Ruby Bridges


Norman Rockwell’s famous painting of 6 year old Ruby Bridges

When I heard Ruby Bridges was going to be speaking in our area, I decided right away that Addis & I would be going.

It was at a venue 1 1/2 away, so I pulled her out of school. We arrived at 2:15 & waited outside online until 6:00.  Addis was a champion! Not a single complaint! And she listened to the talk intently. I am so pleased that Addis had the opportunity to meet Ruby Bridges & get her book signed. She showed the book to her class the next day.


Ruby Bridges

During the talk, I posted what Ruby Bridges was saying, as closely as I could:

                                        She thought she was going to college

She thought the school was sooo much nicer than her previous school

The second day the crowds doubled. When her mother saw it on tv, she thought, “oh God what have I done? “

As a 6 yr old she could see Separate was not Equal

She could see her teacher looked like them. But soon realized she wasn’t them.

2 schools were chosen to integrate, & they were schools in the most racist parts of town

She says all of her neighbors walked behind the marshall’s car everyday, escorting her for support

Sitting in the class room She could hear kids yelling at her

She saw only marshals on the playground & thought there were no kids there.

She couldn’t go to the cafeteria because of threats to poison or hang her.

She thought all the kids were in the cafeteria & she’d have to go there to make friends.

Teachers quit their job

They thought she wasn’t eating because she was worried, but it was because she was throwing out her lunch hoping she could go to the cafeteria.

She just wanted to make friends. She was so disappointed.

The worst part of first grade was the loneliness

There were white patents who wanted to send their kids to school with her…but they lost their jobs, crosses burned on their lawns, threats to their lives & safety.

Children who were sent to go to school with her were kept away by the principal

Her teacher would confront the principal about breaking th law.

A little boy told her “my mom said not to play with you because you’re a n***er”

That’s when she understood what was happening.

He hurt her feelings, she just wanted someone to play with.

She works in schools every day & listens to their stories of being bullied.

She said a little girl told her she gave her the courage to be brave when something bad happened to her

My story is bigger than me, I’m just a vehicle

I feel responsibility to explain racism to children. Which is hard, because there’s no sense to it.

Racism takes away children’s clean heart

I cannot judge a person by looking at them, I have to know them. Dr MLK taught us that

We are responsible for what we see unfolding before us today.

I still can’t really understand it. What we see unfolding in front of us, what is it about?

They didn’t see a child, they saw what they were losing, change. Is that the case today?

If so, we’re losing, there will never be a place with no race.

We don’t have the luxury to trust & love only people who look like us.

I’m speaking to you as a mom who’s lost the most precious thing, a child, to murder.

We are being separated. There is a them and us. It’s good & evil & looks like me and you.

Good will win. My message is to come together, I want you on my team, we have to fight the evil.

Kids: you can change the world.

Asset the civil rights museum, there was a wall of all the freedom riders, & they were all different, black white Asian Hispanic. How did we get here?

I’m just as upset as most of you at what is happening now.

I hope that what I say inspires You to think about how we can make the world better. We can’t afford to lose another child.

Norman Rockwell, he didn’t know what to do. So he stepped away from what he knew and he painted it. It inspires us to ask “what can I do”

If I’m not shouting it from the mountains, I’ll be whispering it to every child. We have to end this.

Racism is a grown up disease.





Those Evil Laws

Being the parent of a Black child means I have to talk to her about some things more intentionally & earlier than I did with my big kids. With Ponyboy & Jasmine, I didn’t have to teach them about racism, about our country’s ugly history, about Native American genocide, about segregation before it came up in school.

(actually, i DID have to, i just didn’t know it)

For Martin Luther King Day, Addis’ Kindergarten teacher read the class a book about MLK. When I picked her up that day, the teacher grabbed me & told me that Addis was the only student who knew who he was & what he did, & she shared what she knew (beaming with pride). Of course, she is the only non-blonde child in the class.

(maybe i’m exaggerating here, there may be a few non-blondes. but you know, alll those white kids look the same)

It started almost TWO YEARS ago when she was racially attacked ( I realized that I needed to teach her about racism so that she knew it when she saw it. So that people couldn’t use words against her, so that she would really know what was going on when ugly people belittled her…I already *knew* this, I just didn’t know that I’d have to start it so early in her life. I didn’t know people were racist against beautiful 3 yr old girls.

So I had to teach her about our ugly past (and present). We started way back in the Old Testament, with the Egyptians enslaving the Hebrews. We talked about The institution of African Slavery in the Americas. The American Civil War took place because enough people found slavery abhorrent & wanted it to end.  We talked about how there are still slaves everywhere in the world today.


