Here we have part 2 in our 5 part series about race. We’re focusing on those incidence that stem from naivete and ignorance, rather than malice. This installment comes to us from my friend Tripp, of the now infamous incident that started this whole series. Enjoy!
If you haven’t read That Clever Chick’s not-too-serious post about race, please check it out. Aside from the fact that it really happened (and it’s too funny not to), it’ll serve as a good primer for my forthcoming quasi-rant. My thoughts pretty much mirror TCC’s on what my wife and I now affectionately refer to as – “The White Mom incident”. Technically, there was nothing ‘wrong’ with what transpired. We all agreed, after a round of confused and uncomfortable silence, her intentions were good, if not misplaced. In fact, I somewhat admire the brass it took to come over and say something like that out of the blue. I have two white aunts and I have yet to work the fact into a conversation with a white person I barely know.
Still, I don’t want to beleaguer the point. What’s done is done. Instead, I’d like to turn my focus to prevention. Talking about race does not have to be painful, in fact, with a little understanding, compassion and common sense, you might be surprised how eye-opening and enjoyable a discussion about race can be. But before you sojourn off on a quest for understanding and tolerance, please check out my list below to avoid any…mishaps. It’s a short list and taking a few minutes to read this could save you heartache and hospital bills later on down the road. So without further ado:
Do not tell a black person they speak well.
This is a backhanded compliment that is way more backhand than compliment. Let’s examine this dubious affirmation for a moment. To say someone “speaks well” infers that you initially presumed otherwise. Frankly, this is something that is far more appropriate to say to someone recovering from a head injury than to a black person. Yes, there are plenty of black people who speak “ebonics”, reasons why vary greatly from person to person and fall outside the scope of this rant. Regardless, if you plan on making nice with a black person, try not to draw attention to the fact that you can understand them without a translator. Seriously, it won’t earn you any friendship points. Language is an ever-changing institution. And while its origins may be traced down to a particular group or ethnicity, no one “owns” it per se. Disagree? Take a trip to the suburbs and find any non-black teenager with their hat turned backwards and pants sagging and get an ear-full of what they say and how they say it.
Having a black friend does not give you privilege to say stupid crap.
White Person talking to black person - “Black people love fried chicken. I can say that because I’m friends with (insert relational status to black person here). I’m not psychic, but I can tell you without a doubt, this conversation will end badly; especially if the person you are speaking to has no idea who you are. It might come as a shock, but black people do not operate in a hive-mind. Just because you know one black person doesn’t mean the rest of us got the update. Black people do not use Twitter. I can say that because I’m black. *cough*
Assume nothing. And for the love of all that is good, do not work into the conversation that you know a black person because it’s tacky and a little sad. If you’re cool, we’ll sense it. Your discretion will pay dividends in the end, trust me.
Never, ever, ever use the N word.
Most white people get the memo on this one early on. For the slow adopters, take heed. In no situation ever, EVER is it cool to say this word. I don’t care if Jesse Jackson and Tavis Smiley both give you an annual subscription to Ebony magazine, a signed affidavit and thumbs up – don’t do it.
Do not claim to be more ‘black’ than your black friend.
You like 50 Cent? Good for you. You frequent an African restaurant and know how to pronounce the name correctly? Sweet. Oh, you can dance? My hat’s off to you sir.
None of those things qualifies you to say you are more “black” than your “black” friend.
Even in jest, this one carries too much baggage. Being “black” has too many connotations (stereotypical, social, political) to too many people and your assumptions will more than likely differ from the person to whom you are speaking. Besides, it’s just kind of a crap thing to say and I have no sympathy for anyone that gets the taste slapped out of their mouth for saying it. I get it, you want to prove you’re “down”. It’s just a joke, what’s the big deal? The big deal is you have no idea where the other person stands on the issue. Race can be a very sensitive topic and it would be best to tread carefully on this front. Instead of trying to “out-black” your friend (wtf does that even mean anyway), tell them what you enjoy but don’t bias it towards what you think they want to hear. Hey, if you like country music, good! Tell them. You might be surprised, maybe you’ll get an invitation to roll with them to Garth Brooks’ next concert, or maybe you’ll just get an eye roll. Either way, being honest about what you like/dislike will open you up to a more authentic relationship based on mutual interests rather than the perception thereof.
