whatever happened to

the KKK?  I mean I know they still have rally’s and such, but to me that seems more similar to a Civil War reenactment than a gathering to further a cause.  As if they’re remembering the good old days when they had an influence.

So what happened to put the torches out?  Did skinheads take over?  Neo-nazis?  White Supremacists?  Are those simply politically correct terms for the KKK these days?  Not exactly.  Apparently the Klan got caught, convicted, and executed.  Once.  And the one time that happened, they backed off.

The legacy lives on however.  Maybe if the hoods and cloaks hadn’t been hidden away we wouldn’t be so shocked by the actions of Dunn and Zimmerman.  Or by the juries who could not bring themselves to name those actions murder.

kkk jesus saves

Here’s the case that supposedly stopped the Klan.  According to the internet, there are some who didn’t get that memo.  Seems as though we’ve taken a few steps back, unfortunately.  In this post-racial age, we don’t get convictions.

 Henry Hays and James Knowles were arrested.  Hays, convicted, was incarcerated in the Holman Correctional Facility in Escambia County, Alabama, while on death row. He was executed in the electric chair on June 6, 1997. The Associated Press reported that Hays was Alabama’s first execution for a white-on-black crime since 1913. Hays was also the only KKK member to be executed for the murder of an African-American during the 20th century. U.S. District Court Judge W. Brevard Hand sentenced Knowles, then 21 years of age, to a life sentence.  He avoided the death penalty by testifying against Hays at trial.

Donald v. United Klans of America

Popular Name:

Michael Donald Lynching Case

Shutting down the notorious United Klans
Nineteen-year-old Michael Donald was on his way to the store in 1981 when two members of the United Klans of America abducted him, beat him, cut his throat and hung his body from a tree on a residential street in Mobile, Ala.

Angry that an interracial jury had failed to convict another black man for killing a white police officer in Birmingham, the Klansmen selected Michael Donald at random and lynched him to intimidate and threaten other blacks. On the same evening, other Klan members burned a cross on the Mobile County courthouse lawn.

The two Klansmen who carried out the ritualistic killing were eventually arrested and convicted. Convinced that the Klan itself should be held responsible for the lynching, Center attorneys filed a civil suit on behalf of Donald’s mother, Beulah Mae Donald vs. United Klans. In 1987, the Center won an historic $7 million verdict against the men involved in the lynching.

The verdict marked the end of the United Klans, the same group that had beaten the Freedom Riders in 1961, murdered civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo in 1965, and bombed Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.

The group was forced to turn over its headquarters to Beulah Mae Donald, and two additional Klansmen were convicted of criminal charges.

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you don’t even know me

I posted this video on the vlog the other day…

…and then I found this clip of Tia/Tamera’s brother, Taj, addressing the same issue.  And i love it!  Makes me wonder if males are less sensitive to these things.  I mean, I already wondered that, but now i re-wonder.  Skip to 4:00 to catch the clip…

 

 

 

85

Guess who would have celebrated 85 years today….

Martin Luther King, Jr. became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for doing work to end racial segregation and discrimination in 1964.

That was 50 years ago!! Imagine what he would have done if he had lived to be 85!

haven't learned to wald as brothers and sisters mlk

mlk-peace represents

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weekend update 9/29

panda wtf

This is a weekend in which I really would have loved to have been spared further aggravation, indignation, etc.  But enough about me.

Here are three news items that ruffled my feathers, and apparently I think you should know about them.  What these stories say to me is that there is something to be said for opening up the dialogue.  I know I’m always posting pictures with words on them.  I’m certain that if I went thru these archives of “inspirational” images I would find that I do not actually believe the message in a large percentage of them.  Here’s one I recently came across that sent up a red flag:

freeman stop racism

Mr. Morgan Freeman, I love and respect you.  Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, The Shawshank Redemption, whatever that movie that you played God in was called… I freaking love that shit.  And to top it all off you funded the first racially integrated prom in Charleston, Mississippi.  Major Mahalo!

But, Mr. Freeman, do you really think that if we stop talking about it, it will stop?  Maybe you meant to say stop identifying and categorizing by race.  Which would mean me not calling myself a black girl or a biracial girl, and you not calling yourself a black man, and George Bush (either one) not calling himself a white man.  An inside-out kind of shift.  But if we just stop talking about it, Sikhs will continue to be perceived as terrorists, black folks as criminal/dangerous/depraved, and white people will be perceived as… perfectly normal.  I think we have to talk about it.  But from a place of seeking to understand the unity, not defend the separation.

For the record:  Tiffany Jones, do you really believe that Morgan Freeman actually said that just because you saw his face above those words on some random Facebook page?

All of THAT being said, on to this news.

I’m not at all surprised by Mississippi and the need for a civil rights lesson there… FOR the judge!  I am a bit surprised to come across another instance of Sikh-abuse so soon.  I suppose I’m tuned in to that community now.  Perhaps I wouldn’t have clicked on that story three months ago.  Not proud of that, but it’s the truth.  When you have experience unity and fellowship with an “other,” there remains no such thing as “other.”  How will we ever get to that place if we stay silent?

Omg, the middle one….my heart was racing and I started to sweat at the part in the story when the cop put gloves on…

Punky Brewster was a hero of mine.  By proxy Cherie also has a big piece of my heart!  SO, how dare they!?  Of course not because she’s Punky’s bestie, but because she’s a human being.   A human being who is conscious enough to approach her heritage openly and with reverence.  It truly makes my blood boil.

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I did take a nugget of love and hope from Dennis White’s narrative of the incident though.  The love and respect with which he speaks of and treats his partner struck me as truly beautiful.  The way he handled the situation…I’d wager to say this guy meditates or something fantastically woo woo like that.  Most do not expect that of a black man.  On a bad day I include myself in that group.  So, just in case it seems otherwise, everything I post on this blog is a note to self.  That makes the title “diary” a little more digestible to me.

So,the third one here is an improvement of a situation.  If that wrong is righted, there will be clear-cut, undeniable manifestation of something positive coming out of something tragic.  The positive will be an acquittal for Marissa Alexander.  The tragic is literally the verdict in the George Zimmerman case.  Figuratively, I suppose it’s the death of Trayvon Martin.  What a huge universal purpose that youngster served.  Sat Nam.

