Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

FRED ROGERS 

He comes into the house singing and full of joy, changes his shoes, unzips his jacket and opens the closet door. He puts on a forrest green sweater, settles into his chair and smiles gently towards the camera. He makes me feel good about him, me and my life. My childhood was full of great memories and cool TV shows like Schoolhouse Rock and Sesame Street, but Mr. Rogers stood out from the rest. 

A few months ago I saw a huge poster board of Mr. Rogers. My heart started beating faster and I looked around to see if anyone else saw it. I didn’t see any reaction from the rest of the moviegoers. I said aloud to myself. ” Mr. Freaking Rogers.”

I kinda hid the fact that I was super geeked to see this movie. I never saw one preview or trailer and didn’t need to. On Thursday I saw the movie times available online and turns out it was playing everywhere all damn day. I texted my group of friends a list of movie times and waited for a reply. My friend Mina hit me back quick and we set a time to meet.

We met up at the movie theatre and she seemed happy to see the film, but I was real life excited, no BS. The movie quiz game seemed to go on forever and then the 50-11 trailers that don’t come out until fall.

Finally the film started, and I was instantly confused. Uhhhh I thought I was about to watch a movie about Fred Rogers. I was prepared to scrutinize the actor playing him and ready to see who would play his wife and sons. To my surprise, this was actually a documentary. I have seen most of the Netflix docs, along with the on demand 30 for 30’s, and Friday night’s 20/20 series. I had to change my mindset and was shocked when Mr. Freaking Rogers came on the screen talking directly to me.

Now remember, I am a Mr. Rogers fan and have been since age 6 but I didn’t know shit about this man.  This documentary was not about Mr. Rogers; it was about Fred. It was time for me to learn about who he was and how he lived.

Fred Rogers was a man born to an upper middle class family. He had great parents and was raised with conservative morals and values. He went to college right out of high school and then went to school to be a minister. #1. Mr. Rogers was a pastor. He loved to spread the love of Christ and was set on preaching the gospel until he began watching TV shows.  He noticed that the quality of TV was lacking and there was nothing positive geared toward children.  He hated to see the slapstick shows where characters threw pies in each other’s faces. He sat in front of the tube and watched cartoons where bullies beat up on the little guy. He was horrified and vowed to create something better and more meaningful.

He always had a love for children and he merged his passion with television. His first idea was to use a tiger hand puppet to teach social skills like manners and compassion. That was going well but he wanted to go deeper, and boy did he. He created characters that had value and traits that could be taught to children. He found a great cast to help round out the six  characters he played himself. #2 Mr. Freaking Rogers played all of those characters and did all of those voices. WTF

The show was becoming successful as the season progressed. He could have been happy with the way the show was going, but he wasn’t. While Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was growing and being viewed by millions worldwide; the world was in turmoil. Racism was still very prevalent in the late 1960’s. A group of black children were swimming in a city pool when a group of vile white adults poured bleach in the water. That sent him into an anger that could only be quelled by immediate action. He taped an episode where on a very hot day, he and a black mail carrier put their feet in a small tub to cool off. This was his way of saying that anyone who wants to swim should be able to without prejudice. #3. Fred Rogers was not silent when it was convenient, he took action in the face of discrimination.

When the country was at odds over The war in Iraq, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood reflected the feeling of confusion. He used the puppets and actors and actresses to address the fears and anxiety that children were feeling. This issue was being discussed among America’s adults but who was helping the children? Fred made that his job to educate and do so in a loving way.

Mr. Rogers became a TV personality who loved and advocated for children. He went before congress to plead his case regarding children’s programming at PBS. He didn’t use the normal political rhetoric; he simply sang a song about children being themselves and loving themselves. Doing so awarded him a grant for millions of dollars.

He had his critics, those who said he was strange, weird and even gay. But the rumors never seemed to bother him. Fred kept busy visiting schools and showing children love.  Those who felt he was some pedophile would have to speak their madness while Rogers spoke self-love and love for others.

