Monday, November 11, 2013

Too Much Google

I've decided that I have a few too many google platforms in my life, so I'm planning to switch over to a wordpress platform for this blog.  Updates to follow soon (if I get my act together).

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Demographics of Gay Marriage

This Sunday's Time brought us the story "Gay Couples, Choosing to Say I Don't," which featured some cute couples with whom I am quite sympathetic.   They are all couples of the Times Style Section persuasion, meaning wealthy and well educated.  The demographics of gay married people are so in flux that it would be hard to make any substantive arguments, but that probably won't stop people from trying. 

It's been clear for a while that among straight marrieds, wealthy and middle-income people get married and low income people do not.  I'm not sure that pattern will hold among the newly marrying gays.  When they marry, low-income straights may experience a marriage penalty in the form of loss of benefits, without any tangible advantages.  In contrast, even low income gays may calculate that the family protections offered through marriage (and for some newly available insurance benefits for gay spouses) outweigh any losses.  Those same marriage protections may not seem as pressing to higher income gay couples, who can create legal protections with a good (expensive) lawyer.  So for lower-income gay couples marriage is a poor man's lawyer, while for wealthy gays not marrying is a cheap pre-nup.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Flip this House: Vacants Edition

My parents brought down my old dollhouse to refurbish for LB.  It was made back in the early '80s by a neighbor with a hobby business.  It's been through a few moves and sat in an attic for close to 25 years, hence a busted window and some missing shutters.  It was also very dirty and it has a lot of peeling contact paper on the floors and walls.  I pulled up the attic fake-wood contact paper to reveal real wood!

I'm thinking I'd like to repaint it light blue with white trim and a gray roof like our house, and then do some new paint and paper on the inside.  I don't know what I'm going to do about the missing shutters, it's not like I have a wood shop available to fabricate tiny shutters.  I was thinking maybe I could try to match them with sculpey.  LB is still in destructacon mode, so I'm trying to stay sturdy rather than fussy.  Maybe when she's older she'll want to redo it herself and do the stuff I did, making little rugs and such.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dark Mark

We got the slicked-back blond hair and the dark mark, but LB won't have anything to do with her Hogwarts robe or tie, and while she likes her wand, it turns out that it isn't the best accessory for a crowd of preschoolers. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Debt Watch

It's the post-season, so B is cracking her knuckles and muttering curses at the tv.  That's how I feel about Congress.  No one around here seems very concerned, but I'm still recovering from the trauma of 2008.  We don't have a home, and have only the smallest of retirement investments, so we didn't lose much.  But the memory of sitting in a drafty room filled with rumors of layoffs and hearing the Dean tell us briskly that "the trustees think you're overcompensated," isn't easy to forget.

Recession shaped the trajectory of my adult life.  My dad got laid off my senior year of high school.  I had plenty of skills doing the work that you do when you grow up in a tourist town; cleaning hotel rooms, washing dishes, and making sandwiches (best teen job in town-hostess, worst teen job in town-fish processing plant).  By the time I moved to Boston in 1990, you had to know someone to get any kind of terrible job, which is how I got mine.

Work it out Congress, work it out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Happy First People's Day!

In celebration of Colonialism Day, we went to New Bedford, MA to eat some Portuguese food and have a look around.  New Bedford is an interesting town.  Economically, it's definitely seen better times, although back in its heyday of drunken sailors reeling through the town it was probably more seedy than quaint.  The historic part of the city is lovely and silent, while all the action, good and bad, happens in the immigrant periphery.

The Portuguese food was just okay.  It's interesting how our tastes are formed throughout life.  I like fancy ("authentic") regional Italian food, but I also like the red-sauce Italian American food of my childhood restaurants (my grandmother learned to "cook Italian" from her neighbor, which meant ketchup on Prince elbows).  The foods of the Iberian Peninsula were not part of my childhood, just grad school nights in mid-priced tapas (pronounced with the aggressive TH) bars.  Our lunch was the Portuguese version of red-sauce Italian American, and it was just okay.

Then we went to the little New Bedford Oceanarium, and it was perfect for LB.

We spent most of our time hanging out by the tank with rays and little sharks, and LB had fun putting her hands in the water and getting splashed by rays.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Since We've Been Gone

We've missed a few internet cultural controversies.
As you can see, it's not that we only eat Barilla pasta, we also eat Crisco and graham crackers.  I'm going to be really sad when this pasta is gone.  Note to self: in the future buy preferred products by the case in case offensive comments require boycott.

[missing: pic of our pantry with lots of Barilla and also a tub of Crisco.]

At least we're putting those graham crackers to good use.

And of course, it's the post-season.

LB's been working out, who knew our baby could do this!

And checking out the scene at the park.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"It's 5 o'clock somewhere"

Or so the radio tells me.  So why shouldn't we be the proud owners of a novelty wine glass that says "Mommy's Sippy Cup"?  This glass was a present for B, which just happened to arrive as as LB has added a three year old's capacity for screaming and hitting to a 2 year old's rage and lack of emotional regulation.  Is it wrong to drink Wild Turkey from a wine glass?

B is off playing softball with homosexuals, while LB and I work through our issues.  We had a successful outing for muffins and coffee, everyone loves a child with messy hair and a stuffed bear, and LB only peed on the ground after we were outside.

Moments of bliss, toddler jokes, toddler kisses, toddler games are interspersed with torturous bouts of screaming.  I was thinking the other day about the lack of lesbian mom/twee perfection blogs.  Which is not to say that lesbians don't have lovely children and homes, and sometimes create etsy worthy crafts, but I can't think of any aesthetically-perfect-parenting blogs by lesbians.  Am I missing out?  Maybe is just that there aren't many (any?) highly monetized gay mommy blogs?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Services, Services, Services: The Update Edition

It's been a week of work, and vomiting, and meetings, with just a little bit of the rage virus added in for good measure.  I finished my freelance job, and God willing, I will be paid some day.  I'm excited to be back to blogging now that I have a minute or two of free time. 

Hump day brought our IEP eligibility meeting.  Not good my friends.  I guess I've know for a long time that I find negativity highly motivating, but this meeting really brought it home.  I can't remember the last time I was in a room with such a bunch of unprofessional hacks, and I'm not even going to qualify that with any excuses about how they must have hard jobs or how they have to work within a broken system.  There is no excuse for what I saw in that room.

I'm taking the details straight to the ombsbudsperson for the school system.  The short version is that they were about to formally deny LB services, when I pulled a bureaucratic maneuver that forced the school team to throw out all of their findings and start over.  It was definitely a strange moment.  [Insert warfare or card playing metaphor here.]  Even though we kept them from getting what they wanted (a closed case), I left the building feeling dirty.  I want to believe in public education, and it sucks to see in action those people who ruin it for everyone: certainly for students and their parents, but also for the good educators in the system, who have to see their efforts to actually educate children constantly thwarted by people who are there to play the game and collect a check.

It's going to be a long 16 years.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

66 to Galilee

I don't know where it goes, but that's the bus that went by as I was walking to work.

Blogging on hiatus as I really, really try to finish my freelance job. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Providence, Oh Providence

I survived my first week at my new job.  I week during which B was on the other side of the country for her job (which, from what I saw on facebook, seems to involve watching Dodgers games and eating fancy meals), and being woken up in the middle of Sunday night by a puking child.   My new job is right in downtown Providence, and I got to walk around a bit to get my bearings and drink quite a bit of coffee in local shops. 

