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Passover to Freedom

Posted By Tiffany A. Bargeman, Friday, April 20, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2018

By C. K. LeDaniel

C. K. LeDaniel     “Go Down, Moses” is commonly known as a “Negro Spiritual”, although it may have earlier origins as a rallying song for escaped slaves who joined Union forces in the Civil War. It is also reported to be a code song for slaves traveling the Underground Railroad out of Maryland. If you are familiar with this song, you may know more about Passover than you think you do. Here are some of the lyrics:

        When Israel was in Egypt's land
        Let my people go
        Oppress'd so hard they could not stand
        Let my people go

        Refrain:
        Go down, Moses
        Way down in Egypt's land
        Tell old Pharaoh
        Let my people go

     This song is the story of Passover, which is told annually as part of a ritualized holiday celebration. It is a story of liberation from slavery and retelling it on two consecutive nights every year is part of the Jewish tradition of never forgetting—and thereby never repeating.
 
     It also is a story of righteous women, like ourselves! The Talmud says that, “In the spirit of the righteous women our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt.”  Who were these women? There were two midwives, Shifra and Puah, who were commanded by the Pharaoh to kill all male sons born to Jewish women. But the midwives defied the Pharaoh, claiming Jewish women delivered too quickly for them to attend the births. The civil disobedience of Shifra and Puah allowed for Moses to be born. Moses’s mother, Yocheved, in an effort to save his life, sent him down the river in a basket, entrusting him to God. Pharaoh’s daughter, Batya, found the baby Moses and rescued him. His sister, Miriam, who was waiting in the reeds by the river, persuaded Batya to allow her mother to nurse and raise him in the palace, without Batya ever knowing of Yocheved’s true identity. Thus these five women allowed for Moses to be born, to grow, and ultimately, to lead his people to freedom.

Passover to Freedom

     Another Jewish tradition is asking questions and engaging in discussion around the story of Passover. As my own consciousness has been increasingly awakened to the modern day slavery that is mass incarceration and how it impacts our Black sons, I have brought this issue to our Seder table. What is mass incarceration? Mass incarceration is a for profit prison industrial complex that has overwhelmingly targeted Black men. It is racial profiling by law enforcement officers inside and outside of our schools. It is so called “law and order” policies systematically designed to target and harshly sentence our sons. It is a legal system with biased District Attorneys protected from bias litigation. It is the pressure on innocent people without proper representation to enter into plea deals to avoid draconian mandatory sentences. It is cash bail that forces innocent poor people to languish in prison and be derailed from their educations and careers and families. It is correctional supervision that denies civil rights. It is free, or virtually free, prison labor. It is the 13th amendment, which states that, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime...shall exist within the United States.” If we are to say never again at my family Seder, we must say it for all of us.
 
     Many people share at their Seders the words of Rabbi Hillel, an important Jewish leader from 2000 years ago:  "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?”
 
     My fellow mom, Crys Baldwin—one of MOBB United's passionate volunteers—has been known to use a paraphrase of this quote to rally us to action. Passover is a fitting time to remind us all of why we righteous women are here: to help lead our sons out of the current iteration of slavery, because if not us, then who, and if not now, when

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Tags:  Black  C K LeDaniel  Crys Baldwin  freedom  go down Moses  injustice  Jewish  Mass incarceration  negro spiritual  Passover  racism  school-to-prison pipeline  seders  slavery 

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Black Sons Abroad - Part 3: Bothers Jace and Merl

Posted By Tiffany A. Bargeman, Sunday, December 24, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

By Tiffany Bargeman

 
     How many travel writers under the age of 10 years old do you know? Well, I'm excited to introduce you to 9-year-old Jace and his little brother, 8-year-old Merl. They are authors, travelers, and young Black princes making their way across the miles and making their mom proud.
 
     This is the third part of our Black Sons Abroad series. We've been to Beijing, China with Bryson, 15; the UK with Kamsi and Noah, both 4; and now to Cuba, with Jace and Merl. Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. aims to reverse negative perceptions of Black men and boys. One of the best ways is to tell the stories of the big things they're doing and of their hopes and dreams. We are also learning from their own innocent mouths what they know and how they feel about police brutality against Black men and boys, a serious issue that has plagued Black citizens for centuries.
 
