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“It’s going to be more difficult from here on in…”

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“… We got to come to see that however much we dislike it, the destinies of white and black America are tied together.  Now the races don’t understand this apparently.  But our destinies are tied together.  And somehow, we must all learn to live together as brothers in this country or we’re all going to perish as fools.  Our destinies are tied together.  Whether we like it or not culturally and otherwise, every white person is a little bit negro and every negro is a little bit white.  Our language, our music, our material prosperity and even our food are an amalgam of black and white, so there can be no separate black path to power and fulfillment that does not intersect white routes and there can ultimately be no separate white path to power and fulfillment short of social disaster without recognizing the necessity of sharing that power with black aspiration for freedom and human dignity.  We must come to see:  yes, we do need each other.  The black man need the white man to save hi from his fear and the white man needs the black man to free him from his guilt.

… It’s going to be more difficult from here on in but I believe we’re going to get there because however much she stray away from it, the goal of America is freedom and our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America.

… However difficult it is during this period, however difficult it is to continue to live with the agony and continued existence of racism, however difficult it is to live amidst the constant hurt, the constant insult and constant disrespect, I can still sing: we shall overcome.” — MLK, March 14, 1968

Have You Seen Her?

I guess it’s a good sign:  I actually miss my wife.

I saw her this morning, briefly.  She looked good.  I probably won’t see her tonight.  I think I’ll see her Friday when we have to fly together, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we aren’t seated together on the flight.  That’s been our luck lately when it comes to finding time to spend together.

The past couple of months have taken a toll.  Travel, events, and work schedules have made quality time impossible.  At this point, I would settle for just time … it doesn’t even have to be of the quality variety.  We’ve had one day off together in the past month.  I can’t remember the last time we sat down and had a meal together.  And, our 19-month-old hasn’t quite learned the concept of mommy-daddy time.

It seems strange to be talking about missing a person … when we live in the same damn house!  But, we’ve been ships passing in the night.  Still, it’s better than the alternative:  relishing time away from your spouse.  I’m not glad I haven’t seen her, but I take comfort in the fact that I miss her.

I hope to see her soon.  But if  you see her before I do, tell her she’s missed.

 

Baby Hair

I can’t relate to the Carters’ fame, their lifestyle, or their money.  Yet today, I feel more connected to Jay Z and Beyonce than ever.

By now, you know that Blue Ivy’s hair has been the subject of much, and at times nasty, public debate.  Though it’s appalling how people have criticized and ridiculed the couple over their child’s hair, that’s not what has garnered my sympathy.  Rather, as the father of an 18-month-old black daughter, my heart goes out to them … because there is nothing you can do with this stuff!

Sure, you can wash, condition, and style her hair all you want.  But after one hour or one nap or one trip to the park, it’s over.

We have fine tooth combs.  We have wide tooth combs.  We have dual tooth combs.  We have brushes.  We have 3 different shampoos.  We have 2 different leave-in conditioners.  We have hair de-tangler.  But we also have a “miracle de-tangler.”  We have something called the “natural curl calmer.”  One brand of products even calls itself the “natural family collection.”  Nothing works.  Pardon me, what I mean is that nothing works for long when you have a toddler!

I always want baby Sabine to look her best.  I work hard to keep her hair in some kind of order when we’re out, almost to the point of compulsion.  That’s just me.  However, when one shoe is missing, she just picked up a knife from the restaurant table, snot is running down her nose, you’re trying to find the off button on the singing Minnie Mouse doll, and the diaper is questionable, how pretty her hair looks is the last thing on your mind!

Let others debate the greater and deeper societal implications of Blue Ivy’s hair.  I see Blue Ivy and simply think, “I feel y’all.”  At the end of the day, it’s a baby.  Babies are supposed to be a bit of a mess.  And that makes them perfect.

Hide Your Wife

In a meeting in 2012, I was startled when someone suggested that Marilee needed to go away.  As part of a PR and promotional strategy, it would be best if I didn’t talk so much about my wife, they explained.  And, if I could show up to a few events without her, that wouldn’t be a bad idea.

This wasn’t a private one-on-one meeting where an off-the-record opinion was being offered.  It was a planning session that included a whole team of people, and MIA Marilee was an official strategic option.  I was floored.  At the time, I didn’t outwardly react according to how I was feeling.  I was enraged.  I was offended.

That wasn’t the first or last time this type of advice had been offered.  The argument from those making the suggestion is this:  my fan base is made up of a lot of women.  You want to always appeal to them, not turn them off.  “Women need to think you’re available to them,” someone said.  That is incredibly shortsighted and insulting to women.

I was in LA last week, and the suggestion was made again:  hide your wife.

