Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Around the World!


Arabic: Milad Majid

Brazilian: Feliz Natal

Chinese: (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun

Ethiopian: (Amharic) Melkin Yelidet Beaal

French: Joyeux Noel

German: Froehliche Weihnachten

Italian: Buone Feste Natalizie

Japanese: Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto

Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha

Spanish: Feliz Navidad

Tagalog: Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon

Thai: Sawadee Pee Mai or souksan wan Christmas

Urdu: Naya Saal Mubarak Ho

Vietnamese: Chuc Mung Giang Sinh

Yoruba: E ku odun, e ku iye'dun!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: The Reason for the Season


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Take Down Tolerance Tuesday

I'm adding Take Down Tolerance Tuesday to my meme box. People talk about tolerance and inclusion together often as if they are interchangeable. I think they are related, but different. According to dictionary.com, tolerance is a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own. I think the distinction between tolerance and inclusion is eloquently stated in this exerpt from the What is Inclusion? article by Shafiq Asante(I encourage you to go to the link and read the entire article.):


Inclusion is recognizing our universal "oneness" and interdependence. Inclusion is recognizing that we are "one" even though we are not the "same". The act of inclusion means fighting against exclusion and all of the social diseases exclusion gives birth to - i.e. racism, sexism, handicapism, etc. Fighting for inclusion also involves assuring that all support systems are available to those who need such support. Providing and maintaining support systems is a civic responsibility, not a favor. We were all born "in". Society will immediately improve at the point we honor this truth!!

Tolerance acknowledges the fact that we are different and implies that a person will "tolerate" you. Meaning, they are not choosing to exclude you, but they are not necessarily choosing to include you either. When I look at it this way, inclusion is so much more favorable than tolerance. I think about the times in my life when I have just tolerated people, especially ignorant people. Then I think about the times in my life when I'm sure people were just tolerating me. Both cases are unfortunate, and my goal is to work towards inclusion and being what fellow blogger from the desk of...me refers to as a filler instead of a dipper.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ignorancist Mission #1: Failed

Yesterday I went to Walgreens to print out some picture cards for Christmas. Thus began my first ignorancist test. I asked the cashier to call someone to the photo counter and waited for that someone to arrive. A couple of minutes later a man who seemed to be the "manager" came out of the back office and asked me if I had been helped. I told him that I was waiting for someone to help me with my photos because I didn't see a place for me to stick my flashdrive to download my pictures. He said he didn't think that it was possible for me to use my flashdrive, and I explained to him that the person I spoke to on the phone earlier from their photo department told me that I could. Here's how the conversation continued:


Manager: Was the person male or female?

Me: Female I believe.

Manager: Young or old?

Me: Silence

Manager: White or Black?

Me: Silence again with raised brows. In my head I was saying, "You've got to be kidding me! Is this fool for real? How the heck am I supposed to know if the person was young, old, black, or white. I did not call via video phone. Apparently there is some code in speech that allows us to know a person's age group or "color" just by hearing their voice, but I'm sorry to say that I am not aware of it.

Manager: Couldn't tell, huh?

Me: Shaking my head no, with the same expression on my face.

Manager: I'll get someone to help you.


He disappeared into the back again. I waited a minute and decided to leave. Mission failed! My dilemma: Do I waste my time on this man who I will probably never see again in my life or do I talk to him about how his line of questioning was inappropriate and really ignorant? I felt like I should be exerting my energy on people who I actually have to interact with regularly. But now I'm thinking, would it really have been a waste of my time? I don't know. It's really not about me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ignorancist

I am openly passionate about race. Unfortunately, my passion has often been mistaken for racism. I am honest about my feelings on race, and I understand that it can make people feel uncomfortable. At times I get angry at the ignorance that I witness on literally a daily basis. Therefore, I am making a new confession. I am not a racist, but I am an ignorancist. I CAN'T STAND IGNORANT PEOPLE! Now, this totally contradicts my quest for not just tolerance, but more importantly inclusion. I admit that I have major issues with confronting ignorant people because I feel like they are living in the dark and not worth my time. However, I do realize that this is unfair, so my new goal is to work on accepting ignorant people and engaging them in meaningful conversations that bring them into the "light". This is an imperfect journey, and I plan on keeping you updated on my progress. Please let me know if you have any helpful hints to assist me along the way.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How Dare You?!

