Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Words

**I feel as though I have completely failed in terms of this blog, the one place that my words may not be twisted to fit the needs and wants of others.  As I was going through the list of unpublished posts, I ran across this one that I had started in August, but must have lost the nerve to finish.  Not entirely sure why, since it tells a lot about who I am as a person and what, or should I say who, has helped shape me.**

Today, I was thinking about the people that I voluntarily or involuntarily keep around me and how they have managed to help shape my life for me to be the person that I am today.  The people who force me to answer the tough questions when I don't want to.  The ones who tell me to take a chance and if I fail, to get back up and try it again.  Those just passing through or keep showing up no matter how many times you have told them to take a hike.  Or those who have walked beside me through thick and thin.  Those who I have known all my life, a few years or a few months.  Each person has challenged me in ways that another person may not and maybe that's the point. 

As I get ready to enter a new year next week, I can't help but think about how they have all influenced or forced me to step outside the box.  Believe me, that's not always an easy thing to do.  Whether it be food, my slight irritation with people who seem to lack common sense when in a public place, change or whatever. 

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra said "Tell me what company you keep and I'll tell you what you are."  

I have found that most of the people that I have around me are people that are like me and in the end, force me to be a better person.  How did I get so lucky?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Realistically Unrealistic

Last Saturday, I decided to go see Tyler Perry's new movie called Good Deeds, which was decent.  Decent because there was a point to the story: Don't live for others or base your life on what they think.  Do what makes you happy and live for yourself.

Wesley Deeds, Tyler Perry's character, was the oldest and considered to be the good son by his parents and peers.  He was engaged to a somewhat selfish real estate agent, who was more about herself and keeping up this image.  He gave up his dream when his father groomed and had him take over the family's multi million dollar software company since no one thought his younger brother Walt, played by Brian White, could handle the responsibility.  (Let me just say that Walt was an ass and Brian White played him oh, so well!)  His mother, played by Phylicia Rashad, had high expectations for Wesley....marriage, kids, career. 

The movie isn't bad...predictable like most of his movies.  Its not believable because as someone who kind of keeps up with the celebrities, we know Tyler Perry is not attracted to women so it was easy to tell that the heated scenes with Gabrielle Union and Thandie Newton were practically forced.

What caught and kept my attention throughout the movie were the expectations Wesley faced from everyone around him.  He couldn't say no to his mother because she expected him to be successful, he was his brother's keeper and with his fiance, he is just a safe bet due to his predictability. 

I understand the thought of not wanting to say no so that other people won't get upset or feel as though you have to be that dependable person since no one else will.  Its the parents or other family members, friends that are much like Phylicia Rashad's character who don't see that they are forcing that one person or persons to live up to these high expectations.  Its when the person has taken on such a burden that they snap and walk awat that they realize one of two things:
  1. Maybe we should back off and let them live their lives
  2. That person is just rebelling...they'll come back
As always, Tyler Perry reminds us that we as people, not just the African American community, need to remember to think about ourselves.  That everyone else will come around eventually and if they don't, oh well!  They weren't that important anyways. 

I will leave with the words of Raymond Hull:

He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Evening Thoughts...

I'm sitting here thinking about the last few days with mixed emotions, but I'll only write about the good.

  • Yesterday, I spent a day only doing what I wanted.  Woke up late, watched TV, went to see a movie that in some ways spoke to me, despite how predicable and unrealistic it was, and ended the night with take out and a bottle of wine. It couldn't have been any better!
  • Spent today with my family as we celebrated my sister's 21st birthday. It still amazes me how fast the time has gone.  It seems like just yesterday my brother and I were fighting over whether she would be a boy or girl.
  • I opened my mailbox and found a package with this inside!  (Courtesy of KT Mac!  You are awesome, dear friend!)  Definitely a great way to end the weekend! 

My hope for this week is to get back into my writing, since I have taken an unplanned break.  (Please don't ask why, because I don't even know why!)

Have a great week! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Where is the Progress?

Yesterday, a friend of mine who sometimes starts the day with an article that often times forces me to think. This article, though, stopped me in my tracks for several reasons. An African American, eighth grade girl from Rochester, NY wrote a paper on Frederick Douglass' The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass for a class and contest. Much to the teacher's surprise, the teen did more than write her opinion to this complex read. She compared it to the educational system and pointed out their failures. She wrote it in a way that the teacher saw this to be an attack on whites, or white teachers. She argued that this was not the case. She was more or less writing as Douglass had in his book.

Long story short, the teen was harassed by teachers, threatened with suspension and other punishments for this paper. Her mother ended up pulling her out of school and is in the process of moving to a new district. She would later win an award for this insightful paper by the Frederick Douglass Foundation of New York and recognized by the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, a member of President Obama's Cabinet.

While I was researching this incident, I found a copy of her essay and it blew me away. Yes, there are mistakes that one would expect from someone her age, but reading what she got from it and how she was able to relate it to today's education was brilliant!

There are a few reasons why this bothered me.

  1. This happened in Rochester, NY. Years ago, I went to a couple of the schools in that area. This may seem trivial, but whatever.
  2. The pettiness of those teachers took away the love of education from a young teen. Something that should never happen. What gives them that right to tell a child that they can't voice their opinion in their writing when its a constitutional right?
  3. She was 13 years old and it was not intended to be a racial issue. If any of those teachers had read this book, they would see that that is how Douglass wrote and the teen was just following his lead.

A fact that I ran across while I was reading this article was this:
"Given that only 19 percent of School #3's eighth graders were proficient in language arts last year (and just 13 percent in math)—well below the state average of 60 percent—it's clear that the school and its teachers need to change their approach."
I'm not a parent, but if I were, there is no way in hell I would send my child to a school with those scores.

Who would have ever thought that this 13 year old could cause such an uproar?