Tuesday, April 22

Spring Has Sprung...Bring On The Dirt

by Ajike Akande

It’s Earth Day and in honour of Earth Day, I thought I would share a bit about my relationship to my children’s relationship to the earth or the ground or the dirt.  Wait, what? *Spring has sprung in this part of the world, and I couldn’t be happier.  Winter has been… you probably don’t need me, along with everyone else, to describe exactly how this past winter has been.  So while, I am still wandering around in a proper winter scarf and a lighter version of my winter jacket much to my friends and family’s dismay, I am thrilled to be outside with fewer layers and bigger smiles.  I am so very glad that snowsuit season is done for one more year, but after a long weekend with several trips to our local park, I just have to get a few things of my scarf-adorned chest. 

We live a block away from arguably the best park in our city.  It’s sort of famous.  People drive from all over to come hang out at our shady, spacious park with its big old-school playground (the kind that celebrates splinters and calculated risk taking), its icy cold wading pool, and awesome sand pit with real metal shovels, plenty of wooden boards and very few rules.   Our park has a food stand that serves healthy enough food so that kids never get hungry and adults can, without guilt and too much planning, arrive at the park, find a comfortable bench, release the kids and hang out for the whole day.  It’s amazing.  On farmers’ market day in the summer, the crowds are heavy until at least 7 pm and Friday night community suppers are all the rage with the regulars.  It’s truly a great place to be.  And for us, with our large brood and our connections to the park’s “lifers”, everybody knows our names or at least the names of our kids which is super handy when you’ve got so many.  We are super lucky to have this park a block away.  I love it.  For realz. 
Displaying Snacks at the Park.JPG

But…. (you saw the “but” coming, didn’t you?) it is hands down the dirtiest park ever.  For most children - most definitely mine, this is a big part of its charm.  My get-along gang of Silverman-Akandes fly across the field into the playground area to take their spot at the top of the super fast slide which always has loads of old, dusty sand sprinkled on it to make the end of the slide that much more exciting.  Or they dash to the sandpit to find the best shovel and bucket for building a trench – always at the end of the pit where the mud is thickest and darkest.  F-Jammie doesn’t even waste time with a shovel and the running water, she prefers to use her hands to collect rocks in the sandpit and lick them clean.  True story.  I thought that having 2.5 year old park goers meant that I wouldn’t be dealing with the summer butt rash that is a direct result of pooping out sand.  Apparently, I am not that lucky. 

I love my park community, and I think after seven years of raising little Silverman-Akandes in the park, we’ve grown (literally and figuratively) on the community too, but I think we just have differing feelings about cleanliness.  I cringe when I see my kids sit in the wet sand pit in the clothes that I lovingly washed and hung to dry.  I prefer to look away when they kick off their shoes and run around and then climb into my lap leaving those disgusting feet dangling over my would-be clean dress. 
Displaying On a mission to find some park dirt.JPG
In my world, cleanliness is, you know, next to Godliness.  In the world of the awesome families that hang at our local park, it is possibly the exact opposite.  They, like Wife, believe that if the children don’t have dirt smeared across their faces at the end of a park visit, they probably didn’t have a good time or are being parented by me!  I hesitate to make any assumptions about race and park cleanliness, but I’ve only ever seen the antiseptic skin cleaner Dettol in black folk’s homes.  I’m just saying, that it is possible that in the eyes of my black people, being outside and having fun doesn’t necessarily mean being covered in dirt.   Okay fine, this is a ridiculous gross generalization and if any readers have been offended, I do apologize, but my informal research at the local park has revealed a possible correlation between the degree to which parents delight in their kids’ filth and their race! 

So there.  The truth is out.  For me, spring is a time to rejoice and a time to rebuild my tolerance for the dirty, dusty, awesomeness that is our local park.  I have replaced the bucket that I leave by the back door that serves as our post park footbath.  I am unpacking “park clothes” from the bins in the storage room and preparing my never-convincing speech that I give to Wife and our caregiver about the importance of changing the children into said “park clothes” before they head to the park and removing the aforementioned clothing before coming inside the house upon their return.  Listen people, I’m at the park every day.  I love it.  My kids are happy and I am happy.   We make nice with our amazing dirt-loving friends and cherish every last park day until the fall.  But my home?   It’s my slice of clean.  What happens at the park, including the collection of dirt and grime, stays at the park! 
Bring on spring.  I’m ready! 

