From the Emancipation Proclamation to the election of the first African-American president in American history, here is a glimpse of what I consider to be the top 10 Presidents in our history who have supported the progress of black people in America.
While my little boys, Mr. President Number One and Mr. President Number Two, are likely learning about George Washington and the founding fathers at school, I am taking it upon myself to incorporate lessons about the leaders of our great nation, and the laws they implemented, or attempt to implement, in the freeing of slaves, and eventually, the legal equality of African-Americans.
The U.S. Presidents listed below, in order of succession, are those I believe have had the greatest degree of African-American influence in our nation’s history. So here we go:
John Quincy Adams:
President Adams was the sixth President of the United States, and the son of the second. His views on slavery evolved over time, and it would be after his presidency that he would become a well-known abolitionist. While in Congress, he demanded to hear petitions against slavery, when laws regulated against them. President Adams won the freedom of the Africans on the famous, Spanish slave ship, La Amistad. President Adams never billed for his service.
President Lincoln was born into a racist family in Illinois. Despite his upbringing and early years defending the laws of slavery, he eventually grew a very transparent opposition to slavery, and would eventually be assassinated because of his outward attempt to support African-Americans. Lincoln, also known as the Great Emancipator, would take a while to become the anti-slavery man who believed in black inferiority, to become Lincoln the abolitionist who could openly advocate for certain rights of citizenship for black people. Although initially implemented as a war necessity, President Lincoln would sign the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the majority of the four-million enslaved African-Americans during the Civil War. Although loopholes would allow for the continuation of slavery, President Lincoln would also pass the 13th Amendment, legally abolishing slavery in the United States.
Ulysses S. Grant:
Often considered to be one of the greatest civil-rights presidents in American history, President Grant was elected to presidential office twice, even though he stood up for the rights of African-Americans to live in freedom. He championed for the passage of the 15th Amendment, allowing African-American men the right to vote. He would call the 15th Amendment, “the greatest change in American history since the Declaration of Independence.” He also sent troops in to southern states where white-supremacists groups were attacking and killing African-Americans, namely the Klu Klux Klan.
Franklin D. Roosevelt:
Although President Roosevelt (FDR) was not a crusader for African-American rights, and is often critiqued for “The New Deal,” he signed a pair of executive orders (Executive Orders 8802 and 9066), that set the stage for generations of economic opportunity for African-Americans, by barring discrimination in hiring by federal agencies and contractors. As a result of one of these orders, millions of black people, who were almost unable to find employment previously, would receive better jobs, and better pay. FDR’s Wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, is considered to be the first First Lady to champion for African-American rights. She is often remembered for moving famous African-American opera singer, Marian Anderson’s, performance at the Lincoln Memorial after she was prohibited from performing at Constitution Hall because of her race. My children have also taken the name of the Roosevelt’s — hence why we call them, “The Presidents.”
President Truman was the first president since Ulysses S. Grant to directly address civil rights for African-Americans. Although he was born and raised in the segregated south, his service in the military broadened his perspective on African-Americans. When he took office, racial tensions, lynchings, and other violent crimes against blacks were at an all-time high. President Truman was the first President to directly address the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). And after seeing the brutal treatment African-American soldiers received after returning home from World War II, he decided enough was enough. He would eventually attempt to desegregate the military, and implement civil-rights acts to ensure fair and equal treatment for African-Americans.
President Eisenhower was a Texas-born war hero. President Eisenhower, because of his privileged upbringing, had little knowledge or experiences with black people. He even believed, initially, that the federal government should never interfere with old, American racial customs. During his presidency, he would have a change of heart, desegregating the nation’s Capitol, Washington D.C., and following through on President Truman’s promise to desegregate the military. He also appointed Governor Earl Warren as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which would be instrumental in the outcome of future justice, Thurgood Marshall’s, case, Brown vs. The Board of Education. The court’s ruling in Marshall’s favor would desegregate schools across the country. Rosa Park’s famous Montgomery protest, along with the brutal murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till three months earlier, challenged President Eisenhower's desire to aggressively oversee the nation’s progress on race.
John F. Kennedy:
President Kennedy (JFK), who was elected by a majority black vote, made historic African-American appointments to his cabinet — most notably, appointing Thurgood Marshall to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. Although he would eventually join the black cause, for the first two years of his term, he ignored the call to join African-American leaders, namely Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) in the fight for equal rights for black people. JFK supported minority voter registration drives, and deployed troops to protect protestors. On the evening of June 11, 1963, JFK gave a televised address announcing that he would send comprehensive civil rights legislation to Congress that would include provisions for access to public facilities, voting rights, and technical and monetary support for school desegregation. Unfortunately, he was assassinated just five months later, and legislation had not yet been passed.
Lyndon B. Johnson:
President Johnson, true to his convictions, fulfilled the promises made by JFK before his assassination. Although many believed President Johnson had conflicts with his own ideals of racism, he would pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act made it possible for President Johnson to completely abolish Jim Crow laws, and the Voting Rights Act made the U.S. government accountable to its black people and the promise of a true democracy. President Johnson also lifted racist immigration restrictions designed to preserve a white majority in the U.S. Although the Fair Housing Act never fulfilled its promise to end residential segregation, it was another part of a political effort to live up to the ideals of a fair and just America. His War On Poverty also produced controversial programs to lift African-Americans out of poverty: Head Start, Medicaid, and Medicare. He would also be responsible for the appointment of the first black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall.
