Monthly Archives: May 2007

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

MOTHER’S DAY, is a holiday honoring mothers, celebrated (on various days) in many places around the world. Mothers often receive gifts on this day, gifts that usually run the gamut of flowers, candy, calls from children who live far away, or a trip to the movies or dinner, just to name a few ways that we show our mothers our appreciation of them. Mother’s Day celebrated in America is observed on the second Sunday in the month of May.

In the United States, Mother’s Day is copied from England by social activist Julia Ward Howe after the Civil War with a call to unite women against war. She wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. The Proclamation was tied to Howe’s feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level:

“Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The great and general interests of peace.”

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Howe failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother’s Day for Peace. But, another woman who worked to get the holiday on the calendar was Ann Jarvis, who working to improve sanitation through Mother’s Work Days, and after organizing women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.

 

When Jarvis died, her daughter, named Anna Jarvis, started the crusade to found a memorial day for women. The first such Mother’s Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908, in the Andrews Methodist Episcopal (now United Methodist) Church where the elder Ann Jarvis had taught Sunday School. Grafton is the home to the International Mother’s Day Shrine. The 1912 General Conference of The Methodist Episcopal Church, at the suggestion of delegates from Andrews M.E. Church, recognized Jarvis as the founder and advocated the celebration of the holiday. From there, the custom caught on — spreading eventually to 45 states. The holiday was declared officially by some states beginning in 1912. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother’s Day, as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honour of those mothers whose sons had died in war. Nine years after the first official Mother’s Day holiday, commercialization of the U.S. holiday became so rampant that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become. Mother’s Day continues to this day to be one of the most commercially successful U.S. holidays.

[Information courtesy of Wikipedia Encyclopedia]

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For many people, Mother’s Day is a day to take Mom out and give her the most special day of the year.

Some of you have lost your mothers, some of you still have your mothers. The wearing of a white rose pinned to the chest indicates to knowledgeable people, that one’s mother has passed from this world; the wearing of a red rose indicates that one’s mother still resides among the living.

Whatever we do, it is always a special reminder that our mothers have made a profound impact on all of us.

Whether she is a mother who has given us a hands-off approach in raising us, whether she has coddled us to utter distraction, whether she is a mother who has given us unconditional love, whether she is a mother who has abandoned us, and was maybe  the worst mother a child could have, after all is said and done, she was still MOTHER.

Some of us still live in close physical proximity to our mothers; some of us live halfway across the country. Some of us can’t wait to call our mothers and tell them of the latest news and gossip of the daily events of our lives; some of us feel that we cannot get far enough away from our mothers to obtain the peace we thought we would never have, if only we could hurry up and grow up fast so we could go out and have our own places to do what we pleased, when we wanted to do it, however we wanted to do it, wherever we wanted to do it.

But, there is no underestimating the effect our mothers have on us, especially we adult children. Some of us have grown up over the years saying that we will never raise our children the way our mother’s raised us, but, time after time, we may find ourselves doing the very same things our mother’s did in raising us—things that we said we would never do.

Some ways that our mother’s have handled life’s curves may not sit well with many of us, but, in the end, many mothers did the best they could. Afterall, they were not given a self-explanatory manual on how to raise the proper child, and in many cases, they were writing the program, albeit, their own take on it, as they were going along.

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But, such is life.

Some of us have not seen our mothers in years. Moving away, marrying are but a few ways we can have distance preclude us from seeing our mothers regularly. On the otherhand, some of us have chosen to sever physical ties with our mothers because of some emotional rift we experienced with her. Some of us may even feel that our mothers don’t need the occasional phone call if just to say,  “Hello, Mother, how are you doing?” But, never underestimate the power of communication. Make no mistake about, whether you and your mother were on the very best of speaking terms, or not, once your mother leaves this world, that will be it. A very important part of yourself will be gone.

There is an old saying:

“Give me my flowers while I yet live, for tomorrow, I may die.”

This Sunday, May 13, 2007, is Mother’s Day.

Passion Flower

If you and Mom are on  good speaking terms, by all means, call her up, take her out to dinner, a play, a movie, a walk in the park.

