Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And What An Awesome Year It Was: MyBrownBaby 2010 In Review!

I can hardly believe that 2010 is coming to an end; it seems like it was just yesterday that we were designing this, the beginning of our new decade. But here we are, standing on the edge of 2010, staring 2011 in the face. I thought it only appropriate, though, that before MyBrownBaby does The Dougie into the new year, we take a look back at the posts that made us think, laugh, cry, cheer and toss an occasional side-eye. Stacked up together, it seems that 2010 was a pretty thoughtful and amazing year. Here, a recap of the awesome. Click on the sentences to see the original posts. Enjoy!

February saw Nick and I reeling in the post, “Evil Black Men,” over the vicious stereotyping of black men at our daughter’s school, but applauding Mari’s teacher for showing her class where they went wrong and how they could be better.

And wait until you see what MyBrownBaby has in store for 2011. More action! More adventure! More everything! BOOM POW!!! Until then, have yourself a fun, safe, awesome New Year—see you on the other side!

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Monday, December 27, 2010

I'm Gonna Hip You To The Tee: Remembering Teena Marie

I can not tell you how many Friday nights I spent down in the basement of my childhood home back in Long Island, hairbrush in hand, lip-synching every last word, ad-lib and inflection Lady Tee poured into her song, Portuguese Love. God, I was such a homebody—short on friends, never kissed, totally lusting after this one particular boy I'd loved from the first day I'd met him in the 5th grade. He wasn't Portuguese, but that was just a minor detail. It was the sentiment of the words and the way Teena Marie sang them that transported me... transformed me... made me a believer. In love. And the possibilities.

On a starry winter night in Portugal
Where the ocean kissed the southern shore
There a dream I never thought would come to pass
Came and went like time spent through an hourglass 
You made love to me like fire and rain
Ooh, you know you've got to be a hurricane
Killing me with kisses, oh, so subtly
You make love forever, baby
You make love forever... 

Years later, I fell in love with Casanova Brown. The song, that is. And not just because I'd fallen in love with my fair share of Casanova Browns. It was the purity of Teena Marie's voice that moved me, especially when she struck that long, beautiful note in the ad-libs toward the end. And it was those incredible words that spoke to me:

I love you to the bone marrow
Even when I'm asleep
And who are you to say?
What he does when I'm not around
Just because I fell in love with Casanova Brown. 

I mean, I'd dug Teena Marie forever—woke up for school to Square Biz and Behind the Groove playing on my static-filled alarm clock radio, got a kick out of her slaying the guitar while she sang Lovergirl and I Need Your Lovin' on the dance shows from back in the day. It was solid music with a great dance beat. From a white girl, no less. It almost didn't seem natural, her hitting those notes. Having all that soul. That authenticity. 

But my God, I had to get grown to really appreciate the sheer talent/phenomenon/force that was the singer, songwriter and producer Teena Marie. Had to go through some heartbreak and some pain and come back out on the other side. And there she was, Lady Tee—reminding every last one of us that we weren't suckers for falling for the okey doke. Casanova Brown was a charming bastard and turned us all the way out and made us feel all kinda ways and mercy—De Ja Vu, we'd all been there before. But we were going to be all right. Loving again wasn't only possible—it was necessary. Human.

More recently, TVOne's UnSung: Teena Marie put the force that was Teena Marie on full blast—made clear that she was much more than just some Rick James creation. She was an incredible songwriter who penned virtually every last one of her songs. She was a multilingual instrumentalist—fluent in keys, congas and guitar. And she was a trailblazer when it came to taking on shady music companies.

Teena Marie was, simply, more.

And she'll be missed, but never forgotten.

So long, Vanilla Chocolate.

Lady Tee forever...

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Sweeties! It's just a few days before Christmas, and I'm busy finishing up the family gift shopping and plotting a kick-butt dish for our holiday meal and getting the girls on their Peanut Butter Kiss cookies duty for Santa, all while penning a HUGE freelance assignment for one of my favorite publications (don't ask, because I can't tell, but it's M-A-J-O-R). But I squeezed in a little bit of time to whip up this kiss of a Christmas card I created on my favorite e-card site, JibJab. Last year we hooked up an homage to both Hip Hop and the 70s. This year, we stretched a bit. Okay, a lot. We're rocking it out! *strikes wicked air guitar pose in my rock star stance* Check out our Christmas medley—with Mari as our frontman/girl, and then accept this HUGE MERRY CHRISTMAS CYBER HUG from my family to yours!