We talk about how it is of utmost importance to speak up when someone is being held down. That may mean a child is being bullied at school. It may be a friend saying ugly things trying to be funny. It might be discriminatory laws. We talk about Malala Yousafzai, how she was shot in the head (along with 3 other girls) and how that didn’t stop her from doing what she knew was right to do & now she is changing the world. A teenage girl.


I can make a difference. You can make a difference. She can make a difference. She WILL make a difference.

Shot Dead By Police & I’m Gonna Yell About It

I went to my first protest today!

There have been others that I meant to go to, but couldn’t make it work. This was an hour away, in the cold weather, but it’s a cause that is IMPORTANT to me.

On Sept 10, 14 a young bi-racial man was shot dead by the police for carrying a “sword” in public. It could have been my child.

I carried a sign, I marched, I yelled.

Also, Jasmine joined me!

Are Hearts Made to be Broken?

How old were you when you first had your heart broken?

How old do you expect your little girl to be when She first has Her heart broken?

One thing about parenting that I don’t especially like is when at 5ish they start having experiences in the world beyond My influence. The go to school. They get dropped off at activities. They go on playdates without Mom. And they hear stuff. They might *gasp* hear a “bad word”. Some evil negligent parent might feed them a GMO laden Pop Tart. They might watch a scary movie. And You won’t know. Ack, scary stuff I tell you!

It’s also at this age that their friend relationships move out of mom’s control. They are learning how to possibly interact with a bossy friend. Or a friend who “flat leaves” them for someone better. How to be diplomatic. How to judge a situation they maybe should leave.

Sigh. It happened. I didn’t see it coming. She had her little love-filled heart torn out of her chest & stomped on. And in front of another soul-mate-ish friend. And their (interloping, other) BFF.

The good thing is the Heart Breaker didn’t do it maliciously. I’m pretty sure she meant no ill will at all. I suspect that she doesn’t even know what my daughter was so upset (SO UPSET) about. She was happy to appease Addis & carry on the friendship.

But I feel like a line has been crossed. Now when she hears a story (or sees it in a movie) about a Friend Gone Bad, she Knows. She gets it. She feels the tragedy. She knows that someone she loved openly can crush her in an instant without a second thought. I wish she didn’t have to live in That World for a little bit longer!

I Was Lied To

I was lied to.

I was taught that in America everyone was equal.

I was taught that individuals can make a difference when they fight the system.

I was taught that we fixed racism & now we all judged people according to their accomplishments.

I was taught feminism, communism, & talking back to adults was Bad.

I’m trying to re- learn. Dear God, what else did I get wrong?

It’s A Girl

How’s your summer going? Do you have any plans?

How about your life, how are those plans working out?

Plans. Plans? Yeah, scrap those damn things.

So we have a new addition here. Yeah, my nice big living room/bonus room has been “renovated” into 2 smaller rooms. Okay, that’s not really an “addition”, but more of a remodel.

Our new addition is my Mother-in-Law.

All in all, it could be MUCH WORSE. She could be incontinent. She could have anger issues. She could be immobile. I am very appreciative for BOTH our sake that she’s none of those. Physically she is very healthy. But she does have Alzheimer’s.

I am trying. T.R.Y.I.N.G. trying really hard to be patient & kind. I really am so nice, so nice on the outside. Inside I’m such a bitch (like you didn’t know).


What is a Girl Worth?

I recently had a 13 year old neighbor girl babysit for me. Two weekends in a row. The first night, I didn’t have enough cash on hand & didn’t give her all that I planned to. The next weekend I drove her home & handed her the money (which included what I felt I owed her). I had to insist she take it. She kept shaking her head insisting that she didn’t mind not getting paid, she was obviously embarrassed at taking the money. I told her that I just paid a 14 year old neighbor to cut my grass, because I needed the job done, & that she provided a service to me that was valuable too.

Where did girls get the idea that their time isn’t valuable?

When Jasmine was a teenager she babysat for many families. Often she’d have to ask several times to be paid (and I’ve often forgotten to make it a priority to get money to pay my sitters too). A few times she was paid well below what she should have been paid.

When my son did jobs for people, they almost always paid him on the spot. Not only that, but he was better paid than babysitters were/are. Again, I’m guilty of that as well.

I paid my sitter $12 for 3 hours. I paid the boy who cut my grass $20, & filled his lawnmower with gas, and it took him not quite an hour. Is cutting the grass a harder job? Is it a more valuable service?

I’m guilty of being part of it myself, but it has always bothered me that boys’ neighborhood jobs are more valued than the girls’.


(and yes, I’m aware that I’m assigning gender roles here, but it reflects my experiences)


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