Real Talk

I know my next post was supposed to be my ongoing “Best of” in New York, but I just can’t. I can’t bring myself to post. Every time I go to post a photo of my food, my work, my day…I’m stopped by this tug.

The tug I feel is deep in my being, in my heart and in my head. It’s time for REAL TALK.

For those who don’t know, my day job is actually in the Advancement Office of a school, so fundraising is something we do and talk about every day. This Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease) has really thrown me for a loop. My initial thought was that this was a pretty brilliant strategy for charitable giving. It wasn’t even started by the organization itself but by one person who actually has ALS. What started as a few posts on Facebook has now gone insanely VIRAL with videos from my students, my friends, my family and even from celebrities, politicians, athletes and those with ridiculous influence.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hater of the challenge. In fact, with a very close friend whose dad lost the battle to ALS years ago, it hits very close to home for us. It’s a terrible debilitating disease which presently has no real treatment or cure. And I love that this has touched SO many people and encouraged them to put their money into action. No, I’m not a hater, but maybe I’m a little jealous.

Maybe I’m jealous for the many other causes, the other organizations, the other diseases and more importantly, the other injustices that aren’t getting the same kind of voice, the same support, the same camaraderie, the same publicity and action.

To see the impact of this challenge– the more than $15-million dollar impact — I can’t help but think about the others that aren’t benefiting from this popularity and “peer pressure” that seems to be spurring everyone and their brother into action.

I can’t help but think about the gravity of the headlines coming out of Ferguson, Missouri.

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There is a current humanitarian crisis happening in our country even still. The crippling reminder that for some ungodly reason in America today — in 2014 — the color of your skin STILL somehow determines the value of your life.

In 2014, parents with sons and daughters of color STILL have to have “the talk”. Not the sex talk but THE talk. The REAL TALK with sons and daughters of color, explaining the injustice and reality that people are going to have preconceived judgements on who they are based on their skin color. The REAL TALK that because of their skin color, they may be stereotyped as criminals and not afforded the same rights and freedoms as others in this “land of the free”.

The REAL TALK that goes something like this…“If you are stopped by a cop, do what he says, even if he’s harassing you, even if you didn’t do anything wrong. Let him arrest you, memorize his badge number, and call me as soon as you get to the station. Keep your hands where he can see them. Do not reach for your wallet. Do not grab your phone. Do not raise your voice. Do not talk back. Do you understand me?” 

The REAL TALK that white parents don’t have with their white children. White privilege, y’all.

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That’s REAL TALK for me, too. I can’t ignore the reality that because of my skin color, I’ve never had to worry about such things. Because I am a woman and I am white, I don’t think twice about being racially-profiled. That’s a concept not in my personal vocabulary. But for the many children of color that walk through my school’s hallways each year, it IS a part of theirs. Even the sweet five-year-old hearts that enter Kindergarten, it’s already a reality for them.

And it breaks my heart.

I can’t seem to shake it. These are sons and daughters, people. I’m reminded of that scene in A Time to Kill, (a film that’s set in the 1980’s mind you) when the young lawyer is recounting the brutal rape of a young African American girl by two white men. The girl’s father shot and killed the two men and was now on trial for his life. The all-white jury sat with their eyes closed as he described it all in gruesome detail. The last sentence struck me and even sends me over the edge today…Jake Brigance says, “Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl…”

“Now imagine she’s white…” He said this and their eyes were opened.

Student Body at Howard University

It’s time we open our eyes. Let’s open our eyes to our hidden biases. Let’s open our eyes to the reality that’s happening in our country today. Let’s open our eyes and ask ourselves why in 2014, we still have to ask people to imagine these children of God as “white” to make them FEEL something and move them to action and to change.

“…And until we can see each other as equals, justice is never going to be even-handed. It will remain nothing more than a reflection of our own prejudices.”

There’s the challenge. What would the response be if I tagged three people to respond and act on THAT injustice? I don’t know exactly what the call-to-action is from here or how to respond with more than words…but, maybe you could join me in examining our hearts as we acknowledge that all lives matter and have equal value.

Consider this girl tagged.

It all started with a Google Doc.

It was 2007 and my best friend from college made the move.

