Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Giving Back: Mentoring

I've mentioned in previous posts that I am a mentor with an organization based in Washington, D.C. called College Bound.  College Bound is a program for students in the 8-12th grades, who attend public school in the District and prepares them on their journey to college. 

The program is structured in a way that the partners (mentors) meet with their students (mentees) once a week at four sites around DC for 2 hours per week.  Most of the time is spent assisting students with their homework and various projects for schools.  Those partners who have older students typically help them prepare for college entrance exams and work on admissions essays.  In addition to tutoring, it is encouraged that partners forge a bond with our students and do things with them outside of the weekly site visit. 

This is my second year volunteering with the program and it's been a rewarding experience.  My mentee is in the 8th grade and she's been quite a challenge to work with.  When I met her she was failing English.  She still has a long way to go but I've learned to be supportive in trying to help her with what she's not being taught in school.  It amazes me that she's 13 and does not know the basics concepts of grammar or how to spell simple words that my 6 year old nephew knows.  The problem stems from no one correcting her, so she simply did not know.  There are so many problems with the DC public school system that I'm not going to go into right now, but all these kids need is someone to show them a little support and guidance.

With that said, College Bound is always looking for new Partners to make a difference in the lives of these children.  I always find it interesting that less than half of the Partners are Black, while I'd say 98% of the students are Black or Hispanic.  Not that there is anything wrong with having mentors of other races but it's extremely important for our children to be able to see someone who looks like them, who have gone to college, who have careers and can tell them first hand about their experiences and how they made it to where they are in life.

If you live in the DMV and are interested in becoming a mentor, please visit College Bound's website to get involved.  They are in dire need of mentors as there is a waiting list for students because of the shortage of mentors.

I hope everyone who reads this post set a goal for the New Year to become a mentor in 2010.  It's a rewarding experience and it only requires a couple hours of your time each week.  There are kids out there who just need a little guidance from you to help them become a better person.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Great Gifts For A Good Cause

With the holidays quickly approaching, I wanted to share some suggestions on some great feel good gifts that I've come across.  I found some great websites that have amazing, yet affordable gifts all under $30, where the proceeds go to charities in the United States as well as abroad.

American Diabetes Association
Gift of Hope: Katie's Cure Necklace - $24.99


Show support for the fight against diabetes. Sterling-silver pendant engraved with words driving the quest for a cure: Hope, Faith, Strength, Ambition, Research and Perseverance.









The FEED Project
FEED 10 Pouch- $25.00

Made to be used as a clutch, makeup case, or pencil holder, the FEED 10 pouch provides food and job skill training to 10 women through the UN WFP’s Food for Assets program. It measures 8.5” long by 5” tall and is accented with luxurious plum recycled-nylon lining, an interior organic canvas credit card holder, gold zipper, and FEED’s signature natural burlap exterior.
Click here to purchase

(I actually purchased the white version of this bag at Bloomingdale's in November. It included 3 Bobbi Brown lip glosses for $50. It's no longer available on Bloomie's website but they may still have it at the store) Follow them on Twitter: @FEEDprojects

Global Girlfriend
Amber Attraction Recycled Glass Necklace - $24.95


With each Amber Attraction Recycled Glass Necklace purchased, Global Girlfriend will fund 1.0 percent of a microgrant for a woman in a rural community in Africa to launch a small business, through Camfed.
Click here to purchase









Susan G. Komen For The Cure
Orange Ginger Ribbon Candle - $28.00



25 percent of your merchandise purchase price will benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure® in the fight against breast cancer.
Click here to purchase




Kiehl's
World Aids Day Limited Edition Hand Salve - $12.50


Limited Quantities Available - 100% of Kiehl's net profits from the sale of this item will benefit amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. Protects against and repairs the appearance of severe dryness. Forms a glove-like protection barrier against moisture loss. Allows Skin to actually draw and absorb water from the air.
Click here to purchase

(I love this Hand Salve, makes your hands feel silky. I purchased mine from Saks but they are also available at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, and Kiehl's stores nationwide for a limited time)



Habitat For Humanity
Natural-Black Pulire Peace Tote Bag - $12.75




10 oz. organic cotton tote bag. Features include 29" rope handles with durable metal eyelets and an 8" gusset. A unique peace symbol as well as the Habitat For Humanity logo appears in black on one side of the bag.

(Great to use as a recyclable grocery bag)



Click here to purchase





 
Please feel free to add any other gifts for a good cause.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Keeping Up With The Jones

As you may know, I get a lot of my inspiration from my friends and people I associate with but I also am inspired by those I follow on Twitter.  Today, one of the young ladies I follow posted the tweet below:

@jdantv You have to remember that this is the first generation of blacks that may not do as well as their parents...

When I saw the first part of her comment, I thought about a conversation I had with a friend not too long ago about this very same topic.  It seems as if the children of middle-upper middle class families are not doing nearly as well as our parents.  Even though we have the education, in most cases, we have not reached the same level financially as our parents.

As I think about where my parents were at my age, they had been married for like 5 years, my Mother was pregnant with me, they had a nice home, both had a Masters degree and a law degree and were gainfully employed.  Growing up, I lived in a nice size house, my parents took international trips every year, drove nice cars, were members of certain organizations and they had all of the accoutrements that came along with being part of the upper-middle class.

Although, I try not to compare myself to my parents it's hard.  I know that I've accomplished a lot over the years and have a rewarding career, but I can't help but feel like I still have not made it.  I try to look at all of the positive things that I've done and relish in the fact that I am where I need to be.  I'm not trying to keep up with my parents or their friends.  I'm definitely not trying to keep up with the Jones or the Johnsons or the Witherspoons.  I'm just trying to be me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Savvy Shopping Tips

With the holidays quickly approaching, I figured I'd share some of my secrets to becoming a savvy shopper. Being that I'm a person who thoroughly enjoys shopping and puts a lot of time and effort into buying gifts, I know that it can also become quite costly.


Before I list my tips, my first suggestion is to set a budget. With the economy being the way it is people will understand if you have less money to spend on them this year. If you only have $20 to spend on someone, it will just require a little more creativity. I know I appreciate thoughtful gifts more than ones that you could tell someone just picked up without any thought. Let's not even talk about giftcards to places where I don't even shop.