I've lived in a few cities, and gone on interviews in many, many more.  My specialization seems to be the small post industrial (aren't they all) city, with a good dose of Rust Belt.  In each of these cities, I got a tour describing the place as a "city of neighborhoods"- aren't they all.  Providence isn't post-industrial like Chicago or Pittsburgh, but it is certainly post-manufacturing, and you can see that written all over the city.

My morning commute brings me to Kennedy Plaza, the central bus transfer point for the system.  The Plaza brings together all kinds of people, but overall it reflects the demographics of bus-riders who are poorer than the city as a whole, and described in one local NPR commentary as "the 3rd world" of Providence.  They also blast classical music through the loudspeakers on the Plaza.  I assume this choice was based on some broken windows theory that classical music keeps away the riffraff or generally classes up the place.  In practice, I can say that it is very disconcerting to stride away from the Plaza to a soundtrack of "Flight of the Valkyries."  My associations are either Apocalypse Now or Brown Shirts, and I'm assuming that neither of those was what the city fathers and mothers were going for. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bitties and Yummy Bears, Oh My

We had 12 hours of crisis last week when we realized after dinner that LB's very important blanket named "Bitty" was missing.  B spent some time cruising the mean streets between our house and daycare thinking that perhaps bitty had been dropped (passive voice intentional) on our morning walk.  No Bitty.  LB went to sleep whimpering "Bitty got a little bit lost.  Bitty got a little bit lost." And rejecting all other blankets, after rubbing them between her little fingers, and finding them wanting.  She woke up crying at least three times during the night.

B and I were wrung out.  I may have started crying once.  It was the worst thing since the NICU and the time after the NICU when I dropped LB on her head.

All three of us walked to daycare the next morning and the adults kept our eyes peeled for Bitty.  No Bitty.  I was imagine years of interupted sleep.  We walked into daycare and there was Bitty on the front desk!  Then LB remembered (confabulated) that her mischievous friend Z. had removed Bitty from our stroller, and Bitty had gotten a little bit lost.  Perhaps, but we are just glad to have bitty.

Potty training continues to the sounds of "I need a yummy bear!  I neeeed a yuuuummmy bear!"

I managed to get through my first day of work with no puking, cursing, or crying, so I'll call that a win.  I ordered a couple dresses from Land's End, before they told me the dress code is "very casual."  The dresses here and here are flattering and nice fabric.  I was afraid they would be too low cut, but they're fine. And, for anyone who's nursing and looking for professional-type nursing clothes, these dresses would be perfect.  They are faux wrap style with a lot of give, and they seem a lot less expensive than dresses marketed as nursing dresses.  This is my first and last fashion post.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gut Shabbos, Providence

The most visible minority in the neighborhood where we live are Orthodox Jews.  Depending on how much you want to stretch your legs, we are walking distance to at least four Orthodox congregations including a "modern and inclusive Orthodox Synagogue" and an Orthodox Shul that makes no claims to be either modern or inclusive.  There are also a couple Orthodox day schools, and I love to see the Orthodox girls riding their bikes the wrong way down our main drag like bats out of hell with their skirts and braids billowing out behind them.

Orthodox families give a certain rhythm to the neighborhood, mothers and children rushing on Friday afternoon errands, and a steady stream of people walking north on Saturday morning.  Today I was moving against the foot traffic, hurrying to my hair appointment, part of the Saturday morning dog walking, baby strolling, coffee drinking types.  Halfway to my destination there was rugby practice on one side, with knots of Orthodox boys in black suits leaning over the fence to watch.  The other side was the Brown football game (who knew Brown had a football team) complete with girls in short-shorts, tailgaters, and piped in music ("Last Friday Night").  The girls were interspersed with families, one with a fashionable mom in a long dark skirt pushing a baby carriage, accompanied by a stair-step gaggle of daughters in matching, elaborately stitched dresses like something right out of my childhood All of a Kind Family books.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's Potty Time (sung in the voice of Elmo's dad)

 It seems like they should sell Elmo underwear at Target, but, at least at ours, they don't.  Instead we have kitties and ponies, which is ridiculous, but we couldn't see buying Spiderman or Cars underwear just to make a point, which was a good call since a young child only wants to wear one particular pair of Hello Kitties. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Services, Services, Services (in which I complain about that which no one wishes to hear me complain about in real life)

We had LB's IEP transition meeting today.  For those of you lucky enough not to know, that is the transition that three year olds make from getting services through Early Intervention to getting services through the school system.  So far this shift has required

PT eval (2 service providers present)
Speech eval (3 sessions) (1 PT present)
1 meeting to describe transition process (3 providers present)
1 (hour long!) paperwork meeting (1 provider)
1 meeting to meet our transition coordinator (2 providers)
1 meeting to meet IEP team and sign forms (5 professionals!)
(and I was supposed to get LB a hearing screen, but I didn't because she hears fine)

In a few weeks we'll have
The meeting where they tell us if she qualifies for services

Do you see where I'm going with this.  We sat at a conference table with five professional people (presumably making professional salaries) signed a couple things, and they ushered us out the door.  How much did that meeting cost in labor hours?  Because I can tell you that the benefit to us was $0 (and that's being generous because it actually cost us money in lost time).

It is so frustrating, because I know the system exists for a good reason, and some of its exactness and convolutedness does exist to protect parents and kids, to make sure parents understand the process, to make sure that everyone has access to the services they need.  But, it's enough to turn a lady into a small government libertarian.

They really need some kind of screening matrix that rates
1) The complexity of the child's needs (if LB had multiple serious issues, we probably would want to have an actual sit down meeting to make sure nothing was overlooked)
2) parental resources (some parents do need to have all of the forms read aloud to them, and it should be their right to hear that information.  B and I do not need to have things read aloud to us, and doing so is an annoying waste of resources)

The also need to modernize from paper triplicate forms!  Dear lord.  Most of the stuff that takes hours in person could be done online in minutes.  And not all parents have access to a computer and a scanner, but it would be so much cheaper to buy a family a tablet and pay for their internet access than to make them schelp around town to sign forms.  Even it they modernized the system, they could still have some dedicated people would work with families who needed the most support and keep providing them with in-person meetings. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cooking From the Box

We have started getting a weekly veggie box (mostly veggie, with some fruit) from Farm Fresh RI.  The big draw is that we can pick up the box at daycare, which is so convenient it makes me want to cry.  (If you are anywhere near Salem, CT you should check out my friends at Provider Farm, they are talented farmers and some of the hardest working people I know!) When we were in Chicago we did Angelic Organics, which is an absolutely amazing CSA, and then we did one in Baltimore that wasn't so impressive.  Farm Fresh isn't a tradition CSA, instead they work with multiple farms and bundle and deliver the box.  I thought the first week had great variety and quality, but was a little skimpy.  For week 2, the box was absolutely packed and had great variety and quality, so far I'm really happy with FF.

Last week I made: roast tomatillo salsa, bok choy stir fry, and baba ganoush (do you know how long it took a girl from NH to spell all of those foods?).  The baba ganoush was great because I had one medium eggplant, just enough for me and I'm the only person who likes it, and I had all the ingredients on hand.  LB ate 6 peaches, and we ate some of the tart little apples.

