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Michael Brown, shooting, Ferguson, MIssouri, racial profiling, riots

I have not touched the topic of Ferguson, Missouri and Michael Brown yet because I’ve been struggling with my own demons this week triggered by the suicide of Robin Williams but my fog is lifting and I am sick at what is happening in the world. I’ve spent the last 24 hours pouring over footage and articles and I am flabbergasted at what is happening in our country in this day and age.

I can’t pretend to know what it means to be an African American in this country. I can only imagine and empathize from knowing what it is to be a Latino. I also don’t know exactly what it is to live under the umbrella and protection of white privilege. I grew up a Latina woman in an African American urban neighborhood. I was not afraid but I was also raised that people are people, regardless of their color of skin, race, religion, sex or orientation. I guess that might be a fact those of us who are in the minority are taught and more readily accept because we don’t enjoy the privilege of ignorance. We’ve felt the wrath of hate and the shame of difference and so we tend to have a greater tolerance for humanity. We know what racism feels like.

On Saturday,  police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed an 18-year-old unarmed young man named Michael Brown.  Michael Brown was identified as a primary suspect in a strong-arm robbery of a box of cigars moments before he was shot to death. Apparently, allegedly stealing a box of Swisher Sweets is punishable by death here in the United States. The cop allegedly reached his hand out of his car and grabbed Michael Brown by the neck and that is what initiated the altercation. What ensued next was unfathomable, he was chased and shot at and when he turned with his hands up in the air he was shot dead from 35 feet away. He was then left lying dead in the street for hours. Why? As a warning to others? On the other hand, if you got accused for some reason and you can’t attend your hearing, you must first know all the unacceptable reasons for failure to appear in court so you can determine if ever your excuse is valid.

Michael Brown, shooting, Ferguson, MIssouri, racial profiling, riots, civil rights

The next night after a vigil in his honor, a peaceful protest assembled. The people of Ferguson, the world, want answers and justice. Michael Brown’s mother deserves answers. Yet, they are not even allowed to mourn and protest his death. The cops shot flares into the sky. When the crowd was not moved to disburse, flares were shot at the ground in the direction of the crowd. This is when the peaceful demonstration turned to riots. An emotionally charged group of people who were in the clutches of fear and sadness needed to protect themselves, this has escalated to rage.

By Wednesday things went from bad to worse, many of the major networks were not airing live coverage of anything. Journalists on the scene were being rounded up, blocked from the town and arrested.The I Am Mike Brown livestream via KARG Argus Radio allowed viewers to watch as police fired rubber bullets into crowds of unarmed citizens and advanced on peaceful demonstrators. Police demanded that the reporters turn off their cameras. Crowds were seen standing in the street with their hands above their heads as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at them. There was no provocation and the police continued firing even as the crowd retreated into their residential neighborhoods; obviously, not giving a damn who they hurt.

I don’t know what it is about brown and black skin that strikes fear into the hearts of some people. Maybe it’s the guilt from years of ancestors beating entire races down and treating them like subhumans, maybe it’s fear of karma ( what goes around comes around) or maybe it’s just a general lack of compassion and blind ignorance.

The world is a crazy place and we come in every color and flavor of the rainbow, only when your skin is brown or black, you can’t hide it. You can’t blend in. There it is daring people not to notice.

I was not on the streets of Ferguson last Saturday night. I did not witness this tragedy firsthand and I thank God for that because I don’t think that my humanity could ever recover from witnessing that kind of brutality but I do have my own experience with racial profiling and the cops.

Here was my situation and the sad part is that it wasn’t unique or even special; a cop saw a car full of Latinos. He pulled them over; we were never given a reason why. It was myself, the guy I was dating and couple of our friends. They were driving me home before my midnight curfew. It was about 11:45 pm on a summer, Saturday night. I was 18. It was my first experience with racism and racial profiling.

When we were pulled over, I began to freak out because I knew missing my curfew was not an option. I asked my date to please ask the officer why we were being stopped. I knew that any delay would make me late and my parents were very strict.

This guy, a clean-cut young man who had served in the military and was college-educated, very politely asked, “Officer, can I please ask why we’re being stopped?” To which the officer told him to step out of the car and arrested him for resisting arrest after pushing him around and slamming him into the door of the car.

Meanwhile, his partner was asking me what my name was. I told him and he spelled my name Cruise, Crewes, Crews and truly acted as if these boys were kidnapping me or holding me against my will. Once we clarified that I, Debi CRUZ, was in fact, willingly in the vehicle his entire demeanor changed. The cop went from polite and kind to me to cruel and short, as if I had done something wrong simply by being Latina.

One of the other guys with us asked if he could take the car to drive me home so I wouldn’t miss my curfew to which the cop responded, “ NOPE! She can walk home for all I care.” Then they put my date in the back of the squad car and towed his car to impound as we all silently watched, not daring to ask another question for fear we too would be put in jail or worse for speaking.

Our friends walked me home silently in the dark, we all felt dirty and ashamed because we did nothing because we were too afraid to. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, especially in light of what happened to Michael Brown but it is an all too common occurrence and it shouldn’t be. Cops are human and officers of the law meant to serve and protect its citizens but does that only apply to certain citizens with Lily-white skin and preapproved accents? The problem is that the lines are so blurred; breathing too loudly could be construed by the wrong officer as resistance.

But the thing that I can identify with the most is a mother has lost her child.  Michael Brown is dead and no amount of rioting or looting or saying I’m sorry is going to change that fact. The truth is that we don’t know exactly what happened in those last moments; what was said or done, only the offending officer and Michael Brown know that secret but we do know that nothing warrants shooting an unarmed child in the street like a rabid dog…no matter the color of his skin.

I feel like the world has gone completely backwards and spun right off it’s axis this week. I am horrified by the behavior and the things people are saying. I am disgusted by the lack of human compassion. Be good to one another.

What is going through your mind this week with the circumstances surrounding Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri?

 

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I’m going to be honest with you. I watched Leaving Neverland the HBO documentary alleging that Michael Jackson was a predatory pedophile with a penchant for young boys. It was shocking and disturbing to see it all laid out in the documentary. I feel torn. Not because I’m wishy-washy on how I feel about pedophiles. But I feel like my entire childhood was a lie.

Do I believe Michael Jackson was a pedophile who preyed on naïve young boys? Boys who admired him and their eager to please stage moms? I do. Not because this is new information. I believed it in 2005. I found it peculiar that a grown man, even an eccentric one who never had a childhood, would host children (that weren’t his own) in his bed. Even more peculiar was why their parents would allow it?