Sources for deals:

1.) Use Your Network

Today most people have a PT job or a "side hustle". Find someone who works for a retailer where you like to shop (i.e. Bath & Body Works, Saks/Neiman's/Nordstrom, Victoria's Secret) and ask if you can use their discount. I'm not saying ask any random stranger, ask someone you know. You can typically save anywhere from 20% - 50% off of the retail price.


2.) Shop Online

If you have an idea of what you're looking for, GOOGLE it. I'm sure someone will be selling it online. When buying online look for offers such as free shipping & returns or codes to save a certain percentage. I usually visit http://www.retailmenot.com/ to find coupon codes for just about anywhere.


There's always eBay. I've gotten some amazing deals on eBay. My most recent deal was buying a pair of brand new (with the tags still attached) pants that retailed for $228 for only $9 + $4 for shipping. What they say about one man's junk being is another one's treasure is so true. I've been buying and selling on eBay for nearly 10 years.


3.) Deal of the Day Websites

I get emails from Living Social DC every day with all kinds of promotions. I've seen everything from deals on restaurant gift certificates, to yoga lessons (I purchased 8 hour long yoga classes for $50 at Vida Fitness), to discounted facials & massages to tours around the city. The best part is these deals can be used for yourself or given as gifts. No one would ever know you didn't pay full price. Another website that's been in the news recently is Groupon. Groupon is similar to Living Social but they have a larger client base and more locations across the US. They pride themselves on having ...exclusive, unbeatable deals on the best things to do, see, eat, and buy in Washington DC.

4.) Just Be Creative

While it may sound cheesy photo gifts are always nice. If the person's a writer use a nice photo and turn it into note cards with envelopes. If they like to travel, have their vacation pictures compiled into a photo book, make sure to add captions. Buy a photo storage box that has room for a picture on the front. Make sure to add in a photo to personalize it, then they can add whatever pictures they want inside of the box. My favorite photo sites are Kodak Gallery, Snapfish, and MyPhotoAlbum. They always have special offers for new users.


Hopefully, my tips will help someone. There are still 17 days left until Christmas. Happy shopping!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Changing it up...

Over the past few months, I've used my blog as an outlet to write about everything from relationships, to current events, to ways I like to give back but I've steered away from writing about one of my other favorite topics which is fashion.

I've never been one who is flashy or dresses in such a way to stand out from everyone else but I have always prided myself in having nice things.  I've always followed the trends and take pride in being able to identify one designer from another.  I also enjoy splurging on an "It" bag or pair of shoes once in a while.  Everyone has their vices, for some it may be food, others sex, mine I love to shop.

It always amazes me when the subject of shopping comes up and someone says "Oh I'd never pay that much for such and such."  To me I pay for quality.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying expensive always means better but in some cases it does mean better quality.  Of course something that is hand-made is going to be more carefully crafted and will cost more than something mass produced in a factory. 

For example when I was in college I used to buy Nine West and Enzo Angiolini shoes because they were cute and cheap.  After wearing them for a season, I noticed how badly worn they looked and had to throw them away.  Now, I typically like to buy Italian-made shoes.  True, they may cost me 4 times (it would be more if I actually paid full retail price) what I paid for the cheaper brands but they last much longer.  Same thing with clothing.  True I could find a cute wrap dress at say New York & Company or Express but they won't last as long as a Diane von Furstenberg.  Her prints are classic and the materials she uses, mostly silk and wool blends, wear well and the prints are timeless.

I feel as though as long as my bills (i.e. mortgage, student loan, phone), if I want to splurge once in a while that's ok.  Especially considering that I've maintained a part-time job working in retail since my sophomore year in college, wow can't believe it's been 10 years, which has allowed me to be able to buy practically whatever I want and to travel abroad. 

Going forward, I'm going to try to incorporate more posts about how I've come to being a savvy shopper (hence the name change) as well as share some tips that I've found helpful.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day 2009

Today, December 1, 2009, marks World AIDS Day. I'm glad that there are days like this that encourages people to know their status and to go out and get tested.


Living in the DMV (DC, Maryland & Virginia) area it's scary to hear the statistics out there about the number of HIV/AIDS cases there are, especially in the District of Columbia. Despite the staggering the numbers, the truth is those are only the numbers of those who've actually been tested. There are so many reckless people out there who are infecting their multiple partners and have no idea that they even have the virus.


It kills me that people still think you have to look sickly and have lesions all over your body or be some crackhead to have HIV/AIDS, that is so far from the truth. They think the only people who live in a certain area or live a certain lifestyle are the only ones who are affected by this disease. I guess people won't realize that isn't true until they see for themselves that HIV/AIDS knows no color, race, religion, socioeconomic status anyone and everyone is a target.


It's so easy to go and get tested. In many places it is free or covered by insurance. There should not be shame in saying that you get tested for STDs and AIDS. It doesn't mean that you're a slut, whore, freak, or even that you're engaging in risky behavior, it just means you want to be informed which is admirable. I'm not afraid to admit, I get tested every year regardless of whether I'm dating anyone because it's just something I feel is important. I've made it part of my annual routine.


After all these years, it saddens me to think so many people think they can beat the odds just because. Wake-up people, AIDS is everywhere! Studies show there were more cases of HIV/AIDS in DC than in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The only way we can do something about this epidemic is to get tested and to know our status.


We've all heard the old adage ignorance is bliss. When it comes to taking 5 seconds to protect yourself against the consequences then your ignorance is just plain stupidity. Get tested before it's too late.


Interesting Websites:
http://www.hivtest.org/ (Find a Site Near You)
http://www.posornot.com
http://www.staying-alive.org/en
http://www.aidstruth.org/


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Season for Giving Thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving the official start of the holiday season.  Holidays are always hard for those who've lost loved ones but this year with the economy and unemployment at an all-time high, Thanksgiving is going to be an even more difficult time for many people.

Despite the dismal circumstances, we must continue to be thankful for all that we do have.  The other day my dad said something to me and my response was "Hey, times are hard." I didn't say it intentionally to be negative, it was just the first thing that came out of my mouth.  He quickly chastised me for saying that and it's quickly reminded me that I shouldn't put that type of energy out there.