Mississippi County Gets Civil Rights Lesson From A Harassed Sikh Truck Driver

AUTHOR:  SEPTEMBER 28, 2013

In a move that Mississippi might be regretting, a Sikh man was arrested and humiliated in the state over refusing to remove religious attire. The incident happened last January when Jagjeel Singh, a long-distance truck driver, was stopped by state police officers for driving with a flat tire. During the stop, they harassed and mocked him for wearing a turban, while one officer stated that all Sikhs are ‘depraved’ and ‘terrorists’.

JagjeetSingh_MissisipiCase-trimmed

 Jagjeel Singh

Finally, the officers told Singh that the small, sheathed ceremonial sword, called a kirpan, that he was wearing was illegal. This isn’t true, but they ordered him to remove it. The kirpan is sewn into the waistband of a Sikh man’s trousers and is a sacred religious object, which Singh tried to explain. He declined to remove it and asked that he not be forced to do so. The result of this request was that he was arrested for refusing to obey a police command.

Matters got worse from here. The rest of the nation has long been accustomed to hearing about the abuses of Mississippi police officers when it comes to members of minority groups. Usually, the justice system isn’t much better — and that’s certainly the situation in this case. In March, Singh showed up for his hearing before the Pike County Court. As he sat in the courtroom waiting for his case to be called, four policemen approached to eject him from the room — at the judge’s behest.

Judge Aubrey Rimes ordered the removal because he didn’t like the turban Mr. Singh was wearing, which is also of religious significance. In chambers, the judge confirmed to the defendant’s lawyer that not only did he order the removal, but if Singh didn’t take off the turban, he would wait until all the cases were heard before calling up that one. And that’s precisely what happened. Singh spent the day waiting for his ‘turn’.

However, unlike many who have been targeted for discrimination in the state, Mr. Singh was not all on his own to face the Mississippi ‘justice’ system. First, the United Sikhs organization got involved, providing him with legal representation. Local lawyer LeeAnn Slipher not only stood up for her client in court, negotiating for charges to be dropped and her client released, but was a vital witness to the abuse that took place at the hands of the judge.

With irrefutable evidence available, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division opened an investigation and the results have been relatively immediate. Pike County agreed to institute sensitivity training and to revise their nondiscrimination policy in return for an end to the investigation. The county’s policy now specifically says that religious discrimination includes:

 … requiring an individual to remove a head covering or denying that individual access to a County office, building, program or activity because they are wearing a head covering, if that head covering is worn for religious reasons.

Although Mississippi has been notoriously bad at dealing with civil rights issues, there is hope that the good news doesn’t stop there — especially since federal intervention has already taken place at the county level. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to the Mississippi Department of Transportation, asking for an investigation of its officers on harassment charges. The ACLU also announced plans to file a complaint with the Mississippi Judicial Commission, in cooperation with United Sikhs, asking for an investigation of Judge Rimes and for the imposition of consequences for his actions.

The outcome, of course, will depend on watchful eyes from elsewhere in the nation.

 

Two Hollywood Actors Get Stopped, But Not For An Autograph

by: Krystol Diggs  Posted September 28, 2013

Being violated is something that many haven’t had a chance to go through. Although we never want it to happen at all, it does and it happened to actors Cherie Johnson and Dennis White. Cherie Johnson, who is known for her roles in Punky Brewster, Family Matters, etc and Dennis White who was in the film Notorious, a story about the late Christopher Wallace also known as “ Biggie Smalls” never imagined their vacation to be an experience they would never forget. As an African American myself I must say that this situation is has saddened me. Racism should cease to exist. Ms. Johnson and Mr. White should never have been violated to the fullest extent that it entailed. I hope that this article will show that we as people should be united as one and not divided.  Dennis White explained to me the terrible ordeal, here is his story.

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On September 22nd, 2013 at approximately 3:40pm, I was reminded that at the end of the day I can be harassed by the police at their will. Regardless of how many movies or TV shows I have been in. Regardless of my education at WSSU. Regardless of how much money or accolades I have garnered. Regardless of my journeys across the globe. I will be forever at the white officer’s mercy.

My lady and I have had a long trip teaching our Acting workshops in NYC and in Fayetteville, NC, my hometown. We have been out of L.A. for about 10 days and we needed some R&R. I suggested Myrtle Beach because she has never been there before and it can be romantic in nature. Myrtle Beach was the place in which I acted in my very first film, “Swimming”, so there is a special place in my heart for that town. Well, we decided to leave Sunday afternoon between football games and to avoid heavy traffic and to make it to Myrtle before the Steelers(her favorite team) played. We laughed, kissed, held hands, talked and had a pleasant time traveling from NC to SC. We had no idea that our trip would turn into a horrible nightmare.

We entered South Carolina and within 20 minutes or so we were pulled over by 2 police cars. They stated that I was driving 40 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone. I disagreed but there was nothing I could do. He presented me with a citation that I planned on fighting. So, the Officer began to warn us that we should be careful because there are other officers on the prowl. We heeded his advice and continued on our “romantic” getaway. Once we entered the highway to reach Myrtle beach, We began to see cotton fields. I was cognitive of my speed limit. Didn’t want to attract any other police interactions. Well, there was a cotton field that was on the right side of the road and my lady was intrigued by it. The history of our ancestors picking cotton and being enslaved tugged at her heartstrings. Being a man who desires to accommodate his woman, I decided to pull over and let her experience the connection with the angst of our ancestry.

There was a paved driveway that led to a small cotton field. The oil change light came on so it was the perfect reason to pull over. I pulled over and we both exited the rental vehicle (Ford Fusion, great car! I need one of these in my life) and we took in the history and the oppression that those little white balls created decades ago. Tears welled up and the vindication of being free and willing to pursue our dreams unabashed gave us power. We took several pictures just to document the experience. I grew up in North Carolina so this is nothing new to me but to experience this with the woman I love was monumental. As we walked back to the car we noticed a cop car with it’s lights on making a u-turn and parked right behind us. My lady, proceeded to walk towards his car and state, “I just wanted to take a picture!” The Officer, S. Barfield, grabbed his gun and told her to sit in the car.