READ ALSO: Why Girls should be able to Exist without Men Behaving Badly

It never sat well with me either that he always seemed to have a young boy as his sidekick on his tours. It’s right there in black and white in the press; Michael Jackson walking hand in hand with some preteen boy who accompanied him on his yearlong tours. It was weird then and, as a mom now, it’s absolutely suspicious. I don’t care if it was God, you cannot sleep in the bed with my child.

The world had been conditioned to expect odd behavior from the socially awkward, musical genius known as Michael Jackson. The world turned a blind eye or maybe we just didn’t want to see it and we certainly didn’t want to believe it. The thought that such a seemingly sweet, childlike man could be a predator was beyond the fathomable. Why would a man who could have almost any man or woman he wanted in the world choose little boys?

I think we all wanted to believe that he felt a kinship with these boys. He was somehow living his missed childhood with them. Or maybe he too was a victim as a child? Isn’t that how many predators become predatory? Or maybe he was just born a pedophile? Michael Jackson will never be adequately punished for his crimes.

READ ALSO: Raising Teen Girls to Survive Misogyny, Sexting and Slut Shaming

However, if all that was said in Leaving Neverland is true Michael Jackson was the worst kind of monster because he used his celebrity to lure these families, his money and fame to blind them and the public’s opinion that he was a “good guy” to mask the monster within. If this is true, he was one of the most predatory and dangerous pedophiles to ever live because he was beyond reproach even when all the evidence said he was guilty.

Michael Jackson is dead and we will never have definitive proof of his guilt or innocence. We’ll never have the satisfaction of hearing his confession. From here on out, everything is hearsay. We only have the word of broken men who claim to have been his victims when they were boys. The stories are compelling and too similar to one another to be a coincidence. The damage is done.

READ ALSO: I just want to enjoy their childhood

Michael Jackson songs tick marked my childhood. No one ever wanted the allegations to be true because what we want and what we get are two very different things. We need to embrace the truth and disappointment. I’m having trouble reconciling what I believe to be true about Michael Jackson and my love of his music. As much as I loved the music of Michael Jackson, the thought of singing along with a pedophile who preyed on young boys turns my stomach.

Listening to Wade Robson and James Safechuck describe their sexual abuse in graphic detail made me cringey. Hearing the voicemails Michael Jackson left for these young boys, reading the faxes and knowing how he ingratiated himself into the trust of their families made me sick. He was a cunning predator. He groomed his victims. The intent behind his communications is obvious to us as outsiders. Michael Jackson’s larger than life fame afforded him allowances for his odd behavior. Alarms failed these families who were duped by his celebrity.

 More than anything, though, it was difficult to watch Robson and Safechuck clearly struggling with their conflicting feelings about Jackson in real time; they are both repulsed by him and appear to have some lingering reverence, a testament to Jackson grooming them to serve his perversions.

There is nothing we can do to punish Michael Jackson. There’s not much we can do to help his victims but hear their stories and recognize their pain. We can believe them. I can no longer willingly listen to Michael Jackson. I can’t even look at his image without being disgusted. Where I once saw an icon now all I can see is a predator of children.

Have you seen Leaving Neverland or Oprah Winfrey Presents After Neverland?

What are your thoughts?

 

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#crimingwhilewhite, racism, Ferguson, white privilege

In an effort to go color blind, the world has missed an opportunity to recognize that brown and black lives matter too. It’s dismissive. Saying that you don’t see color, that you only see people is wonderful in theory but the fact of the matter is that, color does matter, especially to those who are of color. White privilege is real. Racism is real and those of us who are brown and black we feel the effects of casual and systemic racism almost as often and naturally as we breathe. Underneath the color of our skin, we are all human beings. By denying that the experience for those of color is no different than that of white privilege is uncaring and, quite frankly, the most condescending thing of all. The privilege of living your life without being first assumed to be a criminal is something most Americans can take for granted because criming while white often doesn’t have the same consequences as just existing in color. It’s much more dangerous to have black skin in America.

I’m not black. I can’t pretend to know how it must feel to be a black man or woman, especially with the contentious history with white America. I did, however, grow up in a predominantly black neighborhood, I am Latina, I’m a woman and grew up as blue-collar as they come. I’ve had a taste of what it feels like to not be white in America and it doesn’t feel good. In some cases, it is more than being treated as less than, outright hate and blurred systemic racism is terrifying.

The very word minority means being few in numbers, less than the majority. When you are of color, it’s “their” (to borrow a word from my white privileged friends) world and the rest of us are just trying to survive in it. Black kids and brown kids are raised knowing that “criming while white” probably won’t amount to any consequences but being born with melanated skin can get you murdered in the street for doing nothing at all. We accept this and whenever we get any crazy ideas to assert  our equality, someone is always there with their white privilege and systemic racism to laugh in our face and not so gently remind us that we should go back to “our country”. Spoiler alert: this is our country. We have to work twice as hard to just be “equal”.

If you’re reading this and you have never felt less than (believe me, you can be white and feel this way too but there is a certain level of entitlement that comes with having alabaster skin) I am happy for you because it is demeaning. It’s like being caged and silenced. Imagine having to always try to prove yourself as worthy. Imagine praying that people can see past the color of your skin and get to know you the person before putting you in a box because of what you look like. If you do dare to be “equal” to deem yourself worthy of a better life, be prepared to fight the uphill battle of your life. It won’t be easy and you will be tattered and torn by the time you reach the top but it will be worth it.

The thing is you can’t hide the color of your skin. Before you even open your mouth or say a word, the world has already judged you on your skin color. It doesn’t matter who you are, we all have preconceived notions. We can’t help where we came from but we can help where we are going. We can choose to treat people equal. We can choose to judge people on their merits and not on the color of their skin.

The preconceived notions are what continue to kill our children. I hate to say it but I think when people see color, that color is automatically associated with a stereotype. It doesn’t matter what’s real and what’s not because the stereotype is ingrained and naturally believed. The volatile reaction to civil rights for all is born of the fear that we might actually be equal to the people we feel better than. Privilege only exists because one group is allowed to diminish the worth of another.

I grew up in the Chicagoland area and there are many people of different ethnic backgrounds but still, if Latino or black kids are seen in a group, they must be up to no good. They must be gang bangers, carjackers or some kind of other criminals. In these areas, we know our boundaries. We keep to certain neighborhoods, where “we belong”. We know that veering outside of those boundaries could mean trouble for us; like accidentally being shot or harassed by the cops. Never mind the south, we try to stay north of the Mason Dixon line because confederate flags still fly proudly in the south. I don’t know about you but I’ve always seen that as sort of a warning sign. Do not enter. Turn back now. Run. They fly Confederate flags freely, they don’t believe brown or black lives matter in the same way white ones do.