     Jennaye Fennell, a school teacher raising her sons in Atlanta, Georgia, was very excited to allow her sons to share their experiences with Moms of Black Boys United. She believes that one of the best ways to change negative perceptions about our Black sons is to tell the world about their adventures while letting them live life to the fullest. Since she shares the school vacation schedule with her sons, they've traveled since they were babies. Their most recent trip was to Havana, Cuba.
 
     We talked a bit about differences in how Black boys and men are treated in America and Cuba. Jennaye said she believes there is probably more crime in America, and she worries about her sons here in this country. While she and her young sons were in Havana, they didn't see many Black boys and men there, but they did observe police presence in Customs and on the streets. Because Cuba is a Communist country—a dictatorship where people cannot do things they want as easily as in democracies, like become authors and speakers—she appreciates the opportunities that her sons have in America to live life to the fullest.
 
     Jace, 9, took a notepad with him on his excursions in Cuba because he's planning to write another book in their travel adventures series, “Fennell Adventures.” He wrote his first book to tell others about his travels to Hawaii, titled "Journey through Hawaii with Jace.” The book, which was released this past Spring, is a ‘choose your own adventure’ book, which allows the reader to decide how the story begins and ends, depending on the scenario. Soon after Jace's book was finished, his little brother Merl, 8, was inspired to follow in his footsteps and wrote his first book, “Journey through Texas with Merl,” which was published in the Fall. It's full of vivid, colorful images that take the reader right to the scenes.
 
     While I talked to the boys about their travels and books, I also asked them what they know about racism and police violence against Black men and boys. I wasn't surprised at how thoughtfully Jace described racism as “unfortunate.” Though he has yet to live even a full decade in America, he has a clear understanding of the concept and said that it makes him sad that some people judge others simply by skin color. Jace said that when he sees stories on television about shootouts and robberies and thinks about how the bad guys may be arrested, punished really harshly or killed, he believes that Black men and boys are treated differently by law enforcement. He said there may be some police officers that think they are better than people who are a different race from them, and that those officers may be “...just bad people on their own.” When Jace first met a police officer at a book signing for himself and Merl, he said he wasn't scared or excited. And although Merl seemed a little shy, he let me know that he was a little scared when he first met a police officer because he thought he and his brother were in trouble. But then he learned that the officer was an author just like him. He knew then that he didn't have to be afraid. Merl eagerly told me about his love for swimming and basketball, speaking of a trip he'd very much like to take to the hometown of his favorite NBA team—the Boston Celtics. He wants to play for the NBA when he grows up.
 
     These busy brothers are an inspiration, and their mom is a vital influence, with her determination to ensure that they enjoy life to the fullest and get the opportunities they deserve. Take time to listen to the full interview with Jace, Merl, and Jennaye, who also is their booking agent. Watch Jace and Merl's video, check them out on their YouTube Channel, and purchase their books on Amazon, if you like. Visit www.fennelladventures.com to see Jace's CBS interview, and enjoy the photos that accompany this story, including pics from Cuba, Texas, Hawaii, and the Fennell Adventures Press Kit.
 
     This is just the beginning. How wonderful that they've gotten started so young, with mom encouraging and backing them all the way. Jace looks up to his mom because, in his words, “she always provides for us and makes sure we have everything we need. And that's how I wanna be for my kids.” Merl echoed his brother's sentiments. Keep setting that example, mom!

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Tags:  Abroad  American  author  Black  book  boys  brutality  country  Cuba  fenelle  fennell  injustice  jace  jennaye  men  merl  nation  perception  police  prejudice  publish  racism  sons  travel 

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Black Sons Abroad - Part 2: Kamsi Eke and Noah Ryan, United Kingdom

Posted By Tiffany A. Bargeman, Sunday, October 15, 2017
Updated: Monday, October 16, 2017

By Tiffany Bargeman

 

     As our series on Black Sons Abroad continues, I had the pleasure of talking with two moms who are raising their young princes, both 4 years old, in the United Kingdom (UK). I chatted with Uchechi Eke, a very dedicated and passionate member of MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC) and Moms of Black Boys United, Inc., about her experience raising her son in the small town of Braintree, part of Essex, in the South East of England, UK. “He’s got a smile that lights up the world!” is how this Nigerian-born mom described her 4-year-old prince, Kamsi -- not the room, the WORLD. His full name in Igbo (the language of a Nigerian tribe and ethnic group) is Kamsiochi, which means What we asked God for, He granted. Uchechi told me that she and her husband wanted a son, and Kamsi is their resulting joy.

