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I don't know about you, but I keep thinking about Jackie's Facebook post on Cinco de Mayo. I'm not sure why I even paid attention to the email notice that she posted something since, as you know, I don't "do" social media.


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Sometimes, inexplicably, something compels us to do things we would not normally do. Regardless, as soon as you forwarded it to me and I read her opening words, "Some may say I don't have a right to talk about this day …" I was curious. And then, infuriated.


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Based on the first words you said when you called me, it was obvious you were livid. Jackie may well be the most amazing person I know, not only for her knowledge and experience in the adult education world but for her creativity and passion. So, for someone, anyone, to say that she's less than who she is just because she doesn't speak her "so-called" native language is beyond unbelievable.


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It is ignorant. Insensitive. Naïve. Racist. Shall I continue? And, it says so much about the person making a judgment about her, based solely on her skin color and last name. As expected, Jackie was very professional as she did not say who said it, but for her to post something that personal means it hit a nerve.


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Who cares that she may, or may not, speak Spanish? How about that she has probably, single-handedly, changed the trajectory of so many people's lives? And the ripple effect of that. I suspect she has also changed, for the good, untold numbers of people's perceptions about Latinas because of who she is.


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At the risk of being politically incorrect, I do not know what the correct phrase is … I know Latinx replaces Latinos and Latinas, and I believe Hispanic refers to those who speak Spanish. Yet, when we taught at KIPP Houston High School, and I flat out asked the students their preference, they said we should call them "browns."


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Growing up in New York, I think we called them Hispanics, although I remember an awful slang term. But there were lots of those offensive terms describing different groups of people. It's funny in that looking back, I realize that I lived a very sheltered life in that I never knew any Latinas or Hispanics, or whatever phrase I should use, before moving to Texas.


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I was in an International Business program at New York University that was a melting pot of races, ethnicities, and nationalities, as was London Business School. Can I remember the first brown person I ever met? No. I cannot even remember the first non-white person I ever met. The funny thing is I do remember once making the assumption that Jackie spoke Spanish, but when she clarified that many people thought the same thing, but she was only fluent in English, I thought nothing more about it. Until now. She may not have been taught to speak Spanish, but it is obvious that her upbringing instilled important values and priorities.


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I know! And I also know that I've rarely seen you react as strongly and as quickly as you did after you read Jackie's Facebook posting. I won't say you were in a rage, because you are always controlled and know exactly what you're saying, but you were definitely outraged.


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I still am. The only difference is my tone of voice.


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Well, I admit I'm not as good as you at keeping "calm". America's changing, and not for the better. It seems like issues about race and ethnicity are becoming more prevalent, and people are visually defining others and "conveniently" ignoring the fact we're all Americans.


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Jackie summed it up best when she said she was, "Knocked down as a child for being "brown" and now knocked down for not being brown enough."


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Which is why these words posted to her Facebook timeline were perfect … "We are who we allow ourselves to be … not who we allow others to tell us we are … or are not. Jackie, I cannot tell you who you are, but I can tell you that I think you are amazing and your dedication to helping others is what I see when I look at you."


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I quickly posted that before I even called you.


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Yes, you did.
Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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Well, it’s our first column of the year. A new beginning. Any “new” ideas for topics? Something other than New Year’s resolutions.


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Is there a reason you do not want to talk about resolutions?


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Obviously, yours was not to ask fewer questions.


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That will never happen, but you are avoiding the question. Why?


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Because every year, I have a long list of things I want to do, and I start strong, but within a few months, I fall back into old habits. Sometimes it only takes weeks. It’s frustrating and disappointing.


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Next question. What is the opposite of “old?"
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December’s so festive and full of magic, but it’s also about appreciating family and friends and those lives we’ve been lucky enough to be a part of and, hopefully, touched in a positive way. Which is something we often pay lip service to, because as much as we truly believe it, life has a way of going by in a blur, and before you know it, another year comes to an end.

This seemingly obvious observation became more than just words a few short, or so it seems, weeks ago when Black and I lost our mom. She had lived a full 94 years, but when the time came, it came quicker than expected, which was a blessing for her but difficult for those she left behind. And while Black and I each had a very different relationship with our mom, it has been a challenging time in many ways.

Luckily, the business side of Red & Black could be put “on hold” and Black posted (on our behalf),

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As we welcome 2022 … we wish a happy and healthy New Year to you!