For the storytellers—the ones who paint with words and the ones who speak in illustrations—keep going. We are doing the work. The BEST work.
"Two educators were so threatened by a 9-year-old child protesting the state-sanctioned murders of black people that they silenced and intimidated him because their feelings and their sense of entitlement mattered more to them than a boy searching for a way to make sense of and join the revolution around him.
According to the principal, the suddenly contrite teachers want my husband and me to accept that they were just so “shocked” by my son’s actions that they acted inappropriately. The thing is, shocked white women who act inappropriately when they encounter free black boys have gotten free black boys killed. I care nothing about their shock beyond how it affects my child."
Listen: DO NOT mess with a Black mother's child. Especially Kirsten West Savali's. Hugs and a fist in the air for Dash, who deserved a better lesson than the one his teachers taught him when he took a knee.
For my babies—the ones to whom I gave life, and, in being my daughters, the ones who did the same for me. I’m so proud on this day and every day to be Mari and Lila’s mom. Happy Mother’s Day, from the MyBrownBaby Crew!
The editors at Yahoo asked me to write about what I learned about my mother after I became a mother. Here, a tribute to the woman who gave me away, and my own beautiful mother, who opened her arms wide and made me who I am today. I love you, Mother. I love you, Mommy.
"Giving up a child for adoption is the ultimate sacrifice. A miracle.
These are most appropriate descriptors when I think of my own adoption. Consider the miracle of birth — what it takes for sperm to meet egg and egg to attach to womb and for womb to maintain the absolute perfect conditions for new life and for new life to find its way to loving arms. Now consider the miracle of this particular adoption — what it took for my birth mother to get pregnant and give birth, but also to take this new life and make it so that it could find its way to loving arms. My parents’ arms. The arms of a mother whose blood was not my blood but whose heart connection was so deep, so expansive, so unconditional, so incredibly full, that it created the most perfect conditions for me to be … me. Safe. Successful. Happy. Deeply loved. Not by just one mother, but two."
So the thing is, I always wanted to do TV, but I messed around and fell in love with words and politics and entertainment and editing and books. But then, at almost age 50, Tiffany Brown Rideaux, with a recommendation from my friend Valerie Boyd, came along and opened the door for me to pursue my dream. I'm so very proud to be one of the hosts on the TWO-TIME EMMY NOMINATED Georgia Public Broadcasting show, A Seat At The Table, a program that combines my passion for Black women with intelligent conversation on the things that matter most to US. Take a look at this gorgeous "Meet Denene" video that'll be running on GPB. And support this work by tuning in every Sunday at 6:30 p.m. and Thursday at 7 p.m. on your local PBS station in GA and parts of SC and TN, or check them out online at http://www.gpb.org/seat-at-the-table.
"Blatant disregard for the Black-woman body is beyond abysmal and quite frankly, Robert Sylvester Kelly adds to this scurvy narrative. The Black women behind #MuteRKelly recognize this and are hell-bent on pulling his plug... Kelly got one thing right: 'When a woman’s fed up, there is nothing you can do about it.' Period. Point blank. End discussion." You. Better. Write. It. Ida Harris. #MuteRKelly, indeed. No more protecting this pedophile.
This. Is. Nuts. A Seat At The Table, this small but mighty show about the lives, interests and thoughts of Black women, hosted by Monica Pearson, Christine White and me, earned TWO EMMY NOMINATIONS! Congratulations to Tiffany Brown Rideaux, Keocia Jackson Howard, Bob Brienza, Kevan Ward and the Georgia Public Broadcasting team for this incredible fete. I'm so proud of us! #emmySE (we are slide 33) Haven't seen the show? Catch up on all our episodes at http://www.gpb.org/seat-at-the-table.
Reading aloud and playing imaginative games may offer special social and emotional opportunities, Dr. Mendelsohn said. “We think when parents read with their children more, when they play with their children more, the children have an opportunity to think about characters, to think about the feelings of those characters,” he said. “They learn to use words to describe feelings that are otherwise difficult and this enables them to better control their behavior when they have challenging feelings like anger or sadness.”