At the end of the documentary they showed numerous clips of the lives he touched. It showed children of all races, ethnicities and nationalities enjoying life; singing and dancing. As the final scene flashed across the screen all I could hear was sniffling, blowing noses, and a man took out his handkerchief. I tried to hold my tears back because I had not cried in a theatre since Will Smith’s Seven Pounds. I felt the tears fall as Mr. Fred Rogers said, “all I want to do is to have you think of all of the people who made you who you are. Think of all of the people who love you unconditionally. Think of those who have been there for you every moment of your life and share your love with them.” 

His sons, his coworkers, his wife, and many who admired him entered the frame all naming the people who made them who they are, loved them unconditionally, andwere there for them each moment of their lives. I thought of my family members and ugly cried. I  implore you after reading this blog to do the same. Think of those who made you who you are, loved you unconditionally, and were there for you each moment of your life… and share your love with them

R. Hoosier

 

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My Everyday Racism; MSN Town Hall Meeting

Yesterday I had the displeasure of watching MSN’s Everyday Racism; Town Hall Meeting. The meeting wasn’t bad or inaccurate, it just angered me. I don’t need anything else to bring out my rage, intolerance and hopelessness regarding systemic, institutional racism. But as much as the conversation brought out emotions, it also made me think deeply and reflect. One topic was about the things that we as black people do to not rattle, scare or make the white folks uncomfortable. I started to think back…far back into my twenties and thirties.

I worried about what white people thought at all times. I worried that if I took too many samples in Sam’s Club or Cub’s, I would look broke and hungry. I loved the different colors that could spice up my hair, but I would only do dark reds that you only see in the sun. I didn’t want to be the “ghetto black girl” with the orange, purple or blue hair. When I would speak, instead of speaking the King’s English the way my voice comes out of my mouth, I would talk one octave higher and sharpen my words.

As I moved into the workplace, I would never speak up for myself. To add insult to injury, my self esteem was very low. Instead of having opinions in performance reviews; I would do passive aggressive things like talk to the other black women about our white supervisors. I would perform the way I thought they wanted me to perform, and my conversations were geared toward the topic that interests them. None of this made a difference in my performance reviews or paychecks.

As I entered my thirties my children’s education and getting into good universities was my focus. When my son would act up, the first thing I would address is how he’s making me look to our white neighbors, instead of addressing his actual behavior. If a white mother brought my children home, I would feel queasy when they pulled up to my home. I would prepare to be “on”. That meant discussing the things going on in their lives and pretending to care. Behind our doors we were sacrificing and working our asses off just to stay in the school district, but I’m in my driveway talking about how her husband never puts his suit jackets away.

After my children were accepted to top Universities, I told every white person I knew. And I mean EVERYONE OF THEM. My mindset was look over here at what my children have done. They succeeded and did better than your privileged children. My daughter received a full academic scholarship to The Ohio State University.

Once I turned forty, things changed drastically. My two close friends, white women( Hey Dawn and G) began to have conversations with me regarding race and privilege. We would have hour long conversations on the phone and one day out of the blue, I was told that I was fine the way I am. I was told that although I talk a lot and come into the room with lots of noise, I was loved. They said I shouldn’t be working for the approval of anyone who doesn’t have love for me, whether white or black.

These last two years I have made it a priority to be my authentic self. I do exactly what I want to do. I don’t live my life to make sure someone who gives zero thought about me is comfortable. I take samples when I want them and wear my hair however the heck I want-my life is not run by trying to fit in with my oppressors. I am a black woman ; strong, courageous, intelligent, funny and proud. I am free to be who I am with not one apology. Tomorrow morning I plan on mixing a few colors and having fun with my hair. And this weekend I’m gonna spend time with the people who love and appreciate every single part of me.

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Mother’s Day( late blog) 

  
Mother’s Day weekend is always a good time for me. Last year my mom, oldest daughter and I went to church, brunch and exchanged gifts. We had so much fun bonding and loving on each other. This year was no different, I was with my family and had a wonderful time. This year we celebrated a graduation and Mother’s Day together.

We were all in Syracuse to support, and party with my little cousin Tyler. And that we did. There were a total of fifteen family members there to celebrate. After the graduations( homie… there were two) we attended a graduation party. My cousin had control over the whole event. She didn’t really want all of us to fuss and try to help her. She had my youngest daughter as her personal assistant -which is a big deal this because child never assists with anything. The party well planned and everyone enjoyed themselves . There was spaghetti, cupcakes, cake and sliders, my favorite burgers. The spaghetti of course was from Olive Garden, the girls favorite restaurant. The place was decorated stylishly and she even gave us gifts which I didn’t want to take. We’re supposed to be giving her gifts.  