Although President Clinton has a complicated relationship with black American (due in part to his Three Strikes Law, part of the infamous 1994 Crime Bill), he has still been dubbed the First Black President. Because he was from the South, and even played the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show (quite eloquently, might I add), he was extremely popular amongst African-Americans. Crime and minority unemployment rates dropped to an all-time low during his presidency, and the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 provided job security for many African-Americans. Also during his presidency, a surprisingly large number of African-Americans would go to college.
President Obama, as you already know, was the FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. The sheer fact that he was elected, is a true inspiration for generations of black children to come -- affirming that fact that if you dream it, you can achieve it. Many black people regarded his victory as a personal triumph, and it marked a significant step in the "long road to freedom" for many. Although the economy struggled to recover during President Obama's presidency, the Affordable Care Act, automobile bail-out, and education reform elevated millions of African-Americans. The My Brothers Keeper Initiative also focused on improving the lives of young African-American males. One personal statement made by President Obama that really sealed the deal for me (as the mother of black boys), was during his speech following the killing of Trayvon Martin: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon." Although criticized immensely for this remark, I appreciate his transparency, and his audaciousness to address the nation, emphasizing the fact that Trayvon could have been him — a black boy with a hoodie on 35 years ago.
Evaluating the presidency of some of these great men is no easy task. But I hope you learned a little something from my list. Happy Presidents Day, and Happy Black History Month!
Stored under the deck of the ship like cargo, shackled to one another, bound by the weight of ponderous leg irons, and packed in so tightly one could hardly breathe, my ancestors would await hundreds of years of slavery, abuse, and oppression in the new world — my America.
The Middle Passage — the grueling journey from Africa to America, where millions of African enslaved men, women, and children were unknowingly brought to the Americas. The Middle Passage took the enslaved Africans away from their homeland, as they were sold by other Africans to Europeans during the slave trade.
The enslaved were from different countries and different ethnic (or cultural) groups in Africa. They spoke different languages. Many of these slaves had never seen the sea before, let alone been on a ship. As they embarked on this eight-week journey across the water, these men and women had no knowledge of where they were going, or the dark future (if they survived), that awaited them on the other side of the ocean.
"Women were raped, men were beaten, and death was literally the only way out."
The conditions on slave ships were so inhumane and insufferable, slaves often died from diseases, suicide, and even murder at the hands of the captain and his crew. Slaves chained to those who had died on the ship often remained chained to the deceased for weeks on end, or until a member of the crew decided to throw the lifeless bodies of the enslaved overboard. Women were raped, men were beaten, and death was literally the only way out.
I am attempting to paint a picture of the sheer horror that took place on these slave ships -- the inconceivable nature in which my ancestors were treated on their voyage to the unknown. Can you hear the cries of the suffering? Can you hear the moaning of the dying? Can you hear my ancestors?
Millions of enslaved Africans were sold, shipped, and sprinkled like sand around the world. The history of slavery is not unique to the Middle Passage. But the journey of my ancestors was to America — my history lives right here.
"When my ancestors boarded that slave ship, a lifetime of suffering, and a long road to freedom was only beginning."
The history of my African ancestors is why I sent my children in Dashikis to school today. We "wear" AFRICA, not as an appropriation of the present culture, but to honor our original African lineage. Before our ancestors created a rich, black history in America; before America consisted of black soldiers, activists, abolitionists, poets, authors, artists, doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, and more, they were stripped of everything they had know — in their homeland, AFRICA. When my ancestors boarded that slave ship, a lifetime of suffering, and a long road to freedom was only beginning.
Today, on this eighth day of Black History Month, I honor my ancestors, OUR ancestors. For those who survived the unimaginable, and for those who never made it to the new world, we remember you. Happy Black History Month.
Am I still a mother if I have never held my child? Am I crazy for loving and longing for someone I never had a chance to meet? When I am out and people see me, childless, do they know it is not by choice?
I have racked my brain for expository ways to describe child loss—desperately lamenting and shedding tears over poems I have come across in books and online that have almost captured the pain of child loss with their words. But there is something left unsaid, even in the most eloquent of descriptions—I suppose it is something that can only be expressed through vibrations of the heart.
We knew the prognosis would be bleak from the onset, but they say there is nothing greater than a mother’s love, right?
When most parents find out they are expecting a child, or perhaps even before they learn the news, they begin to visualize and conjecture their child—praying that the best of themselves (and their partners) will be pulled and come together to form the most perfect, small human. In my instance, having just buried my soulmate, my J, finding out I was expecting was like God giving me (and all of our loved ones) a chance to have him back! We knew the prognosis was bleak from the onset, but they say there is nothing greater than a mother’s love, right? And that coupled with the power of prayer, this child should have been a sure thing!
Looking back, I was so selfish to want my child (Baby M). I was naïve to the hurt he would one day feel when I couldn’t produce his father. I was nescient to the void he would have and the burdens he would bear as he went through life, a fatherless child.
So this all brings me to the question that has repeatedly awakened me in panic-induced states countless nights: who or what determines who is celebrated on mother’s day? Does the ascension into motherhood begin at conception? At birth? After time/energy has been spent rearing a child?
