Saturday, December 1, 2012

Safe Sex Is.....SEXY

One of the most powerful radio interviews that I have done to date happened 4 years ago. In honor of World AIDS Day, I am reposting my interview with the ever inspiring, and Emmy Award winner Rae Lewis Thornton. 

Despite her present day status of having full-blown AIDS (ACQUIRED Immune-deficiency Syndrome), Rae has lead a crusade to educate and challenge audiences to take control of their own bodies, futures and health. Rae uses her life as an example that AIDS is a non-discriminatory disease. She challenges the most common myths and stereotypes surrounding who and how one can become infected.

More than 25 million people have died of this disease, and despite medical advances...there is still  no cure.  The great news is that HIV is preventable...all you need to do is practice safe sex ALL THE TIME.  No sex experience is worth your life...seriously.  Please listen to Rae's inspirational story...and hopefully it will inspire you to get tested and take charge of your sex life.  SAFE SEX IS SEXY.....

 Click to listen.....

Listen to internet radio with PEAS IN THEIR PODS
on Blog Talk Radio
An open and honest blog about what matters most....children and families!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

When Adults Bully Kids

As usual, I began my daily routine by responding to emails, and doing a quick perusal of the gripping headlines. By 8:00 am, I was aware that 1) Lindsey Lohan is again residing in her home away from home after a bar brawl, and 2) This world is filled with more idiots than we want to admit. I’m not going to address the Lindsey situation because….well….It’s too sad to watch a young woman with such potential kill herself slowly (sigh). Instead, I’m going to focus on the man who has won my Sad Excuse For a Human/Parent Award. His name is William Bailey.

I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard of him. I only became acquainted with his name this morning over my morning cup of java. He’s from Ohio, and until November 27, 2012 he was just a run-of-the-mill  Low Life. Now he’s a Low Life in jail….for teasing and mocking 10-year-old Hope Knight who has cerebral palsy. His actions were caught on film by Hope’s grandmother. The footage shows Bailey dragging his leg and patting his arm across his chest while he picked his son up from the bus stop. Hope’s mother asked him to stop because she knew that Hope could see what he was doing. This is when Low Life Bailey encourages his son to “walk like the ret@rd” too. The 9-year-old is then seen mimicking his father by dragging his leg as he walked.

Honest to goodness, pundits, my blood boiled as I read the report and then watched the Youtube video that Hope’s family posted. How could anyone…NO MATTER WHAT…do something so cruel to a child??? What infuriated me the most (aside from imaging how Hope and her family must have felt) is that this despicable behavior was modeled to Bailey son. Clearly, I am not alone in my outrage because after the Knights filed a complaint with the Canton City prosecutors, charges were filed. Bailey, who works as a truck driver, was charged twice. He was originally charged for aggravated menacing after the sheriff was called when he swung a “tow chain on his porch, saying he would choke [Hope’s mother] until [she] stopped twitching. The second charge, for the incident at the bus stop incident, was disorderly conduct. A disorderly conduct is a minor misdemeanor and carries no jail time. However, the former carries a maximum of 30 days in jail in Ohio. He was formally sentenced to 29 days in jail on Nov. 27th.  Hopefully, Bailey will use every bit of his time behind bars to reassess his actions and make a complete personality change. Highly doubt it….but one can dream.

Hope’s mother told news reports that the plea deal enabled the sentence to cover his actions towards Hope because they were interrelated. It appears that the Knights have had many problems with the Baileys over the years. The fact that they are next door neighbors I’m sure compounds the issue as well. According to Hope’s mother, Bailey’s son came to their hose to play with Hope last summer. This culminated in him pulling out a pocket knife and threatening to “cut [Hope] up. The harassment continued throughout the school year.

This story represents the worst in human behavior. It proves, yet again, that people can be careless with others’ feelings. It also proves my longstanding belief that folks need to undergo IQ and personality testing before being allowed to conceive;) While it may be too late for Bailey Sr., I pray that Baily Jr. has others in his life that will model for him how to treat others, and why being biased against others that are different from you is simply wrong. Hope, who was born at 29 weeks after her mother was involved in a head-on collision, has endured two brain injuries. Her loving mother says that she has fought for her life time and time again. She should not have to fight for her dignity. So to Bailey…and all the past and future Sad Excuse For a Human/Parent Award recipients… SHAME ON YOU!

An open and honest blog about what matters most....children and families!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Beauty In The Eye Of A Father

I shook my head when I read the statement that  Oxonian Globalist writer Alice Robb recently made in an article in which she criticized President Barack Obama's choice to describe his two daughters as beautiful during his victory speech.  "It is difficult to imagine a president congratulating his sons for being handsome. So why was it appropriate for Obama to praise 11-year-old Sasha and 14-year-old Malia for their beauty?" she posted. 

My initial reaction after reading the article was that Ms. Robb must have had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to write about on that particular day.  Then I reflected on my own children, and how often I tell them that they are beautiful, pretty, handsome, adorable, cute, and yummy.  Ummmm...the unofficial tally is roughly 25 times a day (give or take).  After all, I see absolutely nothing wrong in speaking the truth (wink wink). 

All kidding aside, I also instill in my kids that there is more to life than the superficial.  However, it is also critically important that they have a solid sense of self-esteem.  What better way to cultivate that then to show your child that you think the world of them?  

I could go on...and on, but I received an email this week from Corey Crawley who is the co-founder of an company that specializes in inspiring self-esteem and confidence in young girls.  His email took the words right out of my mouth.  Here it is:

As the Co-Founder of Pretty Brown Girl and the father of two African American daughters, I am shocked and appalled that our President would be at all questioned about giving his daughters adoration as it relates to their beauty. This is exactly why my wife and I started the Pretty Brown Girl Movement. A lack of nurturing, specifically from the father, severely affects the self esteem of any girl- but in particular, girls of color. In a world that edifies physical attributes that are opposite of our daughters as beautiful, if we don’t call our girls beautiful, who will? We should not apologize for giving our daughters the love and affection they need and deserve that encourages them to Dream Big and to remember that they are beautiful inside and out. Shall we rely on television, magazines or images of fairy tale princesses to define our daughter’s beauty?

The connection between the relationship a girl has with her father and her overall self esteem is extremely significant. As the father is the first to teach a girl how special she is, this is a bond that should be handled with care. Equally important, is for Fathers to let their daughters know that they are intelligent and capable of reaching all of their goals and dreams. I believe, however, in a world that puts so much pressure and emphasis on girls and women as it is related to unrealistic images and ideals of beauty, it is imperative that Fathers stand in the gap to let their little girls know that they are beautiful inside and out. Most women who seek attention in negative ways rarely had the proper love and nurturing from their own fathers. If a father or father-figure was not present or involved in the raising of his daughter this too has a negative impact on her relationships and her own self image and confidence. The message to Fathers is: there is no such thing as too much positive attention as it relates to giving compliments to your daughter. Give love, it makes the world a happier place. I call every brown girl I meet a "Pretty Brown Girl". You never know, it could be the first time that they will ever hear those simple yet powerful words. ~Corey Crawley, Co-Founder Pretty Brown Girl

Indeed, it could very well be the very first time they may have ever heard these loving words.  So fear not dads...and moms!  The word beautiful continues to be a term of endearment.  So feel free to use it recklessly.  Now lets focus on removing words like stupid from the parenting vernacular...ijs.                                                                              

About Pretty Brown Girl
Founded in 2010, Pretty Brown Girl, LLC, is a company whose mission is to encourage girls to celebrate the beautiful shades of brown while inspiring positive self-esteem and confidence. In addition to the Pretty Brown Girl T-Shirt line, the brand includes "Laila", the first ever Pretty Brown Girl doll, along with accessories, programs and curriculum.

An open and honest blog about what matters most...children and families!!!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Delusions Of A Celebrity Post Pregnancy Body

I have never hid my love of gossip magazines like InTouch, OK, and Star. No, I am not obsessed with celebrities...okay maybe a little bit (lol). But truth be told, my job(s) and all my advocacy work can be quite emotionally taxing. That is why I love to escape into the land of the Coo Coo (a.k.a. Hollywood) while relaxing in a hot bubble bath. In particular, I love looking at the fashion, checking out the latest exercise craze, and frowning at the recent legal hardships of some of the stars that we love to hate.

As I recently perused one of these insightful periodicals;) I noticed a page that talked about how celebrities like Beyonce and Hillary Duff seemingly regained their pre-baby bodies in a matter of an instant. It is absolutely mind boggling to me how one can get flat washboard abs overnight after giving birth! So this has me wondering.....just like our daughters get a false sense of reality when looking at airbrushed models in the magazines....Do moms also get a false sense of what a post pregnancy body should look like when looking at celebrities? I don't know about you, but it took me close to a year to shed all the Wendy's french fries, Spicy Chicken Sandwich, and Ice Cream weight.

I remember jogging around the local neighborhood high school track determined to melt the extra ~g~ that hung tightly to my outer thighs and abdomen. I hired a trainer, ate right, and did jumping jacks for no apparent reason at various times of the day like a mad woman. Yet, still the weight took its sweet 'ole time to melt away much to my chagrin! So how is it possible for a starlet to look camera ready a mere month after labor?

Well, celebrities, unlike you or I, have one major motivation to return to a sexy hourglass silhouette after giving birth....Tabloid magazines. Yup', the very ones that I rejoice in reading in my tub with a glass of red wine. I can't imagine that Mariah Carey or Beyonce want any of us to see a picture of them with a post pregnancy gut in a swimsuit....with saddlebags. Especially not when they've made a career of being seen as sex symbols. Therefore, they devote loads of time, money, and hire a support staff including nannies and trainers to help them maintain their "sexy." After all, their future income depends on it.

So the moral of the story is...while it's fun to take a glimpse into Hollyweird, we normal folks should heed caution when comparing ourselves to those in Tinseltown. Their reality is not ours. We have the joy of simply enjoying our babies after popping them out. We needn't worry about paparazzi hiding in a bush outside of our homes to see if our rumps are still a bit wide. Nope, we can settle into mommyhood in virtual peace. We may not be able to afford to get a tummy tuck or breast lift. But we can thank God for each physical change. Because after all, this process allowed us to produce the most precious gift of all....our babies!

An open and honest blog about what matters most...children and families!!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Reality Of Being Black: What Trayvon Taught My Son

I, along with the nation was absolutely disheartened and angered when I learned about Trayvon Martin, and the tragic end to his short and potential filled life. Consumed by the obvious bias involved in this case, I seethed. His story is everywhere. Major news outlets are covering his case, and radio stations (black and white markets) have devoted the drive time discussion to whether justice would be served.

It was a few days ago, as I drove my kids to school, that I glanced in my rearview mirror and noticed my son’s expression as the radio station hosts debated this very heated issue. He was silent, but it was quite evident that he was deep in thought. I chose not to delve into the inevitable conversation at that time. After all, it was 7:00 am. But, I knew that I was going to have to have “the talk” with him sometime later. Never did I think that the “Trayvon talk” would trump the dreaded “sex talk” that all parents should have with their kids.

That afternoon, I made certain to keep the radio off when I picked them up, preferring instead to talk about the events of the day. However, after homework time, I sat him down and asked “Have you heard about the young boy named Trayvon?” He nodded his head. I persisted (with a knot in my throat)…”What have you heard?” I asked. “He was a kid who was walking down the street and a guy shot him.” My son replied. ”Do you know why?” I asked. After several seconds of silence, he answered, “Because he was Black…I think.”

This was not the first time that we have talked about how being black often affects how others perceive us. Both my husband and I have shared our experiences, and we talk frequently about the Civil Rights Movement. In fact, in his short 11 years, my son has experienced acts of discrimination from both adults and children. But this conversation was different. Perhaps it’s because he is more mature and able to think critically (since as he often points out---he’ll be a “Middle Schooler” next year.). Trayvon’s story served as a tragic but teachable example that illustrated how serious and harmful bias and prejudice are in a way that was meaningful to him. For the first time, my son understood. I mean truly understood the impact of race. See…he cannot conceive of what it feels like to be forced to use a “Colored Only” water fountain, or to be made to sit in the back of anything other than his Mommy’s SUV. But, he surely knows what is like to be a young kid walking around in his neighborhood…carrying candy.

So how does a Parenting Expert talk to their child about something like this you might ask? Well, I first have to admit that it was a bit challenging to separate my own emotions from the equation. But I did my best. My first objective was to address any fears that he might have. From the outset, it was clear that his own personal safety was what was prevalently on his mind. In particular, he asked me if someone could kill him too just for walking down the street. (Talk about fighting back tears.) I assured him that he is safe, and that the likelihood that something like this would ever happen to him is slim to none. However, we also tackled the fact that he would surely continue to encounter people who prejudged him simply because of the color of his skin. I also told him what my parents told me 30 + years ago…”Being Black means that you have to be better than expected in order to be graded evenly.” Our hour-long conversation ended with a very tight hug, and an 11-year-old’s understanding that the color of one’s skin does often affect how one is treated and perceived.

