Sunday, August 18, 2019

Why Go to an HBCU?

Let me start off by saying I DID NOT attend a Historically Black College/University (HBCU).  Howard was my first choice but I wasn't accepted so I went to the school that offered me the most scholarship money (Ohio University).

This blog post is inspired by a recent conversation I had with the Founder of Students2Scholars.  This program is designed to help minority students in public schools apply to and, hopefully, get accepted into private schools in our area. (I am a part of her academic advising team). This article isn't written to criticize the Founder but rather to show how her thinking is a good example of what well-meaning white folks really don't know about us and how, even with their good hearts, they can get things twisted.

During a telephone conversation we somehow got on the subject of her volunteering to register students to vote at an HBCU----North Carolina Central University (NCCU), where I presently work as a Professional Writing Consultant.

Founder:  You know I always wondered why anyone would go to an HBCU.  I mean if you're going to spend $20K or more on tuition, wouldn't you think they would want to spend it on a big name college or university. There's better opportunities for networking and connecting for jobs after graduation.  (We call them PWI's:  Predominately White Institutions).

Me:  If you knew the history of HBCU's you would know they were created because blacks weren't allowed to go to the other schoolsIn order to further our education, that was the only choice we had.

Founder:  Oh, I understand that.  But I have to tell you I changed my opinion when I went onto the campus.  I got such a feeling of camaraderie amongst the students.  There was a true sense of activism and community and not like anything I ever experienced at my own alma mater.

Me:  I totally agree.  In hindsight I wish I had gone to an HBCU. But would I have been afforded the same opportunities to advance my journalism career as I had by going to OU?  Probably not because back in the day getting a journalism degree from Ohio University carried a lot more weight in the professional world than a degree in broadcast journalism from any HBCU in the country.  I got my first job because the  Program Director of the radio station where I applied was willing to take a chance on me because he knew of the school's reputation for producing quality candidates and I was the first black to work there.

After a few more exchanges we ended the conversation but I hung up thinking how this woman was trying to do her part in making a difference in the lives of others but she really had no clue of our struggle and the hurdles we have to jump over constantly just to prove we are worthy of an opportunity. But she's not alone.  As she has shared with me, a number of her friends see what they are doing as a "charitable cause" to help us advance in an unfair system but at the end of the day she, and many like her, remain blind to the challenges we are always facing professionally AND socially.

This is the same woman who told me she thought racism had ended when Barack Obama became President.  I kid you not!

Here are some other HBCU Facts she probably doesn't know:

60 percent of all Engineering degrees are earned by black students

70 percent of black dentists and physicians earned degrees from an HBCU

40 percent of blacks in Congress come from HBCU's

HBCU's  only have 1/8 of the average size of endowments that PWI's have

Cheyney University of PA was the first HBCU founded in 1837.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

New Survey Says Millennials are Feeling the Pressure of Adulthood

It's been awhile since I came across a survey that caught my attention but I just found one that was commissioned and released by by Farm Rich .  No surprise that there was a generational divide when it comes to exactly what it means to be an "adult."    

The new national survey indicates millennials put more pressure on themselves to reach adulthood as compared to baby boomers and GenX.  After the age of 26, millennials believe it becomes embarrassing if they aren't classified as full-fledged adults.  

So exactly what does it mean to reach that level  of "maturity"?   The top 10 signs according to the survey are:
  1. Having a budget (55 percent)
  2. Buying a house (54 percent)
  3. Filing your own taxes (52 percent)
  4. Understanding and monitoring your credit score (48 percent)
  5. Investing in your 401(k) (46 percent)
  6. Doing your own laundry (43 percent)
  7. Scheduling regular doctors' appointments (38 percent)
  8. Making a list to take when going to the grocery store (35 percent)
  9. Cooking dinner most of Monday through Friday (33 percent)
  10. Watching the nightly news (31 percent)
I wasn't a part of this survey but, for the record, I only do four of the above consistently.  How about you?

A couple of other interesting notes:

1:  When asked what's considered to be the "favorite" age in life, the average millennial said they'd like to be 23 for the rest of their lives, while baby boomers said 32.  

2:  Millennials believe frozen foods are a staple in the kitchen of adults and having vegetables, fruits and coffee are the top foods you need if you want to call yourself an adult.

So what is your reaction to this survey?  Do you agree with its findings?


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Get the F**** Over Here!

Part II: 

Good 'ol Jim, the science teacher at my grandson's school, seriously crossed the line today when he told my grandson to
"Get the F*** Over Here!"  

