Saturday, May 31, 2014

How Much is too Much to Share on Social Media

Remember how I wrote that I wanted a designer puppy? Well I got one and I didn't have to purchase it through a puppy mill. My husband's coworker was moving and she couldn't take her four(!) dogs with her. She gave all the dogs away to a good home. I picked up one of her Chihuahuas. He is so adorable and sweet. His temperament is not like a feisty little dog but more like a sweet old man. 

I posted a couple of pictures to Facebook to show him off and left it at that. It got me to thinking about how much of our lives that we live online. I love social media. I love that we can connect to people instantaneously. When I was living in DC I kept in touch with all my friends through Myspace and then Facebook (FB) and now that I live in California FB keeps me connected to my DC friends. 

I try not to over share on social media (with the exception of this blog because that is what it is for). I wonder what I will be like when I have a child. I've read a bunch of those BuzzFeed lists about the top annoying infractions people commit on Facebook.  One of those is having your profile picture being your child and posting updates that are all about Junior. 

I never want to be that person who posts endless pictures and updates about their child or anything really. (Although I think having a kid-centered blog filled with pictures would be awesome for Grandparents and others who would be interested). Two of my friends recently gave birth and between the two of them I've only seen four (maybe five) pictures. I would not mind seeing more pictures. 

I think it is hard to find a happy medium. How do you balance wanting to show off your kid while not annoying your childless friends? I'm not sure there is a happy medium. People are going to be annoyed no matter what. 

Outside of the child issue how do you not being annoying on FB? I know my friends must be annoyed when I have a social event with my Sorority. There ends up being a ton of tagged photos of me 

Overall it is hard to annoy me on social media because that is what it is there for; sharing our lives with each other. Sure some of it is superficial but it is also fun and interesting. What people don't realize is that they have a choice. I don't have a ton of friends on FB because I didn't just want to be friends with some random person I barely talked to in high school. I wanted my friends who I care about and who care about me. 

So give your friends a break for posting endless pictures of their baby or a ton of group shots from their Sorority event. Give them a break for posting status updates about how much they are not sleeping. If it bothers you so much block or unfriend them.

Of course I had to picture of the dog: Here is Tre

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Confessions from your Child's Teacher

 To parents/guardian's as the school year winds down I (the teacher) have a few confessions: 

* Your child lies: Yes, your child. Your sweet angel. LIES!! They lie to you, they lie to me, they lie to their friends. They will say anything to stay out of trouble and look cool 

*Your child is manipulative: Yes, your child.... I had student tell him mom that I hit him. The real story is I tapped him on the head with a flat sheet of paper (one sheet). I had a grandparent who refused to believe her grandson would cuss. Yes, he does know those words! 

* I don't grade everything they hand in: Teachers have a extraordinary amount of things to grade. So much that we take grading home (all the time).  We'll even turn down a social events to grade papers. There isn't enough time to grade everything you scholar hands in. Sorry! 

* I don't like to call you (just as much as you hate receiving that call): But the school requires that I keep you informed and I need to document it. 

*I will tell you ANYTHING if you try to talk to me at 3:00 pm on a Friday before a three-day weekend: seriously you're the only thing keeping from three glorious student-free days. 

*Your child tells ALL your business- and I mean ALL: You should probably talk to your child about keeping certain information "in-house." I know about your sex life, how much money you make, if you and your significant other are fighting. 

*I have favorites: Yes, I have favorite students for various reasons; they remind me of me; they try really hard; they are sweet. 

*School is hard and your kids have more distractions: Yes, it is harder than when you went to school and you already know they have WAY more distractions (hello Instagram). Be strict and keep you standards high.

*Summer "vacation" is needed: I dislike it when people say I get paid to do nothing all summer. Well, I already earned that money. Most school districts withhold at least 20% from each paycheck since August to which is paid back to us during summer. I have mentioned that we always take work home. ALWAYS. That time is "unpaid."  Also, some school districts require professional development during summer. This could mean taking classes and/or going to conferences. 

Of course it is not going to stop me from bragging! 11 more days until school is out! 

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Book Challenge

I am avid reader. Both of my parents are avid readers. I spent hours on end at the library growing up. My mom was getting her degree and I was fostering a love of reading and learning.

 Lately I realized that I don't read as much as I use to. It is mostly because of grad school and life things. So during my season of unemployment I decided I would cheer myself up by going to the library and reading. I almost forgot how fun reading is. I almost forgot how it can be an escape from reality. Reading reminds me of how much I enjoy stories and how I can get absorbed and invested in good storytelling. Reading makes me a better writer. 