While in the car, we chuckled and connected on the thought that this is just the icing to our trip. The officer approached my side of the car and asked for license and registration. I complied and he went back to his vehicle to run my identity. Everything came back clean. He began to ask me a plethora of questions. I showed him the flyer from the Acting workshop we just held in Fayetteville the previous day. I informed him of our credentials and what we do for a living. He told me to exit the vehicle. I complied. He brought me to the back of the car and asked me more questions. He asked me my woman’s name and I answered, “Cherie Johnson”. He left me and questioned her. I assumed to validate my answers. He returned to his car and approached me and told me that there was a warrant for her arrest. I told him he had to be mistaken. He presented that info to her and she disputed that. He returned to his vehicle and within 5 minutes he approached her and admitted that she didn’t have a warrant. By this time I am hot, confused and annoyed. He asked me several more questions and then asked if he could search the car. I am not a lawyer but I know some of my rights. I refused. He walked over to Cherie and asked her several more questions. He left her and entered his car and put gloves on.

Cherie-Johnson-Child

Officer Barfield approached me and told me to turn around. I asked him if I was being arrested. He said, “No”. He proceeded to put handcuffs on me rather tight and aggressively. I inquired why was I being cuffed. He had no specific reasoning. He then proceeded to approach my lady and tell her to get out of the car and he handcuffed her. At this time I became distraught. I have been racially profiled several times in my lifetime but it touched my core when my woman was included. The officer put us both behind the car and chided us. Another cop car arrived and he was very nice. He asked me my name. He immediately recognized my lady.

The first officer began to ask us about drugs. He continuously made reference to the fact that if we had marijuana he would just write us up for a citation and let us go. We refuted the claim of us possessing anything illegal. He told Cherie that we could be hiding a dead body in the trunk. He threatened to arrest us for trespassing and petty larceny. At that point, I decided that I should let him search the car. The bugs were eating me up and I felt guilty for having my Woman in handcuffs.

He searched the inside of the car ,went through her purse and found several hundred dollars. He questioned the possession of that money. He then searched my bag and found a stack of money, which he questioned as well. As he looked into the front pocket of my bag he told me to come closer. “Look what I found”, he stated. “Is this marijuana? “ I looked and told him, “No, that’s a tea bag”. He had to agree. He then told me he has a tester to see if it was marijuana. I told him to do as he wishes. He finished searching the whole car and found nothing. He un-cuffed us and let us go. No apology, no nothing.

At no point in history is this justified, especially not in this day and age. The equality that our forefathers fought so hard to obtained does not stretched across the board. South Carolina has been known to treat African-American as second-class citizens. It’s not right and it’s not fair. I will not stop until this incident is made public and that racist cop, Barfield, is reprimanded and punished. That was one of the worse days of my life and I plan on making it one of his as well. If you are reading this, please share, please discuss, please inform your family, friends, co-workers and associates that “Officer S. Barfield” in Marion County, SC is a racist cop and his punishment is imminent. We will not stand for this injustice anymore!!!

Marissa Alexander, Woman Sentenced To 20 Years For Firing Warning Shot, Gets New Trial

By GARY FINEOUT 09/26/13

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida woman serving 20 years in prison for firing a shot at her estranged husband during an argument will get a new trial, though she will not be able to invoke a “stand your ground” defense, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

The case of Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville mother of three, has been used by critics of Florida’s “stand your ground” law and mandatory minimum sentences to argue that the state’s justice system is skewed against defendants who are black.

The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that Alexander deserves a new trial because the trial judge handling her case did not properly instruct the jury regarding what is needed to prove self-defense.

The ruling, written by Judge Robert Benton, said the instructions constituted a “fundamental error” and required Alexander to prove self-defense “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But the court also made it clear in its ruling that the judge was right to block Alexander from using the state’s “stand your ground” law as a way to defend her actions. That law generally removes people’s duty to retreat in the face of possible danger and allows them to use of deadly force if they believe their lives are in danger.

Faith Gay, one of the attorneys representing the 33-year-old Alexander, said she was grateful for the “thorough consideration” provided by the appeals court.

“We are looking forward to taking the case back to trial,” Gay said.

Alexander had never been arrested before she fired a bullet at a wall one day in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her. Nobody was hurt, but the judge in the case said he was bound by state law to sentence her to 20 years in prison after she was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Alexander has maintained that the shot fired was a warning shot.

The sentencing sparked criticism from the local NAACP chapter and the district’s African-American congresswoman, who said blacks more often are incarcerated for long periods because of overzealous prosecutors and judges bound by mandatory minimum sentences.

State Attorney Angela Corey, who oversaw the prosecution of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, has stood by the handling of Alexander’s case. Corey said she believes that Alexander aimed the gun at the man and his two sons, and that the bullet she fired could have ricocheted and hit any of them.

Jackelyn Barnard, a spokeswoman for Corey, said that the conviction was reversed on a legal technicality and that the office was gratified that the “stand your ground” ruling was upheld.

Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, called the ruling a “welcome development in a case that represents the double standards in our justice system.”

“From the streets to the courthouse, race continues to influence the judicial process, and it certainly seemed to have played a role here,” Jealous said in a statement issued by the civil rights organization.

The state’s “10-20-life” law was implemented in 1999 and credited with helping to lower the violent crime rate. Anyone who shows a gun in the commission of certain felonies gets an automatic 10 years in prison. Fire the gun, and it’s an automatic 20 years. Shoot and wound someone, and it’s 25 years to life.

On Aug. 1, 2010, Alexander was working for a payroll software company. She was estranged from her husband, Rico Gray, and had a restraining order against him, even though they’d had a baby together just nine days earlier. Thinking he was gone, she went to their former home to retrieve the rest of her clothes, family members said.

An argument ensued, and Alexander said she feared for her life when she went out to her vehicle to get the gun she legally owned. She came back inside and ended up firing a shot into the wall, which ricocheted into the ceiling.

Gray testified that he saw Alexander point the gun at him and looked away before she fired the shot. He claimed that she was the aggressor, and that he had begged her to put away the weapon.

The judge threw out Alexander’s “stand your ground” self-defense claim, noting that she could have run out of the house to escape her husband but instead got the gun and went back inside. Alexander rejected a plea deal that would have resulted in a three-year prison sentence and chose to go to trial. A jury deliberated 12 minutes before convicting her.