This week, red salsa (we got a good sized bag of mixed hot peppers and they are hot!), stuffed peppers, and borsht (I think I'm going to make it with little meatballs).  We also have green beans and cooking greens for sides.  

We got more apples this week, and I think they are just too tart for eating raw.  I could make applesauce, but I think I'll make more decadent apple squares.  I love the box!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

"I'm All Jacked Up!"

It's our new family motto.  I was trying to quickly cram LB into her carseat, but it wasn't working and it seemed like maybe there was a bag of cheerios under her somewhere, and I was afraid I'd pinch her with the clips, and I said "This is all jacked up!" For the next 15 minutes a mournful child repeated, "I all jacked up! I all jacked up!"

And we laughed and laughed.  But we are all all jacked up.  Sick, wheezy, asthmatic, adults overworked, child feeling the pressure of being a big girl.  Clearly crappy lung season clearly starts early here than it did down South, but we are not on it.  We have a big meeting for LB on Monday about her move from IFSP to (potential) IEP and I'm gearing up for operation "make sure LB gets services."

Something like a first-day-of-school picture

With neb

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Can I be "an Indian" for Halloween?

For me, the clear answer is "Oh fuck no!"  I need to come up with a response for the younger set.  I've been struggling for a more toddler-appropriate phrase that expresses the sentiment "you are shit out of luck."  So far, nothing seems quite satisfactory.

This page of monstrosities comes to us from the monstrosity that is the Chasing Fireflies company (I'm not even going to link to them).  If you aren't familiar with CF, they seem to specialize in sparkle/fairy/princess of the something-about-that-outfit-seems-inappropriately-sexualized variety.  But, at least I know if I need to buy LB a costume befitting a child prostitute in a 19th century bordello, CF will be there for me.  Maybe they can get Brook Shields to design a Pretty Baby line of costumes.

Until LB is old enough to earn her own money and sneak out of the house with her party clothes in a bag she will not be dressing as "a Native American," "a Black," "a Jew," "a Chinese," or any other racial or ethnic group.  Not surprisingly, CF seems to have missed the memo on the Urban Outfitters "Navaho" underpants controversy.

My family has a lot of pictures from back in the day of little kids in "Indian" costumes.  One of my great uncles was a proud member of the Order of Red Men (there was a Red Men lodge in our old neighborhood in Baltimore), and he was also the direct descendent of an Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) woman.  It's so interesting to think of this man who had lost the Haudenosaunee part of his cultural heritage and then embraced a white faux indian-ness.  So if perfectly nice people dressed up as "Indians" as children and remained perfectly nice, and if people of indigenous heritage participated in fake "Indian" culture, then can it be so wrong?  What if a white woman is invited to a South Asian wedding, is it racist for her to wear a sari?  What if a black man is invited to a Scottish wedding, is it racist for him to wear a kilt?  [These examples are plucked from some of my favorite cultural commentators.]

To which I would reply: A) Try holding your breathe until your Navaho "best friend" offers you some sacred garments to wear as your Halloween costume.

B) For me, the question is do I want to make other people feel demeaned or disrespected over a costume, when there are an infinite number of alternatives that would not be demeaning or disrespectful.  People have a wide range of opinions, and certainly there are people from all groups that wouldn't be offended by this sort of dressing up, but I wouldn't want to have to look someone in the eye who was offended and explain myself.  And clearly cultural boundaries aren't absolute.  We cross and mix and borrow constantly, but that borrowing should be a conscious choice, not the perception that another person or their culture is a thing that can be purchased and discarded.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to Reality

I've been using the library at our local university, which is good, but I've been overhearing a lot of awkward conversations among first year students.  At least, now that the semester's starting again, the coffee cart in the library is open again.  What kind of library doesn't serve coffee 24/7 in this day and age.

I spent a chunk of Labor Day writing angry letters to my representatives about why we should not be bombing Syria, or otherwise involving ourselves in that country.  And I feel for the people of Syria, there was an article in last week's New Yorker about the huge refugee camp over the border in Lebanon-crazy and heartbreaking, but, we, the United States, have failed all of our recent fixing-countries tests.  We have a gentleperson's D- in fixing countries.  Our motto should be America: We Break Countries!  Our leaders need to go back to remedial intervention school before we get involved in another conflict.  If I thought our involvement would save the people of Syria, that would be compelling, but everything I've seen in the past decade(s) suggests that we will only make things worse.  Syria is one of those weird issues were the left and the right seem to be meeting up, so I'm unclear about who exactly thinks we should get involved.  I'm not even posting any links because this is one of the few cases where I don't feel the need for nuanced arguments, I'm just going with my gut that we should not be involved in military intervention in Syria.

The interwebs also found strange bedfellows in reaction to this post (pics accompanying the post have been changed from shirtless young men to fully clothed family members, presumably in response to comments about ridiculous double standards for boys and girls.)

One response from the queer/feminist/consensual side here (I like this blog.)  And a response from the conservative religious/authoritarian/purity side here (While I wouldn't consider those terms flattering, I think they are accurate and the blog author would not object to being so defined.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


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B and I have been getting some projects done.  My motivation is wanting things to be organized before I start my new job, I'm not sure of B's motivation.  I think she just likes projects.  I rearranged LB's room to make it more inviting, a project that was successful because of the generous gift of a train table!  (Thanks M!)

Now the room has more of a play nook, and once we get some pictures up on the walls, I think it will be really nice.

 A child approves, and didn't even complain that we moved her bed.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day Review: American Cab, Providence, RI

In honor of Labor Day, I'm writing a review of a great small business in Providence.  American Cab is my go to cab company.  It's a one man operation run by John the owner, but he does have another guy who covers when he isn't working (and I've also had a good experience with him).  John took me to my early morning airport flights for eight months (I can't believe I did that for so long), and he was early or on time for every trip, even the ones when I left at 4:30am.  He has a nice cab, drives safely, takes the direct route, and is just a nice friendly guy.

I'm a person who usually will take public transit, just because I've had such bad experiences with unreliable cabs, but there is no way to get to T.F. Greene airport at 4:30am without a car.  With John, I was so much less stressed about getting to the airport than I would have been otherwise.

The number for American Cab is (401) 487-2111
Since he's a one man shop, if you know ahead of time that you'll need a cab, call him the day before. 

(I received no compensation for this review.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Word that Shall Not Be Spoken

There's one word I heard a lot this week that I will not type for fear that it has some Voldemort-type properties.  There was also a lot of online conversation about the lines between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation, like this piece on Jezebel (interesting links and comments also), and this piece on Slate.  The author of the Slate article, Tressie McMillian Cottom, also wrote this academic looking article about Country, Hip Hop crossover and representations of black women's bodies.  I haven't read it yet, but it looks really interesting and hopefully it will answer so many questions that I've been kicking around as I listen to the country station.

At our house, M.I.A.'s "Bad Girls" has been in heavy rotation at our house (LB says "Play again? Play again?"), a year after everyone else.  When it came out, the video for the song was heavily critiqued for its orientalist imagery.  Here's a nice balanced discussion.  Video aside, M.I.A. is ethnically Tamil, Sri Lankan, raised largely in London performing music rooted in Black America.  And she does it well.  So does M.I.A. have credibility because she's good, because she's not performing class, because her body is covered, because she is brown? (I'm not even trying to have answers to all those questions.)