...not only had I failed to do what God literally created a woman’s body to do, but I had failed our friends and family.”
Merriam Webster defines ‘mother’ two ways:
• A woman in relation to her child or children (noun)
• To bring up a child with care and affection (verb)
When I initially learned of my Baby M’s demise, I felt the harsh sting of failure—not only had I failed to do what God literally created a woman’s body to do, but I had failed our families and friends. That coupled with grief, pain, and despair is enough to make anyone question any and every thing they have ever known. I know I did.
Today, however, I can honestly say I didn’t grasp the demeanor of a mother, until I returned home from the hospital with no child. Seems a bit insane, right? It wasn’t until I began to accept (and I use that term VERY loosely) that perhaps Baby M was better off away from me, that I became a mother. A mother’s life is full of sacrifices for her child—and the moment you sacrifice your heart (I believe), you may be classified, and celebrated as a mother.
Perhaps the greatest gift a mother can give her child is the permission and encouragement to fulfill their God-given purpose in life. I must believe that Baby M’s purpose was always to be an angel. And as his mother, all I can do is continue to pray for the strength to accept, and find solace in, my baby’s purpose.
Today, I honor the children we love enough to accept their home without us, and the mother’s here with us, and those who have gone on to yonder. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, by noun, and verb.
About the Author:
Today’s guest blogger, Faith A. King, is the founder and CEO of Tutoring Co. and King’s Scholars, but most importantly, she is my baby sister. With a Masters in Health and Rehabilitation Science, she has a passion for people, and is working towards a Doctorate in Biopharmaceuticals.
For those who are not aware, she lost the love of her life, Joseph, almost a year ago, and lost the baby they were expecting in common, just a few, short weeks ago.
To say that her life has been challenging these last several month would be a gross understatement. But I can unequivocally say that she is the most resilient person I have ever known.
Please join me in the ongoing journey to keep her lifted, and please help me wish her a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!
There we were, just the two of us, sitting side-by-side, laughing, smiling, and having a great time. We were looking out from the audience, BEAMING with pride, as we watched and enjoyed our little one's performance. We were just giddy — so beside ourselves, we shared an excitement so bold, it literally could have been bottled up. Oh, it was such a gratifying feeling — so organic! There was so much noise and commotion, but I could head your voice so clearly — that soft chuckle you do when you're just overflowing with joy. Then I saw her — my sweet Madame President at her very first dance recital. And suddenly I woke up — startled with fear — filled with disappointment, as I briefly realized this moment of perfection will never happen. It was all a dream.
I woke up early that morning. Everything was cold, quiet, and undisturbed — something just did not feel right. As I laid peacefully in bed, I glanced over at your son and looked in his direction for a while. As he began to awaken, he began to open his eyes, and for a moment, our eyes met. Suddenly, the telephone rang, and because we don't typically receive phone calls that early, I had a feeling we were about to receive some bad news. Just as I had feared, we learned that you quietly slipped away from us that morning. I heard what your son had said to me — that you were gone — but I was just so perplexed, I wasn't able to process what he was really saying to me. I rigorously repeated thoughts in my head about what I could do to bring you back. Were you really gone?
It was not supposed to be a dream. I had the future all planned out. You were supposed to be there right next to me, to experience it all: the first steps, the first days of school, graduations, birthday parties, prom, the first love, the first heartbreak, weddings, and the list goes on. Besides, how I am supposed to get through the next eighteen years without you? You provided all of the balance in our lives. Every time mommy and daddy delivered a hard, "NO," the Presidents could always count on grandma to follow that with a soft, "yes." All of the cookies, candies, and goodies the Presidents could not get from mommy and daddy always had a way of appearing at grandma's house. That's what grand parenting is all about, right?
You displayed the true essence of a grandmother's love; ears that truly listen, arms that always hold, a love that truly is never ending...
You were there from the very beginning. When friends and family members weren't quite sure whether or not I was the right match for your son, you continuously remained a beam of support. I will always remember the day you came to the house to chat with your son. He gently pulled me aside and told me what you had shared with him: you were extremely excited that he had finally found his happiness, but part of you was afraid of losing your son. I was at a loss for words. I really did not know what to say to you in that moment. But we instantly fell in agreement, and we discovered a newfound respect and understanding for one another: I would support you, you would support me, and together we would move forward. From that moment on, until the day you breathed your last breath, you never let me down.
You displayed the true essence of a grandmother's love: ears that truly listen, arms that always hold, a love that truly is never ending, and a heart of pure gold. There is so much I wish I could say to you — so many stories I wish we could share. If I could talk to you just once more, I would tell you that every time Madame President reaches a milestone, every time Mr. President #2 makes me proud, and every time Mr. President #1 does something that tugs at my heart strings, I immediately think of you. For all of the ways you have shown me love, or showered my children with this rare kind of affection, I am forever indebted to you, and I thank you.
Thank you for teaching your son how to love. Love is by far the most powerful emotion man can experience. I am convinced that because of you, my husband learned how to share this experience with others. You actively demonstrated a type of love so pure, you genuinely found joy in the plight of someone else's happiness.
