How Children Learn Who’s In and Who’s Out

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Racism. Racial languages. Systemic injustices and our kids.

When I was a girl growing up in South Carolina, my young sister and I had several friends we would play with at school, through our extra-curricular activities, on our sports teams, and even in our home. Even though we grew up in a predominately African American culture, we were exposed to different people groups. We were taught to love and welcome everybody, so we were not shy about reaching out to folks who were different.

There was an elderly couple who lived in the house behind us, and they had a grandchild who visited regularly. Occasionally, we would play with their granddaughter in their backyard. She was white. We were black. A teenager started lingering around the yard and would sporadically speak to the little girl.

One day, we went into our neighbor’s yard to play with their granddaughter. We noticed the teenager was standing beside her. She was older than all of us, so I didn’t think she would be someone who wanted to play house and make mud pies. But when we entered the yard, the granddaughter looked up at us and said, “We don’t allow niggers to play in our yard.” That was shocking, because we had played in her yard so many times before then. It was shocking because that’s the first, and only time, I had been called the N-word. It was also shocking because I didn’t know how to respond. I just took my sister’s hand, and we returned home to tell our parents this bad news.

Continue reading at The Redbud Post.

When Judging Pays Off

There is a blogger turned author named, Luvvie Ajayi. I read her blogs occasionally and follow her on social media. I do this for two reasons: a.) Luvvie understands the pulse of American culture (and in many ways, she is the pulse), and b.) Luvvie is laugh-out-loud funny, and I need that kind of healing in my life.

In September 2016, she released her first book of essays entitled, “I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual.” It instantly became a New York Times best-seller. I’m not presenting this book on Tuesdays as a recommendation for “Natasha’s Study,” although her chapters “Racism is for A**holes,” “The Privilege Principle,” and “Zamunda is Not a Country. Neither is Africa” provides the type of practical education that we all need. I’m talking about this book and its author on Thursday for “Coffee Talk” because this is the kind of thing I would talk about if I were out to lunch with girlfriends or if they were drinking coffee.

Continue reading “When Judging Pays Off”

“Hidden Figures” Teaches How Injustices Remain Hidden

I had the pleasure of watching the movie, “Hidden Figures” during opening weekend. It was a birthday gift to myself. I love seeing well written stories and brilliant acting on the big screen, and my heart gets all the more excited when those stories are being told about and by beautiful black people. Such is the case with this movie.

Who Were the Hidden Figures?

Hidden Figures is inspired by the real life stories of three African American women—Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson—who literally changed the face of NASA, the United States of America, and indeed history.

hidden-figures-poster

Throughout the movie, the all-star cast led by Academy award winner, Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan); an Academy nominee, Taraji P. Henson (Katherine Johnson); and Grammy nominee Janelle Monáe (Mary Jackson) approach the challenges of being black and woman with a great deal of intellect, grace, and even some wit. It addition to telling this great American story and introducing many of us to these American sheroes, the movie provides a history lesson and a glimpse into some of the systemic injustices that remain hidden and why.

Let me begin here: When watching a movie that is based on or inspired by a true story, it is sometimes difficult to determine how much of the movie is historically accurate and how much filler is required to effectively bring the story to light.

We know from reading the Bible that a narrative can begin in one place only to have the story pick up in another place. When that happens, we long to know the in-between (like what transitioned in Jesus’ human life between the time that his parent’s lost him and he was “about his father’s business” in the temple, until the time that he began his earthly ministry in his early thirties). Sometime we are just left wondering. At other times, we try to fill in the gaps as best we can with the information that we do know.

In this instance, there is much to know about these women themselves (especially since Katherine Johnson is still alive), the federal government system in which they were required to operate, and the time period that they grew up in to fill in the unknown gaps with some integrity.

The time period was the early 1960s in America. The focus of NASA and the federal government was the Space Race (how Americans could get into space first). The Russians beat us by successfully having the first human journey into outer space in the spring of 1961. This defeat—what American government leaders saw as humiliation on the world’s stage—along with our concern for national security and distain for Russia was the catalyst that changed the personal and professional lives of these courageous women.

Continue reading at Missio Alliance.