One of the challenges with me even wanting to write this blog is that there is a need. 

There is always someone, somewhere that I go, telling me or alluding to the idea that something is wrong with my blackness. I break a lot of stereotypes and I actually find a thrill in that. One of the many stereotypes that I don't fit is that "Black Folks Don't Do Yoga".
I have tried running, which 'we' are apparently supposed to be good at - and while many are, my knees are jacked up. It sounds like something out of one of those Paranormal Activity movies when I walk up and down the stairs. I have exercised and cold weather induced asthma and I would always, always, always rather be reading and/or eating than doing movement.

Exercise in general is lost on me, but I work in a fairly stressful job and while I enjoy it, need to release a lot of the stress and tension that can build up and make you sick and forgetful. So, I made only one new year's-y resolution kind of thing and that was to go to yoga. 

Fortunately, my neighbor who is in the know in our community, has a friend in the community that just grew into a new yoga location near our home. I really like the space, it's my style. Spacious, clean, nicely lit and modern without being showy. The owner and instructor (same woman)- the only one I've had since the start of the year - is fabulous for me and is okay with me laughing at my non-yoga self. 

Maybe this is the black part of the whole thing for me, but I really, really enjoy the shavasana at the end of the class. It is my favorite. You get a scented pillow to put over your eyes - don't forget the tissue, we don't want your eye crusties and junk - and you lay on your mat and the instructor plays great music and she stands still and silent and you just shavass (is.that.a.word?) or just lay there. May seem foolish to pay all that cash to stretch, contort and then power nap, but it's not gonna happen in my house and certainly not on my own.

I would probably fall out in the floor if I walked into the studio and saw one other black person there, but I still go. It's the community I live in, I'm supporting small business and I usually feel great after I leave. The fact that I am the only is nothing new, I'm used to that. I can admit that I don't think of inviting any of my other black friends with me to the class and I haven't actively sought out an environment where they may be more black folks. 

Yep, I smiled too. Considering  an all black yoga class. Would there be any yoga? A sister cooking that good food while the class is going on, it'll be ready right after - all that work, we gotta go head and eat.

You saw the video. She couldn't resist making noise. I don't want to do all of that. And our instructor doesn't ever have us humming and/or chanting, I wouldn't be into all of that. I'm trying to be quiet and still and learn about how my body works and am already self conscious as it is, yoga is hard and humbling and I like to be really good at stuff I try right away. The last thing I want to do is while I'm also make sure that I'm breathing properly (in and out or out and then in, it is actually hard to remember) be humming/chanting at the same time. TOO MUCH.

For right now, I think I am in the right place bringing my blackness to the group. I'm a speck, but I'm there.

Now if I could just make it there every week...


 
 
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I have invited some folks that are close and personal to me to be guest writers on my blog in a series called, "She is...".

Since I tend not to have the most objective and clear view of myself and blogging is about putting oneself 'out there', I wanted to try this and am attempting to add another level to your getting to know me. I asked that the guests write about me and how they view me in acknowledging, accepting and living my blackness and they have free reign to share. 

It only seemed fitting that my mom - the woman who's known me the longest and loves me most - should go first. 


Guest Writer: Mary Ann Collins, #1
Relationship to Regina: Moms
Favored quality: Tellin' it like it is no matter what.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
This is a really good thing you're doing Regina, connecting to your "Blackness." It sure puts things in perspective for me, I was too protective over you and not involved enough through those formative years and was not concerned too much about the kids you were growing up with to notice that you were disconnected somewhat. The only thing I wish to offer in defense of my inability to see clearly how you was struggling is that the effort you made toward fitting in the society forced on you by no choice of your own was incredible. I am very thankful to be able to say I didn't once go to Kromery Middle School or Middleton High School because of anything you wasn't doing. Your behaviour was a reflection of our love for God, each other and the way we loved you in the home provided for you, we supported your choices in whatever you wanted to do in both places.  How can I ever make you understand just how much it hurts me to know that somehow I missed a very important time in your life helping you grow into that special "girlie" that your daddy always referred to you as when talking to anyone about you. I pray that God will forgive me, and you can too for my shortcomings of not helping you to love the skin you're in, and to embrace your beautiful brown eyes that twinkle when you laugh, your perfectly placed teeth, your gift for gab - an inheritance from your dad, your hair which was perfectly placed when God gave you to me on February 9, 1973, every curl was perfect. Your continued success came through dedication and hard work you put in and by the acceptance of Jesus according to your own understanding.