Who am I talking to? Any one of you haters out there who are in favor of banning gay marriage! Yes, I'm a Christian and yes I am saying stop hating on homosexuals. I can't believe the ignorant crap that has been coming out of your mouths. One man called up to the Michael Baisden show the other day and said that "gays are abnormal." Let's just assume this caller was black. Well Mr. Caller, how dare you?! A couple of hundred years ago, you wouldn't even have been considered a whole person and you have the nerve to call someone abnormal. The hatred toward homosexuals in this country is quasi modern day slavery. Why is it that this country is not satisfied unless it is oppressing somebody? You may not agree with their lifestyle, but so what?! What gives you the right to tell them how to live their lives? How will their marriages affect your life and your walk with Jesus? It won't, unless you choose to make it your business--which it is not! "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Believing that homosexuality is a sin is one thing, but condemning others as if you are holier than though and without sin is another. No sin is greater than another. How dare you fake Christians (as Charles Barkley calls you) be so judgemental when God requires you to share love with everyone. If the homosexual who you are judging next door is not going to make it into the kingdom of heaven, neither are you. Yeah, I said it. Now what?

Monday, November 10, 2008

video

You may remember my post Senior Security about taking my 86 year old grandmother, Nanny, to vote early in Georgia. Here's a video of my other 86 year old grandmother, Grandma, casting her vote in Washington, DC on election day. My dad was much braver than me, so he took pictures the whole time. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

November is American Indian Heritage Month




It truly amazes me that in this overly politically correct country that we (the country) continue to devalue, dehumanize, and objectify the people who first inhabited the place. I long for the day when there are no more teams bearing mascot names such as Redskins, Indians, Chiefs, or Seminoles. Mascots are typically animals or things, not people! How is this still acceptable in our country? What would happen if a team decided to make their mascot the Caucasian, the Negro, the Homosexual, the Jew, the Italian, or the Republican? We would be outraged. The media would be all over it, and the owner of the team would probably never see another day in sports. So why is it that we do not have the same amount of respect for Native Americans in our country as we do for other groups of people? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Foodie Friday: The Cookie Campaign #2

I know this is late, but I've been traveling. Better late than never though. You may remember my Foodie Friday post from a couple of weeks ago when I discussed the not-so-political Cookie Campaign. Here is the conversation that took place between our Aunt Shelly and my niece Kennedy revealing the results of the campaign:

Aunt Shelly: So Kennedy, how did the cookie campaign go?
Kennedy: Not so good. Everyone wanted chocolate chip. I really wanted the sugar cookie. I made the decision to vote for Barack Obama, but I still like sugar cookies.
Aunt Shelly: It's okay to vote for Barack Obama and still like the sugar cookie.
Kennedy: Okay.

I am still amazed out how much this Cookie Campaign parallels this year's election.  I absolutely love the way Aunt Shelly responded to Kennedy's predicament.  It's a message that needs to definitely be shared with all of the republicans, especially those who were torn about voting democrat in this election.  

Our minds are now at ease because we now realize that we may have been looking a little too deep into the racial implications behind the cookie campaign. We now understand that it was really all about the cookie for Kennedy. Yes, she made connections between the candidates and the cookies, but her original choice to vote for John McCain was all about the cookie.  She really was voting based on the "content" of the cookie.  She later changed her vote to Barack Obama because she felt like she was the only one voting for McCain--something that many voters may have done for either candidate once they were alone in the voting booth.  

I almost felt sorry for the little republican, but I was definitely pleased with her decision to jump parties.  Another indication that it was all about the cookie is that whenever she sees Barack Obama she gets excited. However, she only showed enthusiasm for John McCain when the sugar cookie was directly involved.  I think she has at least earned a sugar cookie in her struggle to choose the right candidate, so now that I'm back home, I think I'll buy her one.

Wordless Wednesday: And the winner is...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Foodie Friday: French Martini #1


My drink of choice is always a French Martini. However, I have to pick and choose where I order one. Apparently it's not a very popular drink and some bartenders don't even know how to make it. There are two ways I've seen it made:

1.) Vodka, Chambord, cranberry or pineapple juice
or
2.) Gran Marnier, Chambord, cranberry or pineapple juice


When made correctly, it is a fabulous drink. Timpano Italian Restaurant and Mon Ami Gabi French Restaurant are two places in Maryland where I have had delicious French Martinis. Both restaurants have locations in other states as well. I haven't found a restaurant in Georgia that makes good ones yet. I'll keep you posted though.


Bon appetit!