It's so easy to think about the negatives and what's not going right in our lives but we must continue to remind ourselves, it could always be worse.  You may not like your job or your boss, but at least you're employed.  You may not like your living situation, but at least you're not homeless.  You may not be where you thought you'd be at a certain age, but at least you're alive and have time to work on improving yourself. 

When I think of everything that could possibly be wrong in my life, I remember how blessed and fortunate I am.  Whenever a complaint starts to form in my mind, I ignore it.  This Thanksgiving, like always, when I'm with my family I will verbalize everything positive that's happening in my life because I have so much to be thankful for.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Black People Don't Travel

Before you get upset at the title of my blog post please let me explain. I hate to generalize and say that all Black people, specifically African-Americans (AAs), do not travel because I know that's not true. It's just that AAs tend to shy away from traveling abroad for some reason. I haven't figured out whether it's because of financial reasons, a lack of interest in the culture and history of other places, or a combination of both.

The idea that black people don't travel came up in conversation recently with a guy I'd just met. We were discussing the places that we've traveled outside of the United States. I started talking to him about my recent trip to Egypt and how the people there seemed to love us. I told him how it seemed like the people in my party were a hot commodity. The people there wanted to know where we were from and showered us with attention. They were genuinely excited to see us.

I began to notice our group was the only group of African-Americans any place that we went. In fact, the entire time we were there we did not see more than 5 AAs. We knew they were AAs because we made it a point to speak to everyone with brown skin who did not appear to be Egyptian just out of curiosity.

I've been to the Dominican Republic a few times and everytime I go there I rarely see anyone there who looks like me that speaks English. In Europe same thing. You'll see more people of color but they either live there or they're from other countries than the US.


I love to travel and recently when I was going to Egypt, I told several people I was going on vacation there. The responses I received from my AA counterparts seemed to greatly differ from that received from everyone else. The response I often heard from AAs was "Why are you going there?" While everyone else said, "That's exciting, I've always wanted to go there" or "You should go to this place when you get there."

It just saddens me that AAs don't seem to understand the importance or the value of traveling abroad. Trust me, I am by no means rich and have to work for everything I have but I much rather sacrifice for a year to take a once in a lifetime trip then to take smaller trips here and there to places like Miami or Vegas.
It still amazes me that I know people from my generation who have never been on a plane. The United States is great and all but there's only so much you can see driving from point A to point B. I wish more AAs would expand their horizons and look beyond their comfort zone, it's so worth it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Speed Dating in DC

Earlier this week I decided to try my hand at Speed Dating. I'm sure everyone's heard about speed dating. It's when there are a group of men and a group of women who have a limited amount of time to get to know one another.

I heard about the event through one of the Meet-Up groups I belong to and thought it sounded interesting besides I've never done it and heard it could be fun. Also, it was touted as being for Young, Black Professionals between the ages of 27-39, my ideal range, so I figured why not.

It was held at a chill spot,
JoJo's Restaurant & Bar on U Street in DC. They usually have a live jazz band during the evenings and the drinks are pretty good so I figured if speed dating was a bust, the night wouldn't be lost. The event was scheduled to begin at 7:15. Me being the prompt, anti-CP time, person that I am I arrived at 7. There were about 4 others there when I got there. The early arrivals weren't lookers so I prayed that some more suitable candidates would be coming soon and they did.

The Speed Dating hostess handed me my name tag and with a number on it that corresponded to the table I was to sit at for the evening. She also handed me a sheet with the rules and a list of sample questions (I decided I wouldn't rely on them and would see how the conversations evolved). On the back was a space to write the other person's name along with comments and whether they were a yes or no.

Everything was neatly arranged and I appreciated the order, because I can't stand disorganized events. As for the set-up there were 12 stations set-up. The event was meant to be intimate as the hostess informed me so it was limited to 12 women and 12 men, 1 of the men didn't show up. The women was seated on the inside while the guys sat in the outside chair and rotated in order.

At first, I was thinking what am I getting myself into then my strawberry margarita kicked in and I was ready for the games to begin. The hostess called the start and we had 5 minutes per person. Some of the guys were extra animated, some were very laid back. Some acted young while other seemed like they should be my Father's friends, I swore two of them lied about their age and were over 40. We chatted about the basics like where are you from, what do you do (the typical DC question that I HATE), have you done this before, what do you like to do. Some noticed the cartouche necklace I was wearing from my recent trip to Egypt and inquired about it. One asked me if I had any kids and acted shocked when I said no. The conversations were pretty surface nothing too deep. One guy thought he was being creative and asked me "MAC or PC" when I answered "umm I guess PC" he excitedly high-fived me. In my mind, I immediately check "No" and was thinking NEXT.


After the event, the hostess sent us a link where we could go and check yes or no next to the person's name and number. From there you can decide if you want to connect with them. I'm looking at my notes from that night and I ended up saying "Yes" for 3 out of 11 (one was a maybe but there's only yes or no, so I figured I'd make him a yes), as of now, 9 out of the 11 guys have said "Yes" for me. We'll see if this brings forth any potentials. All in all, it was fun and I would definitely do it again.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cultural Differences

While I was on vacation in Egypt, I enjoyed seeing the vast treasures of the ancient world including the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, The Temple at Karnak, and The Valley of the Kings. I had heard of most of the places we visited because I've always studied art and architecture, specifically Egyptian. What I wasn't expecting was how a place so rich in history, could be so poor. For some reason it never dawned on me that Egypt is a third-world country.

While visiting all these places, we were often encountered by the local people who were there selling their wares to the tourists. Some places the people grabbed you. On more than one occasion I was groped by someone standing way too close, maybe they thought I wouldn't notice. I was kissed on the cheek several times. It made me wonder did they feel comfortable doing this because they feel Americans are more free with our bodies because we aren't as conservative or covered us as their women or was it just a cultural difference, they are more expressive of their emotions.