“The key take-home message to me is that when parents read and play with their children when their children are very young — we’re talking about birth to 3 year olds — it has really large impacts on their children’s behavior,” Dr. Mendelsohn said. And this is not just about families at risk. “All families need to know when they read, when they play with their children, they’re helping them learn to control their own behavior,” he said, so that they will come to school able to manage the business of paying attention and learning. <--FACTS. Read to your babies.
Another reviewer recalled the book "as very racist and somewhat sexist."
She added that when she got a copy in adulthood, "I subjected my husband and adult children to dramatic readings," such as: "Enslaved people were happy to be in Virginia and were better off than they would have been in Africa. Abolitionists lied about slavery in the South. ... After the Civil War, carpetbaggers and scalawags came down to Virginia to oppress white Virginians. However, some 'broad-minded' Northerners came to understand and appreciate true Virginia and came to agree that Negroes were not ready to govern themselves."
Damn. Just... DAMN. The brokenness. The surviving. The violence. The hiding. The truth. The bravery. These words. My God. Bless Junot Diaz.
“That violación. Not enough pages in the world to describe what it did to me. The whole planet could be my inkstand and it still wouldn’t be enough. That shit cracked the planet of me in half, threw me completely out of orbit, into the lightless regions of space where life is not possible. I can say, truly, que casi me destruyó. Not only the rapes but all the sequelae: the agony, the bitterness, the self-recrimination, the asco, the desperate need to keep it hidden and silent. It fucked up my childhood. It fucked up my adolescence. It fucked up my whole life. More than being Dominican, more than being an immigrant, more, even, than being of African descent, my rape defined me. I spent more energy running from it than I did living. I was confused about why I didn’t fight, why I had an erection while I was being raped, what I did to deserve it. And always I was afraid—afraid that the rape had “ruined” me; afraid that I would be “found out”; afraid afraid afraid. “Real” Dominican men, after all, aren’t raped. And if I wasn’t a “real” Dominican man I wasn’t anything. The rape excluded me from manhood, from love, from everything.”
About that time when our new neighbors called security on me and the Girlpies the night we moved in because our unpacking was too noisy at 9 p.m. on a Friday night... and the time a "neighbor" called the cops on a group of 11-year-old black boys for... building a treehouse in their own back yard. I wrote this in 2014. Four years later, white people still don't understand what it means to call the cops on Black folk for no apparent reason other than their own stupid fears and biases. Actually, they do understand. They understand PERFECTLY what calling the cops will do.
This piece—indeed, this incredible work—is a love letter to a Black mothers and our babies... a definitive acknowledgement, backed by heart wrenching true stories, landmark studies and statistics and in-depth analysis, that we are not making this up, that we and our children are constantly in danger within America’s health system, that Black doulas are angels and healers who need—MUST—be in the room if we and our children are to survive. Linda Villarosa, you did the Lord’s work, here.
These creepy women used their privilege as white women to abuse and neglect these babies, and all anyone did when these children reached out for help was send them right back into the arms of these monsters. My God, this is chilling. And heartbreaking. And maddening.
My latest for The New York Times Sunday Opinion page:
"African-American parents can’t stop demanding equality, but perhaps we need to start dreaming of a different kind of success: a hybrid of the life my father led as a child (while appallingly unjust, segregation made the black community self-reliant, assuring that African-Americans traded in goods and services among themselves) mixed with the expectations he had for me (success in corporate America). Maybe the challenge we should pass along to black children now is to never be afraid of avoiding the shackles of corporate America and creating their own businesses — businesses that also serve our community.
And maybe it’s time for us to redefine success altogether. Doing “better than me” could be about our babies growing up to be healthier, happier and more passionate about the things that matter to them — hard workers, yes, with the cash they need, sure, but also pioneers of a new paradigm that lets go of the all-too-elusive American dream."
"What I didn’t bank on was that my work at the Henry W. Grady High School Writing Center would fill me in a completely different way as I connected with the students—bonding not just over the words, but also a shared commitment to excellence. What would start out as my offering to help students organize an essay, conceive a thesis statement or zone in on that one life experience that would make their personal college app essay sing, often turned into long conversations about everything from college hopes and what classes to take to make a school take notice, to how to handle a bad grade and, in a few cases how to escape a bad relationship, how to talk to parents about abuse and how to break up with a bad boyfriend. Soon enough, I became more than just Ms. Millner, the writer. I became Ms. Millner, the trusted adult who would be more concerned with helping than judging..." My homage to volunteering, in partnership with Reward Volunteers, a dope website that helps you log volunteer hours.
