Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

End Black History Month?

Good black documentaries and films on every day--must be Black History Month. Cuba Gooding Jr. portrays famed-neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson in the TNT movie "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story." The film shows Dr. Carson's journey from his childhood troubles to making history in the operating room. Kimberly Elise also stars in "Gifted Hands" (love her!). Watch this Saturday 8pm PT/ET on TNT. Sounds like a good movie for the fam, especially if you have black sons.

This week Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley proposed that we end black history month. She writes:

"I propose that, for the first time in American history, this country has reached a point where we are can stop celebrating separately, stop learning separately, stop being American separately. We have reached a point where most Americans want to gain a larger understanding of the people they have not known, customs they have not known, traditions they have not known."

A brotha wins the White House, another black coach wins the Super Bowl and now folks are talking about cutting Black History Month? LOL. Seriously, I understand Riley's reasons. Like her, I'm all for racial unity in this country. However when I celebrate black history it's not to separate myself from other Americans. I'm learning what was missing in my high school history books. Same thing goes for when I read about Latino American history, Native American history etc. These cultural celebrations honor the diversity of our country and reminds us that people of all genders and races contributed to this nation. What's next--universities should terminate their ethnic studies and women studies departments? Until U.S. history books quadruple their page numbers and give more detail about this nation's past then I may reconsider Riley's argument.

Who needs Black History Month more than anyone are black people. A few years ago I worked as a TA in an Oakland Public School. I spoke to some third graders about college. I wanted them to see someone from their neighborhood could get a degree. One little girl said to me with sass, "My momma said she ain't went college, my daddy ain't went to college and I ain't going to college." Too many of our own children believe that black folks can only achieve on the football field, basketball courts and on a sitcom. Why? Because many of US, our people, haven't encouraged our children to think bigger. We can't let the media dictate how our children see themselves. We need to teach our children about Doctors Charles Drew and Ben Carson so they know they can attend med school. Tell your kids they can literally reach for the stars and moon like astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison. All scientists aren't white men. Look at Venus and Serena Williams. They knew it was possible to excel in the tennis world because before them was Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson. Some of us haven't grown up around black professionals. You can expose them to your children through books and mentors. I knew if Ida B. Wells could break news stories in the late 1800s, so could I in the 21st Century. With all the excitement over Obama we must pass along the significance of this historic moment to our children and grandchildren. Thirty years from now I don't want to hear some black teenager ask "Who's Barack Obama?" because his granddaddy didn't tell his daddy--who didn't tell him.

With that said Happy Black History Month and remember to celebrate in February but study all year long.

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  1. Having grown up in the lily white suburbs, I'd also like to add that Black History Month is just as important to black kids in suburbia as it is to those in the inner city. With very few students and extremely few teachers of color in school, it's very easy to feel like an outsider, completely invisible. Black History Month was one of the few times during the school year when I got to learn a little something about my people and myself.


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