Words & Banter

Curious … Then Furious



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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.
Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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