If you and Mom are not on the best of speaking terms, practice while standing in front of the mirror what you might say to her when you pick up that phone to call her. Saying the words, “I love you”, may be very hard to do, but, at least it would be worth it to try. Today may be the last day you may have to be able to speak to her.

Try to tell her “I love you” as often as you can. I know, I know, it’s real hard to get those words to come out and you may feel that she should already know that you love her.

But, remember, everyone wants to hear those three most precious words in the English language, and no one, no matter how much they may protest, does not want to not hear , especially a mother of a child, that you love them.

They may know that you love them in all that you do for them, but, it would cheer them up to no end to hear their daughter, or son, say:

“I love you, Mother. Thanks for all you’ve done for me. You are the greatest. How did I ever happen to be blessed with such a great Mom?”

To those of you who have lost your mothers, my condolences and I hope that you have been able to have had as many happy moments with her that you could have.

To those of you who still have your mothers, love her as much as you can.

Once she is gone, all you will have left will be memories.

Try starting now, if you have not been doing so, to create as many wonderful memories now that you can.

Whatever your relationship with your mother, you only get one chance in this world with her.

Whatever the day brings you, have a Happy Mother’s Day.

 

 

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ANOTHER TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE: STUDENTS AT SPELMAN COLLEGE PROTEST NELLY’S VIDEO, “TIP DRILL”

By Moya Z. Bailey,

Comparative Women’s Studies/Pre-Med

Major, Spelman Class of 2005

Reprinted from WireTap. O ver Christmas break I was up

late one night on the phone. As

I passed the den I glanced at the TV and

what I saw made me stop. Nelly and the St.

Lunatics were throwing money at nearly

naked women. Women were simulating sex

with other women as Nelly and company

looked on. Then I saw Murphy Lee sliding

a credit card between a woman’s butt

cheeks. I was too disgusted to even speak

and got off the phone quickly.

When I came back to school,

along with the usual “How was break?” and

“What’d you do?” came the soon equally

familiar, “Have you seen ‘Tip Drill?'” My

Spelman sisters and Morehouse brothers

alike were shocked by this recent low in

depictions of African-American women on

the small screen. Our critique of the video

was not isolated. Fellow Historically Black

College/University (HBCU) students at

Howard had protested in front of Viacom to

show their outrage towards the video in

mid-December. It became apparent to me,

as Spelman’s Feminist Majority Leadership

Alliance (FMLA) President that this was

something that we, too, needed to address.

The FMLA had its first showing

and discussion of the “Tip Drill” video at

the beginning of February. A significant

number of students came, including men

from Morehouse. Many differing viewpoints

were brought up. One student

asked if women could ever be in these

videos and be sexual without being

viewed in a negative manner. The comment

was eloquently addressed by FMLA

member Bettina Judd, who replied that

the kind of sexuality they were displaying

was not about pleasure; it was about

women performing for a male audience. I

mean what kind of pleasure is received

when a credit card is swiped through your

backside? It is impossible to display

healthy sexuality when you are being

degraded. The men in the audience noticed

that watching the video in a room

full of women made them feel differently

about the video. It helped them see the

misogyny they had overlooked before.

A week later I saw Asha Jennings,

the Spelman Student Government Association

(SGA) President, carrying a big box.

She called me over for what I assumed

would be help carrying the load, but ended

up being help in what has been titled, “The

Nelly Controversy.” Asha explained that in

the box were flyers for the Jes Us 4 Jackie

bone marrow drive that was set to take

place on April 2. Spelman SGA had been

working with Nelly’s foundation to bring a

bone marrow registration drive to campus.

The problem was readily apparent.

How could Spelman, a historically

black women’s institution, have

Nelly on campus after his heinous depiction

of black women in his lyrics and videos?

Asha had been previously unaware

of the video and had just seen it. She now

stood at the crossroads of what to do.

Should she cancel the drive, knowing that

the issue of minority bone marrow registration

would go unaddressed? Should she

uninvite Nelly from campus and allow the

foundation to come? Should students remain

silent altogether and not bring up the

issue of ” Tip Drill?”