Alexander was also charged with domestic battery four months after the shooting in another assault on Gray. She pleaded no contest and was sentenced to time served.

Supporters of Alexander have asked Gov. Rick Scott to pardon Alexander, but her case has not yet been taken by the state’s clemency board.

Mandatory Minimums Marissa Alexander, seen here purchasing cosmetics in Tampa, Fla. Alexander had never been arrested before she fired a bullet at a wall one day in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her. Nobody got hurt, but this month a northeast Florida judge was bound by state law to sentence her to 20 years in prion. (AP photo/Lincoln B. Alexander)

get him

beard force

The news story below is profoundly upsetting to me.  Not only because I become indignant in the face of injustice and cruelty, but also because a major and beautiful element of my super-special summer was a Sikh.  A Sikh taught me how to free my mind and body (through kundalini yoga and mantra) thereby connecting me back into my heavily guarded heart.  Her name is Nirinjan Kaur Khalsa, and I obvi think the world of her.  So, I read this news item and I think of Nirinjan and her family and my heart becomes heavy.  And then I think of all of the black people who experience(d) the constant threat of this type of… terrorism incident.  Back when there was no such thing as a hate crime, but there such a thing as nigger hunting.  I don’t mean to be rude or abrasive.  I mean to be truthful.

ATF 1995 nigger hunting liscense

 

 

 

via

How many black men, young and old heard “get him” as they were walking down a street?… or in their nightmares?  What kind of armor does that compel a person to take up?  In 2013, when a man is aquitted for shooting a black teenager armed only with a bag of skittles, what message does that send to a community about the value of it’s lives in this society? I think we can look around and see the answer to that.  Heavy armor,  is all I know to call it. And a message of meritlessness.

I hope you will take the 6-7 minutes it takes to watch the video interview with Professor Singh.  Here are a few things that stood out as insightful and relevant to this discussion at large:

  1. (In) the Sikh community, having a turban and a beard is…a trigger for fear in the mind of a large fraction of Americans who may not know that it’s an integral component of the sikh tradition. (That) is part of the problem.
  2. ….reach out to people so they don’t feel afraid to ask, “What’s that turban? What’s that beard all about? Who are you? Are you American or not? …Learn to invite people to ask those basic questions.  People have to not be afraid to ask those basic questions.

My thought on item number one is that there are stereotype-upholding attributes (physical and/or behavioral) of “african-american” people that trigger fear in the mind of a large fraction of Americans.  And that must be a really large number because this fear response thing has been so deeply ingrained our collective subconscious that even “african americans” can be fearful of other “african americans” for no reason other than that they “are” “african american”.  (I know that that was a lot of quotation marks.  Every one of them deliberate, btw.)  That is indeed a part of the problem.  A solution may be a conscious effort on everyone’s part to understand the roots of those particular attributes and to hold the intention of healing the historical trauma.  That may mean, if you’re white, consistently seeking to understand even after you are met with the discomfort of knowing that it is truly a privilege not to be laden with such a heavy historic burden and that, while you have every right to that freedom, you are no more entitled to it than any other living creature.  If you are black it may mean seeking to understand the suffering, overcoming,  nobility, and grace that come along with this history, but not ignoring the dysfunction and self destructive ways born out of a system designed to maintain a certain heirarchy.  A system that is so well implemented that we take it for granted.  We take it for truth and we create our reality on it’s baseless foundation.  We form our identities around it and we become another fragment of the illusion unwittingly yet obediently holding it in place.

The second quote struck me as wise and necessary.  It also took me back to Maui.  The moment I met Nirinjan.  Backstory- I was in Maui for The Daily Love: Enter the Heart retreat led by Daily Love founder Mastin Kipp.  Mastin Kipp = major catalyst for my growth, so I obvi think the world of him as well- Anyway, we all gathered for the first time and Mastin introduced Nirinjan and immediately asked her to explain Sikhism and her turban and to assure us that she was not a terrorist.  Point Blank.  Just like that.  He made it safe to ask, to be curious.  He acknowledged the stereotypes and the triggers that may surface in the presence of a turban.  There was nervous laughter amongst the group.  Some expressed shock.  But Mastin was like, “we see turban, we think terrorist.”  Just like that.  Point blank.  With no judgement about any of it.  Just focusing on the truth and then… the Truth.  We all need to do that.

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But the responsibility does not fall completely on the shoulders of the one perceived as different.  The one with the questions has a duty here, too.  The way I see it that duty is to ask the questions in a way that acknowledge your ignorance and does not impose a sense of “otherness/strangeness/weird” on the person who has piqued your curiosity.  Also be genuinely interested and curious.  Seek to understand and see it from a fresh perspective.  More simply, be respectful.  So much of this has been born out of a lack of respect.  All around.  It’s really all just one big misunderstanding.

Sikh Professor Attacked in Potential Hate Crime

VIA

On Saturday night Dr. Prabhjot Singh was brutally attacked in his neighborhood by a large group of young men, who yelled the words “Osama,” “terrorist,” and “get him.” He says they grabbed his beard, punched him, and dragged him to the ground where they continued to beat him. He was rushed to the hospital with a fractured jaw and several missing teeth. Singh is Sikh and wears a turban and beard, and says he’s been profiled as a Muslim and attacked in the past, although never so violently.

Singh is a professor at Columbia University, and is also a practicing physician. In addition he has also been an advocate for addressing historic discrimination against Sikhs in the U.S., which he says goes beyond mistaking this ethnic group for Muslims. The suspects have not yet been detained.

