So today I want to talk about choices and responsibilities. My 6 yr old ace was involved in an incident that gave me pause as a parent.
It became so much more than a lesson for Ace but made me think deeper into a lot of issues as a whole not just as a parent but as a human being.
Ace was with a few older kids who were throwing rocks and hit a neighbor’s car. The incident in itself would have been an accident had the same issue not been brought up a week prior. Ace was told at that time that even though he did not throw the rock that he had a responsibility to stop the action and or leave the situation and tell an adult. So one week later here we are in the same situation, but different neighbor and car. Ace again was not the perpetrator but was at the scene and apart of the crowd. This time he said stop, but as far as anything else goes he stayed right there in the group and carried on as usual. After being properly called out by the offended neighbor, the children scattered and Ace and I walked back over to their home and Ace had to apologize for his part of the shenanigans and accept the punishment for all involved. It was not enough to just sit on the sidelines and say stop. But he should have made sure the rock thrower (who is a great kid) know that it was wrong and then Ace should have left the scene to really make his point that he did not condone the behavior and would not be a part of it in any way and tell an adult.
AS I was trying to explain to ace how his role in the situation landed him in a heap of trouble it made me think of so much more as my role not only as a concerned parent but as a member of human society. Always speak up when someone is doing something wrong, especially if it harms someone else, and make sure to distance yourself from the problem and go tell Someone who can help.
Why do we forget the things we were taught as kids? Why, after a certain age do we allow ourselves to not be governed by those same rules and general principles we were taught as youngsters. When little you were told, If you witness someone being treated unfairly, bullied or harmed you should speak up and say something, no matter the consequence. It seems as we get older that we feel those rules no longer apply ? The Golden rule has always been and will always be relevant. It should always remain at the forefront of what we think say and do. Our very ability to have compassion and reason, and acceptance should be what binds us all right?
Kindness and wisdom ultimately lead to enlightenment and the ultimate goal is love right? This is what we teach our children, So then once we reach a certain age, why do we divide ourselves by anything other than love, kindness, respect? I mean we do not have to share the same facial features, in order to share the same bond as caring individuals wanting to live the best lives for ourselves and our children. We want our kids to be treated fairly, thrive in their environment, love and be loved. Right? Well if we all as adults would display that same acceptance and behavior towards each other, we can and will affect positive change for them and them their kids.
We must hold ourselves accountable. Sitting idly by on the sidelines witnessing poor behavior while sipping lattes and hitting awesome yoga poses all the while condoning bad behavior on any front must no longer be tolerated. If a child is hurt, the first question you ask is what is wrong! Not criticize them for their feelings! Well do the same for your fellow-man and woman.
Have more compassion and empathy and less judgment and hate for your mankind. We are all in one giant classroom together of life. Find out why someone is hurting or first better yet, just stop and acknowledge that they are hurting!! Then proceed to find out why, you may be surprised at the outcome.
So I implore us all who have fallen victim of sitting on the sidelines to take action if nothing else have a conversation about it. Let’s not just talk about injustice in our own home, neighborhood, culture, society, religion, tax bracket, education status or other things that divide us on the surface. Look beyond your usual circle and ask yourself, have you heard, seen or witnessed a wrong committed to someone just because of their social, economic or ethnic standing? Have you just said that’s terrible and then gone on with your day? If so you too are guilty of just letting it go and that we can no longer afford to do.
SO pick up a newspaper or go to a community meeting of another nationality, social organization or operation than you are used to. Read about what’s going on outside of just your normal circle. Educate yourself on other matters, such as immigration discrimination, inner city education needs or many of the other issues that may or may not affect you directly.
WE have to stop viewing things according to our direct pain. WE all should care about each other and each others feelings. I don’t have to be Native American to be deeply concerned and saddened by the Cleveland Indians ridiculous logo, or the Washington Redskins mascot. Or what’s going on at Standing Rock. And you do not have to be Black to feel that Black Lives Matter! Wrong is wrong. You do not have to be Muslim in order to be offended at the thought of not be fairly admitted into the United States of America. You do not have to be white in order to say that OJ did it and HE WAS WRONG. You do not have to be over weight in order to have empathy of someone getting fat shamed, or vice versa. You do not have to be disabled or have a disabled family member in order to be enraged when someone who is made fun of or not allowed certain access or rights. You do not have to be a Mexican American in order to be completely and utterly disgusted by the vile references to an entire race and culture in modern politics and you certainly don’t have to be Asian American to be offended by the utter lack of consideration and mere refusal to acknowledge their presence!! Let’s get off the sidelines good people and get in this fight, for our children, for what’s right, for our souls, for humanity.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
My Day with Eugene Coard!!!