And then there's this monstrosity (below).  I think what I said when I watched this with B was "is this performance art or something."  I don't even understand how Lil' Debbie manages to fit so many offensive images into one video, but she does.  I need to keep this one on file for future exhibit As about race, gender, sexuality, and cultural appropriation.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Members of Lesbaru Nation Since 2013

After three good years car free, we bought a car!  We're a little less bohemian, a little more boushy, and it feels amazing.  I guess we should have a picture with us in it to show that I'm not just taking pictures of random cars and passing them off as my own, but that was more than I can manage.  You can see the cool blue temporary water supply hose.  We have both running water and a car, it's a good life.

Monday, August 26, 2013

This one's for you Mr. Thicke

Strangely, these cards are courtesy of my Father in Law, who was given a stack of them by a feminist friend some decades ago.  I guess he never got around to handing them out.

This weekend I got around to watching the video for "Blurred Lines" (explicit version).  It was almost like Thicke took a Women Studies 101 class, read a little feminist theory, and then set out employ every concept and action critiqued by feminist theorists.  Also, I hear he stole that song from Marvin Gaye.

I guess everyone but me has been busy making a "Blurred Lines' parody video.  I wouldn't call this queer burlesque version a parody, but maybe it will help clear your mind after watching the original.  And if you want to be disturbed all over again, you can watch this (clean) version done by kid performers.  B and I are probably on the fairly permissive side when it comes to toddlers and media, I don't expect that we will change that much as LB gets older (and, yes, this will likely lead to some uncomfortable parent conferences).  But, I think we might need to have a rule that LB can't perform the "clean" version of any song unless we're willing to listen to her sing the explicit version all the way through at least once.  Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You" would probably get green lighted, "Blurred Lines" would certainly not (and neither would Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night," partying until you black out set to an uptempo beat-not cool my young friends).

Sunday, August 25, 2013

While Mommy's Away

Not pictured: night wakeups, nebs, puking, blueberry covered face, general destruction.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

More than a Dream: March on Washington Resources

I'm wishing I was in D.C. for all the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington festivities, although I don't know if I would have braved the train trip from Baltimore to DC alone with LB.  I have a love hate relationship with the March.  It is such a cool and moving historical event.  So why hate?  King's "I Have a Dream" speech (with a little Rosa Parks feet were tired thrown in) is the sum total of instruction in African American history for many kids and youth in this country.  And by the time those young people show up in my classroom, they're pissed, and rightly so, that no one bothered to talk to them about the richness and complexity of the Black freedom struggle.  [So here's a little Robert F. Williams, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Malcolm X, Bob Moses, and a lot of Black Panther coverage.]

I've listened to this Footage of Mahalia Jackson singing "How I Got Over" at The March about ten times, and LB has been dancing to it.  And a version with better audio quality here.

Cool footage from the National Archives, which includes Odetta's performance. (This is a restored copy of the documentary The March produced in 1963, and it includes King's speech.)

King's full speech,  and why it's hard to find free full video.

Eyes on the Prize, March on Washington clip from youtube.

NPR has had some great coverage of the anniversary, including this nice piece about Bayard Rustin.

They could have developed it more, but I still like this piece from The Root on fashions of the March.

The NYTimes has made their original coverage available here, as well as some lovely photos, and memories from attendees.

Planning documents from 1963 for "How to Organize a March" via Slate.

Bob Dylan performing here. This is a fun clip because Dylan looks like what my mom would call "a hood," and the audience is milling around and looking bored until Joan Baez and Len Chandler jump in for "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize."

Lesson plans from PBS.

And of course, to keep it kind of gay, netflix has a good documentary, Brother Outsider, about Bayard Rustin, March organizer who was pushed out of a public role in the Movement both because he was gay and because of his long leftist political ties. You can read a piece on Rustin here at Buzzfeed, and here's Rustin debating Malcolm X (Rustin first appears at about 1.15).  (Rustin was a committed pacifist who had gone to jail for refusing to serve during WWII.)

I'm hoping there will be some TV coverage as well. LB got sick as soon as B left for the weekend, so I need to get off the blogs and hold my sick girl.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Report from the Annals of Stubborn and Manipulative Children

LB's speech therapist C goes to visit her a daycare once a week, even though the hunch at this point is no speech issues, just some mix of sensory/processing/social stuff that sounds like total bullshit until it's your kid.  I like C a lot, she's calm and seems eminently sensible.  Today she called after her visit with LB to tell me that she had attempted to do some more formal testing with LB, and LB had refused any part of it, even with the best and most creative efforts of C and the daycare staff. And then she asked me if LB has trouble drinking from a sippy cup!  Which really, if my almost three year old had trouble drinking from a sippy, I would probably mention it to her speech therapist.  But no, she has absolutely no issues, at home that is.  Apparently at school she feigns an inability to drink to the degree that they have her wear a bib!  And, of course, give her lots of attention.  C astute observation was that maybe LB likes getting attention for being a baby.  At her beloved old daycare, LB was always "Baby LB," and everyone fawned over her.  Add to that the fact that she is tiny (and cute), and she's now the oldest in her class by a ridiculous number of months, and I think we have a well-developed get-attention-by-acting-like-a-baby strategy going on.

So next week, another crack at the speech testing at our house, and maybe we can figure out if she is processing really slow, or she's amazingly stubborn, or something in between.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Talking about Terrible Things (with young people)

I read this post, "When do we teach our kids about hate," over at VillageQ with interest.  Historical hate is pretty much my bread and butter.  Today I spent a couple hours researching the derivation of an antiquated used racial slur.  And as a teacher, a big part of my job has been introducing students to terrible events in history.

So maybe I should be pro-"teach all the hate and teach it now."  I remember as a little girl growing up in New Hampshire, meeting another little (brown) girl on the beach and playing with her.  She told me that she was afraid of the Ku Klux Klan, who were bad men who would come out of the woods.  I wasn't afraid because that had no meaning for me.  So there's the problem of telling children things that will make them afraid.  In some situations fear can be protective, but if your children aren't in danger, perhaps they can be spared that fear.

But as we teach our children only the fears closest to them, fear becomes an unequal burden.  Some children need to know that when you hear a loud noise you hit the floor, and others don't.  Some children need to hear that "sometimes people don't like people who are different and want to hurt them," while for other children that lesson feels as irrelevant as the Klan was to my eight-year-old self.

The fear issue is a big one, but, for me, I think the larger issue is one of honesty.  I'm all for honesty, but I don't think honesty means telling kids a lot at a young age, rather I think it requires waiting for a pretty high level of emotional and intellectual maturity before discussing really difficult topics.  When we try to explain terrible things to young people who aren't able to comprehend them, our instincts to remove the brutality and despair are so strong that we end up telling a dishonest version.  Or we tell a story that kids can understand in the way that they would understand a horror movie, but not on a deeper level.

I suppose there are people who teach college courses without crying.  I am not one of them.  And I'm not alone.  I've been in a lot of classrooms with crying professors, and I think for many of us that is a deliberate vulnerability among those who teach difficult subjects.  If you can look at the photos from Without Sanctuary, or watch children being deliberately attacked with police dogs without crying maybe you're not fully understanding that this is what real people chose to do to other real people.  That's a devastating lesson.  It may never be fully understandable, but to even begin to comprehend requires some time on this earth.

