rss search

next page next page close

a daughter’s disclosure

I have two fathers.

Some of you know that,
and some of you do not.
Some of my relatives know one,
but never heard of the other,
at least not that I know.

I have two fathers.

This challenging fact of my life
has been exhausting to carry quietly
and manage gracefully.

How this came to be is a complicated story
which I do not wish to share publicly
out of love and respect for all involved
and my own need for privacy.

But on this 4th of July,
I want to claim the freedom to say
that I have two fathers,
that one gave me his name
and the other his genes,
that both loved me imperfectly
but cared enough
to ask for second chances;
and I am very grateful
for what they did give me.

I have two fathers.

Why say so publicly?

Because I want to be free
from the oppressive grip of secrecy
and all the ways it has stifled my voice,
my heart, my energy.

Because one of my dads just passed away
and seeking to hold back
the sadness in my heart
has not felt good nor right.

I want to be free to acknowledge
who we were to each other,
and honor him, as his daughter,
for giving me the gift of life.
He has had a big place in my heart
long before I first met him
when I was nineteen.

Our journey was not easy.
We enjoyed each other greatly,
but lacked the skills and strength
to navigate the twists and turns,
and significant third parties
that impacted our story,
prompting us to bow out
of each other’s life a few times.

Two summers ago,
he wrote to me out of the blue,
after many years of silence,
offering the olive branch
I had stopped hoping for.

We entered our own version
of “truth and reconciliation,”
explored our differences,
forgave our limitations.

We had our sweetest Summer,
Fall and Winter that year,
before he became gravely ill,
and fell silent again.

I called him Phil,
but it always touched my heart
when he signed his letters
“Your American dad.”

I still have my French father,
the one I’ve always known as my dad,
the one I call “Papa” rather than Jean-Jacques,
the one who has loved me as his own since day one,
though we did not share a roof very long.
He too has tried to do his very best
to reclaim missed opportunities
and compost our painful past into a story
we could feel good about.

His nobility of heart,
his kindness and steadiness,
have been an inspiration to me,
and I wear his name proudly.

So, here it is,
that simple truth
I want to share openly:

I have
two fathers,
both precious to me.


next page next page close

bridging the gap

It’s Martin Luther King day,
and I am sorry to say
the racial wealth divide
has not gone away.

Some researchers say it’s 7 to 1.
Others 17 to 1.

While we can debate
the best measures
and exact ratios
(see links further below),
there is no denying
racial inequality remains
a revulsive reality.

Quoting MLK’s wise words,
which I too love to do,
will not help bridge that gap,
unless that sparks us to face it,
rather than skip right over it.

So, I want to invite all MLK fans
on the privileged side of the divide
to be color brave
rather than color blind.

Today is a good day
to take a rigorous look
at that racial wealth gap,
and ask:

What will I give and do this year
to fulfill MLK’s vision
of a beloved community
and make racial equity a reality?

Here are some readings,
with the sad facts and numbers
we need to shift.

 

Research Papers

The Ever Growing Gap by the Racial Wealth Divide, the Institute of Policy Studies, and CFED (August 2016)

The Racial Wealth Gap, by Demos.org (2015)

Articles

Blacks still far behind whites in wealth and income,” Money.cnn.com (June 27, 2016)

The Widening Racial Wealth Divide, the New Yorker (October, 2016)

Programs

The Racial Wealth Divide Initiative, by CFED

Books:

The Color of Wealth: The Story behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide by Barbara J. Robles (Author), Betsy Leondar-Wright (Author), Rose M. Brewer (Author), Rebecca Adamson (Author), Meizhu Lui (Editor)

 


next page next page close

staying grounded in wild times

What keeps you centered and meaningfully engaged in these wildly challenging times?  As distressing news continually floods our screens, and opportunities for numbness, overwhelm, despair, and fear grow exponentially, I practice re-grounding myself in simple commitments to:

(1) build my capacity to engage more skillfully with conflicts and craziness rather than be a complacent or ineffective witness

(2) explore and own my part of this multi-dimensional mess rather than join the finger-pointing fest

(3) sharpen my discernment and tuning in skills so I can stay focused on where I am most drawn and best wired to serve

(4) remember that I am only one in seven billion and that trying to do more than my part is exhausting and self-defeating, and in the end not as helpful as inspiring and encouraging others to play their part, and making space for their stepping forward.

