The Sisterhood of Poverty

mosaicbwasAccording to the Poverty Data Fact Sheet, there were almost 18 million poor women living in the United States in 2013: White, 8.62 million; Black, 4.08 million; Hispanic, 4.17 million; Asian, 0.78 million; Native American, 0.34 million; and Foreign Born, 3.78 million.

If you isolate heads of household, there were 4 million: White, 1.34 million; Black, 1.36 million; Hispanic, 1.11 million; Asian 0.07 million; Native American, 0.08 million; and Foreign Born, 0.77 million.

Most articles citing poverty statistics focus on disproportionate rates by race and gender. Of course that is a critical concern, but in terms of sisterhood, there is one core truth to keep in mind—a person is not a data point.

Continue reading


Radical Empathy–Why Black History Month Should Matter to White Folks

Maya QuoteI have a passion for history and literature which I have passed along to my young son. He is drawn to the concept of re-imagined endings and loves to read the You Choose book series; the ending changes based on choices the reader makes throughout the story. He watches Alternate History Hub and spends hours imagining “what if” scenarios.

His 10-year-old mind (and very old soul) gets lost in a story, fiction or nonfiction; he often experiences what he thinks the characters feel so deeply, he can’t sleep. As we talk about Black History Month and what he is learning in school, we spend a lot of time discussing empathy and alternate experiences.

Just imagine for a moment–what if we reversed it? All of it.

It’s February 2015, White History Month. The first white president is serving his 2nd term in office. Throughout the country, protests continue as white people insist their lives matter.

Yes, I know your textbook says American History, but the primary focus is on Black Middle Class Men. Black History is a core requirement; learning white history is optional. Don’t be so sensitive. You white people are always race-baiting, talking about slavery and segregation—especially you angry white women. You have a white president now, what more do you want? Continue reading


hatersLast night I had the pleasure of attending the elementary school talent show. My kids weren’t in it, but we were there to support their friends. As I watched all of the wonderful kids dance, sing, play instruments and tell jokes I kept thinking how great it was none of them had learned what too many of us learn as adults–fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of criticism. Fear of compliments. Fear of not being good enough.

Oh I’m sure there were some nerves, but not that paralyzing kind that often takes over by middle school. All of the performances were straight from the heart; one not yet broken by people who only know how to tear others down because they can’t build themselves up. I hope I have taught my children it is okay to be afraid, but do it anyway.

Last year for the YMCA Summer camp show, The Maya wore a Cheshire Cat costume, played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on her kitty keyboard in meow mode and did the cup rhythm. I think she gets it.

Why You Should Tell Your Story–The Power of Remembering

journal“We do not know the true value of our moments until they have undergone the test of memory. Like the images the photographer plunges into a golden bath, our sentiments take on color; and only then, after that recoil and that transfiguration, do we understand their real meaning and enjoy them in all their tranquil splendor.” ~Georges Duhamel (The Heart’s Domain, 1919).

Three of my favorite movies of all time are The Notebook, The Story of Us, and Eat, Pray, Love. Though very different, they share a common, invisible thread that pulls viewers deep into the fabric of the journey–the inherent power in remembering.

Memories get pressed, exalted, twisted, tangled, made straight again as they evolve, inform and inspire. Readers and viewers then merge their own experience into the story and adopt it as their own. The writer becomes part of the family tapestry.

Continue reading

The Maya Mojo–Naming Your Muse

themayaIn 2006, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who as far back as I can remember has referred to herself as The Maya. If she modifies something to better suit her purpose, she announces, “This has been Mayafied.” When she sneaks up behind you, she squeals, “Unexpected Maya!”

If her brother does or says something she disagrees with we hear, “The Maya doesn’t like that Nicholas” coupled with a disapproving look only The Maya can give. If she is extremely proud of an accomplishment, she boasts, “The Maya is doing her thang!” complete with interpretive dance moves for emphasis. Continue reading