly forget that I actually matter to some people. Not that I don’t think that I matter, but I admit that sometimes I need to be reminded that I do. My mom hasn’t cried all day, and she seems in higher spirits today; laughing, telling her obnoxious jokes, and just being the rambunctious mom that she is. So today, I’m alright. 🙂 My house has been divided for a while now, but this tragedy has eliminated the divide…at least for now.
Otherwise, I’ve been trying to keep busy outside of helping out with arrangements, so I’ve been taking my younger siblings and ‘nieces & nephews’ (who are really just younger cousins who call me ‘auntie Tosin’ or ‘Sis’ out of cultural respect; my younger brothers call me ‘Sis’) and keeping them all occupied so my parents and their parents can concentrate, and I have a few blogs written that I’ve saved in my drafts. So I’m a lot better than yesterday. We all are.
Thanks for reading. Really, I appreciate it. More blogs coming soon.
**this may have typos, I typed this on my phone and didn’t proofread
I didn’t think it could hurt this much. My last living grandparent, my mom’s mother passed away this morning. I knew it would happen one day. Most of my lifetime I had only two living grandparents because my maternal grandfather had died in an accident when my mom was a teenager, and my paternal grandmother died of an illness when I was about a year old. My paternal grandfather died in May 2010 after battling Alzheimer’s for a while. He was 84, so he lived a nice long life, but I did cry because I never got a chance to meet him; I had only spoken to him on the phone, and he always remembered all of our birthdays, until the year leading up to his death. I was sad, but I quickly came to peace with it knowing how much he ha accomplished; including his novel on the cocoa plant that I still long to read. I found out he died as a sophomore in college. I was finishing up the year, I had just finished pledging my sorority, and we had a senior sendoff cookout for the seniors. My phone was partially off, so when my mom called me and I missed it, I couldn’t call back. Eventually she texted me telling me he died, and I kind of just paused a little bit. My friend Shannon was with me, we were walking to the picnic and I asked to use her phone. I spoke to my parents, and kept it together for a few minutes. I started feeling the sadness come in, and I don’t really cry very often, and I certainly don’t cry in front of people. I told my sisters I needed to take a walk. I remember one particular sister (who is no longer a member) scoffing and saying, “what the hell? She’s taking a walk in the middle of our picnic?” While I hadn’t told her what was wrong, that really annoyed me. I took a walk, found a bench, and just cried for about 5 minutes. By the time I had gotten myself together and returned to the picnic, Shannon had told everyone, and they came to hug me and offer condolences. I didn’t understand how I could feel so much for a man I never met, but I realized that’s just love. My father seemed very peaceful about it when I spoke to him, and that made me feel better about it.
Today, my dad an brothers took my aunt to JFK airport in New York so she could go back to Nigeria. My mom called me as I was waking up, and she told me that her mother died. I instantly woke up and just said, “What?” She had been sick for a while but I honestly thought she’d get better. She had diabetes, and it had taken toll on her body over the years. My mom was planning to go see her for the first time in 25 years in September. But she died. She’s gone. She was only 68, my mom will be 50 in October.
She died at 68 years old of a completely manageable disease. That really hurts. I will forever be angry that my mother couldn’t see her. I will forever be angry that the embassy didn’t let her come to the United States. I will forever be angry that my mom has to feel that kind of pain for a woman who never even reached 70 years old. I’ve been crying on off all day simply because I see my mom’s tears. My mom does not cry. She’s kind of like me (well I’m like her) when it comes to crying. I just wish I had met her. I had only spoken to her once on the phone by accident. She called the house when my mom wasn’t home. We didn’t speak to her because it’s expensive to call Nigeria and my grandma didn’t have a stable phone. She also didn’t speak great English, but now thinking about it, I wish it was different. But it’s alright. This was supposed to happen, and we can’t be upset at God for that.
Pray for my mom.