#BlackLivesMatter, Positive Propaganda from DNBE, and a poem from Mama C

What the boys will be getting for Kwaanza
What the boys will be getting for Kwaanza

Last night I ordered one of each of these shirts from DNBE, a company that promotes what they call positive propaganda:

If you think about it, your t-shirt is like a billboard, and every day you’re walking around advertising something (or maybe nothing if it’s a blank tee or a meaningless design) .   That advertisement says something about the person wearing it and has an effect (conscious or subconscious) on the people around him/her.  Why waste that valuable advertising space?  Why not use it to uplift the people? … For that brief moment you know that there are other people out there that have not lost their minds.  And that positive energy is infectious and magnetic.  With enough people catching on, we can start to turn this situation around.  That’s positive propaganda, and that’s why we’re here…

To grab onto something that feels positive in the message department for young Black men today is not an easy find. I, like many mamas I know who are parenting young men of color have found myself traveling the continuum from abject despair to enraged disbelief and everything in between. I have been attending rallies, and reading my poems out loud to honor Trayvon, Michael, Tamir, Eric, and, and, and…

I have been talking to colleagues, friends, family, and anyone really who will listen and tried again to get those who don’t seem to care to notice what I am saying for a moment. At work when I am asked how I am, I try to answer truthfully; “In a state of disbelief. Crushed. Shocked that our country has such a broken judicial system, and devalues the lives of so many of the young men and women here in our schools…” I have prayed. I have hugged my boys so much more. Each time I catch myself forgetting, I notice Sammy or Marcel just walking out of the room and think to myself; “he is coming back.”

I say this to honor all the mothers who can’t.

I have also tuned out completely, because I have that choice. I don’t just mean that I deactivated my Facebook, and disappeared almost entirely from social media.  I mean that I can pop into the gas station to get a cup of coffee, and not engage with the headline on the newspaper out loud or in private, if I don’t want to. I can say; “I can’t deal today.”  I am not the one Black colleague in the school who everyone either avoids, or seeks out after another horror show is splayed across the news. I can just carry on and not engage. I can, and I do. I am not a young Black man walking down the street wondering if it is safe here, or in the convenience store being watched to see if I steal a candy bar while I am waiting to pay for my coffee.

I have accepted invitations to be on panels, and co-design Ferguson units with colleagues. I have scheduled several meetings for the next three months with various white men in positions of power in the field of education to talk about how we keep talking about this in schools and beyond, because it is one way I can use my voice, experience and privilege to promote a little more positive propaganda.

I have wondered if I would care this much today if my sons were white. I have not always answered that question honestly.

I have so much gratitude and appreciation for all the people in our lives who can listen, and who are climbing up underneath this massive weight next to us, and offering to do more than just hold it up too.

Sammy just woke up, and asked for a cuddle. I stopped writing, and crawled up into his bunk bed, rearranged his twisted up blankets and sheets, and wrapped myself up in him too. In a few days he will be ten. He will be just two years younger than Tamir Rice who was shot when he was reaching for his toy gun-most likely show the police officers it was fake-when they were all screaming at him to put his hands up. That’s when he was killed. It was a few days after his twelfth birthday.

Sammy will not be getting any toy guns for his birthday, and we have talked about why.  Sammy asked for anything in the remote control helicopter department, an x-box, and some footy pajamas-because he used to love to wear them when he was little…

hoodie and a hug
#BlackLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatter

Pout Pout Pout it on Out

Clearly the extra years of experience and practice pouting have paid off for Sam.

Marcel can’t keep himself from cracking into a smile for more than five seconds.

Sam can hold this for a long, long, time.

Uncle started it. He get’s all the credit for the Pout offs.  He is genius this way. Whenever one of them would be pouting about something absurd like not having a piece of Valentine’s Day candy for breakfast-he says; “Come on. Is that it? Let me see a really good pout.” Before you know it everyone is trying to out pout the other.

It is a sign of emotional well being over here when I have time to document and explain the pout off.

What I got a kick out of, was how hard it was for me to pout when they invited me into the competition. (Can you tell that the Olympics have been on? Next thing you know we’ll be making medals for the best pout. I smell a snow day activity coming on.)  I tried to get into my pouting self, and felt about six or seven for a second. I almost ate my nose with my lower lip!

What I also noticed was how much like a rapper pose these pout shots resembled. Anyone want to speculate on which came first? The pout or the pose?

***

Speaking of talent, Sam is shooting a commercial (volunteer PSA for a healthy eating and exercise program) this afternoon. He suffered through six gallons of conditioner and combing and mom’s line up for the occasion! Marcel will be at school all day, so Sam and I have a long overdue Mommy-Sammy day. It will start with donuts. We will keep that to ourselves at the film shoot. Then we are going ice skating with hockey sticks and puck!!! at the pond in the park.

He must have read my mind as he just woke up this second! I think donuts. He wakes up. This is my child!

***

If you haven’t already done so, please check out my newest post at Moms of Hue. It features some local talent, and brings up in another venue, and voice for me the question of race, and how we talk about it.