Thoughtful Thursday

Isn't it interesting that everyone is deciding to beef up security at the polls for this election? What are your thoughts?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Foodie Friday: The Cookie Campaign #1


So we're getting ready to watch the final presidential debate a couple of weeks ago and my 4 year old niece says to my sister, "Mommy, how do you spell John McCain?" So my sister and I look at each other with a wide-eyed "wtf" look. Here's how the conversation continues:
My sister: Why Kennedy?
My niece (Kennedy): Because it's the Cookie Campaign at school.
My sister: Do you want to know how to spell Barack Obama too? (hoping)
Kennedy: ponders for a long uncomfortable moment Um...yeah?
Me: continuing to stare in disbelief
My sister: Okay tell me about this cookie campaign.
Kennedy: It's the Cookie Campaign and we have to vote for the cookie we like.
My sister: So what does this have to do with John McCain? raised brow
Kennedy: Because we have to vote for John McCain and Barack Obama.
My Sister: Well what are the choices for cookies?
Kennedy: There's a sugar cookie and a chocolate chip cookie.
Me: So wait a minute (trying not to sound as annoyed as I really am)......there are no other choices? Just sugar or chocolate chip?
Kennedy: Yes.

Kennedy left the room, and my sister and I continued the conversation with much suspicion. The manner in which the conversation played out really had us thinking that my niece was connecting the sugar cookie to John McCain and the chocolate chip cookie to Barack Obama based on the cookie colors.

By this time, my sister is optimistically searching through her email to find the information she must have overlooked about this so-called Cookie Campaign. We are very vocal about our support for Barack Obama and my niece is there every step of the way while our eyes and ears are glued to CNN on a daily basis. Needless to say, she knows who the candidates are. My sister never found any correspondence from the school about the Cookie Campaign. We both decided that we needed to talk to the teacher before we jumped to any conclusions. It's almost unbelievable to think that a 4 year old could make this up especially with all of the implied racial connections. We are trying to give the school the benefit of the doubt and assume this whole thing is a mixture between an innocent Cookie Campaign and Kennedy's witty perception. Why wouldn't the school send home information about this?

The next day, my sister asked the teacher’s assistant about the Cookie Campaign. The only information she disclosed was that the kids are voting on two cookies and that they will buy the cookie that wins. The woman also said that a lot of parents had been inquiring about it. My sister felt like she was pulling teeth, so she decided to talk to the head teacher the next day.

Each week the students have a “weekly reader.” Well a few weeks ago, the weekly reader was all about the presidential candidates. The kids went berserk, and wanted to know why they could not vote. The teachers explained that it was only for adults, yada yada. Since the kids were so passionate about voting, the teachers decided to come up with something they could vote on without relating it to the presidential election; hence the birth of the Cookie Campaign. My niece’s class got the sugar cookie candidate and the other preK class got the chocolate chip cookie candidate. Each class is going to talk about the ingredients of their respective cookies and the process of making the cookie. They will discuss the “character” of the cookies and then there will be an election. The cookie that wins will be purchased by the school. This campaign is only happening in the preK classes, and it is still unclear if other classes in the school will be voting on their two cookies or not.

I believe the school had good intentions for the Cookie Campaign, but unfortunately it was poorly thought out. First, the parents should have been properly notified about this. Second, they really should have had a primary election for the cookies or chosen cookies that didn’t “resemble” the presidential candidates quite so much. Lastly, they need to pay closer attention to the conversations their students are having about the presidential election. Stating that you are not discussing the candidates with the students is one thing, but ignoring your students’ reactions to an article about the candidates is another. Pretending that you don’t hear what the kids are saying is doing a disservice to them. There is a way to discuss the election without being biased. We have no idea what kind of conversations are going on inside of the classroom, but some how Kennedy’s sugar cookie candidate seems to have caused her to take a liking to John McCain because she never even mentioned his name prior to the Cookie Campaign.

Fast forward to yesterday. A commercial for Nickelodeon came on about kids voting for president. Barack Obama was the winner on Nickelodeon. This is the conversation that followed:
Great-Grandmother: Who are you gonna vote for Kennedy?
Kennedy: John McCain
My Sister: Why?
Kennedy: Because I love him!
My Sister: Why do you love him?
Kennedy: He talks really nice.
My Sister: What about Barack Obama?
Kennedy: He’s good. He talks nice too, but I’m going to vote for John McCain.

