Happy Confederate Memorial Day!

No, it’s not a misprint, and I haven’t lost my mind.  In my home state, today is Confederate Memorial Day.  This holiday is officially observed in eight Southern states, with most celebrating on different days.  Confederate Memorial Day is a day to honor Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War. 

In my home state of South Carolina, state employees, over 60,000, have the day off.  Before the year 2000, state employees had two floating holidays.  Martin Luther King Day was not a state holiday, meaning state employees had to work the third Monday in January, unless they took that day off as a floating holiday.  The same was done for Confederate Memorial Day.  In 2000, Senator Robert Ford from Charleston wrote a bill to make Confederate Memorial Day AND Martin Luther King Jr. Day state holidays.  It is interesting to note that Senator Ford is Black. 

Yes, the Confederacy is part of our history, and I’m sure I have school friends and know people who had their ancestors fight in the Civil War for the Confederate States of America.  When I read some of the comments on this article, I had some thoughts.  Yes, African-Americans have such sayings as “Black is Beautiful” and “Black Pride”, but these sayings weren’t made to belittle another race or to be racist.  In my experience, “White Pride” has been something stated by racist Americans.  And as Dot Scott said, just because the Confederacy is part of our history doesn’t mean we have to celebrate it.  That would be like America celebrating Nathan Bedford Forrest or Germany celebrating Adolf Hitler.  I’ll be the first to say that my state has multiple things to work on-budget, education, poverty, and the like, so it may seem futile to bring up the issue of today’s holiday.  But I think South Carolina politicians should know that this holiday still doesn’t sit well with all residents and natives. 

The Confederacy should not be forgotten, but it definitely should not be glorified.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

This Week in the News-WOW!!!!

Happy Friday!  This definitely didn’t feel like a 4 day work week.  But I am glad to say that I had an amazing time yesterday! (All work and no play makes Elle a dull girl!)  I was able to hang out with my fellow Rattlers at The Park last night (and ya’ll know I don’t like that place), and then I had a great dinner. 🙂  (If you follow me on Twitter or are a fan on Facebook, you know where I was!)  Now that the fun has been had, let’s get down to business!

First, I must say that I am VERY happy for the White family.  If you don’t know, Carlina White was abducted from Harlem Hospital at just 19 days old.  Her parents had taken her to the hospital due to a fever.  Believing she was giving her baby to a nurse, Joy White, Carlina’s mother, handed the infant over so she could be checked out.   23 years later, mother and father are reunited with their daughter.   Kudos go to Carlina, who discovered that she may be this missing infant.  Technology is an amazing thing!  Now, police and authorities are hunting down Ann Pettway, the woman who raised Carlina as Nejdra Nance.   Ann’s probably somewhere in Mexico by now!!!  But I hope they do find her and figure out what happened in the hospital. 

So, I’m not really sure how I feel about the home state’s new governor.  Nikki Haley, newly-elected governor for the state of South Carolina, gave her first “State of the State” address on Wednesday evening.  One thing I’m happy about is that the Department for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services was moved from a leased space to a government owned facility that was previously empty.  Kudos to Gov. Haley’s administration for making that move and saving the state of South Carolina $700,000 over the next 4 years.  (Mayor Gray and DC could learn a thing or two from this.)  I do have a problem with state funding being cut to the Arts Commission, as an artist and musician myself and having a cousin who is a music teacher in South Carolina.   She’s also proposing that Medicaid HIV/AIDS, cancer, and mental health patients receive generic prescription drugs.  Not really sure how I feel about this since I’m not a doctor or a pharmacist (so if you are, be sure to comment!).  Of course she’s not jumping to accept federal dollars (not sure if I can blame her on that), but she wants to cut education funding and create a new department, the Department of Administration.   I say all this to say, the jury is still out on this one.  But please believe I’ll be keeping an eye on this.  (To read the transcript of the address, go here.)

If you like a good deal, I’m sure you get your daily WTD deal or Groupon e-mails.  Well, since Google is trying to monopolize everything (oops, did I say that???), they are creating a Groupon competitor.  So keep your eyes opened to be see what great deals you can get.  But this can only be good for the consumer, right???

Ok, that’s all I’ve got for you today.  Oh, the divisional playoffs; I’m going with the Steelers and Packers.  Yes, I know I should probably go with my honey, but I have to be realistic here.   What are your thoughts on these and other happenings?  And what news was significant this week that I didn’t share?   Enjoy your weekend, and God willing I’ll be back with you on Monday!  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

150 Years Later…

Whose side are you on?

Between the years of 1861-1865, the American Civil War took place.   Current historians and other figures don’t always agree on the main reason the Civil War was fought.  Some say it was because of states’ rights; others say it’s due to slavery.  As a Southerner and an African-American, I can say the Civil War was fought over slavery, plain and simple.  Sure economics and states’ rights and a host of other issues played a part, but let’s not kid ourselves-Southern states wanted to be able to keep their slaves while Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans wanted to spread the abolishment of slavery across the Union.  Of course my home state, South Carolina, would secede from the Union first on December 20, 1860. 