So here's the story according to all parties involved, INCLUDING Jim, my grandson, and the Middle School Head Teacher........

At the end of the science class period, Jim was going to print out something for Jarod to help him complete his end-of-the-year-science project.  Jim went to his desk and Jarod proceeded to go sit on top of a desk located close to Jim's desk to wait for the printout.  As Jarod turned to go sit down, Jim shouted the profanity---at which time Jarod says he told Jim he shouldn't talk to him like that.  Jim reportedly admitted he messed up, said he was frustrated and thought Jarod was ignoring him.  He then told Jarod to get out of his classroom.

I got a phone call at 10:33 a.m. from Jarod (13 minutes after the incident). Because my phone was on mute I didn't hear it ring.  At 11:05 a.m. I got a text from my daughter that I happened to see right around lunch time:

"9-1-1 CALL ME GOING TO CFS" 
I knew whatever had happened was SERIOUS so when I called I found out about the incident.  So grandma and mama decided it was time to have a "Come to Jesus" meeting with the school.

Of course, Jim wasn't in this meeting but everyone else who was all told the SAME story.  The bottom line is:  HE SAID IT AND HE ADMITTED IT!

One of the options proposed by the Middle School Head Teacher was to remove Jarod from the classroom since there was only a week left but as my daughter so eloquently asked:  "Why should Jarod have to change his routine because of the Jim's ignorance?" I also wanted to know what type of repercussions would he face in light of his behavior?  A school founded on Quaker principals should NEVER, EVER tolerate a teacher cursing at a student.  As a matter of fact, no school should ever condone it!

One thing I will say about the meeting is I felt the Kip (the Head Middle School Headmaster) was truly genuine. I could feel his heart and he, as a white male with all kinds of privilege, clearly understands what Jarod is always going to be up against.  It made us feel good to know he pronounced, unequivocally, that they had Jarod's back in this situation and wanted him to know they would always be fighting for him.

We left this meeting requesting another one with Jim and the Head of School so stay tuned for my next report.  Jim may be forced into early retirement!


Friday, May 10, 2019

How White is Too White to Teach Black Students?


"What's good in the 'hood, bro? said Jim, the science teacher, as he attempted to fist bump with the student.

Student response:  "Nothing."

Jim, in this case, is a REAL-LIFE 60-something white male who teaches at a predominately white private school in my area.  The student he tried to "be down with" is my grandson, Jarod, who is the ONLY black student in Jim's science class. 

The interaction between the two came to a head last week when Jim was trying to quiet down the class----at which time my grandson said to Jim, "I wasn't doing anything.

Jim's response:  "Boy! If you say that to the police, you're going to jail!"  
So what in the hell was that comment for???

Jarod says he sat in silence but two of his classmates, who were furious over the comment, reported it to the 7th grade advisor.   

I learned about the incident, after picking him up from school:

Me:  "How was your day?"

Jarod:  "I had to have a meeting with my advisor about Jim."

Me:  What?!  What happened in gym?"

Jarod:  "No---Jim, my teacher."

Me:  "O.K. so what happened?"

And that's when he shared details of that particular incident.  BUT THERE'S MORE!  According to Jarod, Jim is always trying to talk "black" when he speaks to him (or what he thinks is black speech) but he speaks properly to the other kids in the class.  Obviously Jim has been watching too many reruns of  Good Times because he must believe all black families come from the Projects and we all speak broken English. 

Once I dropped Jarod off at basketball practice, I got on the phone and called his advisor for the 4-1-1.  She confirmed everything and agreed with my stand on the issue.  She said one of the young girls who came to her was extremely upset about the way Jim talked to Jarod.  She also said that student was among some who are currently reading Rolling Thunder:  Hear My Cry (Mildred Taylor) and have developed a heightened awareness and sensitivity to racial issues.  I say good for them and am very thankful they took up for my grandson because Jarod probably wouldn't have shared it.

Here's what I know about Jim:  He's an older, white male, who's been teaching at my grandson's school for 13-14 years.  Surely, he's seen quite a few changes at this private school during that time frame since blacks were probably not even going there when he first started.  Jim also gives me the impression he has never taught or had much interaction with black students.  When I met him, I tried not to view him as racist; instead I saw a older, conservative white male who wasn't personable and appeared to be unapproachable to me as a black woman.  He did, however, interact quite nicely with the white grandparents when we visited his class during Grandparents Day at the school.

As I explained to the advisor, she did not want me or my daughter to have to come up to the school to lead a session on diversity training because we certainly would!  She assured me it would be handled. We'll see...........................






Thursday, May 02, 2019

Who's Your Mommy?