     Also, I had the chance to chat briefly with young Kamsi, a train and car enthusiast, who just started school. I didn’t get much of his time, as he was about the business of squeezing in as much play time with his Legos as possible just before heading to bed at 8 p.m. But I did learn from his innocent lips that he believes police are good. “They catch bad guys, and they put them in jail,” he answered, when I asked for his opinion of police in the UK. When I asked how he feels when he sees police officers, he said, “I’m real excited because of their uniforms.” As I listened to him, imagining him squirming in mom’s lap anxious to go back and play, I thought about his innocence and how wonderful it is to be young and oblivious to the many dangers and injustices that plague society.

     America is not the only place, of course, where prejudice, racism and police brutality are daily conversation topics. I knew this, but I was surprised to learned that it also is a problem in the UK -- on a smaller scale -- but a problem nonetheless. Though Uchechi expressed concern about her son learning about these unfair phenomena as early as secondary school as he approaches an age of accountability, she countered, “You can’t cage a bird.” She and her husband plan to use the power of affirmation to prepare Kamsi to function at his best self in society, filled with not only happiness, but joy, which overcomes the good, bad and ugly. My words simply cannot do justice to the conversation I had with Uchechi and her son. Please click here to listen to the full interview.

Kamsi Eke, 4, UK

“My son brings unspeakable joy to our family. He loves trains and cars. We have high hopes he'll be an engineer. He dotes on his sister and is the apple of his father's eye. He is generous, confident, loving and adventurous.”

 

     Just shy of 30 miles (72.4 km and less than 1 hour driving time) from where the Eke family resides live Bianna Ryan, her husband, and 4-year-old son, Noah. They are Americans living near Cambridge, England. Like Uchechi’s Kamsi, the youngest member of the Ryan family is too young to know much about the police, except that they take people to jail. Mom is not sure if he thinks the police are good or bad. He is their only child, and is therefore, very special to the family. Bianna describes him as a precocious boy who loves being outside. “He loves birds, and feathers, and picking flowers. He’s the light of my life. The joy of my world,” she said. She's not worried too much about him experiencing fatal violence at the hands of law enforcement. In fact, policing in Britain is so different; she’s never seen a police officer in her village. This isn’t a “gun country”, and there appears to be much less gun violence than in America. Mom said she may not be concerned about her son being in physical danger of such a bad experience until he's at least 9 years old. Right now, he’s learning to ride his bike and asking questions about nature; he’s just doing regular things that 4-year-olds do. However, people already seem to perceive her son as older than he actually is -- by about 2 years -- though Mom’s not sure why. There's something else on her mind these days concerning her son, and that's his experience in the UK’s educational system. This year, the Ryan family joined thousands of families all over the UK in sending their 4-year-olds to “Reception”, the British equivalent of pre-Kindergarten.

     When Trayvon Martin was murdered, like the rest of us, Bianna was traumatized. When the verdict was announced, her son was only a few months old, and all she could do was cry. She wanted to take action to affect change, but she wasn’t sure exactly how to do it. One day, she saw a post by a friend in the private Moms of Black Boys Sons, Inc. Facebook group and was inspired to join. Bianna has found the community to be a helpful support system. Recently, she posted in the Facebook group about an experience with her son’s teacher at his school, which raised red flags. I asked her why she felt comfortable sharing such a private matter within this group of moms, most of whom she does not know. Her response: “I just needed someone to check my thoughts.” She welcomed the feedback that she received from the other moms -- not necessarily like minded, but with one thing in common: love for their Black sons. She had shared it first with her husband, of course, who reassured her that she'd done the right thing. But then, she wanted to know how other moms felt.

     Here's her original post:

"M.O.B.B.,

 

Am I overthinking this?