I'd done a lot of research before going and made it a point to be a conservative as possible by wearing long sleeves and long pants when in public, only thing I didn't wear was the headdress. I made sure that no cleavage was exposed, which is hard because I live in wrap tops and dresses and v-necks. But I still felt uncomfortable in the way the local approached me. They'd also make comments to my Father or other men I was with asking, "How many camels?" At first, I was like what the hell, but later figured out what they were talking about. It goes back to the old days when families paid a dowry and apparently in Egypt it's their way of saying how much for your daughter.

Other places we went people yelled out "My Cousin" and "Obama" because clearly they knew we were Black Americans. It was refreshing to see how excited they were to see us. In America, there still seems to be a love-hate relationship between Blacks and Africans who've come to America. I remember having Africans, mainly Nigerians, say all types of negative things to me. In Egypt, there wasn't any of that. Maybe there was, but since I don't speak Arabic I didn't know what they were really saying about us. I just had the feeling they were more accepting and genuinely happy to see us.

Part of our nine day excursion, was a 4 day cruise down the Nile. We ported each day and went to different parts of Egypt to see the historical sites. The second day there I noticed something strange, there were no women working on the boat, even when we began our tours you never saw women working in the shops. I know that it's a mostly (70%) Muslim country but it amazes me that many of the women don't work. From the looks of it, with many of the locals on the streets, smoking hookahs, hanging out outside, I seems like a majority of them do not work. I wonder what the unemployment rate is there.

Going to Egypt was definitely an experience I will never forget. Next time I go, yes I will be going back, I plan to spend some time in southern Egypt in Aswan which is the home of the Nubians, or the brown people.

Here are just a few of my pictures.



Temple of Isis










The Great Pyramids of Giza. Giza is about 15 miles outside of Cairo. It took 45 years to built the largest one.







My Aunt and I with a camel. We did get to ride one, it was definitely an experience.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm Going to EGYPT!

If you follow me on Twitter you've probably read a tweet or two about my planned vacation to Egypt. It's been in the works for nearly a year, can't believe the time is finally here. I've been abroad before but this is my first time visiting the continent of Africa.

I love traveling! I've made it my goal to take at least one international trip every year, even if just to the islands.



Something tells me that this is going to be a life-changing experience. I'm so glad that I have this opportunity to go at this time in my life. A few years ago, I might have said no to going, not because I didn't want to go but because I wasn't making enough money to be able to afford such a trip (not that I'm making money like that now) I've just learned the value of making short term sacrifices to get what I want in the long term. I also found it to be a great time because I'm single with no children so there's nothing holding me back.

When I first learned of the trip, I tried to get some of my friends to come but none of them ended up working out for one reason or another. So this vacation will be spent with my parents (Dad & Step-mom), Aunt, my Step-brother and a few of my parent's friends. My Aunt is going to be my roommate. Don't get me wrong I love her, but someone please pray for me because that little woman can snore. You'd never imagine someone so petite could snore the way she does, it's crazy. Apparently she has sleep apnea, so it makes her to snoring worse. But I'm not going to think about that.

Can't wait to take pictures in front of the Sphinx, at the Temple at Karnak, on the boat while cruising down the Nile, and on our planned camel ride. It's always something I studied in school or watched programs about on TV. I'm excited at the thought that this dream is going to soon become reality. With that said, I won't be blogging for the next 2 weeks. I'll make sure to post some photos when I return. Please pray (if that's something you do) for our safe travel and return!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

March of Dimes - Signature Chefs Auction

Another very worthy charity I enjoy supporting is the March of Dimes. I'm sure anyone and everyone has heard of the March of Dimes, but most don't know how the organization came about. The March of Dimes began in the 1930s as charity to raise money to end polio. Then President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, initiated a campaign asking all US citizens to donate 10 cents (a dime) to fund research to end polio, hence the name. Once polio was eradicated, the March of Dimes focus shifted to the prevention of birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Just a little history, that I've found interesting since I first got involved with the charity.

As far as my involvement with the March of Dimes, this is my second year sitting on the Silent Auction committee for their Annual Signature Chefs Auction. This year's Silent & Live Auction event will be held on Monday, November 2, 2009 at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, DC (22nd Street location).

A little bit about the event...Signature Chefs Auction of D.C. features more than 30 of Washington, D.C.,'s top chefs during an evening of culinary tastings, fine wine and entertainment. The evening will include silent and live auctions of unique dining packages, hotel stays and weekend getaways.

To purchase tickets, click here. For more information, please visit the Event Web page or contact Nicole Vagnerini with the March of Dimes - National Capital Area Chapter at (703) 824-0111, ext. 19, or nvagnerini@marchofdimes.com. Volunteers are still needed, contact Nicole for more information.

Signature Chefs Auction
Monday, November 2, 2009

6:30 Sampling & Silent Auction
8:15 Live Auction Begins

The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, DC
1150 22nd Street NW
Washington, DC 20037
Phone: (703) 824-0111, ext. 19 (March of Dimes)
(202) 835-0500 (The Ritz-Carlton)

Website

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Key To The Cure & Friends&Family

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a philanthropist-in-training. I may not have millions of dollars to give away but I support as many charities as I can. One of the events I like to support is Saks Fifth Avenue's Key To The Cure (KTTC). In preparation for this annual event, Saks has a world-renown designer develop a unique shirt for the event. The shirt this year was designed by Michael Kors and retails for $40, with $30 of the proceeds going to various charities.

Unfortunately, I'll be away for work to attend this year's KTTC Kick-Off, but I've already purchased my t-shirt to show my support, for more information or to buy one click here.

If you're
in the Washington, DC area, the KTTC Kick-Off event held on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at Saks Fifth Avenue located at 5555 Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase, MD. To purchase tickets for the DC/MD Kick-Off, click here. For those else where, this event is also hosted at Saks Fifth Avenue stores around the country, visit www.saks.com to find a location near you.


Saks Friends & Family discount event coincides with KTTC and is also this week October 15-18. Friends & Family is available in stores and online. ***FRIENDS & FAMILY Enjoy 25% Off with code: FRIENDS2***

Don't forget, if you can't make it to the store to attend the event or to shop, you can purchase the cute, long sleeved 2009 KTTC shirt shown on Heidi Klum above by clicking here. Note: Since the proceeds raised from the sale of this shirt go to charity, the Friends & Family discount does not apply. Saks is also donating 2% of sales up to $250,000 over the shopping weekend (10/15/09-10/18/09) to local and national women's cancer charity partners.



