Black Woman Blogging

One black woman's views on race, gender, politics, family, life and the world.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ride, Sally, Ride (Rest in Peace, Sally Ride)

I am saddened to hear of the passing of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space and a fellow Stanford alumna.  I never met Ms. Ride, but I was inspired by her.  And I'm not fond of math or science, either.

What was inspirational about Sally Ride was that she made the love of math, science and engineering seem absolutely normal for a woman.  She didn't fly any geek flag whatsoever.  She just did her thing, not underplaying the enormity of her accomplishment, but also not making it appear as if she and she alone were capable of the accomplishment.

Sorry to borrow a bad pun, but Sally took millions of little girls along for the ride when she went in to space, and especially when she came back.  She could have been a NASA "queen bee," like many women unfortunately become when they get to the top and don't want any other woman there with them.  Sally wanted women to follow in her footsteps.  She wanted to inspire little girls to believe that space exploration was for them just as much as it was for the boys.  She ended the NASA astronaut fraternity and was determined not to be a token or a fluke.

And her last name was "Ride."  How cool was that?

It is because of Sally Ride that little American girls don't think that being an astronaut is beyond their reach.

Whenever I thought of Sally Ride up in space doing her thing, I always thought of the song, "Mustang Sally," and in particular the chorus:  "Ride, Sally, ride."

Indeed.  Rest in peace, Sally Ride.  Ride, Sally, ride.

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Aurora's Going to Be Alright

When I heard the news about the massacre at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado, at first I thought it must have been a mistake.  Aurora?  American as apple pie Aurora?  Not my Aurora.

Yes, my Aurora.

BMNB and I began our official coupledom in Aurora.  He still owns a townhouse there.  That theater?  That's the theater we went to on a regular basis.

BMNB went to graduate and law school in Denver.  After a few wanderings outside the state, he returned to Denver to start his career.  When it came time to buy someplace to settle down as a single man, he bought in Aurora.  He liked the diversity, the parks, the people.  The neighborly-ness of it.  Aurora was as cool as Oakland, but without all the crime and congestion.

Then I joined him in 2001. We both knew we were headed towards marriage, and we lived together in his Aurora townhouse and saved up almost every spare penny we had for our wedding so that we would not go into debt.  One of our few token treats to ourselves while we were on our financial austerity diet was to go to the movies.  The Century 16 in particular, since it was less than 15 minutes from our home.

I'm so saddened by the tragedy that has befallen our beloved Aurora.  But if there's any city capable of pulling itself together and pulling through, it's Aurora.

I always thought of Aurora as a cross section of America.  Aurora is racially diverse.  It has transplants from all across the country because it's an affordable suburb of Denver and because of all the military and retired military folks who live there.  I could spend an afternoon at the Peaberry's Coffee there and here a multitude of accents -- Southern, Boston, Ethiopian.  Although many Denverites looked down their noses at Aurora as some soulless suburb, those in the know knew that there was a lot more to Aurora than it got credit for.

I was proud to see Aurora pull together yesterday to remember the fallen.  I was proud of the racial diversity I did see in the crowd and the economic, political and geographic diversity that the world couldn't see.  What Aurora will teach the rest of the nation is that, in times of crisis, our differences don't matter as much as we think they do.

Aurora's going to be alright.  If we as a nation were more like Aurora, we would be, too.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Dear Allyson Felix, Somebody's Studyin' You

Dear Allyson Felix,

First, I want to wish you all the best of success at the 2012 London Olympics.  I hope that you exceed beyond your wildest expectations.

In fact, I need you to.

Quite frankly, Ms. Felix, I really didn't know much about you until my little seven year-old cousin started talking about you.  You see, she runs the 100 and 200 meters.  She hasn't had a lot of coaching, and she's been winning on sheer talent alone.  She's the eighth fastest seven year-old in the AAU Western Region Junior Olympics and has qualified for the AAU National Junior Olympics in the 100 meters this summer.

And she's studyin' you.  I mean that in the southern sense of the word.  She watches your form.  She imitates how you slice the air with your hands when you run. She watches how you get out of the blocks. And she's having fun doing it.

She wants to do what you're doing.

In the midst of it all, this beautiful, intelligent, sweet little girl is surrounded by negative images of what we as black women and girls are.  She is a dark-skinned girl in a predominantly blond white girl world.  Little white girls have told her that they can't sit next to her because she's brown, that her long braids feel like rope, and that her hair should be used as a mop.

Despite it all, she continues to excel.  Did I tell you that she's smart as a whip, plays the piano by ear, and does hip-hop dance?

And she's studyin' you.  Your victory will represent all that is possible to her.

So, Ms. Felix, as much as you may believe that you're running for yourself or your country, you're also running for a little dark-skinned girl in Southern California who still questions her beauty and her worth and runs like the wind because she's been studyin' you.  She needs all the positive images of black women she can possibly get to counteract what she deals with as a dark-skinned little girl in a blond white girl world.

So for this year, I just really need you to win. For her.  No pressure.  :-)

Good luck and God speed, Allyson Felix.