Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Homemade All-Natural Body Butter

How to Make Homemade Natural Body Butter

Add equal amounts of cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut oil to the top pot of a double boiler. (I never actually measure them, but add what looks to be equal amounts of each.)
Bring the water in the bottom pot to a simmer. Do not boil the water.

If you do not have a double boiler, a metal or heat-safe glass bowl on top of a pot of water or a pot on the stove-top over low heat would work, too. If you make your own double boiler with a bowl, do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water or the bottom of the pot.

Place top pot, with oil and butters, on bottom pot when water is simmering.

This was after only 1 minute over the heat. It has already begun to melt.

After 4 minutes over the heat, the butters and oil have melted. Stirring with a wooden spoon once they have begun to melt helps it to go faster, but is not necessary.

After the oils melt, pour the mixture into a large measuring cup. For every cup of liquid oil mixture, add 1 tsp jojoba oil, 1 tsp vitamin E oil and 1 tsp olive oil. Other oils can be used in addition to, or in place of, these oils.
Stir the mixture gently with a wooden spoon so that the oils and butters are mixed together.

You can skip the measuring step and guess at how much oil mixture you have and add other oils based on your guess. It may change the final texture of the lotion if you add too much or too little, but unless you are wildly off, it should still work out just fine.

After chilling in the refrigerator for two hours, the oil mixture is ready to be whipped. The mixture on the sides of the bowl has hardened and the center is the consistency of gravy.

Use a wooden scraper or spoon to scrape the hardened mixture off of the sides of the bowl. Once the hardened mixture is scraped off the sides of the bowl, begin whipping the mixture on a high setting.
A hand mixer would probably work just as well as a stand mixer, but may take longer.
After a few minutes of mixing, the oil mixture should begin to look like whipped cream.

Every few minutes, stop the mixer and scrape the sides to make sure that all of the mixture is being whipped.

I whipped the oil mixture for about 25 minutes, stopping every 5 minutes or so to scrape the sides. The consistency was very fluffy and soft. I spooned portions of the mixture into smaller containers. Eight ounce canning jars work well.

After sitting for a little while, the lotion will become more dense. It is easier to put the lotion into smaller containers while it is still light and fluffy.

After sitting for some time, the lotion will have a consistency similar to butter at room temperature. It melts very quickly when it comes into contact with skin. A little bit goes a long way to making skin smooth and velvety soft.

Do you have your own recipes? Feel free to share in the comments!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Things White People Need to Stop Saying in 2015

It is a new year. Many of us are looking for a fresh start in different areas of our lives. One area that we can make a clean sweep is in the words we say.

White people, here is a partial list of what to stop saying in 2015:

Thug - This is a term that is typically used to talk about Black men and to vilify them so as to appease one's conscience about their unnecessary death or to show that they are not as worthy of respect or consideration as other people. (Read more HERE.)

Reverse Racism - It does not exist. Individuals can discriminate against one another on any basis, but racism as a system favors White people and disadvantages people of color. A White person in a predominantly White country cannot be the recipient of racism. (Read more HERE and watch a comedic video HERE.)

I don't care if he is black, white, green or yellow with polka dots. - Comparing real people to alien people (fake skin colors) is disrespectful. You are trying to make the point that you do not care what color the person is, but you go overboard and throw in colors of skin that do not exist. (Read more HERE.)

It doesn't matter what your skin color, if people wouldn't break the law they wouldn't have to worry about the police. - This is simply false. Skin color has a lot to do with how people perceive each other and police officers are not immune. There are several well known cases in which people of color were not breaking the law in any way and were minding their own business yet they were harassed, brutalized or killed by police. For doing nothing wrong. At all.

The police didn't TRY to kill him. - But did they try NOT to kill him? The person is still dead no matter the police officers' intent. (Read more HERE.)

It's not about race. - White people are incredibly oblivious to how many things really are about race. If someone else is telling you that it is about race, it is best to listen and learn. It probably is about race.

Race card - This is a term that White people pull out to dismiss the true, real, lived experiences of people of color. It is not OK. When someone says that something is about race please do not tell them they are "playing the race card". Just because you do not understand how race impacts the situation does not mean that race is not part of the situation.

Race baiting - Talking about a real problem that affects many people in our country is not "race baiting". This is another dismissive term used by White people to avoid talking about race issues.