We came out in huge numbers to support Tyler and it also made me remember how important family is to me. During the visit I was able to meet Tyler’s mom’s, side of the family. I met the sisters, cousins, and aunts who were all there to show love and support. On Sunday we had dinner and all of the mothers were wishing each other a Happy Mother’s Day. We fellowshipped and laughed for hours.  

My 89 year old Nana even made the 12 hour trip to come and see her granddaughter walk across that stage. We traveled from Dallas to New York and her mom and family came from Louisville and Atlanta. Tyler’s parents haven’t been together in years but when it comes to Tyler they are family. We are Family ( queue the music).  

As we all packed up to leave and took our final bathroom breaks, we exchanged hugs. Some of us hugged each other twice. I feel like I have more friends and family after this weekend. Another cool part of this weekend was being with my youngest Ana. I must have kissed and hugged her 10 times and her Dad did the same. I was able to FaceTime with my oldest and chat with her. I talked up a storm with my middle boy; and I heard from my bonus kiddos too.  

I promise you readers, I couldn’t have prayed, asked for, or imagined a better Mother’s Day or family celebration. For all of you who graduated and had family who did, congratulations. To those who are mothers, have mothered, mentored and nurtured; Happy Mother’s Day!  

Suga Momma Goes to Syracuse 

Now in order to understand this blog you need to either watch a show called The Proud Family or have your own Suga Momma. The show was popular on Disney in the early 2000’s. It starred Kyla Pratt as the voice of the main character Penny Proud. Suga Momma was played by Jo Marie Payton who also played the Mom on a show called Family Matters. If you haven’t seen that show watch that too.

Anywho Suga Momma is the feisty grandma of the Proud’s and she doesn’t hold her tongue -EVER. She also……….. Let’s just break it down, she doesn’t give a damn and isn’t scared of anyone. Now this is the part where I talk about Nana.

Nana is feisty. This weekend while attending a graduation at Syracuse University ; I tried to hold her 89 year old hand and help her up three sets of stairs. She shooed my hand away. Her response was and I quote, “ I know how to and I can walk.”

Nana doesn’t hold her tongue, EVER! She was getting restless so I told her we could walk around for a while. I’m sorry I can’t tell her nothin’. I asked her if she wanted to walk around. Outside of the stadium there are no seats anywhere. So we were trying to find place to rest after taking a stroll to the concession stand. Nana flagged down three police officers and explained to them that they needed to find some seats for the elderly. When they provided their explanation, she walked away before they could finish thus leaving me to look like a fool.

You know what’s next? Nana doesn’t give a DAMN. We were at the graduation party and she said she needed something. I said oh what do you need, to use the restroom? She shook her head. I said do you need to go to sleep?. She shook her head. I asked if she needed food. She said I again quote, “ I need a glass of red wine.” And of course me being the dutiful granddaughter I found her a nice merlot.

If I told you anymore stories this blog would go on for two days. I adore my Nana.I mean she is my favorite person in the entire world. She can be a feisty, fussy, hot mess but she helped me to become the woman I am. This blog is part of her always debating me and showing me how to speak my truth and challenge others. I may have been called a feisty firecracker a few times. I am working on my filter and I keep folks around me who will hold me accountable. My children, my friends & family are good at it.

Although Nana is a trip, she fiercely loves her family. She has helped me with my children and helped raise my youngest daughter from a newborn. Now my daughter at age 21 is able to take care of her. She has helped us financially even as she was retiring. Once she placed $300 in my hand and walked away. Nana is 89 years old and has all of her mind; her faculties are in check. She is in good health and she would slap me if she knew I wrote this blog so please don’t tell anyone. Shhhhhhhh

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Graduation Season 

Last weekend had to be one of the best times of my life. My lil cousin who is more like my niece, graduated from Syracuse University. She is the second of her cousins who have graduated college. My daughter graduated from Ball State in 2016 and is now teaching fourth grade. But this ain’t about her.