I’m not making this up. I didn’t create this broken system of hatred and systemic racism that refuses to embrace the rallying cry of black lives matter. This is the truth for many of us. How many young people have to die for us to say no more? Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and etc, etcetera. I could go on for days. Just watch the news. White privilege has been around as long as our country has. It started with the Native Americans. We have to choose to change it; to raise our children with bellies full of equality and respect for other human beings. Color should not be a consideration in matters of love and humanity.

The country is outraged and talking about racism today and that is wonderful but in a few weeks, it will fade away and the people of color will be abandoned once again by their current day freedom riders and be once again alone to face the bigots who would just assume shoot them in the face then ask questions. The saddest part of all, there are still people who will argue that the cops were within their rights to shoot these boys dead. There are usually no consequences for these officers. This is criming while white at it’s finest.

Here is where we differ.

I don’t believe that any boy, child, man, woman or girl should be shot dead in the street like an animal. I believe in justice and equality for everyone. I believe that until black lives matter, none of us are free. Until all of us are equal, none of us matter. To put it simply, being black or brown is not a crime and being white doesn’t make you exempt from moral accountability. If you shoot, we bleed, we die…whether you care or not.

Check out the # Criming While White hashtag on Twitter if you don’t believe me. Racial profiling is deadly. Ask yourself, are you white enough to pass “their” skin color test? If not, you might want to pay attention to the state of the world and your part in it. Be better. End systemic racism. Let them know that criming while white has consequences and those who pretend not to see do not get a pass of plausible deniability because they chose to close their eyes. Remind them that brown and black lives matter and we will not stand silently complicit as they get away with murder.

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aliahna Lemmon

Throat Punch Thursday~ Aliahna Lemmon

Aliahna Lemmon; Little Girl Lost

Aliahna Lemmon~ By now, I am sure that many of you are familiar of the case of the little missing girl from Ft.Wayne Indiana, Aliahna Lemmon. This is a case of the most disgusting kind and never have I had a Throat Punch Thursday happen so close to home. It frightens me to my very core to think that there is this kind of evil walking amongst our children every single day and we never know it.

In case you are unfamiliar with the case here is a recap: Aliahna Lemmon was a beautiful little 9 year old who lived with her Mother,Tarah Souders, and step father in a trailer park on the north side of Ft.Wayne. Aliahna Lemmon’s mother moved her and her 2 sisters to Fort Wayne when Ms. Souders father ( a convicted child molester) was dying and needed his daughter to help take care of him in his last days. Ms. Souder’s father just happened to live in a trailer park that housed 14 other convicted offenders. Why anyone in their right mind would move their children into that area, no matter what the circumstances, I don’t know. As a mother, moving your child into a known den of sex offenders is as irresponsible as leaving your child in the care of a complete stranger. Oh wait, that comes later.

aliahna Lemmon

Aliahna Lemmon: A Sheep among Wolves

Last Thursday, 9 year old Aliahna Lemmon disappeared from the trailer of one 39-year-old Michael Pulmadore. Why was she at this man’s trailer you ask? So did I. Apparently, Aliahna Lemmon’s mother, Tarah Souders, was sick with the flu and had left her 3 young daughters in the care of this man, who she calls a family friend. Does this sound fishy to you? As the mother of two small girls, I would NEVER  EVER leave my daughters in the care of anyone who is not blood related for a week, especially not in a neighborhood where 1/2 of the neighbors are convicted sex offenders.

Friday, she was reported missing by Michael Pulmadore after he said he talked to Tarah Souders and realized that she had not taken little Aliahna home. Allen County sheriffs department was alerted. All weekend the entire city searched for little Aliahna. By Tuesday, Michael Pulmadore admitted to having killed the little girl on Thursday night by bashing her head in with a brick. In a panic he put the little girl’s body in a garbage bag in a deep freezer in his trailer ( the very trailer that used to belong to her Grandfather who died earlier this month). Then he took her out of the freezer and used a hack saw to dismember Aliahna Lemmon’s body. He then put her head, hands and feet back into the freezer while dumping the remainder of her body in a dumpster at a local convenience store. As of today, the coroners report has not been released so we don’t now if the little girl was molested. We also don’t know what the motive was for that sick fuck Michael Pulmadore to bash her head in with a brick. Nor do we know what the hell made her mother think it was alright to leave her small daughters with a man who was practically a stranger.

Poor little Aliahna Lemmon has been brutally murdered and nobody knows why. Throat Punches go out to all the people who failed this little girl; her Mother who put her in harms way, her Grandfather who promised she would be safe, her father who said he trusted Michael Pulmadore, her stepfather who allowed her to stay at Michael Pulmadore’s trailer and Michael Pulmadore who abused this little girl’s trust and brutally murdered her for no apparent reason. I hope Michael Pulmadore pays for what he did and that those who loved Aliahna Lemmon can have some peace in knowing that finally she is safe from her neighbors.

Aliahna Lemmon; May you rest in Peace

 

 

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How Brené Brown Inspired Me to Answer the Call to Courage, the Call to Courage, How Brené Brown Inspired Me, Brené Brown, vulnerability

I just watched Brené Brown Netflix special, The Call to Courage. It’s not the first time I’ve heard her speak. She’s spoken at several conferences I’ve attended. In fact, we’ve been connected online for almost a decade. Still, her words move me and she inspires me. She reminds me to embrace who I am, as a woman, as a creator, as a mom, as a sister, as a daughter, as a human, whole-heartedly. That’s something I’ve forgotten. Brené Brown called me to be courageously, unabashedly myself. She can show you how to find yourself too.

I miss running headfirst into life. I miss being vulnerable and sharing my stories. I miss being full-on joyful. I have always been a “what you see is what you get” kind of person. It’s how my parent’s raised me. Then, someone told me that I shouldn’t be. I’ve become so afraid of the bad that I believe will follow too much good that I can never fully enjoy the good things. That fear has caused me to shield myself, sometimes even from myself. But Brené Brown has taught us how to find yourself.

READ ALSO: How to Move past the Doubt and Fear and achieve your Dreams

I started blogging ten years ago (May 7, 2009). I was a new mom with 2 little girls. Bella had just turned 4 and Gabi was 1-years-old. I was blissfully exhausted. The Big Guy had just lost his job and taken a new job on the East Coast. He came home about once a month. I needed a life preserver. I needed someone to talk to on a daily basis. I needed to feel like more than just a “mom”.

I was struggling to find my footing in my new role as a married single parent. I was grieving the loss of my husband’s presence in our home and in my life. When he moved away, I lost my person and it sucked. I started blogging to find my voice and connect with other women who were going through similar situations. Blogging was fulfilling. I felt like I had found where I belonged in the world. I didn’t have to change anything about me. I was me and people loved me for it. They accepted and embraced me into their community.