Video Interview with Professor Singh

Click here to Meet a Sikh Family

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Jy0TOw1sBkU

now…

cheerios meme

Certainly you’ve heard of this, right?  The barrage of hateful comments left under the commercial featuring a mixed race family on Cheerios’ YouTube channel.  Comments so offensive that General Mills deleted and disabled them.  “It’s 2013!!!” is the gist of the typical response from “normal” people on the internet.  “I want to eat so many Cheerios right now,” was quite literally my response.  And I got a little choked up.  Not about the comment fiasco.  I stopped getting choked up about youtube comments years ago, thank God, and it comes as absolutely no surprise to me that hateful voices rose from the trollers. None.  So all I’m left with is this beautiful commercial, with this adorable child who makes some sincerely delightful faces depicted in a family that almost resembles mine in a way that I cannot recall having seen before.  Ever.  I am 36 years old.  I was in commercials as a kid.  I have never seen a commercial like this.  That is what is shocking.  That in 2013, this near-revolutionary advertising.  People took note, did double takes.  Heads were scratched.  Fears and tempers were flared.  Clearly this is long overdue.  So, thank you Cheerios!! Thank you for looking at your community and your consumers and seeing what is actually in front of you. And being “bold” enough to “endorse” it.  By endorsing reality, you make us face it and give us the opportunity to adjust to it.  Maybe even to like it You reflect me and all the others like me who had never experienced the normalization of our lives in a television commercial. This makes for a healthier society.  That makes for a healthier me.

And then there’s this! Maybe it’s not as bad as it seems after all.

Turns Out Americans Love ‘Controversial’ Cheerios Ad

Perhaps Racist YouTubers Not Representative of Country as a Whole

By: 
June 5, 2013

Last week, a new ad from Cheerios was deemed controversial when media outlets discovered that the racist contingent of the idiocracy known as the YouTube comment section trashed the ad for featuring a mixed-race couple and a biracial child.

But according to data from Ace Metrix, Americans like the ad. In fact, “Good for Your Heart” (called “Just Checking” on YouTube) tested the highest of six new Cheerios ads this year and garnered attention and likeability scores 9% and 11% “above the current 90-day norm for cereals.”

General Mills rightly decided not to be swayed by the rantings of deranged internet comments, telling USA Today that the supposed uproar would not affect future casting decisions.

According to Ace Metrix, the ad — created by Saatchi & Saatchi, New York — “appealed to all age/gender demographics with the exception of males over 50.” While that could be taken as a statement on racial attitudes, Ace Metrix noted that ads with babies tend to perform poorly with this demographic regardless of the race of the child.

The report, which surveyed over 500 consumers, went on to note: “The ad scored best with African-Americans, who collectively scored the ad a 721, followed by Asian Americans and Hispanics. While African Americans and Hispanics generally award advertising higher scores than their ethnic counterparts — the 721 score is 100 higher than average for African-Americans.”

And filtering verbatim commentary from those surveyed, those who specifically mentioned “couple” did so in a positive manner.

“I liked that the couple is mixed race,” wrote one respondent. “Good to see that on TV, but in a subtle manner.”

WordCloudCheerios

word cloud from Ace Metrix survey comments

race manners

Since I’ve been back on the blog, I have said very little about the so-called biracial experience.  It amazes me that it’s still easier, even for me with all of my good “mixed” intentions, to talk about black and white.  I forgive myself for this because without the black and white there is no mixed.  Without the baggage of white vs. black stuff, there is no need for the mixed discussion.  So, I suppose it’s only natural.  It is little disappointing personally that the middle ground isn’t where the conversation begins for me.  It’s on the ends of the spectrum.  But I also suppose that this is natural.  I suppose this has been the disappointment of my life.  And I suppose that this is how we get to the middle ground.  By exploring the ends and inching toward the middle.

A couple of things in Jenee Harris’ article jumped out at me:

1. “My white mother has developed an acute sensitivity to the subtle ways prejudice and bigotry pop up in daily life.”- 

I wonder if my father would say he has developed the same.  I think so…I think that happened when he entered into a relationship with my (black) mother and grew deeper as he witnessed my experience… but we never talk about it…

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me with my parents:)

2. “Well-intended”- re: “adults loved to tell me that people paid “good money” for hair like mine (think 1980s-era perms on white women)” and “A friend got the biscuit analogy…: God burned black people and undercooked white people, but removed her from the heavenly oven at the perfect moment.”

Well…if the intention of the (white) person who said this is to make the biracial person feel better about the perceived plight of their kind…well…i guess one could count that as a good or harmless intention. But I think that summation signifies complacence.  I, however, have to challenge this notion.  You see, giver of said “compliment,” in your quest to make me feel better about being my invisible, displaced, misunderstood, marginalized and tragic self you put me on the receiving end of your pity, your assumptions and judgements.  I do believe this is usually unconscious.  I also must acknowledge that it is an assumption I’m making. Yet there’s a reason that I assume that this is the intention behind the compliments.  The assumption is based on experience, but even those are dangerous to make. It’s the tone with which these comments are usually, subtly uttered.  If you’ve been the biracial person in this kind of conversation, I think you know what I mean.

When I engage in this kind of innocent interaction I can be left feeling frustrated, upset, and worst of all unseen.  It is depressing.  It is literally a depression of my spirit.  Of my freedom.  A depression of my freedom to just be and simply experience this life without being saddled with the weight of the stigma of a couple hundred years of prejudice, condemnation, fear, greed, inferiority, superiority, discrimination, and antagonism.  My take on it is that some people assuage a fleeting feeling of guilt over the fact that this is the biracial’s lot in life by reminding us (and/or reminding themselves) that I should be happy because I have good hair and tan skin which, I infer from your comments, should make up for the fact that on the whole the society we live in cannot acknowledge or understand how I exist.  I thought there was more to that sentence, but I think that’s it.  Our nation’s identity continues to be wrapped up in race and all the baggage that comes with it.  For that to remain intact, biracial just can’t really be.  I don’t think that needs to remain intact.  I think things are shifting.  So slowly.  But they are shifting and I hope I stay awake enough to the shift to feel when my assumptions based on past experience are truly no longer valid.

On the other hand, I’m fairly certain that most of my response falls into the category of  “Oh, come on, stop being so sensitive.

Or am I just being truthful?  That’s the stuff that this brought up for me.

Biracial Children: Racism Advice for White Parents

Race Manners: Comments about the superior beauty of your biracial child aren’t just weird — they’re troubling.

By Jenée Desmond-Harris

Updated Monday April 8, 2013

The Root –

“I’m a Caucasian woman with a biracial child (her father is black). I live in a predominantly white community. Why is it that whenever people discover that I have a ‘mixed’ child, they always say things like, ‘Oh, he/she must be so cute/gorgeous/adorable, those kids are always the best looking. You are so lucky.’ 