Happy Shopping!

Monday, October 5, 2009

DC Public Schools

Over the last few weeks, Chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Michelle Rhee has been putting teachers on the chopping block AGAIN. For more on her latest actions, click here. I'm not a product of the DCPS system nor do I work for it but I can't help but feel for these teachers and the students who've been affected by these latest lay-offs.

My Aunt is an educator in the DCPS system. When Michelle Rhee first came in under Mayor Adrian Fenty she announced the closing of several under-performing schools. My Aunt's school was one of them. Fortunately, she was just relocated to another school. Other teachers have not been so lucky.

I can understand that DCPS is experiencing a budget shortfall as are many other school systems throughout the country, but what I can't understand is why you're going to lay-off teachers from an already under-performing school system? What sense does that make? These students need as much help as they can get, laying off teachers only means you're increasing class sizes. In turn the teachers who are left will have to deal with a larger workload than they already have and that's not going to help anyone.

I'm so proud of the students who have been staging protests in hopes of making a difference at their schools. Their hope is to show Chancellor Rhee that what she's doing is not helping them but hurting them. I truly feel that Chancellor Rhee isn't looking at the bigger picture, but then again how could she? I really want to know how someone who was never even a school principal is even qualified to run an entire school system, something's just not right about that. She's obviously failed to realize fewer teachers means fewer opportunities for students to be able to learn. These students are already at a disadvantage, these lay-off are just continuing to damage an already broken school system.

Recently, I began my second year of volunteering with a program called College Bound, a program that provides weekly one-on-one mentoring to students attending schools mainly in the District, with a handful of students from Prince George's County (MD) and some who reside in the District but attend schools in Fairfax County (VA). Last week, the Director of College Bound, who was an educator in the DCPS before taking his current position with the program, spoke about what was happening in the schools.

This year, College Bound announced an initiative called College's Bounds 11 Campaign. The significance of the number 11 being in the Nation’s Capital, an estimated 11 public school students drop out of the system each school day. Eleven may not sound like a lot, but that equals over 4,000 students each year who drop out and I don't know about you but that's unacceptable. Donations are being accepted on College Bounds website, if you are interested in helping.

Going back to the actions of last week, I couldn't even imagine coming to my classroom on a Friday to end up being escorted out by the Police. And to make the situation worse these teachers will only be receiving a severance package of 1 month of pay. That is outrageous. Imagine teaching in the school system for 20 years to be told you've been laid-off and will only have ONE month of living wages, that's a complete slap in the face. Something has to be done, because I feel like the DCPS is in a constant downward spiral. If Chancellor Rhee is going to continue with her cuts she needs to at least give the students of the District some options, namely providing additional vouchers so more students can attend private schools. The students of DCPS are not a lost cause and I hope something happens soon to let them know otherwise.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Detoxing

After going to the doctor for my annual visit last week I left in shock. As the physician's assistant moved the slider to 100 then the other slider crept past 30, I knew something had to be done. My real problem is I'm a foodie. I love food.

Lately, I've been busy running from activity to activity and meeting and meeting which has caused me to not eat how I'm used to. I've never been one to gorge on a lot of food but snacking is my downfall, especially if it's sweet or salty I'll eat it. I decided to do some research and came across a few detox diets that would help me get back to my ideal weight.

I haven't told many of my friends about this whole detox dieting plan, unless they invited me to a happy hour or dinner this week and demanded to know why I wasn't coming, because I don't want to hear what they have to say. One of my male friends insisted that I was fine and didn't need to lose any weight. I'm naturally petite and people always ask me if I work out, which I don't and I know I need to. I know what a healthy weight for my body and frame is so I'm not going to be content until I'm back at that weight. After the detox, I have a lot of traveling for work and personal, so I'm going to have to focus on eating healthy and trying to walk more while the weather's still nice.

Prior to starting this detox diet, the only detox I knew about was the Master Cleanse, what Beyonce did when she was trying to lose weight for Dreamgirls a few years ago. Basically it consists of drinking a concoction of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and some water. The detox I'm doing is not even close to that extreme. I'm also only doing it for 7 days, my goal is to lose 10 pounds, but I'd be happy with losing 8.

My meal plan looks something like this:

Breakfast:
Berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
or a Berry shake with some soy milk, vinegar, flaxseeds

Mid-Morning Snack:
Green Tea (no sugar only honey) w/ orange slices

Lunch:
Lean piece of chicken or salmon with fresh vegetables (broccoli, onions, garlic, sprayed w/ lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt) Spinach is also recommended but I don't eat it. They also say to eat "colon-friendly" foods, you know what that means so I'm not going into details.

Mid-Afternoon Snack:
Green Tea (no sugar only honey) and raw carrot sticks

Dinner:
Similar to lunch

The key is to stay hydrated so you can cleanse the toxins out of your body. I do this by drinking at least 4 bottles of water and 2-3 cups of green tea each day.

I'm on day #2 of the detox and as of today I've already dropped 3 pounds, not bad. It actually feels good to be eating better. Hopefully, I will make this a part of my routine and be more careful about what I put into my body.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Breaking Down Bougie

I'm pretty sure just about everyone knows what I mean by the term "bougie". Just in case there are some who aren't familiar with the term "bougie" is derived from the french word "bourgeoisie" referring to a class of people. Below are some definitions, I've pulled relating to the word bourgeoisie.

Wikipedia definition: Bourgeoisie is a classification used in analyzing human societies to describe a social class of people. Historically, the bourgeoisie comes from the middle or merchant classes of the Middle Ages, whose status or power came from employment, education, and wealth, as distinguished from those whose power came from being born into an aristocratic family of land owners.

Merriam Webster defines it as: middle class; also plural in construction : members of the middle class

I think it's interesting how such a simple word produces so many feelings and issues among Black, mainly African-American, people. Somehow the term "bougie" has been made to be synonymous with stuck up, arrogant, obnoxious, people who think they are better than others.

