Is There a Such Thing as Too Much Creamed Corn?

As the weather becomes more crisp and the leaves on the ground have a certain crunch to them, we all start to plan and prepare for the Holiday Season.  For many of us that means decorating, preparing themed meals, and ensuring that our homes are in order for the copious amounts of company we will entertain over the next two months.

For others, the colder air represents a time of year where we are more in tuned with the needs of the community, and the noisy leaves under our feet remind us that there is much work to be done to enrich the lives of others.

38% of those who donate to charity or spend time volunteering said that they are more likely to do so during the holiday season. That fact is not one that is particularly astounding; but consider the idea that over 50% of those who volunteer during the holiday season do so to meet a personal need as opposed to satisfying a need in their community. While there is in increase in community involvement throughout the holiday season, these numbers show that there is still a lack of understanding the needs of the community.

Volunteering is one of those anomaly actions. It can be both selfless and selfish. It can provide a personal sense of accomplishment, while accomplishing something greater than one’s self. So what are the motivators of volunteering? Why do so many people get up and get out, especially during the holiday season, to make their world better?

There are hundreds of needs to meet in the community at any given point in the year. The need for cans of creamed corn does not diminish after Thanksgiving (and yes, there is a such thing as too much creamed corn in food pantries). What happens the day after Thanksgiving, or on December 26th? Have all of our volunteer efforts in the previous two months solved the community’s problems until the next Thanksgiving?

The notion of doing something good during the holiday season has great intention, but the execution can (literally) leave much to be desired for the other 10 months of the year. So the question arises again; knowing that volunteering can be both selfless and selfish, what are the motivators of volunteering, especially during the holiday season?

The goal is not to discourage you from volunteering during the holiday season; rather, the goal is to remind you that there are needs that go beyond our selfish needs of accomplishment. Volunteering, first and foremost, is about meeting a community need. A byproduct of volunteering is a sense of accomplishment, but this should not be the driving factor in any decision to get involved in your community.

Hopefully, in a couple of months, when many of us are trading the crisp air for the sand and sun of the beach, we remember that there are still people experiencing hunger, and food pantries that need to be stocked, children that need adequate supplies for education, and any number of people suffering with illness and chronic health issues. Hopefully, in a couple of months, we look around and remember the feeling we currently have to get involved; but this time do it, simply because it needs to be done.

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Why You, But Not Me?

This post is long overdue and will probably upset a few, but I don’t write these to make (or even keep) friends. 

I am so exhausted with hearing people defend Ray Rice in this domestic violence chaos that is surrounding him and the NFL. Now, I could talk about domestic violence at length and how we, as a nation, really need to understand the systemic problem that is violence and ambivalence against women. But this is about Black people (as most things are when you talk to me). This is about the idea that a game, a sport, an idol, is more important to the Black community than one of its own women.

This is about me. My daughter.  My Mother.

Everyone is in an uproar that Ray Rice was let go by the Ravens, and suspended by the NFL. Let me make one thing perfectly clear, The Ravens did not let him go because they saw the tape of him cold clocking his fiancé. The Ravens let him go, because WE saw the tape of him cold clocking his fiancé. The prospect of money and business far trumped the safety and wellbeing of the black women, in their eyes. That is upsetting. But that does not surprise me. That is the way of this country and of this world.

What does surprise me, is the outpouring of support to Mr. Rice regarding the ending of his time with the Ravens, his endorsements, his removal from Madden 2015 (which I thought was genius, everyone get the update on the game!), and the tarnishment of his ‘good name’. It surprised me, because this support was coming, very heavily, from the black community.

Now a month ago, as a pregnant, exhausted, working mother, I was ready to hop on a plane and fly to Ferguson, MO and place myself, and my unborn child, in harm’s way to stand up for justice for how I saw black men being treated in this country. It broke my heart. I needed to get involved and speak up. It was human rights and injustice, but it was closer to me than that. It was black men. It was my husband, my brother, my father, my son. It was personal. I wasn’t the only one. There are millions of black women, in time of hardship and woe stand up for our men. Stand up and fight the same fight alongside you, when an injustice against you occurs.

So why, when an injustice occurs against me, can you not do the same? Does your love for football outweigh your love of your black woman? Why you, but not me?

What black men have told me over the last 2 days is that, no matter what, football outweighs my wellbeing. Your stats on your fantasy football team are more important than harm and destruction caused to me by one of your idols. You have told all black women that we can march for you in times of injustice, but you can’t even refrain from purchasing a jersey when we are wronged.

Ray-Rice-Baltimore-Ravens-Janay-Palmer-508734

Let me ask a question: if you treat your women like this, hit them with no remorse or sense of urgency to stand up for a battered woman… why should anyone else treat us any differently?

Now, obviously, I am not speaking to every single black male in the world, but the overwhelming response of encouragement for Ray Rice and shaming of Janay has been disheartening. No words of encouragement for this young woman. Only people insisting she should have known better than to ‘provoke’ him.

I’m unsure of how I am supposed to feel after this. I am unsure of how I am supposed to look my cousins and friends in the eye who have shamelessly stood by Ray Rice’s side, or Chris Brown’s side. I am sad. And I am trying to figure out why you, but not me?

ELAF

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The Beginning of Insanity

I just learned a very important lesson from a co-worker of mine. A lesson that we all seem to have a grasp on, but when push comes to shove, none of us really understands. It wasn’t until my own apathy had set in, that I realized how I must sound to others.

A close co-worker and friend of mine has some very STRONG feelings about the ALS Ice Bucket challenge that has been bombarding our news feeds and media sources. Not only is the idea of being on camera while doing something foolish and gimmicky annoying to this individual, the idea that people are just throwing money at a cause without possibly doing any research on the cause or how the money will be used feels irresponsible. The point was made that, this individual, gives lots of money to many wonderful charities of their choosing, and does not want to be soaked with cold water; does this make them a bad person?

… we continued to talk for about five minutes on this subject before I realized, I truly had no thoughts on the matter. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is not on the list of things that are important to me at this moment. My co-worker and friend however, is very upset and disturbed by how this can (and will) water down the idea of giving to nonprofits and charitable foundations. Should I have cared?…maybe. But I didn’t. And after her very well articulated argument, I still have no thoughts on it.

I’m telling this story to make a point of my own unrealistic expectations of those around me. The world is full of disasters, tragedies, disease, death, celebration, victory, excellence, and triumph. There are so many ways to care and be passionate, to make a stand against something or embrace that same event. We all have a vantage point from which to see the world; mine makes me apathetic to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but keeps me exploding with emotion over the happenings in Ferguson, MO.

So, as my close co-worker and friend was talking about why she really despised the ice bucket challenge, I finally said, “I really have no thoughts on this.  (a very literal pregnant pause) Hmm, I guess that’s how people can not comment on the tragedy in Missouri. If I can not care about something, you have a strong stance on, why wouldn’t I expect that of others?”

Simple. Something we all know inherently, but in practice, we can’t seem to grasp.

This blog is mine. It will be a collection of my emotions, my passions, my struggles, my fears, my loves, and my obsessions. It will reflect all the things that bring forth conflict in me, and that help me find peace in that conflict. There will be topics discussed that you will not care about. This is a place to learn more about those topics. This is a place to see words said that you may not be able to articulate. It will not always be pretty. I promise that it will always be real and never gloss over the truth. It will examine all sides of things, no matter how hard. It will celebrate in the silly and the fun, while offering true moments of vulnerability.

So cheers to each of you for taking this step with me. I promise this is the beginning of insanity!

ELAF

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