I admit it: my motives for signing up to volunteer at the Grady High School Writing Center were mostly selfish. I’m nosy, see? And super protective of my girls. And a longtime believer that the best way to advocate for your kid in school is to be ever present in the hallways—learning who the players are, making nice with the administration and understanding how to work the system. [ 948 more words ]
Y'all. Y'ALL. My baby, Totally Lila, penned this powerful essay about why she's one of the key organizers of her high school walkout today to protest gun violence. I. AM. SO. PROUD. OF. THIS. GIRL. Her words: "I call BS to all of the inaction on gun laws. I call BS to all of the adults in charge saying that they care about the safety of students, but are not doing anything about it. I call BS to the crazy idea that giving my teacher a gun can somehow put a stop to rampages. I call BS to everyone who has ever doubted the mind of a teenager. We have voices, we know right from wrong, and we are now going to apply those two principles and work ten times harder to get our ideas to the people in charge who, at the moment, are working for themselves, rather than those of us who are affected by gun violence." Read her essay today on TheGrio, which put together an incredible line-up of teens lifting their voices and demanding they be heard on this important issue. GO LILA!
Walking Out for Safety: "I don’t believe that arming our teachers will solve the issue; it will only escalate them. Not everyone is to be trusted with a gun. If all it took for that guy to fire his gun [at my sister and me] was a rejection, how long do you think it will take a teacher to get mad enough to fire their gun? Teenagers can get under your skin; it only takes one bad day to turn a testy situation into terrible one." Totally Lila interviewed her BFF about being shot at for refusing a grown man's advances; to this day, this little flower is shook walking on her own street. Read Lila and Esete's words today on TheGrio, which put together a terrific package of Black teen voices that are passionately expressing why they're walking out of their high school today to protest gun violence. I'm so proud of these kids!
I love Addye Nieves for many reasons: she dope. She writes. She hella funny. She’s a beautiful person. And she makes art. Gorgeous, spirit-led, energetic abstract and expressionist art that transcends space and time and pulsates with light. Her work literally vibrates on a different frequency; my heart beats fast, my hands and fingers tingle when I experience her work. It is divine. Addye deemed this so. And now, she is working hard to honor other black and brown women artists traditionally marginalized in the art world by opening a studio where women of color can make and exhibit their work (!!!!!!). Read my story on MBB to get more info on Addye's dope new venture, or just go straight to Addye's Indiegogo campaign to donate to this AMAZING cause... https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/addie-addye-studios-community#/
This is a love letter to Addye Nieves and her new venture, AddieAddye Studios, a new shared Philadelphia artspace that will provide work, gallery, & retail space exclusively for women artists of color to create & present their work to the public. I need you to support the creation of this inclusive art space HERE. This is my reason why... [ 791 more words ]
"In the end, it doesn’t really matter if “A Wrinkle In Time” is a full-on box office success. By positioning a brilliant black girl at the center of a stunning adventure where she must learn to trust herself and her abilities, DuVernay has immortalized #BlackGirlMagic and shined a spotlight on those who've often been shoved in the corners of Hollywood. And that, more than some lukewarm reviews, is what makes “Wrinkle” a film that will help define a generation." FOR REAL. I took Totally Lila to see AWIT on opening night and we were mesmerized. We liked it. A lot. And I identified with it BIG TIME; never read the book, but I understood instinctively the pain that comes from people wishing the worst for you and doing everything within their power to make you do the same to yourself. I looked at it through the lens of a young Black girl. Because I was that kid. My daughters are that kid. I also subscribe to spirituality as the universe and light and believe in our ability to communicate with ancestors—via different dimensions. So all of it made sense and was beautiful to me. Like someone was actually speaking directly to me. That said: it’s a movie for kids. I remember loving stories like this as a kid; I wish folk would let kids tell us how they liked it, rather than a bunch of white male critics who, at the base of it, can’t relate because they’re not centered and it ain’t about Jesus, so...