It (racism) isn't as bad as it used to be. - So what is your point? Whether racism is as bad as it used to be or not is irrelevant. People are being discriminated against and disadvantaged and even killed because of implicit bias and systemic racism. That is not good. Whether it is better than it used to be does not matter one bit. (Read more HERE.)

But look at Bill Cosby and Oprah! They are rich and famous. - Again, what is your point? There are some Black people who are rich and famous. There were Black people during the time of slavery and Jim Crow laws who were rich and famous. Having some Black people who are rich and famous does not change the reality for the vast majority of Black people.

I blame the parents and the breakdown of the family. - You can blame whatever you want, but until you spend time in the Black community and understand their particular challenges and what they face daily as Black people, you really have no idea what you are talking about. 

If they would just be more respectful of authority they wouldn't be killed. - Why are White people allowed to disrespect police officers, even shoot at them, and still remain alive? Why have Black men and boys been shot by police within seconds of the police arriving? Before they had a chance to respect or disrespect authority? 

All lives matter - Of course all lives matter. Everyone believes that. But we act as if only White lives are sacred and others are expendable. Especially Black lives. We treat Black lives as if they do not matter. So we have to remind the world that Black Lives Matter. Until Black lives are treated as if they matter as much as White lives, we have to remind the world that Black Lives Matter. (Read more HERE.)

But not all cops are bad! - No one said they were all bad. There is a culture among cops that enables bad cops to continue unchecked and without adequate consequences. Instead of "good" cops standing up and refusing to be associated with the bad cops, they cover for the bad ones or keep quiet. Police officers have implicit biases against Black people just as much as the rest of society. The difference is that they carry guns for a living and have more opportunities to kill Black people as a result of their implicit bias. (Read more HERE.) 

What about Black-on-Black crime? - Why not ask, What about White-on-White crime? This is a question that is asked to deflect the conversation from focusing on police officers killing Black people. It has nothing to do with the conversation at hand but is used to derail the important conversation that should be had about police brutality and killing of Black people. (Read more HERE.)

I don't mean to sound racist, but... - If you have to start your sentence in that way, just keep quiet. You know your racism is going to come out but you insist on saying what you are thinking anyway. 

Why do you always have to make everything about race? - Why do you always have to ignore race? It is a real and valid part of life. Ignoring it does not make anything better.

You are just causing division. - Pointing out the racial divide in our country is not causing a racial divide. Talking about an existing problem does not cause that problem. If you are only aware of the racial divide because people are talking about it openly now, then that is because you have been sheltered. It is nothing new. Get in the conversation and help us solve the problem. Do not put your head in the sand and pretend it is an imaginary problem that those of us who are talking about it made up.

White people are tired of being called racists! - People of color are tired of racism! This phrase is something that White people say when they do not want to critically examine their own implicit biases and feelings about people of color. (Read more HERE.)

I can't be racist. I have a Black friend. - Having a Black friend or people in your family who are of color does not make you immune to having implicit bias against people of color or erase all racist thoughts and actions. Having a person of color as your friend or family member does not prove that you are not racist. Your actions and what you say will indicate your biases and prejudices or lack thereof. (Read more HERE.)

I don't see skin color. We're all human. - Maybe you need your eyes checked. There are many wonderful skin colors and shades of skin to be celebrated and enjoyed. If you cannot, or will not, see the beautiful colors of skin, then you are missing out. But what you are really saying when you say this is, "As a White person, race doesn't matter to me." And the truth is, as a White person, race probably does not matter to you. But that does not mean that it does not matter to other people. People of color do not have the luxury to ignore race. They are perceived in particular ways every day because of their race. Being "colorblind" is a White privilege and is a form of racism. It is a convenient way to dismiss the reality of racism and, by doing so, allow it to perpetuate itself. (Read more HERE.)

This is only a partial list, but let's start with these, OK? Just stop saying these things so that we can all have a better year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Vanishing Innocence

When my boys were infants, you "oohed" and "awed" over them. You admired their chubby cheeks, their dark eyes and their curly hair. You would stop me in the grocery store to coo at them and smile. How cute those Black babies are!

At three years old, the cuteness has begun to fade for you. You cast an inquisitive look in their direction, but you rarely stop to talk to them or comment. You keep a close eye on them at the playground because you know how "they" can be and you are ready to protect your own child from "them".

Implicit bias is already at work at this age. Black boys are far more likely to be suspended from preschool than other children - for the same, or lesser, undesirable behaviors. (Read HERE about this.) Thus begins the school-to-prison pipeline. (More about that HERE.)

