Category Archives: race

Whatever Wednesday: Roses and Thorns (Vol. 1)

I know a lot of families do a round of Roses and Thorns around the kitchen table during dinner to decompress from the day. My girls are a bit young for it, but there’s no reason why I can’t do it here! So here are my Roses and Thorns, thus far, from Pasadena:

Roses:

1. The weather and people are amazing
The weather the last 2 days has been sunny, sunny, sunny. And not too hot. The girls and I took a walkabout today and they were slightly obsessed with the Palm Trees. Of course, the San Gabriel Mountains are amazing to look at as well. The people are so friendly and kind as well. When we were living in Chicago, if you smiled or *gasp* said HI to an individual, they would look at you as if you had six heads! Here, people say Hi on the street and are just very happy. Our first night here, so that would be Monday night, we went out for dinner. The Brewers and Cards were playing and we wanted to find a place to watch the game. At the table next to us were a pair of midwestern transplants as well, and by the end of the night, contacts were exchanged. New friends score!

2. The finding of new coffeehouses
I’ll admit it. I do like Starbucks but I generally would prefer a local place over a chain. Being sans wheels, kind of limits were you can easily get with two littles. Well, this morning we found this cute little coffeehouse/bakery that I would have probably just buzzed past in the SW.

3.early to bed, early to rise
Since we don’t have a TV right now (all of our big stuff is still in transit) the family has been heading to bed based on body time rather than TV time. The pro is that we are getting mucho sleep, but we tend to wake up way before 6a (mostly because we are still on CST body-wise!)

Thorns

1. Car Accident
‘Nuff Said.

2. No furniture or anything except what was in our van
Our apartment has the spartan look of a recent college grad. We are sleeping on air mattresses and our clothing is in piles on the floor. We don’t have TV, but between DVDs and Netflix, the girls are remining occupied when I need them to be… We have no toys either.

3. Ants
Our complex is having an issue with ants. Everywhere. They are going to be spraying soon and I know that ants are *harmless* but still, would you want them marching over you at night? Didn’t think so.

All-in-all we are in good spirits and are not regretting a thing… Except maybe my decision to go to Costco yesterday ;)

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Filed under family, race, wednesday

Neither White Nor Black

I would like to extend a great big WELCOME to the newest subscribers to “Caffeinated Catholic Mama!” I hope I can continue to enlighten and entertain and welcome to the family!
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They met at a jazz bar in Los Angeles, California. The year was 1941. Billy was a ranch hand who dabbled as a singer. Lisa was a secretary.

It wasn’t long before young Billy and Lisa crossed a line which, for most Americans, was unthinkable at the time.

Lisa was white. She had roots linking her to William Clark, the explorer who traveled to the Pacific Coast of the United States with Meriwether Lewis. Billy was black, the grandson of a former slave who had moved to California from Texas in the 19th century. They wanted to get married.

Curious to read how this love story ends? Read the rest here. Thanks for the link, Shannon!
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Read My Letter to my Daughters, as featured on The Feminist Breeder, for my personal story about living Neither White nor Black.

Pax Christi!

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Filed under family, life, race, Tuesday

Getting off the fence

I used to be a fence sitter in the realm of the polarizing topic of abortion. I have close, dear friends who are champions of women’s reproductive rights and are staunchly pro-choice; I have other close, dear friends who are champions of women’s reproductive rights and are staunchly pro-life. For the longest time, I would hem and haw and try to tactfully avoid the question or topic for fear of angering or alienating a friend or worse, losing a friend.

I am not very good at memorizing scripture, but there is one chapter of the bible that has really “spoken” to me at varying times in my life: Matthew 10. Quite a few passages from this chapter has lead me to writing this today:

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.

27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Yesterday, the US House of Representatives voted to strip Planned Parenthood of federal monies that are used for preventative health screenings, which include contraception and cancer screenings. Currently, Planned Parenthood is prohibited from using federal dollars for abortion services, and the removal of this money cuts off it’s “family planning” side. As an aside, the monies were being provided under the Title X Family Planning Program enacted in 1970. According to the US Health and Human Services Website:

Over the past 40 years, Title X family planning clinics have played a critical role in ensuring access to a broad range of family planning and related preventive health services for millions of low-income or uninsured individuals and others. In addition to contraceptive services and related counseling, Title X-supported clinics provide a number of related preventive health services such as: patient education and counseling; breast and pelvic examinations; breast and cervical cancer screening according to nationally recognized standards of care; sexually transmitted disease (STD) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention education, counseling, testing and referral; and pregnancy diagnosis and counseling. By law, Title X funds may not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning. (emphasis mine)

Opponents of the funding cut, use the argument that by cutting the money to Planned Parenthood, we are putting the lives and health of women at stake. But not all Title X recipients are being cut, only Planned Parenthood, which may be the most accessible if not the most well known “family planning” center in the US.