You have made some beautiful choices that I know of, and as sure as I breathe I know you've made worse choices too, even more than what I will ever know about, its as it should be I believe. God is teaching you better in these later years better than your dad or I could have ever done. I am thankful for the opportunity to have introduced you to Him which feeds the desire that drives that insatible hunger you have for more.

We had to deal with the fact that you were younger than your peers too, just as smart or smarter as most yet younger and not allowed to do what they were ready to do. You didn't make the decision to skip a grade, that decision was made by your dad and I, after letting Mrs. Phelps talk us into it. Mrs. Phelps was your baby sitter who ran a private academy the Florence Jackson Academy in Atlanta, Ga, when she went to the academy she'd always take you with her and put you in the classes with the other young kids just a year or two older than you and you began to absorb the teachings. By the time you were ready to go to school you were already doing the work of a third grader so why bother putting you in the first grade to just get "bored", is what the test results showed and the principal of Bob Mathis elementary school assured us this would help keep you focused.  We listened to the suggestions and followed them, nobody was more proud than your dad and Grandma Collins. I on the other hand was trying to be the voice of reason with the what ifs, it didn't work.

You left Middleton High School and went to the University of Madison where choices still needed to be made and you knocked down some sterotypes there too. I was absolutely sure that you were indeed a trend setter and not a follower. During the next four years of college was not much different than what we aready knew about your ability to sieze and conquer anything that seems too high, too big or just plain hard. The difficulties you faced during these years were hard for you Gina yet you endured. I still admire you for the courage to endure the hardships of friendships, the disappointments, the misunderstandings; all the times you held back from speaking about your inner fears. My heart breaks that I didn't see your actions and reactions clearly, or anything you did as weaknesses, you were just plain strong. 

And then after all that came yet another hurdle, you met your first husband. What a ride. More later. Mom 


 
 
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The Oscars Award Show was televised last night with 1 billion viewers and 'Django Unchained' showed up. With  5 nominations and 2 wins, the film left its mark on the cinema industry and on me, a viewer.

I hardly EVER watch the Academy Awards, now officially "The Oscars", in its entiretity and last night was no exception. Too long, too self-endulging to such a small community of already wealthy and popular people, it's not really my scene. I also don't really like to see a movie after everyone else tells me that I should. 

Fortunately for me, I went to see Django Unchained yesterday afternoon before the Oscars and I really am glad that I did.  Really glad.

Big names (Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Don Johnson, Kerry Washington & Samuel L. Jackson) plus Tarantino blew up the big screen - fantastic soundtrack too!

So much hype about the "n" word (used in this film 110 times), I really wanted to see it. For those Harry Potter fans out there, it's kind of like "He who shall not be named" though everyone knows what the word is (future post coming) but are afraid of saying it or hearing it uttered around 'the wrong people'. Surprisingly, the word seemed to me to be within the historical context of the movie and while I don't think that anyone ought to be using the word, it made sense in this movie. After reading a couple of reviews before seeing the film, I thought that I would be angry at all of the actors for liberally using the "n" word, but I found myself more disturbed and upset by other things.
  • The betrayal amongst black men. (Samuel L. Jackson/Stephen - shame on you!)
  • The rant by DiCaprio's character, Mr. Candie, about creativity and the black man's skull/brain.
  • The violence. I mean, I knew it was a Tarantino movie, but I had to cover my eyes for quite a bit of the bloodshed. I don't get his need to show all of that.
For a movie that was to be this controversial film about slavery shown in our now very progressive and accepting country (say what now?) there were quite a few scenes that made me laugh. Out loud. I didn't mean to, but I did and thought it was genius of Tarantino to be able to do that. It wasn't like we were laughing at slavery and its horror, but that we were laughing at the ridiculousness of ourselves. I won't ruin it, but oh my goodness, I would watch the entire thing again just for the part that involves the angry mob. Brilliant, just brilliant and funny too!  "Criticize, criticize, criticize!!!" Hilarious.