There are plenty more that I could add, but in an effort to keep this from becoming a book, I’ll stop here. In short, if you want to make black friends, look to make a friend first. If they happen to be black, all the better. Oh, and give them fried chicken. Black people love fried chicken.
Don’t sweat it, I can say that because I’m black.
Hubby and I took a trip to Dallas not too long ago to visit family and friends. While we were there, we went to the Dallas World Aquarium. This place is absolutely amazing! As you walk up the path to buy tickets, you pass cages with tropical birds, and a tree-kangaroo! This place is way more than just an aquarium. There are monkeys, snakes, sloths, spiders, a giant otter, a manatee, and all kinds of things. You start in the top, which is the rain forest canopy, and work your way down to the aquariums. They give you a guidebook at the beginning with the daily schedule, which includes talks and animal feedings. We got to see the giant otter and the sharks get fed. The sound system for the talks was not great, however. The background noise of an entire rain forest kind of drowned out the guides. The whole place is clean, and informative, and the animals are healthy and well-cared for.
Now for the practical details:
1) It’s a bit pricey, but I think it’s absolutely worth it. You can spend the ENTIRE day there, there’s so much to see. Keep and eye out for a Groupon or other discount.
2) Pay for parking, (it was either $7 or $5, can’t recall), but the parking is right across the street, and plentiful.
3) We went on a weekend and it was moderately busy. Not so crammed you couldn’t see anything, but enough people that you sometimes got caught in a clump.
4) Very stroller and kid friendly. The changing areas were clean and in working order. I didn’t check if they have changing tables in the men’s rooms or not.
5) There is food you can buy there, both snacks and in a cafe. We had our own snacks with us, and stuck to those. No one checked our bags or told us not to bring in outside food.
6) It’s all nice and cool! It’s not like, air conditioned, but it was kept pretty cool, and everything is shady and breezy.
7) BRING A CAMERA. I neglected to do so, which is why I only have terrible cell phone pictures for you.
8) You don’t need to get there at the crack of dawn, but I would give yourself at LEAST 3 hours to look around. We had about that much time before closing, and felt rushed toward the end.
9) Read the schedule they’ll give you. It has animal feeding times and guide talks listed, and those are worth seeing.
10) You don’t have to have kids to enjoy this place. Hubby and I loved the whole place, and my sis, Beans is a huge fan also. Baby Nacho wasn’t too interested in the monkeys and leopard, but the fish, and especially the octopus were enthralling.
A few weeks ago, Hubby, baby Nacho, and I were spending the weekend with our friends Tripp and Trina (who are black, which becomes relevant). We all went to an event at their daughter’s school one evening, and we were chilling outside on the lawn, listening to a local band and reading books. It was great, then a white mom came over to chat. This is a mom they had spoken to once or twice, but didn’t know well. Hubby and I weren’t really paying attention, then we heard this gem:
WhiteMom: “We did one of those National Geographic ancestry tests, and found out I’m 5% African! From the area of Mali (significant look as though they should know where this is). So anyway, I just thought you’d like to know!”
Hubby and I were internally cringing so hard I feared busting a blood vessel. Trina covered well by making the appropriate remarks, and we all waited silently for WhiteMom to leave. We were all so shocked we couldn’t do anything but laugh.
Later I started thinking; why was this such a bad thing to say? She was trying to be friendly, so what precisely was wrong about this interaction? What made it so painfully awkward?
Basically, even though she had good intentions, she was still reducing my friends to their skin color. She didn’t try to bond with them about their daughters, the school, the band, the city they live in, the cupcakes surrounding us, or any other factors they had in common. She assumed their race would be their main interest, even though she probably considers herself to be open-minded and enlightened.
Either that, or she was hoping they had an NAACP welcome packet just waiting for her.
If you’re searching for common ground to connect with someone, try and pay attention to what their interests are. Maybe they love Game of Thrones, or Batman. (Let’s be honest, if they don’t, they’re probably not worth being friends with). You wouldn’t try to bond about their hair color, or shoe size, so don’t try to use ethnicity.
