What about the kids?

Apparently no one told Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace down in Louisiana that its 2009 and that folks of different races have the legal right to get married. Seems an interracial couple went to get a marriage license and this lovely man told them no can do. It seems in his view such unions don’t last and well the kids are not accepted by anyone. By the way, all the news account I have read about Bardwell state that he is not a racist, hell he even lets Negroes use his toilet.  Nice to know should I ever darken his doorstep with a hot case of the runs, he will let a sista use his can….mighty nice of him. I wonder if I could drink from his cups too?

Obviously as a Black woman partnered to a man who last time I checked was white this story felt a little personal, especially because many years ago I heard similar arguments against interracial unions from members of my own family. Hell, I got family members so anti-white that the last time I went to a family reunion, a fair number of folks didn’t talk to me. Saw some of these same assholes when my Momma died and only my Mom’s spirit kept me from cussing em out but that’s another story.

Yes, Bardwell is an ass and hopefully this couple will go on to marry and grow old and gray together. Though its funny because the longer I stay married (12 years in a few weeks) I have wondered what does become of interracial couples? I mean you can find all sorts of tidbits about interracial dating, etc but I rarely see any media coverage about interracial couples married 20-30 years…I suspect there are lots of reasons for that. The reason’s range from it wasn’t until more recent years folks started marrying across racial lines in greater numbers though I suspect a bigger reason is that at a certain point you are just a couple.

Seriously, the Spousal Unit is white, I am Black but we are at the stage in life that race doesn’t phase me. He is just the man I married and like on most days. I spend more time thinking about life, not race.  Hell I don’t even think race factored into why me and the first Spousal Unit split up, more that we were too damn young to have gotten married in the first place.

As for the kids, what about the kids? Yes, biracial kids sometimes catch flack from others but not always and I think among the youth today its almost considered cool to be biracial. As a buddy mentioned to me my son most certainly doesn’t suffer from a lack of friends male or female. I think the only time biracial kids have real issues is when they have no one to talk to them about their roots. I think when kids are connected to their historical roots as well as community, it creates a safe space for them.

Nah, sorry but Bardwell’s arguments are steeped in pure old fashioned racism. That’s ok though see once upon a time a jackass like Bardwell could do this shit and no one would know but now???? Hell, lil ole me up here in Maine is adding my two cents. Hopefully the unemployment line is going to feel real good to Bardwell after this move.

Um….is that really news?

So it seems genealogists have unearthed the fact that Michelle Obama better known these days as the First Lady of the United States does indeed have a direct family link to slavery. In case you missed the NY Times piece, her great great great Grandma was in fact a slave. Now as I read the piece, I thought it was pretty cool that Michelle’s lineage was able to be traced but I was stunned at how stunned commenters were about the fact that not only was there a direct slave connection in her family but also interracial mingling since her great  great great great Grandma bore at that time what was called a mulatto child which today would be a biracial child.

Um…is this really news? In fact the more I thought about this piece in fact as I write this piece right now I am listening to NPR cover this story and once again hearing how amazing it is that someone whose ancestors were slaves is now the First Lady, the more I wonder maybe there is a reason we don’t have great race relations in this country.

For starters, why is this news? Um…most Black folks who are American born with American born relatives, if given the chance to trace our lineage, could almost certainly trace our roots to ancestors who had been slaves. No, I am not saying all American Blacks had relatives who were slaves. In fact living in Maine, I have come to learn that for many Maine Blacks who have roots over several generations in Maine, that their paths were often different. But for many Blacks who currently live in large urban areas like oh Chicago, if we had relatives who came to the city during the great migration which started around 1910, well as you can see it wouldn’t be hard to not have had a great great great grandparent who had been a slave.

This is not news to most Black folks, hell we are shaking our hands wondering why is this news to White folks. Hell, I know there is a good chance that my ancestors at least on my Dad’s side had involvement in slavery and that is without doing a complete check of my background, after all my grandparents were sharecroppers in rural Arkansas. It’s not a great stretch in my mind to figure out that my great great great Grandparents were most likely slaves since my own grandparents were sharecroppers and my own Dad has told me enough stories that the world he grew up in was only a step or two removed from the days of slavery in Arkansas.

No, its great that this information is being discovered though it sounds like Michelle Obama didn’t quite give her blessing on this project since she had no comment when questioned by the NY Times. Though that’s a whole other post, I mean maybe one might want to be sensitive when digging around in someone’s personal history. Of course in our society it seems the lives of Black women are considered to be an open book, but that really is another post.