I was so fortunate recently to be invited to speak with the legendary racing Hall of Famer Mr. Eugene Coard. He is truly an extraordinary man who along with other members of the famous “Mutt Brothers” changed the scope of street,drag and pro stock racing. He is so charismatic and is quick to share his journey of racing back then for African-Americans along with his ventures post racing in the entertainment industry as a blues artist, rapper and manager!!
A film is currently being filmed about his significant and historic contributions to the pro stock racing and drag racing industry. Make sure to check out his book “Hole Shot”
I am so moved and honored to recommend this extraordinarily powerful and astonishing film about, family, resiliency and survival. It is a story about the Phrasavavth family that must be heard. The subject of the film and director Thavi, tells a gripping tale over the course of 23 years that seldom know about. We are so proud to call him a friend. After personally receiving a copy of this Academy Award winning film I can now say I am also truly a fan. It will make you cry, root and reflect.
This best documentary feature was not only Academy Award nominated but Winner and official selection of The Sundance Film Festival, The Berlin Film Festival, and the International Film Festival among others.
Thank you Muhammad Ali for being an instrumental inspiration for all of Humanity. You were a citizen of the world and your conviction, charisma and courage served as a beacon of light and hope in a world of confusion and cowardice. You shined a light on injustice as well as empowered many to express self-pride all the while entertaining us with every breath and movement. Your light and energy are a force to be reckoned with and the impact of your humanitarian efforts will be felt by mankind forever. You were truly a Giant among men.
Travel Spotlight***Beautiful & Magical Ireland
After Graduating from Michigan State University, Colin took an amazing trip to Europe and although he loved all of the countries he was able to visit, to this day he raves about his awesome experience in Ireland. He was able to visit Mayo County where his relatives are from. He speaks so highly of this beautiful country, from the country side in all shades of green, to the magical folklore and the friendly and truly joyful people.
Now Colin’s mother Wendy is heading for the “Green Isle”. In April she will take an amazing trip flying first to Shannon, Ireland. Their package for Western Ireland includes a car allowing them to travel around the ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Mohr, and Dingle Bay. After staying at the Killarney Royal she then heads to Ennis staying at the Temple Gate Hotel. After this she will jump over to London to see Colin’s brother Ryan who has moved overseas for work and loves it! This trip sounds so exciting, I can’t wait to see the pictures!!! (of course I will share…)
The island of Ireland historically consists of 32 counties, of which six, collectively known as Northern Ireland, have remained as part of the United Kingdom since the rest of Ireland gained self government in 1922. The name “Ireland” applies to the island as a whole, but in English is also the official name of the independent state (ie the 26 counties which are not part of the United Kingdom), since 1921.
Celtic tribes settled on the island in the 4th century BC. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian Boru defeated the Danes in 1014. Norman invasions began in the early 12th century and set in place Ireland’s uneasy position within England’s sphere of influence. The Act of Union of 1800 – in which Catholics, 90% of the Irish population, were excluded from Parliament – saw Ireland joining the United Kingdom. In the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century the subject of Irish home rule was a major debate within the British parliament.
After several failed attempts, a Home Rule bill finally passed through parliament in 1914 though the start of the first world war saw its indefinite postponement due to heavily armed unionist opposition. A failed rebellion on Easter Monday in 1916, (after which 15 of the surrendered leaders were shot by firing squad and 1 hanged) showed a hint of things to come with years of war to follow, beginning with the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and continuing with the Irish Civil War (1922-1923).
Eventually a somewhat stable situation emerged with the self government of 26 of Ireland’s counties known as the Irish Free State; the remaining six, located in the north of the country comprising two-thirds of the ancient province of Ulster, remained part of the United Kingdom — a status that has continued to the present day. In 1949 the Irish Free State became “Ireland” (a.k.a. the Republic of Ireland) and withdrew from the British Commonwealth of Nations. English is spoken everywhere but Irish (Gaeilge) is the first official language. It is part of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic family of languages.