Brené Brown Inspired Me to Answer the Call to Courage

For the first time in years, I felt like I had a purpose other than just herding little people, wiping butts and cuddling. Not that I didn’t love all those things, with the exception of the butt wiping. I did and I still do. I fiercely love my girls and even every moment of minutia that parenthood is full of.

But within all those moments of lightning speed growing and changing, there are moments of profound bliss and misery; the unavoidable and unforgettable pain and ecstasy of motherhood. I wrote about all of it. That’s how I connected with others by processing what I was going through openly. There was no fear of failure because I showed up and was seen for all my imperfections and it was more than enough.

READ ALSO: Tips for Living Authentically Online

I was scared. I was exposed and vulnerable in so many ways. But I jumped in because the alternative was drowning beneath the weight of it all. The crushing weight and loneliness of parenting small children, it’s hard and anyone who says otherwise is a liar. Loving someone so fiercely and completely is exhausting. Living with the knowledge that kind of love means that if anything happens to them your life will implode is absolutely terrifying. It is also the greatest gift in the universe. I had to push past that fear of loss and failure and embrace all of it.

I started this blog, I knew no other way than to be completely transparent. I never thought of it as telling my story to thousands of strangers on the internet but rather “friends” who were there to love and support my journey through motherhood and marriage.

Blogging helped me find myself and others like me.

Then, I started writing for bigger online publications and the comments were merciless. Then, they followed me over to my blog and soon, even “friends” were warning me that “if I wanted to continue to work, I needed to censor what I wrote.” I remember the words falling on my heart like a betrayal. If I wasn’t telling my story honestly, wasn’t that lying?

The thing is that I refused to censor myself. I had long talks with the Big Guy about it. That I couldn’t censor who I was because then I wasn’t me. Censorship was compromising in a way that I couldn’t compromise. But I stopped swearing as much as I had been. No big deal, my mom had asked me to do this since I was a teenager.

Then someone told me that my Throat Punch Thursday posts were definitely getting me blacklisted. What? Gradually over time, I began to ask myself, “What question are you answering? How are you helping? How do I best keyword those post?” Everything had to have a very specific purpose.

READ ALSO: Rise of the Real

How to’s and listables became a thing on my blog when before it was all stories. Personal, relatable, true stories with all my imperfections out in the open. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not all kittens and rainbows but I’m not exactly writing straight from the heart without going through a Yoast filter either. But I want to change that. I want to get back to where I was. I want to get back to telling my story in my own way. That was the thing that you related to…me.

This is how Brené Brown inspired me to answer my call to courage.

I’ll still be writing my how to’s on certain things because, well, I’ve been a mom for some time now and I’ve learned some things that might be helpful and more easily digestible in bite-sized pieces. I’ll even have some listables for travel and checklists to make things easier. I’m trying to be more vulnerable again and to stop listening to how others think I should do me. I hope you’re doing you like no other can.

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. – Brené Brown

Let’s answer the call to courage together. Let’s stop letting fear stop us. Move forward with grace and gratitude and live the life you want. I want to be the best example I can for my daughters. I want to show them that they are better than good enough and that if they are willing to be vulnerable and try, they can accomplish anything.

What is the one thing you want to do but have been too afraid to try?

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“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.” Those are the words Amy Cooper wielded as a threat to birder, Christian Cooper, when he insisted that she put her dog back on the leash in a leashed dog park in New York’s Central Park in an area called the Ramble, known for its wildlife and birds that live there. But she didn’t just make an idle threat because she was upset that this man dared to ask her to leash her dog, she literally threatened his life with those words and by calling the police. What threat was she under? Not being able to exercise her white privilege.

I keep hearing that we’re all in this together but I know that’s not true.  We’re all in a boat in the ocean of life but some are yachts and some are 2 popsicle sticks held together by bubblegum and hope. One thing we all know, whether you are black, brown or white, is that being black or brown in America is dangerous every single day, even during a pandemic which you’d think would be the great equalizer.

READ MORE: Michael Brown

Amy Cooper was so angry that this black man had the audacity to request that she live by the same rules as the rest of the world and check her privilege that she threatened his life, because we all know that is exactly what that was. She was like a toddler throwing a tantrum with a semi-automatic weapon. You don’t just randomly call the police on anyone especially not a person of color for no reason. She knew that by making that call she was putting this man’s life in danger and she either didn’t care or cared more about getting her way, than his life.

For those of you who don’t understand this, let me catch you up, if you are not white in America, you do not receive the same rights as those who are white. We have to work twice as hard for half the pay. We have to be respectful and hold our tongues, as the minority, or suffer the consequences. We have to check self-respect, self-dignity and equality every single day of our lives on some level and defer to white America because they remind us every single day that it’s their America and we’re just living in it and our human rights can be revoked at any minute, if we are even afforded them at all.

READ MORE: Criming While White

There are white people of privilege, then there are white people who have no privilege but yet still hold some sliver of privilege because of the very color of their skin. Then, there are the rest of us. The darker your skin, the worse you’re treated by racists because the skin is not something you can hide. You can’t just blend in when your skin is proudly announcing your arrival.

People of color worry because just the act of existing outside of our own homes is dangerous. Actually, even staying inside our own homes doesn’t keep us safe. We’re taught to be quiet, blend in, be respectful, show our hands at all times, and never talk back even when we know we’re right because the price we pay is our life. The majority holds the power and that is why Amy Cooper thought it was ok to cry wolf in the middle of the park with no consideration for Christian Cooper’s life. Racist aren’t sorry for their hatred, they are only sorry when they get caught…sorry that they got caught, still, unapologetic for their fundamental hatred of anyone different than themselves.

READ ALSO: Trayvon Martin

I’ve long held a theory, take it as you will from this white Latina who grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood, some (not all) white people are afraid of black people. As far as I can see, there’s no logical reason for it but I think maybe it’s genetic. As in white people have been treating people of color so shitty for so long that somewhere in their DNA they know they’re wrong for it and that causes a deep-seated fear of retaliation that manifests as preemptive, blind anger. Karma people. If you go around being a monster for centuries, maybe be afraid that one day, God’s going to get you. So, instead of changing the shitty behavior, they go on the defensive and just keep on treating people of color like they are less than. Rather than, treat us all like human beings they double down on the hate and so goes the vicious cycle of white privilege and racism.

As if the Karen in Central Park choking her dog wasn’t enough. We’ve got a whole neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia (let’s just call a spade a spade) lynching black men in the street. There are so many things wrong with the Ahmed Aubrey situation that I can’t even begin to start to point them out. You have eyes, you are intelligent, I don’t need to be Captain Obvious but something most definitely stinks in suburbia. I’m calling bullshit on the whole thing. This family of racists and their neighborhood buddies went on a hunt in broad daylight and Ahmed Aubrey was the prey of the day.