She packed her bags, left South Carolina with all its southern graces behind, and moved to New York. Her life changed in the most drastic of ways, and it seems funny to say this, but when she moved, MY life changed forevermore too.

I technically had been to New York once before when my dad was in the Navy in New York, but I was like 2, and who remembers that?! The second time was when I was a senior in high school with the marching band. (NERD ALERT) All I really remember from that trip was waking up at an ungodly hour to march in the Thanksgiving parade and then falling asleep during the Rockettes performance later that evening. Sorry ladies.

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But when Marie moved to New York to live and work, it changed me. In 2007, Jay and I visited and fell absolutely in love with New York City. The streets, the smells (yes, I mean it), the food, the people, the life. Our love affair began in 2007 and every year since, Jay and I find our way back to the City to really LIVE…for a few days, at least. For now, that is. Wink wink.

I don’t really think Google Docs were even a thing in 2007 but I started a list of places we wanted to visit, food adventures we wanted to take, and journeys to be had in New York. Each year we visit, I add to and edit that same list before we leave and when we return. What started as a very touristy collection of experiences like “walk the Brooklyn Bridge” and “see Wall Street,” and eat at places like Grimaldi’s (stood in LINE for an hour to eat here) and Pastis (Sex & the City, duh!), has evolved into a list of places to just happen upon as we walk the streets with no real place to be.

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Something inside of me comes alive when we go to New York. I tell people all the time that it’s my heart city. Sure I love the mountains, the beach and the still quiet of nature, but for me, something magical happens when we step foot off the plane in JFK or LGA. I get this goofy smile that doesn’t seem to leave my face until we board for Charlotte.

I thought for the next few posts, I might share a bit of why I love this City so much and share some of those items on my Google Doc of NYC LOVE.

In the meantime, here’s a photo-montage of what I call the evolution of said love affair with my heart city with the friend who started it all (and is to blame for my obsession):

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IMG_6764 We love you, New York, and I love you, Marie.

 

Transition

Summer has come and gone.

photo 2 (1)For most of you, summer is still in full effect, but for those of us that work in education, this season seems by far the shortest of the four.

Life and work in education is so very cyclical. Good and bad. For the most part, everything happens and functions on the same calendar from year to year. The good part is that you can be somewhat prepared and on top of things. The bad is that the mundanity of it all can and will, at times, wear down on your joy, on your motivation and on your heart. Surely this concept could be applied to any area of life and type of work.

I guess that’s why life happens in seasons. Fall. Winter. Spring. Summer. Seasons of growth, of life, of sadness, of waiting, of death, of disappointment, of hope and of joy. We are not guaranteed only the good ones. In fact, by the nature of this world we live in, seasons of death and life, good and bad, happy and sad are all inevitable. Seasons begin and end.

photo 1Jay and I are in a season of transition. A season of waiting, hoping, expecting and the seemingly inescapable feelings of sadness and disappointment. With all of that and no definitive answers or solutions for anything, I find myself looking back on the last year of our lives with a smile. Sure, we haven’t been blessed with pregnancy or a successful adoption yet; BUT we chose to LIVE and be present. Instead of obsessing over what we don’t have, we’ve celebrated the things we do. We’ve lived my 30th and Jay’s 35th year the best way we know how.

To mark the end of our summer season, Jay and I traveled to our favorite place, New York City, for 10 days. Beautiful weather, amazing food, great company. We witnessed the sweetest wedding of some of our favorite friends, enjoyed cocktails on rooftops, picnicked in the park, filmed a Travel Channel show (more on that later!), reunited with our soul sisters & brothers, made new friends and explored the city hand-in-hand. It was the BEST ending to this season.

photo 3 (2)So here’s my little confession and long-winded way to say I’m also entering a new season in life and on this blog. This place has been so therapeutic for me as we’ve dealt with infertility. Don’t get me wrong, we are still dealing with it and may be forever, but I want to write about more than that. This will officially be my transition to writing more about the things that bring joy and happiness, the things that make me smile…like dinner parties, cooking fun crazy recipes, beautiful adventures, community and our lives that go on…despite the sadness, despite the infertile elephant in the room (haha). I hope you don’t mind and I hope you don’t stop reading.