I was going to make this just one post, but like most of my posts, it’s getting much longer and more involved than I planned. I asked Tripp to write about his perception of the same event, and I also asked several of my other friends for similar experiences. I think you’ll find all of this as entertaining as I did. Stay tuned for parts 2 through 5!
This post got a little unwieldy, so I broke it into two parts. See part one for advice on registries and baby clothes.
4) No stuffed animals – kids get millions of them, and according to the American Association of Pediatrics, they shouldn’t sleep with them until a year old. Stuffed animals can be cute, but they just take up space until the kid is old enough. If you want to buy a toy, check out Lucie’s List for some helpful suggestions (but always check the registry first).
5) Don’t buy any baby shampoo, lotion, or baby powder. Doctors recommend avoiding baby powder altogether now. For the other two items, my son has eczema which is very common in babies. Our doctor recommended avoiding anything that was not unscented and hypoallergenic. Plus, lots of people will buy these items for new parents, so avoid overkill.
6) You still have no idea what to do? CASH – It may sound crass, but cash is the best thing ever. The new parents can buy diapers, books, Chinese delivery, pay for housecleaning or yard services they don’t have time to take care of for themselves, or get that baby monitor they registered for, but no one bought.
Cash is far superior to gift cards because of the versatility. This is especially great if your friend lives far away (cheap shipping!), is registered at some specialty boutique you can’t get to for whatever reason, or only registered for items that are out of your price range.
If you don’t want to look lazy and cheap by sending cash, buy one of those cardboard baby books and tuck the cash inside. Cash WILL get used, I promise, and you don’t have to worry about duplicates!
7) Strapped for cash – make a card and offer to bring them food after the baby comes. A week or two after they get home from the hospital, send a text or email (something unobtrusive that won’t wake a sleeping newborn) and say “I’m free on (list a few dates). Would any of these work for me to drop off some food for you?” For people that may not have gotten to the store in awhile, produce that doesn’t spoil quickly, like apples and oranges, would probably be welcome as well.
a) You can even make and freeze food and give it to them before the baby comes. If you’re traveling to see them or are a terrible cook, even a frozen lasagna is helpful. Just check in advance for dietary restrictions and freezer space.
b) Really can’t cook? As I’ve said before, paper towels and toilet paper are extremely helpful. You can also offer specific help, such as “I can come over and watch the baby while you nap or shower”, or “I can run some laundry and dishes for you” or vacuum, or walk the dogs, whatever. Try to think of the things that get out of control when you get sick for several days. Again, give a few specific dates when you’re available so the frazzled new mom has to think as little as possible.
8) Use your skills – if you have something you’re good at, consider how to use that for the new arrival. We are so fortunate to have talented friends, and we received a crocheted narwhal, a tiny pirate outfit, pirate quilts, a beautiful scrapbook, and a pirate cross stitch, all handmade just for my baby Nacho. (There seems to be a theme emerging…)
This got incredibly wordy, but I promise, it’s simple. Anything you can do will be appreciated, and hopefully these guidelines will keep you from feeling too lost.
It can be hard when you know nothing about babies, and your friends insist on spawning left and right. You then get invited to the celebration of said spawning, and are expected to provide something useful and meaningful for the spawn. If you have no babies this can be a HUGE challenge. I know it sent me into whole new territories at Target I had never ventured into before, even when I worked there.
Well here’s a trusty guide from me, a relatively new mom, with almost no prior baby experience. I can help you navigate this madness!
1) Registries – ALWAYS start with the registry. Most pregnant ladies focus their nesting instincts on picking out exactly the right crib sheets and baby bottles. If they’re like me, they neurotically compared ratings and safety information across several websites before adding even a pacifier to the registry. Acknowledge all that hard work by getting them exactly what they want. A couple more hints:
a) Make sure the item is listed as “Wanted” and not “Purchased” or something like that. Items are not REMOVED from the registry after someone buys it. You want to avoid duplicates so the massively pregnant lady, or the new mom hauling a tiny baby, doesn’t have to trek back to the store to return or exchange it.
b) Make sure your purchase is marked off the registry. This also helps prevent duplicates. Check with the store or retailer to see if there’s a special process to have the item marked “bought”. Even just double checking the registry to see if it was marked off can be helpful.