READ ALSO: When Racism Happens to Your Child

Next, we have the video of George Floyd, a 46-year-old father of 2, killed while Officer Derek Chauvin, pinned a handcuffed Floyd down on the ground. Officer Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck with the other on his back pinning him down, restricting his intake of breathable air, even while Floyd begged for breath. All while 3 other officers helped to subdue or watched Mr. Floyd take his last breaths and go limp as he died on the pavement below Chauvin’s weight. The police were responding to a call from a grocery market about an alleged counterfeit $20 bill.

In the video, Floyd is seen moaning and struggling, as bystanders urge officers to place him in the police car. “Please,” Floyd pleads. “I can’t breathe,” he continues to moan. An officer keeps insisting he get in the car, while the man repeatedly says he can’t.

READ ALSO: Charleston Shooting

“My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. … (I need) water or something. Please. Please. I can’t breathe, officer. I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.”

The police insist that Floyd was resisting arrest. Let me be perfectly clear on this next part, I don’t care if he did actually try to pass a counterfeit $20 bill or not (it’s irrelevant) because no matter what he did or didn’t do, it shouldn’t have cost him his life and if those officers had any respect for this man’s life, they would have relented and taken the knee off the neck. Therein lies the issue. They did not treat this man like a human being because they do not see him as their equal. They saw him as less than they are. This is racism. This is hatred and self-loathing resulting in murder. The four officers were fired Tuesday; on Wednesday, Mayor Jacob Frey called for Chauvin to be criminally charged.

READ ALSO:  Dear America

There were more instances of blatant racism in the news this week and that was just in the past few days. But this was not the first time these things have happened and it won’t be the last. Racism is not new. Social media is. Racists have been out here living their best lives, assaulting and murdering people of color since the beginning of time, but now, we all can see it. Now, we can share it. Now, we can call out for justice and bring these transgressions to the light of day. There is no denying culpability when you’re caught on tape. The world cannot continue to turn a blind eye when the truth is viral.

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The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

Thank you to Disney and ABC for inviting me to Los Angeles on an all-expense paid trip, in exchange for coverage of Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms and the #ABCTVEVENT event. I was hosted by Disney for the #DisneysNutcrackerEvent and given a set tour by Caleb Foote of The Kids Are Alright and to meet some of the cast including Michael Cudlitz but all opinions are my own.

Last month in Los Angeles, I got a sneak peek of ABC’s “The Kids Are Alright.”  I have to admit, that this is one of my favorite new shows this season because it reminds me of growing up in my parents’ house in the 70’s and 80’s. There were 8 of us in a small house. There wasn’t a lot of money but there was a lot of love and faith in God, in each other and in family. There were also a lot of shenanigans.

Set in the 1970s, the ensemble comedy “The Kids Are Alright” follows a traditional Irish-Catholic family, the Clearys, as they navigate big and small changes during one of America’s most turbulent decades. In a working-class neighborhood outside Los Angeles, Mike and Peggy raise eight boisterous boys who live out their days with little supervision. The household is turned upside down when oldest son Lawrence returns home and announces that he’s quitting the seminary to go off and “save the world.” Times are changing and this family will never be the same. There are 10 people, three bedrooms, one bathroom and everyone in it for themselves. Honestly, on the set visit, I felt like I was back home at my mom’s house.

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright

The series stars Michael Cudlitz as Mike Cleary, Mary McCormack as Peggy Cleary, Sam Straley as Lawrence Cleary, Caleb Foote as Eddie Cleary, Sawyer Barth as Frank Cleary, Christopher Paul Richards as Joey Cleary, Jack Gore as Timmy Cleary, Andy Walken as William Cleary, and Santino Barnard as Pat Cleary.

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

On the day we visited, we were shown around the set by Caleb Foote, who plays Eddie Cleary. We also had the chance to meet Tim Doyle, creator and executive producer,  whose life the show is about, production designer, Michael Whetstone, set decorator, Claudette Didul, costume designer, Susan Michalek, line producer, Kris Eber  and Michael Cudlitz ( who plays Dad, Mike Cleary) as well as several of the other Cleary family members. It was amazing.

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

The Cleary House

The attention to detail is crazy. The Kids Are Alright house is based on a house the producers found in Sherman Oaks.

“Whetstone: This house is based on a house that we found for the pilot back in March and I think it was built in 1932. It was very, very small. It was one of the first ranch houses in Studio City or something. And our director loved it tight. He wanted it to feel crowded. Usually, when you go to stage, you say, “Oh, I’m gonna make it 25% bigger for shooting.” We didn’t really do that.”

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright

 

“Foote: In most cases, they would expand the set in the recreation of the studio. But, having the tight-knit family is a big part of our show.”

 

The thing I really loved about the house is that you really got the feel of what it’s like to live during those times in a small house with a big family. As I mentioned before, this is exactly how I grew up with the exception of us being in Chicago, 3 boys and 3 girls and being Latino Catholic versus Irish and the story is pretty much my childhood. I can tell you from experience, a claustrophobic home filled with children and love may feel like a noose on your neck at sometimes but mostly, it feels like a hug from a mom and it’s something that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

The dining room is the heart of the Cleary house; it’s where meals are served, where the important conversations take place and where Peggy and Mike dole out nourishment and wisdom to their 8 boys. The thing I loved about it the most was that it is so small and so full of things that the family can barely all fit in it at once. In fact, if you pay attention, you will notice that each episode, a different son sits at a tiny side table.

You might also notice that most of the decor looks like it’s from the 1950s and 1960s since the family is on a tight budget with all those boys. This is keeping it real.

 

The Yard

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

One thing that I absolutely loved is that they created an actual outdoor yard to film in. They did have the soundstage yard but that infamous treehouse and who could forget that brotherly love fight scene sandbox, that is all outside and it is magical. From the clothes on the line to the car in the driveway, you felt like you were transported back to the 1970’s.

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

 

We met the show’s creator Tim Doyle. The Kids Are Alright is based on Doyle’s childhood and he narrates each episode. This is his childhood and he reminisced with us about how different growing up in the 70’s was versus growing up now.

“Doyle: It’s a funny thing. It’s amazing that we all survived that period but some of us didn’t. But all the ones that are here are like, “Oh, yeah, it’s okay. You don’t have to have parental supervision. Let kids run around like feral animals. Let them do whatever they want.” That’s the people who survived talking. There are the other ones and a lot of bad stuff happened but we’re not telling those stories. We’re glossing over those.