In Five Years, at Eight Years Old...
You will no longer see them as innocent children. They will have passed from the stage of childhood innocence. You see, once Black boys reach about 8 years old people no longer see them as innocent children. Yet, people will continue to see White boys as innocent children for a few more years. This is in part due to a wrong perception of age. For some reason, people perceive Black children to be older than they actually are and people have implicit biases about Black children being more disrespectful, more often trouble-makers, violent. (Read HERE and HERE for more about that.)

You will hold my boys to a higher standard in your mind because they will appear to be several years older than they are. When you look at them, instead of seeing eight year old boys, you will perceive them to be 10 or 12 years old. But they will still be doing what 8 year olds do. Their childish behaviors will confirm your suspicions that "they" are unruly, lawless, irresponsible people because you will be expecting them to act a few years older than they are.

At this point, my boys will already have experienced racism time and again. (You can read a story about that HERE.) It will become a normal part of their life. Perhaps not so much as blatant racism, though there will be that too, but also in microaggressions, implicit bias, and systemic racism. (You can search those terms online to learn more.)

In Ten Years, at Thirteen Years Old...
You will suspect them of wrongdoing, no matter what they are actually doing. You will cast furtive glances towards them when in a store to make sure they are not stealing anything, though their behavior has given no indication that such a thing is likely. You will feel safer when store clerks follow them around the store. You will be nervous for them to be near your children. When you see them with a group of friends you will assume they are up to no good.

At this age, my sons will be seen as adults. No longer children. They may be perceived to be 20 years old at this point (7 or 8 years older than they actually are). They may be handcuffed or arrested for minor violations. They may be harshly treated or beaten by police. It will be "justified" because they will be perceived to be resisting arrest when in fact they are just scared children. They may be shot to death by police for playing with something that someone believes looks like a gun. Because, if I can help it, they will never, ever play with an actual toy gun. We know how that can turn out. (Read about that HERE and HERE.)

In Fifteen Years, at Eighteen Years Old...
You will clutch your purse a little tighter as they pass you on the sidewalk. You will feel a quickening of your pulse. You will breathe a small sigh when they have passed by. In your car, you will lock your door and make sure to not slow down near them.

You will see them wearing a hoodie and suspect they are up to no good. You will see them in a rich neighborhood and "know" they do not belong there and will call the police to report the suspicious activity -- Black men walking in a rich neighborhood.

By now, my boys will have become the "scary Black man". They will be full-grown, tall, broad-shouldered. If they are not clean shaven and dressed in a suit they will be called "thugs". Even if they are clean shaven and dressed in suits, they will be suspect. They will be pulled over by police repeatedly though they have broken no laws. They will be mistaken for suspects because they "fit the description" of a Black male.

They will be on their way to college if they have not become victims of the school-to-prison pipeline or "Shoot First, Get Away with it Later". The numbers of young Black men being shot and killed by police are alarming, but more frightening is that these officers are not being held accountable for killing unarmed people. Even if they will be on their way to college, they will still be seen as ignorant, uneducated, lazy, irresponsible.

In Twenty Years, at Twenty-Three Years Old...
Because of the color of their skin, many assumptions will come to mind as you see them, not based on any knowledge of who they are or what they are doing. You will assume that they are criminals and violent. You will assume that they have several kids with different women that they may not even know about and are certainly not supporting. You will assume they are lazy and irresponsible and looking for a handout. You will pass over them when hiring, more likely to choose a White man with a police record even if my boys have a college degree and have never been arrested or had any trouble with the law.

You will be afraid.

You will fear my sons because of the color of their skin. You may not even realize that you do.

And while you are busy seeing what is not there, you will miss what is.... but if you looked, really looked at my boys you would see...
and so much more.

Next time you walk past a Black man, remember, that is my son. Look past your preconceived ideas and the stereotypes you have been fed. Look past the media bias and the lies you have heard. Look at the man. Change your mind about Black men. Before too long, my little boys will be Black men. And they will be passing you on the street. And they will see how you react to them.

Because if you do not change your mind about Black men, chances are, by their mid-twenties, they will have been arrested and incarcerated, or killed. Because they are Black.

Your perceptions matter. The negative perceptions of Black men feed into the system of racism. You do not have to be a racist to contribute to the systemic racism in our country.

By changing your mind about what you think you know about Black men, you will be making a difference for my boys and for all the Black boys who will all too soon be Black men.