At first, when people would say that I was bougie, I'd say something back in retaliation but after a while it got old and I figured it was pointless. People assume if you come from a certain upbringing, live in a certain neighborhood, speak/dress/act a certain way, you're bougie.

It doesn't matter to some people that I work for a nonprofit and every week, I spend time doing some type of community service project and involved with a number of organizations whose sole purpose is to make a difference in our community and our world. All they see is a well-groomed young lady who carries herself with some dignity and class and I'm grouped into the category of being bougie.

It always amazes me when people assume that I went to certain schools. I went to your average public high school (although my parents wanted me to go to a private school) and I attended not one, but two, HBCUs for undergrad and graduate schools. I never aspired to attend an Ivy-League. Recently, I went to happy hour with one of my linesisters and met this guy she went to school with. He had already made up in his mind that he knew me. Eventually I shared with him that I was raised in Prince George's County, MD and told him what high school I went this. Can you believe he had the nerve to say, "You hide it well." I was completely taken aback by his comment. I'm never anyone else but me. I act the same exact way whether I'm around Blacks, Whites, Asians, or Hispanics, I've never had the need to act differently in order to assimilate, I am who I am.

While I did grow up in Jack & Jill (there's a certain reputation or stigma that comes along w/ being a member of that organization, I'll probably blog about that later down the line) and my parents are members of a fraternity and sorority and in organizations like The Links and The Boulé. Being in Jack & Jill exposed me to many new things. I would never say it made me better, but more well-rounded. We were being taught the importance of proper etiquette for young ladies, went to teas, dinners and various cultural events, and had the chance to wear elegant formal dresses and be introduced at a Cotillion. I never thought that gave me an edge up on anybody or used that as an excuse to think that made me better than anyone else. I never looked down on people who weren't apart of the organization and I can't stand when people question the relevance of such organizations.

I learned a long time ago the saying "Perception is reality" is true. Whether or not it's my own reality or what someone else perceive me to be, is going to be their reality and there's nothing that I can do to change their minds. Call me what you want, but I know who I am, where I came from, and what I'm here to do. So whether you think I'm Bougie or not, I'm just me!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Restaurant Review: Potenza

Potenza is a fairly new spot that opened mid-April on the corners of 15th and H Streets in Northwest Washington, DC. It's very convenient to where I work so after walking past it a few times I decided to stop by for lunch. Another great feature of Potenza is it's not only a restaurant, but it's flanked with a cafe (grab & go) on one side and a wine shop on the other.

At the end of June they added sidewalk seating which is what I love because one of my favorite past times is sitting outside and observing the sights and sounds of the city and the people walking by.

I arrived there with a co-worker on a Friday for lunch at around 12:15. It was crowded so we ended up having to wait for about 20 minutes to have a seat outside, eventhough I walked outside a few times and there were several empty tables.

We were finally seated at our table outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. The waitress comes over shortly and takes a few moments to familiarize us with the menu. We take a few minutes to look over their 3-course lunch menu, it's $15 for an appetizer, entree, and a cookie bag to eat there or take with) but decide to both just order the Margherita pizza, it was $13. I ordered lemonade to drink and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. It wasn't too sweet and made with sparkling water, was light and refreshing.

At first I thought the pizza was a little pricey for lunch but then I realized they don't have lunch portions for their pizzas, the only lunch-size portions are a part of the $15 menu I mentioned earlier. When the pizzas came out, we were shocked by the size. If we would've known how big they'd be, we would've shared one. Needless to say, I ate as much as I could and still had over half of it left, enough for dinner and a midnight snack.

Overall, I would highly recommend Potenza.

Location: Lots of parking garages nearby, some street parking, and about 1 block away from McPherson Square Metro .
Atmosphere: Outdoor Seating is always a plus. Has a large bar inside with lots of seating, will have to check out happy hour one day.

Price: Large portions make it easy to share. Dinner ranges from $17-$27 and alcoholic beverages start at $9.00. Very reasonable.

SPECIAL EVENT LISTED ON THEIR WEBSITE
JOIN US EVERY THURSDAY FROM 5 - 7 PM AT POTENZA WINE, MEET THE REPS, AND TASTE SOME NATIVE ITALIAN VARIETALS, AND ARTISANAL CHEESES.


Potenza
15th & H Street NW.
Washington DC. 20005
202.638.4444
http://www.potenzadc.com

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mommy Dearest

I'll begin this post by saying I love my Mother dearly, but I can't deal with being around her for an extended period of time. I'm on Day 8 of her staying with me. I wish she'd told me what her intentions were and how long she'd planned on staying, so I could make other arrangements. Little did I know her intention was to be a squatter at my place until she found a job, guess she forgot to tell me that.

At the beginning of last week my Mother calls me and says she's coming to MD for an interview. Mind you she hasn't worked in nearly a year when she packed up one day and moved back to FL to live with relatives then eventually my Grandmother, but that's another story. I get another phone call on Thursday saying that she's on her way. She doesn't end up showing up at my place until after midnight with a car filled to capacity with her life's possessions. After the initial formalities, my first response was you sure have a lot of luggage. She said she had an interview the next day and needed to crash, so I just figured she'd go on her interview and be gone by Sunday while she awaited the results of the interview. Too bad that was not the case.

While, I have a 2 bedroom condo, I told my Mother for the last month that I was getting a roommate and the new roomie would be moving in on a certain date. Guess she didn't want to, or chose not to, hear that part and kept hinting that she'd live in my extra bedroom. There would be no way in hell that I would let that happen. People think I'm being mean, because they don't understand the history. Like I said before I love my Mother but I just cannot live with her and what I'll call her idiosyncrasies.

Without getting into too much family business, which I rather keep personal, we do not have what I call a traditional Mother & Daughter relationship. As I think back, I haven't spent this many consecutive days with my Mother since I was 9 years old, TWENTY years ago, when my Father was granted custody of me. My Mother has been unstable (mentally) for as long as I can remember. Truthfully, I'm sure I'd be able to better deal with her if she was on some type of medication, but she refuses to accept that she has a problem and lashes out at anyone who mentions that she should seek help. It's gotten to a point that her family members have just gotten used to her excessive calling at all times of the day and night, paranoia and fanatical stories, that any sane person would know doesn't make an ounce of sense. They just say "You know how she is, pray for her." What she needs is more than prayer.