We’re not saying don’t be good parents. We’re saying be good to your kids and supervise them. But there was a different way… We’re giving a taste of, as accurately as we can, what we remember it being like.”

The 70’s

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim Doyle

The vintage clothes, the vernacular and even the television shows and magazines lying around the house…The Kids Are alright producers did not miss a beat in capturing the 1970’s era.

We got to see wardrobe with costume designer Susan Michalek. The collection of clothes needed for a show with 10 principal actors is huge.

“Michalek: We need so much that what we really get from is all the rental houses in L.A (Los Angeles). ABC has a costume house, Warner Brothers has a costume house, and then there are some private ones too. There are about eight or ten in L.A. Their buildings are the size of football fields and really high with racks of clothing where we go get most of it.”

The Kids Are Alright is all about conjuring up the nostalgia one feels when going home. None of this happened by accident. Extensive research was done to insure that the Cleary home was filled with just the right furniture, knick–knacks and even the wall hangings.

“Didol: We actually lucked out with a couple of estate sales. We literally took this whole drapery rig right out of the house as is, and it is so fragile that I couldn’t get it dry cleaned and we’re going to just see how long it lasts… But we really do try to do our due diligence, finding things that were from the right period.”

The Kids are alright, Caleb Foote, Michael Cudlitz, #ABCTVEVENT, Tim DoyleOn tonight’s episode, Peggy sees an opportunity to put Eddie’s Girlfriend through a test before letting her into the Cleary family circle on an all-new episode of ABC’s ‘The Kids Are Alright, Tuesday, November 13.

Peggy’s Day Out-To hide a mess Eddie made, his girlfriend, Wendi, tries to distract Peggy by insisting she take a day off with a fun day out while they take care of the housework. To everyone’s surprise, Peggy accepts the offer and requests Wendi tag along, with the ulterior motive of teaching her a lesson. Meanwhile, Eddie enlists the help of his brothers to clean up and keep Mike out of the house while Wendi and Peggy are out. Elsewhere, Pat introduces Timmy to his secret dog on “The Kids Are Alright,” TUESDAY, NOV. 13 (8:31-9:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network, streaming and on demand.

Follow along on social:

Facebook: @TheKidsAreAlrightABC
Twitter: @TheKidsABC 
Instagram: @thekidsarealrightabc

Hashtag: #TheKidsAreAlright

Make sure to watch The Kids are Alright on ABC. It came out on October 16, 2018 and airs Tuesdays at 8:30|7:30c on ABC; also available streaming and on demand.

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hispanic heritage, racial micro-aggressions, la Raza, white skin privilege, Latino cultural identity

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

It’s September and that means it is time to celebrate Hispanic heritage and Latino cultural identity month. Or the month the U.S. has decided to celebrate the Spaniards’ colonization of Central and South American indigenous people. High five! If you’re Latino, you know how we all feel about colonization. It’s the fiesta we didn’t sign up for. It’s the gentrification of our bloodlines that none of us wanted or asked for but we’ve turned the story around into something beautiful. Hispanic and Latino people are some of the most loyal, loving and warm people you will ever meet and I am not just saying that because I am one. So let’s start by celebrating our diverse roots and vibrant tapestry of our varied cultures. Viva la Raza! 🇲🇽 ❤️

It’s time to reflect on the rich heritage that makes each of us who we are. As many of you may know already, I am the product of a biracial love story; my dad is from Mexico and I’ve got a whole lot of indigenous Tarascan/ Purepecha roots to prove it and my mom is from Tennessee via Ireland and the U.K. My bloodline is a beautiful amalgamation of Indigenous, Spaniard, Portuguese and Italian with a smattering of a variety of other European countries, as well as some Congolese and Filipino blood just to keep me spicy. At the end of the day, I’m almost equal parts European and Indigenous. But, as any person of color knows, we all live categorized and marginalized by the one drop rule (assigning the minority status of their lower-status parent group to mixed-race individuals). For me, these people, esta Raza, are my people.

This is my journey from assimilation to empowerment.

Growing up, I was the fair-skinned child with freckles ( similar to my daughters), dark brown hair with a slight auburn undertone and amber eyes. In the summer, my skin got golden and my hair got lighter. This was confusing to some, myself included. Like many biracial kids I’ve ridden the identity rollercoaster. Societal stereotypes don’t help. Year after year, I’d change how I identified racially on my enrollment cards out of guilt and a sense of loyalty to each parent. Often, I felt ( and was made to feel by the society I was growing up in) as though I never fit in; not white enough to be white and not brown enough to be brown. I think that’s a fairly common situation for a lot of biracial children. Don’t get me wrong, I love my biracial heritage and culture, it just got a little confusing for me as a child. I felt like a chameleon but also like a liar because I could so easily blend in. In the end, feeling like a girl with no country; an immigrant daughter in hiding. In the end, it made me stronger and prouder of my culture and where I came from and I know, better than most, that Latinos come in all skin shades, hair and eye colors ( just like every other race).

hispanic heritage, racial micro-aggressions, la Raza, white skin privilege, Latino cultural identity

I was raised 100% in Mexican culture but I lived in the white world. I felt like an outsider but I easily blended in because of the color of my skin. At home, I’d hear stories of how my father would be mistreated and underestimated because of his accent and racially profiled because of the color of his skin. I couldn’t relate to any of it. At one point, my proud father even encouraged all of his children to identify ourselves to the world using our mom’s Anglo surname just to be marked safe from racism. This proud Latina daughter was absolutely horrified at the thought. I had no idea of the pain he had suffered or the pride he put aside to even suggest this, until I was a mother myself.

Just because you’re “kidding” when you say it, racial micro-aggressions are still racism.

I remember as a young teenager hearing my dad’s stories of blatant and micro-aggressive racism that he’d endured in the world outside of our home and not being able to relate to any of it in the slightest. If I’m being completely honest, I probably gaslit him from my own ignorance. But we don’t know what we don’t know, and when we finally do, we’re supposed to do better and make better choices. I couldn’t conceive of the atrocities he endured by simply existing in a world that hated him because of the color of his skin, until I experienced it myself.

You see, I’d spent the entirety of my childhood assimilating into Caucasian culture. In case you didn’t already know this, that is what many Latino parents had to do back in the 70s, to protect their children and give them the best chance to succeed in white America. Like I said, I was a fair skinned freckled Mexican who blended in… until I didn’t and then I couldn’t be unseen.

