April 23, 2014

Educate parents rather than banning homemade lunches

Yeah…you read that right.  How does that make you feel?  It would be a bad day any day somebody would tell me I can’t send my child’s lunch to school.

“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” principal Elsa Carmona told the paper of the years-old policy. “It’s about … the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke.”   Principal Carmona needs some educating. She’s looking ignorant. I get their issue:  milk vs. Coke.  I respect their concerns but not how they go about resolving the issue.  Address the parents individually that pack unhealthy lunches for their children.  DUH.  Educate those ignorant to the labels on packaged foods and explain the affects of high salt and high sugar on their child’s behavior, you don’t decide for the entire school to ban lunches from home.  Banning parents from sending lunch promotes ignorance. It’s my prerogative as a parent to send my child’s lunch and if I send it they better eat it.  Better yet, as a stay at home mom – don’t make me come up there during lunch time to sit with my child and watch them eat MY lunch from home.

As a parent I have my concerns about school lunch.  Is it fresh? Is it delicious?  Will my child eat it?  Are the portions large enough?  If it’s a hot meal, is it served cold or warm enough? Was it prepared with clean hands? Did the staff wear hair nets? When was the last time the cafeteria was inspected?  What grade did it receive? Is the USDA doing their job? *side eye* Let’s address all of that.

The issue has now become telling me, as a parent, what I can/can’t send for my child’s lunch.  NOBODY can tell me that, I’m not having it and I am sure I am not alone on this issue. Educate the parents sending the unhealthy lunches and leave the rest of us who have common sense alone.


original article: http://yhoo.it/fKml73


Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley

Pascha Dudley is a wife, mom, contract paralegal and freelance editor. She writes The Posh Blog, www.theposhblog.com and is a Social Influencer for an online retail forum. She resides in Suwanee, GA with her family.

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Kujichagulia…kicking fear in the butt

by Talibah Mbonisi

The past couple of weeks have been emotionally challenging for me…for no particular reason that I can determine other than my entire view of my life shifted for about 14 days.  Although I could clearly see how many wonderfully divine changes had occurred in my life over the past year, for some reason, I found myself stuck in woe-is-me-the-sky-is-falling mode.  And, I hate it when I do that.

A year ago, two weeks before Christmas, I was laid off from a company for which I had worked for eight years.  I cried for about fifteen minutes as I processed the words, “This was a big one, and your position was impacted.”  But, the truth is that I had prayed feverishly the night before for this seventeenth lay-off to be the one that found my name on the list.  I was ready; not like I claimed to be right before each of the other sixteen company lay-offs.  This time, I was really ready.  I wasn’t running from anything, I was moving toward something.  I wasn’t dreaming about escaping anymore; I was envisioning the possibilities I felt prepared to step into.

And, I did.  Armed with a clear vision of my transition, I decided that I wanted to be self-employed even as all headlines and economic indicators pointed to the foolishness of taking that type of leap now.   Just one short week after losing my gig, I was offered a six-month contract position that perfectly resembled the bulleted list that was my transition vision.  It was almost magical the way this gift arrived, exactly as I had ordered it, and I never even spoke the words to ask for it.  It was just offered.  And, I took it knowing that in six months I would take a leap of faith, no matter what, and finally answer this call inside of me to do work that truly mattered to me and that might matter in the lives of other families.

My only fears then were that I wasn’t up to it; that I would give up; that I couldn’t fully commit; and that it might not matter to anyone but me.  Those were the only fears.   And, I have worked through them consistently, remaining committed to, convinced of the importance of and frankly, in love with, what I am creating in partnership with so many others who see co-parenting as a possibility for families like ours.

But, two weeks ago, none of that seemed to make a difference as the down economy finally recruited me as a participant.  It wasn’t even financial hardship that began to consume my emotional energy; it was the fear of it that had somehow creeped under my skin and into my tear ducts.  Suddenly, all I could think was, “What have I done?  What am I going to do?  Why did I think I could do it?  What if…?  How could I be so stupid?  What kind of mother would…?”  It came from nowhere, and it overtook me.

Like I said, I hate when I do that.  So, to be able to life with myself, I had to create another shift in how I was thinking about it all.  And, so, today, on this second day of Kwanzaa, I am reminded of the answer I knew months ago when I took the first step along this part of my journey:  Kujichagulia.  Self-determination.  The principle of Kujichagulia says, “We define ourselves, name ourselves create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.”

I have made self-determined choices this year about the course in which I would steer my life and that of my son.  Some were good, and have guided me into moments of complete certainty that I am on the right path, that the Universes is conspiring to support me, that all is well, despite the appearance sometimes.  Others have been bad, triggering guilt and doubt that get translated into fear and anxiety.  And, the evaluation of others is still to be determined.  The story isn’t complete yet.

But, the point is that, in the face of the challenges that make my life interesting, I have made choices, and I continue to make them in every moment.  And, I have the capacity, the right and the responsibility to continue to not only make them, but also to own them powerfully, right, wrong or TBD.  Kujichagulia, for me, is the answer to my fears and one of the biggest keys to living my life fully and powerfully enough to transform whatever I think needs transforming, including me.  Happy Kwanzaa!