I've been able to deal with her in spurts but I've never had to be around her for this long. I've trying to be nice and supportive but I'm at my wits end. I really don't want to kick my Mom out but for my own sanity, I need for her to go.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Little Midweek Humor...Random Thoughts

A friend recently sent me a forward, not sure where she got it from, but the title was Random thoughts from people our age... and it was hilarious. I couldn't include all of the quotes because it would've been too long so I posted my favorites (highlighted some in purple that I really liked). Enjoy!
  • Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
  • I don't understand the purpose of the line, "I don't need to drink to have fun." Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and sticks when they've invented the lighter?
  • Is it just me, or are 80% of the people in the "people you may know" feature on Facebook people that I do know, but I deliberately choose not to be friends with?
  • Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn'twork? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boardsor FAQ's. We just figured it out. Today's kids are soft.
  • Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the f was going on when I first saw it.
  • How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
  • I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.
  • The only time I look forward to a red light is when I’m trying to finish a text.
  • Was learning cursive really necessary?
  • LOL has gone from meaning, "laugh out loud" to "I have nothing else to say"
  • My brother's Municipal League baseball team is named the Stepdads. Seeing as none of the guys on the team are actual stepdads, I inquired about the name. He explained, "Cuz we beat you, and you hate us."Classy, bro.
  • How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear what they said?
  • I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent someone from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!
  • MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
  • Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty,and you can wear them forever.
  • Whenever I'm Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their profile is public I feel like a kid on Christmas morning who just got the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures? Don't mind if I do!
  • Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incrediblynervous? Like I know my name, I know where I'm from, this shouldn't be a problem....
  • Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don't want to have to restart my collection.
  • I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Dammit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?
  • I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance. What a waste.
  • When I meet a new girl, I'm terrified of mentioning something she hasn't already told me but that I have learned from some light internet stalking.
  • Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles...
  • As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.
  • Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
  • I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
  • My 4-year old son asked me in the car the other day "Dad what would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How the hell do I respond to that?
  • It really pisses me off when I want to read a story on CNN.com andthe link takes me to a video instead of text.
  • I wonder if cops ever get pissed off at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.
  • I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay.
  • The other night I ordered takeout, and when I looked in the bag, saw they had included four sets of plastic silverware. In other words,someone at the restaurant packed my order, took a second to think about it, and then estimated that there must be at least four peopleeating to require such a large amount of food. Too bad I was eating bymyself. There's nothing like being made to feel like a fat bastard before dinner.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Things To Do: Carafe Wine Makers

Being the busybody that I am, I've signed on for year number two of helping the March of Dimes with their Annual Signature Chefs event and more specifically serving on the Silent Auction committee.

Recently, I was looking for some unique businesses to approach that were different from the usual like your restaurants, spas, sporting events, hotel stays, etc. I came across what I think is an amazing concept. There's a place in Old Towne Alexandria where you can go make your own wine, bottle it, and custom label it. Being the new wine connoisseur that I am, I immediately called the store to learn more.

So the place is called Carafe Wine Makers, apparently it's a franchise. Who knew? Not only was I excited about the concept, I was surprised to find out the Old Towne Alexandria location is Black-owned and the owner, Lamar Brown, is quite pleasant to look at. If you have five minutes, I'd suggest watching watching the video on the company's website to see Lamar, I mean to see the wine making process.

In addition to being able to bottle your own wine you can purchase from a nice selection of already bottled wines or sit-in for wine tastings. I think having an event at Carafe Wine Makers would make a wonderful and unique girls night, birthday celebration, or any special occasion for that matter. It would definitely be something that people would remember. It's good for couples or groups. The pricing is very reasonable if you have a group. I can't wait to schedule my visit.

For more information see below.

Carafe Wine Makers
111 S Alfred St
Alexandria, VA 22314-3001
703.739.5850
http://www.carafewines.com/

Monday, August 17, 2009

Michael Vick -- Don't call it a comeback

By now everyone has heard the latest news on Michael Vick and how he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. I'm glad that the NFL is going to give him a second chance to make his comeback.

Truthfully, all along I never saw why Michael Vick was sentenced to jail for his "involvement" in illegal dog fighting among other charges. For the life of me, I still don't think it's that serious.

What about all of the athletes and celebrities who've gotten into accidents and wound up killing or severely injuring others? In most cases, they've got off with a slap on the wrist and at the most had to pay a settlement to the family. Vick financed a so-called dog-fighting operation and it causes a huge scandal.

Sure some dogs were injured from the fighting, but how is that any different from bull-fighting in Spain, cockfighting in Mexico, or even dog racing in the US? Those dogs sole purpose is to be a source of entertainment for people to gamble on. Once these dogs have raced for so long or they're injured, they often have to be put down. Yet dog racing is legal.

I can't fathom why a judge would sentence Michael Vick to nearly TWO years in jail plus three years of probation for something so trivial. Yes, I consider it trivial, because clearly I'm not a PETA supporter. Why was he chosen to be made an example of? Was it because he's a talented athlete? Was it because he was at the peak of his career? Not to pull the race card but...maybe it's because he's Black? Who knows, who cares. He has to realize that people are always watching and waiting for him to mess up. Hope he uses his second chance wisely.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sit Back & Relax

Last weekend I took a trip with 5 of my girlfriends to the mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains to be exact. We stayed in a luxurious cabin, with an amazing view, in the middle of nowhere. The weekend was very low-key and included massages, a jazz festival, wine tastings and a tour of the winery near where we stayed at The Chateau Morrisette. (I highly recommend this place! If you are willing to drive, it's 300+ miles from DC, but well worth it. Blue Ridge Real Estate offers many option of timeshares you can rent, our package was only $115 per person which included the housing, dinner, massage, & wine tasting/tour)

But anyway, enough of the free promotion. Being away from the fast-pace of the city definitely gave me some time to clear my mind and attempt to sort through some things. When I got there I figured that I'd be without cell phone service, but I hoped for the best. It's funny how you never realize how connected you are until you have no other forms of communication than face-to-face. No calling, no texting, no tweeting, what's a girl to do to entertain herself?