(5) share what I am up to rather than tell others what to do, so we can support and embolden each other to find and claim our authentic piece of the larger puzzle, which for some may involve being on the front lines, and for others may involve taking care of a sick child, or writing poetry for these times.

(6) be receptive to others’ suggestions without losing my internal sense of direction

(7) track / learn from / support eldersmentorskindred spirits, organizations that are meaningfully, constructively, and skillfully engaged

(8) practice reaching across divides to dismantle prejudices, repair harm, “compare hallucinations” (as my friend Miakoda Taylor puts it in her Fierce Allies trainings), and build bridges rather than walls

(9)  vote every day with my heart, attention, imagination, energy, money, and actions for the world I know is possible, however hidden from sight it may be

(10) fiercely protect sleep, meditation, and a daily walk from the temptations to sacrifice them for any reason

(11) be the hummingbird in Wangari Maathai’s short story, trusting that, in times like ours, even small acts of engagement are better than sitting by the sidelines, lamenting what is happening

(12)  follow my friend Kristi’s recommendation to keep death front and center at all times, to remember what matters most, keep priorities straight, and appreciate all that deserves appreciation, even amidst challenges

(13) learn from those who already know know how to live in the heart of darkness and try to call back those who get lost in the underworld

(14) enjoy every opportunity for a good laugh

(15) stay in close geese formation with kindred spirits, discerning when it is time to step out in front and lead in some way, and when it is time to step back, rest, or be the wind in others’ wings

And how about you?
What keeps you sane and centered?


next page next page close

martin luther king’s legacy

MLK

One of my favorite MLK books

Here is a powerful piece
published in 2011 by Hamden Rice,
about what his father urged him to see
as Dr. King’s greatest legacy:

not the big speeches and marches,
nor the integration of schools, lunch counters, and buses
nor even the fact that he inspired many white folks
to play “nicer and fairer.”

No, for Hamden Rice and his father,
Martin Luther King’s greatest legacy
was to “end the terror of living as a black person”
in a country where random acts of brutal and sadistic violence
(in the form of lynching, rape, or savage beating)
could be committed against you, any time,
and you had to live with that terrifying possibility,
every day.

What did liberation from this type of terror require?
I can’t do justice to Hamden Rice’s eloquence,
so I invite you to read his words directly,
and feel what he is saying.
It’s real, sobering, and heart-opening.

January 21, 2014
Martin Luther King’s day.

Hamden Rice’s original post
was published in Daily Kos,
on August 29, 2011

Lynching Map

 


next page next page close

When the dance claims you

When the dance claims you, “it is almost like riding on the back of a horse.  At some point you are really floating on air and barely touching the saddle.  Something propels you.” I love that ‘something’ and that moment when life just breaks free and explodes with vitality.  I cannot get enough of this Dances of Ecstasy video which I found on my friend Adam Barley‘s beautiful website.

line

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjXVEZxuoew&feature=related]


a daughter’s disclosure

I have two fathers. Some of you know that, and some of you do not. Some of my relatives...
article post

bridging the gap

It’s Martin Luther King day, and I am sorry to say the racial wealth divide has not...
article post

staying grounded in wild times

What keeps you centered and meaningfully engaged in these wildly challenging times?...
article post

martin luther king’s legacy

Here is a powerful piece published in 2011 by Hamden Rice, about what his father urged...
article post

When the dance claims you

When the dance claims you, “it is almost like riding on the back of a horse.  At...
article post