Articles linked in this post:

My son has been suspended 5 times. He's 3.

Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline

The Day Cute and Brown Dissolved into Black

Black Boys Viewed as Older, Less Innocent Than Whites, Research Finds

A Little White Girl's First Experience of Racism

Cleveland police officer shot Tamir Rice immediately after leaving moving patrol car

Police thought 12-year-old Tamir Rice was 20 when they shot him. This isn't uncommon.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Sound of the Clock

When I was a kid, we had an old-fashioned clock that "tick-tocked". We were so used to it that we could not even hear it. When friends would visit they would comment on the noise from the clock. Sometimes we would have friends sleep over and they could not sleep because it was so loud to their ears that were unfamiliar with the sound. But we who lived in the house became deaf to the constant rhythmic "tick-tock, tick-tock" until someone would point it out. And then, if we concentrated hard enough, we could finally hear the "tick-tock". Once we were tuned in to the sound we were unable to not hear it. The sound was almost deafening - until we were distracted and forgot to listen for it again. Then it would fade into the background. It was such a constant in our ears that we could not hear it unless we listened intently for it.

In the same way...
If we (White people) do not notice racism around us, that is because it is such a normalized part of our lives. It is so common and so accepted that it is not even noticed. It is a constant, running always in the background, blending in and unnoticeable to those of us who are not directly affected by it. It is occasionally accentuated by an event or series of events. And then we see it. But soon it fades into the background again and we are lulled into believing that it has disappeared.

It is hard to teach White people about systemic racism and implicit bias because it is so constant and so normal that it is difficult to recognize it. It is hard to grasp what it is because it just IS. The blatant KKK type racism is easy to spot, but the everyday variety is somewhat vague to those of us not attuned to it. But once we start to consciously recognize it, we can not believe that we did not see it before. Once we tune in, we can not not see it. Unless we allow ourselves to be distracted by other things.

But it is uncomfortable. And we have to fight the urge to distract ourselves and allow it to blend back into our environment. We must consciously tune in because the only way to end it is to be conscious of it and consciously remove it from our lives.

Racism is going on around us all the time, whether we notice it or not. Implicit bias is such a subtle part of our thinking that we do not recognize it. Just like that old-fashioned clock "tick-tocking" constantly, without stopping. Just because we could not hear it did not mean it was not making a sound. And the guests in our home who pointed out to us how loud it was were not causing the sound, they were only noticing it and pointing it out to us. Racism takes many forms --- systemic racism, implicit bias, microaggressions, etc. They are constant enough, rhythmic enough and subtle enough that we can easily miss them if we are not tuned in. But they chip away at the souls of the people to whom they are directed. Just because we, as White people, can not see it, does not mean that it is not damaging to people of color.

Compassion demands that we notice and that we put an end to it. Otherwise, we indicate that the only people that matter are people who look like ourselves.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Let's Talk About Implicit Bias

My sister has always been thin. I have always been... not thin.

You may not consciously acknowledge it, but when you see me you have subconscious thoughts about me -- my behaviors, my faults, my value. If we were to verbalize these subconscious and often unacknowledged thoughts, they might go something like this:

"She has no self-control."
"If she'd just eat less she wouldn't be so overweight."
"She should try exercising."
"She must be lazy."
"I bet all she eats is junk."
"She'd almost be pretty if she wasn't so big."
"She should take better care of herself."
"She must have low self esteem."

If we are really honest, these are the kinds of thoughts that many people have when seeing someone who is not thin.

Conversely, people generally have more positive thoughts about someone who is thin. We have been programmed to think this way. Our society values being thin and frowns upon being plus-size. Most of us have grown up being taught in subtle ways to assign attributes and values based on a person's weight or body shape. It is something that we do not even think about. It just comes naturally to us, like breathing.

At this point, some of you are tracking with me. You can identify as the person who is or has been the recipient of these biased ideas. You read through the quotes, nodding your head because you know this is what many people think when they see a person of a larger size and you know it is not right. Or, you recognize that you have had these, quite possibly, unconscious thoughts about other people.
Some of you read through the list of quotes above and were nodding your heads and thinking, "Yes! This is why she is overweight. Why don't overweight people realize what is causing it and why don't they take some responsibility for their own selves?" (Might I just add that "overweight" itself implies a standard and is purely subjective. Who decided what the maximum "good" weight should be and who decides when someone is over that weight?)

So now I am going to talk to you, the one who thinks I should take some responsibility. Everyone else can follow along as well.