At that point, my sister just gave up. Forcing a 4 year old to vote democrat just seemed insignificant. I can’t help thinking that this Cookie Campaign has something to do with it. Is she connecting John McCain to the sugar cookie or is this just a result of her liking sugar cookies better than chocolate chip? I wonder what would happened if both classes were polled on their picks for president? I wonder if the chocolate chip cookie class would lean towards Obama and vice versa for the sugar cookie?

While I am a bit crushed that my little angel is already leaning towards the Republican Party, my concern is deeper than this. Children tend to develop their own bias at a very young age based on their environment and society in general. I am thrilled that Kennedy did not have anything negative to say about Obama because too often black children possess an internalized racism based on how our culture negatively portrays black people. As an educator, I’ve seen this time and time again in my classrooms. The only way that I’ve found to combat this is to continuously expose children to positive images of people who look like them. I believe we have done this for my niece, so I am optimistic that this situation will not manifest into something else. I’ll keep you posted on the outcome of the cookie campaign.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Senior Security


This week, all of the states where you can vote early opened up their polls. We've actually been able to vote early in Georgia for a couple of weeks now. I will be working out of town (to my great dismay) on election day, so I voted last week. I went with my sister and my 86 year old grandmother (Nanny). I was amazed at how many people were in line at 10am on a Thursday! I mean there had to have been almost two hundred people. I really wanted to take a picture with my camera phone, but I did not want to bring any undue attention to myself.

I convinced Nanny to register to vote a few months ago. She hasn't voted in like 30 years or something. However, she was more than happy to vote with us last week. Because we showed up with a senior over 75, we were ushered to the front of the line. I felt a little guilty as the line of voters snarled at us while they continued to stand in a line that they were sure not to get out of for a couple of hours.

Once we entered the voting area, I was able to assist Nanny with casting her vote. The poll worker asked me why I was assisting her since she is not disabled and she can read English. I replied, "because she's 86 ears old and she's never used a computer before." I was very proud of Nanny. I did not vote for her. She pressed all of the buttons herself. The voting quarters were so tight, you had no privacy while casting your vote. I tried to whisper as Nanny continued to ask questions about every page. I was a little nervous because I didn't want them to think I was influencing her in any way. I just kept saying, "just choose whoever you think is best Nanny." Fifteen minutes later, we both had finished voting and I felt liberated.

This election is historical for many reasons. It's personally historical for me because I had the opportunity to vote with my 86 year old grandmother, who didn't always have the right to vote because she is black and because she is a woman. She has seen things in her lifetime that are unimaginable to me, and now with this election, she will see history being made that she never thought she would see in her lifetime. So I urge you. If you can vote early, do so. And if you have someone special in your life over the age of 75, take them along and combat those long lines with your own personal senior security.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Foodie Fridays Launch: Pumpkin Passion #1


Today I'm launching my new meme, Foodie Fridays, where I will be showcasing food related topics. I'll try not to stray too far away from diversity, but food is one of my passions (eating is actually my favorite pastime), so I feel obligated to devote special time to it. My goal is to post something food related every Friday. Wish me luck! Here's the first installment:

Ode to Pumpkin......
My favorite fall friend
I am a fiend for your fabulously flavored food
IHOP's Pumpkin Pancakes.............
My lips passionately part with every pleasurable piece
Starbucks's Pumpkin Spiced Latte..............
Lingering on my palette all day after I drink
The Cheesecake Factory's Pumpkin Cheesecake..........
Chilling, yet charming so rich it's alarming
How I love thee oh pumpkin.........
Let me count the ways!


As you can tell, I have quite an unhealthy obsession with pumpkin food. I blame my mother for always making me the yummiest homemade pumpkin bread as a child (and also now as an adult). She's actually coming to visit today, and I'm secretly praying that she smuggled some of her famous bread onto the plane. I'm convinced this addiction began in the womb.

If you are not enjoying the pumpkin flavors of the fall, I urge you to go out and sample a few. The places I mentioned in my ode are great locations to start your journey into Pumpkin Paradise. Please feel free to share any tasty pumpkin recipes or foodie finds. I would love to indulge! Fellow foodies unite!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

October is National Diversity Awareness Month!