See you all next week!
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Help Build Strength In Numbers This Season; Donate To The Ronald McDonald House Charities

There’s a story behind the number 7 for one beautiful little girl named Ashanti.
See, while so many other children were enjoying the first rays of summer vacation, Ashanti and her mom, Saundra, found themselves taking up residence at the Ronald McDonald House in Miami. Ashanti was sick—so very sick; she was in need of a liver transplant, but doctors could offer her nothing more than a spot on a long waiting list for a new organ.
But, like a miracle, two months after Ashanti and her family received that dire news, a match was found. And between August 5 and November 3 of this year, while Ashanti underwent and recovered from surgery, The Ronald McDonald House became a “home away from home” for the little girl and her mom—a place where they could count on the love and support needed while she got well.
During her stay, Ashanti celebrated her seventh birthday, surrounded by her new Ronald McDonald House family and friends. And today, Ashanti is doing extremely well—looking for a fresh start with her new, healthy liver.

Talk about lucky number 7!  For Ashanti and her family, there is strength in that number.

Seven days a week, 365 days a year, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) help families like the Jacksons find the support and comfort they need as they deal with life-changing illnesses. And the charity needs our help to continue its mission to serve children and families in need of a safe, comfortable, loving place to stay while they undergo treatment.

I’ve written before about all of the interesting ways Ronald McDonald House Charities fundraises, including the RMHC Day of Change, in which I urged MyBrownBaby readers to drop off their spare change at a local McDonalds. This time, I’m urging you to open your eyes—to pay attention to numbers all around you. Through December 31, pedestrians, football and basketball fans, shopping mall goers, employees of local businesses, and the general public will find numbers painted on retail windows and sidewalks, projected onto buildings, posted on scoreboards, or stamped on uniforms. These numbers represent meaningful stories about RMHC, its programs and the families the charity has helped along the way. A URL including the number will take people to a website that explains the story behind the number. It’s a bit of mystery and intrigue that will get people clicking to learn more about the stories behind the numbers and, hopefully, donate to a local Ronald McDonald House. 
In this season of giving, won’t you please consider helping families find strength in numbers? RMHC—along with MyBrownBaby—is encouraging those looking to do some good this holiday season to donate to RMHC. The organization’s goal is to reach 4,200 donations by December 31.
Won’t you help? Children like Ashanti need your support. Follow this link to Ashanti’s story and, if you’re so moved, donate to the cause. No amount is too big or too small, but every penny is appreciated.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

On the Parenting Post: 11-Year-Old Gangstas—And Their Parents—Suck

The other day while volunteering at my Lila’s school, I had a most disturbing conversation with a friend of mine, a mom of an 11-year-old. Her older daughter, a sixth-grader, was under all kinds of stress because she was being bullied at school, for… wait on it… not wearing make-up, having only one hole in each ear and none in her lip, and not being allowed to go to PG-13 movies. With boys. Alone.
Um, lip piercings?
At age 11?
Where they do that at?
Apparently at a middle school a couple neighborhoods away. I can’t even begin to explain how disturbing this is to me, considering my Mari is the same age as the aggrieved little girl, a former classmate. And the girl’s poor mother—she was just at wit’s end with the teacher (who did nothing), the school counselor (who seemed to focus more on the bullied rather than the bullies), and the bad butt kids who were harassing her daughter (a few boys who made a point of reminding her that she was a “baby” compared to her “cooler” female classmates, presumably the ones with lip piercings and parents willing to drive them to solo movie dates). But the biggest culprits of all the madness, we both agreed, are the parents of a sixth-grade student body that seems hell-bent on letting their kids age way before it’s time. I mean, if there are parents willing to let their little girls do all of this at age 11, what on Earth will those kids be doing at 16?

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