Absolutely thrilled by this incredible line-up of books coming to a bookstore near you. I can't wait to stock up for my daughters—and for me!
Here’s a little something something I put together for y’all—for our babies—in the Sunday Review of the New York Times. I said what I said. And this is precisely why Denene Millner Books exists.
“Yes, black children need to see this film so they can know that they, too, can be heroes. Yes, all children need to see this film—especially boys—so they can know how to follow the lead of a black girl. But I needed to see this film, too.” Yes. I’m taking Totally Lila to see Ava DuVernay’s love letter to Black girls tonight—got our seats front and center. My heart needs this.
“Add to that the complexity of women of color’s own relationship to work. Historically, we have always worked and mothered. Many have even grown up seeing their mother and grandmother work more than one job. This is all we know. So the notion of having time to mother feels unfamiliar. There is still the social stigma of taking time off to mother—something black and brown women have never felt free to do. Ever since our bodies and our babies lost economic value, we have struggled to reassert our value as mothers and our importance in raising our own children. As I often say, black women in this country are viewed as perfectly acceptable and desirable for taking care of other’s people children but somehow stereotyped as not being able to take care of their own.” Boy do I love it when that Kimberly Seals Allers gets a hold of those mighty words and spills that beautiful brain on the page. Yes. Just YES to acknowledging the differences and seeking new perspectives on what work-life balance REALLY means for Black mothers.
“And none of these glitter-tinged fantasies subtract from Ms. DuVernay’s own mission, that cultivation of new perspectives and realities. To her, “Selma” and “A Wrinkle in Time” share a foundational message: ‘Civil rights work and social justice work take imagination, to imagine a world that isn’t there, and you imagine that it can be there. And that’s the same thing that you do whenever you imagine and insert yourself in a future space, or in a space where you’ve been absent.’” *sigh* I just love Ava’s freaking brain and vision. #Inspired
“We need to stop teaching children that obedience is their greatest virtue. Especially as we brace for the possibility of more systemic racial devastation, we need young people who push boundaries and become the kinds of adults who will not let themselves be victimized.
The violence that black children experience from trigger-happy cops, in the streets of cities like Baltimore and Chicago, in schools and at home is all interconnected. It is all strange and bitter fruit from the same tree. I am asking that black parents stop assisting in the devaluation of our children.” An oldie but goodie from my friend, Stacey Patton, who believes deeply in the humanity and magic of Black children.
Indeed. This is a GREAT problem to have. "Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut," written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James, has won a whopping SEVEN awards and Agate Publishing's art director had quite a time figuring out where to put all those medals. Click the link to get a sneak peak at how she attacked the "problem." It's BEAUTIFUL! *squeeeeeee*
Oh stop it. I may be the mother of two girlpies, but dammit, I'm not blind. I SAW IT TOO. Just like every other woman with eyes and the innanets. But the, um, vision, Safaree put out yesterday wasn't the only good thing to come out of his leaked nude video. Something magical happened between us women, as documented by the homie, Ida Harris in her "Word to Muva" column.
Like Black history, social media has roots. It serves several purposes for its users and it is effectual. Initially, people used it to stay connected with family and friends, sharing photos and goings-on. News media quickly jumped into the fold once the industry realized millions of people could be reached. At some point, that smooth ride shifted into fifth gear, and social sites became premier platforms to push anything and everything from apparel and music to presence and personality. [ 490 more words ]
"Here’s the tough part: Black families know that the results of these protests (which won’t be described as “riots” like in Baltimore or Ferguson or a number of other places) will likely not be in policies that protect them or their children." Kelly Hurst, CEO of Being Black at School, says it loud and makes in plain: arming teachers puts Black students at severe risk in schools already dangerous for our babies.
