Bloomberg Businessweek magazine became the latest in a long list of publications to stumble on race. Splashed across its cover was a illustration, depicting blacks and Hispanics as money-grubbing homeowners. What wasn’t said but certainly was picked up by some critics is that minorities are somehow responsible for the housing fiasco.
The Feb. 25 issue shows families with exaggerated features inside a two-story above the words “The Great American Housing Rebound.”
The subhead reads: “Flips. No-look bids. 300 percent returns. What could possibly go wrong?”
Racism may not be the intent of the illustration, given it was drawn by an artist of color. Sometimes it’s the headline and the story that change the context of the art. I don’t know what happened here. All I know is the magazine offered a hollow apology.
Our cover illustration last week got strong reactions, which we regret, wrote Josh Tyrangiel, the magazine’s editor. Our intention was not to incite or offend. If we had to do it over again we’d do it differently.
It’s not enough that an adult has been charged with hitting someone else’s child. He also uttered the N-word, according to reports. Even worse, he did this on an airplane, making it a federal offense. The FBI is investigating.
A Delta flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta was landing and a toddler was crying, when a passenger told the mother to shut up her baby and struck the child, according to an affidavit. No word on why Joe Rickey Hundley thought this would help matters. He is no longer an employee of AGC Aerospace and Defense, Composites Group.
Hundley is lucky to be alive. Mama Bears don’t like it when people mess with their children on the ground, let alone in the air. The practice of disciplining other people’s children was put to rest in ’70s. If anyone so much as speaks to my children with the wrong tone, I’m going to have something to say about it.
The other thing is, parents don’t like to hear their children cry. If they can do anything about it, they certainly will. Babies cry in all kinds of places, and they tend to cry on airplanes while they are landing. Their little ears can’t take the change in pressure, and the only thing they know how to do is cry. This happens regardless of the race of the child or his mother. The pain will pass and all will be well by the time the plane reaches the gate. Most folks know this, don’t they?
Simone doesn’t keep much to herself. At lunch, she hit us with this: “A kid at school asked me how I got my skin color.”
It was a Sunday.
“Tell him God gave it to you,” I told her.
Simone was silent, and I provided another answer.
“Ask him how he got his color.”
Later, I asked her to repeat the question to me because I knew I wanted to write about it. I also asked her about the race of the person asking. It was a white child.
Here’s the thing. Adults often say children don’t see color. I don’t believe that. They see color just like we do. We teach our children to identify cars, houses, toys, pretty much anything, by color. If those who say children don’t see color mean that kids don’t know or understand race, I agree. Children don’t know the history. They don’t know that some people won’t like them because of the color of their skin. They don’t know about slavery, Jim Crow and civil rights. They don’t know about any of those things. As a result, they will play with any kid on the playground. That’s a beautiful thing.
But at some point, adults start talking to children. The children start noticing the differences and they begin asking questions. The question posed by the child could be innocent. He could simply want to know why Simone’s skin is a little darker than his. She could explain that her Mommy is black and that her Daddy is white. She could tell him she is a mix of both of our skin tones.I just don’t know whether the answers to such questions provide any satisfaction for a child.
The question also could be more serious. He could be noting how Simone is different and making her see it. He could be drawing boundaries, developing expectations. We’ll never know. All I know is that when children ask questions, it’s an opportunity to teach them.
I love how Simone communicates with us. Nadia doesn’t tell us much of anything and doesn’t ask questions about race. Simone shares the information, but she doesn’t invite conversations about it. I don’t press her because I want her to keep sharing with us. I’ll listen and help when I can. I will give her some answers because I want her to have something to say. She needn’t feel powerless when people ask about her identity. At the same time, I understand she will have to form the answers to such questions for herself and navigate this thing called race in her very own way.
Have you been here before? How did you and your child handle it?
Simone and Nadia are growing up way too fast for my liking. What do they know about going to the spa? Nada, because it’s going to be a long time before I take them to a real spa. In fact, they are going to have to take themselves to the spa.
All they know is they love for me to paint their fingernails and toenails with pastel polish. When Simone asked for her very own spa party, I knew I couldn’t paint the nails of 10 girls. Simone and Nadia want glitter on top of the polish and they ask for all kinds of patterns and dots. If I gave that kind of party, I’d still be painting fingers and toes as I write this.
My solution: A spa-like experience. Each guest received a men’s T-shirt, grosgrain ribbon belt, a headband, and her very own pink flips-flops. The girls soaked their hands in bath fizzies in tiny bathtubs I found at Target for a buck apiece. They wiped yogurt and honey on their faces, and I placed cucumber slices on their eyes. Then they made a sugar scrub with honey, dried lavender buds and lavender essential oil.
