Tuesday, June 16, 2020

BLM March

I had the honor of speaking at a Black Lives Matter march over a week ago. I am an elected councilwoman in my town and this was my largest audience, 1,500 people. This is my speech.

So, why are we marching during a pandemic? Over 100,000 people have died from COVID-19 and yet we have chosen to leave our homes and march….there must be a deeply compelling reason for us to do this. We have not gone to work, our children are engaging in remote learning, graduations have been postponed, and most businesses are closed. Yet, we are out in the streets and we are marching for Black lives. Black lives that make up 13% of our population. 
How did we get here? While we were quarantined in our homes, we heard about the gruesome murders of three unarmed black people, Ahmed Arberry, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. We have recently heard about the murder of Tony McDade, a  black trans man. While we want justice for these specific people, the black community is mourning, angry, and fearful. The outrage is spreading and we are binding together to fight the systematic racism that has been plaguing this country for 400 years. So, why are we marching?
  • We march because Black women are more likely to die in childbirth than white women.
  • We march because Black men receive longer sentences than white men for the same crimes
  • We march because job applicants with traditionally Black sounding names are less likely to receive interviews than their white peers. 
  • We march because black home buyers are subject to more stringent requirements and discrimination than white people.
  • We march because American schools are still segregated leading to deep, generational disparity in the black community.
  • We march because Black children are suspended at a higher rate than white children for the same infractions.
  • We march because of the racism and bias in medicine that stops black people from receiving high quality care when needed. 
  • We march because of the dramatic rise of white supremecist groups and the increase of hate crimes in this country.
  • We march because Black people are more likely to be stopped by police than white  people. 
  • We march because black babies in America are twice as likely to die before their first birthdays than white babies.
  • We march because lynching is still not a federal crime in this country.
  • We march because black lives matter. 

Why does this data exist? Please research it yourself. Is it because black people are inferior, criminals, prone to illness, and deserving of the worst? We know that is not true. We understand that hundreds of years of racism that began with slavery, brutality, jim crow laws, mass incarceration, and so much more have brought us to this place. And now, we are here all together with a united understanding that black lives are just as important as other lives.  

Please understand the power that you have to make this better. Please continue to march even when life goes back to normal and this pandemic is over. This is the beginning of a new civil rights movement. By standing here today, it shows that you care and I hope you will pledge to do whatever it takes to eliminate systemic racism in this country from this day forward. Thank you for marching for black lives. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

What race is your child?

Two New Orleans slave children, c. 1863.

I was having a conversation with a white coworker who is married to a black man and I asked her what race she called her children. She stated that she called her children black. I told her that I called my children mixed. She stated that it was important for her children to understand that they were black. I explained to her that calling her child black was a remnant of the one drop rule from slavery. I probably should not have said that. Parents have the right to call their children a race that makes sense in their family. 

Nevertheless, the one drop rule was basically a rule codified into law that stated if one ancestor of yours was black, you are therefore black. This ensured a clear caste system in America. 

My children are of mixed heritage. I am black, my husband is white. I refuse to classify my children based on antiquated racist classifications.  They are literally so mixed, my granfather was Scottish, my gradmother was Trinidadian, my mother was Nigerian, my husband is of Irish descent. That sounds mixed to me.  

What race do you call your children?

One drop rule: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-drop_rule

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Strong Black Babies

I had an opportunity to give a speech as a councilwoman to my town during a Black Lives Matter protest. There were 1500 people there...making me love my town so much more. In my speech, I provided stats about institutional racism. I mentioned that black babies are two times more likely to die than white babies even through black people are only 13% of the population in the United States. 

I began to think about my baby, Miles, who died in the NICU. Miles died after one month in the NICU. I remember being told, "don't worry, black babies generally do better in the NICU". It took me 9 years to realize the dangerous bias in that comment. There are now many articles discussing how problematic that belief is. In the world of the NICU, black babies generally do better than white. But I wonder if black babies do better because there are more of them in the NICU. Black mothers in America have a higher risk of going into preterm labor, so of course there are more black babies in the NICU.  In my NICU support group, many of us were black. White boys in the NICU are called wimpy white boys and research is showing that it leads to them getting higher quality care. 

When Miles was in the NICU, I remember being upset with how a nurse handled him. I remember her not being very careful and I saw him wincing. I met with the hospital administration and discussed my concerns and they assured me that the nurse cared about Miles. I am not implying that Miles was not cared for in the NICU because he was, the nurses showed so much love and concern the entire time and cried with Matt and I as we cried over his body after he died. Nevertheless, while I was at the NICU, two babies died, Miles (after a month) and a black girl, who died after seven weeks of life.

Some research for you

How Racism May Cause Black Mothers To Suffer The Death Of Their Infants

Racism in the NICU is hurting black infants

Saturday, January 18, 2020

A much higher standard

So, it’s January 2020 and I’m reading many articles about Meghan Markle and Harry Windsor. It is apparent that she was vilified by the British Press for things Kate Middleton was praised for. Many are calling it racism. As a black woman with many ambitions in life, I do worry that I will be called to a higher standard than my white counterparts. It concerns me now, as a woman in my 40s aiming to continue to forge forward in my career. Can I still be myself, have my own unique sense of style, and my offbeat sense of humor? I hope so...I literally cannot be anything else!
I was so moved a couple of years ago by the royal wedding between a biracial American woman and an English prince. Nevertheless, the crown could not protect her from the prejudice that exists in this world. But, all we can do is keep moving forward, just like she has to! One day, all our efforts will pay off!

Monday, October 14, 2019

He drew a picture of Miles

We finally told Miller our 7 year old boy about Miles. We waited to tell him that there was a beauty baby boy that was born exactly one year before him who fought for his life in the NICU for a month. On Miles 8th birthdate, I bought cupcakes and we sat as a family and told Miller about his brother Miles who he never met. He had no reaction at first. Later though, he asked if Santa could bring him a baby brother. At school a few days later, he cried whe he realiszed a schoolmate’s name was Miles. His teacher comforted him and asked him to draw a picture. Miles is the taller boy.


Monday, June 12, 2017

My Hope Jar

Have you ever wanted something so desperately? I was pregnant with Miller three months after we lost Miles in the NICU. I needed my pregnancy with Miller to be successful. But I had so many fears that I would have another premature birth and I knew that I could not handle another NICU experience.
My fears, my grief, and my trauma were overwhelming me.

My beautiful, friend and doula, Teresa, gave me a meaningful task to help me get through my fearful days. She asked me to write every single fear that I had about my pregnancy on separate pieces of paper. Any time a new fear popped in my head, I had to write it down on a piece of paper. I also had to write down positive things that could happen in my pregnancy. All the fears and hopeful thoughts were in a jar. As time progressed in my pregnancy with Miller, I was able to throw away the pieces of paper that were full of my fears. By the time he was born, only positive thoughts were in the jar.

I was looking through the jar last night and it was so beautiful to see all my dreams in writing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Racially Ambigious

So, I have racially ambiguous children. That means that people are just not sure what race they are. My son especially, has been called Greek, Puerto Rican, and Middle Eastern. 

This election has been emotionally eye-opening to me. As humans, our gut reaction is to be uncomfortable, or feel threatened around those who are different to us. Some people see this election as freedom to give in to that gut reaction.

What does that mean for my son, who looks like different races depending on the day or his audience? Can I protect him if he is in the wrong place at the wrong time?

We have to remember that elections are not popularity contests, like class president in high school. It is about continuing to uphold civil rights despite race, creed, or religion. We must keep moving forward.