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Who I am is…

what I eat. You what you eat or what?

I’ve been thinking about food lately. Not like, what will I eat or cook, but really thinking about the ways people view food. It started when I joined Facebook!. There is an application titled “Ghetto snacks“. Eye roll, grimace. Now, I’m all for having fun and was thrilled to receive several other less…uh what word am I looking for [insert] applications, but this one stuck in my craw. Many of the items are candy, but a few stood out to me as regional/ethnic foods (plantain chips, pork rinds, Malta etc.) and, that sorta saddened me.

I grew up in a GeeChee/Gullah home for the most part. Sure, my grandmother-in her quest for ultimate northern exposure made pasta and potatoes; which my resistant grandfather would eat in addition to rice. We ate rice everyday, and I still do. It is a part of the coastal Carolinian culture, it is part of who I am.

As a Native New Yorker and a vegetarian, rice and the West African peoples’ rice history has been one of very few cultural items I’ve been able to incorporate and pass on to my own children. Rice as it may, also conjoins the Carolinian and Caribbean cultures Favorite Guy and I share. Rice though, is not served at high holidays, weddings, graduations et al.; rice is low brow, rice isn’t classy-rice is ghetto.

“Low-brow, ghetto food”?! This didn’t make sense growing up, but now at 36 I’m tainted enough to understand and have even partaken in the food caste system. Perhaps, seeing the Facebook! application opened my eyes to just how ignorant (that’s the word) this practice is. I have to say, I was flooded by thoughts of all the ways in which the things we eat define us. From Ernest J. Gaines’ salt meat reference in The Sky is Gray, Jill Scott’s, “rice and gravy, biscuits baby and black-eyed peas”, Machito’s Sopa de Pichon and many others. Yet, this tale and songs of which I speak aren’t tales of poverty and despair, but rather comeuppance, joyous occasions, kinship and love even. Attaching caste and class to foods and the people who eat them-food shaming, if you will, is the antithesis of the true meaning of food and dining, of culture, of civilization.

So, let’s dish-Who are you? What are some of your regional/cultural/childhood food favorites?

This post was originally published [here] in April of this year. With the holidays fast approaching, I thought it a fine time to revisit the ways food has enriched our lives and the lives of those around us.

T. Allen-Mercado

T. Allen-Mercado

T.Allen-Mercado is a mixed media artist, award-winning essayist, student of anthropology, blogger, wife and, mother of two.

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On raising multi-cultural children

by Michele Dortch

I was born in a 1972 to a Japanese mother and Black father. My father was stationed at Misawa Air Base and it was during his service there that he met my mother. And it was there that I was brought into the world.

But we didn’t stay in Japan long. As a military family we moved frequently and headed to the United States around the time I was three or four. I didn’t speak English when I arrived, but it wasn’t an issue. I didn’t have an expansive vocabulary and quickly learned English. It’s a shame though. Today my Japanese language vocabulary is about the same as it was when I was three or four, but that’s another post.

As my mom struggled to acclimate to the US culture, I was unequivocally raised to be American. But, I was also raised to be a Black American woman, more than a woman of dual nationality. I’m not sure when or how this occurred, I just remember always being referred to as “Black” or “African American.” I struggled with the over-simplification of a person (me) that I felt was more complex. Even as I prepared for college, I needed help (or confirmation?) so I asked my dad, “What bubble should I fill in here?” He responded without hesitation, “Black/African American.”

Of course, my Japanese heritage wasn’t completely ignored. My mom always prepared Japanese foods and when I was school-age, I spent weekends at the San Diego Japanese School learning the language, culture and more. Though, not much stuck because at the end of the day, I was always labeled, “Black.”

I never felt totally comfortable with that. Not because I didn’t appreciate my ethnicity, but because I struggled with the idea of labels. I was frustrated with people’s innate need to categorize me into a single category of people. And when they couldn’t figure me out, I was asked, “So, what are you?” Every time those words fell upon me, I felt diminished to a check box. I wanted to be defined by who I was on the inside, not the assumptions people formed based on the outside.

Today, I’m the mother of three beautiful, multi-cultural children. Though, my kids are just one-quarter Japanese and three-quarters African-American, their ethnicity always remains a mystery for people outside of our family and friends. Often, they are mistakenly labeled Puerto Rican, Filipino, Indian, and more. My insides turn when I’m getting to know a new mom and she looks at me and my kids with a puzzled curiosity, then asks, “So, what are you guys?”

An immature version of my former self wants to curtly reply, “We’re human. How about you?” But I hold back and politely describe our cultural make-up. At which point I usually hear, “Oh…interesting…” and we’re left with an awkward pause as each of us tries to figure where to take the conversation from there.

Despite my irritation over ethnic labels, I also recognize its value. Everyone wants a place to belong, and for better or worse, we build communities around our cultural identities. And there is confirmed value in that. I want my children to know and love the richness and diversity of their ethnic background; it’s important.

So, as with everything in motherhood, I take it day by day. And I trust that as life unfolds, my focus on raising confident, responsible and contributing children will be enough to manage the conflict I feel with labels.

*image credit: Flickr/? kacyphoto

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