2) Get a gift receipt – if you’re shopping online, I don’t think this happens, but I could be wrong. Even if you followed the above steps with the registry (good for you!) not everyone else giving gifts did, I promise. Hopefully, when the mommy ends up with two pack-n-plays, you’ve provided the receipt so she can return one.
3) Baby clothes – New parents do NOT register for baby clothes. They are told not to, and with good reason: EVERYONE wants to shop for baby clothes. We got TONS of them. My son is 6 months old, and I’ve still never bought him an outfit. If you desperately want to shop for baby clothes, go for it, but keep a few things in mind:
a) Most people buy tiny clothes, like newborn and 3 month. Help the new parents out by buying older sizes, like 12 or even 24 months. My son was born so big he never fit into several of the smaller outfits we had for him.
b) Keep the season in mind. If the kid is born in winter, s/he’ll be one year old again in winter, so buying warm 12 month old clothes makes sense. Buying warm 18 month old, not so much.
c) I would buy something practical, like a thermometer, in addition to the clothes. But that’s just me. Or, of you want to buy practical clothing items, consider Onesie Extenders. These are short pieces of fabric that have snaps on both ends. They can be added to a onesie to make it fit longer. The link I provided is for Amazon, but you can also find them on Etsy and Ebay.
d) Buy something washable and practical. Read the washing instructions. If it says anything like “Dry clean only”, or “Hand wash separately, lay flat to dry”, PUT IT DOWN. Ain’t nobody got time for that, much less new parents.
e) Also make sure the neck opening has snaps or fabric folds so the baby’s giant melon-head can fit through. We got one outfit that was super adorable, but had no way to get it over my kid’s head, so I have no idea what to do with it.
This post got pretty wordy (What? Me, wordy? Never!), so I decided to give your eye balls a rest, and break it into 2 parts. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion! Same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!
So you’re screwing around on the internet, and you feel like playing a game. But Angry Birds is so 2012, Flappy Bird is dead, and you’re broke from Candy Crush. Want to waste time but also do some good? Here are two games I’ve found that can meet both of those needs:
With Free Rice you can answer questions on a variety of subjects: English vocabulary, geography, human anatomy, paintings, and all kinds of stuff. For each correct answer, they donate ten grains of rice through the World Hunger Programme. You get smarter while helping end hunger, and get rid of all that annoying free time you had piling up!
If multiple choice questions aren’t your thing, you can play at building RNA molecules on EteRNA. I found out about this through a Hank Green video, probably SciShow, but now I can’t find it. Basically, by playing at assembling RNA molecules you’re helping scientists understand them better. They explain it much more eloquently on their About page.
So legitimize your time wasting! Do something fun, that’s also helpful, rather than just staring at Facebook waiting for it to update.
For those of you who don’t have kids, you may not realize they’re a lot of work. I mean, I’m pretty sure everyone knows that intellectually, but that’s a bit different from the concrete evidence that accumulates once you have a kid.
*Warning: Ranting Ensues*
Before anyone gets started, yes I CHOSE to have a baby. I chose this knowing it was going to be hard, but rewarding. When people choose to climb Mount Everest they go into it knowing they’ll be freezing cold and gasping for air, but that doesn’t mean they have to be chipper when they lose a pinky toe to frost bite. I am allowed to complain if I want. That doesn’t mean I’m unhappy, regret my decision, or don’t love my child. It doesn’t give you the right to gloat or say “I told you so”. I would still do it all again, even though teething is AWFUL.
My choice was right for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. You’re probably getting pressure from family and friends to start your own little brood, and I get that. I am not trying to pressure you into having kids by having a kid myself. If you keep your snarky remarks to yourself, we can commiserate about how awful people are who try to dictate your reproductive future. It never ends, BELIEVE me. We have a kid and we keep getting the “When’s the next one?”, “Are you going to try for a girl?” None of your beeswax, Nosey McRudenheimer!