Take time out this month to celebrate your own diversity and the diversity around you. Think about ways that you can be not only tolerant, but inclusive. And always remember--as we say on the What If Diversity Network--"an open mind is a terrible thing to close." Click on the post to see a diversity calendar.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Don't Be Angry

The republicans are running neck and neck with the democrats in the presidential race. Why are we so angry and surprised?! For some reason, level-headed people are shocked and appalled that two almost-college-drop-outs have a good shot of taking over the White House. This is just a wake up call for everyone who has been bamboozled by the media into thinking that we've come a long way in our society. News flash............we haven't! I hate to break it to you, but there are probably more ignorant people in the United States than not. Consequently, we could possibly be faced with the worst four years in our country's history.

Here's my suggestion to all of you who are angry; don't be. You can't be angry with people who have been taught to be backwards and racist. They don't know any better. They live in their own little world that allows them to flourish with a bigoted mentality. We can't blame them. If you're upset with this injustice, go be a teacher. Educate somebody! Ignorance is bliss! Let's face it. There are just some people who would rather have our country go to hell in a hand basket than to have a president who is only half black (we forget that he is half white too).

My plea to everyone is to do something positive to influence and educate people. Register someone to vote. Take someone to the polls with you. Stay on top of the issues and speak the truth. Represent yourselves in a respectable manner and for God's sake VOTE!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Diversity Champion of the Week

Every week the What if Network selects one diversity story, and features that member as their diversity story champion of the week. I won last week, so my story is featured for the rest of this week. Click on the link above or on my badge in the margin to read my story. You have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page on the What If site to view my story. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How Are They Remembered?




In 1968, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two black American sprinters in the Mexico City Olympics that year, stood on the podium sporting gold and bronze medals respectively for the 200-meter track race. During the national anthem, they made history by raising their black leather glove-covered fists in protest of unequal rights in the United States. The medals the young men won for their country soon were forgotten and all attention turned to their civil disobedience. Consequently, both athletes were suspended for the national team and ousted from the Olympic Village. How disruptive and disrespectful was this non-violent protest? Did these athletes burn a flag, turn their backs, or laugh during their national anthem? No they didn't. How are they remembered? For their accomplishments as Olympic athletes or for disrespecting our sacred national anthem with a silent fist in the air--the same national anthem that calls us the land of the free and the home of the brave? Our country remembers them for the latter even though two brave men stood on the podium with hopes for one day to live in the land of the free that the our national anthem refers to.

We are so fortunate that 40 years later we have come so far in our country that an Olympic icon like Michael Phelps has the freedom of expression to laugh through the national anthem as he makes history receiving his tenth gold medal--more than any other athlete in history. How will he be remembered? For disrespecting our sacred national anthem by laughing or for the Olympic history he has made through his accomplishments in the water? You be the judge.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What's in a Name?

What’s in a name? We all were given our names for a reason—be it a family name, a name with a special meaning, or a name that was just made up by innovative parents. Whatever the reason, names often define who we are.

For hundreds of years black people in America have been called all sorts of names—slave, three-fifths, colored, Negro, nigger, black, Afro-American, African American, boy, George, gator bait, Ann, ape, Aunt Jemima, Buffie, coon, crow, gable, jigaboo, Jim Crow, jungle bunny, Leroy, Macaca, monkey, mosshead, mustard seed, nig-nog, nig-jig, nigra, powder burn, quashie, Sambo, smoked Irish, sooty, tar baby, thicklips, Uncle Tom, and host of other names that were used by America to try and define a “race” of people (go to wikipedia for a full list of ethnic slurs and their meanings). Black people have now been able to define for themselves what it means to be black in America. With the emergence of Hip Hop there has been much controversy surrounding the word nigger—who can say it, who can’t say it. Many of the names black people have been called over the years have been offensive at best and totally negate the sticks and stones malarkey we all grew up hearing. But I do believe in the wise words of many elders and Whoopi Goldberg when she says, “It’s not what you’re called, but what you answer to honey.”

So why ask the question what’s in a name now? Well, I have two reasons really. First the use of names in the current presidential race and second the younger generation’s attempt to relate through a total lack of respect. I know Hillary is no longer in the race, but I’m going to throw her up in the mix because this applies to her as well. Read the full article on Divine Caroline.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Where Are the Japanese People in the Japanese Steakhouse?

Okay. I’m about to make myself vulnerable to you because I believe that in the quest for cultural understanding and inclusion, we must be honest about our own preconceived notions and prejudices.