XO Ajike

* If your kiddos have forced you to watch the movie Frozen a bagillion times like mine, you will totally get this reference.  
Displaying Early Spring Days at the park 2014.JPG

Monday, April 21

Monday Motivation: 21 Things My Father Never Told Me

You are stronger than you realize.

You are more cruel than you realize.

The smallest words will break your heart.

You will change. You’re not the same person you were three years ago.

You’re not even the same person you were three minutes ago and that’s
okay. Especially if you don’t like the person you were three minutes ago.

People come and go. Some are cigarette breaks, others are forest fires.

You won’t like your name until you hear someone say it in their sleep.

You’ll forget your email password but ten years from now you’ll still
remember the number of steps up to his flat.

You don’t have to open the curtains if you don’t want to.

Never stop yourself from texting someone. If you love them at 4 a.m., tell
them. If you still love them at 9:30 a.m., tell them again.

Make sure you have a safe place. Whether it’s the kitchen floor or the travel section of a bookshop, just make sure you have a safe place.

You will be scared of all kinds of things— of spiders and clowns and eating alone— but your biggest fear will be that people will see you the way you see yourself.

Sometimes, looking at someone will be like looking into the sun.

Sometimes, someone will look at you like you are the sun. Wait for it.

You will learn how to sleep alone, how to avoid the cold corners, but still fill a bed.

Always be friends with broken people. They know how to survive.

You can love someone and hate them, all at once. You can miss them so much you ache but still ignore your phone when they call.

You are good at something, whether it’s making someone laugh or remembering their birthday. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that these things don’t matter.

You will always be hungry for love. Always. Even when someone is asleep next to you you’ll envy the pillow touching their cheek and the sheet hiding their skin.

Loneliness is nothing to do with how many people are around you but how many of them understand you.

People say I love you all the time. Even when they say, ‘Why didn’t you call
me back?’ or ‘He’s an asshole.’ Make sure you’re listening.

 You will be okay.

You will be okay.

 —   Not written by me, but thought i would share because i loved it...


Friday, April 18

Remembering Karyn: For Brown Girls Everywhere

by April D. Byrd

The blog titles on tumblr, can range from edgy and flamboyant to outright explicit, and the content is sure to follow. When I found For Brown Girls on tumblr I knew I had came across something special, not just on a natural level, but on some deeply cosmic, spiritual wave that transcended the confines of the internet. For Brown Girls was a movement living in my soul and Karyn Washington had manifested it into everything I could have ever dreamed. It didn't matter that it was after 1'o clock in the morning. I didn't hesitate to track For Brown Girls down on every social media account that it was active and let them know what it meant to me to have that kind of space and encouragement on the web.  As I followed, "them" turned out to be Karyn...and we connected.

Correspondence and digital smiley faces transferred like nothing through E-mails, Facebook and Twitter, We we're "friends". It was easy. We got each other. I fell in line with regularly posting for FBG. Our genius seemed to be in synch, because the topics Karyn conceived for FBG were exactly what I wanted to write about. I raved about the brilliance of Tika Sumpter in the "Chocolate Spotted" series, and reflected on the depth of lyrics from artists like Keke Palmer, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu in "Motivational Melody" pieces. Karyn was the first to publish my rant about black women no longer being aliens before Blogher picked it up. The Gabrielle Impact highlighted the positive support for Gabby Douglas in the "hair" nonsense and celebrated the rise of Black women in American Society. Karyn reblogged a similar post of mine on tumblr through FBG and it became a hit! Even though I won a contest with it, I never will forget what it felt like, to feel like my voice was getting out to the masses. Karyn...through FBG, made me feel celebrated on so many levels.

