These are my girls at school! Happy-go-lucky and free to be a teen and pre-teen! They are students, learning, growing, making friends and having fun!
To my friends, colleagues, and followers: have school shootings in America become the new normal, commonplace? There have been 288 school shootings in America since 2009. There have been 433 shooting incidents in America since the Santa Fe, TX shooting on Friday – that just three days ago. In 2018, there have been 22,190 total shooting incidents in America and 16 school shootings in American in 2018. Why?
Twenty-three (23) families have changed: 8 students and 2 teachers are dead; 13 others were injured. One student who was a Pakistani exchange student who came here to study with American students and interact with American families. Her family will never see her again. Why is this the “new norm”?
As I sent my daughters to school today, it was like nothing happened on Friday. It happened and life has gone on. The same students that I see every school day were at the bus stop. The country is not having a moment of silence; it is contained to the state of Texas. If the reports are correct, more students have died in school shootings this year than soldiers in the two (2) wars that America is currently engaged. So I wondered, is this the norm in other countries.
Based on what I learned, it is NOT! Again, since 2009, here are the number of school shootings for other countries. Mexico – 8; South Africa – 6, India – 5, Canada and France – 2, China, Germany, Greece and Russia – 1, all other countries listed including the UK are zero (0). Let me put it another way, America is 36 times more likely to have a school shooting than any other country in the world! So this is just the norm in America!
I agree with Arne Duncan, former Secretary of Education 2008-2015, that it is our responsibility as parents to ensure our children’s safety. The question becomes, how do we do that? Is it something that we need to do collectively? Is it even a problem for my community? We need to have the conversation. We need to talk about if and how gun violence affects our children, our families, our communities. We need to discuss options to make a difference, to make our children, our students, our teachers, our communities, our seniors, our colleagues – Americans safe!
Are you willing to have the discussion with me? Or, are we going to continue to live our lives as if this only happens to other people, until it happens to us? What are the steps that we can take as parents? Should we work individually or collectively or both? What role do the politicans that we elect play? What is the political responsibility to affect change in this area? Is there one? Are the parents of the student who committed this heinous act responsible for providing access to these guns and other weapons of mass destruction? Let’s discuss, and then take action.
When I opened Google on February 1, 2017, to my delight, Google wished me ‘Happy Black History Month’ highlighting Edmonia Lewis, an African-Native American sculptor born in New York on Independence Day 1844. On February 1, 2018, Google highlighted Carter G. Woodson, an Black American writer and historian considered the “Father of Black History.”
Go out and learn more about your history. Lots of times we discuss the great Black Americans who built this country and helped our community begin to grow and thrive. Now I want you to learn your history. Who are your parents? Who are your grandparents? Where do you come from? These are my children. I want them to know where they come, who they are, what great people came in our family before them.
Our children need to know and learn who the great famous Black women and men in world history. That is very important. But just as important is for them to know and learn who the great Black women and men in our family histories are. Make it a part of our Black History activities. Talk with your ancestors and learn about your family. That’s what I plan to do.
This month, I have decided to dedicate time to learning my family history and hope that you may do the same. Make Black History Month GREAT again!!!
Wednesday, February 8, 2018, I attended my first Paparazzi Regional event called EmpowerMe Pink in Phildelphia, PA. There was a lot going on in Philly that day: there was a MASSIVE parade for the Eagles who won Super Bowl LII. People were everywhere. The city shut down 5 miles of streets and people were required to take public transportation just to get into the city. There were no cars, trucks or SUVs on the street of Phildelphia that day! Just hundreds of thousands of people celebrating a long awaited victory for a team that they never gave up on.
The Eagles were not the only champions in town that day. Thousands of Paparazzi Independent Consultants traveled to Philly by car, bus, train and plane to hear from the champions, like Trent Kirby, Chani and Ryan Reeves,who started our company and share with each other stories of success and hope! For me, it was AMAZING. I was reminded of the power of hope, the importance of consistency and the hard work of discipline. Most of all, the meeting confirmed my goals, my heart’s desire, is waiting for me to attain it. Nothing and no one is holding me back but me. That stops now!
Everything I am, all that I have, all that I’ve accomplished, all that my children accomplish is by the Grace of God. I was reminded of a commencement address that Denzel Washington gave at an HBCU recently. I went back and listened to it this morning (following one of the tips that Trent taught us to start each day listening to motivational videos). Now I’m sharing it with you.
Be blessed and make today GREAT!!
As a mother of two daughters, I am fiercely protective of my girls. Everyone should understand that. That’s what mother’s do – we love, care for, nurture, listen to, fight for, provide for, love (did I say that already) our children and so much more. There is nothing that I would not do for my girls. Nothing! It’s also made me empathetic to other women, so when I kept hearing about – let’s just call them – people “outing” Malia Obama for kissing a boy and smoking a cigarette as a freshman in college, I did not understand.
My first thoughts were whoever is trying to make this a story must have never been a teenager and certainly did not attend college. The average college student pushes the boundaries as a freshman. You are no longer living with your parents, learning to be more independent, make decisions without constant supervision and developing into an adult. So, as a teenager, you might kiss a person that you like; you might smoke a cigarette; you might do a lot of new and exciting things; you might do a lot of stupid things. So what is the big deal?
Oh that’s right! Her last name is Obama, and her parents are Michelle and Barack. She is a lovely young lady who deserves to be left alone. Let her live her life. Let her grow and develop and become the great young woman that she is destined to be. She lived through 8 years in the most high profile household in America, and she did so without scandal! She went to school everyday, did well, hung out with her sister, family and friends. If she’s anything like my teenager, she’s discovering her style, working toward her life’s goals, learning to develop relationships with teachers, friends, other students and the community. She’s doing what she has to do and learning what she loves to do.
Her mother committed to allowing her girls live as normal a life as possible (given their Dad was president), and she kept that promise. Now, you want to create a scandal out of normal teenage activities. Let me say this. LEAVE HER ALONE!!! You are out of bounds, flag on the play… Anyone who goes after Malia or Sasha Obama needs to think twice before they do it. She is a child. She is the child of one of the most beloved families in America. She is not to be maligned, no child should. I know what do and have done when people go after my girls. I can only imagine what the woman who taught us, “When they go low, we go high” would do. That’s a mother not to be reckoned with.
One thing I know for sure. If ‘people’ continue to go after this young woman, it won’t be pretty. Women like me will fight not only for our children, our girls. We will fight for the children, the young ladies, of mothers just like us. She may or may not need it, but Michelle Obama and her girls will always have my back! Our children have enough to live up to, they should NOT be the subject of shallow, empty people with nothing more to do than pick on someone else’s kids. As my aunt might say, “That could get you cut” LOL!!!
And for those of you who need references to this story, check your twitter feed from Thanksgiving 2017 weekend or read these related articles:
Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad makes history… again! She is the first Muslin-American woman to wear a hijab on a U.S. Olympic team and Mattel honors her diversity by introducing a new Barbie.