Thank you for living by example. Your life was exemplary. You were supernaturally reliable, forgivably honest, inspiring, and unconditionally generous. You made yourself available to support us in any way you could, and I am extremely grateful to you for that. You were such an incredible example for us. And if I had my way, I would make your routine an official guide for mothers because you literally, never missed a beat.
Thank you for showing me how to pick up the pieces. Every single time I experienced just an ounce of doubt or despair, you never let me stay there for too long. When you would say to me, "Well, tomorrow is a new day," I was always reminded of the underserving opportunity to have a re-do at life, over and over again. You shared with me your struggle after divorce, and stressed the importance of the power of self-acceptance, and making the best of what God has given us.
Thank you for giving me your son. Unquestionably, the most stupendous and dynamite thing that has ever happened to me was meeting your son. Without you, my husband would not exist, so I am eternally grateful to you for the chance to be able to share my life with him.
Thank you for always giving so much. You were notorious for giving my children too much: too many sweets, too many toys, too many hugs, too many kisses, too much fun, and even holding them for too long. But I think I have finally realized why you gave them so much — as an expression of your love to carry with them now that you are gone. Your love will be an integral part of who they ultimately become, so for all of the times you gave them too much, I will forever thank you.
But as I write this, I realize that maybe our moment of bliss was not a dream after all.
Being a grandmother gave you so much joy and purpose. You loved Mr. President #1, Mr. President #2, and their cousin, LKM, with a love deeper than they will ever understand. And you loved Madame President even before she was conceived. I was pregnant during your last few months with us, but when I would come to visit you, the very first thing you would say to me upon walking in the door was, "How is that little lady doing today? Does she have a message for me?" You loved unequivocally and undoubtedly, and for that, I vow to do these things for you: I vow to carry you with me always; I vow to teach your grandchildren what a loving person you were; I vow to continue some of your traditions; I vow to pass on some of your most treasured belongings to your one and only granddaughter; I vow to keep grandpa closer than ever while he is still with us; I vow to keep your memory alive; I vow to love your son forever; I vow to take care of him to the best of my ability; I vow to live honorably; I vow to be the best mother, wife, daughter, and friend I can possibly be.
But as I write this, I realize that maybe our moment of bliss was not a dream after all. Maybe it was a bit of foreshadowing — a glimpse into the future. For I am certain you will be watching over us, in full gratification, every step of the way. I know that there is nothing I can do to bring you back, but I also know that your love will always remain.
If only you could read this letter. If only I could stop by and chat with you one last time. If only I could hear your voice. If only the Presidents could hug you just once more. Maybe I'll see you in my dreams. I'll do my best to make you proud. Now I don't want to say goodbye, so I will just say, "I will see you later." For I truly believe that one fine day, I will meet you on the other side.
-Your Favorite Daughter-In-Law
Dear Mr. President,
The White House -- the official residence of the President of the United States of America, a symbol of power, leadership, history, influence, and capacity, was built by black men and women, most of whom were slaves. As far as we have come as a people, no black man has ever occupied this historical building, or even thought it was possible for a black man to occupy the White House, until that monumental day on November 4, 2008, when you, Barack Hussein Obama, were elected the 44th President of the United States of America. From the southside of Chicago, to the desk of the oval office, you did something extraordinary: you called the White House your home.
The very next day, November 5, 2008, my husband rushed to the news stand to buy the official Washington Post paper, with the Obama family on the front cover. Then it was pure euphoria on January 20, 2009, when you stood in front of the Capital Building reciting the presidential oath. On one of the coldest days of the year, a new chapter was being written in the history books of the free world. Tears were coming down, a sense of accomplishment and pure happiness was overwhelming me, my hands were shaking, and I was literally at a loss for words -- I just stood and watched in amazement, frozen in time, as you, a black man, became President of the United States. People were rejoicing from every race, creed and culture. I felt a sense of unity. But as you know, the story doesn't end there; it happened all over again in 2013 when you were sworn in for a second term as the 44th President of the United States of America. That morning I reached over and hugged the white stranger next to me with tears coming down her face, because we just had this instant connection -- we knew we were in this together.
But why does your presidency mean so much to me? I'll tell you why. When I was a little girl, my mother used to make my sisters and I go to the local black history celebration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day EVERY - SINGLE - YEAR. Man, I hated going to those ceremonies -- the speeches were always long, my mother always made us sit quietly, and we were always led in singing the same song every year with so many words, I could never remember them. It wasn't until about the fourth grade when I actually listened to the lyrics of that song we would always sing on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and it was in that moment that I finally understood it all. This wasn't just a "day off" to sleep in and eat cereal in our pajamas; this day was about the accomplishments and the journey of the people who came before us. This song, first written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson, was a proclamation of the civil rights movement, a confirmation of our acceptance to continue our journey for justice, and an affirmation that victory, one day would be won. The first portion of the song, which I now know was the Black National Anthem, says:
Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.
And on that cold, inauguration day in January, victory had finally been won. You became a symbol of triumph, a symbol of a people, a symbol of equality, a manifestation of the hope that anyone can become and accomplish anything. As a little girl growing up in rural, western Pennsylvania, I was always looking for a way to fit in. No one else looked like me, expcet for some of my sisters, of course. And one of my most vivid memories of grade school was the day one of my best friends said to me, "My mom said I can't play with you because you're mixed." I went home after school to tell my parents what happened, and the very next day, my dad marched up to the school to set them straight. Instances like this occurred every once in a blue moon, even after my mother became the first black president of the school board at my school district. Because of you, I am hopeful that my children will never hear words like these. I am hopeful that children of their generation will remember a black man as the President of the United States, and understand that we should never be judged by the color of our skin, but only by the content of our character.