In this one case, I’m going to say that girls are much more complex than boys. I’m sure boys would have been happy running around the yard, getting dirty. But girls? They needed to feel special. They sipped peach and mango smoothies, nibbled on petit fours and ate every Hershey Kiss in our house.
For music, we used the Soothing Scapes channel on cable. It’s a good thing I didn’t buy a CD because I couldn’t hear the music for all of the giggles. I found battery-powered “candles” at the Dollar Tree. They added a bit of flicker to the table without any heat. Each girl took home a small bathtub, washcloth, exfoliating scrunchie and the cutest little flip-flop soaps I could find on Etsy.
I made everything else, including a Martha Stewart-inspired banner, to help keep the costs down. If giggling is any guide, the girls had a good time, and I was exhausted. In fact, I’m going to the spa ASAP for some much-needed rest and relaxation.
I have to admit that the Volkswagen commercial above brought a smile to my face. It’s been making the rounds on television and online because it’s going to be shown during the Super Bowl. Everybody will be watching, and advertisers increase their game for the Super Bowl. Some of us even think the commercials are more entertaining than the game.
This commercial is upbeat. The main character is happy and speaks with a Jamaican accent when everyone else is grumpy. What’s his secret? He owns a VW Bug. His colleagues think he has gone a bit bonkers, until he takes a few of them on a joy ride. Suddenly, they take on Jamaican accents.
Soledad O’Brien debuted the commercial on her show, Starting Point, earlier this week, and she asked the CEO of the company about the risks of having actors use a Jamaican accent. It turns out Volkswagen did its research, testing the commercial with focus groups. Check it out.
For me, it was odd to watch the actors who didn’t appear Jamaican saying very Jamaican things. Volkswagen is borrowing Jamaican culture to sell its German cars. It’s also playing on the stereotype that all Jamaicans are happy. It’s a risk the company was willing to take. Maybe it will payoff. We’ll see in the weeks following the Super Bowl.
What do you say?
Simone and Nadia tested our paint and the paint lost. There were fingerprints, handprints, smiley faces, smudges, you name it, on every wall in our home. I wanted to hire a professional to do the work, but it was not in the money cards. I had painted the dining room and living room a few years ago, but it was a disaster. Each time I walk in those rooms I see all of the mistakes. What to do? What to do?
I got on the Internet and searched how to paint. I didn’t bother with the information featured in magazines and on television shows. I searched paint chat rooms, and boy, did I learn a few things. For starters, paint store owners won’t tell you some of these tips because they want you to buy and waste more paint. The more paint you buy, the happier they are. As for the professionals, they want to stay in business and don’t share their information with newbies like me. Well, they don’t knowingly do it. A good search can turn up just about anything on the Internet.
Since late last year, I’ve painted Simone and Nadia’s room, their bathroom, a half bath, two hallways, the kitchen, and our master bedroom. If that doesn’t qualify me, I don’t know what does. I’ve got two more rooms to go: the master bathroom and the office. Both are in decent shape. As for the dining room and living room, I think they are jealous of the other rooms. I don’t know whether I’ll ever get around to painting them, but here are the tips I’ll use if I do.
First, buy good paint. There’s a reason it costs more per gallon. The good paint comes in the same gallon can but covers more square footage. I know, I know. I was skeptical at first, but it’s true. I purchased a gallon of the good paint and only needed one coat, saving all kinds of time. The good paint is not found at the big box stores. Ask painters where they get their paint and purchase it there.
Second, buy the lambswool roller. Yes, it’s the most expensive roller on the market, but it’s also the best one. If you take care of it, that $8 roller will last for years and years. It is thicker than most and soaks up a ton of paint. What does that mean to you? You will spend less time dipping into the paint and rolling it on the wall. Lambswool rollers don’t splatter or leave lines of paint, saving you time and money.
Third, use a bucket. Professional painters use five-gallon buckets with a metal mesh because it’s really hard to step in one of those. I haven’t stepped in my bucket, but I’ve stepped in paint trays many times. A bucket also uses gravity to keep the paint in the bottom, making sure you get more paint on the walls. One last tip about the bucket. Pour the paint until it rises about a half inch. That way, in the unlikely event you knock over the bucket, there’s not a lot of paint to spill and you’re likely to pick up bucket before any can spill.
Fourth, keep a wet cloth nearby at all times. This helps keep the paint job nice and neat. I made a lot of mistakes, but you can’t see them because I wiped them away.
Fifth, use fabric softener to clean your brushes. Water and fabric softener break down the paint, making it easy to clean the brushes. I don’t measure or anything. Warning: This may make you rethink using fabric softener on your clothes. I’ve never been a huge fan, but I’m definitely not now. If it can breakdown paint, do I really want it on my clothes and touching my skin? No way.
One last thing, if you have children, use eggshell or satin paint. It’s a bit more forgiving than flat paint when little people make a mess. I couldn’t keep this information to myself and hope it helps.