When I was 18, I met and started hanging out with a group of Latino kids from a neighboring area, who all originated from the same region as my dad back in Mexico. Finally, people who got me and my cultural experience. We all met when my brother started playing soccer with them in East Chicago. Immediately, I felt seen, understood , not judged by stereotypes and, finally, I felt like I’d found my community. Yep, it was a group of teenage soccer playing boys who saved me from my racial identity crisis. This group of guys affectionately referred to themselves as La Raza and while at 18, I had no true idea of the impact this community of young men would have on my life, to me La Raza meant family.

hispanic heritage, racial micro-aggressions, la Raza, white skin privilege, Latino cultural identity

For me, La Raza taught me what Hispanic heritage and the Latino idenity experience was beyond just my traditional family.

The more I grew to know these guys, the more I grew to love my la Raza brothers … the more I grew to know and love myself and my Hispanic heritage. And that’s when the veil between who I was and who I’d become was removed and that’s the moment that changed who I am today. I finally saw the unseen racial micro-aggressions and blatant racism that surrounded me and could no longer unsee it. Assimilating and cultural blending were no longer an option for me.

That moment happened on a simple ride home on a warm summer’s night. We’d spent the day together, probably at the beach or a cookout and had been having a great time, laughing, talking, listening to Mexican music and just enjoying each other’s friendship. But my dad is very traditional and I had a curfew until I moved out of my parents house at 22. Needless to say at 18, the rule was that I needed to be home before 11pm. The guy I was talking to drove me home along with 2 of our friends. Mind you, we’re all Mexican but I’m the only white-passing person in the car that night. Keep in mind, these were not thugs or gang bangers. They were young Mexican men who just graduated from high school and were headed to college but happened to be a beautiful shade of golden brown that summer’s night.

In a hurry to get me home before curfew, at my urging, the driver cut through the parking lot of the gas station and that was the choice that changed my entire perspective on who I was in the world. That was the night that a cop’s racial “micro-aggression” cut me deep and opened my eyes wide making assimilation no longer an option.

White skin privilege isn’t really a privilege but a burden.

The cut through the parking lot was a traffic violation at the officer’s discretion, but what came next had everything to do with 3 brown boys in a car with a “white girl”. The cops pulled us over. Up until this point in my life, I’d unknowingly and obliviously benefited from my white skin privilege. 

In my desperation to make my curfew, I repeatedly asked the driver to “ask them why they pulled us over” which was met with them screaming at us all to get out of the car, for the boys to put their hands on the car and for all of us to identify ourselves. 

Each one respectfully and calmly gave his name ( as all brown moms teach their little brown boys to do in order to avoid danger) and then, it was my turn. “Debi Cruz, ” to which the officer asked, “ How do you spell that? Cruise? Kruse? Crews?” When I responded, “Cruz”, I suddenly went from being treated like a kidnap victim to an assailant. In his next breath, he told me to place my hands on the car. I realized the only thing that had changed was that the officer realized I too was Mexican. 

Discover the powerful story of how one night changed everything, awakening a warrior spirit within. This is a call to unite, to stand tall, and to never forget the bonds that tie us together.

After that, they cuffed the driver and threw him into the back of the patrol car  because the driver, at my urging, had asked why we’d been pulled over. The two other young men asked if they could take the vehicle to drive me home because of where I lived and my impending curfew. None of us were drinking. We were approximately a 10 minute drive from home but it was a dangerous neighborhood and definitely not one that a teenage girl should be walking in at midnight. The officer looked directly into my face, sized me up and down, and said, “Nah, she can walk.” Then, they drove away with my boyfriend and his car keys, leaving me and the other two guys abandoned in the gas station parking lot. I can’t help feeling like if I’d said my name was spelled, “ Crews “, they’d have given me a ride home because the officer’s entire demeanor changed towards me with the correct spelling. It may seem like a micro-aggression to you but to anybody who’s experienced this kind of racism, it’s just as hurtful, demeaning and demoralizing as any blatant racism ever could be. 

That night, those two gentlemen ( my guardian angels) walked me home through a ghetto they didn’t belong to, making it more dangerous for them than it was for me. They did it because that’s what family does; you lookout for one another. When I got home, I explained to my parents what happened and the guys and I spent the next 2 hours calling the rest of the Raza to raise bail and we did.

After over the last 30+ years of friendship, la Raza has celebrated, cried with, lived, laughed and loved together. We’ve weathered college, attended weddings, funerals, birthdays, quinceaneras, and now, our children’s milestones together. We’ve grown from children to parents and grandparents together. The bond is unbreakable. Each one reaches back to help the other one up. This is the true beauty of la Raza, it is pure, unconditional love and family. Over the years, there have been times when I’ve gotten so caught up in my own life that I’ve taken this group for granted but there’s never been a moment when I wouldn’t stand up and protect each and everyone of them. Mi Raza has made me who I am today; eyes wide open, scared but brave enough to face all the ugly in the world because I know they’ve always got my back. Those young Mexican men made me into a warrior princess unafraid to face the world’s challenges big or small. 

hispanic heritage, racial micro-aggressions, la Raza, white skin privilege, Latino cultural identity

So this Hispanic heritage month, as we celebrate Mexican Independence Day this weekend, I’d like to shout out to my la Raza boys ( and girls, there were a few of us) , “Viva la Raza.” Let’s cherish our heritage and the family we choose along the way.

Join us in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and the vibrant tapestry of our diverse cultures. It’s a time to reflect on our rich heritage and embrace our roots. Let’s come together as a community and honor the strength and resilience that defines us. Subscribe, share and become part of the conversation if you enjoyed this article.

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Tonight, I settled into my  Sunday evening quiet by turning on the television and mindlessly flipping the dial. I stopped on Extreme Makeover. I NEVER stop on Extreme Makeover, mostly because at some point in the show I will end up crying. Sunday’s are usually bad for me anyway so I figure why add fuel to the fire. But tonight, something was different…Extreme Makeover was calling to me.

Photo courtesy of Google image

The show tonight was about the Brown family. The day was like any other day. Alex Brown’s father, Johnny Mack, gave her a kiss on the forehead before he left for work and told her to be good, something I’ve seen the Big Guy do a million times with our own girls.  Something, most of us do an a daily basis. We take a deep breath, kiss those little loves of our lives Goodbye for now and go out into the world or send them out into the world. Only that day, in November of 2009, was not like any other day, it would turn out to be the worst day of the Brown family’s life. That was the day that Jeanne and Johnny Mack Brown lost their daughter, Alex, a senior in high school, got into a 18-wheeler accident.

Katrina, her sister, lost her big sister and mentor in life. While driving to school, Alex was texting, she was distracted, lost control of her vehicle and rolled her pick up truck according to what the truck accident attorney mentioned.

This beautiful promising life, about to go off to college and make a difference in the world, was crudely ejected from the vehicle through the windshield, only to have her truck roll on top of her, crushing her and ultimately causing injuries that proved fatal. People who have miraculously survived tragic accidents like this but are unfortunately and severely disabled can seek the legal assistance of social security attorneys in order to have the compensation that they need especially for the medical expenses.