As a youngster, I would visit the homes of some of my friends, and notice that their parents would have portraits of President Kennedy on the fireplace mantle. While I have always admired President Kennedy and recognized his contribution to the civil rights movement, I really never understood the significance of that. Well...not until YOU became our president! As the mother of two little black boys, I thank God for you every day, for being this incredible symbol my children are able to look up to and aspire to be. Mr. President #1, at six years old, and Mr. President #2, at only three years old, will only remember the President of the United States to be a black man -- they will know nothing else other than what they learn in their history classes. When my children were born, there was a black family living in the White House. This is almost unfathomable, but it brings me so much joy and peace, I just feel happiness in my soul. Although I spent most of my childhood just trying to fit in, the world forced me to see that I was different. I am so glad for the world's harsh reality because I learned to accept who I am, and embrace everything that makes me different. I am so glad that when I look up to see the President speaking on the television, I see someone who looks like me .
Your presidency over the past eight years, has unquestionably been an unprecedented victory. From slavery, to legal segregation and discrimination, to institutionalized racism and bigotry, you stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and I am confident you have made them proud. Did your presidency provide all the answers to our problems? No. But that's okay. The fight has just begun, but we should let your presidency serve as a reminder that we need to be united as a people, united as a race, and united as a country. The easiest way to overcome someone, is to wage war against them when they are broken. Let us stand united in faith, in hope, in humility, and in strength. Just as you have told us before, "In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed." All of those things that tear us apart are real and still exist, but if we acknowledge them, and accept their existence, we can eventually overcome them.
So Mr. President, as you prepare to pass the torch, I very solemnly bid you farewell. I thank you for inspiring me, for inspiring my children, for inspiring people around the world, and for being a beacon of light so many of us were searching for amidst the darkness. While the road is still long ahead of us, I am filled with gratefulness for your audacious leadership and courageous spirit that has taught us yes we can, and yes we did. And just the other day, as I was feeling a bit melancholy about your departure, I pulled out that newspaper my husband rushed to buy the morning after the 2008 election. I showed it to Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2, and said to them, "Always remember that with courage, faith and determination, this can be you some day."
If only those slaves who built the White House could see you now. If only those who fought the good fight could see how you shook up the world. If only my great-grandmother, who told me I would conquer the world one day, could have lived to see you become the first black President of the United States. One victory down, and several more to go. An entire race of people now have a President who resembles them to rest on their mantles. Let us march on, till victory is won. Thank you, Mr. President. Farewell.
Well, the new year is finally here! What exactly does that mean? That means it's time to set those new year's resolutions we can never keep, right?! Who's up for trying something a little different in 2017--like making some realistic resolutions so we don't set ourselves up for failure? Well just hold on a minute! I know what you're thinking! No...I am not reducing my opportunities or selling myself short; I'm just being practical about things for once. I know I'm not going to become the next Victoria's Secret model in 2017, or really give up chocolate, so I'm committed to setting some attainable goals in this new year that will really benefit me. Trust me...if you really put some thought into this process, your new goals will be so awesome, you'll be determined to reach them.
Here are my seven resolutions that I think will benefit all of us working mommas:
1. Wrap Up Your Work Day.
I know we don't live in France, but I try my best to not check email in the evening. Shed all the stress and worries of the day and use your evenings to focus on family. Besides, I'm sure the computer and smart phone had your attention all day long -- why not let your little ones have a turn? I know this isn't always possible, but I'm making a commitment to put a cap on the work day and spend some time actually raising my children.
2. JUST SAY NO!
Working mothers are the ones who always want to be the overachievers. Like seriously? Why? When you're so caught up in keeping your kids and rest of your life on the straight and narrow, you overdo everthing at work to prove you can handle it all. Well stop trying to prove "you can do it" to everyone. Sometimes you just have to accept that fact that you CANNOT DO IT ALL! And guess what? You're human -- there's nothing wrong with that. In 2016, I walked around overwhelmed everyday. Between trying to be the top mom [volunteering for every committee at my son's school], my actual job, sports, and the mom's club, all at once, it was only a matter of time before something fell by the wayside. Let this be your season to say, "no thank you," and let someone else have their time to shine.
3. Rise Up Before Everyone Else.
Have you ever heard the expression the Early Bird Gets the Worm? Well, if you haven't, you're really missing out. If you're the one who makes all of the magic happen, getting up before the rest of the house will allow you to get yourself together before you spend time getting everyone else ready. We all need a moment to "woosah" before the chaos happens, so do yourselves a favor, and try waking up 30 minutes before the rest of your crew. You can thank me later!
4. Remember You're a Wife Too!
With the hustle and bustle of getting the kiddos to school, basketball, swimming, and futsal; working; being the cleaning lady; and all of that extracurricular stuff we do, I often forget to make time for my husband too! That's right! I'm making my husband a promise to not give all of my time to Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2, but to make sure I spend some of that "me" time with my awesome, fantastic, incredible, one-of-a-kind, super-duper, amazing husband! It's only a win-win, right?! Giving the kiddos an example of a healthy and loving marriage can only be beneficial for them in the long run. And, of course, hubby and I benefit too!