I know they mean well, but it seems off to me, and maybe racist. Do they mean compared to ‘real’ black children? When a German and Italian or an Asian and Jewish person have a child, black people don’t say, ‘Mixed children like yours are always the best looking.’ (Plus, it’s not true — not all black-white biracial kids are the ‘best looking.’)

Am I being overly sensitive by feeling there’s something off about these comments? If not, what’s the best way to respond?”

I chose this question for the first installment of Race Manners, The Root‘s new advice column on racial etiquette and ethics, because it hits close to home. Like your daughter, I’m biracial. Like you, my white mother has developed an acute sensitivity to the subtle ways prejudice and bigotry pop up in daily life. I should know. She calls me to file what I’ve deemed her “racism reports.”

And let’s be clear. Americans of all races say bizarre things to and about mixed people, who can inspire some of the most revealing remarks about our black-white baggage. Just think of the public debates about how MSNBC’s Karen Finney, and even President Obama, should be allowed to identify.

But the comments in your question often come from a good place, and they’re often said with a smile. When I was a child, adults loved to tell me that people paid “good money” for hair like mine (think 1980s-era perms on white women) and for tanning beds (again, it was the ’80s and ’90s) to achieve my skin color. Thus, the grown-up argument went, I should be happy (even if these trends didn’t stop people from petting my curls as if I were an exotic poodle, nor did they give me the straight blond hair I envied, and it’s not as if I was on the receiving end of the beauty-shop payments).

A friend got the biscuit analogy. Wait for it: God burned black people and undercooked white people, but removed her from the heavenly oven at the perfect moment, she was told.

Awkward. Well-intended. Poorly thought-through. A window into our shared cultural stuff about identity. These statements are all these things at once.

That’s another reason I selected your question. When it comes to remarks that are so obviously dead-wrong to some of us, and so clearly innocuous to others, there’s often little energy for or interest in breaking down the explanation that lies between “Ugh, so ignorant!” and “Oh, come on, stop being so sensitive.”

I’ll try it out here.

You’re right to be bothered by the remarks from the Biracial Babies Fan Club. Here’s why: These people aren’t pulling an arbitrary appreciation for almond-colored skin and curls from the ether. Instead — even if they are not aware of this — they’re both reflecting and perpetuating troubling beliefs that are bigger than their individual tastes. Specifically, while “mixed kids are the cutest” is evenhanded on its face, treating both black and white (and all other ethnic groups) as inferior to your daughter, I hear it as anti-black.

As Marcia Dawkins, the author of Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity, told me, “The myth that mixed-race offspring are somehow better than nonmixed offspring is an example of ‘hybrid vigor,’ an evolutionary theory which states that the progeny of diverse varieties within a species tend to exhibit better physical and psychological characteristics than either one or both of the parents.”

mixie girl

And just take a wild guess how this idea has popped up for black people. You got it: In order to demean and oppress African Americans, thought leaders throughout history, including the likes of Thomas Jefferson, have said that black-white mixed offspring are better, more attractive, smarter, etc., than “real” blacks and not as good or attractive or smart as “real” whites, Dawkins explains.

So alleging that mixed kids are the best of anything sounds different when you consider that we’ve long put a wholesale premium on all that’s whiter and brighter.

Nowhere is that premium more stubbornly applied today than when it comes to the topic at the center of your question — beauty and attractiveness. In recent memory, we had to re-litigate the harms of colorism when Zoe Saldana was cast to play the lead in a Nina Simone biopic. Tamar Braxton and India.Arie have both been accused of bleaching skin — as if that would be a reasonable thing to do.

A writer lamented in a personal essay for xoJane that she was sick and tired of being complimented for what black men viewed as her “mixed” or “exotic” (read: nonblack) physical features. (As far as I know, “you look a little black” is not a common line of praise among other groups.) Black girls still pick the white dolls in recreated Kenneth Clark experiments. Harlem moms can’t get Barbie birthday decorations in the color of their little princesses. We treated rapper Kendrick Lamar like the department store that featured a wheelchair-bound model in an ad campaign when he cast a dark-skinned woman as a music-video love interest.

Against this backdrop of painful beliefs that people of all colors buy into, yes, “Mixed kids are the cutest” should sound “off.”

As the mom of a mixed kid, you signed up for more than just the task of venturing into the “ethnic” aisle of the drugstore and learning about leave-in conditioner. You took on the work of hearing things like this through the ears of your daughter, and you agreed to have a stake in addressing racism. The fact that these comments bothered you means you’re on the job.

So if it’s at all possible, you should explain everything I’ve said above to people who announce that your daughter is gorgeous based on racial pedigree alone. If you’re shorter on time or familiarity, you could try a reminder that there’s really no such thing as genetic purity in the first place (“Great news, if that’s true, since most of us — including you – are mixed”). As an alternative, the old cocked-head, confused look, combined with “What makes you say that?” always puts the onus back on the speaker to think about what he or she is really saying.

Finally, just a simple, “Thanks, I think she’s beautiful, but I don’t like the implication that it’s because of her ethnic makeup,” could open up an important introductory conversation about why comments about superior biracial beauty aren’t true and aren’t flattering, and why the beliefs they reflect aren’t at all “cute.”

before this hurts too much

Need race-related advice? Send your questions to racemanners@theroot.com.

The Root‘s staff writer, Jenée Desmond-Harris, covers the intersection of race with news, politics and culture. She wants to talk about the complicated ways in which ethnicity, color and identity arise in your personal life — and provide perspective on the ethics and etiquette surrounding race in a changing America.

responsible?

So, I’m sitting here completely stunned by this and unsure how to process it.  It’s not the “possibility” that the government was involved in the assassination that has me floored, but that I have never heard of this trial before.  I wasn’t sure I could believe that the trial even happened.  I came across this on April Fool’s Day after all.  But it seems to be no joke.  The King Center seems to be legit.  The NYTimes made some brief mention of the trial.  However this is not common knowledge.  At least, not to the best of my knowledge.  I can only say that I am truly befuddled.  Yep, befuddled.  The 45th anniversary of the assassination is days away: 6:01 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, 1968.

mlk assassination suit

Assassination Conspiracy Trial

Martin King’s family: share civil trial case that US govt assassinated Martin

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Coretta Scott King: “We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.” – King Family Press Conference, Dec. 9, 1999.

