Archive for the ‘african american teens’ Category

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them…

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

You’ve all seen the video by now of little Tyren Scott,  a fourth grader at a charter school in New Orleans, who got to ask  President Obama the last question at the town hall meeting the President held there in his city.

“Why do people hate you?”

“Ahhhh…” we collectively say to ourselves.

Our hearts break as we listen to a little boy ask the question on the minds of plenty adults and children as they witness the rage that has been directed at President Obama over the last few months.

But what about the President’s answer? How do you rate the President’s answer?

Watching the video, I find myself wondering if His O-ness missed the moment. Oh sure, he tried to explain to the little fellow that it was all politics, and then wanted him to know that he needn’t worry that he  [the president] could take care of himself. I get that. I even get that the President was probably sideswiped by the boy’s question and was so moved by the his genuinely not understanding all that was going on that  His O-ness  fumbled for a moment there on how best to respond knowing that cameras were zooming in on him. I get that.

But still I wonder.

Might there have been a better response to the little boy’s question about hate and American politics? I haven’t yet figured out what I wish the President had said.  I just know that I was looking for something a little more thoughtful.

What else, or what differently, might President Obama have said in response to the little guy’s question, “Why do people hate you?”

Open Thread: Black in America Part 2

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

The comments section  is open today for reactions to and impressions of last night’s CNN Black in American Part 2. Whatcha’ think?

By the way, did anyone catch President Obama’s speech last night where he went on the offensive against those trying to sink his health care reform initiative by fanning people’s fears about the ginormous costs associated with reforming health care? How did the president do in addressing those fears?

And what about that last question the president took from a reporter which was not about health care at all but about his thoughts on the recent tale of racial profiling that took place in Cambridge, MA where police arrested noted black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. there in his well-to-do home for what they thought was a break-in but wasn’t? The president really went out on a limb calling out the Cambridge police as “acting stupidly”, don’tcha think? Blogosphere is ablaze this morning with folks having all sorts of things to say about the president weighing in on such a volatile incident.

Oh well.

In the meantime, thought I’d post this  “Poem for 21st Century Children” which I came across recently in Marion Wright Edelman’s The Sea is So Wide and My Boat is so Small.

God, help us to not raise a new generation of children
With high intellectual quotients and low caring and compassion quotients;

With sharp competitive edges but dull cooperative instincts,
With highly developed coomputer skills but poorly developed consciences;
With a gigantic commitment to the big “I” but little sense of responsibility to the bigger “we”

With mounds of disconnected and unsyntesized information without a moral context to determine its worth;

With more and more knowledge and less and less imagination and appreciation for the magic of life than cannot be quantified or computerized;

With more and more worldliness and less and less wonder and awe for the sacred and everyday miracles of life.

God, help us to raise children who care.

Come to think about it, exactly how does one go about raising a compassionate, caring child?

learning in school

Reflections of A Prom Mom

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Limos in restaurant parking lots, giggly teen girls spilling out the backseat in colorful evening gowns exposing more flesh than necessary, falling over themselves because they are wearing heels made for manequins, followed by gangling teens boys trying to appear in control, but looking overwhelmed in tuxedos designed for male physiques that don’t slouch.  It must be that time of year again: prom season.

It’s a magical time of year, they tell me. Magical for teens, perhaps. It’s a mystifying time, if you happen to be a prom  mom. My heart goes out to parents everywhere around this time, moms especially, who are in a struggle with their teens (wanna-be adults) about this important rites-of-passage season when, in the minds of teens, all rules are up for debate and renegotiation. Moms everywhere, hold your ground. This is no time to succumb to fairy tales.

I am the mother of a teen. She is not a senior, but her date is. The two of us, mother and daughter that is, went to the mall a month before the prom looking for a prom dress. Correction: she took me to the mall to pay for the dress she and her girlfriends had decided on as the right one for her. “No way! How about this one?” (my words). “Yuk!” (her word).

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Makeup, the shoes, the hairstyle, the nails, the tote, the right bra, the bouttonniere for the date. Where to go to dinner beforehand, where to hang out afterward? It all had to be perfect, she told me, because everyone was watching. I rolled my eyes and stared.

black barbieThose of you who know me from this blog will be proud of me. I kept quiet, for the most part. I decided against spoiling it for the-teenager-who-lives-in-my-house. I kept my feminist/womanist observations to myself. It was difficult, but I managed. No rants. About glorified beauty pageants. About this being nothing but a rehearsal for wedding fantasies. About this smacking of barbie dolls and female slave trade. No diatribe about proms being part of a larger capitalist, patriarchal, bourgeoise, heterosexist plot to dupe girls into believing…into fantasizing…… into buying, buying buying… Except for that one argument there in the store about a dress that exposed much too much flesh for my taste, I smiled and kept my mouth shut.

