5 things my dad taught me about being a black woman in America.

On my first day of preschool, my dad tied my shoes.

He gave me an Arthur lunch box and held my hand as we walked across the parking lot to the St. Nicholas preschool. Just before we got to the entrance, he got down on one knee, placed his huge fan-sized hand on my pint-sized face, looked into my eyes, and said:

“Your skin is beautiful, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”


Honest dads rock. Image via iStock.

At 4 years old, I just stared at him. I waited for the next part of the sentence, which I assumed would be an offering of a toy, a juice box, or playtime. But it didn’t come. This was my introduction into the real world.

This world is a world where I'm often the only black person in the room. It's a world where blackness, especially my extremely dark black skin, might be mocked by people from all backgrounds.

My dad was born and raised in the Deep South. He was raised at a time when lynchings were the norm and when calling black employees the n-word was just part of being in the boys club.

He did an amazing job raising his four black kids, parenting that spanned three decades. And I, his last child, ended up morphing into a young adult during the Black Lives Matter movement.

From my dad, I've learned five lessons about what it means to be a Black American.

On Father's Day this year, I wanted to thank my dad for these lessons, and I also wanted to share them with you:

1. My blackness is my pride and glory.

My parents used to play Stevie Wonder after they were done listening to NPR on the way to school or the store. My dad, a fan of gardening, talk radio, and collards on a Sunday, boasted his black manhood as a point of pride, setting a resounding example on how I should view my black womanhood. We went to a Southern Baptist church on Sundays, and I spent part of my summers with my grandmother in Baton Rouge, visiting my dad's siblings during the week, progressively understanding the journey it took my parents to get our family to where it is.

Many of those experiences shaped me into who I am today. My parents made sure I understood my history and culture, and in turn, I dove deeper into what black identity meant for me at a young age.

Image via iStock.

I found that my blackness, the physical and mental aspects of it, are what makes me who I am. For that, I’m thankful.

2. Hard work is the only way to move forward in this world.

My dad grew up as a young boy in Mississippi during the Jim Crow South. As the oldest of eight children without an active father, he was responsible for getting himself to a better, less dangerous life and carrying his siblings with him. He ended up becoming a CPA and working as a community college professor because he had to put four kids through school. I never saw him complain, I never saw him be late to work, and I never saw him in a wrinkled work shirt (or gardening shirt, for that matter). The man has some serious pride.

He valued his work, and he valued the lives of the kids he was responsible for raising. Because of his example, I got my first job the summer after junior year, and I haven’t stopped working since. I'd like to think some of his work ethic has carried over to me.

3. Love yourself.

My dad is a Vietnam veteran. During the time of isolation and imminent danger in a country far different from his own, he learned how to cherish the things he loved — like the Four Tops and his alone time — and to cherish himself. This lesson, loving yourself at times of strength and weakness, is something he wanted his kids to know as well.

Love your weirdness. Love your Americanness. Love your blackness. Love your flaws. Love the possibilities.

According to my dad, you’d better love yourself before anyone else does. He is right.

4. Family is key.

My family members are very different. Our personalities and beliefs vary, but from my dad, I've learned that it's important to never forget and always acknowledge the people you love, however you are able to do so.

Whether your family consists of blood relatives or good friends, respect them, love them, and care for them. Chances are, they’ll probably do the same for you.

Image via iStock.

5. You are beautiful, whether the world acknowledges you or not.

As a dark-skinned black woman, I was mercilessly taunted during middle and high school. Discussing the complexities of colorism was never a thing in our household until the teasing began, so my parents had to do some intense work to keep me grounded when all I wanted to do was yell.

My dad, with whom I share the same skin tone, was particularly encouraging. He knew what it was like to be dark in a world that values lighter skin, and he shared his ways of getting through it with me. He's not the most emotional nor most affectionate guy on the block, but he made it very clear that either I could understand my beauty or I could let the world make the decision for me. I chose the former.

Photo used with permission from the author.

For all these things and more, I thank you. I love you, Dad.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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