Numerous states across the country are gearing up for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War next year.   I came across this article which shows citizens’ various opinions and celebrations relating to the war.  Ok, people, let’s be honest.  Racism is still real in this country.  People are still salty we have a Black president.  Yep, I said it, and I meant it.  This is coming from the girl who went to predominantly Caucasian schools until I went to college and had mostly white friends growing up.  (And some are still some of my closest friends today.)  We don’t talk politics too much because I realize where I grew up and with whom I grew up.  I grew up in the city where Bob Jones University is located, the school that lifted its ban on interracial dating when I graduated from high school 10 years ago.  I grew up in a state where interracial marriage was still illegal (no one bothered to look) until 8 years ago-and even then just over 50% of South Carolinians voted to make interracial marriage legal.  

So, people may think race is still not an issue in this country.  I beg to differ.  Now I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised when I went back to my alma mater for my high school reunion and a biracial (i.e. Black) girl was introducing her Caucasian boyfriend to her parents during the varsity football game.  (Trust me, for my high school that’s amazing.) 

The whole reason I wrote this post was because I thought some of these people in this article were a bit delusional in their stating the war wasn’t about slavery, because it was.  Now I totally believe in supporting your heritage and celebrating your history, but not at the expense of others.   We all should take the time and energy to learn our history. 

What do you guys think?  Was the Civil War fought mainly over slavery or states’ rights?   Are people still commemorating the Civial War in this way because it’s tradition or do they have the same beliefs as their ancestors?  Do you have an issue with interracial dating?  Have you seen a change in interracial relations in your lifetime?  Or do you think America has a lot more growing to do?  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Way Back Wednesday- Thanksgiving with the Family

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”  That’s right, folks.  Tomorrow official starts the beginning (at least in my mind) of the holiday season.  (We’re not going to talk about how my place of PT employment has been decorated for Christmas for nearly a month.)  I talked to Southern Mom this morning, and of course we were both agonizing (but trying to be strong for the other) over the fact that I will not be home for Thanksgiving.   And this of course got me to thinking about the holidays growing up.  Since my parents are divorced I would spend Thanksgiving with one parent, then Christmas with the other parent and vice versa for the next year.  Specifically for Thanksgiving, each family had their own separate yet unique traditions. 

Each year since I was in the 2nd grade, my mother has hosted Thanksgiving at our house.  I’m not sure if anyone remembers, but my mom bought her first house when I was in the 2nd grade and moved the week of Thanksgiving.  To help her move, my family kicked into high gear, helped us pack up, and had dinner at my mom’s.  From there, I think it just stuck.  Everyone brings a dish, the men (and some ladies) watch football, others gather around the dining room table, and when it’s time to eat, we all gather around the table, say grace, and dig in!  It’s a wonderful time for all of us (my grandparents, my grandmother’s siblings, my mom’s siblings, and my cousins) to get together. 

My dad’s family is a little different.  Even though it’s probably about the same amount of people as my mom’s family, it’s just my grandparents’ children, and their children (and now their children’s children!).   We typically used to have dinner at my Godmother’s house.  We gather, say grace around the table, and eat!  I always enjoyed going to see my dad’s family as they lived about 4 hours away from me, and I didn’t get to see my cousins that often.  We played catch up, the older cousins picked on the younger ones, and you may see a game of Spades going on.   Before the night was over, we all picked a name for Christmas gifts. 

Sadly, as I’ve gotten older and have moved away from my family, it’s harder for me to get to SC to spend the holidays with my relatives.  Thankfully I have friends here in DC who have adopted me and taken me in and invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them.   I wish you all a joyous, blessed, Thanksgiving holiday.  I’ll catch you guys next week.  (Oh, I’m supposed to be making a peach cobbler tomorrow-should be good!)  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

My South Carolina Heritage

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of going to the Museum of African Art in SW DC.  A friend invited me along and since I had a day off (from both jobs) I took her up on it.  And imagine my surprise when I saw that I had not missed an exhibit I really wanted to see! 

This past May I read an article in The Island Packet, the Hilton Head newspaper, about an exhibit that was coming to the Smithsonian museum in DC.  Grass Roots: African Origins of American Art was going to be on display at the Museum of African Art from June 23 until November 28.  Sweetgrass baskets are a staple and very important to the Gullah people and other inhabitants along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts.  Looking at the baskets and watching the videos of the basket makers made me think of my home state.  As my paternal family is from the SC coast, I am very familiar with the history and significance of these baskets.   And I remembered making a sweetgrass basket and learning Gullah during my 8th grade SC History Class. (I wonder if Southern Mom still has my basket…)  In addition to baskets from the coast being on display, there were also baskets from various African countries.  As I walked around, I felt a little nostalgic and homesick.  It really made me appreciate my history.  Suprisingly, the slave auction signs they had hanging didn’t upset me.  (I don’t think that’s really significant to the story, but I felt like sharing. *kanye shrug*)

The time and patience it takes to create these baskets is amazing.  If you ever visit Charleston, Beaufort, Hilton Head, or Daufuskie Island, SC or Savannah, GA, I highly suggest you purchase a basket.  It will be a beautiful decoration to your home.  Most importantly, you only have 10 more days to go see the exhibit in DC before it moves on.  I may even go see it again.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Last Week in the News

The first week of November was pretty busy.  And I couldn’t just very well let it pass without saying ANYTHING…so here goes.