Asha presented her dilemma to

our Feminist Theory class, citing that her

other classes were in favor of participating

in the drive, and then writing Nelly a

letter which would uninvite him from the

campus.

Our professor, Dr. Guy-Sheftall, was the

voice of reason and pointed out that writing

a letter does not carry the same

weight that protesting or canceling a

drive might have. If we were upset about

his portrayal of African-American

women in the video, our actions had to be

equally powerful. Additionally, sending a

letter does not ensure that Nelly will read

it. He has people who read his mail for

him and he might never know our concern.

Finally, you cannot separate the

man from his foundation. It belongs to

him and should he decide to come on

campus, he could do so with his foundation.

It was then that debate broke down

into the point-counterpoint formula that is

all too familiar in heated discussion. We

discussed and discussed until Asha broke

down in tears. Dr. Guy-Sheftall told her she

needed to stop beating herself up over this

and make a decision to cancel the drive or

to allow students to protest it. The class

voted and the protest won out.

The FMLA took on the task of organizing

and planning the action. We decided that

the next week’s FMLA meeting would be

the strategizing session for the protest. We

were excited and eager to begin our work.

In the days that followed, we did

research. We made signs with Nelly’s lyrics

on them and invited people to the

meeting on Tuesday. We also found the

definitions of a tip drill (which included a

woman who has a nice figure but an ugly

face, a woman who may have an STD and

therefore only the tip of the penis can be

used to have sex with her, or a stripper

who prompts men to keep throwing money

at her).

 

[I have to admit that I, too, did not know what a tip drill was, either. I thought it was some type of college/university band dance step, involving tipping and swaying the body  while carrying and playing band instruments.  Shows what I knew.  Ann]

 

These were added to the flyer inviting

people to come to the FMLA meeting.

Those planning to protest also planned

to join the bone marrow registry,

ensuring that the goal of the drive was

accomplished and that bone marrow recipients

did not suffer.

Fliers were up all over campus

and the Nelly “Tip Drill” controversy was

heating up. However, it was not until the

Tuesday night FMLA meeting that everything

came to a head. Asha informed the

group that the foundation had pulled out

of the drive. Apparently, the foundation

had been to campus earlier that week and

seen the signs that the FMLA put up all

over campus. They scheduled an emergency

meeting with SGA and requested

that no protestors be at the drive. SGA

could not meet the ridiculous demand of

assuring their request.

The foundation left the room so

that SGA could vote on whether or not the

drive could continue if, at the foundation’s

request, Nelly agreed to participate in a

forum to address student concerns. Despite

a unanimous vote to continue with

the drive under the new stipulations, when

the foundation came back they had already

decided to cancel the drive.

The foundation was apparently

so upset about this issue that they went to

the press, saying that Spelman canceled

the drive because of the video “Tip Drill.”

Unfortunately for them, their plan backfired

and the media coverage blew up and

ended up depicting them negatively.

MTV broke the story, erroneously

reporting that Spelman was responsible for

the drive not happening because we had

planned a huge protest against one video.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s piece,

however, included interviews with Asha

and myself and set the record straight, explaining

that the foundation had canceled

the drive and that our issues were much

bigger than Nelly and “Tip Drill.” Fortunately,

it was sent out on the AP wire.

We cropped up in the Dayton

Daily News, an editorial in USA Today,

a segment of Essence Magazine, and

various websites, blogs and discussion

boards. We appeared on five local Atlanta

radio stations and I did an interview

with the new liberal radio station Air

America. All of this press was largely

affirming, letting us state our case and

explain once again that we were in support

of the drive the whole time — we

just didn’t want to support sexist images

in the media. The foundation attempted

to save face by trying to reschedule the

drive, but once again, was unwilling to

have Nell y address student concerns.

As the media ran with the story,

so many things surprised me. First of all,

with all the activism that goes on at Spelman,

of all the problems we see in the

Bush administration and in the world, a

handful of students willing to stand up

against problematic depictions of black

women in the media got national attention.

