Years ago, the last time I went skiing, I found myself at the top of a mountain in Colorado —at the head of a black diamond (for experts only) trail. I was on the wrong trail! My ski skills are barely good enough for the bunny slope. Needless to say, I was filled with terror. How in God’s name was I going to get down in one piece? To make matters worse, the sky had turned deep gray, a fog had rolled in and the temperature had dropped. A fellow student from the afternoon’s ski lesson was with me. She was twenty years younger and a lot better skier. The slope in front of me was a steep vertical drop, covered in ice. The flat area we stood on was only eight feet narrow, dropping thirty feet into a brush filled ravine on the left and a rocky stream bed on the right. With the next (occupied lift chair descending towards us, we had no choice but to push off the tiny landing pad.
I tried to remember every ski tip I had ever heard: bend knees, lean forward, tuck in elbows. I was terrified of both of my choices. If I lost control and sped to the left, I I could visualize myself landing in the tops of the spiny trees with limbs piercing my body. Or my other choice, to the right, and then falling into the creek bed & into the icy water. Flying along, on bumpy ice, the more I kept my eye on the ravine, the faster towards it I sped. As I approached the edge, my friend yelled, “Look over here!”. As soon as I turned, she reminded me, “You ski where you look. Remember?! Look straight ahead!” My path changed. I stared ahead at a woman in a full length mink & hat posing on the plateau down ahead of us. (It was one of those black ski events.) Anyway, guess where I “went”? And yes, she went down with me, fur a-flapping & cursing all the way.
Anyway, when I hear a mother saying to her three year old, “The police are gonna come get you” or “I’m calling the police on you” or “You’re gonna spend your life in jail”, it causes me to wonder if it narrows that child’s vision to some calamitous path. Does it steer that shape-ready genius, that each young child is, towards seeing themselves in the waiting criminal justice system. I know that the brain retains everything. Some things are kept right at the surface. Other ideas are stored in the unconscious. Think about other mothers, who play subliminal tapes to their sleeping children. Tapes that say “You are going to become a doctor” or “You will be a famous athlete”. The unconscious mind would store that, too.
If we ski where we look, as long as we maintain the “right form” to steady our balance, we can fly through the snow to a comfortable and exciting landing. It helps if we are on a safe trail and we’ve been taught the “right form” that we’ve been able to practice. In terms of skiing through life, and your kids envision their futures in the frames we parents shape for them, how easy would it be to steer our kids toward the positive? They’re going to have some target in mind. Why not say, “Hey, kids! Look over here” and show them how great their futures might be? Don’t push it. It can’t be your direct order or your threat. It has to be your excitement and optimism that sparks them to consider it – to put their eyes on it. If we show kids our confidence in the positive possibilities rather than the weakness of our fears, they will fall under the magic of simply skiing toward the future that they are keeping their eyes on.
Michele Alexander is a lawyer, legal scholar, advocate and author who has written a comprehensive, well-researched examination of what is happening to our young men and women, to our families, to our future generations at the hands of the criminal justice system.
It seems that nearly every black family has a child, cousin, nephew or uncle who has been incarcerated. It’s happening to our college students, business professionals, working dads & mothers, drug involved and not. At every level, all over the country, black men, in particular, have been stopped and questioned multiple times. Now, that level of intrusion into black life is resulting in more than overwhelming legal costs and delayed goals for families. The fact that our men are constantly being sought out for examination of their being, is resulting in staggering numbers of deaths. We can no longer blame it on the boys, the neighborhood, our color. It is way bigger than that. We need to understand exactly what is happening and why. You cannot negotiate with an enemy that you cannot identify. This book identifies the problem AND the solutions.
Jarvious Cotton cannot vote. Like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, he has been denied the right to participate in our electoral democracy. Cotton’s family tree tells the story of several generations of black men who were born in the United States but who were denied the most basic freedom that democracy promises—the freedom to vote for those who will make the rules and laws that govern one’s life. Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation. His father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Jarvious Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.
Cotton’s story illustrates, in many respects, the old adage “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” In each generation, new tactics have been used for achieving the same goals—goals shared by the Founding Fathers. Denying African Americans citizenship was deemed essential to the formation of the original union. Hundreds of years later, America is still not an egalitarian….(read more….)
In the report, Children’s Health Spending: 2009 – 2012, issued by the Health Care Cost Institute, an increase in prescription drug use by children and teens in the United States was noted along with increasing hospital admissions for substance abuse and mental health problems. While girls were more likely to be prescribed antidepressants, boys were more frequently prescribed ADHD drugs including amphetamines, cerebral stimulants, respiratory drugs and miscellaneous anorexigenics. These increases affected boys beginning at ages 4 to 8 years while girls were more likely to begin receiving prescriptions for these central nervous system drugs in later years, ages 9 to 13.
This trend of increased medication of young children may be attributable to the publics lack of awareness of the efficacy of talk therapy to identify and reduce behavior problems in children. The added education of both parents and children when it comes to coping skills for ADHD and parenting techniques could provide essential lifelong preventive mental health skills.
In the 70’s Rachel Carson, a noted scientist, began warning that pesticides used on food crops and landscaping, could have a damaging effect on our health and that of the planet. At the time, few people took her seriously. Now it’s clear that she was on top of her game.
There are tens of thousands of chemicals that are used to grow, process and store foods and for use in household products. Many of these chemicals have never been studied for their effects on humans. We know now that many everyday chemicals are “hormone disruptors” and affect the functioning of sex hormones in our children’s bodies along with affecting their brains.
Effects on their brains result in changes in their moods, intelligence and perception. Hormone disruption may affect their reproductive systems, gender identity and vulnerability to disease, (i.e. cancer).
The website, www.whfoods.org (World’s healthiest foods) provides an excellent and thorough description of foods, their nutrients and ways to spice up your diet and ensure your health. Another website, www.FoodMatters.com has great information, available in video format for viewing and book format. This site will keep you up to date on what you need to know about the food you eat. Protect your health and that of your children.
Find a black therapist, black counselor or African American psychologist near you