I can not even imagine the pain and loss Jeanne and Johnny Mack Brown feel on a daily basis. To honor her memory, they spend all their free time traveling to area high schools showing Alex’s rolled truck to other students to demonstrate the possible dangers of texting while driving, spreading the message as far as their funds and abilities will let them.

They have made it their life’s mission to stop other families from suffering such a great loss by giving advice to other with the help of indianapolis truck accident lawyer.

Now, I’m not going to lie..I am a drive and text sort of person. ( Well, I was… up until tonight). I know it’s wrong. I know it’s dangerous and could lead to car accidents. Yet, I find myself doing it constantly. But tonight, when I watched this episode, it hit me…what if I were texting and my girls were in the car ( as they usually are)? I could wreck and kill them. KILL THEM! Let that sink in for a moment. Obviously, I don’t want to die but I can’t live with the possibility of putting my littles in danger. Not to mention what a horrible example I am setting for them. Let’s say for a minute that I am the exception and I’m lucky enough to avoid any disasters but one day, in the not so distant future, Bella or Gabs could get into a vehicle and mimic just what they’ve seen their Mommy doing…texting while driving.  God forbid they get into an accident themselves and, or worse still, die. So, tonight, I went to the Remember Alex Brown website and I signed the pledge. I know this sounds hokey and out of character for me. I know I am snarktastic and have mocked Oprah for her pledge against this very thing. But I am big enough to admit when I have been wrong. It just took me a bit to see the error of my ways. I’ve decided that I  refuse to put my children in that kind of danger, my family through that kind of pain or have any part in perpetuating this behavior in my children’s lives. I signed the pledge and I WILL NOT text while driving…ever again. I also what you to learn this here now that you can still file a claim on an accident that you were partially at fault in. I hope that you will take this pledge with me. I don’t really care if you electronically sign a pledge to a foundation, but I ‘d like you all to commit to not texting while driving. Think of yourself..think of your children! The life you may be saving by NOT texting while driving…may be the one that you helped to bring into this world.

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Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Dinner,thanksgiving recipe, recipes, turkey, cranberry sauce

When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of family and food. It’s my favorite holiday of the year and I always dreamt that one day we would host Thanksgiving dinner at our home. This year will be our 11th year hosting dinner for both sides of our families.

You can imagine that when hosting a dinner party for 20-30 people, you need a system in place that works. It took a couple years but we finally perfected the perfect traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu.

Here is the menu our family loves every year;

The perfect Thanksgiving turkey

Sweet Potato Casserole

 Ingredients – Casserole

3 cups sweet potatoes, baked and mashed

1/2-teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted

1-cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2-cup milk

Ingredients – Topping

1-cup brown sugar

1/2-cup flour

1/2-cup butter

1 cup chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl, beat together first 6 ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch or two 9 x 9-inch baking pans. In a processor fitted with steel knife, combine ingredients for topping until crumbly or use a pastry blender to cut butter into brown sugar and flour until crumbly. Mix in nuts. Sprinkle topping mixture over sweet potatoes. At this point, dish can be refrigerated (covered). Bake uncovered in preheated 350-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes until browned and bubbly.

 

Cranberry Orange Sauce

1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries

1 whole orange including peel/rind, seeds removed

1-cup sugar

Chop all ingredients in a food processor or a food grinder and stir to mix. Refrigerate until ready to use. Be sure to let it drain a while to remove the excess liquid before mixing it with Jello.

2 (3 oz.) pkgs. raspberry Jello

2 1/2 c. boiling water

Cranberry Orange Sauce

1 cup crushed pineapple with juice

I cup of finely Chopped Walnuts or pecans

 

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in Cranberry Orange Sauce, pineapple and chopped walnuts. Pour into mold. Refrigerate until firm.

 

The Pioneer Woman’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes

 

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • ¾ cups Butter
  • 1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened
  • ½ cups (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
  • ½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • ½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper

 

Preparation Instructions

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half (Or heavy cream). Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt (or roasted garlic cloves) and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper.

Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.

Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

 

Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Sausage

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 1 teaspoon freshly minced thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/4 pounds cubed and dried cornbread stuffing, store-bought
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 cups turkey or low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in 12-inch skillet.

Cook sausage for 5 to 7 minutes until browned. Add onions and celery and sauté until softened. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Mix in apples, thyme and sage and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add bourbon. *Cook’s Note: When adding alcohol, take pan off flame. Allow to simmer until bourbon is almost evaporated; 1 to 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, add cornbread stuffing, parsley, chicken stock, eggs and pecans. Mix well. Mix in vegetable mixture to bowl. Combine and stir well together. Add to a large casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes.

 

Creamy Turkey Gravy

 

Ingredients

 

Turkey pan juices, about 4 cups of hot turkey stock.

Unsalted butter, if necessary

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4-cup heavy cream

1-teaspoon kosher salt

1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dry white wine (optional)

Directions

  1. Pour the pan juices from roasting the turkey through a fine-mesh strainer into large heat-safe measuring cup, and skim off the fat and reserve (or use a fat separator).
  2. Place the roasting pan over two burners, and warm over medium-high heat. Add 1-1/2 cups water to deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits with a flat-sided wooden spoon. Once all the fond has dissolved, pour it through the fine mesh strainer into the same heat-safe measuring cup.
  3. Add enough turkey stock to the juices to bring the total to 5 cups.

Add 5 tablespoons of the reserved turkey fat to the pan (making up any difference with butter), and whisk in flour. Cook for 3-4 minutes, whisking frequently to get rid of the raw flour flavor.

  1. Drizzle the drippings mixture into the pan, whisking constantly. Add the cream, salt, pepper, and wine (if using).
  2. Bring to a boil, and whisk constantly until the gravy has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Serve with turkey.

Makes 5 cups gravy.

Spiced Apple Cider

Ingredients

Makes 2 quarts

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2-teaspoon whole allspice

1-teaspoon whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/4-teaspoon salt

1 pinch ground nutmeg

1 large orange, quartered with peel

2 quarts apple cider

 

Directions

  1. Place filter in coffee basket, and fill with brown sugar, allspice, cloves, cinnamon stick, salt, nutmeg, and orange wedges. Pour apple cider into coffee pot where the water usually goes. Brew, and serve hot.

Looking at this list, it may look like a lot of work and it is BUT it is totally worth it. Each year, we spend the week of Thanksgiving cleaning our home, prepping for visitors and cooking. It’s a hectic week to say the least but I wouldn’t trade a second of all the love and laughter that will be filling our home this weekend. I love giving my daughters these memories to cherish.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving recipe?

 

 

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