That was kind of a long tangent. I may have some pent-up frustration. Anyway, back to the point of this post:
The first time I went to the grocery store with my new baby, I walked in the door in amazement I had finally gotten there. In order to get the 2 blocks from my house to the store, I’d had to feed baby Nacho, feed myself, change him, get myself showered and dressed, let him finish his nap, feed and change him again, pack the diaper bag, remember the grocery bags, shopping list, and my purse, strap him into his car seat, then the car, then find a parking spot near the carts so I could easily move him from the car to the shopping cart without leaving him in the car alone and having the whole neighborhood judging me, load him into the cart, remember the diaper bag, purse, grocery bags, and shopping list, then push my already full cart up the hill and through the doors. I was almost amazed I didn’t get a standing ovation from the staff and shoppers when I made it inside. I wanted to yell “Do you people know how much effort it took to get here?? I’ve been preparing for this for TWO HOURS!”
Of course I didn’t do anything of the kind. And now I have the routine down a little better. It helps that Nacho has gotten older, so he’s not pooping every twenty minutes, and I’ve more experience handling him and his needs now.
But those first few weeks after the baby is born put you in a bubble of specialness. People bring you food, and presents, and coo over your little bundle of awesome. Strangers congratulate you, and you get all warm and fuzzy from all the attention. This helps to balance out (or is enhanced by) the sleep deprivation.
For the first few weeks you SHOULD have that feeling. You did something that is hard, chancy, and full of weird occurrences. You’re at the start of a challenging path through life, so let that happy feeling invigorate you for the bumps ahead.
Some people, however, absorb this attention and think they deserve it permanently, just for breeding. They become arrogant, demanding, and entitled. Don’t be that person.
Every person on this planet, living or dead, had parents. There are over 7 billion people on this planet right now, and they all came about the same way. Even if your birth was one in a million, there were 6,999 others just like it on this planet, just considering the current living population.
So calm down. You’re not a special, unique snowflake. You’re not forging some new path no one has ever trod before. You are not Gaia, the Earth mother. You are not the first person to have a kid, and you won’t be the last.
Enjoy your new adventure, revel in your baby, but don’t be a jerk. You know what? That’s your rule to live by:
Rule for Life: Don’t be a jerk.
Let’s all do that and hopefully together we can decrease the amount of stuff that sucks in the world, and increase the awesome. My first rant could also be cured by people not being jerks. The Golden Rule still applies when you’re an adult, people.
This whole post seems to just be an amalgamation of ranting and tangents, but I’m alright with it.
The calendar used by basically the whole planet is the Gregorian calendar. This method of tracking time is full of problems. It’s so illogically arranged that you have to have a poem to remember how it works:
Thirty days have September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have 31,
Except February alone,
And that has 28 days clear,
And 29 in a leap year.
A poem that doesn’t even rhyme! What kind of society are we that we have just accepted this nonsensical arrangement for so long? It was last updated in 1582! Well, I have a better idea.
Make every month 4 weeks long. There are 52 weeks in the year, which would give us 13 months. Every month would be 28 days long. Getting paid twice a month, or every 2 weeks would mean the same thing. Every 15th would be a Wednesday (or whatever number it worked out to be). Billing cycles would be consistent. Holidays would always occur the same day; none of this “Uh oh, President’s Day is on a Thursday this year, what do we do?” We can call the extra month Cleverember, and tack it on at the end of the year.
Now I know there would be issues. All computer code is written with the current calendar in mind, and changing it would be worse than Y2K. People’s birthdays would change. Leap years would shift the day of the week everything happens on, so the first is now Tuesday instead of Monday. I’m sure there would be other problems, but think of the simplicity! You could have the same calendar for 3 years!
I’m not an astrophysicist, or whatever type of scientist would be an expert on this, so I don’t know how to calculate a truly logical calendar. I do know you can’t even get Americans to use the metric system, so changing to a simpler calendar will never happen. But a girl can dream of a simpler, more logical world.
I saw a recipe for savory oatmeal somewhere, and I thought, “That would be much better with quinoa, which I happen to have gallons of from my Costco trip“. So I did it, cause I’m cool like that. You will need:
1 cup quinoa (I used red quinoa this time)
2 cups broth or water
1/2-1 cup shredded cheese
2 green onions, chopped
optional: leftover cooked veggies
Cook the quinoa according to the instructions, using broth or water. While that’s cooking, either fry or poach your eggs. You could scramble them also, I guess. I won’t judge. I will judge if you hard boil them though, and harshly. When the quinoa is done, mix in the shredded cheese and chopped green onions. I also happened to have some cooked zucchini in the fridge, so I heated it up, and threw it on top, then dropped the egg on top of that. The whole process takes ~20 minutes or so, and yields 3-4 servings. This is a great hearty breakfast, perfect for those days when you have a lot to get done. It will stick with you for hours.