We are Americans living in England. The school system here is very different. We also live in the middle of England NOT London. There is little to no diversity here. I have not seen any other black children in the school. Nor have I seen any black staff. I have counted two Asian children. Today is my only child’s third day in Reception (American Pre-K). So, he’s only 4 years old. Day One: the lead teacher tells me he has not been listening and he’s being defiant. This is not really a surprise as my son will test you. You have to be firm with him at times. I personally do not think being defiant is necessarily a bad trait when channeled into determination but I TOTALLY understand how this can be disruptive in a classroom. Day Two: The assistant teacher shows me a note from the lead teacher that is used to “document behavior to determine patterns.” The note said another teacher/bathroom monitor saw my son walk up to another little boy and kick him without provocation. I was very upset about this. So, I told the assistant teacher I would like to speak to the lead the next day. This morning I expressed my concerns.


Momma: I saw the note about N and I am concerned about him being watched and monitored for what you think is anti-social behavior and that behavior being documented. The documentation is what bothers me the most.


Teacher: We’ve had a chat with the class about deliberately hurting others. Right after that N walked up to another boy and kicked him. We try to teach our little ones not to hurt others. You would be very upset if N was hurt by other student. <-- This last comment was beside the point but I let her cook.


Momma: I am bothered that my son might do something to hurt other people. I understand that harming others is not how he should behave. Aggression is really not like N. He’s always been a gentle soul. I am also concerned about him being singled out or stigmatized as a problem student. I think it’s very early for that and the fact that you’re documenting his negative behavior and not his positive behavior leads me to believe this may be the end result.


Teacher: It is standard practice for us to document student behavior both negative and positive. (She explains the Honor System for documenting and rewarding positive behavior).  We document negative behavior to see if we can determine patterns and work together with parents to diffuse the behavior. I’ve found N to be a gentle as well and one who’s eager to please. He’s a lovely boy and we’re happy to have him in our class. I had a chat with N after the incident yesterday. He was immediately remorseful. He was very upset about being put on the black cloud.


Momma: What is the black cloud?


Teacher: This is a system we use in the class to make students aware of their behavior. It is a rainbow. At one end is a white cloud and at the other is a black cloud. If a student exhibits bad behavior they’re on the black cloud.


Momma: 😠😠😠 I don’t like that. He is Black. I am Black. The message is Black is bad and White is good.


Teacher: Oh! I never thought about it that way.


Momma: There is no reason you would. You’re used to seeing the world through your lens of whiteness. I am Black and this is the first thing that came to my mine. N is Black and things like that teach children that black is bad. So, N is bad. N’s mommy is bad.


Teacher: We can definitely change that. I want to assure you that we do not discriminate. That was not our intent.


Momma: I’m sure this was not intentional but the negative association with blackness is clear. You’re not outwardly saying being black is bad but you imply this by making a consequence for bad behavior being placed on a black cloud. You also imply that white is right and therefore superior to black because the child wants to be on the good white cloud and not the bad black one. I look forward to seeing the changes. What about gray?


Teacher: I like gray. Maybe I’ll do under the rainbow and over the rainbow. Mrs. Ryan, I want to again assure you that we don’t discriminate and we’ll change the board. I’d really never thought about it that way.


I could see that she was honestly troubled by what I’d said.


We went on to speak in more detail about N and positive discipline.


I don’t think I overreacted but I have to admit I do care that I upset her. I know this is my fatal flaw. I don’t like to upset people but when it comes to my baby I have no problems letting people have it. I will always be an advocate for my son and children everywhere. I do think “subtle” suggestions like this can be where discriminatory thinking starts. Again, these kids are only 4 years old.”

 

     Bianna spoke of what she thinks was genuine ignorance on the teacher’s part about the message she was sending to her class with her black cloud/white cloud behavior tracking system. She was surprised, first of all, that Bianna came to her directly with her concern. Mom thinks this may be due to her observations during the 2 years she and her family have lived in the UK that the citizens are less candid than Americans. They seem to be “polite to a fault”. Secondly, the teacher seemed shocked at this mom's concern that because she was teaching her class of 4-year-olds to believe that the color black is bad and white is good, she ultimately was conditioning them to think that Black people are bad while White people are good. There are very few Black children in this school; actually Bianna has not seen any others, as she mentioned in her post. Because there are not many Black people in the surrounding community as a whole, the teacher may very well never have considered that the behavior system using colors had such a negative connotation, until Bianna intervened in her son's behalf.