Most people have some understanding of Irish but it is used as a first language by approximately 170,000 people, most of whom live in rural areas known as the Gaeltachts. About 55% (c. 2,500,000) of people in the Republic claim to understand and speak the language. As the Gaeltachts are generally scenic areas it is likely that visitors will go there. Tourists are not expected to speak Irish, but attempts at speaking Irish with the locals are greatly appreciated. The language will also be noticeable on road signs, etc. For instance, a law was recently passed that changes the name of Dingle, County Kerry to An Daingean, the Irish version. This should not confuse visitors, as almost all recent maps carry placenames in both languages in Gaeltacht districts.
In order to enter most Irish Universities, it is necessary for Irish citizens to have taken Irish to Leaving Certificate (Examinations taken on leaving secondary or high school) level, and passed. Indeed it is a compulsory language at school in the Republic, although its method of teaching has come under criticism. Nevertheless, although it has come under threat, and some resent being forced to learn the language, others see use of the language as an expression of national pride.
Mayo County Ireland Pre History
County Mayo has a rich archaeological heritage dating from prehistoric times to the present. (Achaeology is the interpretation of our past from the study of buildings and objects made by human beings. We are dependent on archaeology alone in any attempt to study the prehistoric period and thereafter to complement what is recorded in written sources). According to the present state of archaeological knowledge, the first people arrived in Ireland sometime before 7000 BC during what is called the Mesolithic period. They were nomadic tribes of hunters and fishing people who built no permanent structures such as houses or tombs. The first colonisation of Mayo probably took place during that period.
In the fourth millennium BC, during the Neolithic period, another group of settlers arrived in Ireland, our first farmers, who introduced agriculture and animal husbandry to the country as well as the skills of pottery-making and weaving. They started a custom of burying their dead collectively (usually cremated) in large stone-built chambered tombs known as megalithic tombs, the earliest surviving architectural structures in the country. There are over 1,500 such tombs identified in Ireland with approximately 160 in County Mayo. This fact indicates the importance of the Mayo region during the Neolithic period and into the Bronze Age (c. 2000- 400 BC) when this phase of tomb-building came to an end.
Early Christian Period
The early history of the county is obscure and frequently confusing with various tribes seeking control. Christianity came to Ireland at the start of the fifth century, if not earlier, and brought about many changes, including the introduction of writing and reading. St. Patrick, Ireland’s national apostle, whose floruit was the fifth century, is chiefly credited with the conversion of the pagan Gaels. Recent research indicates that St. Patrick spent considerable time in County Mayo, where according to tradition and some written sources he spent forty days and nights on the summit of Croagh Patrick fasting and praying for the people of Ireland; and had associations with places like Aghagower near Westport, Ballintubber (well-known nowadays for its medieval abbey which has remained in continuous use through all vicissitudes from its foundation in 1216); and Foghill near Killala, which has been identified by some writers with the Silva Vocluti , ‘the wood of Fochluth beside the western sea’ mentioned by Patrick himself in his Confessio.
From the middle of the sixth century onwards, hundreds of small monastic settlements were established around the country, many of which became very important. Some examples of well-known early monastic sites in Mayo include Mayo itself near Balla, Aughagower, Inishmaine, Ballintubber, Errew, Kilmore Erris, Balla, Cong, Killala, Turlough, Moyne near Cross, and island settlements off the Mullet peninsula like Inishkea North, Inishkea South and Duvillaun More.
‘Mayo of the Saxons’
One of the most interesting monastic sites in Co. Mayo was that from which the county derives its name – Maigh Eo. Colmán of Lindisfarne, having been defeated by the ‘Romanist’ party at the synod of Whitby (in Northumbria, in the north-east of England) in 663, withdrew with his followers, via Iona, to Inishbofin off the west coast of Galway. As a result of disagreement between the Irish and the English monks in the little community, the latter moved to the ‘plain of yews’, about sixteen kilometres south-east of the present town of Castlebar. The monastery they established there, known as Mag nÉo na Sachsan (‘of the Saxons’), became renowned as a centre of learning, and continued to attract monks of English birth for a century and more after its foundation.