Karyn not only helped me, she helped a community of women, by providing a community for women...Brown women. In the beginning when the For Brown Girls movement was catching on and gaining more notoriety, FBG re-tweeted appreciation tweets from women and girls alike, there were a lot! For so many women it was a source of hope and motivation, and in the end, courage. The thought that Karyn took her life to me is so unthinkable, that honestly I still don't believe it. She was MY friend, so full of inspiration and intellect. I find it hard to believe that she did it, but for the same reason I can't believe, I consider the culprit: Intellect. Somewhere in the entanglement of the internet and the wealth of information, geniuses are susceptible to madness. I avoided reading all posts about Karyn until I could fully express how I felt, but in the process thought back to Newsweek's cover story that covered the fate of Jason Russell and the effects of the internet on our brain.

The risk of  i-Disorder is especially high for bloggers and content creators. Working in new media can give us a sense of having to stay "connected" all the time, running the risk of real mental health issues. Seems the world wide web is now buzzing about the importance of mental health, but, my main concern is: How was her support system? That was a goal, and a value that Karyn truly expressed through FBG. The nature of For Brown Girls was to truly build a support system. To quote Dr. Maya Angelou: "Nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone.", a truth that knows no race, no color. In the very sense that Karyn was just a social media acquaintance, I didn't know exactly how to feel when I heard the news. For a few seconds I cried real tears, and wanted to bury myself in pain, but something in the great impact that Karyn's life made wouldn't let me. Karyn had determination, and she had grit, the things I most admired about her. I just knew that one day we would meet in person and become the best of friends, but I'm all the more grateful our souls got to meet, even if it was through the web.

The very last e-mail I got to share with Karyn was a piece I wrote wanting to share with Brown Girls that the play "Da Kink In My Hair" by Trey Anthony had made it's U.S. debut. I got a chance to see the play and thought it was phenomenal. Karyn was excited with me, her last text in the e-mail was a smiley face. I knew we had a spiritual connection from the jump. Within the supernatural that I discovered as I wrote this, was that Karyn sent me a connection request on LinkedIn, before she passed. I was dismayed at first that maybe it was something I could have done to, but in a new light the omen is good because I can. It's a sign to continue to carry the torch. #ForBrownGirls will forever live on! I could feel Karyn's spirit through our interactions, but I could feel Karyn's spirit mostly because of the spirit of her creativity. All in one word Karyn's short autobiography exclaims that "Creativity fueled her being". A few words from my genius friend that exclaims the key of life for all the races and sexes of the world: Stay Creative! Stay Innovative, Stay Cutting edge! and For the sake of  Brown Girls everywhere, be bold, be fierce, and be fearless.

Wednesday, April 16

Blacks & Jews in Dialogue: Passover Edition

It’s Passover – the Jewish spring festival that “commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt” (www.chabad.org),  and like in years past, I am taking this time to think about what this holiday means for me and my inter-faith, mixed-race family.   Last night, during the first Seder – the ritual service and feast on the first two nights of Passover, Wife asked me what I was going to write about this week.  My response?  “Blacks and Jews in dialogue.”  If you know the story of Passover (Read it here) you can see that its account of the Jews escape from slavery lends quite nicely to connections between the black and Jewish communities. 

I love  Passover.  It’s a holiday, consisting of rituals and symbolism that makes sense to me.  It’s a story that I feel is easy for everyone to connect to and echoes what I believe is ultimately true in this world – we belong to each other.   So after last night’s Seder,  I was inspired to write about Blacks and Jews and our connection. 

Sometimes, however, we think we are writing about one thing and we end up somewhere totally different.  Maybe this only happens to me, I don’t know much about writing!  Anyway, I think what’s really on my mind is what it’s like to raise Jewish children as a non-Jewish mother. 

It is possible that I spent my whole life preparing to be a non-Jewish mother raising Jewish children.  I was born to a black woman with a Yiddish nickname – Zanana Shepherd, aka Shepsyl.  My parents and siblings waited for my arrival and the completion of a home renovation while living with our chosen Jewish family, Auntie Honey and Uncle Roy, my mother’s high school friends.  My first friend ever was my Jewish neighbour who I now refer to as “Life” because, that’s our friendship – for life.  I mumbled along while one of my dear friends sang her Bat Mitzvah portion, because I knew it too.  And when I knew I was about to receive the news that my father was dying, I asked that same friend to take me to her synagogue in the middle of a summer afternoon because I needed to pray and at that time in my life, it made sense to do it there.  I bought Wife her first Menorah for her new house and we gladly jumped from under the Chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy) over the broom at our wedding.   I’ve been in dialogue with Jews forever.  Oh, by the way, Wife thought I should mention all my Jewish ex-boyfriends, but I shot her a stern look and told her that I’m not writing about that kind of dialogue!   