The public outpouring of both

support and opposition has also been surprising.

The old guard of the black feminist

movement has said they are reenergized

by our efforts. Spelman alumna

Pearl Cleage said that it was a welcome

sight to see young black women giving

voice to the issue of misogyny in the media.

Jill Nelson, author of Straight, NoChaser was equally impressed with what

we have done, saying that our action gave

her hope for the future.

But not all people have seen the

situation in a positive light. Some thought

we were angry emasculators who were too

concerned with images and not at all concerned

with bone marrow. It is so easy to

portray us as angry black women unwilling

to stand behind a black man, even though

he is doing something good. Our questions

for Nelly were recast as vociferous attacks

and have allowed people to feel sorry for

Nelly, a supposedly helpless bystander

caught in the misdirected rage of young

black women.

One of our most valid criticisms

came from a former civil rights leader

who spoke to the classism that seems to

be lurking in this issue. As middle class,

college educated black women, we can

very easily speak to the issue of video

images, but the issue of the financial barriers

that lock women into being in these

videos is not something that we seemed to

address.

I understand how it looks that

way; that those of us with privilege are

judging those less fortunate than us for the

economically driven decisions they make

to participate in this medium. But in every

interview we’ve had we stated that this is

systemic, a part of the larger racist, capitalist,

patriarchal society we call America.

But once you start talking about interlocking

systems of oppression, the press stops

recording.

I also do not wish to demonize the

women who participate in the videos and

who feel the tug of the capitalist puppet

strings and see this as an easy way to make

money. Our criticism was directed toward

Nelly, not the women in his videos, but I

do hope to help them see that while they

may feel autonomous in the choices they

make, the implications of their decisions

are global, impacting how African-

American women are viewed world-wide.

This whole Nelly controversy

sapped a significant amount of energy

from me and other obligations I had to

school, to other organizations, and projects.

Sometimes the situation seemed to

have a life of its own, especially when the

media picked up the story and ran with it.

At times I felt like I was along for the ride.

Although the Nelly controversy

was completely unexpected and caught me

off guard, I will not shrink from the challenge

of sustaining a movement around

images of black women in the media. I

want to make it clear that this is so much

bigger than Nelly, that he is not the scapegoat

but the spark that ignited the need for

a public critique of how we as women are

being portrayed. I see “Tip Drill” in the

broader context of a racist, capitalist, patriarchal

system that has a vested interest in

feeding stereotypes of both black men and

women as hypersexual in the quest for the

almighty dollar.

It is because I love hip hop that I

critique it and as part of the hip hop generation,

who better than I to bring the music

back to what I loved about it in the first

place? For me, that sentiment can be

summed up by one of the signs we had at

the demonstration. “We love hip hop, but

does hip hop love us?”

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YOU’RE SWEET, LIKE A HONEYBEE

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A CBS NEWS (http://www.cbsnews.com) report (http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/fyi/main500823.shtml)  which is a follow-up on a previous story done on April 23, 2007, on the serious decline in bee populations forbodes for more than just drastic consequences for the agriculture and honeybee industries. Bees are the foremost pollinators of many plants, and if not for them, we would not have many of the foods we have come to know and love:

Almonds

-Blueberries

-Apples

-Watermelon

-Cantaloupes

-Squash

-Cucumber

-Tangelos and tangerines

-Pears

And let’s not forget many people’s favourite foodstuff that is the courtesy and hard work of bees:

HONEY.

Yes, we depend on bees for many of the foods we eat, but, there are questions we humans must ask ourselves as to what is causing so many bees to die. The CBS NEWS report asked these questions:

What is happening to the bees?

In short, a quarter of the country’s 2.4 million bee colonies have been decimated or lost. There are many theories about what’s caused the loss, but there is no definitive answer.

One thing has almost been agreed upon: Scientists are calling this Colony Collapse Disorder. Well, except for those who call it Fall Dwindle Disease (the phenomenon’s former name).

A Congressional Research Service report for members of Congress listed the following possible causes of CCD, as reported by scientists.