From the King Center on the  family’s civil trial that found the US government guilty in Martin’s assassination:

After four weeks of testimony and over 70 witnesses in a civil trial in Memphis, Tennessee, twelve jurors reached a unanimous verdict on December 8, 1999 after about an hour of deliberations that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. In a press statement held the following day in Atlanta, Mrs. Coretta Scott King welcomed the verdict, saying , “There is abundant evidence of a major high level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. And the civil court’s unanimous verdict has validated our belief. I wholeheartedly applaud the verdict of the jury and I feel that justice has been well served in their deliberations. This verdict is not only a great victory for my family, but also a great victory for America. It is a great victory for truth itself. It is important to know that this was a SWIFT verdict, delivered after about an hour of jury deliberation. The jury was clearly convinced by the extensive evidence that was presented during the trial that, in addition to Mr. Jowers, the conspiracy of the Mafia, local, state and federal government agencies, were deeply involved in the assassination of my husband. The jury also affirmed overwhelming evidence that identified someone else, not James Earl Ray, as the shooter, and that Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame. I want to make it clear that my family has no interest in retribution. Instead, our sole concern has been that the full truth of the assassination has been revealed and adjudicated in a court of law… My husband once said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” To-day, almost 32 years after my husband and the father of my four children was assassinated, I feel that the jury’s verdict clearly affirms this principle. With this faith, we can begin the 21st century and the new millennium with a new spirit of hope and healing.”

mlk w:father and son 1963

1963

TRANSCRIPTS

View Full Trial Transcript>

View Transcript of King Family Press Conference on the Verdict>

KING FAMILY STATEMENT ON MEDIA REQUESTS REGARDING THE MEMPHIS VERDICT

The King family stands firmly behind the civil trial verdict reached by twelve jurors in the Memphis, Tennessee courtroom on December 8, 1999.

An excerpt from remarks made by Mr. Dexter Scott King, Chairman, President, and CEO of The King Center, during the December 9, 1999 press conference regarding the verdict that may be used in support of this family decision:

“We can say that because of the evidence and information obtained in Memphis we believe that this case is over. This is a period in the chapter. We constantly hear reports, which trouble me, that this verdict creates more questions than answers. That is totally false. Anyone who sat in on almost four weeks of testimony, with over seventy witnesses, credible witnesses I might add, from several judges to other very credible witnesses, would know that the truth is here.”

The question now is, “What will you do with that?” We as a family have done our part. We have carried this mantle for as long as we can carry it. We know what happened. It is on public record. The transcripts will be available; we will make them available on the Web at some point. Any serious researcher who wants to know what happened can find out.”

The King family feels that the jury’s verdict, the transcripts of the conspiracy trial, and the transcripts of the King family’s press conference following the trial — all of which can be found on The King Center’s website — include everything that that family members have to say about the assassination.

Therefore, the King family shares the conviction that there is nothing more to add to their comments on record and will respectfully decline all further requests for comment.

destined to repeat history

Memphis Jury Sees Conspiracy in Martin Luther King’s Killing

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By EMILY YELLIN
Published: December 09, 1999

A jury in a civil suit brought by the family of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decided today that a retired Memphis cafe owner was part of a conspiracy in the 1968 killing of Dr. King.

The jury’s decision means it did not believe that James Earl Ray, who was convicted of the crime, fired the shot that killed Dr. King.

After four weeks of testimony and one hour of deliberation, the jury in the wrongful-death case found that Loyd Jowers as well as ”others, including governmental agencies” had been part of a conspiracy. The jury awarded the King family the damages they had sought: $100, which the family says it will donate to charity.

The family has long questioned Mr. Ray’s conviction and hoped the suit would change the legal and historical record of the assassination.

”This is a vindication for us,” said Dexter King, the youngest son of Dr. King.

He said he hoped history books would be rewritten to reflect this version of the assassination.

Mr. Jowers, 73 and in failing health, owned Jim’s Grill in 1968, a restaurant opposite the motel where Dr. King was shot and just below the second-floor rooming house from which, according to James Earl Ray’s confession in 1969, Mr. Ray fired the single shot that killed Dr. King. Mr. Ray, who recanted his confession, hinted at a conspiracy. He died in prison last year while serving a 99-year sentence.

Mr. Jowers, in a 1993 television interview, said that he had hired a Memphis police officer to kill Dr. King from the bushes behind his restaurant. Mr. Jowers said he had been paid to do so by a Memphis grocery store owner with Mafia connections.

In an unlikely alliance, the King family was represented in the case by William Pepper, who had been Mr. Ray’s lawyer. The King family maintains that Mr. Pepper’s version of the assassination is the one that gets at the real truth behind Dr. King’s death, not the official version with Mr. Ray as the gunman.

Mr. Pepper said federal, state and Memphis governmental agencies, as well as the news media conspired in the assassination.

Mr. Jowers’s lawyer, Lewis Garrison, had said since the trial began that he agreed with 80 percent of Mr. Pepper’s conspiracy theories and disagreed only on the extent of his client’s involvement. In his closing argument today, Mr. Garrison repeated what he had said through the trial that his client participated in the conspiracy but did not know that it was a plot to kill Dr. King.

One juror, David Morphy, said after the trial, ”We all thought it was a cut and dried case with the evidence that Mr. Pepper brought to us, that there were a lot of people involved, everyone from the C.I.A., military involvement, and Jowers was involved.”

John Campbell, an assistant district attorney in Memphis, who was not part of the civil proceedings but was part of the criminal case against Mr. Ray, said, ”I’m not surprised by the verdict. This case overlooked so much contradictory evidence that never was presented, what other option did the jury have but to accept Mr. Pepper’s version?”

And Gerald Posner, whose recent book, ”Killing the Dream” made the case that Mr. Ray was the killer, said, ”It distresses me greatly that the legal system was used in such a callous and farcical manner in Memphis. If the King family wanted a rubber stamp of their own view of the facts, they got it.”

racism, albeit defensive, is racism

Just in case it came as a surprise to anyone who read yesterday’s post that black people can be classified as racist, I’m posting this for follow-up.