My husband and I just moved to a very small town in Georgia in the Atlanta Metro area with the population of about 1,000 people. I noticed that in the 3 square mile radius of our town there are actually 3 Japanese restaurants. I love authentic ethnic food, and I absolutely love Japanese food. Based on past experiences at restaurants like Benihana (not to call out names or anything), I have noticed that there are less and less Japanese people working in “Japanese” restaurants. I’m originally from the Washington, DC Metro area, and there are plenty of authentic ethnic restaurants there. However, the last time I went to Benihana in DC, all of the waitresses were Ethiopian and all of the “Hibachi” chefs were Mexican. And I know some of you may be saying that Benihana is not authentic, but I can remember a time when everyone who worked there was Japanese. During that particular visit to Benihana, I had taken some of my students to the restaurant because they had seen the infamous episode of My Wife and Kids when the family goes to the Japanese steakhouse and it sparked their interest. They were so excited because the kids’ menus had a Japanese/English dictionary page on the back. So at the end of the meal, one of my El Salvadorian students leaned over to me and asked, “How do you say thank you again,” because he wanted to thank the chef. I sarcastically replied, “gracias.”

So, I’m a little apprehensive about going to a Japanese restaurant in Smalltown, GA. I decided to call each restaurant and ask for their hours of operation, but I was really just calling to see if the person who answered the phone had an accent (I know. I’m terrible! Shame on me! Just being honest.) My husband expressed how ridiculous I was being, but those who know me know that I will stop at nothing to get an authentic international meal. What can I say? Eating is my favorite pastime. Anyway, so I call the first restaurant—no accent. Second—no accent. And the third—no accent. I decided to call a restaurant in the next town over. I couldn’t even understand the woman who answered the phone—jackpot (I know. I’m so bad.)! Unfortunately, that restaurant is like an hour away from our house, and we really weren’t up for the drive. So far it’s not looking good for the kid. My husband then brings it to my attention that just because the person answering the phone doesn’t have an accent doesn’t mean that the people who are cooking don’t either. Good point-duh! So, I called the first three restaurants back to ask them if they had Japanese cooks. I know I have officially taken it too far, but a girl’s gotta eat. I called the first restaurant again. The woman who answered the phone said, “uhh, the guy who makes the sushi has 16 years experience, but he is Chinese, and everybody else in the kitchen is not Japanese.” Second restaurant—“no one in our restaurant is Japanese.” Oh, well excuse me! God forbid a “Japanese” restaurant actually have someone Japanese working in it. Is that too much to ask for?! Not to mention, your huge billboard on the highway has a picture of Japanese man in full chef’s garb holding cooking utensils. How’s that for false advertisement? Okay, third restaurant—accent?! After asking my question, the Asian-accented woman said, “our chefs are not Japanese, but we all Asian.” I assumed this was as good as I was going to get, so I decided on Hai Hai Japanese Steakhouse. Needless to say, I’m sure I’ve already been talked about in all three restaurants because I’m sure they don’t get asked my culturally insensitive question every day.

We arrived at Hai Hai restaurant and the woman who I spoke with on the phone greeted us at the door. We were then seated at the grill with 5 other people where we met our Asian chef “Steven” (the name is another post in itself). I really wanted to ask him where he was from out of curiosity, but I decided to listen to my husband’s pleading and saved him the embarrassment. The sushi was great and the grilled food was delicious too. My only complaint is that the rice tasted kind of like Uncle Ben’s—not that there is anything wrong with Uncle Ben’s, but you don’t expect to get it in a Japanese restaurant. Overall, we had a very pleasant experience. Although, I was a little disturbed when the chef yelled “OPAAH” after making a volcano with a stack of sliced onions. Isn’t that Greek? Oh well, just another day in Smalltown, Georgia.

Just out of curiosity, I checked the population for our small town. In the year 2000, according to the U.S. census, there was only ONE Asian person living in our town. I’m sure the number has increased over the past 8 years, but not exponentially. So where are the Japanese chefs? I don’t know. Maybe in Japan! Or at least, not here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The N-Word

In her debate with Whoopi Goldberg on the July 17, 2008 episode of ABC’s The View, Elisabeth Hasselbeck discussed the use of the “n-word”—not “nuts,” but the other “n-word” that Jesse Jackson had to apologize for using during his personal confession on a hot mic at the Fox News station.

Here’s my disclaimer for the remainder of this post. I will now replace the “n-word” with the word nigger because as a writer, I don’t have to censor myself. And quite frankly I feel like saying the “n-word” takes away from the impact of the topic which is the word nigger.