         The good news is that the teacher expressed genuine remorse about the misjudgment; she owned up to it. The very next day, she changed the system in her classroom to reflect white and grey storm clouds instead. Not only was her class being taught to pre-judge based on color, but the rest of the students were too, since it is a school-wide behavior tracking system. Unfortunately, children who started attending this school at 4 years old have been conditioned through 5th grade to believe that black is bad and white is good. The teacher took Bianna’s concern to the head teacher (equivalent to the role of principal at the school) and reported back that they system had been changed school-wide.

         When I read Bianna’s post, immediately, I was reminded of the concept of the school-to-prison pipeline. Situations like this one, left unaddressed, tend to usher Black boys into an unfortunate pattern of labeling through biased documented incidents that can follow him through school, practically setting him up for failure. But I believe that Bianna’s intervention, via this very frank conversation with her son's teacher, stopped that demon in its tracks. Left unchecked, the psychological impact of such an experience on Black boys can be detrimental. Direct conversation is just one wise way that moms of Black boys must advocate regularly -- from pre-K through college -- to protect our sons’ futures. Her post also reminded me of how important it is that we affirm our Black sons so that they know their own worth. Starting at an early age, we should tell them that they are special, they are loved, they are handsome, that they'll be successful if they work hard, and that they are no less important than anyone else. Both Uchechi and Bianna expressed how important this is; affirmation from loved ones helps prepare our sons not only to navigate a racist society, but to survive in it. Bianna “nipped this issue in the bud immediately”; however, she is not sure whether or not her young son has already made a connection between the bad black cloud and his race because of this experience. Regardless, she and her husband have the priceless opportunity to continue pouring into their child's self-esteem before he encounters any overt racism. When she was pregnant, she admits that she was a bit worried about not being prepared to raise a black son in a racist society, but her husband reminded her that simply loving their son is the answer.

         If Bianna had a chance to speak to President Donald Trump about her son, she would try to appeal to him as a parent, since he has children of his own, including a young son. “We both want the best for our children, but the way he is leading America is making it hard for us to give our son the best future,” she said. She feels her son has a target on his back and is being stigmatized. She added, “America is made up of all kinds of different people. We are all intertwined. This means my son’s future is connected to your son’s future, and vice versa. So, if we want to, as you say ‘make America great again’, then everybody living in the county should be living a great daily life. If you have a system of inequity, America can’t be great because some people aren’t living their best life.” If Bianna could speak to Britain’s Prime Minister, she would ask her to understand that because the world is becoming so much smaller, it would benefit the UK to treat all citizens well because it can only benefit Britain in global relationships. Lastly, she encourages moms to step outside of their comfort zones and have the difficult conversations that are necessary to advocate for our sons.


     So, we've been to Beijing, China (virtually), and learned of 15-year-old Bryson Berry’s experience living abroad. Now we know what it's like for two moms and their young sons in England. Where to next? Japan maybe? Stay tuned.

     Moms of Black Boys United, Inc., the 501c3 sister organization of MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC), works hard to change negative perceptions of Black boys and men. Much of this work requires financial resources. To date, our organization has been completely self-funded; but to grow and expand, we need your help. Please consider donating to Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. this month at mobbunited.org/donate. Also, please learn more about fundraising plans and what else you can do to help.

 

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Tags:  advocate  Bargeman  Bianna  bias  Black sons abroad  classroom  education  educational system  Eke  innocence  innocent  police brutality  protect them  racism  Ryan  teacher  Tiffany  Uchechi  UK 

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To Say or not to Say?

Posted By Tiffany A. Bargeman, Sunday, October 15, 2017
Updated: Sunday, October 15, 2017

By Tiffany Bargeman

Tiffany BargemanDo you ever wonder whether or not you should respond to ignorance, afraid that you may offend someone? Well, until just recently, I was that person. But then I watched actor Freddie Highmore (whom you may know as Norman in Bates Motel) in a new television series called The Good Doctor. It's about a young autistic surgeon, Dr. Shawn Murphy, who, because he has no natural filter, says what needs to be said when it needs to be said. I thought about the freedom that a person like him must have, whether he's aware of it or not. I'm not autistic, but I envy the freedom that the character has to say whatever comes to mind. I don't always feel that I have the freedom to say things that might offend people; I try to employ my filter of political correctness. I guess you can say I'm a little sensitive myself. But the older I get…the struggle is real!

