Ripple Effect of Kindness

Corrie ten Boom said “Every experience God gives us….is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see.”

I took my babies to Walmart today for a budgeting exercise. In short, they wanted out of the house and to spend money. They have a monthly stipend for such excursions. It’s amazing how selective they are on choosing items, when it’s their money versus ours. When we got to the checkout, there was a Caucasian woman, her mom and two kids in front of us. When it was time for them to pay, it exceeded what was available on her card. She immediately removed a box of pop tarts to deduct from the bill. She then rummaged through her bags trying to figure out what else to put back. Her daughter, who looked the same age as mine looked but didn’t say anything. I tried to think back to what I’d seen on the conveyor belt. It was nothing crazy. I remembered seeing a family pack of hamburger and a loaf of bread.

I then interjected and told her to pay what she could and I would pay the rest. She asked me if I was sure. I re-assured her I was solid in my decision and then asked the cashier to give her babies their pop tarts back. And before someone says, that was a want and not a need. My children like pop tarts and so do a lot of other folks I know. She said “ma’am I only have $100 on my EBT card and the bill is $142.” I replied “that’s fine.” The mom and the grandma cried and hugged me and asked if they could ever repay me. I told them not with money, but I have no doubt her children would one day be in a position to do the same for someone else.

Her son who was slightly older than his sister asked the mom why she was crying. She didn’t respond. The grandma made sure to tell me how God would bless me. Little did she know how very Blessed I am already.

See, I didn’t help her to expedite her transaction. I didn’t help her for blog content. I helped her because I remember being in that very spot as a child and my mom having to make tough choices at the register. I remember being embarrassed and wanting to cry. I remember how hard I know my mom worked at two-part time jobs trying to provide for me and my brother on her own and thinking people would make a snap judgment about her at the register. They’d assume she didn’t work. They’d assume she was lazy. They’d assume a whole lot of stuff that just wasn’t true. So, I helped her because I wanted to grant this woman’s children a little relief. I helped her because it was an opportunity for me to sow a seed in her children.

Little did I know that one act of kindness would have such a ripple effect. See, my children were also watching. When we got to the car Morgan said “mom, you are a really nice person. That was an awesome thing to do.” In that moment I shared with them how I felt as a child in that same predicament and how important it is for us to help others when we can and to not take our Blessings for granted but use them to help uplift people. I gave my children a charge and reminded them that whom much is given, much is also required (Luke 12:48).

I’m mighty grateful for ALL of my experiences, both good and not so good and I’m grateful for moments that remind me of God’s goodness and His perfect timing.

“Every experience God gives us….is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see.”

 

Advertisements

Black Flight

download

What happens when America’s best and brightest African Americans feel unsafe, unwanted and disrespected? They leave. Oh sure, for years white supremacist have been spewing “go back to Africa,” but what will happen to this country when we really do? Okay, so not all of us are landing bomb jobs in the motherland, but I know quite a few highly educated African Americans that are choosing to give those racists just what they asked for.

So exactly how many of us are working and living abroad? It’s a tough question since the United States doesn’t formally track how many Americans leave the US either temporarily or permanently. But I do know that a number of people of color in my circle are teaching or in school administration abroad. Some are starting businesses and taking their families with them. I personally know folks that are working in Japan, United Arab Emeritas, and South Africa.

Every time I have to say goodbye to a friend, I am thoroughly happy and excited for them. I’m excited about the surge of African Americans becoming global citizens in every sense of the word. And I totally get it. It becomes more and more difficult to fight the same fight with the same folks either denying a problem or straight up shooting people of color in the streets.

When I was younger I remember my dad talking about how African American soldiers were treated so much better in other countries. And I remember asking then, “why didn’t they stay?” The truth is, some did. Now this is not to say that people of color do not experience racism abroad. Of course we do and to be honest it has a lot to do with how our own country treats us. Those fallacies about us being lazy and uneducated perpetuates across country lines. The bigoted television programs and storylines that America has syndicated don’t help. Writing us out of storylines can be just as harmful. But what does help and is when African Americans visit, work and live in other countries and introduce our culture.

I got love for the United States of America. It’s my home. It’s the country my husband, daddy, uncles and countless other family members signed up to protect, fought for and died for. It’s where we raise our family and give back to our community. But America is hardheaded and refuses to deal with real issues that have infected it like a cancer. Racism in America will be its downfall if not dealt with head on.

Kudos to all the talented African Americans choosing to use their genius where they feel safe, wanted and respected even if it means using their passport to get there. I ain’t mad at you and we are certainly not opposed.

 

 

She’s Human, Let’s Just Roll With That

I’m a working mom. That means I juggle a lot, but I still pick up our babies each day after school, help with homework, talk about their friends, set up playdates etc.. Now don’t get me wrong, my husband is one of a kind and he’s very involved. However, last week I spent three nights away working and don’t tell them, but I missed my children. Yeah I know the same babies that I’ve prayed would give me a minute to myself. It’s funny how that works.