And having said that, sometimes life catches us and we have to have conversations our kids aren't ready for.  I can understand why a black parent in Chicago in 1955 would send her child to view the body of Emmett Till.  The horror of that viewing was burned into the minds of a generation, and they turned it into action.  I'm more likely to have to explain to LB why there are small children holding "God hates fags!" signs.  Hopefully by the time she can read I'll have a better answer than "haters gonna hate."

Monday, August 19, 2013

One Day at a Time

I don't think I realized how much stress I was holding in my body as I job searched.  Now it seems to be working its way out.  My mood is considerably better, but my neck and shoulders feel terrible.  I'm trying to get motivated to clean and organize before the new job begins, while I also finish up my freelance research on "a series of most unfortunate, obscure, and ominously depressing topics."  My big nod to increased efficiency is setting up a Bloglovin account.  It is efficient, but strangely alienating.  Something about having new posts pop into my feed, rather than searching them out feels much less intimate (and I mean that in the least creepy way possible).

In other emotional worlds of the internets news, I feel blocked in my blog writing because I'm trying to write a few posts that I feel I should write, rather my usual stuff I think is cool/free association.  A big reason for this blog was to have a place to write with minimal external pressure, but then in life there is always external pressure (otherwise I'd be writing in a pleather diary with a tiny key).

Anyway.  Projects!  I cleaned the Dora kitchen!  This Dora kitchen was a generous gift at a time when LB was no longer content to sit her her jumpy containment device in the kitchen, and I was desperate for something entertaining that would keep her out from underfoot.  The kitchen fit the bill.  However, it also represents the moment when my aesthetic vision of parenting died.  Play kitchens made from blonde wood with shiny red accents?  Not for us.  Also not for us, wool diaper covers, etsy wooden toys, and a variety of other simple and beautiful things.  I won't lie.  I covet.  But, I can also see that the people who have those things spend more money, choose more carefully, cull more thoroughly, and generally work harder at leading a life of beautiful simplicity than I ever will.  And then there's the whole issue of ending up like Tasha Tudor.  So, I will be thankful for the garish, plastic Dora kitchen that has more crevices than anything belonging to a child should have.  Yesterday I hauled Dora out into the yard and hosed her down, and now she looks lovely and clean, with a little help from a small child.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A City that Works

Providence, Rhode Island is one.

I came home yesterday with a shrieking LB, turned on the tap, and nothing happened.  I left a message for B cursing several governmental systems and higher powers, and then I called the number on the Providence Water website.  It was 6:00pm, and someone answered the damn phone.  I couldn't believe that a real person picked up the phone after 4:47pm.  And he was very nice and said he would send someone out to investigate.  A half hour later, there was a water investigator banging on my door.  He proceeded to fix the problem (involving the temporary water bypass system that was installed in our neighborhood and the hose to our house not been hooked up).  I was shocked, happy shocked!

Let me just tell you that in Baltimore, the water people probably wouldn't even bother to lie to you and tell you someone would be right out, but if they did, "a half hour" would mean "lady, just stop whining about your goddamn water, nobody cares."  (The only governmental efficiency I ever encountered in Baltimore was at the Board of Elections.) However, in Baltimore your ex-con neighbor would most definitely offer to run his garden hose through your kitchen window for the duration.  In Baltimore, civic breakdown leads to communitarianism by necessity, in Providence I don't need neighbors, I've got the employees of the water department looking out for me.

In other excellent urban news, our daycare is becoming a CSA pickup site.  How amazing is that?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Preeclampsia Links

Today someone found this blog while searching, "I'm not gay, I just really like rainbows."  Well, all the best to you my non-gay, rainbow loving friend.  Mostly people who come through searching are searching preeclampsia related topics.  Some of those searches are sad like the "when can I see my baby after mag sulfate." (Dear medical professionals, please seek to reunite mother and baby as soon as possible!)  Some sound suspiciously like med and nursing students searches: "what to check for before administering mag."  (Should you people be reading on PubMed and not here?)

From XOJane
"It happened to me: I had pre-eclampsia during pregnancy."
Straightforward discussion of one woman's experience with preeclampsia.  Worth a read.

From Midwife 1010
Okay information, except for the suggestion that dietary choices can prevent or slow preeclampsia.  I see too many women, particularly on natural birth boards, holding out hope that they can cure their preeclampsia with food or herbs as their condition deteriorates.

From Mamalicious in the City
"The Brewer's Diet: Have Some Steak with that Seizure"
This friend speaks my mind.

From BMJ
"Magnesium Sulfate and Preeclampsia"
What my non-medically-trained self got from this article is that mag sulfate works well to prevent seizures in women with preeclampsia, but as with so many medical treatments, it may be overused for women with mild preeclampsia in the US.  In England they use mag less frequently, and they don't have women seizing all over the place.  Mag sulfate sucks, and defensive medicine sucks, but seizures, stroke, potential injury and death would be worse, and the treatment itself isn't without risk.  I guess those are the hard choices of potential over-treatment.  (I hope you med students are paying attention!)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Some Movies My Parents Should Regret Showing a Young Child

From our friends at Common Sense Media: "40+ Movies You (Might) Regret Showing Your Kids."

Considering that I grew up in the days before VCRs, I watched a lot of movies as a kid.  There were a couple theaters near us that showed non-disney kids' movies.  I remember seeing The Phantom Tollbooth, an animated version of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and several version of Alice in Wonderland in the theater.  The week before Easter, The Secret Garden would always play at the second-run move place.  My parents both loved movies, my mom would watch anything, and my dad liked the most slapstick of slapstick comedies.  In addition to all the eminently respectable children's films I saw, here's my personal list of inappropriate movies I watched as a child:

Star Wars 
I saw this movie at a drive in when I was about 6, and Darth Vader haunted me for YEARS.  No really a film for the very young and sensitive, even if they beg like crazy, and you're pretty sure they'll fall asleep in the back seat before the feature starts anyway.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Growing, up my dad worked nights and weekends, so my mom would take me to see whatever was out.  I saw this fine film when I was 10.  Now, for a teen, this might be a good cautionary tale (because it's really freaking depressing), or a discussion starter, but for a 10 year old, just not really appropriate.  

 The cheap movie theater in town made it cheaper for my parents to spend a dollar on a child admission and fifty cents for some m&ms, than to pay a babysitter a dollar an hour.  The scene I remember most is the one where Coco gets hooked up with the sleazy director and cries as she takes off her top.  I didn't understand why she just didn't leave, which I guess is a good reaction for an eight year old.

My Dinner with Andre
It is possible to traumatize a child through sheer boredom.  I've seen a good number of art house films in my day, but I'll never trust an art house film, thanks to this one (and also Naked Lunch, which I watched as an adult, mostly with my eyes closed).

Watching Karen Silkwood sobbing as she's being decontaminated has to be right up there with seeing ET's body in terms of movie traumas.  I would like to see this film again as an adult, and, Cher's turn as an unhappy lesbian.  I remember hearing an interview with Cher in which she said she cried when the director told her she would not be allowed to wear makeup in the film.  I guess there are worse things than taking your 11 year old to see Silkwood, but it's just a waste to take a kid to see a kind of scary film they won't understand.