The fear, the ignorance feed into and the pride that keeps us perpetuating strife, distance and disunity, that's on all of us with skin. He totally disarmed me and stripped away the thoughts and feelings that I had planned to view this movie with and replaced it with me just watching it as a person. A woman interested in the buzz and wanting to blog about it. A woman who wanted to know if the film would prompt more of a sense of black pride in the overcoming of my ancestors or would be taken over by the anger that slavery is to evoke in all black people. It's supposed to do that right?

You could go into the film tense and prepared to focus on the power of the white man and the inferiority of the black man, at least that's what I was prepared to do. I'm telling you though, there were enough scenes throughout the film to encourage my disposal of this way of thinking. Let's just say that the film does not show anyone in a really great light (black, white, woman, man, foreign, northern, southern, all characters were with their flaws and contribution to the crazy). The uneducated, backwoods, white man, whew - there were times where I wished that there were subtitles for a couple of the scenes...speak English son. Speaking of talking, Jamie Foxx was to me more believable as Django Unchained than as a bound slave. Could be because most of the film was with him doing his thang and getting revenge as a freedman (well sort of, I mean he was originally bought by somebody from somebody else...anyhoo), but his 'accent' tripped me up throughout the film. There were times throughout the film when I was sure that he'd forgotten he was supposed to be learning to read and was fairly uneducated in the ways of the world and perhaps thought that he was Jamie Foxx hanging out, being told to look tough and shooting folks - a lot of folks. Give me a shout out if you hear what I'm sayin'...

Painful as some of the scenes were (Kerry Washington's character/Broomhilda von Schaft in the hotbox for running away, treatment of runaway slaves and dogs, etc.), I couldn't help but think about how much my Jesus had to go through leading up to and on the cross for me. There were moments in the film that actually made me consider the sacrifice He made to free me from my life of sin and the correlation to the enslavement of black people. It was like watching parallel films/stories; this one and the Passion of the Christ. The beatings, the torture - epic battles. A powerful connection for me, especially when about halfway through the film, I began beaming in the dark theatre because I realized that this was a love story. A man going after his woman and going through anything to get her. Swoon. It's the same as the love of Jesus for you and me. It really, really is. 

Though I don't think it was Tarantino's intention to make that particular connection, it has stuck with me. And while this film is not for kids, it is worth the viewing of adults who feel they can handle it and discuss the film on many levels. Having the conversations about the treatment of slaves by their owners or how they treated one another, but also talking about the history of our country, the individual responsibility we all have towards one another - especially as black folks - are we being honest about our care and concern for one another. Hard to recover and move forward, to be free when we are still talking and acting like we're not. See my post about the movie, "Desert Bayou". 

I went to see Django Unchained by myself. I will not say that I felt more or less black when watching it, though I did count the number of other black folks in the theatre (five including me) and did feel more justified to laugh at certain parts of the film than others; still trying to figure out why. I can imagine that some folks get a little nervous when they consider the possibility of this film being reality: a black slave free killing white men for money - and being good at it too. Black man loose. Is this what we carry around with us but don't really talk about? Is this a part of the belief and mindset about one another that we hold close to us and allow to determine how we respond to and treat one another and to believe about ourselves?

I did not walk out of the theatre feeling more of a personal responsibility towards others than when I walked in - I'm already bound by the love of Christ and the scriptures that talk about 'loving one another', but I was entertained by the story and intrigued to learn more about black history and slavery in America. (This story takes place two years before the Civil War begins.) I was not embarrassed about being black but absolutely am embarrassed about my knowledge of black history, it is shameful. Maybe as I learn more, it will mean more to me and shape me more than it does now.

Great movie! I applaud Quentin Tarantino for telling this story but wonder why a black man didn't do it. And how different it would've been. There was an interview with Spike Lee about the film - which he refuses to see. Not that Lee is going to call me up and ask me what I think, but wouldn't it have made more sense for him or another black man to step and tell that story? Our story? I'm always watching movies and wondering how it would be different if told from a black person's perspective. 

Still black on the outside after seeing the film - I checked - I'm encouraging everyone I know (that is an adult and I think might enjoy it) to consider seeing it; I want to talk about it with lots of people. Let's talk about whether there was a need for this film, what that need was, if any, and how it might possibly bring about change in the way we view movies and its influence in our society's interactions with each other. Let's talk about "how far we've come" from the cruelties and division and assess it. 