When Wife and I talked about having kids we knew that it was important to each of us that our kids be black and Jewish.  Apparently, Wife has always known that she would raise black children!  (Not funny?  Not even a little?  Okay, sorry!)  We didn’t think that it would be easy to raise trans-racially adopted, bi-racial, Jewish children as two women, but we’re pretty awesome and we assumed that we possess the tools to at least do a mediocre job. 

Please know that I could (and will) write a whole post (or five) about our experience thus far raising black and bi-racial children, but in the interest of space, I’m going to stay on religion. 

So here’s how I thought it would work.  I believe in God.  I believe that there are many paths to God and Judaism is one of those paths.  Perhaps naively, I believed that as long as I could share my belief in God with my children, I would be able to do it within the context of Judaism.  I figured I knew enough about and felt comfortable with the rituals of Judaism and I was determined to learn how to create and maintain a Jewish, God-loving home.  Raising Jewish kids as a non-Jewish mom has gone pretty well so far.  The older children understand that they are Jewish and all of them are familiar with the more regular rituals like lighting candles and saying blessings on Friday nights to welcome Shabbat. 

Regardless of our success so far, I struggle with parenting my Jewish kids.  While I have always participated in Jewish religious traditions, I don’t feel Jewish.  I don’t feel like I am passing on or sharing a piece of my self with my children.  I was raised as a non-religious Christian, but I sang Christian songs at Sunday school and at overnight camp.  I made Christian crafts for holidays and while I celebrated Jewish holidays with friends and chosen family, those celebrations weren’t in my home with my parents as “elders” sharing their traditions.  I feel  Christian.  The God of my childhood is a Christian God. 

Sometimes, being a mother, particularly the at-home mother, trying to maintain a Jewish home feels forced and unnatural.  I find it hard and wonder if it will always be this way.  I don’t want to convert to Judaism and right now it feels too hard to take courses to learn about Judaism and raising Jewish children (I did try a course through Mothers Circle a few years back.), but I do want our home to be a place where we know (and may believe in) God and live Jewish or at least Jewish (Oh come on.  I couldn’t resist!)

What I find pretty cool and what I didn’t expect is that even though Wife was raised culturally and religiously Jewish, she too is just learning to be a Jewish mom.  She is discovering what feels sacred to her from her cultural and religious heritage and what she wants to share with her family.  She is learning from a parent’s perspective about the value of what she has always referred to as boring religious and Hebrew school.  She is buying the beautiful things to set the table for our Seder and beaming when her son reads the Four Questions.  She may be learning her role as a Jewish mother with familiarity and memory deep within her, but like me, she is learning to create a Jewish home for her Jewish children. 

Our big guy cried to come home early from day care today and our middles are out of sorts and full of beans and tears this evening.  I imagine like most young Jewish children today, they are recovering from a late night spent with family and friends at a joyful Seder.  Passover really is a beautiful celebration.  Happy Passover or Chag Sameach .  

XO Ajike 

Thursday, April 10

Infographic Highlights Racial Success and Inequality in Hollywood

by April D. Byrd

African-Americans have 1,038 Billion dollars worth of buying power 12 Years A Slave pulled the same ROI as The Hunger Games with a significantly smaller budget, and Black Film Festivals are on the rise, so what's going on? Will we keep up the good trend? A new Info-graphic created by the New York Film Academy has nearly everything we could ever love to know about the progress and status of black people in the film industry.