The fact that this is even newsworthy actually bugs me on one level because it’s once again a reminder that perhaps we as a society really don’t get each other and on some level we don’t try to get each other. To hear amazement that there was a white ancestor in her bloodline is also stunning…um, many hundreds of thousands of Black women during slavery were put into situations where they had relationships with white men. I will stop short at saying all were raped but my guess is the great majority of Black women who bore biracial children during slavery were not involved in mutually consensual relationships with the slave master. I mean lets keep it real, if my choice was getting fucked or getting killed or beaten or having my existing children sold off…what choice do I really have? Yeah, not really a choice.

In order for us to have real race relations in this country, it might help if we had a basic understanding of where we come from and our collective shared history. Maybe if Black History was not relegated to the shortest month of the year where we focus too much of on a few individuals instead we might not be amazed at the fact that the First Lady is descended from slaves because we would already know that. The longer we continue to not have open honest dialogues on the history and issues of race in this country, the more we continue to never advance as a people and as a society.

Where is the hope and the change?

Like millions of other Americans, during the last presidential campaign, I got swept up in the tide of believing that yes we could make change in this country. I believe I have shared before I was not initially gung-ho about Barack Obama, in fact I was way more into John Edwards who I felt really had a better sense of caring about the working men and women in this country. Of course we know ole Johnnie had to drop out and turns out he would have had way too much on his plate to effectively govern this country, seeing as how his life vaguely resembles a character you would find on the Maury Povich Show…

So I started to take a look at candidate Obama and figured hey this could be the guy. I truly liked the fact he had been a community organizer, having started my switch to the non-profit world eons ago as a community organizer, I know its good work that really creates change if you work hard at it. I was also reminded by my son who fell in love with Obama early on of how quick he had risen. Back in 2004, we were in Chicago when Obama was running for the Senate and both recalled how we had read about him when we were in town.

I grew to like Obama so much last year that I financially supported his campaign, granted my few dollars were a drop in the bucket but after the years of the Bush regime, I wanted to believe in him. Which brings me to my point today…now I know many folks especially Black folks will say don’t judge him, he had a mess to clean up, give him time. I agree lets give him time, my problem is in the work world generally by the time you have been on a job over 6 months, your employer expects to have a sense of who you are as an employee.

Well President Obama has been on the job long enough for me to wonder what the hell is going on? Right now as I type this I understand the President and First Lady are off trying to bring the Olympics to our hometown, Chicago. Um…is that really a good idea?

This past week back in my hometown a young man was savagely killed just down the street from his school, he was a decent kid from what I have read, reports are that he was an honor roll student who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe it’s because my son is 17 but this story really touched a nerve in me, even good kids will do dumb shit and being in the midst of a gang fight trying to see what is going on is the type of thing kids do especially in urban areas.

The thing is this is not the first time this year that a kid has gotten killed in Chicago near their school, hell this shit is an epidemic and now thanks to technology we can watch a life being snuffed out and get so desensitized to it that we do nothing.

Now it’s my understanding that President Obama is throwing around the idea that making the school year longer will actually help our kids, maybe it will for a few but considering that kids already spend most of their time in school or working on school work. I see this as a bad idea. I most certainly am not sold on the idea that increasing school days will help our inner city youth. Instead they will leave school at 5pm even more frustrated and I see violence increasing. I admit there is a lot more to the talk of increasing the time spent in school but I see it as a bad idea.

Pretty much the same way I have not cared for Obama’s pep speeches he seems to like to give when talking to predominantly Black audiences, after all, we all feed our kids fried chicken in the morning…talks like these sound good and yes people need to take more responsiblity for themselves but maybe we need to address the societal barriers that create dysfunctional families. If he thinks folks should eat better, maybe we need less junk food places in the hood. Maybe there needs to be more Whole Foods and less bodegas where you can’t even find fresh produce. He spent time on the south-side of Chicago and he knows as I do that in many parts of the south side of Chicago and urban areas across this land that fried chicken is a lot more accessible than a baked chicken. Shit, the ole corner store in my Granny’s area didn’t even sell whole chickens.

My pont of this rant is that we need more than speeches that sound good, we need actual change and sorry but knowing what is happening back home. I think Chicago needs to spend the money that would be spent hosting the Olympics to go towards funding programs that could help actual people. If he cares so much about the hometown then create some change that will better everyone rather than making Mayor Daley feel good.

While we are at, what about real healthcare reform? I just spoke with a professional colleague whose partner had bypass surgery recently and the bill they got, mind you these folks are retired military with damn good insurance was for thirty two thousand dollars after insurance! After insurance! Yet more and more people are facing bills like that, yet what will probably come to pass for health insurance reform in this country is likely to be nothing more than a band aid solution.

Look, I haven’t given up entirely on the President yet but I will say if he was one of my employees, we would be sitting down discussing whether or not he needs help to do his job because so far things are a tad off track.