I decided I would challenge myself to read 50 books this year. I've never challenged myself to read a certain amount of books before and thought it would be fun. I have been on getting suggestions, monitoring and reviewing the books that I read and want to read. I'm obsessed with this app/website. I wish more of my friends would participate. 

There are many types of book challenges. My favorite suggestions are the ABC challenge (you read a book that starts with each letter of the alphabet), African-American authors challenge, and Classics challenge. There are a ridiculous amount of different challenges. I decided that in addition to my typical mysteries and erotica stories, I would read stories I've always wanted to read but never got around to doing it. Some of these books are newer, some are more culturally skewed, some are what my students are reading, and some I'm just interested in. This list is not my full list and I'm continuously adding to it. I am happy to take suggestions. I'm already 32 books into my challenge. 

The List: 

* 12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup (Currently Reading)

* For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide /When The Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange (Currently Reading)

* Our Kind of People: Inside America's Black Upper Class by Lawrence Otis Graham

* The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

* The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

* A Song of Fire and Ice [Game of Thrones] by George R.R. Martin

* The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

* The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis (finished in April)

* Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou (finished in April)

* The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander Smith (finished in April)

* Divergent By Veronica Roth (finished in May) 

Also, another favorite app of mine is my library app. I can check out books via my Ipad! I'm happy libraries are embracing new technology. I love that I can check out books anytime and start reading them immediately. Don't get me wrong, I love having the actual book in my hands; nothing beats that.  However, I do like reading on my Ipad when I'm reading books that I'd rather not have the cover show. I read somewhere that people were offended by women reading Fifty Shades of Grey on the metro (the cover is not offensive. I think they were offended by what they think the novel is about).  If the person knew the stuff I was reading (when I took metro) s/he would seriously be offended. 

The Ipad comes in handy when I'm staying up late reading and my husband is sleeping. It reminds me of the days of hiding a flashlight under the covers. Yup I was that kind of child. The best thing about reading on a ereader is being able to click on words and automatically getting the definition. Sometimes when I am reading a traditional book, I forget that I can't click on words. I've had to stop myself from pressing on the pages a couple of times. 

I hope you all challenge yourself to read one more book than you did last year. I could go on and on about how our children (my students) are horrible readers and how they suffer for it academically and personally (for life) but I won't. Please instill a love for reading and learning in your children. It pays off. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

TV Should Reflect EVERY Aspect of Us

With the popularity of ABC's Scandal and BET's Being Mary Jane with has been a lot of talk about by the negative images these women portray. In both shows the main female African-American [AA] characters are sleeping with married men.

Each time I hear people argue about if we should and how we could watch these particular shows that make Black woman look negative I feel torn. While I agree that AA women need more positive images on TV, I also think that semi-realistic portrayals have a place as well.

For every Claire Huxtable there should be a Olivia Pope. Black women are extremely varied and TV should reflect that. However, I will admit that I hate seeing how black woman are portrayed on "reality shows" like Real Housewives of Atlanta or Bad Girls Club. The buffoonery is ridiculous over-the-top and embarrassing, but it is also expected.  The truth is, I am more offended when Black women are shown in a negative light on unexpected shows like Project Runway or The Apprentice. 

I was recently watching American Dream Builders where designers compete to fix and design houses for families. One of the competitors, the only AA , was shown as rude, confrontational, annoying and catty. It irked me because I wanted to cheer for her because she looks like me. I was upset that on yet another reality show where we are completing with Caucasian counterparts our lone representative confirmed every negative stereotype about AA women. There was a whole episode that seemed to focus on her being mean and disrespectful with another cast member. While others (read: not Black) on the show had confrontations it was not shown to the level as the AA contestant. I call it the Omarosa effect. It makes for juicy television but it makes us look terrible. 

Now to address the cheating issue.  I've seen a bunch of meme's saying something about how can we cheer for a "side chick" like Mary Jane but we get mad when our men stray. Or that by watching these shows, we are feeding into the media portrayals that all AA women are whores and cheaters. My argument is that these shows are entertainment. I watch because I like a good story. That doesn't mean I support cheating, will cheat, encourage others to cheat or anything of the sort. By saying that by supporting these shows is an endorsement to cheat or have "side chicks" is like saying watching Dexter is an endorsement of murderers. It's not a valid argument. 

The crux of this problem is the lack of AA people in important decision making positions. People dislike Tyler Perry but he has the right idea. If we control all aspects of the television industry, we can control our own images. This is why I appreciate the YouTube community so much. YouTube channels such as Black and Sexy TV create fantastic content representing all aspects of AA life. Honestly their shows should be on cable TV. They are that good. They have a deal in the works with HBO I hope it doesn't water down their content but I plan on supporting. 

Overall, I am seeing better representation of AA's in film and television. We just need to remember to continue to support them with our views and money.