Fannie and Alexander
For some reason I really, really wanted to see this movie when I was 12, and convinced my mom to drop a friend and I off at a showing at the local university.  The result is one of my life rules: I shall never take anyone under sixteen to an Ingmar Bergman filmI've seen this film again as an adult, and it is truly creepy and terrifying.  I may have actually gotten sick from fear the first time I saw it, or maybe not, but it was not an appropriate choice for a (sensitive) 12 year old. 

My father can't abide any kind of media in which animals are hurt or killed, so that was one traumatic genre I managed to avoid.  I walked in on poor LB at her grandparents house watching Finding Nemo (never seen it myself because I don't like computer animation).  So scary, so sad, I can't believe that's a kids' movie.  The Common Sense Media lists include some movies that use the word "shit."  Personally, I would take profanity over abandonment any day, but maybe that's just me.

(And now I'm remembering that B watched The Exorcist with her Dad when she was 9, or something crazy like that, so I guess it could've been worse.)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hearts in Oregon, Jobs in Providence

JOBS I said, jobs plural, as in, I am now employed on a permanent basis in the city where I live.  I got a job with a little non-profit that does great work.  It's going to be challenging, and, hopefully, fun, and hopefully I have a good five year plan worked out.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Working Vacation

For me, hopefully three phone interviews in addition to a few thousand words written, for LB swimming and watering.

Monday, August 5, 2013

"hello, hello, hello, how low"

B and I are living the suburban youth I never had.  Cruising the mean streets in a borrowed escalade, listening to Nirvana, and Macklemore, and whatever else they play out here on the radio. 

So far we've hit two donut shops (Tonalli's and Annie's), gone to Uptown Market and Mcmenamins for drinks, eaten at Burgerville (in addition to the poached chicken place) and gone to see Stories We Tell, the Sarah Polley documentary.  I also ate some fish tacos at the amazing suburban farmer's market, and bought berries, and kimchi, and salmon jerky.  Yesterday my father-in-law smoked twelve pounds of beef brisket, and I think the eating is about to commence.

I was telling B, as we cruised that Portland has a Chicago's worth of stuff packed into a small city.  It's overwhelming.  I also don't understand how Portland supports all these businesses.  Do people here have the money to eat out all the time, and go to artisanal cider bars?  (Okay, so just checked and the median household income in Portland is about $13,000 higher than Providence, RI and about $10,000 more than Baltimore, MD.  I guess that extra money supports a lot of microbreweries and food carts.)

Still, despite the fact that Portland, OR is living the dream, I still feel East Coast, even if that means more Dunkin' Donuts and fewer fresh blackberries.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Fosters vs. Orange is the New Black

I'm watching both thanks to the luxuries of cheap cable and a Netflix subscription.  If you haven't heard, the moms on the The Fosters are lesbians raising a multiracial, bio, adoptive, and foster family.  For a cop and a charter school principal they live in a really nice house.  There's plenty of scandal, but no more than on 7th HeavenThe Fosters is like a nice, pretty girl your mom sets you up with.  She's got a car and a nice place, but she just can't make you feel anything.

And then, there's Orange is the New Black.  I've cringed through a good portion of this show, mostly because the caricatures of race and class, not because of the sex (even that one scene).  Also I really want to brush Natasha Lyonne's hair (in a non-sexual way).  But, this show is the girl with trashy blown-out tattoos, who doesn't have her shit together, who you find strangely irresistible.  It really does show the fluid and complicated nature of sexuality (here I considered musing about the parallels between women's colleges and women's prisons, but decided against it) , and it makes you care about the characters (Tasha! Poussey! Burset!  Diaz! and, of course, Alex's voice, which in itself is a major reason to watch the show).

On one internet board I read, someone commented that she'd never thought about what prison was like before watching OITNB.  I suspect the show should not be confused with something called reality, but if it makes people pay attention to mass incarceration, that's not a bad thing.  Maybe prison shows will be the new house flipping or cupcakes, and then, when we dismantle the carceral state we can move on to something else (reality shows about North Korea, and non-sad shows with cute animals are at the top of my list).

In my unofficial survey of lesbian I know (many of whom are also moms), people who know about The Fosters are glad it's on (but what they really want is gay families on PBS Kids), and some are watching it, but everyone is watching Orange is the New Black, and then watching it again.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lying with Pictures

So well behaved, so happy, such a good traveler.  Until she wasn't.  Overall, I'd give her a C for effort.  As shown in these pictures, she had some good moments, but that didn't really make me feel better about the extended period of physically restraining a toddler who was hitting, kicking, and screaming "NOOOOO!"

In happier news, we traveled to this:

According to B. this pictures shows (only) the (amazing) selection of bombers at the local supermarket, which makes her "happy and sad at the same time."  First stop today, Nong's Khao Man Gai.  The plan: eat and drink to failure.

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Would you go along with someone like me"

My new freelance job required a quick trip to "a school in Boston," to stand in front of a (very nice) lady with a printer for two minutes, and then turn around and make the 1.5 hour trip back home.  Highlights: the Providence bus station sells coffee milk (Boston does not).  The nice lady who gave me directions in Boston said "Bang a left at the Au Bon Pain."  New England in a nutshell.

I haven't spent much time in Boston in some twenty years.  When I did, we didn't have cell phones, or any type of computing devices.  The T required tokens, but if I was lucky sometimes I got a french centime in my drawer at work and I could use that.  T drivers made incomprehensible announcements, and "CAWP LEE STATION" barely broke through the background noise.  We drank a lot, Guiness or Sam Adams when we were fancy, and forties of Miller when we weren't.  We made tofu pot pies and pasta with prego.  One night I was in the Stop & Shop buying dollar frozen pizzas late after I finished a night shift, and I saw the cops nab a guy who was smuggling meat out under his parka.  There were Vietnamese restaurants where you could still smoke, and we would eat cheap food we didn't understand, and drink strong sweet little coffees, and smoke for hours.

I had a job in Cambridge that started at 5:00am.  I'd spend a dollar at the Dunkin Donuts in Allston and get a coffee, a donut, and a Globe, then I'd sit on the curb and wait for the bus.  Sometimes an obese raccoon would waddle across the street while I waited.  There was a bar on the other side of the street, and every morning at 4:45am two old guys would come and unlock the door and go inside.  I never found out why.

[There was more to this post, but I started going to a bad place musing about young women and feminism in the early 90s and the first job that I knew I got because I'm white.  I think that will all have to wait for another day.]

For years after that Stop & Shop incident, this song would get stuck in my head every time I went shopping.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Awkward Conversations with Toddlers about Race: Hanna Anderson Edition

After my recent posts about white kids and race, LB decided to give me some additional content.

Imagine the scene: two white ladies relaxing with microbrews (LB doesn't partake, but she does run over with her sippy cup and yell "CHEERS"), listening to The Clash, and reading the new Hanna Anderson catalog.