By KELLY WICKHAM HURST I have a sneaking suspicion that politicians and everyday citizens in this country have very little idea of what happens daily inside the walls of a school. That suspicion has been confirmed over the 23 years I spent as both a classroom teacher and then, later, as an administrator. That’s not necessarily a slam but the ways in which we collectively talk about what schools “should do” don’t often line up with the jobs we’re tasked with on a daily basis. [ 1,430 more word ]
THIS👏🏾RIGHT👏🏾HERE: “Young black activists have been in the streets advocating for gun reform for decades without much attention or mass appeal, but that doesn't mean they don't exist, or that they work without leadership, or that their demands are unclear. While we celebrate the success of the Stoneman Douglas teens, it's crucial to examine which progressive movements are embraced and legitimized — considered worthy of a passionate public response and united steely resolve — and which are received with skepticism, restraint, and apprehension. And why that might be.”
No one ever hat tips the birth mother—the one who made the Herculean decision, against all odds, to have the baby and give it away. This takes courage. And the might of angels. Today, I honor my birth mother in a Black History Month piece meant to celebrate a hero. She is mine, because without her, I would have neither life or the arms of Bettye and Jimmy, my parents, the ones who raised me, encouraged me. Loved me beyond measure. This is a story about true love.
There are so many reasons I love "Black Panther"—far too many to count—but my favorite of all is how the images and story touched hearts. Made people feel like... home. This piece, by my friend Ekene Onu, on the intense, tenuous marriage of two soils and the belonging that long eluded her, is a beautiful meditation on what Wakanda can mean for someone who is both African and American.
I don’t know what made her do it. Perhaps she was scared and overwhelmed about the prospect of motherhood. Maybe she was a teenager and her parents, afraid of how society looked down on young, unwed mothers in the late '60s, forced her hand. Or maybe it was a boyfriend, unready to wield the responsibility that came with caring for a family, who convinced her this was the right thing to do. [ 643 more words ]
By EKENO ONU I was born in America and I have some memories of my early life here. Peanut Butter. Montessori school. Snow. My parents have different memories of their life here. Some wonderful. Some curious. Some sad. But everything they saw was through the lens of being Nigerian and so when they finished their studies, they took us to this place that we had never seen but that they called home. [ 670 more words ]
"I know many of y’all nilgrims consider yourselves evolved—aka on “some new negro shit.” Y’all out here eating right, eating clean, eating trees and grass. I respect that (lies), yet I imagine your palate has descended to the sunken place. Not only has Black soul food blessed our lives, but it also has historical and sentimental value..." Ida Harris breaking down, quite brilliantly, why we need to respect, rather than turn away from, the food created by the hand of our ancestors. Get you a plate, today on MyBrownBaby.
Now that Black History Month is officially open for business, we can get to the heart of a different matter. If y'all are anything like me, you're probably Black as hell on a daily basis. If you're not like me then chances are you ain't Black’n right. Now, you can atone. The next 18 days is your opportunity to get right with… [ 1,103 more word ]
Some observations on the Tyler the Creator concert I attended last night:
1. I love this kid. Let me start there. "Find Your Wings," "Keep Da O's," "Smuckers," Glitter," "Boredom," "See You Again," and "Pothole"—hell, all of his latest offering, "Flower Boy"—are my jam.
2. I LOVE that he charged only $39 per ticket and there was no formal seating arrangements. You fit in where you got in. Totally Lila and her two girlfriends finagled seats four rows from the floor—about 20 rows ahead of where I had us sitting. Note: never underestimate the cunningness of 15-year-old girls. They will get you to the front. With a smile. No sweat.
3. Despite the ticket price, the majority of Tyler's audience was white. Like, there were SOME Black people there, looking like pepper in milky chowder, but his audience is white kids from the 'burbs. Like 45 minutes outside Atlanta proper, wearing trucker hats and tight camo and way too much eyeliner and absolutely zero rhythm. They know all the words though. And do this really awkward performance of rapper moves while they're singing them... lots of hand movements and chopping the air and hard knee bending and scrunched up angry faces and bouncing on the 1's and the 3's. It's a sight to behold.
4. I don't know how I feel about this. Like, I know Black kids dig Tyler's music, right? I do. My kids do. Their (Black) friends do. Is $40 too steep a price for them to come? Is it not cool to hit up a Tyler concert? Do they prefer Future or Migos? Where do Black teens go to be entertained? Are they, like me, looking for a more, say, "authentic" experience with Tyler that they know they won't get a venue that herds fans? Does Tyler notice? Does he care?