5. Practice a Little Patience.
We already talked about saying "no" to some things and avoiding that feeling of being constantly overwhelmed, but what about our patience? When I'm stressed and busy throughout the day, by the time supper comes around, I'm already at my wits' end most of the time, and I'm giving out empty threats left and right: "You'll never eat dinner again," or "You won't be playing basketball this season at all," [after I already paid the registration fee -- yea right], so I'm committed to practicing more patience. No one likes a grumpy momma!
6. Outsource, Outsource, Outsource!
My mentor used to say to me, "I get so many things accomplished because I delegate!" I didn't entirely gather what she meant by that until I realized I couldn't do everything on my own. Even if it's not work-related, sometimes you need an extra hand to help you get some tasks completed. Hire someone to help you do the housekeeping if it's in your budget, purchase some necessities online to save you time in the car, or have your super, fantastic husband do bath time or one of the bagillion tasks he can handle on his own to free up some of your time. When you get some of those tasks knocked off of the list, you can use some of that freed up space to focus on the people and things who really need your attention.
7. Have a Mom's Night Out (Or In).
I'm a huge advocate for making time for yourself, so in 2017, it's "me" time for Mom! Try to set aside at least one hour once a month to do something for you. Whether it's a girl's night out, date night, or just a potty break BY YOUR LONESOME (I know you know the struggle, lol), get some time in to relax, recharge and refresh! And no! This hour cannot include getting work done -- that just doesn't count, my friends! (smile)
Here we go, guys! Let's get those resolutions on paper, and let's get it done. If you make resolutions that will truly benefit you, trust me...you'll want to stick to them. No more making resolutions that are impossible to keep. It's a new year, and another opportunity to make life a little easier.
If there is one upside of recent devastation, it's teaching your children and the younger generation about the importance of giving and helping those in need. As of late, our televisions have been flooded with images of people in distress, nations in unrest, and children and families in need across the globe. As Mr. President #1 grows older and becomes more aware of the world around him, he is beginning to show some interest in why everyone doesn't always have everything they need.
Whether it's a homeless person lying in a pile of old blankets on a bench in the blistering cold, a veteran standing in the middle of traffic with a cardboard sign asking for help, or a malnutritioned child sitting in a swarm of bugs during a commercial break, these actions and images are beginning to resonate with Mr. President #1, and I think the holiday season is the perfect time for me to take the next step in get him involved in the act of giving back.
It all began when Mr. President #1 was on his way out the door for school, and saw our study full of boxes, clothes, old toys, bags, and even our couch! Just as he was ready to make a run for it, he glanced in the study, then he looked back at me and said, "Mommy, is this our stuff?" Mr. President #1 just could not believe I was about to give away all of his old things, but I explained to him that we will be donating our things we no longer use to the Salvation Army so they can share it with people who need it more. Although a little reluctant, he seemed to be okay with that. "Oh yea. I think that's a good idea, Mommy," was Mr. President #1's delayed response, so I decided to take things a little further.
As I was walking Mr. President #1 down the street, I made him a proposition: "So what do you think about giving gifts this year instead of receiving gifts for Christmas?" I was expecting a very adamant and stubborn response, but I was almost floored when Mr. President #1 opened his mouth and said a simple, "sure!" I might have been a little surprised, but I was also proud, and okay, okay...I think my heart also melted a little! Before we parted ways that morning before school, Mr. President #1made a point to tell me that he was okay with giving gifts, but maybe he could get "just one or two toys this year?" LOL!!! Of course I accepted his compromise, and although he wasn't home to see the Salvation Army truck pull up in front of the house, Mr. President #2 and I took plenty of pictures to share with him.
While the holidays is the most opportune time to take part in an act of charity or giving, and teach your children about helping those in need, maybe we can all make a conserted effort to make giving back more than just a once-a-year occurance. Join me in spreading the spirit of giving, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. Let's make giving back a way of life, and set a great example for our children. Here are a few tips for getting your children involved and in the habit of giving back.
1. Donate clothes and toys:
Involve your little ones when you're digging in the bottom of the closet and packing those boxes with the clothes and shoes no longer being used. This is a great way to get the kiddos involved in sharing and gifting those items they've hand-picked.
2. Help a neighbor:
Do you have elderly neighbors or neighbors with a lot of kids?? Let your kids volunteer to help bring in their groceries, rake the leaves, or shovel the snow. I'm sure your neighbors will appreciate it, and your kids will learn the importance of lending a helping hand.
3. Pack a food basket:
If you've ever had a friend or family member pass away or bring a new life into the world, I'm sure you know how much others can appreciate a food basket or a home-cooked meal. Let your little ones pick things to contribute to the basket. And if the environment is kid-friendly, take them along to experience the gratitude and appreciation when your masterpiece is delivered.
Let this holiday season serve as a reminder of the importance of giving back and helping those in need. Remember to join me in teaching our children that giving is not something that happens just during the holidays or when disaster strikes, but teach them that giving is a way of life--something we should all live by. Always keep in mind that to whom much is given, much is required.
