Archive for July, 2009

America: the view from the Outside

There was a well-hidden article on cnn.com today that, IMHO, is not getting the attention it deserves.  It’s good to get a look at America from the outside every once in a while, and to learn that stereotypes work both ways is an eye-opening thing indeed.  For those who are too engrossed by my erudite opining to click upon the link, the summary is that African immigrants to the US and African-Americans seem to have little in common.  Their perceptions of each other are tainted by stereotypes proliferated by the media and Hollywood.

Even more fascinating to me than the mention of my high school is the revelation that African immigrants said that they identify more with the mores of middle class America than the individuals who have been in this nation for generations, yet claim sub-Saharan Africa as their “homeland.”  Most striking of all was the admonition of Nigerian emigré Vera Ezimora, 24.  Ezimora, on the subject of slavery and racism in America gave the following sage advice:

“We have all been tortured.  Now that we are free, holding on to the sins of white men who have long died and gone to meet their maker is more torture than anything we have suffered.”

It seems to me that she is saying that to hold on to the outrage from the enslavement of one’s ancestors (who were all dead before most people living today were even born) merely perpetuates that enslavement by trapping a large segment of the population in a cycle of hate that gets passed from generation to generation because we don’t look beyond it to what can be if we keep our focus on the inside of a person rather than the outside.

I was fortunate enough to be exposed to all kinds of people from before I can remember.  The town I grew up in was the home of the major university in the state.  The property catty-cornered to ours belonged to a Filipino family (the head of which was also our family doctor) and that to our rear belonged to a black family who had held onto it for a hundred years before suburbia encroached (it had been a gift from the plantation owner who had held all that acreage where our little white-collar subdivision now stands).  One thing my dad is proudest of was the fact that his mother was so far ahead of her time when it came to equal opportunity.  In 1930’s Moultrie, GA, my grandmother, Mattie Lou Hall, ran the kitchens for the Moultrie schools.  She was the one person in town (according to my father) for whom the black denizens wanted to work most.  Their reasons were two-fold:  one, she offered jobs that allowed weekends off and two, she treated everyone equally.

I had the pleasure last night of meeting a middle-aged African-American woman who is the wife of a soon-to-be-retired Marine (as soon as he gets back from Iraq).  Like me, she is in a mixed-race marriage and we shared stories of our experiences in seeing the prejudices committed by our own “kind” toward those we love.  I related my tale of how, when Hubby was teaching Spanish in a tiny rural district that was fairly balanced among whites, blacks, and Hispanics, he had been accused in a 2- to 3-week period of discrimination against all three groups.  My response was to tell him “Congratulations:  you’re now an equal-opportunity racist!”

Her tale revolved around a young black Marine who had made allegations against her husband of bias against his race.  In truth the issue was that the younger Marine was unwilling to perform his duty.  Over her husband’s protests that the proceedings were closed to the public, my new acquaintance received special permission to attend the hearing.  When her husband’s name was called, she stood up with him.  When the judge told her that these were closed-door proceedings and she would have to leave, this brave lady respectfully but firmly stated from whom she had received permission to attend and that she was going to stand by her husband no matter what.  At the revelation that the Marine accused of racism had a spouse of the same race as the accuser, the allegations withered as fast as the confident faces of the accuser–and his counsel.

Semper Fi, sister.

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HERE’s Change I Can Believe In!

Well, today I marked the end of my 6th week on the MediFast weight-loss program with a milestone:  I have officially reached the 20-lb loss mark!!!!!!!  My weight today was 208.5.  My counselor and I both did a happy dance!

I am averaging about 3 1/3 lbs. a week lost.  At the end of my 4th week, I was measured again–I’ve lost 10 inches, mostly in the shoulder/upper chest area.  I feel better than I have in a long time.  Also, I’ve finally figured out how to make the diet routine work around my schedule in a year-round classroom.  A typical weekday goes like this:

5:30-awaken and shower
6:00-dress, put on make-up, dry hair
6:30-make sure Hubby is awake (his commute takes 5 minutes; mine is 35)
6:40-gather the day’s necessities, mix a MediFast hot meal with my coffee in a to-go cup
6:50-leave for work, drink coffee/meal en route
7:30-enter Education office for daily roster and participation in the daily BMC (Bitch, Moan, and Complain)
8:00-go to classroom for planning period/prepare for the day
9:00-go to cafeteria to refill water bottle
9:10-return to office to make worksheet copies; prepare and eat MediFast oatmeal or scrambled eggs,
9:30-pick up students for morning session
12:00-lunch–a MediFast soup or stew.  If there is a company BBQ that day (that happens about every 4-6 weeks), I bring a measured salad from home and take the meat only for my “lean and green.”  Refill water bottle in cafeteria and fill cold drink mug with Diet Pepsi.  Go to car to call Hubby.
12:45-pick up students for afternoon session
3:10-MediFast bar while students work independently
3:30-School ends, leave for home.
Here, the routine depends on what’s on my plate that afternoon.  If it’s a weigh-in day, I go straight to MediFast.  If I have errands to do, I’ll do them–if they keep me out long enough, I’ll have another MediFast bar between 5:30 and 6.  If I go straight home and haven’t already had a “Lean and Green,” I’ll prepare one for Hubby and me to eat between 5:30 and 6.  Even though he isn’t on MediFast, he tries to eat like I do.
At about 8:30-9:00, it’s the last meal of the day.  A MediFast shake or dessert if I’ve already had my Lean and Green, or my Lean and Green if I haven’t had it yet.
10:00ish-bedtime.

I’ve had some fun with my Lean and Greens.  I even used this fun to do my good deed for the day.  While I was there today, a gentleman was getting his initial orientation for the program.  I could hear the doubt in his voice increasing as he realized his favorite soul food dishes were going to have to be avoided for the time being.  I grabbed a post-it note from the desk and quickly scribbled down a one-serving okra gumbo recipe I’ve perfected that fits the lean and green guidelines perfectly.  When I presented it to him, the relief on his face said it all.

Being there for each other–that’s what it’s all about.


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