The graphic includes a timeline of success and innovation in black film, as well as many ways African-Americans lag behind in media. Last year was really good for Black Hollywood, but are our stories being handled correctly? Producer Will Packer had some "Powerful" advice regarding that front as listed in the graphic:
"It's imperative that the next generation of young black film makers realize that their power is in their unique perspectives, unique skill sets, and unique stories. Standing out is a good thing in Hollywood."
That is highly agreed, director Malcolm D. Lee also advised quite simply to "Just keep making quality movies." How far have we come and How far do we intend to go? The info-graphic definitely stands as a good compass and resource. Check it out for yourself (below):

                                                           Click to See Full Graphic

How are you feeling about the state of Black Film and entertainment? Do you think  Black Hollywood needs to up the ante? More Genres? More diversity? or are we feeling fine with where it's at? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and follow the convo on Trey Anthony's Facebook Fanpage. Let's Hear it!

Tuesday, April 8

The Silverman-Akande Important Book...or (what Ajike decides to do when experiencing post-manicure euphoria)

You know what gives me a sense of renewed optimism?  A manicure. (Now wait a minute; this blog is a place of love, not judgment.   If you just rolled your eyes, shame on you.).  Stay with me, and you’ll understand why manicures equal hope.  
After I get my nails done, all the jaggedy edges on my hands are smooth and shiny, colourful polish is perfectly applied.  I leave the salon with soft hands and the belief that like my nails, my life is smooth and perfect.  I manage to drive home - favourite music blaring, without doing any damage to my perfect nails.  I walk through the door and greet my excited children and flash my hands in their direction – nails still perfect (The children are routinely blown away by the beauty that is my hands post-manicure.).  But within minutes I’m grabbing a roll of tape from someone who thinks it’s a good idea to unravel the whole thing, trying to dress a doll for another kid and digging for homework crumpled at the bottom of The Big’s backpack.  I’ve been home for 5 minutes.  I check my hands.  My polish is chipped.  
This is exactly how my life is.  There are moments when I think life is perfect, moments when life is perfect - like my nails immediately after a manicure and then,  before I know it, the veneer and perfection is chipped.  
So why my rambling story about how a manicure gives me renewed hope and why I believe that my life can be compared to a manicure?  Manicures and the feeling that life is perfect can lead me to make some unrealistic plans.  
Yesterday, when I was experiencing this kind of post-manicure euphoria, I came up with this crazy activity for the family to do during supper.  I excitedly told wife over the phone to be home in time for dinner.  During this sacred, family meal I thought it would be fun (and possible) to write the Silverman-Akande Important Book, not unlike the famous Important Book and The Other Important Book by the children’s author Margret Wise Brown.  “I want us to write a page about each member of our family highlighting what’s important about each of us at this moment in time.”  “Great idea honey!”  (God love this lying woman!)

Is that not the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard?  Are we not the most “together” family this side of Lake Ontario?  Do we not just drip with functionality?  Seriously people, I planned a dinner activity!  For once there would be no holding one kid down while I shovel food into my mouth with the other hand, not bothering to chew my food before yelling, “Hey, we do not throw food in this house!”  This idea came to me during a manicure-induced state of renewed optimism and dammit we were going to do it!  
In the end there was some begging kids to cooperate and 2 kids sitting on my lap while I tried to write, as well as Wife arguing with G-Dog (that’s her dinner job), but below is what we come up with.  Here is a snapshot of all the Silverman-Akandes and what is important (to know) about us!  

It’s some pretty cute stuff.  You should totally try this with your friends and family.  Really.  Even if you have to beg.  
XO Ajike

The Silverman-Akande Important Book
*Please note that some of the lines are direct quotes from the kiddos.

The important thing about being Mama is that she loves our family very much.
She likes haircuts, hockey and bourbon.  
She takes a Caribbean dance class with Mr. Lee and F-Jammie every Saturday .  
Her job is to take us to pee before she goes to bed.  
But the most important thing about Mama is that she loves our family very much.  
The important thing about being Big Z is that he loves to dance Hip Hop.  
He is a good big brother.  
He likes to make jokes and looooooves to eat.
He hangs out with the grade 2 girls at recess.
But the most important thing about being Z is that he loves to dance Hip Hop.  