Needless to say, the girls and I did a lot of talking. The conversations mainly revolved around our favorite topic, Men, of course. That always seems to be the topic of discussion these days because as succesful, professional, Black women we have a hard time trying to find and keep a man. We talked about the different men in our lives. We talked about how some of them don't want to be caught and how they have so many options these days, it's hard to find one who's ready to settle down. We talked about how we were tired of the games Men play and us having the play them back in hopes of snagging them. We even talked about how many of our friends and family members have started settling just for the sake of companionship, not because they were actually in love with the person.

The weekend was full of many insightful discussions. I'm glad I had the chance to get away to have some time to say out loud some of the things that have been bothering me surrounded by supportive friends, many who are dealing with similar issues as it relates to relationships and the men in our lives. I definitely still have some issues I'm trying to work through but I'm going to try to take at least one day each month to reflect on my life, my goals, and what the future holds for me. It's a struggle to make time to do nothing but sometimes you just have to sit back and relax.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Goodbye to E. Lynn Harris

On Thursday, July 23rd one of the greatest authors, E. Lynn Harris, died at the age of 54. I was first exposed to his books while in college. My stepsister used to talk about his books and I'd tell her that I wasn't really interested in hearing about gay men and their relationships.

I'll admit, I was somewhat ignorant to the homosexual/bisexual lifestyle and refused to accept such behavior. Growing up, there were always gay people at school and in the church, but I was never able to relate to their way of life.

By the time, I read my first E. Lynn Harris book, Invisible Life (also his first book) I began to change my way of thinking. Truthfully, I felt like a new world opened up to me. Although his books were fiction, they were always so real, so captivating. I could easily read his books in one sitting. If you're an E. Lynn fan, I can still picture what Basil and Raymond would look like if I ran into them on the street. I feel like I know his characters and their inner most feelings. Not many fiction authors have been able to touch me in such a way.

A full collection of every E. Lynn Harris book, even his collaborations and his memoir, sit on my bookshelf in order of publication. He was an amazing writer, who helped me to realize that homosexuality is a way of life. No matter what opinions people have on it, it exists and it's not going anywhere.

When Invisible Life, the movie comes out I will be the first in line. I'll miss you E. Lynn Harris! Thank you for opening my eyes!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Damn Shame

While sitting at my desk during my lunch break, I like to take time to read the news and find out about what's happening in the world. Yet again, I was appalled when I came across an article about Henry Louis Gates being arrested.

If you're not familiar with Mr. Gates, he's a leading African American writer and scholar who works at Harvard. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct at his home in Cambridge, MA after accusing a police officer of being "racially biased". The arrest was sparked by a woman who reported seeing "two black males with bookbags on the porch". Two men with bookbags, hmm, is that really so odd for a college town? Who could really think that was suspicious behavior? Come on now.

Maybe it's just me but I find it quite ironic that someone who's written numerous books on race relations as it relates to African Americans and how we've shaped this country was racially profiled while entering his own home.

Thankfully, the charges were dropped today but this is yet another sad day in America.

To read the full story, click here

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Things to Do: Jazz In The Garden

Last Friday, I went to Jazz in the Garden for the first time. Jazz is an event held every Friday during the summer month from 5:00-8:30 in the garden behind The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

I would highly suggest getting there early because we got there around 6:15 and the grounds were already blanketed with hundreds of couples and groups of people. We finally found a nice spot by a hedge and laid down a blanket to enjoy the picnic we brought with us. Only thing was it was hard to hear the jazz band since there were no speakers set up, you could only faintly hear the music off in the distance.

They sell food, bottles of wine, and pitchers of sangria in the Garden Cafe but they allow you to bring in your own food. There's a sign at the entrance saying alcoholic beverages are not allowed to be brought it, but we along with everyone around us didn't follow that rule. No one checks at the entrances but they do have security patrolling so if you BYOB make sure to keep it out of sight. I had my bottle of Moscato & he a bottle of Merlot. Needless to say, we polished off both bottles.

My advice...try not to don't drink too much. The lines for the restrooms are extremely long. They have porta-potties, but the smell eminating from that area was horrid. Hold it if you can.

I definitely recommend this as a recession-friendly and romantic date idea. The next Friday I'm free, I hope to go again. Good times!

Friday, July 10, 2009

This is 2009, NOT 1959!!!

For the life of me I don't understand how or even why racism still exists in America. The glorious United States of America of all places, which is considered to be a "melting pot" of all different races, cultures, and religions.

I was seriously appalled to hear the latest news story about a summer camp of black children being turned away from a pool in Philadelphia, PA and were told "they'd change the complexion" of the pool. WHAT? Are you kidding me? First of all, who says that? Secondly, who says that and is serious?

When I first heard this story, I was thinking it had to be just a joke. But no, I was wrong, I googled it and found tons of hits from local media stations who've covered the story as well as several blogs and websites that have mentioned the story. I find it quite interesting how the swim club accepted nearly $2000 from the program to allow the kids to swim there but when they showed up they were told to leave, were refunded their money and told not to come back.

I plan on sending an email as well as a letter to The Valley Club expressing my shear disgust in how they treated these children and my concerns with what has occurred. I hope that others will take a similar stand to let them not that this is NOT OKAY and will not be tolerated. Just because this is 2009 and not 1959 and we're not still holding boycotts and staging sit-ins, we can't just sit back and let events like this continue to happen and go unnoticed. We have to remain vigilant in ensuring that there is no place for racism in today's society. Below is the contact information for the Swim Club that turned the children away.

The Valley Club
Physical Address: 22 Tomlinson Road, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 134, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006
Club Phone Number: 215-947-0700
Club E-mail:
info@thevalleyclub.com
It still amazes me that someone would have to nerve to say something like that and think it was alright. Just when we think this country has come so far, there's always evidence to prove otherwise.

Link:http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Campers-Complexion-No-Problem-for-New-Pool.html
YouTube Video discussing the incident (Note: There is some strong language towards the end)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saTCMJVYljU