First, mid-term elections.  DC has a new mayor (Congrats, to Vincent Gray), my home state of South Carolina elected it’s first female governor Nikki Haley, Lil’ Wayne got out of jail, and Marques Houston FINALLY responded to these allegations of sexual abuse by former B2K member Raz B

I guess I’ll start with the elections.  No big surprises in the city of Washington, DC.  But of course, there’s been a shift in the power on Capitol Hill.  I certainly hope Congress and the White House can work together before the 2012 election.  If not, America can get ready for a stalemate, gridlock, and NO CHANGE coming from our government.  As I like to stay optimistic, I’ll pray that our country starts making positive changes, addresses unemployment, healthcare, and education. 

Speaking of elections, despite lies, controversy, and being the underdog, Tea Partier Nikki Haley won the governor seat of the great state of South Carolina.   It’s funny because when I was home for my high school reunion in September, I saw her commercials all over Southern Mom’s tv screen.  When I asked who the Democratic candidate was, she couldn’t tell me.   I just truly hope that this does not mean SC will start turning back to the days of old.  Black people in SC have enough to deal with, so I hope it doesn’t get worse.  “YAY” to South Carolina electing a woman governor, but “BOO” to her being part of the Tea Party. 

Finally somebody is responding to these accusations.  For the past few weeks, Raz B has been accusing (again) former B2K manager Chris Stokes and singer Marques Houston of sexual abuse and misconduct during the heydey of the boy band.  A few years back, Raz made similar accusations, but recanted.  Now, he’s making videos and going on satellite radio drumming up allegations again.  Just last week, Marques Houston was granted a restraining order against his “You Got Served” castmate.   If these allegations are true, I do hope these men are brought to justice.  I really don’t want to talk about this too much because this is such a sensitive subject.  I will say I keep these people in my prayers, especially Raz B.  He needs to be able and available to raise his son. 

Lil’ Wayne was released from jail last Thursday!  I’m sure the hip hop world is excited, especially Young Money group member Nicki Minaj.  And there’s something about that little man that one of my linesister’s and I like.  And I’m sure at his welcome home party last week he got some girl preggers and a new little Carter will greet the world in 9 months. 

 I know there was TONS of other stuff that happened last week, and I could be here all day.  But I like you guys and want to ensure I hold your attention, so I’m out.  But please feel free to share your thoughts, especially on the elections and how they affected your city/state.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Family Reunions

There’s nothing like family, and I’ve come to realize this now more than I ever have before this weekend.  I have had the pleasure of hanging out with “both” sides, maternal and paternal, of my family.   Every Father’s Day weekend, my dad’s family has a reunion.  It started out 50 years ago with my great-grandfather’s children honoring him and having a potluck during the first Father’s Day after my great-grandmother died.  I actually found out this weekend that the potluck was my grandmother’s idea.  In February of this year, my cousin sent a mass text to all of the grandchildren and requested our presence at the reunion, which is held in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.  After my grandmother passed last month, I knew that I had to come back to South Carolina and attend the events of the weekend.  I was able to see my aunts, uncles, cousins, and was able to meet some new family members.  (I’m sure we’ll connect on Facebook soon!)  I had a great time; Friday was the fish fry on the family property, Saturday was the banquet, and Sunday was church and the Lowcountry boil and cookout under the tent on the family land.  Needless to say I got some good eating done, as only we Southerners can do!  I even got to hang out a little with my firstcousins, which is always fun in and of itself!

Once the paternal side activities were done, I travelled to Georgia where my mom’s family rented a house for the week.  A few years back, my family decided to travel every other year for a week and rent a house in a different location.  In addition to seeing my mom, grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins that live in my hometown, I was also able to see my aunt that lives in Nebraska, who brought her two grandsons, and my aunt that lives in New York!  And I met my new 2 month old cousin, who is absolutely adorable!  And he is spoiled rotten!  It seems like I came on the right day because one of my uncles cooked out on the grill and I went to the beach with my mom and had some bonding time.  What was supposed to be a day trip turned into an overnighter as I went with them into the city and came back way too late to drive back to South Carolina.  So, as luck would have it, my mom had some extra PJ’s, which I’m tempted to take back with me to DC, and I had a scarf in the trunk, so I slept in one of the many rooms in this house.   We got up and had breakfast together, which was really nice and I knew was going to be good as EVERYBODY in my family can cook!  I’m so tempted to stay another day, but duty calls, so travel back to the city I must.  I’ve never been on the family vacation with my mom’s family, so this was a great experience for me.

This trip has been a nice change of pace for me and very refreshing.  My families are loving, supportive, and everyone has hearts of gold.  Now, I’m not saying that my families are perfect, but when we need each other, we are always there, and that’s what matters most.   Are there any traditions that your family has?  Do you participate?  What’s your favorite family memory?  Please feel free to share.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!