The important thing about being Miss O is that she is always singing.  
She was in Mommy’s tummy with G-Dog.  
She has a huge smile.
She is always climbing on the couch and hanging upside down.  
But, the most important thing about Miss O is that she is always singing

The important thing about being G-Dog is that she loves long, tight cuddles.
She likes to watch Diff’rent Strokes and Frozen.
She loves to eat snack, pizza and sushi.
She was in Mommy’s tummy with Miss O.
But, the most important thing about G-Dog is that she loves long, tight cuddles.

The important thing about being Mr. Lee is that he likes to dance to Gangnam Style and “Decoration” (One Direction).  
He loves Eddie and Alex and their green garbage truck.
He always needs to see what’s cooking.
His hair is awesome.
But the most important thing about being Mr. Lee is that he likes to dance to Gangnam Style and “Decoration”.  
The important thing about being F-Jammie is that she totally dances with her shoulders.
She changes her clothes all by herself many times a day.  
She loves colouring.
She likes to watch Barney and Frozen.
But the most important thing about being F-Jammie is that she totally dances with her shoulders.
The important thing about being Mommy is that she loves our family very much.
She’s fun and silly.
She likes manicures, writing and white wine
She eats fruit every night after we go to bed.
But the most important thing about being Mommy is that she loves her family very much.

Friday, April 4

Halle Berry Talks About Having Mental Illness and A New T.V. Show

by April D. Byrd

Yeah, So Halle Berry doesn't have a real mental illness...(that we know of), but in her new movie role Frankie & Alice, Berry will be playing a woman with severe split personality disorder, Medically termed Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Based on the true life story of Frankie Murdoch, the film is being re-released by Lionsgate and Codeblack films. Halle talked with Extra in an interview and discussed what created her interest in the role, her new baby, and also her new T.V. show. Her new T.V. show Extant will be directed by Steven Spielberg.

The Movie Frankie & Alice was originally released in Canada in 2010. The movie captures a woman's struggle to remain herself while fighting with not one, but two alter egos:  a 7-year-old kid "Genius" and a Southern White Racist woman named "Alice". Berry will be taking the issue of women  "playing many roles" to a whole different level. Frankie & Alice hits theaters today!

 Check out the trailer (below)...

Will you being going to see the film? What are your thoughts on the movie? Leave a comment below and be sure to follow up on the conversation on Trey Anthony's Facebook Fanpage.

Wednesday, April 2

Our Village

Things have been rough in our teeny tiny corner of the universe.  I could get into a long story about the ways in which things have been a bit hard for the Silverman-Akandes but a) there are a lot of details – some of which are best kept close to the chest for now, and b) sometimes what we learn during our hardest times is such a gift that we almost become grateful for them.  What I will share though is how, through this rough patch, our boat has been steadied as we navigate rough waters.  
We have all heard the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”.  It is an African proverb.  More specifically, it is a Nigerian  proverb originating from the Yoruba and Igbo tribes.  Let’s just say that my love of this proverb is directly related to my Yoruba heritage.
I used to think that in my big-city community, we believe in the child-rearing village, but we don’t necessarily live that belief on a day-to-day basis.  We’re all struggling and trying so hard to live the best version of the lives we imagined while dealing with the life we’ve been dealt that many of us don’t think that we have much to offer a village.  I realize now, that I may be wrong.  With no concrete plans or agreed upon rules, my basketball team sized gaggle of children are offered the love and energy of a village.  

There are those villagers who we have been formally invited into our lives as caregivers and teachers, who perhaps, with no real intention, become more than what their titles would suggest.  They don’t always act in ways that best echo our beliefs and values but they always act with great love for our children.  They hug them and listen; they remember what they love and what they hate and what they fear.  They laugh with them and at them (but in that “you’re so adorable” kind of way).  They teach them and teach them again and again.  They “clock in” but they never fully “clock out”.  Thank you.  We are grateful for you.  
There are those who live close by and share their yard and their kitchen and their couch.  They run faster than us when one of ours topples over on their bikes darts out in the road, after a runaway ball.  Their children’s grandparents know our little ones by name and remember them coming home.  On Halloween someone gives out candy, and someone pours the wine and someone hangs with the kids.  We never talk about who is doing what or when we’ll change jobs but we all know it’s all taken care of.  Our little ones sing goodnight to them and ask for one more snuggle from them before coming home.  They drop off a bottle of wine or a case of coke and they know exactly which liquid we need and when.   Thank you.  We are grateful for you.  

