Thursday, November 5, 2015

Who Protects our Children?

Yes, I know I haven't posted in many, many months, but we will deal with that later. There is something so pressing and so heavy on my heart and mind that I needed to address it here, in this space, where I am a Mommy first.

I know we have all seen the video of the Spring Valley student slammed to the ground and literally dragged like a rag doll out of her classroom. This blog isn't even about that. As disgusting and criminal (Yes I said criminal) as his actions were, he's not why I'm here to vent.

I am appalled NO horrified and disappointed and disgusted by how many responded to that video with, "But what did she do? or We can't see what she did before? Or well why didn't she just leave the class or give up the cell phone"" Black parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles all actively LOOKING for a reason to blame this child for this man's horrific violence and contempt towards her. As if there HAS to be another reason for a white police officer would behave that way towards a child. I find myself almost shaking in rage as some of you so VERY blind to the propaganda began a few days later to post a year old video of some students harassing and abusing another teacher in another school, with comments of "these children need their asses whipped, etc". You sir, mam, make it okay for that officer in Spring Valley to behave that way. And you are the problem. And I know exactly what it is.

Once several years ago when my oldest child was a toddler, as I sat in a pediatrician's office with my child I had what does Oprah call them??... " an a-ha moment" that changed the way I parent. My doctor's office is in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. The crowd in the waiting area was very racially mixed. There were many small children in the crowded waiting area so it got a little loud and rowdy. One little blond child was a bit rowdier than the others. He was climbing on the toy chairs, marching across, singing loudly...He was everywhere, touching everything..something 4-year-old boys do. He was funny and cute and so  I shared that little secret mom smile that you share with moms, as she nursed her smaller child.

As I looked around I noticed other black parents starting to give THAT look, you know that look, don't act like you don't! They exchanged glances and knowing looks, facial expression visibly tightening because the audacity of this child to act LIKE A CHILD.And how dare his mother not stop him and discipline him, "There were audible whispers among the black mothers of why she can't CONTROL her child. He wasn't malicious or out of control just a little wild, a little free like kids are supposed to be.  And then the inevitable happened, other children started to join his one-man parade. And one by one most (not all) of the black moms told their kids, to stop, sit down, be quiet. One older grandmother snatched the child of the chair, absently smacked her legs and told her to sit be quiet and stop making so much commotion. Soon after the mom took the blonde boy into his appointment and the other parents seemed to sigh with relief. At the time, I couldn't understand why I was so bothered by this scenario. After that, I noticed it everywhere, all the time, black moms, that looked like me telling their children who looked like mine, to be still, quiet, sit down, don't laugh so loud. Now I realized what the problem was with that little boy. He walked through that waiting room freely as though he belongs there. That little blonde boy was just running exploring this space, this world like he owns it. Do we as black parents tend to feel like ours do not? We have this overwhelming need to prove that our children are DISCIPLINED. Why are we so consumed with making sure our children are non-threatening, well-trained, unassuming. Shouldn't our children feel like they have the right to explore this world at will also? Shouldn't they feel like this world is theirs for the taking? How will they ever know it? Especially if at every attempt at freedom, they get it beat out of them?

I reject the idea that beating our children is black culture, it's SLAVE culture. Some scholars have argued that beating children in the black community serves as some sort of traumatic reenactment of the brutal violence experienced during slavery, a remnant of centuries-old barbarity. However, there are those in the black community who make a larger argument that the strict punishment of black children is necessary. Physical discipline at the hands of a loved one is preferable to the always-looming life-and-death threat of white supremacist violence. We are so afraid that someone else may hurt our children, so we hurt them first, to keep them in their place. Corporal punishment has been internalized from slavery practices meant to keep black children from crossing the slave master and incurring a harsher fate and is now used to prevent African-American children from angering police officers and incurring the same.(however, my news feed proves time and time again that this doesn't actually work, beating your child doesn't save them from violence elsewhere, especially from the police) The result is routinization of black-on-black violence.