Also, keep in mind, I’m not a food photographer. I make my food, take a picture, then eat it. I don’t sit around, posing it for hours, analyzing lighting, etc. I’m usually starving, and barely remembered to take a picture in the first place. I still think this one came out pretty good, though:
You’re trying to save money by avoiding coffee shops, but you miss the delicious caffeinated treasures they provided? Fear not! We can make better coffee at home and save you money!
First of all, good for you for trying to save money! It can be a challenge, but you can totally do it. You will be so proud of yourself!
Ok, now onto the coffee stuff. You’re trying to save money, so it’s possible your bought the cheapest coffee available. If it tastes ok, then good job! If it tastes terrible, that might be causing some discontent. There are several different ways to make your addiction cheaper:
1) Buy some really good coffee and some cheaper coffee, then blend the two together.
2) When buying coffee grounds at the grocery store, buy a small amount of the cheapest coffee. If you don’t like it, next time spend slightly more, until you hopefully find a brand you enjoy. Even buying Dunkin brand coffee at the grocery store is cheaper than buying a pre-made coffee at Dunkin Donuts. You don’t have to take the absolute cheapest option in every scenario, if it’s making saving too painful. The goal is to stop wasting money on silly things, not become a martyr.
3) You can reuse coffee grounds, but I would only do this if you’re drinking a few pots a day. Throw in a small scoop of fresh grounds on top, then add more water.
4) Train yourself to like cheap coffee – I did this from the very start. My friends and I used to hang out at IHOP and Denny’s and just endlessly drink their coffee, full of cream and sugar.
5) Speaking of cream and sugar, you can cover up the flavor of not-great coffee using some add-ins:
There are lots of possible add-ins to make cheap coffee more palatable, or actually coffee in general. Black coffee is abhorrent to me. I always have to add at least milk to it. For some flavor variety, you can add cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, chicory, or vanilla extract to the basket with the coffee grounds. You can add a bag of Chai tea to the carafe for that Chai latte flavor. Once it’s in the mug you can add chocolate milk, vanilla milk, cocoa powder, honey, or whipped cream to make it special and different. (Just don’t go overboard on the sugar). You can also google even more ideas. Some people suggest adding cayenne, which sounds nuts to me, but apparently some people like it. I guess it would wake you up in the morning. “The best part of waking up is A FIERY CUP OF PAIN”.
You can also mimic some of the fancy recipes direct from the coffee shops. Search for “homemade pumpkin latte“, or whatever specialty drink you’re craving. Get creative, make up your own and have fun in your kitchen. Here’s a recipe I came up with to mimic the mocha lattes I used to love:
1 cup coffee, 1 jar nutella, 2 cups pure lard, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon chocolate, I’m kidding please don’t make this, I don’t want to be responsible for giving you diabetes
Keep in mind the roast you’re using makes a huge difference. I personally enjoy a really light roast, because it tends to be less bitter. Here are a couple additional tips I heard on NPR the other day:
1) Use cold water to brew your coffee (like from the tap, not refrigerated)
2) Let the water run for a few seconds before filling the pot
3) Never use distilled or softened water
All of these money saving tips are going to become more important. Drought and disease are reducing coffee production, so prices will be increasing in the future. Using these tips, we can all get our daily dose of caffeine without having to sell our first born child.
I’m not usually in my car at the right time to hear The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor, but I had to run an errand this morning, and managed to catch it.
If you aren’t familiar with it, each day host Garrison Keillor (best known for A Prairie Home Companion) enlightens us about literature. He lists writers whose birthdays occur that day, and teaches us a little about their lives, what they wrote, and its impact on society. It’s always interesting, and I wish I kept up with it better.
The poem of the day is called “Naming the Baby” by Faith Shearin. I thought it was very appropriate considering how many of my friends are breeding right now. And congratulations to Jamiehead on her new little boy, due this fall!
So now I’ll sign off with Garrison Keillor’s traditional ending:
“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch”