vacation. day 1.

This is my first real vacation since 2007.  I am beyond excited to not really have a plan and do a ton of things I want to do – like design my new apartment, make an inspiration board and I’m thinking of making a headboard too – things I need to do – finish the final draft of my first peer-reviewed journal article, focus SASSY, see my family – and just relax.

For my first day of vacation, I was shamed into going to the gym by my roommate (ha) but at the gym I saw my old gym buddy.  After 45 minutes of cardio (and girl talk), we decided to go to the beach.  Since it was a million degrees outside, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner, but we called up a few other friends and headed over.

It was so relaxing.  We went in the water, we laid out in the sun.  Aside from getting hit by some guy’s umbrella (twice!), it was so peaceful.

Then I came home and made a healthy dinner with my roommate (SASSY post on that coming soon) – roasted portobello caprese salad. yum.  We tried to put together the couch, we were unsuccessful, but at least it’s here.

After that I was exhausted, so I went to bed.

It was an excellent beginning to what is sure to  be an excellent vacation.


Trying to get my life back

In 6 days i will begin a 3 week vacation.  My first vacation in over two years.  My last vacation was prob my worst with my (ex) boyfriend and lots o drama. So I need to make up for lost time and create some positive memories to associate with vacation.

I have a few goals over those next 3 weeks:

    1. Focus SASSY.  It’s too all over the place.  There’s no structure.  I know it can better.
    2. Finish the edits on the chapter – which has now turned into a journal article.  the editors had the second draft for almost 6 months and returned it yesterday and said they wanted revisions by Augutst 19th.  That wasn’t happening but one of  my coauthors and I are trying to get it out by September 2nd.  Wish us luck!
    3. Do and mega pro and cons list of my two dissertation ideas.  I know I haven’t started the program but if I want to get out in 3 years I need to go in knowing exactly what I want to do.
    4. PhD bootcamp with my cousin who just got her PhD.  (Congrats Leah).  I have no idea of what this entails.
    5. Exercise. a lot.  I know it will help relieve stress and my goal is to put myself on a schedule and make this routine.  Even though I am currently pretty healthy, I know I can do better.
    6. Create a realistic healthier diet.  I just moved and have been eating crap for three weeks.  My body can’t take it anymore.

      That’s all I’ve got for now.  I’ll keep you updated.


      every Black man’s worst nightmare

      The title alone makes me cringe: Childless man freed after serving time for child support violations.

      Yeah read that again, this dude has no kids and has gone to jail, no once, but TWICE over child support violations.  Basically what happened was dude was with some chick, she got pregnant and told him it was his.  They break up shortly thereafter.  She goes after child support (or if she was on public assistance, the state went after child support).  Like many low-income men, he couldn’t keep up with the child support payments and the state threw his butt in jail (that law is so dumb, but that’s another post).    Then he got out, got a job and couldn’t pay again and then went to jail again.  13 years later he hears whispers that he might not be the father and decided to take a DNA test.   So eventually Mr. Haltey take 2 paternity tests and it’s concluded that the child is not his.  It’s good in the hood right? No, Mr. Hatley still has to pay his back child support even through the child isn’t his.  Why?  Because he signed a consent agreement to pay child support back when he thought the child was his.  The court is holding him to that, so he has to pay more than $16,000 in back child support.

      How could this happen?  It’s actually really easy.  All you really need to do to establish paternity is pay a small fee to get your name on a birth certificate.  I’m not aware that you actually need to have a DNA test to do this.  So if you’re messing around and aren’t sure where your seeds are growing, you too could get caught up.

      My biggest problem with the article is that it assumers that if you’re aren’t paying child support you’re a deadbeat dad.  I hang around a lot of fatherhood researchers, and they call it something else: dead broke.  I think most men would gladly pay child support if they were earning a decent salary.  I was watching this documentary and this man said by the time they took child support out of his pay check, he had $0.16 left.  You just can’t live off of that.  And even though it is selfish, to want to put food in your mouth over child’s, I get it.

      All in all, I’m glad Mr. Hatley is out of jail but let this be a cautionary tale.  Fellas, be aware of what’s going on.  If you don’t think you can afford 18 years of child support payments, or just don’t want to pay them, wrap it up and call it a day.  Ladies, when telling men that the child is theirs, please be sure you actually know who the father is.  Fellas, if you aren’t sure they child is yours, please get a DNA test.  Yes, I will still call you a dick for putting a pregnant woman through the drama that is men figuring out who the father is, we will all be happy in the  end when we know who the actual father is.  As you can see, if you make a mistake with this, you’re stuck with the consequences.


      But what about resiliency?

      jeez i wrote this last week and never posted. lame.

      So everyone’s asking if I read the NYT’s article, In Prisoner’s Wake, a Tide of Troubled Kids.  Yeah I read it and I did not like.  As a child of a parent who spent most of my childhood in jail or cracked out, I turned out fine and I am tired of reading all these articles about how kids growing up in single parent households are screwed for life.    This is defeatist.  Yes, fathers are important to a child’s well-being but if a father is not there, that does not mean that child has no chance of  a positive upbringing.

      I had many problems with the article.  The article appears to say create difference categories in father absence by protraying a parent is jail as more damaging to a child’s well-being than a child whose father just isn’t around?  In both cases, a child does not have a father.

      The chances of seeing a parent go to prison have never been greater, especially for poor black Americans, and new research is documenting the long-term harm to the children they leave behind. Recent studies indicate that having an incarcerated parent doubles the chance that a child will be at least temporarily homeless and measurably increases the likelihood of physically aggressive behavior, social isolation, depression and problems in school — all portending dimmer prospects in adulthood.

      Children who grow up with fathers, whether they are in jail or not, are all at risk of low educational attainment, risky sexual behavior and violence.   I don’t understand the need to create levels of father absence as if one reason a father is gone is better than another.  They are all damaging.

      We are introduced to the “Incarceration Generation,”   children who grew up with at least one parent in prison and the article.  The two children of the Incarceration Generation interviewed for this article are, in my opinion, extreme examples.  Herbert Scott, who is 20 with a child and was awaiting sentencing for drug possession and robbery.  By the end of the article, he was in jail.   Then there is Terrisa Bryant who also had a child and was a high school dropout.  I get it, the prospects are dim but it is not hopeless.  Why not at least provide an example of a child of an incarecerated parent who was jail bound, a young (single) parent, or a drop out.

      The article feels like CNN’s Black in America – providing no new information to the Black community, downplaying the positive – specifically Adam Gaine’s story – to focus on the negative Herbet Scott and providing no solutions.  I would have rather read about how Gaine’s beat his addiction and how he got into (and stayed in) a program to train him to become a fitness teacher.  I am not interested in Scott’s oh to common story of coming out of jail, talking about how he wants to be there for his kids and then winds up back in jail within a year.  I don’t need to read that.  I don’t want to read that.  I would rather read about programming or policies that reach out to these children offer assistance.  I would have rather read about programming that successfully reintroduces Black men into society and assists with training and housing.  I would rather read about policies to loosen licensing restrictions to ex prisoners so that even low skill men can acquire jobs and make a decent living.

      The article ultimately ignores a glaring issue – why are these men going to jail in the first place?  It makes little  mention of extremely harsh drug laws, and no mention of  the limited employment of ex-felons, the impact of low educational attainment on potential earnings, lack of support upon reentry to society, I could go on for days.  To place the blame solely on parents who are incarcerated is dangerous.


      What your mentors should be telling you

      Dr. Simmons and I (yeah Im super shiny)

      This weekend I had the pleasure of attending Princeton’s Graduate Women of Color Caucus’s conference, The Changing Role and Influence of Women of Color in Society.  It was such a great experience.  The keynote was by Dr. Ruth Simmons (current President of Brown, former President of Smith (whoot whoot)).  She is simply amazing.  If you don’t know about Dr. Simmons, you need to ask someone. She is the Michael Jordan of academia.

      She was candid.  She was funny.  She was honest.   Dr. Simmons broke down what we need to succeed in higher education, and especially in some of the most prestigious schools in America.

      Know your field. Like really know it. Know the markers of your field.  Where should you be published?  What prizes should you be striving for?  What grants should you be receiving?

      Mentors. Of course you know you need a mentor, but how do you know if you have a good mentor.  Dr. Simmons told us if all your mentor does is tell you how wonderful you are, get a new mentor.  You need a mentor to tell you what’s not pretty.

      Let them take credit for your work. It’s happened to her many times before, and it’s bound to happen for you.  It’s better for us, if you succeed.  Who cares if they want to take credit for it.

      This is going to require maturity.  Unfair things are going to happen to you.  Expect that.  So now, how are you going to handle it?  You cannot throw a fit.  You must handle disappoint with grace.  When your boss/professor talks crazy to you, take it.  Save the tears for your office.

      Don’t let others pacify you. Again, like with your mentors, if you are surrounded by people who only tell you how great you are, be aware.  Be your own worst critique.  Tear your own work about if you have to.

      Endure. Be strong.  Do not let grad school break you.  You will be dealing with all this drama for a good reason – that good MA or PhD.

      Be broad. Most of there are studying something related to people of color, and that is great.  But we must remember to be broad enough to affect others.  This will also make us more marketable when we hit the job market.  It’s important to be near the center.  Being in the margin is not where you want to be.

      Remember how important you are. Yes, you need the school for an education, but they need you too.  The better you are, they better they look.  Don’t let them treat you like they are doing you a favor and that you don’t belong.  Remember your value to their institution and be good to yourself.

      It was exactly what I needed to hear and at the exact time when I needed it most.  Thank you Dr. Simmons.  You are a gem.



      So last week I turned 27.  Normally I don’t feel anything on my birthdays, but this year I felt old.  Too old.  Actually, too old for this shit.

      What is this shit?  Roommate drama and coworker drama.  I literally woke up that morning and said no more and made a plan.  By the end of the day, I had a new roommate and plan to deal with my nemesis.

      I guess old people get things done.


      Roland Martin puts fathers on blast

      Fathers, and pretty much anyone that deals with them.

      I’ve called on pastors nationwide to stop the stream of momma, grandmother, aunts and female cousins coming to the altar for baby dedications with no man in sight. That pastor should say, “Until I personally meet with the father, I will not dedicate this child.” Somebody has to hold that man accountable for his actions.

      It’s time that men hold their “boys” accountable. Actor Hill Harper had a friend who once said that he hadn’t seen his child in some time, but he found time to play basketball with Harper. Hill said, “Unless you call your child now, we can’t play ball.” See, Hill had to force him to accept his responsibilities.

      I’m down for men holding other men accountable.  Not sure how I feel about pastors refusing to baptize kids.  It’s not the kid’s fault the parents don’t get along and the dad wants to disappear.

      I mean we even got kids trying to hold their dads accountable.  Al B. Sure’s son wrote him two public letters, and the fool still hasn’t even responded. lame.  ABS, do better dude.

      But for real, I think men should hold themselves accountable.  I don’t know that I would want my dad to acknowledge me solely because his friends won’t ball with him anymore.  I want my dad around because he is my dad, because he loves me and because he wants to be there.


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