I did not know that I could love James Earl Jones even more than I already do.

I also did not know that there is a “black version” of the Huffington Post.

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I’m not sure that I love that.

Anyway, I think this thing that Mr. Jones said about the “need for independent thinking” is pure gold.  And yet he also understood his grandmother, and was even able to discern the truths contained in her closed-minded thinking from the poison of it.  That is beautiful.

James Earl Jones Talks Growing Up With A Racist Grandmother On BBC World News

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James Earl Jones opened up about the “most racist person” he has ever known: his grandmother.

During an interview with BBC News, the actor and famous voice of Darth Vader, shared information about growing up in rural Mississippi with his grandmother whom he said was profoundly racist, despite her Cherokee, Choctaw Indian and African American roots.

“She was the most racist person, bigoted person I’ve ever known,” Jones told BBC’s Stephen Sackur. “She trained us that way. She would consider it defensive racism, but it’s still racism, it’s still the same poison.”

Jones said he credits his grandmother with giving him his “first need for independent thinking” after he moved from Mississippi to Michigan, and giving him the ability to empathize with racists.

I’d go to school with white kids and Indian kids. I knew they weren’t the devils that she said they were. I had to start thinking for myself, and I had to start understanding the extent to which she was right too. But I can now live in the shoes of racists. When I hear about racists, I know exactly what they’re feeling. I said ‘I’m gonna allow myself to feel that, just for the hell of it.’ So I know what they’re going through.

The actor is currently starring in “Driving Miss Daisy” alongside Vanessa Redgrave at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London. In November, he received an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement onstage after a performance, where he graciously accepted the award.

“You cannot be an actor like I am and not have been in some of the worst movies like I have,” he said. “But I stand before you deeply honored, mighty grateful and just plain gobsmacked.”

love is many things

…but it shouldn’t be a secret.  That really hit home for me.

I wish that this young woman could talk to Nia.  I hope that she at least reads the essay.  Not that Nia touched on the topic of having racist black parents to contend with, but I think that Danielle could be inspired by the way in which Nia boldly and candidly addresses many of the issues facing interracial couples.

Yes, I called Danielle’s parents racist.  They are.  I’ve found that some people are under the impression that black people can’t be classified as racist.  That that is a delineation that we reserve for the “oppressor.”  So not true.

Case in point from U-Mich Race Card Project:

History; NEVER TRUST A WHITE MAN!

Kwende Idrissa Madu
Russellville, AL

I imagine it’s gonna be a tough row to hoe going through life in America completely unwilling and unable to trust a white man.  I also imagine that it could be a large majority of “minorities” who really feel that way.

Back to Danielle though:  I admire her for not letting go of the love of her young life.  For seeing and feeling beyond her parents’ antiquated and limiting fear based belief system.  And for deciding that it’s time to “come out” and love in the open and let the cards fall where they may because that is the only way for her to truly live.

[CONFESSIONS]

“I’m Hiding My Interracial Relationship From My Parents”

A YOUNG WOMAN FEARS THAT HER FAMILY WON’T ACCEPT THE LOVE OF HER LIFE

ByDANIELLE T. POINTDUJOUR

[CONFESSIONS]<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
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I grew up surrounded by love. I have the fondest memories of my parents spontaneously stealing ‘private’ kisses, the grand romantic gestures of my aunts and uncles and watching my grandparents dancing to old records in their living room.  Love was all around me and I spent hours dreaming of the day I’d have one to call my own.  It wasn’t until high school that I started to realize that the love I saw and wanted came with conditions.

Since I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16, I had a secret boyfriend in the months leading up to that milestone birthday.  Mike was the best beau a teen girl could have—tall, handsome, funny and happy to carry my books and hold my hand.  He reminded me a lot of my father, the way he played with me and did ‘man’ things like pulling out my chair and holding all the doors.  He was great, so naturally I thought nothing of bringing him home for my parents to meet right after I turned 16.  I thought nothing of the fact that he’s White.

I’ll never forget the look on my parents’ faces when Mike walked through the door: confusion mixed with horror.  When he left—after an hour of awkward silence interrupted by short bursts of conversation—the drama began. My parents forbade me from seeing my honey again and told me that boys “like him” are only interested in me for sex and that I should “stick to my own kind.”  They tried to scare me with stories of violent racism and visions of children addicted to drugs because of their struggle with identity.  I tried to explain that his race didn’t matter to me, the way he treated me did.  I wanted him to know that Mike’s love reminded me of the love I grew up with. They weren’t trying to hear it.

For the rest of our high school years we dated in secret and by the time college came, the boy that held my hand became the man who held my heart.  Still, I had to have Black male friends pretend to take me on dates to throw my parents off.  I made up excuses to not come home on breaks so I could spend them with Mike’s family, who welcomed me with open, loving arms and had a hard time understanding my choice to hide our relationship.

I tried a few times to slip the topic of interracial dating into conversations with my parents, telling stories of friends who were happily dating or getting married.  The response was always the same: “Good for them, but you’re going to bring home someone that looks like us.”  My father even hinted that he would cut off my college funds if I went “that way.”

I felt trapped.

After college, Mike and I decided to apply for graduate school in Spain. While his parents were thrilled that we would be living abroad together and sharing an adventure, mine were worried about me going so far away and wondered how I would find the man of my dreams in a country where the majority of the people don’t speak English.  Little did they know the man of my dreams was actually a reality and had been in my life for quite some time.

It has been six months since we moved to Spain together and almost seven years since we started dating, and I couldn’t be happier!  All the fears my parents have for our relationship have yet to materialize, even here in this foreign land. Our love for each other has grown so much that I’ve come to realize that it’s time to tell my parents.  I love this man and I want to shout it from the rooftops. I no longer care what my parents or anyone else thinks about it and I’m tired of lying. Love is many things, but one thing it shouldn’t be is a secret.  Recently, we’ve been talking more about marriage and our future—both things that I want my parents to experience with us.  I hope that they can try to be open-minded enough to share in our love, but if not, that’s okay.  We have plenty of family and friends around that support us unconditionally and they can appreciate just what love is supposed to be: colorblind and limitless.