Share your favorite childhood memories of Halloween

Be safe tonight everyone and “Remember the Time”

LOVE MY PEOPLE

Wow have things changed since we celebrated Halloween as children. One of my favorite memories of Halloween as a child is hanging out with my girls, Vicki, Pat, Darlene, Sue, Jennifer and my sister Cindy as we circled our block in search of candy. Back in the day, just about everyone handed out candy and we knew everybody in the neighborhood. There was no worry of foreign objects being inserted into candy; no alerts about registered sex offenders living nearby — just good clean fun.

In Oakwood neighborhood in Lexington, Ky., nearly all the parents had the same goal: raise healthy, happy and productive children. Work hard and keep life simple.  At Halloween in Kentucky, there was a definite chill in the air by the last day of October. We often donned coats over the costumes our parents bought us at Roses or K Mart.  And remember those painfully stifling…

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Share your favorite childhood memories of Halloween

Wow have things changed since we celebrated Halloween as children. One of my favorite memories of Halloween as a child is hanging out with my girls, Vicki, Pat, Darlene, Sue, Jennifer and my sister Cindy as we circled our block in search of candy. Back in the day, just about everyone handed out candy and we knew everybody in the neighborhood. There was no worry of foreign objects being inserted into candy; no alerts about registered sex offenders living nearby — just good clean fun.

In Oakwood neighborhood in Lexington, Ky., nearly all the parents had the same goal: raise healthy, happy and productive children. Work hard and keep life simple.  At Halloween in Kentucky, there was a definite chill in the air by the last day of October. We often donned coats over the costumes our parents bought us at Roses or K Mart.  And remember those painfully stifling plastic masks with two holes for the eyes and two more at the nose to help us breath. Whew, those things were so uncomfortable!!  There was no Target or Party City back in the day. And we couldn’t order elaborate Halloween get-ups over the Internet. Alas, there was no Internet if you can imagine that.

And guess what? We still had a blast. When my kids were growing up in the Overlook, they followed the same traditions at Halloween but were a bit more creative when it came to costumes. Yes, they wore the standard Princess costumes and sometimes even created them. I’ll always remember Imani’s lime green mini dress, white boots and white hat. She was a go-go chick!

And while we’re talking memories, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video is my all time favorite. I believe it came out in 1983, because I was pregnant with my daughter Carmen, who is almost 30. Carmen and her hubby Jee are developing their own holiday traditions now. There little ones will make the rounds in their hood tonight with their friends. But I’ll always remember learning to dance like Michael Jackson when I was very pregnant with their mother!

 

 

Racial profiling is real — but should Jay Z back out on Barneys?

LOVE MY PEOPLE

A friend and I were shopping at Phipps Plaza in jeans and sneakers when we decided to venture into Jimmy Choo, a tiny store with great shoes. Immediately, we could feel the snub from the pretty sales people. I guess they figured we weren’t serious customers. Hmm, I thought, I like shoes and I can afford a pair of these Jimmy Choos if I want them. Instead, they lost me at their non-hello. We browsed for a hot minute, then left.

I know the drill at luxury retailers. I have friends and family members who’ve worked at Burberry, Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo. When you enter this world, you are usually greeted by polished sales people who are generally well-educated, and look like they just stepped out of a magazine. These folks are selling a lifestyle; so looking the part is a must.

Enter Jay Z, who along with his wife…

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Racial profiling is real — but should Jay Z back out on Barneys?

A friend and I were shopping at Phipps Plaza in jeans and sneakers when we decided to venture into Jimmy Choo, a tiny store with great shoes. Immediately, we could feel the snub from the pretty sales people. I guess they figured we weren’t serious customers. Hmm, I thought, I like shoes and I can afford a pair of these Jimmy Choos if I want them. Instead, they lost me at their non-hello. We browsed for a hot minute, then left.

I know the drill at luxury retailers. I have friends and family members who’ve worked at Burberry, Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo. When you enter this world, you are usually greeted by polished sales people who are generally well-educated, and look like they just stepped out of a magazine. These folks are selling a lifestyle; so looking the part is a must.

Enter Jay Z, who along with his wife Beyonce are taking branding and music promotion to a whole other level.  Jay Z has a song about designer Tom Ford, introduced his latest album in a collaboration with Samsung, and recently partnered with Barneys New York on a line of luxury items he crafted especially for them. Jay Z says all the money from sales will go to scholarships — certainly a worthy cause. But here’s the rub: two young, black customers have accused Barneys of racial profiling after they purchased items there. In one instance, officials at the store allegedly questioned the validity of a young man’s credit card after he bought an expensive belt. As a result, pressure is mounting on the rap mogul to back out of his deal with Barneys to make a bold statement about racial profiling.