5. Continuing on this line of observation, I know the words to Tyler's songs, too. And I was praying he wouldn't perform "I Ain't Got Time." Not because I don't love it: I bump that shit in my car because it's a massive "fuck you" to those who work your nerves. The chorus, in part, goes, "I ain't got tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime for these niggas." Typical Black people shit talking. But in the mouths of white folk, those lyrics take on a different meaning, don't they? "I ain't got tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime, for these NIGGERS." They damn sure do for me. And when Tyler silenced the music and told the crowd he wanted them to get hype AF on the next song, and then I heard the beat drop, I evil-eyed every white child within a 30-foot vicinity of me. Because dammit, what I was not fittintado was stand there and watch white kids awkward rapper dance while saying "I ain't got tiiiiiiiiiiiiiime for these NIGGERS" at the top of their goddamn lungs....
Read the rest at http://mybrownbaby.com/2018/02/tyler-the-creator/
Some observations on the Tyler the Creator concert I attended last night: 1. I love this kid. Let me start there. "Find Your Wings," "Keep Da O's," "Smuckers," Glitter," "Boredom," "See You Again," and "Pothole"—hell, all of his latest offering, "Flower Boy"—are my jam. 2. I LOVE that he charged only $39 per ticket and there was no formal seating arrangements. [ 583 more words ]
Sending up Hosannas to Scott Woods, a dope librarian doing dope things, like creating lists of children’s books featuring Black characters who are not slaves, bouncing basketballs, marching for the movement or singing and dancing for a living. Included on this list: “Crown An Ode to the Fresh Cut,” (http://bit.ly/CrownDMB) and my first solo picture book, “Early Sunday Morning.” (http://bit.ly/ESMDMB) Thank you, Scott, for shining the light and celebrating these beautiful books!
And this right here is why black teachers matter. *heart melt*
Look here: I'll be 50 this year. To some, that's old. To me, hitting that age means I'm just getting started. All this experience? All this wisdom? All this mouth? All this fine? All this "I really don't give a damn what you think about me"? Shoot--buckle up. My friend Lucrecer Braxton, who also is out here lying about her age (looking 22 years younger than she say she is), agrees, and writes about the benefits of aging, particularly from a woman's perspective, as part of this incredible AARP campaign designed to #DisruptAging, in partnership with WomenOnline. #ad
"...there are still a lot of great mommy bloggers out there creating the same realistic, timely, funny, sweet, useful and inspirational content that they’ve been creating for years. They just happen to be not White. So, if you are looking for some great mommy blogs because you’re sick of “fake motherhood,” [as written about in last week's Washington Post article about mommy blogs] check out Ms. Meltingpot’s five favorite Parenting Blogs that aren’t Written by White Women. And FYI, you can be White and still enjoy these blogs. You’re welcome.
Loving this list of great places to take the babies to learn about Black history—both the old history and that new history in the making. Read on for info and links on museums, galleries, libraries and the like that celebrate the beauty and authenticity of us, from New York to Chicago to Atlanta to LA and stops all up and between, today on MyBrownBaby.
This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own. By LUCRECER BRAXTON I’ve never looked my age. When I graduated from high school and started college, I looked older than my 17 years. That made me feel good and I appreciated the good genes I was blessed with from both sides of my family. [ 676 more words ]
By KJ EDWARDS Carter G. Woodson, is the “Father of Black History,” and we owe the Harvard-educated historian the honor of sowing the seeds for Black History Month. What began as Negro History week is now nationally recognized, with February 1 marking the first day of the month that centers African Americans exclusively. Parents and teachers will likely break out Dr. [ 980 more words ]
😂😂😂 The reverence for Blue Ivy just tickles me. (I don’t know about hushing up her Mama, though.)
“Sulwe, which means ‘star’ in Ms. Nyong’o’s native language, Luo, is the story of a 5-year-old girl growing up in Kenya. In the book, Sulwe has the darkest skin color in her family, a fact that makes her uncomfortable and determined to find a way to lighten her skin. As the story unfolds Sulwe embarks on a whimsical adventure in the night sky that, coupled with advice from her mother, helps her see beauty differently.”
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