It's time we wake up.

You can break the chain. YOU can make a difference.

Someone has to let our children know, that their bodies are precious. How can they respect themselves and each other when we don't. How will the world know it's not okay to hurt our children? Who will tell people like racist officer Ben Fields that black and brown bodies are not punching bags, when we routinely and PUBLICLY tell the world that the way to get our children to "Act Right" is too whoop them?

My children will know. They will know that violence against them is unacceptable. That they own their bodies and nobody has the right to hurt and abuse them in any way, even out of some misdirected sense of love or tradition.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 - Artist to Watch - Troy Simmons

It's that time of year. Art Basel will descend on Miami next month so get ready! With events jam-packed from December 2nd to the 7th, it's hard to know which are the hottest shows attend, Luckily my new publication BOSSY is to the rescue. BOSSY invites it's readers to check out Art Basel - One to Watch- Troys Simmons.

Local artist Troy Simmons has immersed himself in his latest artwork, exploring the
evolution of urbanism and nature’s persistence to coexist. A consistent theme, which echoes
true to his intense fascination with nature and modern Brutalist Architecture.

Under the direction of JanKossen Contemporary Art Gallery in Basel, Switzerland, Simmons will
showcase his new concrete work during a solo show at CONTEXT Miami Art Fair December
2nd-7th at booth #E75. He will also have several pieces on display at SCOPE Art Show Miami Beach.

His massive, large-scale concrete canvases are a mix of acrylic paints and raw materials. At first
glance, the magnitude of his work is clearly realized. Most of his pieces weight over 100
pounds. A rough and raw relationship often described as a cataclysmic illustration of urbanism.
Simmons calls his work a “re-incarnation of the Arte Povera genre” where the inclusion of
simple natural elements, such as wood and soil takes an integral part in the creation of the art.
His intended goal is to create a playful mix of the hard and soft, expressing the ideological
perceptions of binary relationships

Rochi Llaneza, Former Executive Director of Hardcore Contemporary Art, curated his first show
in Miami in 2009. She says, “Creating an algorithm of inspired imagery, Simmons’ connection to
his ecological charged pieces is clearly reflected in his use of re-purposed materials.”
The inspiration behind his latest collection evolved after a recent trip to Germany. He spent
time with his wife’s family exploring Baden-W├╝rttemberg in the southern part of the country.
The postwar architecture is a fragmentation of Germany’s traditional heritage mixed with
simple modern construction.

Simmons currently works as a full-time artist, but his educational background is in Architecture
and Environmental Science. He studied at Sam Houston State University and worked as an
Environmental Lab Technician in Houston, Texas. He later went on to Oklahoma State
University and earned a degree in Architectural Design.
Simmons is a Resident Artist at the Bakehouse Artist Complex in Miami’s Wynwood Art District.

Sample of his current work at 

If you'd like to see Troy Simmons at CONTEXT Miami Art Fair with complimentary passes. leave a comment with why you love Art Basel and I'll pick the top five answers.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Parenting Curve-ball...I wasn't ready!

This crazy journey into Autism has had more than one surprise along the way. Ever since the first diagnosis, there has been one curve ball after another.

After first learning that Spikey was on the spectrum and then every other twist and turn, from doctors, schools, therapists and Spike himself has been a continuous roller coaster ride. It can start to feel like you are holding your breath waiting for the other 10,000 shoes to drop.

Presently though, we are at a time where everything is copacetic. By this I mean,  I basically know where we stand. He currently likes Sponge Bob and will recite an episode word for word. He will vomit if he even thinks he ate a vegetable. He will spin and and rock if he gets overwhelmed. He loves his routine. Even when he has meltdowns, I am somewhat prepared, I can basically see them coming. I know his triggers and try to navigate accordingly.

Despite this, he is doing extremely well. He is in a mainstream class, and he's down to 2 therapists a week AND he's even playing Tee-ball in a mainstream league. Everything was going along great, no bumps, no surprises. And then it hit me curve ball out of nowhere. Just when I thought Autism held no more surprises for me.