We have always taught our children that their caramel skin is beautiful and cause to be proud. Now, because of Trayvon, I am certain that my son fully understands that along with cultural pride, his skin tone can also make him a target. Like I told him…There are people who will hate you just because of the way you look. There are opportunities that you may be denied because of your race. And yes….George Zimmerman may get away with acting in self-defense murdering Trayvon. Though it really broke my heart to have this discussion with my son, it was inevitable because…

This is the reality of being Black….

An open and honest blog about what matters most...children and families!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

When A Parent Is Fed Up

Have you been on Youtube recently? If so, you probably happened upon a clip of an irate (REALLY irate) North Carolina father, Tommy Jordan. The source of his ire is his bratty teenage daughter, Hannah, who had the gall to post a nasty message about her parents on Facebook. Oh, and she made sure to block them to ensure that they would never, ever, ever see what she really thought of them. Well....although teenagers think that they're smart, they are actually pretty predictable! What baby girl forgot is that her father is an IT professional (ROTF). Yep, you guessed it...Daddy hacked in and was able to read the public dissertation filled with all sorts of colorful vocabulary. (Kudos to dad for keeping up with what his daughter is doing online:) response, her father turned the tables around and used the very same social media outlet to teach his daughter a lesson. He sports a cowboy hat, puffs on the cigarette, and eloquently recites his daughter's FB entry. Then, just when you think it will end, the dad gets real melodramatic and pulls out a gun. You just have to watch the clip to get the full picture. But, please note that this is NSFW due to the language.

Now, you all know me well enough by now to know that I believe in level headed parenting. However, I do think that this video shows a father who is beyond fed up with his child, and is at a loss for what else to do. There are so many parents who are in the same boat. There are also so many other ways that he could have reacted that would have made the same point. Instead of making such a public display, he should have opted to handle this matter privately. By the way, Child Protective Services did pay him a visit after viewing his video. I can understand why they needed to make sure that Hannah was okay.

Though I do not know this family, it is probable that Hannah has been acting out for some time. Most kids don't use the words that she used to describe their parents! After just a little bit of research, I found that Hannah has only been living with her father and step-mother for 6 months. Prior to this she lived with her biological mother. Perhaps she is having a difficult time adjusting to her parents' divorce. My hope is that Jordan will put down the gun, and will instead focus on identifying the underlying reasons for his strained relationship with his daughter. Nonetheless, I am happy that the bullets were fired at a laptop. In so many cases, family members turn their rage on each other.

While I am somewhat empathetic to this father, I have very harsh words for an Arkansas mom who also decided to issue some tough love. The difference...her parenting tactics jeopardized her son's safety. Now, she faces child endangerment charges. Watch and tell me if you think the police is overreacting.

An open and honest blog about what matters most...children and families!!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sandusky To Skype With long as they're related?????

I thought that I would have been able to move on from this topic for a while...But Sandusky is the a child advocate's gift that keeps on giving! So here's the latest...Former Penn State University football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is under house arrest on charges of child sexual abuse, has asked a Pennsylvania court to allow supervised visits with his grandchildren which are now prohibited. Just breathe g.... Ok, here I go.

Sandusky faces 52 criminal charges that he molested 10 boys over a 15 year period and has been confined to his house under the terms of his release on bail in December that barred contact with anyone under age 18. He has maintained his innocence. (Can you hear me rolling my eyes?) In a motion filed Friday, his attorney asked the Centre County Court to modify the terms of Sandusky's release to permit supervised contact with his 11 grandchildren.

"The Defendant's minor grandchildren have expressed their sadness to their parents about not being able to visit or talk with the Defendant since November 5, 2011," his attorney wrote. If his grandchildren were, indeed, allowed to visit him, they would be accompanied by at least one parent, according to the motion.

Sandusky is asking the court to allow him the ability to communicate with his grandchildren by mail, email, telephone, or by Skyping. Despite the fact that he cannot do so with ANY OTHER CHILD DUE TO THE ALLEGATIONS THAT HE RAPED BOYS OVER THE COURSE OF 15 hem. Crazy you say? Of course the court would immediately throw this out. Well you might be surprised to hear that Sandusky has a chance. There have actually been countless cases where convicted pedophiles have been granted permission to have visitation with their children.