I am the mother of one daughter, but over the years I've added more children along the way....or should I say they adopted me as their "other "mom."  It seems that I am part of a new trend for millennials who declare that they have more than one person they think of as a mother figure.  

According to a recent survey conducted by Edible Arrangements®, although millennials consider their mother to be their primary mother figure (87%), they are more likely to have more "other mothers" than older generations.  Meanwhile,  44% of Americans ages 18 to 54 have three or more mother figures in their lives, and one in five (20%) say they have five or more. Of the "other mother" figures, friends account for  36%; while grandmothers and mothers-in-laws are tied at 22%.

What wasn't revealed by Edible Arrangements® in this survey are some of the reasons WHY someone would look to another person as a mother figure.  

Here's a perspective from Don Smithmeier:

It’s not about them being better or worse than our mothers, it’s the fact that they are different and that they are additive. The only thing greater than having a mom is having a Second Mom, too. What a gift.
Second Moms show us another version of parenting. Whether it’s the way they enforce the rules, the way they speak to their kids and spouse, or even the way they make their grilled cheese sandwiches, it’s all just different than our First Mom.
Second Moms give a second set of ears and eyes and arms. They teach us. They nurture us.
I, too, have a woman I look at as my second mother.  Although she already had six children of her own, she took me in and treated me as child #7.  She helped nurture me and even scolded me---all in the name of LOVE.
Happy Mother's Day Mama Jackson!


Who's your second mommy?

Given how many "other mothers" people identify and in honor of the important roles they play, Edible® is offering Buy 2 Get 1 Free box and arrangement deals for Mother's Day.

Monday, January 14, 2019

I'm Done with the New Year's Resolutions

Did you make any New Year's resolutions for 2019?  As long as I can remember, I created a list of habits and behaviors I vowed to change in the coming year.  I always started out strong but a month or two in, I was back to my old ways.

According to Business Insider, about 80 percent of people fail to stick to their New Year's resolutions for longer than six weeks. Initially, we get excited about what we can accomplish in the next 365 days but then life's challenges and distractions get in the way and we start taking detours and ultimately become discouraged until we get to the end of the next year, ready to set those resolutions all over again.  If I lost every pound I vowed to lose over the past 30 years, I'd be the most awesome looking 61-year-old woman you'd ever seen (next to Jada Pinkett Smith's mother).  Let's just say the money I've given to various fitness centers far exceeds my participation (although I have gotten slightly better lately).

This year I've decided to say NO to setting goals for the new year---goals that have a "time stamp" and ones I know I probably won't accomplish.  As a woman over 60 I have decided to take a slightly different approach.  Instead of making a bunch of resolutions, I am vowing to live each day to its fullest.  Here's my plan.  Maybe some of it can work for you:

1)  Live with PASSION daily:  When I open my eyes each morning, I will be thankful to my Creator for another day.  I will meditate/pray and read scripture to put me in the right frame of mind to get my day started.  Each day is another day to make a difference and I will always be excited and thankful for that.

2)  Be an Encourager:  I will look for opportunities to encourage someone else.  Sometimes all it takes is a kind word to a stranger.

3)  Be authentic:  Most people who know me will tell you that I always try to keep it real.  I want to make sure my actions and words always line up with my beliefs and values.  Besides, trying to be something you're not will eventually catch up with you.

4)   Stand for what is right:  People are always telling you to stand up for what you believe in but I don't agree with that.  Neo-Nazi's stand up for white supremacy because that's what they BELIEVE in but that doesn't make it right.  If you stand up for what is RIGHT, you may find yourself going against your "beliefs" but I'd rather stand on the right side of justice and civility than to be a fool for my beliefs.

5)  Say NO more often:  I used to be one of those people who had to have a ton of speaking engagements, be on every committee, and involved in every project because it felt good to have my name "attached" to it.  It made me feel important.  But what I discovered was my involvement and input would sometimes be mediocre.  I also wanted to appear to be busy so when people asked me what was going on in my life I could point out that I was involved in x-y-z but that only resulted in stress and burnout.  I am now going to be very selective in what I sign up for.  It is OK to say no if you can't fit it into your schedule.

6)  Love out loud:  We all know we should tell the people we love that we love them.  But what we know is not always reflected in what we do.  This not only applies to my family but to my friends as well.  I will never hang up a phone call with a friend without telling them I love them.

7)  Read more:  I actually started this in 2018 and will just continue in 2019.  I read As a Man Thinketh four times last year and each time I had a new "ah-ha" moment.  So far this year I am reading Becoming by Michelle Obama and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra.  I want to read books that inspire me, as well as make me laugh.