When boxes and bags kept coming up from the garage, I smiled and pretended not to notice. When the-teenager-wh0-lives-in-my-house interrupted me at my desk to model her various prom acquisitions, I looked up and nodded.  But I nearly lost it when she brought out the shoes! “Suppose you had to get away. You can’t run in those!” I thought. I stared over my glasses and grunted. She laughed because she knew what I was thinking because she’s heard it all before.

The whole prom season thing makes me a little reflective.  I remember my junior and senior proms like they were yesterday.  My date(s) and I had an amazing time and it was a great way to end those last years of my high school experience.

But, gosh, have things changed since I was a teen getting ready for prom season.

For one thing, prom night begins a lot earlier. It was still daylight when the-teenager-who-lives-in-my-house pulled off with her date. That’s because she and all her friends  had reservations for a pre-prom meal at a local restaurant. And unlike my prom night when the only audience around to witness my big night were my parents and a gaggle of snickering brothers and sisters, family and friends started pouring into around 4pm to snap photos of the-teenager-who-lives-in-my-house and her date (all invited by the-teenager-who-lives-in-my-house). (Is it me, or does it seem that e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e has a digital camera. What a narcissistic generation!) Among those who dropped by were even members of the date’s family. There were hors d’ oeuvres on hand for all to eat. I wore make-up. My husband had on shoes. It was a wonderful afternoon, but all so strange to me.

And what’s this I hear about parents renting buses or condos or hotel rooms for after prom partying and sleepovers for their prom night teens and their friends? The teenager in my house knew better than to ask. Certainly, my generation of prom goers tried staying out all night—your senior night, that is– or certainly staying out as late as you could get away with without being cuffed when you stepped over the threshold back home. But parents renting a place for an after party where those who want can crash and sleep over. Wow! (I’m sure someone is going to write to tell me that it makes sense because it keeps drunk teens from getting behind steering wheels. Uh huh.)

“This is your curfew. Don’t make me have to come looking for you,” my husband said the-teenager-who-lives-in-my-house. To her date he turned and said: “Get my daughter back here on time, and bring her back the way she left.” Which is cave man, I believe, for “She belongs to me, not you; and don’t you forget it.” Fortunately, not everything has changed.

So, there you have it: I kept my rants to myself, because—well, because, for everything there is a season. A time to teach, and a time to pray that what you’ve taught will be put to good use. A time to yell and scream, and a time to trust and pray.

I kept quiet, but I did manage to embarrass the-teenager-who-lives-in-my-house by passing around to everyone gathered that afternoon an old picture of myself on prom night back in the day. LOL. (It was back when a girl who took home ec could quite possibly, with her mom’s help, make her own prom dress.  Why am I not smiling? Hey, I’m a serious sister. Always have been)

a 70s prom

For Children Who Struggle in School

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I ran across this poem in Dr. Marian Wright Edelman’s beautifully illustrated book of poems, I’m Your Child, God: Prayers for Our Children and thought of all the children who are not at the top of the class, not reading 3 grades above level, not on the honor roll, not “gifted and exceptional” in the way many of my friends brag about their children and grandchildren. (Buy Wright’s book for a child you know.)

little school boyThis poem/prayer entitled “Fear” is for children who struggle in school, who hate reading books, who struggle to pay attention, who can’t keep their mind on school for all the drama going on at home, who can’t come up with any good explanation for why they always forget to bring home their homework, who don’t test well, who think they’re stupid, who want to do well in school but don’t know how, who don’t know how to talk to teachers, who don’t like what not being able to keep up makes them feel like but don’t have the vocabulary for talking about this  with anyone.

This poem/prayer is for children who struggle in school.

And this poem/prayer is for parents, grandparents, and guardians of children who struggle in school, as well as for teachers who by their demeanor in class have written off these children as uneducable.

O God,

I’m so afraid I’m going to fail in school.

Please help me not to give up.

I can’t concentrate.

My teacher’s losing patience.

Please send me the help I need to succeed.


O Lord, help!

I’m going to flunk my test.

I may flunk my grade.

I don’t want to be held back.

I don’t want my friends to think I am dumb.

I don’t want my parent to be angry.

I don’t want to keep falling behind.

I want to do well in shcool but I need help.

Will You help me ask for help now

or send someone who sees my need, Lord?

bored teen