The Vikings or Norsemen first attacked Ireland in 795 and Mayo around the start of the ninth century. On arrival, they started to plunder and loot places of wealth especially monasteries. It was partly in response to those attacks that round towers were later erected in monastic enclosures (most were erected in the 12 century). There are about 65 of these fine structures surviving in Ireland, with five located in County Mayo: Aughagower, Balla, Killala, Turlough and Meelock. The Viking invasion led to the establishment of settlements in a number of locations like Dublin, Cork, Wexford and Waterford which later developed into towns and cities.
The Great Famine
Early in the nineteenth century, there were a number of famines in Ireland, culminating in the Great Famine of 1845 – ’49, when about a million people died and a further million went into exile. The population increased from an estimated figure of four and a half million in 1800 to over eight million by 1841. The pressure of this vast increase exacerbated the fragile subsistence economy of the period, as land became subdivided into smaller and smaller plots. Destitution was already a fact of life for many and evictions became regular occurrences in the Irish countryside. Most of the impoverished population depended on the potato as their staple food product. Disaster struck in August 1845, when a killer fungus (later diagnosed as Phytophthora infestans ) started to destroy the potato crop.
The green stalks of potato ridges became blighted and within a short time the rotting crop was producing a terrible stench. About a third of the national potato crop was destroyed that year, and an almost complete failure the following year led to a catastrophe for the remainder of the decade. By ‘black forty-seven’, people were dying in their thousands from starvation-related diseases. The workhouses, built in the early 1840s to relieve appalling poverty, were unable to cope with the numbers seeking admission. Various parsimonious relief measures were inadequate to deal with the scale of the crisis.
The number of evictions increased. This process of ‘clearance’ (as it was called) was aided by the ‘quarter-acre clause’ (the infamous Gregory clause, called after its proposer, Sir William Gregory MP of Coole Park, Co. Galway) in the Poor Law Extension Act 1847 which excluded from relief anyone who had more than a quarter acre of land. Any such unfortunate person who was starving had to abandon his holding and go to the workhouse if he and his family wanted a chance to survive. Conditions became worse in 1848 and 1849, with various reports at the time recording dead bodies everywhere.
The catastrophe was particularly bad in County Mayo, where nearly ninety per cent of the population were dependent on the potato. By 1848, Mayo was a county of total misery and despair, with any attempts at alleviating measures in complete disarray. People were dying and emigrating in their thousands. We will never know how many died in the county during those terrible years. The ‘official’ statistics for the county show that the population dropped from 388,887 in 1841 to 274,499 in 1851, but it is accepted that the actual figure in 1841 was far higher than the official census return. It can safely be said that over 100,000 died in Mayo from the famine epidemic and emigration began on a big scale (there was some emigration before the Great Famine). Most emigrants from the county went to the USA, Canada, England and Scotland, to become part of the big Irish diaspora scattered throughout the world.
Irish stew and a pint of Guinness
Irish cuisine can charitably be described as hearty: virtually all traditional meals involve meat (especially lamb and pork), potatoes, and cabbage. Long cooking times are the norm and spices are limited to salt and pepper.
Classic Irish dishes include:
• Boxty, potato pancakes
• Champ, mashed potatoes with spring onions
• Coddle, a stew of potatoes, pork sausages and bacon; a speciality of Dublin
• Colcannon, mashed potatoes and cabbage
• Irish breakfast, a famously filling spread of bacon, eggs, sausages and white and/or black pudding, a type of pork sausage made with blood (black) or without (white). Irish Breakfast is often just refered to as a “fry”, and is usually available well past normal breakfast times in restaurants.
• Mixed Grill. Similar to the Irish Breakfast, but with added lamb chop, chips, and peas.
• Irish stew, a stew of potatoes and lamb (not beef!), with carrots, celery and onions in a watery broth full of flavour
• Bacon and Cabbage, popular and traditional meal in rural Ireland, found on many menus
• Seafood Pie, a traditional dish of chunky fish pieces topped with mashed potato and melted cheese
Kicking Off Irish- American Heritage Month!
Happy March and Irish American Heritage Month!!
Being a household of Mixed Heritage, (African-American & Irish-American), it is truly fitting that right after Black History month comes March and Irish American Heritage Month, with St. Patrick’s Day coming on the 17th!!! Good Times. It is very important for us to celebrate and learn about both our African-American & Irish-American culture.
In order to kick off the month here are a couple of excellent books to read about Irish Folklore and Irish- American History to read with your young ones!
More Excellent Books About Black History!