8) Re-connect to myself:  In 2018, I dealt with some serious health challenges.  It was a long road back but I know those challenges can re-surface if I don't take care of myself daily.  In addition to my daily meditation and prayer, I will continue to journal.  As a matter of fact I've been journaling off and on since Maya Angelou suggested I do it doing an interview I had with her back in 1981.  Journaling allows me to get in touch with my real emotions.  I believe the more you write, the more what matters to you most will evolve.  It's one of the best ways to reconnect with your soul.

So there you have it.  That's my plan as I continue though my journey called life.  Do you have a plan?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

There's No Comeback Without a Setback

If you've ever had a setback in your life, you will identify with this post.

My definition of a "setback" is an event or action that keeps you from moving forward;  it stops you dead in your tracks and, sometimes, makes you feel like giving up.  Many of us have been on the setback trail.

I've had plenty of setbacks throughout my life--both personal and professional.  I can go all the way back to my high school days and remember how I tried out for the cheerleading squad but didn't make it (the first time around).  My excuse was "I wasn't the right shade of black."  After I got over being "in my feelings" I came back to reality and worked hard over the next year until it was time to tryout again and, yes, I made it!

I remember the first time I tried to land a job as a TV reporter at the ABC Affiliate WCTI in NC and was told point blank by a former News Director that I didn't have what it took to be a member of his Eye-Witness News Team.  I was devastated.  My ego was crushed because I just knew I was going to be successful in a career I'd wanted my entire life.  (Yes, I had a TERRIBLE audition tape but was convinced my personality would at least get me in the door).  That experience taught me a lot about perseverance and faith.  It also taught me about networking and connecting with people for future reference because back in the mid 1980's, networking as we know it today was unheard of.  It was through that "connection" that a door opened and I walked in BOLDLY as the newest edition to the WITN-TV news team.

Raising a child as a single parent, after divorce, was also a challenge especially when I thought I had married the man of my dreams.  But some dreams can become nightmares as I learned and it became an emotional and draining setback.

But I have to tell you, the BIGGEST setback I have experienced in my life has been related to my health.  In 1999, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure (after being misdiagnosed as having bronchitis).  It took a good two to three years and all kinds of medication to get my heart to function normally again.  I was forced to go out on sick leave for months.  But God's Grace carried me through that setback to prepare me for my next journey.

Less than six months ago, I suffered a another major setback with my congestive heart failure diagnosis.  I started feeling bad---like I was catching a cold. It got progressively worse.  I could barely walk any distance without gasping for air.  I couldn't sleep without feeling like I was choking to death.  I tried to exercise but it wasn't helping. I finally made a doctor's appointment.  Because of my history, the cardiologist felt an echocardiogram was necessary.  It revealed the following:

I WOULD ESTIMATE THE LEFT VENTRICULAR EJECTION FRACTION NO GREATER THAN 25%. RIGHT VENTRICULAR SYSTOLIC PRESSURES ESTIMATED IN THE 40 MMHG RANGE.  SINCE PRIOR ECHOCARDIOGRAM LEFT VENTRICULAR EJECTION FRACTION HAS DECREASED AND THE LEFT
VENTRICLE HAS DILATED

Now for those of you who may not understand what this means, let me explain.  A normal "Ejection Fraction" operates at 50 percent or better.  Mine was at 25 percent---having DROPPED from 40 percent that last time I had the test in 2015.  My doctor was talking about open heart surgery but I was adamant about going under the knife.  I asked her to "trust my process"; to give me an opportunity to get my health together.  In hindsight, I'm not sure why I said that but she went for it and told me we would revisit the subject if I showed no or little signs of improvement by my next visit.

I had three months to get it together. I took my medication like I was supposed to and didn't skip dosages like I had been doing in the past.  I worked out nearly everyday.  I kid you not, it was extremely hard at first.  Sometimes I would walk around the Duke Wall in tears because of how difficult it was to take more than a few steps at a time but I was determined to overcome this setback because I honestly believed God had a purpose for my next journey.

I'm happy to say today that after my last visit in September, surgery was taken off the table---at least for now anyway.  I ended up getting a new job that I absolutely LOVE and am thankful every single day for God's Grace.

Here's what I know:  His Word says even though our lives may be filled with trials and tribulations, it's just a setback to prepare us for our next comeback.

To God be the Glory!

Why Go to an HBCU?

Let me start off by saying I DID NOT attend a Historically Black College/University (HBCU).  Howard was my first choice but I wasn't a...