Some people prefer to communicate hard truth indirectly -- through sarcasm. I don't. And Dr. Shawn Murphy doesn’t even understand it. (“What is the purpose of sarcasm?”, he asked in the 2nd episode). So what does one do? Dr. Murphy just says the hard truth. I know a few real people who just say it, too. Quite a few of my friends, as a matter of fact, are bold and blunt with it. How do they do it with no worries of offending people? Do they just not care? Did they used to care, and at what point did they stop? One said around the age of 40. I can totally relate because when I turned 40, my patience for crap flew out the window. My late Aunt Ruth was the candid one in our family. She’d be so blunt sometimes, one might feel their ears bleeding once she got done with them. I told myself I didn’t want to be like her when I grew up; but now, I understand why she didn’t hold back. Why not just be real? No reason. I get it Aunt Ruth; may you rest in peace (and truth).

I shared my thoughts on my private Facebook page with some friends about the new television show. My original post:

ABC's The Good Doctor

Later, as I was thinking about these bold friends and blunt aunt, I marvelled at them. It must feel good to not keep truth inside just because someone else can't handle it. I told them I love them for it and to never change. Their responses gave me life and emboldened me to speak on a matter that bothered me a great deal.

I had been struggling for a couple of weeks with the decision to say or not to say how I feel about a certain Facebook post by a “friend” of mine, in which she posted her views about the state of America that's being discussed all over social media. She made an announcement that she was “Saying so long to Facebook!” and plans to focus on happy things like “pigs, pugs, and hedgehogs” because Facebook was too negative. At first I replied to her with a pretty neutral answer -- with all of the political correctness I could muster. I let her know that I didn't agree with everything she said. In other words, I let her get away with the ignorance spouted. But it bothered me for days -- not only learning that a “friend” of mine was so ignorant, but that I did nothing about it. She had posted something almost as ignorant just after the November 2016 presidential election, and I had let that slide, too. But, after discussing my sensitivities with my friends in my private post, I decided to give her my very real reply.

Sometimes the truth has to be told. Will my “friend” change her views? No, but maybe God will change them for her. I'm leaving it up to Him. Unlike her, I cannot stick my head in the sand and pretend the issues do not exist. They impact moms of Black sons directly. But, do you know what I won't be anymore? Politically correct.

Sorry? Not sorry.


My “friend’s post” (which her other friends absolutely loved):

“Saying so long to Facebook! I am beyond disgusted, sick and tired and fed up with all the negativity on here and the world. I know I can't take away what's going on everywhere but I can remove myself from the garbage on here. Too much politics, views, protests, feelings hurt, complaining over petty crap such as when sticks are being picked from the hurricane , and on and on. In the 10 plus years on this site I have never voiced my opinion but now I am.
1) get your ass off your knees, legs, whatever your doing and honor this country! Men and women are fighting and have fought for you to even be able to stand on that damn field making millions throwing a ball.
2) Trump is president and will be. Get over it! Move on. Put your efforts of bitching about it into maybe being kind to someone for a day. The bitching and complaining isn't going to fix our leader of this country. Just support him and pray he makes the right decisions.
3) The shooting last night is awful! For a coward to take all those lives should have done us all a favor and taken himself out from the get go and been done.
4) final thought is to just enjoy each day and thank God each morning is another day.
Love to you all and please feel free to reach out anytime! I'm on instagram as bkryston. I'm sticking with that because following pigs, pugs, and hedgehogs makes me happy 😂”

My first politically correct reply:

“While I don't agree with eeeeeverything you said because we're different people with different backgrounds and very different a life experiences, I do believe in #selfcare. Do what you need to do, hun. I'm not on Instagram, but maybe our paths will cross later in life. Enjoy your babies!”


My second REAL reply:

“I'm sure you'll get this reply because no one really leaves Facebook for good. Offense or none, I have to say this, in love, but unapologetically.

I understand that you may not be able to relate to people who have experienced racism and undue hatred simply because of the color of their skin. You're white with blond hair, and so are your daughters.