I am outraged! Here's why.... Just because visitation is supervised should be considered inconsequential because here is, in part, how pedophilia is defined:

Pedophilia is also a psychosexual disorder in which the fantasy or the actual act of engaging in sexual activity with prepubertal children is the preferred or exclusive means of achieving sexual excitement and gratification. It may be directed toward children of the same sex or children of the other sex. Some pedophiles are attracted to both boys and girls. Some are attracted only to children, while others are attracted to adults as well as to children.

Pedophiles are often aroused by the fantasy of sex acts with minors. Thus, by definition, there is cause and justification for more stringent protection for children. Can adult supervise a potential or convicted pedophile's thoughts???? Of course not! So who is to say that Sandusky would not be allegedly experiencing sexual excitement from Skyping, phoning, emailing, or snail mailing any one of his precious grandchildren? Lineage should not supersede or sway the law as it pertains to protecting children from those who prey upon them. If Sandusky is not allowed to communicate with my children...he should not be allowed to communicate with his grandchildren because they, too, need protection. (allegedly;)

An open and honest blog about what matters most...children and families!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why Joe Pa Should Be No Different From the Average Joe: A Parenting Pundit's Thoughts On Paterno

I awoke this morning to confirmed reports that Joe Paterno, famed and disgraced Penn State coach, had passed away from complications of cancer. He was the coach who won more games than anyone in major college football, but was fired amid a child sex abuse scandal that scarred his reputation for winning with integrity. The man known as "Joe Pa" won 409 games and took the Nittany Lions to 37 bowl games and two national championships. More than 250 of the players he coached went on to the NFL. Hmmm...All of these accolades would have sounded far more impressive to me prior to November 2011. (I blogged previously about my feelings here.)

First and foremost, I do want to say that I feel for Paterno's family. Losing a loved one is painful whether expected or unexpected. However, I would not be the parenting pundit and child advocate that I say that I am if I did not share my thoughts. Sooo....

I have to publicly admit that the Christian g struggles with my honest feelings about Paterno's passing. I would never...ever...EVER rejoice in anyone's death or pain. I believe that there is a God who ultimately is the final judge and jury for all that happens on earth. However, aside from sadness...I felt numb when I read the reports of Paterno's death. I wish that I was the all forgiving kind of Christian. But, I am troubled by Paterno's lack of action in this situation.

He admitted that he was taken aback by accusations that a former assistant (Sandusky) had raped a boy in the school showers in 2002. "I didn't know exactly how to handle it, and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was," he told The Washington Post in an extensive two-day interview at his home in State College, Pa. "So I backed away and turned it over to some other people. People I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn't work out that way." Nope, indeed, it did not.

Here's the thing, millions of people do exactly what Joe Pa did in the famed Penn State scandal...not enough to protect children when they know that they are being molested or abused in some way. The difference here is that Paterno's situation made international news. So, in my opinion.... the Average Joe is no different from Joe Pa. I am no harder on Paterno than I have ever been on others. I don't care if you slither out of the alley, or you are a celebrity with billions in the bank! When it comes to abuse against children, we cannot be swayed by money, prestige, championship rings, hit records, or clout. Wrong is wrong. While I understand that that Paterno has done marvelous things for college athletics over the course of his career, it is my belief that he was also negligent in not doing more for the alleged victims.

Perhaps there is something to be learned of this tragic story. My insight: No one wants to hear that something so heinous is/ has happened to a child. However, you cannot pass the buck and think that the next person will better handle the situation. We as individuals must imperatively make sure that we take personal responsibility to stop the abuse and alert the police. Every time....

An open and honest blog about what matters most...Children and families!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lo Siento...I'm A Pedophile

Have you spoken to your kids about predators and the tricks and tactics they use? If not, today is the day for you to do so because these pedophiles are banking on the fact that you won't. The best way to guide your discussion is to know how these sickos operate. Today's sicko is Ryan Brunn...the murderer and rapist of 7-yr-old Jorelys Rivera.

Here is how the mind of a pedophile works:

Published in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution 1/17/12

Brunn said he came across a roller skate while cleaning and knew it was Jorelys’ because he had seen her skating. He took a picture of the skate and waited for her to come back to her apartment building so he could show it to her and ask whose it was.

“I told her to come with me and I’ll get it for her,” said Brunn. “And she did.”

Brunn said he had identified a vacant unit where he thought he could take the girl for “sexual purposes,” Brunn told the judge. Brunn said he had been looking at child pornography on his roommate’s computer, but he “never had an idea of killing a child in my life.”