Clearly, I haven’t followed the advice.  Marilee is everywhere.  I talk about her, I write about her, and I show up to plenty public events with her.  She has never been and will never be part of a PR strategy.  She is my life.  It’s impossible and unnatural to cut her out in some way.  I would hope that her presence would make me more appealing to the wider public, not less.  Ironic, isn’t it?  The suggestion that a happily married black couple is not the image I would want to put out there!

However, as I sit here talking to Marilee about this blog, I’m surprised to hear her say:  “I get it, T.J.  They think you have to market the illusion of availability to women.”  Let’s see if she still feels that way when I disinvite her from the public events on our summer schedule.  It’s only a PR strategy, baby.

Daddy Daycare (cont’d)

1:26pm A loud siren can be heard right outside the apartment.  10 seconds later, a loud child can be heard awakening in her crib.

1:40pm Get her ready to go to lunch, but our departure is delayed.  The princess is missing one of her slippers.  The missing shoe is finally discovered under her changing table.  I wonder how it got there?

1:45pm Arrive at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants.  Get a great table outside.

2:05pm Three young, attractive women stop by our table and gawk at Sabine.

2:10pm Another young woman stops by and marvels at the cuteness of the daddy-daughter lunch date.

2:15pm Another woman stops by.

2:20pm Two more women stop by.

2:22pm I remember that I’m married.

2:45pm Leave the restaurant, stop and get a movie, then head home.

2:53pm Talk to Marilee by phone for the first time today.  Says she’s coming home early.  I tell her the child is fine.  She repeats, “I’m coming home early.”

3:49pm Sabine throws her first fit of the day.  Lasts only 15 seconds as she quickly realizes I’m not the parent who spoils her.

Daddy Daycare (cont’d)

10:40am I receive an email from a network president asking when I might “have a second to chat.”  He must not be following me on twitter today.

10:45am Diaper still not changed.

10:51am I ask Sabine a simple question: what’s that on your face?!  I eventually got it off, but I honestly don’t know what it was.

10:52am “Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog!”

11:00am No more Mickey.  We’re now watching Sportcenter.  I gently explain to Sabine that from now on, her only cartoon mouse options are Speedy Gonzales, Jerry, Pinky, or The Brain.

11:05am Diaper changed.  Wow.  I had no idea momma had Sabine on a high-fiber diet.

11:12am Pick up Sabine, and she immediately rests her head on my shoulder.

11:20am Little one is sleeping.  I have at most two hours to get work done.

11:28am This nap won’t last long if my upstairs neighbor keeps dropping s— on the floor!

Daddy Daycare (cont’d)

 9:45am Pulled out the FAO Schwartz “Big Piano” for her to play.  Neighbors lovin’ us right now.

9:52am Piano didn’t occupy her for long.  To the kitchen we go!  Pots and pans are all over the floor.  Our next homecooked meal will have a hint of baby feet.

10:05 First signs that it might be naptime.  Rubbing the eyes.  Getting a little irritable.  But I’ll be OK.  Where is Sabine, by the way?

10:11am Sabine goes into her room and closes the doors behind her. AND, turns on her white noise machine.  If I can get this kid to change her own diaper and cook her own meals, I’ll be golden.

10:21am Was attempting to make some notes for my commencement speech to the Clark Atlanta class of 2014.  Sabine has crawled halfway into the fireplace.  Hands are black with ash.

10:30am Is Mickie Mouse always on TV this much?!?!  Good lord.  He’s the Anderson Cooper of the Disney Junior Channel.  Oh, I should probably change her diaper, huh?

Daddy Daycare

I just cancelled my entire week.  No meetings, no events, no appearances, no travel.  Instead, I’ve been handed an assignment that will require my full attention.  And her name is Sabine.

This is our first child care emergency, I suppose.  We got late word that Sabine’s regular daily caregiver would have to be out for the week.  So, it’s on me.

But so far, so good.  Right?

8:20am Marilee leaves for the day.  I immediately hear Sabine say, “it’s on now, Daddy!”  (Though it’s baby babble, I’m pretty sure that’s what she said.)

8:45am Sabine has been in front of the TV the past half hour watching “The Bible” miniseries on BluRay. (Don’t ask)  I’m able to write a few emails and finish writing an article in that time.  This calm will not last.

8:55am Been chasing Sabine between the bedroom and the living room.  She can’t seem to decide if she wants to watch “The Bible” which is playing on the TV in the bedroom … or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse which is on the TV in the living room.

9:00am If I hear Mickey’s damn “Hot Dog” song one more time, I might actually have a breakdown.

9:23am I just heard the “Hot Dog” song again.

9:35am Sabine attempts a somersault off the couch.  She sticks the landing.