So while away, I found a play that I was sure they’d enjoy and I’d get to spend some much needed quality time. Grace for President was playing in Raleigh and although about an hour drive, we were up for it and they’d read the book so it was a perfect way to spend a Sunday evening. In the play, Grace Campbell realizes we haven’t had a female president. The lack of females in the White House, sparks her idea for a school election.

After a great performance we headed to the lobby for cast autographs and I ran into one of my work colleagues that lives in that area. She was there with her transgender daughter. Her daughter, which outwardly appeared male, identified as female. So she introduced her maybe 9-year old as her daughter Leah. I quickly shook Leah’s hand and told her I was happy to meet her. But then came time to introduce Leah to my two children.

Let me preface this by saying, we’ve never had this talk. We’ve never really had a reason to, plus my children are 8 and 6 and I really thought I had more time. This was my first experience meeting a transgender elementary age person and while I faced this new adventure intrepidly, I was nervous as hell to think what my children may say or how they may react. But I also thought it as a wonderful learning opportunity. So I introduced my daughter who’s 8 and wise beyond her years first. “Morgan, this is Leah.” Without hesitation or making a funny facial expression she reached for Leah’s hand and said “nice to meet you” with a warm smile. Next up was my 6-year-old son who missed his sister’s introduction because he was getting his last cast autograph. “Garrett, meet Leah,” I said. He drops his head and says “hi.” I asked if he could shake Leah’s hand, but it really wasn’t a question and he knew that. He slowly raises his right hand to meet Leah’s right hand.

I stand and make pleasantries for a few minutes about dinner plans, profession updates etc.. and I slip up once and refer to Leah as he but immediately catch myself and self correct and her mom is gracious enough to remind me gently “she.” We leave with parting hugs and go our separate ways.

When we’re beyond earshot I ask my children if we need to discuss meeting Leah and how they felt. My daughter says “well, to tell you the truth, I was a little confused. I mean she looked like a boy but she’s a girl. She’s a girl right?” “Yes she was born a boy but identifies as a girl,” I said.

“Well, does she have a penis or a vagina?” She asked. “I certainly wouldn’t know that,” I said “but I think the important thing is that we respect her wishes and refer to her as her girl.”

Insert uncomfortable pregnant pause.

“I figure it’s really none of my business,” Morgan said and to tell the truth the only thing we know for certain is that she’s human. So let’s just roll with that.”

I pat her on the back and say good that’s how I was hoping you’d look at it. I then turn to my son who’s two years younger and intensely listening. I asked him how he felt meeting someone like Leah and he said “I don’t know, I was really confused.”

“Well there’s no need to be confused,” I said. “She was introduced by her mom as a girl and so that’s what she is.” “I know that mom,” he said. “But …my eyes said she’s a boy.”

“I’m sure son, but remember that our brains tell our eyes what they see. So, like Morgan said, she’s human.” “Yup, the only thing I know for sure is she’s a person,” he said. “So let’s just roll with that.

These are not conversations my mom had to have with me, it was a different time. But there a few fundamentals I picked up as a kid that I was happy to pass on.

1) God makes each of us uniquely in His image.

2) Treat people like you want to be treated.

3) Love thy neighbors as ourselves.

I sincerely wish my colleague and her daughter the absolute best as I know first hand this world can be cruel. But I also know there’s a lot of love in it and those with it are responsible for teaching it to our children.

 

 

I Fit the Profile

I Fit the Profile

One of the hazards of having a business with products to sell is that occasionally I have to vend. The hazard isn’t in the vending, the hazard is in the travel and of course it’s always tough for a busy mom to leave midweek for a few days. None the less, I found myself packing up my 2015 Tahoe with books, filling my tank, devising alternate schedules for the kids, laying out school clothes all in preparation for two nights away for work.

Sometime, I look forward to the peaceful drive and hotel room, but for some reason, I truly wasn’t feeling this one. In fact, I reviewed the hotel cancellation policy and had I thought about it sooner, I probably would have backed out. South Carolina is a good four hours drive from my house and Tuesday is reserved for piano and violin lessons for the children. By the time I’d helped my husband feed and bathe babies it was going on 8 p.m.

The ride is smooth, barely any traffic and no rain. When I veer off I-95 to U.S. Route 501 in South Carolina it’s close to midnight and the highway signs read 55 MPH. I reduce my speed and set my cruise control to 62 MPH. I’m somewhat tired and for the first time, I turn on the radio to XM 47 and begin bopping to to lyrics from songs I partied to in college. Within 5 minutes I see blue lights behind me. At this very moment, I become fully aware of who I am, where I am and what I am driving. I dial my husband and put one earbud in my ear. “Hey, I’m being pulled by the police and I know I wasn’t going fast enough for a ticket, but just hold the line,” I say. My husband says “okay cool.”

Officer: May I have your license and registration?

Me: You can, but I’d really like to know why you stopped me.

Officer: I will tell you that after I see your license and registration.

I hand him my license and registration and he then says “You were speeding and going 68 MPH.”

Me: I’m sorry, but I had my cruise control set, so I know for a fact that I was not going nearly that fast. I was going 63 MPH.

Officer: It’s still speeding isn’t it?

Me: I suppose, but I know I wasn’t going as fast as you say I was.