My sister and I share genetics. We grew up in the same family, eating the same foods, living relatively the same lifestyle. We have comparable activity levels as we are both moms to young and active children. Lazy is not a word that we have in our vocabularies at this time. My (thin) sister eats a larger quantity of food than I do on many occasions. I eat only clean food, no junk. She eats healthy, too, but does not have to worry about eating whatever she wants because she will not gain weight no matter what she eats. I, on the other hand, seem to gain weight on fresh air and filtered water.

There is no logical reason that she should be thin and I should be plus-size. It must be something in our genetics that I happened to get the genes from our larger ancestors and she got the genes from our smaller ancestors. Or perhaps she was fortunate to get a good metabolism and I was not. I will never be thin and healthy at the same time. I was once thin in college, but I was not taking care of my body and I did not look healthy. Now, I am a larger size, but very healthy.

I know, I know. "You're just making excuses for being fat and lazy." OK, if you do not get it by now you probably will not get it. That is OK. I do not need you to get it. I am writing this for those who will understand.

Now, can we talk about "thin privilege"? Yes, it does exist. Those privileges that thin people enjoy that overweight people are excluded from enjoying. When you are thin, you can comfortably sit at a concert or other event in the chairs that are set up next to each other without worrying about crowding your neighbor. Airplane seats do not seem extraordinarily skinny. Car seatbelts do not push into your side. Your clothes do not cost as much. And while we are on clothes, thin people have designers making cute clothing for them. Apparently it is assumed that plus-size people have no sense of style and do not care what they wear. It is hard to find reasonably priced clothing in larger sizes that is not hideous. I know I have extra curves, but wearing a brightly and busily colored mu-mu-type shirt is not my idea of cute and stylish. If I want clothing that is cute and stylish, I am going to have to pay much higher prices for it.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Those people who are deemed "average" or "thin" are able to enjoy privileges that those of us who wear larger sizes do not enjoy.

And then you say, "Well, if you'd just lose weight you wouldn't have these problems." Oops. Your implicit bias is showing again. Go back and start reading at the beginning. 

I am not being judgmental. I do these same things. I have implicit bias against people of larger size. I have been programmed by the same society to believe the same things, even though I myself am a person of larger size. I have internalized the messages even though I know they are not true. I have to actively work to remove them from my thinking and transform the way I think about people who are plus-size. I have to replace the false biases with truth and empathy and compassion. Because society is constantly feeding me lies about people, I need to constantly be guarding my thoughts and actively changing them. I need to acknowledge the subconscious thoughts I have so that I can reprogram my thinking.

We all have implicit biases and many of us have privileges in various areas of life -- religion, race, weight, gender, sexual orientation, age, body art (tattoos, piercings, hair colors), etc. We see someone and make instant judgments and valuations based on what we believe to be true about people with those characteristics. Many times these subconscious thoughts are based on our perceptions or on what society has taught us and not on truth.

We then interact with, or not, people based on our implicit bias. We treat people in different ways based on our implicit bias. We make comments, assumptions, decisions, and judgments based on our implicit bias.

Are you curious how biased you may be?
I was. So I went to the Project Implicit website. There you can choose from various tests, each referred to as a different Implicit Association Test (IAT). These tests, which take about 10 minutes each, will give you instant feedback about your implicit bias.

Not to worry! If you find that you have strong unwanted biases, there are things you can do to transform your thinking. Acknowledging the implicit bias is the first step.

Make sure to check out the FAQs at Project Implicit. There are also many other resources online for education about implicit bias. A search online will bring up many links to further educate yourself.

Once we recognize our implicit bias and privileges, we can begin the work of transforming our thinking and advocating for the rights of marginalized people.

Monday, August 18, 2014

But I'm Not a Racist

Let me make one thing clear. I do not support rioting and looting or killing for any reason.

That being said, the Black community is rebelling against a society that has oppressed them for hundreds of years. If they were in a far-off country, most of us would be supporting their struggle to be freed from an oppressive system. We might even send them support and armored troops to help them fight a system that is routinely murdering their children. We would be filling up our newsfeeds with encouragement for their struggle against an oppressive system.

But because they are in “our” country and not submitting to “our” rules - unwritten rules which require them to be subjugated to Whites, to endure being mistreated on a daily basis, to “know their place”, to sit quietly as their sons and daughters are murdered - we call them criminals.

