Thoughts For This Moment In Time!

I am a Southerner! Lots of folks live in the South that aren’t Southerners! I’ll just leave that one there! 

I would ask my Mom over and over again when I was a young adult about her growing up. Her answers fell short of my hopes and expectations. My Dad would ask me this funny question. Make sure that you have that beautiful Southern drawl. Do you have it? “Sugar, what’s the difference between a Yankee and a damn Yankee? A damn Yankee moves to the South and never leaves.” Turns out his Grandparents had a store in Pelahatchie, Mississippi and the carpetbaggers came in after the Civil War and took it over and left them penniless. Are you getting the picture? Finally my Mom told me about a book she had just finished and thought it may answer my questions about how she grew up and she was absolutely correct. Check it out. Cold Sassy Tree.That book was my “ah ha” moment. Really, check it out because it was written in the period of time that my Mom and Dad were growing up in Mississippi, 1913 and forward.

I am a Southerner! 

I was born at the Baptist Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi during an ice storm way back in February 1951. That’s a part of the story that I was told by my parents. I did not grow up in Mississippi but I spent many a happy summer on my Grandfather’s farm in Pulaski, Mississippi. Just to be sure this was my Mom’s parents. I remember bringing the cows home in the evening with my Grandfather. I still have that cow bell! I remember shelling peas with my Grandmother. She taught me how to make a cake from scratch; don’t over mix the eggs with the sugar. And I dearly loved going out to the watermelon patch to pick my very own watermelon with my Grandfather. My youngest son’s middle name is after him, the best story teller of all! My Grandfather was born on March 3, 1883. My Grandmother was born on October 19, 1885. Do the math! That’s just 18+ years since the end of the Civil War. So it’s no wonder that I grew up “hearing” lots of stuff! 

I went to Ole Miss in the age of Archie Manning. I married the week after graduating from Ole Miss in September 1972. I have never “lived or worked” in Mississippi. To tell you the truth I fled the South because I just plain hated what was happening. I felt it was an embarrassment and the worst of it was that I hated my accent. A bit of white privilege now that I begin to reflect but I get ahead of myself.

Fast forward to 1995 and I had the great joy of joining a national group of folks, Ecumenical Child Care Network (ECCN) based in Chicago and an arm of the National Council of Churches. Sadly ECCN is no more in existence. Anyway, I was elected to ECCN’s national board in 1996. ECCN won a fabulous grant from the McCormick Tribune Foundation to work on anti-racist, anti-bias issues. There was a WingSpread Conference  and Johnson and Johnson played a part. These two years of anti-racism and anti-bias work changed me forever. I never knew about “red lines.” I never knew to look at children’s literature with this kind of perspective. I just never knew so many things and now I do know. Again, white privilege.

Once again, fast forward and the Pandemic hits in the Spring of 2020 and the murder of George Floyd happens. Let’s say Breonna Taylor’s name. And the list goes on and on and on and my heart breaks. I begin to remember Emmett Till and Medgar Evers. I was in Jackson, Mississippi when both of these tragic events occurred. I was four years old and 12 years old respectively. Again, there was a lot of whispering with the adults in my life. I knew something bad had happened but only whispers. Thankfully only whispers. Oh, is that white privilege? 

So I’m not just moving away this time like I did in 1972.. I am actually living in Charleston, South Carolina! Let’s be clear that I live in a blue county surrounded by hot red counties. And this time I am going to do it different. It feels different this time for me! I am going to do this different not only for my country but for my grandchildren and the children that I am honored to meet when I coach in classrooms across the country. We’ve got a chance to re-birth our county this time. I so hope that we as a country can get it right this time. I credit Mara Gay with that phrase.

This time I am going to become informed and speak up because silence is complicit. So I began to intentionally read and listen once again how to be an anti—racist. This list was of great help to me. Maybe it will be of help to you! 

So here’s what I am reading and listening to as we begin to re-birth our nation. Podcasts are first because they are my new addiction! Bailey, my Scottish Terrier, and I and do a lot of walking these days so listening to podcasts and books are my new best friends.

Baratunde All of his podcasts are amazing! Just click over to find them!

Baratunde Thurston is an Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black . He’s the executive producer and host of two podcasts: How To Citizen with Baratunde and We’re Having A Moment which CNET called “the most important podcast of 2020.” He’s also the creator / host of the weekly pandemic show, Live On Lockdown. In 2019, he delivered what MSNBC’s Brian Williams called “one of the greatest TED talks of all time”. Right now, the writer, activist and comedian is using his powerful voice to help people understand this revolutionary moment with his unique blend of insight, humor, and empathy.

Baratunde is a rare leader who exists at the intersection of race, technology, and democracy and seamlessly integrates past, present and future. 

It’s Been A Minute With Sam Sanders This guy is just so much fun! Listen to him. You won’t regret it!
Each week, Sam Sanders interviews people in the culture who deserve your attention. Plus weekly wraps of the news with other journalists. Join Sam as he makes sense of the world through conversation.

Throughline: NPR I love history so it’s just obvious that I would enjoy this podcast.

The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world.

Being Well Okay, so this isn’t overtly about anti-racism but it is about trauma and let’s face it, racism is trauma.
Here’s the most current podcast:
How To Cope During A Pandemic with Dr. Bruce Perry

Ibram X Kendi This is the person that I really am paying attention to during this time. Click over to read about him.
Well that quote literally takes my breath away. Here’s the book that I listened to last spring:
How To Be An Anti-Racist

Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. 

In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.
You can follow him on Facebook also!

To end? I felt so confused as a child growing up and going to church. We would sing “Jesus Loves the Little Children” but actions spoke volumes to me. Racism is anything but loving.

So please comment below with how you are using your voice. Do you have any other resources for me? Looking forward to making Ripples with you!


7 Replies to “Thoughts For This Moment In Time!”

  1. Did you knowIbram X. Kendi went to high school here in Manassas?
    His book Antiracist Baby is one of Baby K’s favorites!
    I loved this beautiful post and I’m so grateful you wrote it! ❤

  2. So, can I “take the sock out now”? Do you remember telling me this? It was over the issue of same sex couples. That phrase has stuck with me all these years. Maybe it kept me from being too outspoken or maybe it led me to choose my words and actions more carefully. Actually, quite a few people in OFC are studying equity and trying to adjust how we train teachers and support the community.
    Keep the fire burning!

  3. So grateful for your passion and new found commitment to speak up. Your words inspire, Jessica. Thanks for the podcast recommendations.

  4. Appreciate your courage as well as podcast resources and the anti-racist matrix. It’s more than sounding an opinion … it’s about action. This blog post grants us some strong tools to become the kindling, the paper and the match to get the fires burning. Thanks, Jess! Here’s to ending racism and becoming part of the solution!

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