  • Parasites, mites, and disease loads in the bees and brood;
  • Known/unknown pathogens
  • Poor nutrition among adult bees
  • Level of stress in adult bees (e.g., transportation and confinement of
    bees, or other environmental or biological stressors)
  • Chemical residue/contamination in the wax, food stores and/or bees
  • Lack of genetic diversity and lineage of bees
  • A combination of several factors.
  • What are some of the myths about CCD?

    The disappearance of so many bees so quickly has been blamed on everything from a rapture (the bees have been called to heaven, some say) to shifts in the Earth’s magnetic field.

    Or maybe it is cell phones. One German study examining a certain type of cell phone and bees’ honing systems got misinterpreted and joked about on the Internet and talk shows and soon was being cited as evidence that mobile phones were killing bees, The Associated Press reported.

    Could this affect how we eat?

    In some states, apiarists are already being called on to explain why their honey supplies are dwindling. One New Hampshire beekeeper told the Boston Globe: “I have to consistently explain to people about why there isn’t enough honey.”

    But moreover, scientists and farmers are concerned about the fruits, vegetables and nuts that grow after being pollinated by the country’s hived and feral honeybees.

    According to a study funded by the National Honey Board, about 1/3 of Americans’ diet is dependent on bees’ pollination.

    While some crops, like wheat and corn, are wind-pollinated, many flowering crops, like almonds or apples, rely heavily on honeybees. On orchards and berry farms, bees are often trucked in for the express purpose of pollinating the crops.

    Why do we need bees?

    A spoonful of honey might be a sweet treat and is an ingredient in many foods, but the country’s honey supply is not beekeepers’ or agrarians’ main concern over the massive honeybee loss.

    Entomology professor May Berenbaum said in an interview for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that “what makes the situation particularly critical is the fact that the demand for pollination services — not honey, per se, but pollination services — is exploding.”

    The dip in pollination could have an economic impact down the road: An estimated $14 billion in U.S. crops in the are dependent on bee pollination.”

    **********************************************************************

    So, bees, like so many insects, should not be taken for granted.  There is more that would be lost if the bee population is decimated so much that it may never recover; we stand to lose many beautiful plants that are pollinated by bees.

    When I see bees buzzing about, going about their day collecting nectar, I cannot help but think of black women:  always busy, working, looking after many people [parents, children, husbands]; I think of how people [and the ubiquitous bears] who raid the hives of bees for their hard-earned honey; I think of the bees that I have seen fly back and forth, to and fro to their hives bringing the precious nectar back, these worker bees, ALL of whom are ALL FEMALE, who keep the hive abuzz with the activity of nothing lost in their energetic quest to feed themselves, and the queen.

    And then I think of all the hard work that black women do much of it taken from us during slavery, and during segregation, and I remember how black women have not stopped stepping up to the plate of responsibility, earnestness, thrift, industriousness, and that stick-to-it-ness.

    I think of the many slaps we black women have faced in this country, and have overcome, and the many slights and insults hurled our way, in the past, and even in the present, and  I am so proud that we keep on keeping on——never missing a beat, marching to our own drum—-that nothing will beat us down, nothing will turn us around.

    Yes, there is much that has sought to undermine and annihilate black women; some of us have been brought low by so many misfortunes, so many moments of racism and sexism. But, there are still so many of us who stop, turn around, walk back, and reach down to bring back up those of our sisters who have fallen in their walk in this life.

    We black women know that many times it is often only we who speak up for each other, it is often we who give each other the much needed pat on the back, it is often we who stand in solidarity with our beautiful black sisters that much of the world loves to write off.

    Like the busy, hard-working bee, we have been there for each other in so many ways, through the horrors of slavery, the atrocities of Jim Crow segregation, through the present world we live in today which seeks to insult and defame black women on every level of life.

    But, like the lovely bee, we keep on, building, striving, working, succeeding, achieving, and prevailing.

    Strong, but sweet.

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    IF BLACK WOMEN WERE BIRDS…….

           

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    ……………..Their inner and outer beauty would dazzle so much as to overwhelm the senses and cause to fall to their knees, all men the world over.

     

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