My little cousin Tyler was always quiet and you never knew what she was thinking. Even as a child, she had multiple talents. I first noticed her acting skills and she played roles in pretend stories. Tyler also sings and has been covering songs since she was a middle schooler. She comes from a family of singers on both sides. More importantly she is smart and works hard so hearing that she got into a great school was no surprise.

She left Atlanta, GA to go to the cold and snow in upstate New York. And when Miss Tyler arrived she turned that place out. She began working and getting involved on campus. She worked at an art gallery and would come home to work at Baskin- Robbins. Then this kid decided that she would go to summer school and graduate in 3 years. And she did!!!

When her name was called in that arena we all celebrated. Our girl made it! When your family, you’re proud and happy when someone you love succeeds. Tyler is a black woman who defeated all odds and anything that stood in her way. So in two months the next chapter of her life begins as she starts graduate school.

My little cousin has the world at her feet, and I know it’s cliché but it’s facts. The sky is not the limit. She can advance high above what she ever hoped or dreamed. We could see her in movies or shows or she could be writing for a publication. Tyler could write screenplays or interview politicians and celebrities. That focus and determination keeps her on track, and of course it does, she comes from good stock.😉😉

I NEED YOUR HELP!!!

Hello my name is Rhasha Hoosier. I have struggled with bipolar disorder and anxiety since my early teens. As an adult I was a victim of domestic violence and as a result now deal with PTSD. For years I tried to treat the symptoms with alcohol and my own will. By using the services of NAMI Dallas I learned the importance of wellness, therapy, and yoga . I have been hospitalized four times and was once told I should be institutionalized. After moving to Dallas, I found peer to peer support groups. Meeting people who I could relate to and who didn’t make me feel stigmatized was a great help. I never feel judged and there is always someone who knows exactly what I am feeling. They help me and I help them. We often send each other encouraging texts and emails. We need these groups to be available and accessible to all residents of Dallas and the surrounding areas. Hospitals, therapists and psych doctors should pass this information on to their patients. If not for the funds raised by NAMI Dallas these groups wouldn’t be available.

There is also money needed for housing for mentally ill people who are homeless. They are often on the streets, being abused, shuffling among everyone else. Do they not deserve a chance to hold down a job and have a home?  As a person who deals with the illness I can tell you that we want the same things “ normal people” want.

For me my family is a big help, but not everyone has a supportive village to come alongside them.  Not everyone has friends who will assist in times of need and encouragement. NAMI is that lifeline for many people in DFW. Please help if you can by supporting my team in the NAMI Walk. No donation is too small. It all adds up.

Even $1 will be appreciated.

rha los colinashttps://www.namiwalks.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=146077

FULLY FOCUSED MAN

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A few days ago I turned 41 years old and that marks a year since I’ve REstarted my educational journey. Getting this far hasn’t been easy for me in the least. From age 9-12 I was molested and that trauma left me a tormented soul. I battled with depression and PTSD throughout adolescence and into young adulthood. By the time the room stopped spinning I was a 25 yr old divorced mother of three. The focus was no longer on me but on my children. Every move I made had to have them in mind. Where I would live? Where I would work; who I would date?

Over the last 5 years my children have graduated from college, entered the job market and began traveling the world. My oldest is a 4th grade teacher. My middle child is studying abroad in France, and my youngest is a junior at The Ohio State University. I looked up and no one needed feeding, or dressing; the nest was empty. I realized that I had been living my life for my children and they were gone.

I have always been one to help others. I would see the need often before the individual saw it. As a former teen mom, I had a heart for teen mothers, and for preventing teen pregnancies. I was also a domestic violence survivor and suffered PTSD from that and the childhood abuse. My goal was to help others by showing them what has helped me to push through. Having time to myself helped me to learn the practice of self- care and teach it to others. I began by volunteering at my local YWCA. This gave me the opportunity to reach women right where they were.

So now I am in my first year of school. I am determined to finish. I want to obtain a Masters in Social Work. I want to help women but also be paid to do so. I want to achieve some of my dreams and goals now that I have helped my children to become successful. It’s my turn to take care of me.  This semester I have 2A’s & 1B. I don’t plan on slowing down or stopping. I’m fully focused man.IMG_3433[1]