Eventually LB decided she wanted to see the catalog and immediately pointed to one little girl:

LB: "That Amy! That Amy!" (not her real name).
Mary: "No, that's not Amy."
Mary: "That little girl has brown skin like Amy, and curly brown hair like Amy.  Does she look like Amy?"
LB: "AMY!"
Mary: "She's not Amy, but she has brown skin and brown hair like Amy."  "Is Amy your friend?"
LB: "Amy fwiend!  Amy nice! Elmo fwiend!  Kittycat fwiend!"
Mary: "Who does that look like (pointing to a redhead)?  Who looks like you?"

When LB fixated on one little (brown) girl in the catalog and compared her to another little girl she knows in real life (who does have a similar skin tone and hair color), B and looked at each other and it was awkward.  If you are a reasonably sensible white adult, you know that "Hey [insert name of person of color], you look just like [this other person of color]" is right up there with "can I touch your hair" in the taxonomy of racial shit you shouldn't say.

Let me make a very smooth transition here with the announcement that I know nothing about teaching small children about race.  Yesterday, I also knew nothing about dealing with a dog who was on the losing end of an encounter with a skunk.  But I learned.  That learning was quite painful, involving multiple changes of clothing, sitting fully clothed in a full bathtub pouring diet coke over the head of a terrified dog, but I did it because my only other option was to live with a dog who smells like skunk.

If I won't talk to LB about race, race becomes the skunk dog in our living room, because no matter how much I would rather not deal, race is part of our world.  So, for the two-year-old set: people have different skin colors and hair colors, hair styles, and eye colors. Our friends have different skin colors. Our friends are nice. Repeat."

But, I have to say that in this whole learning process, that Hanna Anderson catalog really isn't doing us any favors.  I once spent a day in an archive sorting and cataloging all the cards sent to a prominent African American family in the 1950s congratulating them on the birth of their son.  There were hundreds of cards, and every single one had a white baby on it.  My young friends, that was what people used to call a "click." These were wealthy, powerful people who knew a lot about their own history, but every single card had a white baby.  So, things have changed in 60 or so years.  At least where I live, you can go to Target, or Hallmark, or Walgreens and buy a greeting card with a brown baby, or bride, or graduate.  But, Hanna Anderson isn't making my life as a white parent any easier by having a catalog that 85% white models.  And I guess you could say: oh it's a Scandinavian company, or is there something wrong with white kids-should our kids no longer be seen in public?, or even, last I checked there was still a white majority in this country-so the models just reflect reality.

I grew up in a place where almost everyone was white.  In my school pictures, there is usually a lone kid of color.  That's not LB's reality.  Her reality is one where kids come in lots of different colors, which was one of the reasons that it was so weird to us when she fixated on the fake Amy.  It's not wrong to see white kids in catalogs, or even lots of white kids in catalogs, but would it be so terrible if sometimes white kids were the one making the token appearance?  Someday, my friends.

LB rocking out to The Clash last year, when she was just a little girl.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

You've Come a Long Way Baby: Part 2

A year and some ago, LB was not quite walking, and then she was not quite talking.  I was hanging out in the space between mom of typical kid and mom of atypical kid.  A year later, LB is a walking talking machine.  Tonight she balanced on an upside down chair while saying (at our prompting of course) "Honey Badger don't care." We've come a long way, but LB is still on the edge of typical.  After a few weeks, LB's speech therapist ruled out receptive or expressive language disorders, and decided that LB is capable of speaking at a normal volume when she wants to.  After observing LB at daycare, she raised the idea of sensory issues.  Apparently at school, LB is sometimes happy to ignore the activity and do her own thing and she speaks very little compared to what we hear at home (no Honey Badger monologues for school).  Wait and see, wait and see.  Then there was the physical therapist evaluation.  LB can run, and she can walk up and down stairs, which is all good.  But we've noticed that she has a crazy little egg beater motion when she runs.  And it makes her so happy to swing her little legs as far away from her hips as she possibly can as she runs.  According to the PT, we are correct, and this issue has a name, genu valgum or knock knees.  Othro consult to follow (for freaking knock knees!).  At this point, it's not good or bad, it just is.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

2nd Generation Equally Shared Parenting

I know there's a book called Equally Shared Parenting, but I haven't read it.  That's partly because parenting books are one of the few that I just can't get into, and partly because it's just what we do and it feels natural.  Maybe for one subset of gay parents, of which we are a part, splitting parenting duties comes pretty easily, but I know plenty of gay couples who don't have an even split whether because of logistics or philosophy.

When my parents decided in the 1970s that they wanted to have a child, and they both wanted to be involved in the day-to-day parenting of that child, they felt like pioneers.  In retrospect, their work/life balance must have been rough.  My dad worked nights and weekends and my mom worked a traditional 5/week job.  But, from my perspective as a kid, they managed it really well.  I heard them complain about coworkers sometimes, but never about work--the kind that you do for money or the kind that you do for family.

While I was home I found this calender from when I was around LB's age that they marked to help me keep track of who I'd be spending time with on each day, S was the lady who lived across the street from us.

**By my rough estimate, I've written about 10,000 words this week, some more coherent than others, and honestly I feel completely fried.  I just had to tell that to the universe.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

White Kids and Race: NurtureShock and Civil Rights Music

Our house, this morning:

M: "Yeah, he's a white man."
B: "Really? He's a white man."
M: Basically, they're all white men."
LB: "White guy!  LB's a white man! LB's a white man.  C(r)oc shirt.  LB has c(r)oc shirt.  Kittycat lub you!  Elmo lub you!"
Dancing ensues.
End scene.

So, I'm trying to put together some resources related to my last post on white parents, white kids, and race.  This post talks about the book NurtureShock and some music of the Civil Rights Movement. I've also gotten some great suggestions for kids books that I will share later.

There are many conversations I don't look forward to having with my child.  If she could live in a world without death, guns, poverty, sexual violence, hatred of people of color, gay people, women, people with disabilities, that would be wonderful.  But we brought her into this world, and this world requires uncomfortable conversations.

Specifically for white parents teaching their white kids about race and racism, there are some web resources you can find by googling "raising anti-racist kids," and such.  I've not really looked at these site enough to have solid recommendations.  What I didn't see, were any handbooks on Amazon for white parents.  You would think there would be such a thing, someone should get writing.  One interesting resource is the chapter "See Baby Discriminate," in NurtureShock.  Review here at Salon.

The short version of the NurtureShock argument is that white parents are uncomfortable talking to their white kids about race, so they usually fallback on "we are all the same underneath," and encourage kids to be silent about race in order to keep them "color blind." However, the lesson white kids take away from growing up in a racially stratified society is that maybe white people are just better than people of other colors.  So, white kids need to learn about racism in order to have some response to racial structures that shape their worlds.

For a little girl like mine that means talking about skin color, and our friends who are all different colors.  It also means hearing that "Some people are mean to people who have brown skin.  That is not nice.  We should never be mean to someone because they look different than us."  For many white toddlers and preschoolers that is going to be a really random life lesson, one which may not make any sense to them."  But, our lives as parents are all about preparing our kids for future experiences before they encounter them.

We want our kids to know about guns and bad touches before they ever encounter such a thing.  Our kids will encounter race and racism.  We only help them by teaching them early the lessons we want them to carry through life.

You'll notice in the phrase above I said "are mean" rather than "were mean."  Both phrases are correct, but I think it's important to not only present racism as something historical.  Teasing out the differences of racism as it operates today, versus histories of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow segregation is really challenging, a project for a lifetime.  Kids need to think about both what happened in the past and what happens today, of course, in an age appropriate way.

