gratitude: where the difference lies

“The real differences around the world today are not between Jews and Arabs; Protestants and Catholics; Muslims, Croats, and Serbs.  The real differences are between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it; between those who look to the future and those who cling to the past; between those who open their arms and those who are determined to clench their fists.” 
– William J. Clinton, 1997

This is more true today than it’s ever been.  Labels are shouted from the rooftops – religion, race, who we love, who we should hate – all with one aim.  Division.

You cannot dream of peace while denouncing an entire group of people.  You cannot look to the future if you are determined to stand still, feet planted in sour soil with firmly downcast eyes.  You cannot lay claim to Christian love and forgiveness while your actions are incendiary, exclusionary, and dismissive.

But I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  More and more people are stepping out of the shadows, determined to stand up and say, “We are better than this.”  And we are.  We are better than this.

We just have to expect it of one another.


My post as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.

Forever Family: what to do when the KKK walks out of the history book and into your lives

If you visited the blog yesterday you know this has been an intense week.  Frankly, I’ve downed a lot of Advil and done more than my fair share of stress eating, neither of which really fixed what ailed me.  Beer didn’t help either.  That’s what I get for trying to self-medicate.

Bee recently talked about what it’s like to live in redneckia and it made me laugh.  Then it made me cringe.  Then laugh again.  Because sometimes the world is so freaking distressing, so overwhelmingly frustrating and infuriating, that my only coping mechanism is to find humor in the macabre.  Which is certainly how I categorize the racist sh*t we’ve run into over the last three years or so.

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when the KKK and middle school collide

You might want to skip this one if you’re looking for the typical lighthearted RFTM fare, or you could play whirl-a-post.  I get it, sometimes you just want a fun read, so if that’s the case just go down the right hand side of your screen and click a tag or visit the Greatest Hits page.  But don’t expect me to bring the snark today.

The KKK sucked it right out of me.

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Forever Family: tawny, russet, sepia, umber

Bear and I used to read The Colors of Us by Karen Katz together.  She’d ask to hear it almost every day.

“My name is Lena, and I am seven.
I am the color of cinnamon.
Mom says she could eat me up.”

Lena wanted to paint a picture of herself, but her mom pointed out that brown isn’t merely brown.  Bear would ooh and aah as she turned the pages, absorbing the medley of shades in Lena’s neighborhood.

The children’s picture book took a simple approach, describing each character’s skin tone as something the main character understood…french toast, honey, butterscotch, peanut butter, chocolate cupcakes, nutmeg.  Bear would point excitedly at a page and name someone she knew who looked like that.  She never tired of naming which skin tone was hers, and it was her favorite game to match people we knew to characters in the book.

The book’s message is clear: brown is not simply brown.  Brown is a palette.  Brown is beautiful in a hundred ways.

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a voice in the world

Martin Luther King Jr. stands tall in our history books.  The very tone of our nation turned on his commitment to the belief that all people are created equal.  That the assumption of whites being a preferred race was flawed, and no man or woman should be treated as inferior due to the color of their skin.  He pursued change through nonviolent protest, despite the violence waged against the African American people, and eventually expanded to protests against the Vietnam War and poverty among Americans of all races.  His was a voice we needed in the world and a life cut far too short.

These are just a few things I’ve read about Martin Luther King Jr. over the weekend.  Please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.

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SoCS – parenting struggles when mama bear shows up

I can see the bare trees in the background as I sit talking with T-man, trying to walk the line between the white hot fire burning in my belly and having a meaningful conversation about how to navigate in this world.

Because who better to talk to my dark skinned son about handling racist comments than his white mama?  Yeah, that’s what I thought, too, but he’s stuck with me so we wade into those waters.

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I think of the KKK who dared to show its ugly face in my state, throwing a parade in celebration of the election, and the look on my kids’ faces when BrightSide said there’d been reports of a cross burning in the original parade location.

I see the bare branches swaying and I think of switches and beatings and ugliness that simmers just below the surface, only sometimes in our area of the south it doesn’t burrow too far down. It throws just enough paint on to pass itself off as harmless jokes or southern pride; it’s muttered in an undertone that can be written off as something you misheard.

I tell T-man that we’re fighting to provide him with a safe learning environment, but responsible parenting demands that we tell him he’ll meet assholes like this his entire life.  We wish it weren’t so but it is, and he’ll need to find ways to handle it.  I remind him that there’s a great deal of mama bear raising up in me right now, that the claws are out…and I ask if he’s ever considered turning to this particular kid with the smart mouth and telling him to go to hell.

But my pacifist son is horrified.  He doesn’t want to tell him that.  I don’t tell T-man this is all I want to tell that kid, preferably while giving his arm a nice hard twist, ’cause grownups aren’t supposed to act like that.  Apparently.

I always thought the winter trees were starkly beautiful, standing bare against the smooth gray sky, but today they look dangerous.  Menacing.  And I dream of the day when my twelve-year-old son won’t be made to feel like an outsider because his skin is brown.


SoCS 2

Linda’s weekly Stream of Consciousness prompt is open to one and all.  Click the link to check out its rules and participating blogs.  This week’s prompt is “bear/bare.”

Forever Family: we see what we expect to see

All in all, these kids of ours are pretty awesome.  They’re funny, polite (especially to other people), responsible, good natured…there’s only one question we hear from folks more often than the compliment that we’ve got great kids.

“Are they biological sister and brother?”

I honestly didn’t get this at first and truth be told it still perplexes me.  T-man and Bear didn’t come home together, which is the first and most obvious sign of adopting siblings, so this isn’t a timing thing.  Their skin tones and body types are different enough that you’d think it would give people pause, and yet we get this question a lot.  This is how the conversation usually goes.

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another voice, another view

Yesterday a woman recommended a new tv show for us.  It’s one of those you can’t really sum up in a sentence or two, so after meandering about a bit she simply said it would give us another perspective.

And isn’t that what we all really need?  We know full well what’s going on in our lives, in our community.  What we truly need is voices with other perspectives, voices that make us think and sometimes reevaluate the stories we’ve told ourselves.  Put bluntly, we need voices that don’t sound like our own.

Are you black?  A woman?  A man?  Pro-Black Lives Matter?  Pro-Blue Lives Matter?  A combination of any of the above?

Click the link to read one black man’s point of view on race in America.

5 Attempts to Keep Black America in Check That Fail Miserably – Daddy Doin’ Work