Brunn, of Dahlonega, had moved to the complex in November, where he lived for free in exchange for groundskeeping. Brunn was still on duty at around 4:30 p.m. that Friday when he lured Jorelys into the vacant unit. His workday was scheduled to end at 5 p.m.

Brunn said he made Jorelys partially undress and at one point get into a bathtub, but he insisted he did not touch her.

“She asked if after she’s done, would she go home?” Brunn said. “That’s the only think she asked.”
Brunn said he told her “yes.” But Jorelys didn’t get to go home.

Brunn said he instead cut the girl’s throat, then repeatedly struck her with the skate until she lost consciousness. He said he wrapped her body in a sheet or blanket and used a golf cart to take it to the complex’s trash compactor.

“I guess I got scared in there and I didn’t want her to go home and tell on me,” he said.
Brunn said he spent the weekend hanging out with his roommate and another female friend, going to Wal-Mart, playing monopoly, smoking pot and meth, and watching football on television.

That Sunday, two days after Jorelys disappeared, as the feverish search for her was underway, Brunn said he wrote a note on a small McDonald’s receipt and taped it to the compactor.
“She’s in the trash can,” it said.

How Brunn lured Jorelys away is fairly characteristic of a pedophile. Moreover, the fact that he knew that the rollerskates belonged to her means that he had targeted Jorelys. Child predators typically try to entice a child to come with them by promising candy, toys, puppies....etc. So when you talk to your kids, make sure to role play the various things that these tricky adults will say to them. AND practice why THEY SHOULD NOT GO WITH THEM.

My heart breaks for Jorelys' parents. What happened to their beautiful daughter is unimaginable...wrong....disturbing....infuriating. No parent should have to endure such pain! This tragic story serves as a reminder that these disgusting pedophiles are systematic in how they plot to harm our babies. We have to be equally tactical!

Ryan Brunn plead guilty to charges of murder, child molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes, false imprisonment, abandonment of a dead body, making a false statement, sexual exploitation of children and two counts each of aggravated battery, aggravated assault and cruelty to children in the first degree. What's more is that investigators believe Brunn has molested other children in Virginia and Lumpkin County, based on interviews with family and former neighbors conducted after his arrest.

Today, Brunn was sentenced to life without parole for murdering Jorelys. During the sentencing, Brunn stated “I would like to apologize for everything I’ve done." Then he turned to the Jorelys' family and said “Lo siento” -- “I’m sorry” in Spanish. He might have faced a death sentence had the case gone to trial.

So Pundits...was justice served?

An open and honest blog about what matters most...children and families!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The "Unintriguing" Missing of 2011

Recently, ABC news published an article online that upset me so much that I needed to walk away from the computer for several hours in order to collect my thoughts. During my 6-hour hiatus I was able to regain my calm, and even began to feel more positive about the post. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much disappointed by the journalists’ article, but it helped to fuel my inner passion. Let me explain…..

The article was titled “Eleven Most Intriguing Missing Persons Cases of 2011.” In it, the writers listed various missing people, and provided a short blurb on each of them. Here is the list:

1. Lisa Irwin
2. Ayla Reynolds
3. Robyn Gardner
4. Lauren Spierer
5. Holly Bobo
6. Michelle Parker
7. Sky Metalwala
8. Aaliyah Lunsford
9. Jhessye Shockley
10. Dawna Natzke
11. Amy Ahonen

First and foremost, I must say that I feel it to be entirely insensitive for a reputable news source to publish something like this. How is it possible to rate or discern between which missing person case is most intriguing? Then, how is it humanly possible to whittle the list down to eleven??? What an odd number! There are currently hundreds of thousands of cases of missing people. Ask any of their family members and they will tell you that their loved one’s story is equally as compelling as Lisa Irwin’s or Holly Bobo’s.

Aside from the obvious insensitivity, I have several other concerns with the list. For example, there are noticeably no males mentioned. I find it hard to believe that this was a casual oversight. Instead, perhaps this means that the media as a whole tends to find males less intriguing when they go missing? Perhaps this is why we don’t often see the round-the-clock coverage for them as we do for girls and women.