"Mommy do I have autism?" 

Cue the needle scratch across the record,,,What??? I had been working on an article for my magazine and Spike was on the couch beside me playing Cut the Rope on his new Kindle Fire when this seemingly innocent question just tore my heart in two. No warning, no buildup, I wasn't ready!

Now it's been 5 years and I thought I had long since come to terms with Spike's diagnosis, but in that moment I was back in the cold sterile neurologist office hearing her spout letters that had no meaning to me SPD, PPD-NOS and ASD. I was reeling. I was shook, I was sucker punched.

I let out a little choke and a cough and said "what did you say baby?" Because maybe, by some miracle I heard him wrong, At this point I'm praying I heard him wrong. Of course he's annoyed with me now, because he thinks I'm not paying attention. So he puts down the tablet and says "You're not listening to me! Do I have autism?"

And as I look into his face, that innocent face, my mind is racing every which way. Who told him this? How does he know? I've never heard him say this word? I know I've never told him this, but I didn't know it was a secret. It feels like he just spilled some secret. This word I've worked so hard to overcome and accept and embrace, sounds alien and scary on his lips,  This word this diagnosis that only barely describes him. It explains his rocking, and spinning and why doesn't like his foods to touch or his hair brushed. It tells why walks on his toes and hums to himself, why I have to cut all the tags out of his clothes, why he speech is scripted and repetitive. But it doesn't describe him. It doesn't describe how he's sweet and gentle , how he hugs me and tell me I'm his best mommy friend. It doesn't tell how his memory is almost perfect and he never forgets anything he hears or sees. It doesn't describe his love for baseball, One Direction and pizza. It doesn't define him. I know this,

But that doesn't explain why my palms are sweating, my throat is dry and I'm blinking back tears.I don't want it to matter to him. I don't want him to feel other or different.  I want him to feel normal, accepted, loved. He's so sensitive, so vulnerable. What if someone teases him? Or hurts his feelings. I can't even begin to form a coherent thought now. I need to think of some really good explanation, comforting platitudes I need to be strong for him. So I'm just staring at him. He gets up and holds my face and says:

Mommy do you hear me?
I said yes 
He says it again! " Do I have autism? "
I said yes Bobo you do...

He said " Oh Cool..."

Friday, November 14, 2014

November is Gratitude Month Week 2

So I decided to be grateful daily but talk about it weekly. Not because I'm lazy (well not totally) but because I'm so crazy busy lately, which is one of the things I'm grateful about. In my grateful project, I'm trying to train myself to be grateful in every situation even when it's not my natural primary emotion. So here goes:

This week;

I am grateful for the drop in temperatures, I'm sure the rest of the world might not agree, BUT here in south Florida the land of almost never ending summer. these 70 degree mornings and late evenings make me feel like a parolee out on a furlough

I am grateful for the success and growth of my two new businesses, My Magazine BOSSY! and my networking group BOSS MOMS.

I am grateful that I was brave enough to put my my ASD kid on a mainstream Tee Ball team and that he's thriving and having fun. I'm even grateful for the mini heart attacks I have every time he's up to bat. He has only had two tiny meltdown, I'd say that's a roaring success.

I'm grateful than Anne Rice finally released a new Vampire Chronicle. I am grateful that I had enough vacation days saved that I could take one day off just to read it. I know that's ridiculous, I DON'T CARE.

Although I'm a loner by nature, I'm grateful for all the people I've met lately who encourage and
inspire me.

I'm grateful for invites to advanced movie screenings so I can sneak in date nights while working :)

I'm grateful that my husband killed a really big bug this week because I just CANNOT.

I'm grateful that egg nog is on the shelves at Publix.

I'm grateful that I have another event filled week in which I'm sure to find more joy in the everyday things.

I'm grateful for time. Time to be and do new things everyday. Isn't that best gift of all?