The discussion on The View started with Whoopi sarcastically asking if anyone was surprised by Jesse Jackson’s comments and ended with the word nigger literally on the table after Whoopi uttered the word a half a dozen times to get her point across. Unfortunately, the question of who can use the word still stands. And after the co-hosts went back and forth on this issue, Hasselbeck was reduced to tears. But what is it about this particular conversation that would bring Elisabeth to tears?
Here is my theory. For hundreds of years white people have had literal control over black people—socially, economically, sexually, politically, institutionally, and emotionally. The word nigger has created this power struggle between blacks and whites because white people feel entitled to everything because they’ve always had everything. Now white people have a group of people who they historically have had control over telling them there is something in this world they can’t have. I imagine that’s hard for someone who is historically “privileged” to digest; the thought of losing that privilege and power might even make me shed a tear. Black people are using the word to have something that white people don’t. It’s just a power struggle and all over a word that was used to keep discrimination and racism alive and kicking in this country. This issue is about so much more than a word. It’s not the word that black people are trying to hold on to—it’s the power. If the word nigger is “buried” forever, than white people have won again, and all of the power is back in their hands. It’s a way of bowing down “to the man” once again. That’s hard for a lot of black people to swallow. I think if black people alone--without white people saying “if we can’t use it neither can you”--made the decision to “bury” the word, then maybe black people would have no problem putting an end to the use of the word. White people have taken the power for black people to do this away from them, so now there is this never-ending power struggle over the use of the word. It’s kind of like (and forgive me because I know this is a very loose analogy) a younger sibling who constantly gets hand-me-downs—the older sibling has everything they want already and has the power to give it to them, but that younger sibling just wants something to call their own. I wish it were something different that black people could call their own—something without such a stigma attached to it, but it seems to be all blacks have to hold on to in terms of having some sort of power over whites.

As far as where I stand personally on the issue—I’m indifferent because I can understand (which doesn't mean I agree wit it's usage) both sides of why people use the word and why people don’t use the word. Anderson Cooper interviewed Al Sharpton on July 17, 2008 about the issue, and I believe he brought up a very valid point. He in essence said—and I’m paraphrasing here—people cannot preach one thing publicly and not practice it privately. He added that there are no double meanings of hateful terms used against any other groups, and that for some reason, those hateful terms are clearly defined for them [non-blacks] but not for us [blacks].

I personally believe as Americans we’ve been taught that we have a right to choose the type of language we use, and we don’t like being told what we can or cannot say. Regardless of how we choose to speak we must realize how what we say affects other the people and accept whatever consequences come along with it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Closing the Achievement Gap

"WE MUST REJECT THE IDEOLOGY OF THE "ACHIEVEMENT GAP" THAT ABSOLVES ADULTS OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITY AND IMPLIES STUDENT CULPABILITY IN CONTINUED UNDER-PERFORMANCE. THE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT GAP IS MERELY THE EFFECT OF A MUCH LARGER AND MORE DEBILITATING CHASM: THE EDUCATOR ACHIEVEMENT GAP. WE MUST ERASE THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE TYPE OF TEACHERS WE ARE, AND THE TYPE OF TEACHERS THEY NEED US TO BE."
http://roomd2.blogspot.com/ by TMAO

One of my fellow What If? Diversity bloggers posed the question of what we should do about closing the achievement gap in our schools—address diversity or poverty. The quote above embodies my feelings on this topic.
If we look at education like we do business, the business of education is failing one of its most rapidly growing clientele base--children of color. When businesses are not performing well, they restructure and fire people who are not producing for the company. They don't blame the clients! They change their practices to satisfy their clients. Why are we not getting this in education? Of course all of the outside influences that our children who are living in poverty bring with them to school don't make teachers' jobs any easier, but teachers and administrators mustn't dwell on it. If you want an easy job, don’t choose teaching—you’ve got the wrong profession. More focus needs to be put into teacher quality and training (and yes I know that resources are limited, but something needs to change so that teachers have more resources). The bottom line is that teacher education programs do not prepare teachers for even half of what they will face once they reach the classroom, and our children are suffering because of it. Of course diversity is a big piece of the puzzle too. School systems should really ask tough questions and try to get to the heart of teachers' philosophies of education during the hiring process. If a teacher professes to "not see color" and possess some sort of inherent "colorblindness", that teacher probably should not be placed in a school where all of the faces are shades of brown--or any school for that matter. In order for the achievement gap to change, teachers need to change, the institution of education needs to change, and our society as a whole needs to change.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Are You Registered To Vote???