There are those villagers who are part of our family of origin. Bubby and Zaide, who call on the phone and send cherished postcards and come for special weekend visits to be showered with enough kisses and cuddles to make up for lost time.  There is Nanny who is nearly part of our every day but still gets the run-down-the-hall greeting every time she arrives and the confused look when there’s only time for a short visit.  There are aunties and uncles who are like royalty and somehow are the ones who can always do the things we cannot.  There are aunties and uncles  and cousins who show up every week, even when they’re tired, and love our brood enough to spoil and scold.  Thank you.  We are grateful for you.
Our village includes chosen family – old friends and new friends, who love up our kids but love us up too.  We can be honest with them.  We can call our kids assholes and they know that we need a break not to be judged for saying horrible things about our kids.  They know what we sound like when we’re on the other end of the phone but are crying too hard to form words (okay that may be the beauty of call display, but you know what I mean).  They let us brag about our kiddos without feeling guilty.  There are those villagers who when we’re talking about one of our kids and their struggles say, “We’re going to do what we have to do to support her.  She’s our little one.”  With those friends we are never alone.  They hold us up.   Thank you.  We are grateful for you.  

It’s been a lousy couple of weeks for the Silverman-Akandes but it’s totally okay.  Our boat is being steadied.  As I write this I hope that we are good villagers and that I am wrong about thinking that we have nothing to offer the village.  I hope we give you and your littles as much Yoruba style, village love as we receive.  
To our people, to our villagers, I hope you know who you are and I hope you know that we are so, so grateful for you.  
XO Ajike

Friday, March 28

Petition Urges Record Labels To ‘Stop Degradation Of Black People’

by: April D. Byrd

A petition has been circulating that has become very popular. The change.org document created by Kenneth Paulk is making big headlines around the web. The creator is serving notice to Artists and big record companies to end the disrespect of black culture, mostly through black artists. The petition is detail oriented and lists all the "dirty" companies clearly by name.

Time will tell if the petition will make a difference in the music and entertainment industry, but the writer is very direct on his intentions. He claims that companies and artists can stop valuing money over quality of content. Digital Media has definitely been given a new platform to Social Justice. The request may be a big leap of faith, but it might not be such a hard bargain. The mission holds good reason and merit, but will merit be enough? check out the details (below):

"This petition is for our future children and grandchildren. This petition is for our ancestors that sacrificed and died to make things better for us.

We have to let our ancestors know that we will not allow our legacy to be destroyed by corporate America, and we will not allow our legacy to be destroyed by a few greedy music artist that value money more than they value their own people.

When you see bad things happening and don't say anything it will continue forever. Bad things will only stop when good people take a stand against it.

Record companies the rappers are your EMPLOYEES and you would never allow your EMPLOYEES to make songs that disrespect or degrade the Jewish people, and you would never allow your employees to make songs that disrespect Gays, but you allow your employees to make songs that disrespect and degrade black people.

Record companies you make a profit by allowing rappers to call black people n!gger and n!gga in their songs. Record companies you would never allow rappers to make songs that glorify the killing of Jews or Gays, but you allow rappers to make songs that glorify the killing of blacks, and you profit from it.

The negative rappers value money and material things more than they value the betterment of their own people, they don't even care about the damage that their music is doing to us as a people. We would never allow whites or any other groups to make songs against us, and we shouldn't allow blacks to do it either.

People will only do what you allow them to do, and as black people we are at fault to a large degree because for the last 20 years we have allowed record companies and rappers to degrade us as a people and get a way with it.

Just like other groups of people would never allowed themselves to be disrespected it's time for black people to show the world that we love ourselves as well.

We must send a clear message to those that have exploited us and harmed us as a people. The best way is through legal action or class action lawsuit against any record company, record distributor or music artist that continues to put out those kind of songs.

Stevie Wonder has sold over 100 million records and he never called us n!ggers in his songs. He always called us brothers and sisters in his songs.

Black people we gave the world great music, we gave the world Soul music, Jazz and other forms of music. I refused to stand by and watch our great music legacy be trashed and destroyed before the whole world.