Not every Planned Parenthood office provides abortions, but every office will council and refer to an abortion provider as needed. One question to have, is Planned Parenthood providing abortion as a family planning method? I don’t know. I guess that would depend on why the abortion is performed. According to their 2010 fact-sheet, in 2008, Planned Parenthood performed 324,008 abortions and referred 2,405 pregnancies for adoption. Planned Parenthood is not without other controversies, either. Last March, Planned Parenthood and The Girl Scouts of America caused some issues when they partnered to do some “No-Adults Allowed” Sex Education. A few weeks ago, the pro-life group, “Live Action” released a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood employees skirting the laws and essentially helping a man posing as a pimp for an underage girl. Planned Parenthood has come out and said that the videos are all hoaxes among other things. For me, though, Planned Parenthood and abortion are intrinsically linked and culturally very personal.

According to the Gutmacher Institute, black women account for 30% of induced abortions in the US. However, according to the 2000 Census, black (or black with something else) women in the US made up 6.8% of the total population. Another percentage from the Gutmacher Institute is that 69% of pregnancies among black women were unintended, but Planned Parenthood is providing Family Planning services? Bottom line is that family planning services do not make money, but abortions do. Abortions are not covered by federal dollars, so the women are paying out of pocket for the procedure. According to the PPFA Annual Report for 2008-2009, the non-profit ended with a profit of $63.4 million. To clarify, non-profit is a tax status, so that means they don’t have to play Government Taxes. (The 2009-2010 report has not been released.)In New York City, 71% of black teenagers aborted their children in 2009. According to LEARN, the largest black pro-life group in the US, between 1973-2001, abortion has claimed more lives than AIDS, Violent Acts, Accidents, Cancer and Heart Disease combined (their stats come from the CDC.) So, what’s going on here? Why are we, as a community, allowing this black genocide to continue?

Women deserve better than abortion. Of those 324,008 abortions in 2008, we can say at least half of those would have been little girls. I am never a fan of those who criticize without bringing another option. In my opinion, we need to:
- redefine our definitions of “love,” “sex,” and “intimacy.” Intimacy can lead to sex and sex can lead to the creation of life. Sex very rarely, if ever, leads to intimacy or love.
- support pregnant women more, whether it is in their jobs or just personally. A woman should not have to feel compelled to choose between her child and her job. Maybe some of those federal monies should go to Pregnancy Resource Centers/ Emergency Shelters to help pregnant women with no place to go. Let’s give adoption some better PR.
-Stop Glamorizing Teen Pregnancy. Yup, MTV, I’m talking to you. Now, I have to admit, I have NEVER seen “Teen Mom” but what I have heard about it makes me vomit in my mouth a little. Some say it’s a great window to the realities of teen motherhood, others say that it makes girls think that they are one pregnancy away from landing a reality show and FAME!
-Celebrate the involvement of the father. Too often pro-choice voices talk about how it’s the choice of the woman, but there are at least 4 people involved in that choice: The Mother, The Father, The Child and God. In having the abortion, the mother takes away the choice of the father and the choice of the child.

A baby is not just an extension of the mother’s body, like an appendix or gall-bladder. It has it’s own genetic code and is a separate being. Just because it is dependent on the mother for a period of time does not make it more or less valuable or give it less of a right to live. My children are still very dependent on me. Just because they do not rely on me for their oxygen exchange or nutrition, doesn’t mean they are not still dependent. Do I have the right to deny them life because they count on me?

I’ll close with two quotes:

“The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” she said, “if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” (Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood)

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What are your thoughts? I fully believe in civil discourse, but I do expect a certain level of decorum when engaging in debate. We all have differing opinions and no one person is more right than another and we all have the right to speak our minds. Can’t wait to read your thoughts.

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Filed under Catholic, family, feminism, history, life, mothering, political, race

Who gets to decide if it is a choice?

No, no, this isn’t a pro-life post (sorry to disappoint!) But I was listening to The Diane Rhem on NPR last week and they were discussing the proposed ban on face-covering veils in France. The discussion got a bit heated among the panelists and I found myself yelling at the radio at times.

I can understand the worry of the French Parlament, burkas can be used to conceal explosives of suicide bombers and face-covering veils can obscure the face rendering facial recognition software inoperable but does that still make it right for a group of politicians to dictate what a woman can and can’t wear?

Let’s be honest here, for the most part, the Western World is not known for being the most modest place, especially for women. I mean, here in the US, we seem to have a HUGE problem with breastfeeding in public but we don’t blink an eye at a 12 year old traipsing around wearing a belly bearing halter top and booty shorts a la Lolita. In talking to some people about this, I’ve heard a lot of comments along the lines of “If they want to wear the covering, why don’t they live in a country like Saudi Arabia where it wouldn’t be so obvious? Hmmm.

Additional arguments for the ban take on a “feminist” perspective in that for some women, the wearing of the burka or hijab is forced upon her by male relatives. While that is true, what about the women who choose to wear the burka or hijab? Should they be forced to shame themselves in the sight of their God because of the laws of man? Why don’t we address the treatment of women by radical Muslim men instead?