Are you registered to vote? My answer to this question is an overwhelming “I don’t know.” I recently relocated to Georgia, and for some reason, for the first time in my life, I am nervous about my voter registration. I admit that I’ve been procrastinating on getting my Georgia driver’s license—you know, avoiding that dreaded trip to the DMV. As I was watching the news last week, I heard them say that the deadline to register is June 16th. Needless to say I was now being forced to make that awful anticipated trip to the DMV.

The next morning I got all of my paperwork together and prayed before I drove down the road of uncertainty. I got to the DMV forty-five minutes before it opened and waited outside with the rest of the early risers. When the doors opened, I was fourth in line and thought that I just might be able to get out of there in under an hour. As I was called to the counter, I began to feel more confident, but wait … just then a monotone voice (similar to the woman’s voice at the DMV in the movie License to Drive) rang out and said, “Marriage certificate.” Doh! Just when I thought I was in the clear!

Click on the link below to read the full article on Divine Caroline:

http://www.divinecaroline.com/article/37963/51216-registered-vote-

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Do First Ladies Still Belong in the Kitchen?

Say it isn’t so! I’m sure I’m very late on this one, but did you know that each presidential election year Family Circle Magazine has a bake-off between the two potential first ladies to see who has the best original cookie recipe? Click on the link below to read an article about it before reading the rest of this post.

article

Are you kidding me?! What year is it? Some traditions need to eventually die. Point to ponder: If Hillary Clinton had won the democratic nomination, would they have asked Bill to bake cookies?! This is ridiculous and sexist. It implies that women still belong in the kitchen, and that along with assisting her husband on public policy, the first lady should make sure she still has time to be barefoot, pregnant, and baking a cake.

What’s even more unbelievable is the fact that the winner of this so called bake off has actually gone on to become the first lady in the last four presidential elections. God forbid that my own husband run for president. He’d be doomed because I can’t bake my way out of a paper bag! He does all of the cooking. Do the First Ladies still belong in the kitchen? Say it isn’t so!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Who cares if Barack Obama is Black, White, African American, Biracial, Cablasian or Other?

Unfortunately, America cares a little too much! There are many theories on this topic, but who cares! This is when diversity goes terribly wrong in this country. People become so obsessed with labels and putting each other into these colored racial boxes that we forget about what is truly important. And why do we do this? So we can decide which stereotypes we will expect the person to perpetuate, or decide whether or not he or she is Black enough or White enough or American enough? There are some who argue he is white because he was raised by his white mother and white maternal grandparents. Let's face it, race is a social construct created in this country to carry out racist ideals based on the color of someone's skin. Since it has absolutely no biological foundation, based on the way Senator Obama looks, labeling him as white is not going to fly in this country. There are a group of geniuses who say he's black, based on the brownness of his skin. Well duh! Where it gets real interesting is when we look at the idea of him actually being an African American or biracial (here's where I insert my opinion), because let's face it, that's what he is! Once again, I'll say who cares? Apparently a lot of folks do, so I'll continue with my post. Dictionary.com defines biracial as "having parents of two different races" and African American as "a black American of African descent." Let's examine this for Barack Obama. His parents are of two different races--that takes care of him being biracial. However, calling him African American gets a little tricky. Because his father is a native of Africa, people think he can't be considered African American because his father is not a descendent of slaves (which is an assumption). Okay fine, I'll give them that. BUT HELLO, HIS MOTHER IS A WHITE AMERICAN. So he is AFRICAN and AMERICAN. This notion that he should be labeled an Asian Pacific Islander because he grew up in Hawaii or that he is white because he was raised by white people is ludicrous! If this were true, that means that Brangelina's adopted kids are white. I think not. Again, this is my opinion based on the history of this country. What do you think? What is he and why do we care?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

What is diversity?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, diversity is the condition of being composed of distinct forms or qualities. Well, that doesn't say much! Yet, more and more we keep hearing this word........diversity. It's the new buzz word for corporate America, but what does it really mean to you and for us as a country? In my opinion, the United States is the poster child for diversity. Diversity is not something that is practiced or believed--it just IS. It exists whether people like it or not. It can't be controlled by anyone or anything. If something is diverse, it's different. How do we deal with things being more different than they are alike? I realize that as human beings we are much more alike than we are different, but what about everything else. I want to know............what is diversity to you and how is it affecting our country?

Kelly