Jay Z’s telling folks to chill while he gets more details on the allegations. Barneys is saying pretty much the same thing. Today, one of their executives was scheduled to meet with Rev. Al Sharpton.  The luxury retail industry has been hit hard by knockoffs of their products, credit card fraud and theft. Everyone wants to own a bag or sneakers from Louis Vuitton or Gucci, thanks to our obsession with high-priced brands. I must confess, I like a good leather handbag as much as the next woman; though I draw the line at anything over $500. And I would definitely not purchase a $300 belt or shoes for $1,000 or more.

Bargain shopper that I am, I’m not the customer luxury retailers are after anyway. Established brands like Gucci have a mix of clients, from long time buyers of their brands; to a not-so-new group of customers created by rappers obsessed with products that shout to the world their success.  Luxury retailers like Barneys offend these customers at their own peril. Most are smart enough to realize that money is green. Some are still awakening to the idea and have overzealous security people who single sometimes single out young, black customers as thieves.

I doubt very seriously Jay Z will back out of his partnership with Barneys, and I’m not even sure that he should based on a few complaints that haven’t been substantiated. He is after all a business man who has been working on this deal for a while. Racial profiling is real. He and other rappers who make money off this culture should do everything in their power to force luxury retailers who insist on treating black customers as criminals to rethink their security procedures.

These cases against Barneys may be isolated incidents. Anyone can file a lawsuit claiming anything. The larger message that should come from this publicity is that black customers have a right to shop where they want without being harassed. That fight was won decades ago through sit-ins and boycotts.

I doubt Barneys would invite a sit-in at their fine establishment. But if the complaints turn out to be a pattern of treatment, that may be what it takes to get their attention.

 

Win some, lose some; shake it off and keep it moving

ausmimi

Dear Austin,

I wish I had the ability to shield you from every loss you’ll ever suffer; but then you’d never learn some of life’s most important lessons. You can’t win if you’re not in the game, so keep getting out there and doing your best. There will always be someone stronger and better, but if you work hard you can get to the top of your chosen sport or field. Sitting on the sidelines is not your destiny my dear 7-year-old grandson. I can see and feel your passion for everything you take on: your school work, swimming, golf, baseball, tennis, Cub Scouts and basketball.

Yes your team suffered a bruising loss. Your Kennesaw Bats baseball team is done. It was a great season and the Bats had a good tournament run. Monday, you had one of your best games ever; getting players out and hitting a grand slam. Tuesday it was not your team’s game to win. Your team struggled but came back to within two runs after the other team had you down by 7. We fans loved that you fought back, trying mightily to dig yourselves out of a deep hole.

After the game your coach told you he was proud of his team. He asked if you had fun this season. At 7, that’s what it should be about for you. But you’ve got a fierce competitive streak that we all admire. You want to win every game and get every game ball. There is no “I” in team, we tell you. Just get out there, do your best and enjoy playing.

You shed tears; and before I knew it, your mom was in the dugout, helping you pack up your baseball gear. A few minutes later, I saw you and your Dad having a private conversation about the loss. I’m sure he was trying to get you to see the bright side of things.  In between, you and I had our moment. “I won’t get to play baseball again,” you said between the tears.

“Yes you will.  You’ll be back out here in the spring and again in the fall.” I said. “I want to play now,” you said. 

I remember the pain of not getting picked for junior high cheerleading even though two of my friends were picked. Cheerleading was not to be my destiny. For starters, I wasn’t good at it. You are good at just about everything you try. I remember your mother’s dejection when she wasn’t picked for her high school dance team. I could see from a half mile away. Her body language told me she didn’t make it. She got in the car and melted into the seat. Your super competitive auntie had a different reaction when she didn’t make the team. She thought she had been robbed; because she was a better dancer than most of the girls who made it. She went on to earn first chair in the school orchestra for cello. Her voice was so strong she was a leader in the chorus and was chosen to sing the national anthem at school events. Your mom had her successes too — and you and Olivia are at the top of that list. In fact, your mom is good at so many things I can hardly count them all.

Sports is clearly your thing. Later, you will find other things you like just as well if not better. Your coach told you after one game that the tears you shed showed passion. So if it helps to shed them; go ahead. Just be a good sport. Always take the losses like a winner and you’ll be fine.

Love you much,

Mimi

Since when does the side piece get the last word?

Rarely am I disappointed in an article in Essence Magazine. I’ve subscribed for years and look forward to reading the magazine each month. But Essence has me feeling some type of way about Christine Beatty’s glamour shot and essay in the November issue. Beatty talks about the lessons learned from her affair with former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. In fact, Beatty and Kilpatrick served time in jail for perjury after lying about their affair under oath during a whistle-blower lawsuit.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to believe Beatty regrets her actions and I pray she can forgive herself. Along with Kilpatrick, they let down their spouses, her daughters and his sons. The affair and coverup were exposed in a big way when hundreds  of text messages, some of them explicit, were revealed to the public during the lawsuit. The text messages were fair game because they were exchanged on city-issued cell phones.  Without question, taxpayers in Detroit paid for some elements of the affair since Beatty was Kilpatrick’s chief of staff and some of their fooling around happened on the city’s time.  