These are not criminals. These are rebels who are fighting against a system that has impoverished and subjugated them for hundreds of years. Instead of condemning them, we should all step back and say, “What conditions would drive a human being to respond in such a way? What must they be enduring to have come to a point where they feel they have no voice and must act in this way to be heard? What can I do to help the Black community?”

Instead, we sit in our white privilege, say it has nothing to do with me, condemn people whose struggle we cannot even fathom, pass judgement on ones who are being systematically oppressed, and then pat ourselves on the back because we are “better” than them.

How much better are the oppressors than the oppressed?

I hear you. You don’t personally oppress anyone. I hear that.

Please hear me.

By not understanding the undercurrents of racism, by passing judgment without knowing the struggle, by demonizing a whole people, by ignoring what is happening, by arguing rather than believing what I am telling you, YOU are contributing to the system that supports racism. “But I’m not a racist!” you say. Good. But not being a racist is not good enough. If we want a better world for ALL of our children, we must be anti-racism. That means actively working to dismantle the systemic racism in our country. Before we can even do that we need to acknowledge that racism exists and then understand exactly what that means — how it looks, how it affects people (both Black and White and all others), how we are part of it whether we want to be or not. And that requires participation in the Black community. We cannot do this work while we sit comfortably in our white privilege, isolated from those who do not enjoy its benefits.

Will you be anti-racism with me? For my boys? For your children?

Friday, August 15, 2014

An Open Letter to my White Friends and Family

When I read speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., my heart soars with the power and hope in his words. I can only imagine how it would have felt to hear him speak in person! So powerful! So strong! So hopeful! So uplifting!

And then, sadly, I come crashing down in tears because I realize that his words are still for today. Fifty years later and he is still speaking to us. Still describing the world in which we live. Still reminding us that we have not come as far as we think we have. Still calling us to keep pushing on.

As I sit here, with my White privilege like a cushion around me, I cannot help but feel so discouraged for my Black brothers and sisters. For my Black sons. This is not the world I want for them.

How much longer will we refuse to acknowledge and address the racism that is so pervasive and insidious? How much longer will we allow young men to be killed for being Black? How much longer will we look away when we see people treated differently because of the color of their skin? How much longer will we insulate ourselves in our White worlds and refuse to be touched by compassion for those who do not enjoy our privilege? How much longer will we tolerate the racial injustice and the racism that is all around us? How much longer will we be silent?

I can no longer be silent. I want to scream it to anyone who will listen. But who will listen? Who, besides the people that live this, will listen?

Until White people care as much about the racial injustices, racial inequalities and racism as do Black people, nothing will change. My boys will grow up in a world that is barely different from the world fifty years ago. If you will not listen to anyone else, please listen to me. My sons' very lives are at stake. If you know me and care about me, please believe me. We cannot afford to be ignorant of this any longer. We cannot afford to close our eyes because it is too overwhelming. We cannot afford to sit quietly and do nothing.

But what can we do? For a start, we need to educate ourselves. We need to listen to those experiencing racism. I do not mean listen and then argue with them and tell them they are too sensitive or are overreacting or causing a problem when none exists. We need to listen with the intent to believe and understand. We can listen when we read blogs, join Facebook groups, and, most importantly, make friends with People of Color.

Education is a start, but it is not enough. We need to be compassionate and passionate. We need to empathize with those who are having experiences different from our own. We need to feel their experiences as if they were our own, as best we can. We need to speak up. We need to stand alongside and work for change. We need to acknowledge how far we have yet to go and then decide to be the one to take the steps necessary to get there.

These are a few ideas to start on. I do not have all the answers. I am still trying to figure it out myself. But I know that I need to DO something. I cannot sit silent and allow my boys to go into this world without trying to change it for them. Please join me!

I will leave you with some thoughts from Martin Luther King, Jr. himself.

"The first thing I would like to mention is that there must be a recognition on the part of everybody in this nation that America is still a racist country. Now however unpleasant that sounds, it is the truth. And we will never solve the problem of racism until there is a recognition of the fact that racism still stands at the center of so much of our nation and we must see racism for what it is."

"We are not going to have the kind of society that we should have until the white person treats the negro right - not because the law says it but because it's natural because it's right and because the black man is the white man's brother."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"The Other America"
Speech by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Grosse Pointe High School - March 14, 1968
Read the speech here: http://www.gphistorical.org/mlk/mlkspeech/

What are you doing to address racism, racial injustice and racial inequalities? Please share in the comments so that we can encourage one another!