Happy Holidays, everyone!!
*Pictured above: the wonderful men of the Salvation Army carrying our couch to the donation truck.
Just the other day, my husband and I were headed home from a soccer game, and of course we were listening to talk-radio. Side note: I would prefer to listen to Michael Jackson, but hubby, of course, has to know the "traffic and weather on the 8s!" Anyway...the upcoming presidential election was the topic of discussion...AGAIN. I mean, what else would they be discussing on the radio? There's really nothing else happening in the world other than Hilary Clinton's emails and Donald's Trump recent shenanigans, right? Long story short...hubby and I got into a little conversation about the candidates, and Mr. President #1 shouted from the back seat, "What time do I need to go vote for the President? Will you pick me up from school?"
"I need to vote for Donald Trump because he's a boy! I can't vote for a girl! YUCK!........Well, can I just vote for President Obama, then?"
I just looked over at my husband and laughed silently. I thought to myself..."First of all, you are too young to vote. And how do you even understand what the heck is going on right now?" A few days later, hubby and I were watching campaign updates on CNN, and Mr. President #1 yelled out, "I know who I'm voting for!" When my husband asked him who he is going to be voting for, he firmly stated, "I'm voting for Donald Trump!" I was obviously a little shocked when Mr. President #1 said that, but when I asked him why he wanted to vote for Donald Trump, his response was quite hilarious: "I need to vote for Donald Trump because he's a boy! I can't vote for a girl! YUCK!" I definitely understand this six-year-old logic, but I said to him, "Are you sure? I don't think Donald Trump cares too much for black people like us." Mr. President looked up at me and said, "We're not black, Mom. We're tan." Of course I turned my head away and snuck in a little laugh, but when I reassured Mr. President #1 that we are black, and even if we were "tan," I don't think Donald Trump would care too much for "tan" people either, he immediately responded by saying, "Well, can I just vote for President Obama, then? He's tan like us, and he's a good president!"
I'm just glad Mr. President #1's reasoning behind choosing Donald Trump was because he is a boy, and not because of his values. You already know how adamant we are about raising our boys to be good people. We are teaching our boys to be accepting, considerate, non-judgmental, compassionate, and loving. I think most of us share the same sentiment as Mr. President #1 when it comes to President Obama--well, at least I do! But I think this begs the better question: What the heck is Donald Trump, as a presidential candidate, teaching our children about the world we live in?
"I'd be the biggest hypocrite if I decided to vote for someone who did not exemplify those qualities. Take my advice, and put your vote where your mouth is!"
Someone who holds the highest office in the land, cannot be devoid of the qualities and characteristics we want our children to possess when they're adults. I am teaching my sons to value women, to live by their religious and spiritual convictions, and to have sensitivity towards people with disabilities--I want them to see that they are different, yet the same as the rest of us. For my fellow parents who are voting for Donald Trump, I entirely respect your political views; I only question how you're demonstrating these important qualities through your actions. I'd be the biggest hypocrite if I decided to vote for someone who did not exemplify those qualities. Take my advice, and put your vote where your mouth is!
Anyway...if my six-year-old son is this eager to vote, I might as well get him started a little early. This evening just might be his first trip to the polls! Why not? And on the way, I'll be sure to have a conversation with him about those who came before us and fought for our right to stand at the polls and exercise our ability to vote. You better believe it! One last thing, moms and dads...I know I'm constantly pushing the point that our children are always watching us, but it's true! Remember that! And today, remember they're watching you, even in the voting booth. I love all of you, regardless of who you decide to vote for (or have voted for already), but in the words of Spike Lee, "Do the right thing!" Happy voting, everyone!
As I was sitting in the family room with Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2 watching a recorded episode of American Ninja Warrior, both Presidents were jumping up and down chanting, "Beat that wall! Beat that wall!" As I'm sure you can tell by now, both of these little guys are obsessed with this show, haha. There aren't a whole lot of shows I let them watch outside of the usual Sprout, Disney, and Nickelodeon superhero cartoons, but a little friendly, family competition [we all choose our favorite competitors] every once in a while never hurt anyone. Anyway...when the gentleman competing on the show finally made it up the wall and finished the obstacle course, Mr. President #1 jumped up and screamed, "Yes! He did it! He's my favorite!"
I wasn't paying too much attention to the television, so by the time I looked over to see who this guy was, there were several contestants on the screen, and I didn't know who Mr. President #1 was jumping up and down for. I walked over to the family room and said to Mr. President #1, "Who? Who is your favorite? Which guy are you talking about?" Mr. President #1, with an annoyed look on his face and the palms of both of his hands turned out, looked over at me and said, "Him, Mom! That guy right there; the brown one!" I just looked at Mr. President #1 and said, "Okay!" But I really couldn't help but think, "Here we go with these Crayola colors again!
"By this time, Mr. President #1 was just done answering my questions (you know--like how our little people expect us to already know everything they want and need in advance...), but he stopped on his way up to his room, looked over at me and said, 'My friends don't have colors, Mom. They have names!'"