99% of rappers are signed to these record companies and distributors below, this petition is against these companies and their rap artist. These are the names of the executives that run these record companies that degrade blacks.":

Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Charles Grainge

Sony Music Entertainment CEO Doug Morris

Warner Music Group CEO Stephen F Cooper

Island Def Jam CEO Barry Weiss

Island Def Jam President Steve Bartels

Interscope Geffen A&M Records President John Janick

RCA Records CEO Peter Edge

Virgin EMI Records President Ted Cockle

Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman

Young Money President, Dwayne Michael Carter Jr

Cash Money Records CEO'S,  Bryan and Ronald Williams

Capitol Music Group CEO Steve Barnett

The FCC is going to be asked to play a major role in this.
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) president, Tom Wheeler

Will you be signing the petition? Do you think it will make a difference? Leave a comment in the section below and continue the convo on  Trey Anthony's Facebook Fan Page.

Wednesday, March 26

We're Going Away!

Folks, I’m going to Vegas!  I’m going reluctantly, but I’m going.  Wife is currently planning our kid-free three-day trip for August.  Why Vegas?  To see Celine Dion, of course.  Now wait a New York minute, before you stop reading out of disappointment that I am an out Celine Dion fan, she is a really good performer and if Wife, a die-hard Springsteen fan will lovingly travel to Vegas to fulfill my dream of seeing her, you can continue to support this blog and keep reading!  
In all honesty, I was willing to toss the Celine in Vegas dream out the window because of the money and the basketball team a.k.a the kids, but Wife has insisted that we get away.  We need something to look forward to; so we’re heading to Vegas this summer.   I’m glad she’s pushing me to do this because I have been using our small people as an excuse to toss aside many of my big and not-so-big dreams for the past seven years.    
Leaving our brood is not easy.  Not because we love them and all that stuff, but because they’re impossible much of the time and there are so many of them.  There’s no sending them to the grandparents for a few days.  We need a team of people to step in.  We’ve got the grandmothers, aunts, cousins and a paid caregiver on deck to make this trip possible.  Apparently all of these people agree that we need some time away.  So the money is taken care of (Lines of Credit – funding vacations everywhere); the children are taken care of, so we’re good to go, right?  Wrong!  

I can conjure up worry about any situation.  It’s one of my superpowers.  Things will be going along swimmingly and I think, “Wait a minute, something is missing.  It must be a random worry!”  When I decided to share my concern about our trip with Wife,  she rudely rolled her eyes at me and said, “Seriously?”  Okay, nothing bugs a worrier more than someone who refuses to hop on board the worry train!  I don’t know how many times I have told Wife that if she just worried more, I could worry less!  
Anyway, I’m worried that something will happen to us – both of us, on the trip and we don’t currently have a will.  I suggested that we follow the rules of the US president and vice president and never travel together in case something happens.  This was comment was met with another eye roll and “Ajike!”  Sometimes Wife is unsupportive and rude!  
So now we need a will or I am not getting on the plane.  Worried readers, please don’t write to me about the importance of a will and having things in place.  I know these things, but we just haven’t taken care of it yet.  I am a worrier, not a responsible worrier.  Truth be told, we keep getting stuck on who will care for our kids should something happen to us.  It may come as a surprise to you, but it’s not easy to ask someone to take all five of your children and raise them together should something horrible happen.  And that is why I’ve decided to use this public platform to do it.  I’m joking.  Could you imagine?  We are, however, going to get this sorted out in the next few months though so if you are a close friend or family member I would be suspicious of any invitations to dinner on us!  
Worries aside, I truly am excited about our trip.  We need the sleep and the quiet (which of course is easy to find in Vegas).  And we need the time, that “date-nights” do not allow, to lower our shoulders, un-furrow our brows and stop talking about the kids.  Only five months away.  
Until then, I leave you with a little Celine.  Below is my favourite Celine Dion song, Love Can Move Mountains.  The video seriously highlights the cheesy, ridiculousness of Celine.  By the way I’ve been dreaming of doing a montage of family photos set to this song.  Perfect, right?  It’s coming.  Stay tuned!  

XO Ajike