About this Blog

The title of this blog, "I'm About to do My Thing," was inspired by Jill Scott's introduction to her poem "The Thickness" from her live album Experience: Jill Scott 826+. In this intro, she warns that the content to follow is "real" and proceeds to deliver a beautiful message about self-esteem in young black girls, what can influence and damage that self-esteem, and the entire village's responsibility--"it takes a village"--to elevate its children.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Overwhelmed and Grateful: Reflecting on an Amazing Weekend

We began by staring into each other's eyes for a whole minute. Silently. We were strangers, and this was awkward, to say the least. We giggled, fidgeted, shifted nervously in our seats, and glanced around the room. Eventually, we got down to business and tried to focus on staring at each other. When the interminable minute was up, we revealed what we had seen in each other during that time. I saw an amazing beauty; she saw kindness and warmth. We were one pair of women in a roomful, and we were beginning the end of an overwhelming weekend in Atlanta.

I still haven't really processed it all. I mean, it's taken me a week to get myself together and write about it! I was blessed enough to attend the 2nd Black Women's Life Balance & Wellness Conference in Atlanta, GA, held July 13-15. As the conference's website states, the planners of the conference "acknowledge that endeavoring to achieve career, family-life, and personal life balance is an ongoing challenge!" So, a group of talented, intelligent, beautiful black women converged on the Atlanta University Center's Robert W. Woodruff Library to encourage, inspire, and support one another. It was awesome! There's really too much to talk about; I'm probably going to cover aspects of it over several posts. However, I'll begin with the end.

Our closing session on Sunday was conducted by Pauline Mckenzie-Day and Alexis Pauline Gumbs, a mother/daughter doula team. Instead of helping to birth babies, however, they used this session to nurture the new selves that were birthed over the weekend. After discussing the gazing session, Pauline and Alexis asked us pairs to share with each other the visions that we have for ourselves, our hopes and fears. We followed that sharing by crafting haikus of affirmation for our partners, based on what we'd learned from them. My partner wrote such an insightful piece for me:

The intent is yours
You know what needs to be known
Content in intent

Yeah, it's definitely taped onto my bathroom mirror. I read it every day, and it sticks with me because it's true: I do know what needs to be known as I come closer and closer to discovering my passions and putting them into action. Meanwhile, I strive to be content--and no longer anxious or disappointed!--with the process.

Finally, we closed by forming a large circle and, one after another, expressing sounds that would create the ideal situation for a baby to be born into. As the sounds cascaded with each added voice, I smiled to hear, "Yes!" and "Welcome" and "Thank you," along with singing, humming, and sighing. It was the perfect way to welcome our new selves into the world, and I look forward to implementing some of the ideas those wonderful women shared. Step 1: make an important phone call that might transform my ideas into the tangible. More on that later. ;-)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Anti-American" American History

When I logged onto Twitter last night and searched for the official page of Melissa-Harris Perry's eponymous show, I saw cries of "anti-Americanness" and "socialism" surrounding her July 1st show. The particular segment in question was geared toward the 4th of July, its history, and what it means. Check out the segment below:

Many Tweeters took issue with the very idea that Harris-Perry would even mention slavery and genocide in a discussion about the nation's birthday, her doing so deemed "trashing America." Is it untrue that our nation's founding also coincided with the taking of land that belonged to others? Is it a lie that our nation was built by shackled hands? No, that's all true. Why, then, is it anti-American to state these immutable facts?

What I gather is that these irate Tweeters and others have a problem with these national stains being highlighted or foregrounded on a day that should be spent celebrating. Harris-Perry's choice in "celebration," then, is considered inappropriate or in poor taste.

Is she raining on the Independence Day parade? Perhaps, but I believe the lack of such discussions do a major disservice to us all, especially our children. It does them no good to learn about the Declaration of Independence and fights for liberty and equality if they're getting only part of the story. It seems so many people want to pretend that these stains never existed, but they're integral to the founding of this country--just as integral as the signing of the Declaration on July 4, 1776. If it is a worthy tradition to acknowledge, each July 4th, the ideals of liberty and equality that the Founding Fathers espoused, then it is just as worthy and even responsible to acknowledge the hypocrisy inherent in those ideals.

Yesterday, my 10-month-old, Mini Mo, wore a "My First 4th" onesie that was embossed with red and blue stars and an Uncle Sam hat. And when she's old enough, we'll pop firecrackers and grill out on the 4th, but we'll also discuss the reasons that everyone didn't have cause to celebrate on July 4, 1776--or for that whole next century. That's not anti-American in the least. It's history--American history--and that won't make my child a "slave" to the past. It will make her educated.

I'm not out to defend Harris-Perry. (She's a grown woman--and a scholarly, brilliant, eloquent one at that. She needs no back-up from me.) As she indeed points out in her Independence Day segment, though, she is proud of her country, imperfections and all. We can all be patriotic and honest at the same time, striving for those 18th-century ideals in the process.