“We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”- President Barack Obama

Let’s fight to be true to our creed.

“We are true to…


“It’s Just a Joke!”

People complain all of the time of what a burden it is to be “politically correct” as if it is a major intrusion on their lives. They act as though eliminating stereotypes or pretentious jokes that mock people based on race or social class will leave them with nothing else to say.

When you laugh and tell people to “calm down, it’s just a joke” you are implying that they need to just “take it”, swallowing their feelings for the sake of your amusement. It is the modern way to silence the victim, creating a culture of shame where any mention of race is discredited as “pulling the race card”. The privileged assume that as long as they consider themselves to be an overall good person (and especially if they have friends of color) they should be allowed to say whatever they want without anyone taking offense.

The script is flipped so quickly it becomes a blur. Rather than reflecting on the words that have been said and considering the implications they may have unknowingly made, the offender accuses the person who challenges them. They are at fault for being “too sensitive” or “reading too much into it”.

Yes, it is hard to avoid the stereotypes and racist perceptions that saturate our culture. It takes a conscious effort. It requires thinking before you speak or post something on social media.

But seriously, after decades of enjoying unearned privileges the least you can do is watch your mouth.

We all mess up. I do it all the time. My hope is that I will use those mistakes to listen and learn rather than justify what I said.

White people especially need to realize that is is a luxury not to have to think about race all of the time. The reason we don’t have to be vigilant about the way the color of our skin affects the way we are being treated is because in the vast majority of situations, it works to our advantage.

After reading an article about racial micro aggressions in one of my classes the other day, we were asked to work in small groups to discuss the question:

“Why are so many white/privileged people convinced that racism is no longer an issue?”

People who think we are living in a post-racial society need not look any farther than the schools to see that they are greatly mistaken. Minnesota in particular has one of the worst achievement gaps in the country.To those who think these disparities have more to do with class than race, countless studies have shown that the gap between white students and students of color persists even amongst students from the same income level.

  • “Graduation rates for students of color are half that of white students. In Hennepin County, 63 percent of black students, 76 percent of Hispanic students and 86 percent of Native American students don’t graduate from high school.” (Wieland, Star Tribune)
  • Since 2006, the achievement gap has increased by 10 percentage points in high school math between white and Hispanic students and between white and black students on the annual state test (NCES)

I often hear the people whine about how “Students of color get all of the scholarships these days! It’s reverse racism!” According to the information above, white students clearly continue to have the upper hand in education, despite efforts to increase access to educational opportunities for all students.

I see this reality every single day in the work that I do. It can get discouraging to run a tutoring program that tries to bridge the gap, knowing that an hour a week will never be sufficient. It is heart breaking to get to know bright, resourceful and talented kids who will have to literally fight for their lives in order to be successful in this state.

The last thing these precious little ones need is jokes made at their expense, whether it’s someone mocking what they perceive to be the “gangsta” way they dress or making fun of their parent’s limited English skills. It’s not funny to laugh about their names or mimic the way they speak.  A “harmless joke” here and there adds up to a culture that conditions kids to internalize racism and self hatred and to believe that some people are inherently better than they are.

“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” –Gautama Buddha

Let’s do better.


“I am Adam Lanza’s Mother”

Read the whole article here:


“No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”’

World AIDS Day: Daddy’s Girl


I imagine you cuddling your baby girl in your arms the day she was born. Did she look like you? Maybe she has your smile, or your nose.

I’m sorry AIDS robbed you of the gift of seeing her grow up.

You never got the chance to fall for those puppy dog eyes, followed by a giggling “please daddy?”

I hope you know your sweet girl is loved.


Delighted in.

She is healthy and full of life.

I’m sure that is music to your ears.

I hope you find comfort in the fact that she is not alone.

Her brothers and sisters have lost parents and are far away from their first home too.

I know that someday they will help each other heal.

Just so you know she likes sparkles, dolls and pets.

Her colorful barrettes click and clack as she runs around outside with her friends.

She is kind and cares about everyone’s feelings.

She loves to make videos of herself singing. Can you hear her up there?

She says she misses you.

She cries for you.

She grieves the fact that she never got the chance to really know you.

You must have been a good man because goodness radiates from deep inside your little girl.

I know you are proud of the person she is and the person she will become.

We all wish you would have had access to the medications that could have saved your life.

It’s not fair.

In your honor we will love, protect and cherish your precious daughter.

Her life will be a sweet reflection of your legacy.

She made our family complete and we will never be the same again.

Thank you.

Political Activism

5th grader: I like the president but I have a problem with Michelle Obama.

Me: Really? What’s that?

5th: She made them bring all that nasty healthy food to our school. But me and my friends are fighting it. We call ourselves The Resistance.

Me: So what do you eat for lunch then?

5th grader: Hot Cheetos.

Me: And Takis?

5th grader: Yup.

If somehow you missed the Hot Cheetos and Takis craze, enjoy our homegrown Minneapolis kids in this video 🙂

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YLy4j8EZIk%5D

Happy Birthday T

To my sweet,  brilliant, curious and daring little brother…Happy Birthday! I love you. We all do!