There may be some value in hearing from the other woman, though I’m struggling to see it. Since Essence gave Beatty three pages to tell her story, equal time should have been give to Carlita Kilpatrick to tell hers. After reading Beatty’s essay, I came away thinking she was in some way rationalizing the affair. She’d known and loved him since high school, her marriage was sinking and she and Kilpatrick worked so closely together that one thing led to another. But here’s the thing: Many people feel attraction to someone they work closely with or have had a crush on since high school. As adults, it’s our responsibility not only to honor our marriage vows but to think about the collateral damage caused by affairs. Marriage is a covenant between two people and God. Too often, people act first and think later. By then, the damage is done.

A few years ago I watched helplessly as someone I love was destroyed by a woman who inserted herself into her marriage, which was already struggling.  I listened to her as she describe this woman’s actions toward her and her husband, who vehemently denied his wife’s suspicions.  Trust and believe we women know when our husbands’ heads have been turned by another woman. There is always someone younger, prettier and more interesting, especially when you’ve been married for a time. And this goes both ways. Women aren’t exempt from cheating on their husbands. Perhaps the marriage I watched implode could have been saved with a lot of hard work. The couple shared similar values and had a lot of history together. Their children struggled mightily when their parents divorced. But when three and four people are involved in a marriage, there is no way it can survive.

Divorce is a serious step that should not be made lightly. Some couples decide that despite the infidelity they will stay together and try to rebuild the house that was once on solid ground. Christine Beatty says in her essay that she and her husband are now divorced but are successful co-parents. The Kilpatricks have endured the mayor’s multiple affairs and his conviction on corruption charges. He will be serving his 28-year prison sentence close to his family’s home in Texas.

Here’s hoping the next time Essence editors decide to run an article by the other woman, they let the wife give her perspective. She’s the one who held it down for their kids and stood by her man when he was carrying on with his mistress.

Rev. C.T. Vivian…what a way to start the day!

revct

When it comes to brilliance and boldness, Rev. C.T. Vivian has few peers. I could listen to the man drop knowledge all day long. And I love the way he refers to everyone as “my brother” and “my sister.”

Thursday, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Rev. Vivian chatting it up with Ryan Cameron and the rest of the V-103 morning crew. Rev. Vivian was one of the key figures in the Nashville Student Movement, the 1961 Freedom Rides and many other protests in the 1960s. He was holding court on the radio as only he can. Someone asked him about the use of the N-word, and I liked what he had to say. People will stop using it when we when are completely free, he said. By his estimation, we’re about half way there. The journey, he said, is about fulfilling our humanity; a phrase I’ve heard him use before.

I wish there was a way to expose every young person to Rev. Vivian. I’ve got to believe they’d be inspired by his passion and motivated by the fact that at 89 years young he is still going hard. His current job is national president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, one of the nation’s oldest Civil Rights organizations. He and Dr. Bernard LaFayette, the SCLC’s chairman of the board, worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 60s to desegregate public facilities and to push for major civil rights legislation. Later, they held voter registration campaigns in some of the most segregated cities in the south.

Last month, I spent a few hours with Rev. Vivian and Dr. LaFayette at Morehouse College in a training session on nonviolent social change. It was a Friday night and only a few student leaders at the Atlanta University Center decided to show up. What a missed opportunity! Whenever I’m around Rev. Vivian, I like to be quiet and listen. Each time we talk, I learn something new. At this gathering, he talked about how Malcolm X was sent to meet with Ku Klux Klan members. Nation of Islam leaders wanted the Klan’s help in obtaining land to create a separate nation for black Muslims. Both groups believed in the separation of the races but why in the world would any black organization or religious group want to join forces with the Klan, a group whose members terrorized and murdered black folks?

Rev. Vivian is living, breathing history. Next month, the longtime Atlanta resident will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor a president can bestow. Rev. Vivian — who punctuates every other sentence with “Right?” — told us President Barack Obama is well read when it comes to the strategies and tactics used during the Civil Rights Movement. Obama asked Vivian how they were able to succeed with the non violent protests. The key, said Rev. Vivian, is believing in something so passionately you are willing to die for it.

Back in 1965, in Selma, Ala. Rev. Vivian was punched in the face by the town’s sheriff when he tried to register black voters. But a bloody face didn’t stop the him from continuing to challenge the sheriff.

When a celebration was being planned in Jackson, Miss. in 2011 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, Rev. Vivian told me he planned to boycott the event because of then-Gov. Haley Barbour’s racial politics. Furthermore, he said, he didn’t want to be used by Mississippi officials intent on showing how far they’d come since the days they jailed hundreds of Freedom Riders in a state prison for “Breach of the Peace.”

I’m sure Rev. Vivian will have a few choice words for the Washington crowd when he receives the Presidential Medal next month. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.