You'll never have to worry that they'll not have fair opportunities in life because of that mere fact.

You won't sit up at night worrying whether they'll make it home safely after hanging out with friends or coming home from work or walking down the street because people don't hate them; they are white with blond hair.

You won't worry that a racist cop will decide their lives are not worth anything and KILL them after pulling them over for a minor traffic offense. You won't have to feel anger and betrayal about that cop being able to keep his job after committing murder.

You won't have to get in an elevator with a white stranger and wonder if that person hates you for no reason. You won't have to stand in a grocery line and wonder if the person in front of or behind you hates you and your kids for no reason. You won't have to feel the hateful stares of people when you decide to not salute a flag that represents a country that hates you and your children. You never even have to make the decision to protest hatred. You won't even understand how big that single decision is, knowing that it could cost you everything.

You won't have to worry about your white blond daughters not being able to go to good schools, eat in restaurants, shop in stores, work for companies, live in neighborhoods, etc. without being discriminated against. They won't have a reason to protest because it's more likely that they won't experience injustice. They can just be their white blond haired selves and know all is well.

Thank God for that, Brittany. But while you're thanking God, ask him to open your eyes to understand why people WHO DO know what it's like to be hated for no good reason are hurt and mad enough to not want entertain you and your white blond haired daughters by running a ball down a field in a country where a President says it's okay hate people who are not white with blond hair.

NOW, enjoy your babies! I do NOT say this with sarcasm. We were neighbors for more than 3 years. I shared milk with your baby when you ran out and didn't feel like running to the store. My Black daughter was your pet sitter who fed your precious pugs and no-tail cat, and she watched your daughter for a few so you could take care of some things. We laughed and enjoyed neighborhood parties together. My Black son showed you and your family nothing but kindness. All the while, this ignorance was in you?

I'm going to enjoy my babies too, but I'm also going to have to work harder than you to protect my kids from hatred. I'll continue to teach them how to handle it when it does come their way for no good reason, from people - maybe like your daughters - who don't know how to empathize because their mom just wanted to watch a football game and enjoy her worry free white life.

I still love you and your husband and babies, though. If I had not gotten this out of my system, I may not be able to say that with honesty. Your post planted a seed in me that could have been bitter, had I let it. I'm not writing this because I'm offended. I am writing it because I am in despair, like the other people in this country who have skin darker than yours and are expected to shut up and accept hatred.

I hope and pray this makes you think so you can raise your daughters to not expect people who are not as privileged as them to "get your ass off your knees, legs, whatever you're doing and honor this country!" THAT HATES THEM BECAUSE THEIR SKIN IS DARKER THAN THEIRS.

And leaving Facebook is not going to make the injustice or the protests against it disappear. It will be everywhere you go until the eyes of you and others who think like you are opened. Meanwhile, I'll continue volunteering my time to produce this newsletter for MOBB United for Social Change, Inc. (MUSC)/Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. so may I can affect change and not have to attend my own son's funeral one day because of racism and ignorance: http://www.mobbunited.org/general/custom.asp?page=Newsletter003

When I see you again, I'll smile and love on you and your babies as I always have.

But will you be able to smile at me and my children, Brittany?”

(I shared this most timely image
with her in my reply.)

A long sordid history, slyngstad.cartoons


I'm not 100% sure my “friend” will read my message, but maybe one or more of her friends will, and maybe someone will change their perspective. Maybe not, but at least I wasn't silent. I have a renewed resolve to speak out against racism, with love though. With love.

This very revealing experience reminded me of why I volunteer my time with Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. I love my son. We all love our sons. Founder Depelsha McGruder has said many times that this fight is not a sprint but a marathon. While my written response to ignorance is not the solution to the problems of hatred and injustice that plague America, it does contribute to our goal of changing negative perceptions of Black boys and men. And so much work is being done to influence policy impacting how Black boys and men are treated by law enforcement and society. This work must be funded. To date, our organization has been completely self-funded; but to grow and expand, we need your help. Please consider donating to Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. this month at mobbunited.org/donate. Also, please learn more about fundraising efforts and what else you can do to help.

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Tags:  abc  actor  autism  FaceBook  freddie highmore  friend  good doctor  injustice  post  racism  Tiffany Bargeman  truth  white privilege 

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