We're all over the color spectrum when it comes to people in this house. But I have to admit that Mr. President #1 has evolved a bit over the years. I started out as the color yellow, became the color peach for a while, and now I think I'm just light brown; according to Mr. President #1, that is. But I digress...It took a little while for what Mr. President #1 said to me about the "Brown one" to sink in completely, but I just couldn't help myself. I walked back over to the family room and said to him, "The brown one? Is that how you classify your friends too?" By this time, Mr. President #1 was just done answering my questions (you know--like how our little people expect us to already know everything they want and need in advance...), so he stopped on his way up to his room, looked over at me and said, "My friends don't have colors, Mom. They have names!"
I was floored. I could not believe Mr. President #1 had just said that to me. But then it dawned on me...that was probably the most intelligent thing I had ever heard. He was so right! None of use should be defined by color; we should be called by our names. I remember sitting in the kitchen at work one day, and my colleague started talking about Lisa. Now, there are several Lisa's in my office, but they all have different jobs. Long story short, she made it a point to say to everyone, "You know, WHITE Lisa!" Now why couldn't she have used her last name, or even her title? Why did she have to go there? This is exactly my point--why do we always have to be called out by color?!
"If it were left up to the children, they probably could care less who is yellow, peach, or light brown; they probably would just want to enjoy one another and be in the company of other children who share their same interests."
Mr. President #1 reminded me of a very important and valuable lesson that day: how we as parents take advantage of the innocence of children, and just allow them to become inendated and infiltrated with our negative thoughts, beliefs, and all of the unnecessary and inappropriate things we constantly say in front of them about race. If it were left up to the children, they probably could care less who is yellow, peach, or light brown; they probably would just want to enjoy one another and be in the company of other children who share their same interests.
Let's do ourselves and our children a favor. Let's stop teaching our children to identify their friends by color. When your son tells you he really loves to play with Jack, don't ask him if it's the BLACK Jack or the WHITE Jack, just go with it. And if you must, use Jack's last name or some other characteristic to identify him. Stop brainwashing your kids. Let them learn to choose friends based on their character, generosity, and how they are in the inside, not by what color they are on the outside. I'm convinced we all have our own racial prejudices, but the best thing we can do for our children, is to keep those prejudices to ourselves.
Now let me clarify something really quickly. Children most-definitely see differences. A child with long, smoothe, blonde hair and light-colored skin can obviously see the difference from another child with long, coarse braids and dark-colored skin. But my point is this: Although these children are able to see differences, they don't have a single idea about race! Children self-identify by their names, gender, and other familiar characteristics, but these ridiculous racial notions come from US! Just the other day, I watched the newly released The Jungle Book movie with Mr. President #1 and Mr. President #2, and the biggest thing we took from the movie was that we can be friends with just about anyone, regardless of what he or she may look like. Teach your kids the basics and be there to help them understand why we don't all look the same, but most importantly, teach them the power of love and acceptance. Let's do this together!
Just last night, I layed on the couch next to Mr. President #1 watching the Olympics. I allowed him to stay up way after his bedtime, because he and his father are big Usain Bolt fans and wanted to watch him race. Immediately following the men's 200-meter semi-finals was the finals for the women's 100-meter hurdles...the race I had been waiting for! Why, you ask? When I learned about the three black, American girls who qualified for the finals, I just couldn't miss this one. I sat on the edge of my seat with Mr. President #1 to watch those three black girls fly through those hurdles, and just like I had imagined, they swept the race! Gold, silver, and bronze; they won them all!
I jumped up on my feet and tears literally started rolling down my eyes. Mr. President #1 looked at me and said, "Are you okay, Mommy?" But I couldn't even answer him because I was just afflicted and overwrought with emotion. What happened to me y'all? Why was I standing there in front of the television crying like a big 'ol baby. If you haven't figured it out yet, I'll let you in on a little secret...black, American girls didn't just show up at the Olympics in Rio, but they showed OUT and SLAYED! You hear me [like my Mississippi-raised great-grandmother used to say]? Black girls were breaking records left and right, and America aught to be proud!
As as a black girl from the US, I have to admit I am feeling some type of way about black girls dominating the Olympics, and it is nothing short of gratifying. While the rest of America [or the rest of the world for that matter], is growing accustomed to seeing images and videos of black women and mothers mourning and pleading for help over the unexplained deaths of their sons and daughters, and sisters and brothers, these black, American girls in the Olympics are shaking things up and showing another side of black women. Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, and Tori Bowie (just to name a few), are showing the world what it's like for a black girl to rejoice in happiness, in success, in accomplishments, and without fear. That's why I stood in front of the television crying like a baby.
I want to congratulate each and every athlete who represented at the Olympics this year. But more importantly, I want to thank every single one of those black, American, female athletes who came to Rio and SLAYED! Thank you for representing all of us. Thank you for showing all of those little black girls out there who are on the verge of succumbing to less than fulfilling notions of society about what kind of future they are going to have, that the sky is the limit! Who cares what your hair looks like! Who cares whether or not you can slick your strands back into a ponytail like Shawn Johnson! Thank you for teaching other little black girls to never be discouraged because of what they look like.
I hope I live to see the day when we are taught to live to BECOME something, not live to OVERCOME something. Because of you, I feel one step further to that brighter future. Because of you, I can look at how beautifully my children are growing and be happy instead of riddled with fear. In the words of the great Guy Carawan (in one of the greatest civil-rights anthems), "Deep in my heart, I do believe, that we shall overcome one day." Way to go, team USA!!