No name calling. Besides, the "D is silent."








 
 
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This caught my eye. 

Reading a lot of other blogs and trying to find my own comfort level in blogland has been on my mind a lot lately. I was really encouraged to be directed to this post about sharing myself online.  It is true that I've been nervous about being real and not knowing what is too much. 

A coworker that I respect, but don't always agree with, but that I respect, shared that she felt that I was a good writer but thought that I was playing it safe. That the title of the blog and the content weren't matching up. I hated to admit it, but I agree with her. I had to begin asking myself what was holding me back. Who am I afraid of offending? Am I going to alienate myself? others? Will I disappoint? Am I not good enough? So much self doubt and then realizing, I haven't even begun putting myself out there...yet.

I just read a post on Facebook that said, "Freedom in Christ means you are free to do whatever you want...as long as it is righteous." This in connection to Galatians 5:13. Seems I'm getting the nudge to more "accurately and authentically" share who I really am and what I think about race as it relates to my experience, even if it isn't what others agree with or experience and whether people actually comment or not. (I really wish people would comment.)

So, I tackled the the worksheet and here's what I learned...

I tend to be at an arm's length with those I fear will judge me or my writing but want to be more of an open book in order to draw people in, to invite them into the way that I think or the things I sometimes consider, this makes sense in my head. Don't get me wrong, I don't want or expect that everyone will agree with everything that I write, but I do want people to like me. I don't like that about myself because I feel like it brings about lots of trouble, conflict and irritation. Probably isn't true, but that's how it seems. I do know that I still want to write this blog.

I tackled the homework and the three categories on the worksheet: things I won't talk about online, those things that I will post about and then those that I would like to post about but am a little scared. Here goes...

Things I won't talk about online.
  • my marriage: my husband would have to be a guest writer in order for this to occur
  • my children: the only way that they'll make it into a post is if what happens to them has something to do with race or my thoughts about it or they choose to write a post of their own as a guest writer (three teenagers in the house, this is quite possible, they have a lot to say!)
  • my work: I like my job and want to keep it - no personnel stories unless given permission first


Things I will talk about online.
  • my relationship with God, especially as it pertains to my personal growth and perspective of the posts that I will write
  • stuff me and my girlfriends talk about
  • books I've read, movies I've seen and music I've listened to
  • news stories
  • holidays
  • culturally relevant topics - I've been horrible about this (no posts about MLK, Jr., the Oscars, more about black history month) but hope to be better
  • food I've started a relationship with - you know how you just go back over and over and over again
  • vocabulary/terms/phrases
  • television shows
  • heroes & heroines
  • craziness
  • Milwaukee, then and now 
  • American history and black people in it
  • Other blogs


Things I would like to talk about online but am a little scared to write about.
  • Race 
  • Social Constructs that we have believed and acted on for years
  • Inequality
  • Inequity
  • Painful memories/experiences in my own past & present
  • Education
  • Segregation in Milwaukee
  • Life in the suburbs - an expose
  • Military life


Be patient with me as I write and grow, hopefully you'll ride along as I open up. I welcome your feedback and especially your support and am excited to move forward on this adventure - stay with me and bring a few others along with you.

Here's to getting to know one another. My name is Regina...








 
 
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It took me about twenty minutes to even process this and when it hit full on I knew I needed to post about it.

A little backdrop...

Our second oldest, let's call him #2, is in 8th grade in one of the two public middle schools in our suburban community. We live in a fairly nice home, modest and clean and...us. When people come to visit or hang with us, they seem to feel fairly comfortable and often compliment the style that we've (okay, I'VE) decorated it in. By those standards, I would argue that we fit the middle class, suburban lifestyle of many families like ours in the community in which we live. We of course don't look like every other family but we aren't aliens or a circus attraction by any means. Well actually some days it feels that way, but in reality we aren't too far outside of the American middle class ring of "normal". We are a blended family with four kids. We have an interracial marriage, my husband is the white to my black - opposites attracting in so many more ways than this, but necessary for you to know as I continue to clarify the context of this disturbing situation.

So, apparently #2 had a rough day at school yesterday. He witnessed one of his friends verbally and physically explode on another student. #2's friend has accused the other student/bully of teasing him and saying how ugly his girlfriend was. Middle school behavior, bullying, whatever you want to call it - it happens and will likely happen again. The part that stuck with me was how disturbed our child was. He talked about it with #1, his dad and with me and really wanted to work it out in his head and heart, all of it. Bless his heart, so tender.

Since he doesn't really ever talk about school this way, it stuck with me and I wanted to check in on him. Fortunate to have the day off from work myself, I went over to check-in on him. I signed in as a visitor as expected with the recently tightened security measures at all of our nation's schools, got his whereabouts from the office assistants and then set out on my way. I went to Room 219 and he wasn't there. In fact, it took a good 15 seconds for the adult in the room to even realize that someone had opened the door and was waiting to have a conversation with her. When students in the class finally got her attention in that special middle school way and she walked over to me, we spent a solid three minutes trying to figure out where he was since she didn't really know who he was. Granted she was a substitute teacher (fine) but this is what she felt would clear up where my son might be...

Ahem...

As she turns her body square to me and folds her arms across her chest, she leans in close to me and just above a whisper says, "Is your son in a remedial reading class where he might need to pulled out for additional literacy, I mean, reading and language, support?"

Read.it.again. Oh, yes she did!

I told her 'no' and smiled a little bit. It was a terse smile, but one that I'm looking back on and acknowledging that I've smiled many a times. I am so used to comments like this. Per standard cool and collected black woman requirements, I shoved the 'ick' aside and walked away accepting and internalizing the loaded assumptions that others feel comfortable verbalizing. It is out there and I carry away this feeling inside me. 

As I had time to step outside of the situation and reflect on it, I can now admit that it hurts. There was no reason for her to assume that about him. She doesn't know me but saw me and saw my blackness and spoke from her belief and mindset that if he wasn't in her predominantly white class, with her white self, then either I was lost or my kid was in a class getting 'extra help'. 

Let me say this and be clear in sharing that there is absolutely nothing wrong with receiving extra help. We all need it to grow in areas of weakness, but unfortunately in many schools - there is a widespread mindset that 'extra support' means problems. Well, for some. Who look a certain way. Extra for some means "Gifted and Talented" and others means "Remedial and Below Grade Level". Today, I felt like she was telling me that because of my being black, because of what she could see in briefly interacting with me, my son had to be someplace else and not someplace good.

Sigh. Scream. Head shake. Disgust. Disappointment.

Now, before you say, "she probably didn't mean anything by it" or "you're reading too much into this blogger girl", I want to break it down and ask you to consider it in pieces. 
  • The woman did not know who my son was. 
  • The woman did not assume the best. If he was being pulled from class, could the child of someone with my skin color have been being pulled for Gifted and Talented Programming?
  • The woman whispered her question to me, no other part of the conversation required her crossing her arms and leaning into me talking softly so only the two of us might hear.
  • The woman repeated herself, apparently I look like I may be hard of hearing too.

My point? I left the interaction tempted to believe that something was wrong with me/my son. The negative assumptions made with so little information was damaging to me and done in less than 10 seconds of her speaking her thoughts about us - people she really doesn't know. 

I almost feel that those of you who don't know me might need some justification from me; how was I dressed, did I have my hair up in rollers, was I poppin' my chewing gum, talking loud? And then I realize that I'm answering to some of the stereotypes that come with having skin the color of mine. And THEN I decide that I'm not going to speak to those because it shouldn't matter how I show up, but that's exactly the point. It does. 

Fast forward to tonight. 

#2 is recounting a few lowlights of his day and interrupts himself to say, "Oh yeah, Mom, Ms. Ladywhoshallnotbenamed told me that you were pretty." Me: "Really, that's interesting. When did she tell you that?" #2: "When I came to class later in the day, she said that she met you and that you were really pretty." Me: "Huh. That's interesting."

Head shaking. It is taking all that I have in me not to judge this comment, to take the compliment and leave it on the table as just that. Not as an attempt to backtrack and undo the harm that she probably sees in hindsight. To leave it as a minor incident, just how he presented it - as another thing that happened in his day as an 8th grade boy. No big deal right? His substitute teacher thinks his mom is pretty. A compliment, surely my mom will be encouraged; that's what he's thinking. Shouldn't it be that simple? 

Why doesn't it seem simple?

I will continue to wrestle with this situation and be better prepared to answer as these situations pop up in the future, because they will. In the meantime, I'm praying to make sure that I am at peace within myself knowing that how God sees me and my children is of importance what people say and think. That whatever unintended hurt comes from people's intentions, His heart for me is above all.




 
 
 
I want to make it easy for you to get my posts!

Bloglovin' is a site that organizes registered blogs into categories for your ease. I have spent hours on this website looking at hundreds of blogs. I took notes about being a blogger but also found that I couldn't resist following a few new favorites. Food, wine, personal/growth, parenting, marriage, home decor and Christianity blogs have all made my list.

www.bloglovin.com/ is easy to use, though you will need to create a login and password, all of which will take less than one minute.

To create an account, go to the top right corner of the home page and click on the blue button that says, SIGN UP. You need to enter your full name, a username, email address and a password.

Once you do this, your first order of business is to search for and mark your number one blog - the one you can't wait to read - absolutely this one; Black As I Wanna Be - it's out there. Exciting right? When you find me, be sure to click the "Follow" button and it will show up on the left side of your screen as a blog that you are following.

You can determine how often you would like to receive notifications about new posts from your favorite blogs by managing the frequency under the "Account" button with the cute little heart in front if it. Go to 'Settings' then 'Notifications' and then you are where you want to be. Me, I am only set up to receive one notification each day - it is too hard to post and to read and live life with all things I already need to do let alone the things I want to do. I usually read the updated posts in the quiet of the morning, my super favorite part of every day. Be sure you set aside a time that works for you because you will get sucked in.

For those who will access their windows into the world while on the move, the Bloglovin' App is available in the App Store for free and the download is painless. Go ahead, click!

The next step? Read, enjoy, comment and share!

Happy Reading!!!

 
 
Robby Novack is 9 years old and making an imprint on the internet and on all of us. There are many brief videos that include his uncomplicated, upbeat political message to bring about change. He dances, he smiles, he charms. 

I am really enjoying watching this president make history.
 
 
Well, first you'd have to have watched Dirty Dancing and secondly, you'd have to have known me back then.

My high school friends knew me. The 'me' that I let them know and that Regina worked hard, I mean HARD at fitting in. I was one of a few black students in a predominantly white, suburban community, neighborhood, middle and high school. I was a mediocre student, mainly because I spent the majority of my time trying to normalize my oddity. I played along with the majority and attempted to blend in. I didn't rock the boat when we read "To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, I tried out for and made the cheerleading squad because it didn't require a ton of rhythm and I didn't run screaming from the building every time someone told me they 'didn't think of me as being black'.

My parents seemed worn out by going through something similar in their workplaces. They had fairly important jobs and were good at them but talked very little with me about the experience of moving from Atlanta to a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin while we were going through it. In my opinion, we put our blackness in a corner. 

We had taken for granted the culture that we had enveloped ourselves in while living in Decatur amongst family and friends until we made the move. My dad chose to take a job working for a major power company here in Wisconsin and somehow he convinced my mother to make the move. Maybe I should say that I was the one who took Atlanta for granted. The food, the church, the friends, the family, the noise, the music - it was so normal. Moving to Wisconsin, changed things.

Our blackness did not change, but so much of our environment did that it shifted me and my perception of my blackness and of course, me. Now, I think it was good for me to be uprooted and to have an opportunity to better understand and claim my blackness, but looking back, I must admit that I did not and that move has had ongoing ramifications in my perception of myself ever since.

Earlier tonight, I was at the book reading & signing of Erin Celello. She is the author of "Miracle Beach" and now, "Learning to Stay". I will tell you to get both books, I have two copies of each of them but more importantly it is how she read her words and then how she answered the audience's questions that made me sit up in my seat and beam for her. In the moment,  it was far more about how really in her element she seemed, how crafted for that moment she seems to have been. No nervousness or apologies, she was appropriately and dynamically an author allowing us to sneak into her work and her mind. By the way, there were three of "us" there and two of them were college students doing some sort of assignment. As soon as it was over, they left - darned missed opportunity.

It made me think about my being black. When I land on what I am doing and those moments for myself how much of it will have to do with my being black. Will it hold me back? The stereotypes that I fill and those that I don't, will they hinder me from being bold enough to speak out and say what it is that I think. Will my being black propel me into opportunities? How will I share without putting people out and ruining good relations? Do black people really go to book signings if it isn't about black issues? Did I break a black rule? You know, I never make it to the meetings, so I'd be the last to know...

I am a black woman, but what does that mean, really? Most days when I wake up and I look in the mirror, it is not a descriptor that I use as I'm brushing on my makeup and tweezing out those pesky hairs. I know that I am black and that it means more than just the color of my skin. Most days I think I do not want to dwell on it and do not look for slights but other times I read articles and tilt my head and wonder if the author knows anything about being a part of a marginalized group. I read texts and history and consider the horrors of other groups and their pain and then realize that I don't empathize enough because I don't fully understand the history of black Americans. Slavery, Civil Rights, even sports - I don't think I've really given deep thought to the path that has been laid by those who've stepped into those first challenges. 

Then I realize that I'm the one. I've put my blackness in a corner. I have neglected to really understand it, ask questions, revel in it and celebrate it. Certainly it can never overcast the brightness of my decision to make Jesus Lord of my heart and soul, but I can venture to ask and share and change. I do have a bit of fear that in an effort to better understand myself and "my" history I may become too outspoken for some and alienate myself from others. I think that's why I haven't shared this blog with every single "friend" on Facebook yet. 

I am retrieving it. My blackness. Just in writing about it, I know I will better acknowledge it and allow it to take its proper place and be a part of how I share about myself. Let me be clear, I know that I am more than my skin color and my culture. This is all about defining it, defining my quirks and idiosyncrasies and connecting them as much to my being black as much as they relate. 

Right now, I guess the frame of my blackness can be defined as my skin color, which I really like. I think I have beautiful skin. I've been told by my husband, my son when he was a lot younger and at a very, very recent facial. It may be defined by how I am able to speak and go back and forth between speaking professionally and "talking black". That I know that even though we were extremely poor when I was a young child, I never lived in the 'ghetto' - not in the Jewish sense of the word. It is some of the foods that I eat but sometimes I think I lose some of my street cred because I've never made a successful batch of collard greens and my white husband makes better grits than I do. The music I enjoy is more mainstream and white - who doesn't love them some Celine Dion - than black; I have to consciously seek out black artists to listen to or seek recommendations. I am smart enough to know that my blackness can not only be regulated to these things and even others, but that my blackness will find its place and stand alone when I am comfortable acknowledging it in all situations. Dancing with it, embracing it, laughing at it, questioning it and owning it.

Tonight when I listened to the authors, I listened for black inlets - the one author spoke about the injustices of those black veterans who returned but were not valued although they served alongside their white counterparts in the same way - but I also listened as a woman, as a war widow, as a friend supporting her author friend, as a cheerleader for success, as a person inspired to continue looking for outlets for my strengths - but my blackness was only a fraction of the lenses that I used to hear and see what was put before me.

It will not be put in a corner, my blackness, but it will not also be the belle of the ball. 





 
 
I've been reading a LOT of other blogs and posts and researching "successful" blogs and realized that I was feeling not a lot of blog love. Are people burnt out on this topic? Do I need to start having give-a-ways? Does my writing make sense? It could very well be all or some of these, but what keeps coming up in me is that I haven't been very personal. The blog has started to turn into sort of a book report - a good one - but not really a blog about me and my blackness. I haven't been on many adventures to intentionally define my blackness as I am experiencing it in a suburb of Milwaukee, but I still want to.

Being a wife in a fairly young second marriage, a mother to one and stepmother to three, a career woman and still wrastling to embrace 40, there are things that keep me from sitting down each day to write. In addition to that, I just think I need to have stuff to say that you all would want to hear. I've had a lot of positive conversations about the blog and the topic but not a lot of online 'chatter' - is that what people are calling it - around the blog itself.

Plainly put. I want this blog to be liked. I want you to like me and this topic and I want you to be engaged and moved to change your corner of the world because of something that you've read. I've hit some turbulence though. I know, I know. We're not high off of the ground and it's still early on in this journey, but we're still moving. Onward.