Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mama On: Are You Kidding?

"A job worth doing is worth doing right."

I just want to say that my mother (the original Mamaknologist) would not have liked this, and neither do I. I applaud the Naional Park Service for wanting to do something special, but why didn't they give the project the attention it deserves?

This February, in "honor" of Black History Month, the U.S. National Park Service Division of Interpretation and Education developed a brochure. The brochure is entitled, NATIONAL UNDERGROUND RAILROAD NETWORK TO FREEDOM. It is big and bright and glossy, 8.5" x 11", and available throughout the country. Now on the surface, it sounds like a great project, right? Offering photos and locations of historic sites of slave oppression and the road to freedom, this should be an awesome project, right?

Yeah, I thought so, too. Then I turned to page 14, and found information on the (Clarksville, TN) "STORIES FROM DA' DIRT" program. And this is what it says ...

"Stories From Da' Dirt" is a living history dramatic presentation that utilizes music, dance, and storytelling to tell the story of African American men and women who went to Fort Donelson (Dover, Tennessee) as laborers, cooks, nurses, and soldiers during the Civil War. Specifically, the play focuses on several families who lived near the Fort who still have connections to the area. Several of the soldiers from the 8th USCT enlisted at Fort Donelson as early as 1864. Though some of these soldiers escaped from nearby farms to enlist in the military, it was quite common for freedom seekers to join the Union Forces under assumed names in effort to hide their identity from slave owners who searched military camp sites for human property. Generally, the Union forces forced enslaved recruits to perform menial labor such as railroad construction and repairs, and fornications. Even more unfortunate, most freedom seekers that sought refuge at Union camps were sometimes sold back into slavery."

Okay, did YOU spot the typo? According to the NPS, the word "fornications" should have been "fortifications" . Yeah, I called them about it (404.507.5635) and of course the project coordinator was SHOCKED! She asked ME why no one else had caught the error (mind you, I don't work for the agency). When I asked her about proofing and editing, she simply got quiet. I asked if this was the result of a bad joke, and she sighed. On top of that, this was about to go into an additional print run -- Teachers are using this in classrooms around the country!

As an African-American woman who can trace her family back six generations on my father's side (yep, got the pictures, too!) and five on my mother's (yes, the tax records and sales papers are available), I am shocked and dismayed. As a taxpayer, I am ... well ... pissed. I don't have kids, but I don't want yours or anybody else's receiving this "error".

Maybe it's just me. What do you think?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mama On: Her Birthday

"Happy Birthday, Baby!"

Today would have been my mother's 82nd birthday, and though she really hated this picture, this is her. We've already talked about her health challenges, and then there are those other challenges . . . You know, the ones inherant to being a woman of color in the twentieth century. But that's not what I want to talk about. Today, I just want to wish my mother, the Original Mamaknologist, a happy birthday. I miss you, Mommy.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mama On: A Personal Note

"Don't EVER forget, I am your mother."

Today is a very special day for me and my mother. Today, is the anniversary of our very last day together. My mother, the original Mamaknologist passed on February 5, 1985. It was ten days before her 57th birthday. And her death, almost as much as her life, set so many bars for me.

Today, because of my mother, I am not only a reader, I am a writer. Because of my mother, I am not only a daughter, I am a woman. Because of my mother I am not only a friend, I am a sister -- though I have no biological sisters. because of my mother, I know how to admit when I am wrong, and to be gracious when I am right. Because of my mother, I know how to laugh, and how to walk away. Because of my mother, I know that I will never have to stand up in a crowd and be loud, obnoxious, or vulgar to define my place in the world -- my character and actions will do that for me. Because of my mother, I know that no one can ever stand you up if you don't let them -- and that you should never LET them.

But here's the gift my mother has left for us all: My mother was a heart patient. For those of you who knew her, you may recall that she endured eight (8) major heart attacks, and never let her cuteness sag in the process. She believed that you need to take full responsibility to for your health and wellness -- that you owe it to yourself to take care of your heart, in every way possible. Her philosophy was that God gave you everything you needed for this life, so there is nothing wrong with being fabulous and healthy.

I like that. So today, I am going to wear red for women's heart health, and hope that you will, too. I am also, going to wear red for my mother -- because she will Always be my mother.