He says he’ll be right back and I now feel free to speak my mind to my husband. “Ain’t this some bullshit, you know he is not going to give me a ticket and you KNOW I was not going nearly that fast.”

My Husband: “I know and you know what it is, but you have a family and children to get back home to so just keep your cool.”

A few moments pass and the officer re-appears.

Officer: “Mrs. Taylor, I’m gonna give you a warning ticket this time, but you may want to get your cruise control checked because you were going faster than you think you were.”

Me: “Thank you, but this is a 2015 Tahoe and I’m pretty sure my cruise control is accurate,” I snap back.

Officer: “Well maybe it’s your tires,” he replies.

Me: “No sir, these are not after market, they are factory, but I appreciate it. Thanks,” I say reaching for my blue written warning ticket.

I debrief my feelings about this unwarranted stop to my husband as I continue on my way. I realize that I am not angry about the stop not because of the outcome, but because I EXPECTED it. Yes, it’s a known fact that people of color are more likely to be stopped by law enforcement.

In fact, I have three African American females in my close circle that have had similar experiences in the same area. One was traveling with her elderly parents and teenage niece. She was stopped for having a sorority tag in the front of her car and asked to get out and if her car could be searched. When she refused, she was stopped less than 10 miles up the road for switching lanes. This time, K-9s were called in. None were given tickets and all felt the same as me, profiled.

I arrived to my destination about 30 minutes later and I can’t help but think about the differences people of color face every day in United States and the privileges allotted to others.

You see my first instinct when I saw blue lights behind me was to protect myself which is why I called my husband. So my natural inclination is to protect myself from those sworn to Serve and Protect??? I doubt that’s the first feeling my Caucasian friends have when stopped by law enforcement. My husband’s first inclination was to remind me to do what’s necessary to get back home safely. I also doubt that’s the first feeling my Caucasian friends have for their spouses during routine traffic stops.

Since I am a stickler for the rules, I want to be clear that my issue was not that Officer Lewis stopped me. My issue is that I don’t believe he stops everyone going 7 miles over the speed limit. I also don’t believe he gives them all traceable written warning tickets. My issue is that I live in a country that my daddy fought for, I work in, pay taxes in and I am still not allotted the same privileges as everyone else. My issue is that I have neighbors and friends that refuse to sympathize with real issues, feelings and challenges that people of color face in our country every day.

 

She gets it from her momma

Of course I’ve heard the saying “What goes around, comes around,” and parents are quick to remind you that payback is coming when you have children of your own, but this is plum ridiculous.

I was never very mischievous, not a prankster and not a bully. But I was most definitely mouthy. Oh, I would do what adults asked me, but not without stating my opinion on the matter first, even if I agreed. If you know me, clearly ain’t much changed. Never at a loss for words, they would say. She’s so articulate, they would say. But I also heard, “your mouth is going to get you in trouble,” and one of my favorites “don’t write a check your ass can’t cash.” Lord knows, my mouth has done both.

Having said all that, with sound mind and heart I still say I was not nearly as mouthy as my daughter. Yes, it’s true she came out of the womb speaking in correct sentences. She has always talked and for that I am grateful because it made my life as a new mommy easier. She was clear from the start on what she liked and what she didn’t like. What she would eat, what she wouldn’t wear, if her ear hurt, or her belly, she was always able to tell me.

Unfortunately, her communication skills are not limited to answering my questions and there lies our new issue. Sunday morning, I sent my articulate daughter into my bathroom to get a nail file. Of course despite seeing her play with it a thousand times and knowing exactly where it was she claimed she couldn’t find it. However, she did manage to find a box open it and take out a straight pin. So of course, I take it from her and tell her its dangerous and she shouldn’t have picked it up. She in turn without reservation says “well, it’s your fault, because you shouldn’t have left it where I can get it.” Wow…really, touche’.

Later that morning, she asks me if she can have some chocolate. “No babe, it’s too early in the morning for chocolate, maybe after you finish lunch,” I respond.” “But why is too early,” she asks? “I ate breakfast already.  I made my bed,” she says trying to make her case. And I interrupt her, cause I know where this is going and I repeat my position. She looks at me with her arms crossed, waits until I finish my sentence, and then says “mommy, I was talking first. You need to listen to me.”

I blink my eyes, cause I am starting to see red dots and I’m trying to remember what I learned in Anger Management class but it’s all a blur, so I just start praying. Lord, please give me the patience to deal with this child in a productive manner so that I don’t permanently injure her physically or emotionally. Please Lord I need you right now. So she must have figured out that momma praying in the middle of the kitchen is not a good sign and tabled her chocolate discussion until after lunch.

That night during our parental briefing, I bring my husband up to speed on how his daughter worked my nerves that day. We laugh at her responses and I can’t tell her but part of me is proud of how she made her case, argued effectively and raised a valid questions. I mean who said we shouldn’t have chocolate in morning?

I’m not sure what she will be when she grows up, hell I am not sure what she will say tomorrow and there are discrepancies on how much she looks like me, but one thing is for sure….pay back is a (well you fill in the blank).