Secondly, the list lacks the diversity reflective of the true face of missing people in our great nation. Yes, Jhessye Shockley was included (though they misspelled her name), but what about cases like Phylicia Barnes, Mitrice Richardson, Tyler Thomas or Bianca Jones? Their storylines run parallel to many of the ones included in “the list.” Yet none of these cases were found to be intriguing? The truth is that most African American children and adults do not receive national coverage when they go missing. However, these are the cases in the Black community that received the most media attention in this past year. So, it is implied that if these cases were not “intriguing” enough to make the “list,” then none of the other children of color have a chance! Sigh….

However, I don’t solely blame the writers or the network for this article. This is a far bigger issue. In fact, it’s a societal and systemic issue. Former CNN News Anchor, TJ Holmes, asked me during an interview “Is the media to blame?” My answer was and is still “no.” We as individuals are also to blame for being complacent and accepting of the status quo. More specifically, people of color are at fault for not collectively doing everything in our power to make certain that the media is equally intrigued by our adorable brown babies as much as they are by the adorable Caucasian babies. After all, news stations will only report what they believe the public wants to see.

So, while the article rubbed me the wrong way….I ultimately thank the writers for my New Year’s reminder that it is unfair how the missing are reported. The bias is obvious. That is why there is a need for an organization like Peas In Their Pods, which helps to spread awareness about missing children of color. Most people do not realize that they are reported missing at such an epidemic rate. However, we remain steadfast that our collective efforts will ultimately help to make a significant social impact.

An open and honest blog about what matters most....children and families!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

From Legos to Boob Jobs

I awoke this morning to a news headline that was so incredibly asinine that I had to read it multiple times to make sure I had it right (I've been on vacation for over two weeks and my mind has gotten a little soft. Anyhoo...) It read: 'Human Barbie' Sarah Burge Gives 7-Year-Old Daughter Breast Implant Voucher.

The accompanying article described how she gave her daughter a $10,000 gift certificate to use after her sixteenth birthday because this is when breast augmentation surgery is legal. She claimed that her baby girl "begged" her for a "boob job." Reportedly, her daughter was so excited about the gift that she exclaimed, "I can't wait to be like Mummy with big boobs. They're pretty." Sigh......

Ok....It would be too easy for me to go in knee deep about the psychological impact this gift has on her daughter's self-esteem. WAAAAAAYYY too easy. Instead, I'll leave you to connect the dots. My mind, instead, went a different direction. I needed to find out who this so called Human Barbie is. So I did a bit of searching, and now everything makes sense to me. Let me share her story.

These are her own words:

I was involved in an incident of domestic violence so severe that I was left with a broken cheekbone, jaw, eye socket and teeth. I was rushed to hospital to be patched up but when I eventually saw myself in a mirror I collapsed in shock.

My face was completely disfigured, I looked like a monster. I lived like that for six years and they were the worst six years of my life.

I visited the best plastic surgeons I could find and offered them a business proposition. If they could make me look the way I wanted to look then I would refer all my clients to them. They agreed and I haven’t paid a penny for my surgery since.

When I lost my face I didn’t feel good on the inside. I was miserable. As for being an addict I’m the first one to admit it’s true. I’m addicted to looking good. What’s wrong with that?

In addition to Sarah's self-disclosure, I also learned that as a teen, she fell prey to a "charming" man who groomed her as a teenage prostitute. She eventually became a "lap dancer," and ultimately a Playboy Bunny. It was then that her roller coaster ride of a life took horrible turn when a married Arabian with whom she was having an affair beat her so horrifically that she nearly died.

As with many women who are disfigured as a result of domestic violence, Sarah sought the help of plastic surgeons to fix her physical wounds. However, at least for her, her emotional wounds which seemingly stem from childhood could not be "fixed" with the mere use of a scalpel. Only psychotherapy could achieve this.

There are many sad elements to this story. But the one that troubles me most is the fact that the cycle has been recreated. Now, her daughter has been brainwashed into believing that a prefabricated body is better than the one created by God.

Although extreme, I bet that there are elements of Sarah's story that are being recreated in our own homes. For example, how many of us are unknowingly passing on our own insecurities to our children? Probably most of us. Not sure if you are? Well because I love you, I created a cheat-sheet to help determine if you might be passing on some poor traits to your cutie pies.

Here they are:

  1. Your 7-yr-old says they need "boobs implants"

  2. Your 7-yr-old says they need lipo

  3. You your 7-yr-old take turns practicing on the pole (displayed in the family room)

Happy Parenting;)

An open and honest blog about what matters most...children and families!!!