Where would the line be drawn? Would nuns and religious sisters be required to dress in short shorts and tank tops because “everyone else does?” What about priests? Should we ban Roman Collars because the collar is a clear religious symbol that is unduly pressed upon our non-religious brethren? Would we have to restrict the wearing of saris and buddhist robes because they too are long and could be used to conceal weapons?

I personally love wearing my veil to Sunday Mass and I have been known to take a long, black pashmina and wrap it around my head, hijab-style, on particularly bad hair days. Now granted, the proposed ban does focus on face-covering veils, but who is to say that the ban will not become more far reaching and attempt to secularize all types of religious dress?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but it does make for an interesting discussion. Should governments mandate what can and cannot be worn by its people? Or is it better for society to exert the pressures?
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What’s your opinion? Thoughts? I know you have one!

Pax Christi

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Filed under breastfeeding, Catholic, feminism, life, race, wednesday, world

Better off in a Third World Country

Earlier this week, I posted on another tragic death of an infant linked to co-sleeping. As we are a co-sleeping family, I felt the need to write about this and to defend the practice. In the post, I alluded to the difficulties poor, minority women face but I had no idea how deeply it ran.

Yesterday, I received my issue of “On Wisconsin!” my alumni magazine and I finally got the chance to sit down and flip through it today. Skimming the article, “Baby Steps” an alarming statistic jumped out at me:

In 2004, Wisconsin had the worst African-American infant mortality rate among the thirty-five states that reported deaths by race. That year, 125 black babies died in the first year following birth, a rate of 19.2 deaths per 1,000 births. While the rate has improved slightly since then, the death rate for black babies born in 2006 to 2008 was 15.2 per 1,000 births, compared to 5.9 for white babies.

Essentially, African-American babies born in some urban Wisconsin neighborhoods had a better chance of living if they were born in Jamaica, Sri Lanka or Central America, countries we think of as “third world.”

This sickens and saddens me. I was born in Milwaukee, but my family moved to the suburbs when I was in the 5th grade. We already know that the breastfeeding rates among African-American mothers is lowest than among other races. In fact, according to the CDC in 2005, the following factors influence breastfeeding rates:

Race. Rates of breastfeeding were 81% for Asian Americans, 79% for Hispanics/Latinas, 75% for Whites, 67% for Native Americans, and 59% for African Americans.

Mothers’ age. 50% of women under 20 breastfed, 68% of women between 20 and 29 breastfed, and 77% of women 30 and over breastfed.

Education. 63% of women with less than a high school diploma breastfed, while 84% of college graduates breastfed.

Income. Women living below the federal poverty line breastfed at the rate of 63%, and women living at 350% of the poverty level breastfed at the rate of 82%.

WIC participation. 65% of women receiving WIC subsidies breastfed, while women who were ineligible (due to higher income) breastfed at the rate of 77%.

But other factors remain, factors that have been talked about for years and years. Babies in these neighborhoods are not dying just because they are not breastfeeding, they are dying because the neighborhoods are not healthy places to live. From the article:

While residents might find several hospitals within a few miles, Farrell notes that “medical care is necessary, but not sufficient” — that additional issues such as pollution, poverty, and segregation make Wisconsin’s big cities unhealthy for African-American babies. Even when those factors are accounted for, middle-class, college-educated black women in Wisconsin are still more likely to have babies who die during their first year than white mothers who haven’t finished high school. Research suggests that the stress of racial discrimination and other traumas create biological changes that put both mothers and babies at risk for health problems.

Not only are mothers contending with absentee fathers, poverty, crime, trauma and lack of grocery stores there is the simple fact that getting to the needed medical care can be difficult. One quote from a pediatric cardiologist about her patient just about broke my heart:

But even traveling to her high-risk obstetrics appointments in her hometown was a struggle. She didn’t have a car, she had two children under the age of three at home, and she could only have her mother babysit on the one day of the week that her mother didn’t work. Oh, and the bus that went to the doctor’s office ran just once an hour. “I still have nightmares thinking about that young mother standing there on a cold snow bank in late December, waiting for a 7 a.m. bus to get her to her doctor’s appointment on the very day she delivered her baby,’’

Don’t all mothers deserve better? Here in our country, we debate for hours on end about the validity of everything, from the President’s heritage to health care, from flat-tax to progessive tax but it seems like we are doing a lot of talking but not enough doing. But Milwaukee is trying, although I personally disagree with their argument, especially in light of all of the crib recalls in recent history:

One example of these efforts is the Safe Sleep campaign, launched last winter by the City of Milwaukee Health Department. Billboards — showing adult beds with tombstones as headboards and the words, “For Too Many Babies Last Year, This Was Their Final Resting Place” — are meant to drive home the message that infants are safer sleeping on their backs in their own cribs.

A country is only as strong as it’s weakest members and we are losing far too many babies who represent tomorrow’s fathers, mothers and leaders. In short, and to quote Whitney: “…the children are our future.”

To read the article in it’s entirety, click here
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Agree with me? Disagree with me? Tell me what you think! Looking forward to your thoughts!

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Filed under breastfeeding, infant mortality, mothering, political, race