Some Resources:

I really like music as a teaching tool, and I think this anthology Sing for Freedom is a great way to talk about the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement.  It's mostly songs, with some short spoken word pieces.  It's music you can just enjoy that can eventually lead to conversation.  LB was stomping around to some of these songs this morning, and if she doesn't yet understand why people were "marching to freedom," at least it will be a familiar concept as she grows older.

I love this video of The Roots doing "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around," it does include some archival footage that might be scary to the younger and more sensitive set.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Raising White Kids While White

The death of Trayvon Martin has provoked a lot of public conversation about the lessons that Black parents teach their children.  Lessons about safety in a dangerous world, and the burdens of a culture structured by racism.  LB is 2.5 and still in the rainbow coalition stage of life, but I've spent a number of years teaching African American history, and having many related conversations with young people about race. Below is my primer (i.e. starting point) for talking to white kids about what race means for their lives, and the lives of their Black and Brown friends in the US.

Notes for my (white) daughter
  • Know our history.  The racial history of the United States belongs to all of us.  White kids need to know the long history of police brutality in Black communities, the history of racially disparate incarceration, and the history of racial stereotypes in American popular culture.  Without that history, you can't understand the dangers your Black friends face.  Without that history, a white parent is a lot more likely to get a call from a college dean and find out that a beloved white child was just found at a college party dressed in blackface (and Babydoll, I don't ever want to get a call like that about you.)
  • Stay out of trouble, think about yourself and think about others.  I know a lot of white girls who have run from the cops, and the worst result was a skinned knee and a stern talking to.  White kids need to understand that their Black friends may have a smaller margin of error when it comes to teenage rights of passage like smoking weed in the park, shoplifting, and pulling pranks. 
  • Know when to speak up. What will you say if your white friend makes a racial joke?  If your white friends say all people of color are "like this" or "like that." If you don't like these comments, respond.  Try some difference responses. Speaking up might not change minds, but put it out there in the universe, because you respect yourself, because you love other people.
  • And when to stand back. You may find yourself in situations when you're with Black friends where your well-intentioned intervention can make things worse.  The police likely don't want to hear your analysis of structural racism.  Know that there are situations where you need to stand back and be quiet because you can't fix it.  You can still be a witness.  Pay close attention to everything that happens.
  • Listen and learn.  It's hard to empathize with people if you don't know what their lives are about.  Listen to people tell you about their lives without defensiveness.
  • Know that you will make mistakes. I doubt that anyone in a racialized society like this one can go through life without offending someone of another race.  As a white person in our society, you will find yourself acting out the role you were born to play.  It will happen.  If you realize you've said something hurtful, done something because of some racist part of you that you didn't know was there, stop and think about what happened, think about what you would do differently.  Consider whether it's possible or appropriate to make amends.  Don't let guilt or embarrassment weigh you down, let it motivate you.
  • Understand affinity groups.  Sometimes your moms want to hang out with other gay people.  This doesn't mean that we hate straight people, but that as a minority it can be really comforting to spend time in a group of people who are like you. Sometimes your friends may want to hang out with people of the same race, that doesn't mean they don't like you, that doesn't mean you can't be friends.
  • Cross-cultural respect.  You know we're are pretty casual at our house.  Not everyone is like us.  When you meet your friends parents, ask them how they would like to be addressed, and follow their house rules.  When in doubt, say Mr. and Ms., keep your feet off the furniture, and don't take the Lord's Name in vain. 
  • Equal doesn't mean the same.  If your white friends say that Black people get special rights, that Black kids get into college over white kids, that it's okay to use the word n***** because Black people do, please come talk to me.  We can look at some data.  We can talk more about structural racism.
  • White privilege.  What does that mean in your life?  Historically that means that you and your family are still reaping the benefits of government programs that helped (mostly) white people: the GI Bill, and FHA loans.  Our family benefited from redlining and discriminatory college admissions policies.  Our home, our financial cushion, and your education are the direct result of this preferential treatment.  That's life in a racially structured society.  I'm not asking you to be consumed by guilt.  I'm not saying that our family hasn't worked hard.  I just want you to know that your success will be due to both your hard work and the extras our family got because we are white.
  • Love yourself, respect yourself.  Once you know all about structural racism, it can be hard to trust your instincts.  This is one of the hardest things about living in a society structured by race as a white person.  Trust your instincts, and know that they can be wrong.
  • Please don't be Abigail Fisher.  See above

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I've landed some short-term contract work, and, as it turns out, 11 hours a day spent researching and writing really cuts into a lady's blogging time.  Things may be quiet around here for the duration.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Dispatches from Liberal Land

Maine: Yes on 1

I've been thinking a lot about my brothers and sisters in the non-marriage equality states, and I though I'd give a report from marriage equality land.  B and I have lived in Maryland and Rhode Island, and I've previously lived in Maine and Massachusetts, which is to say, I have my finger on the pulse.

After bitching to my favorite taxi driver about the fact that B and I can't file taxes together, the response: "Are you sure about that? It doesn't seem right.  I mean, you're married right?"

Upon complaining to LB's speech therapist on the Tuesday before the Supreme Court released the DOMA decision that we would have to pay tax on the full amount of any insurance benefits I got through B's plan: "Really?  When are they going to change that?"  My response: "Maybe in an hour."

Our neighborhood has been ablaze with discussion about the public activities of a local Southern Baptist congregation.  They are undertaking a church-planting mission here in Providence in order to "bring light to the darkness."  Someone posted a bunch of their informational materials to the listserve, which state that fewer than 2% of the population of Providence attend an Evangelical Christian service in any given week.  In our neighborhood, there are certainly lots of secular folks like us, but there's also a large population of Orthodox Jews and Catholics.  In any case, the church planters have a hard road ahead.

Listserv responses ranged from: "exclusionary religious groups should not be allowed to have gatherings in public spaces like parks (including the throwaway line 'wasn't DOMA just repealed'),"  to "don't we have a right not to be evangelized, and the church is too sly with their promotional materials," to a majority arguing that all have the right to say what they wish in public spaces, even if we don't like the message.

So what's next on agenda?  From
  • Build community among and empower LGBT people in rural Maine
  • Create a more inclusive, supportive, and affirming climate in Maine for LGBT, questioning and gender non-conforming youth
  • Ensure LGBT elders are safe, healthy, connected in the community, and free from discrimination
  • Ensure transgender and gender non-conforming people are safe, healthy and free from discrimination and bias
Read the full plan by clicking here.
Sounds good to me!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Back to Nature

A week in Maine with ocean, skinned knees, bug bites, kittycats.  The vibe is very "Ladies of the Canyon," with a Grandad added in.  It was cool and foggy and salty when we left this morning.  Now we are hot and sticky and digital.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My First Feminist Book Review (1980)

This is my eight year old response to sexist attitudes and actions in one of the Bobbsey Twins books.  On our recent trip north, I was able to find this gem, some interesting books, and a bottle of Love's Baby Soft perfume that I received for Christmas sometime between 1984 and 1986, and which, miraculously, has not evaporated at all.  If I remember correctly, I felt incredibly cool to have that Love's Baby Soft, which was what all the popular girls wore, but it made me horribly allergic.