Thursday, 24 August 2017

Welcome to Hahvard!

I love the start of Fresher's Week. Sad as it may sound, I'm excited to see all these (young, boy, are they young) faces arrive at the hallowed gates of Harvard, and begin to settle in. Parents and students alike, are in a mad dash to get into their dorms, buy a fridge, a mat, and get their bearings amid the sprawling mass of buildings.

As a Cambridge resident for the last eight years, I've been privy to this crazy rush every August. But, this year was a little more special.

Malia Obama is on campus. She moved into the halls of residence at the same time the eclipse was taking place. (Good move on part of the Obama's. Whilst folks were busy looking to the heaven's, they moved their little girl in with little fuss).

However, I do wonder, actually, I hope, she manages to enjoy college life. I would imagine there is a greater burden, on her shoulders, than most students, to do well. Although, I'm sure the Obama's would protest loudly, will professors, ever so slightly, give her special treatment? Will she make real friends? I think it's important that her experiences, here at Harvard, are without falsehood.

It's a nerve-wracking time for all, (which starts with being given just twenty minutes to off-load all of your stuff to your dorm building!) But, I'm sure Malia has been well schooled (pardon the pun) in how to handle all of this.

I certainly hope she can pop down to Staples, grab a slice of pizza from Pinocchio's, pick up a bottle of water from CVS, and even get a Curious George t-shirt, without fear of being stopped, photographed or just stared at. Now that she's arrived, I wonder if all the business'/places she visits will replace the "Mark Zuckerberg was here", with Malia's name? Hmm...

Regardless, to the class of 2021, welcome - but please don't hog all the tables at Starbucks with your books!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

As Time Goes Bye

Unbelievably, it’s been four years since Mum passed away.

July first had started out happily, and then it came crashing down around me, when Hubby had the unfortunate job of breaking the devastating news to me.

Yet, it still seems like it happened just a few weeks ago.

I always thought the notion of time healing or easing the loss would be a thing to cling to. The brutal truth is, it hasn’t, not really.

A lot of that has to do with the little miss. As her 4th birthday approaches, it’s a sad reminder that I no longer have neither mum or dad around to tell them all about the lots of little things which are sweet, frustrating or funny, that she has done. They would have loved to have been told about every single moment, as any grandparent would.

Possibly the hardest part of mum not being here, is not being able to talk to her about when I was young. Granted, she wouldn’t have remembered everything, but, it would have been nice to pass on stories and memories of me, to my daughter, when I was her age.

I endeavor not be melancholy. So, each year, I listen to the music mum enjoyed, and try to do something to honor her memory. I miss her advice, her hugs, even her silly jokes. I just miss her.

“There is no death, daughter. People die only when we forget them,' my mother explained shortly before she left me. 'If you can remember me, I will be with you always.” Isabel Allende

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Brown Like Mommy

The other day whilst using Mommy as a climbing post, the little miss, stops, and looks at me. She then pipes up that she wants to be 'brown like mommy'. I smiled and said, 'you're beautiful just as you are.'

But my mind was screaming 'no!'

Initially I was going to respond, that she would need to spend time in the sun (to get this dark) and then I thought best not to say that as putting sunscreen on her would be a nightmare and not to mention skin cancer etc..

Regardless, the real reason for not wanting her to be brown like me is simple.

People still make judgements (about me) based on the color of my skin. And living in America, I want to ensure her life to be as free from prejudice and hate as much as is possible.

With Trump in power, the racial tensions that have been hidden behind political correctness and politeness is now allowed to roam freely. Visiting the state of New Hampshire recently, I was slightly perturbed to see huge signs of support for Trump. And from that point on, when we stopped in a restaurant, shop etc. I made sure I spoke, so they would hear my very British accent.

Wrong on all levels as I should be accepted as I am and I shouldn't tar everyone with the same racist brush - but I have to be realistic.

I live in a place where, as I'm darker than my daughter, I'm seen as a nanny. (Thankfully, there is a community here in Cambridge, so people see me day in day out and the majority know who I am and who is my daughter.) Yet step outside of this cocoon and I'm made aware that I'm different color. Something that I didn't have to think about whilst living/working in London/Croydon.

Summer is never my season (hate the heat, the humidity) but I'm definitely not looking forward to it because I don't want my daughter to get a tan. Yes, she doesn't have the, as Hubby calls it, 'northern paleness', he has, but she has enough color.

I know and have seen the struggles to apply for a job, walk into a bar when the first thing people see is your color. I don't want the little miss to be the token employee (employers have to ensure they have recruited a diverse number of people.) I don't want her to feel a hundred pairs of eyes stare at her when she enters a room. When she's older, I will of course, have to discuss the intricacies of having a parent of color. But for now, I let sleeping dogs lie.

Instead of being happy that she wants to be like me, I'm quietly discouraging her from something that is part of who I am. I'm this color because of where my ancestors were originally from - pigmentation shouldn't define me, yet each day I'm reminded that it is.

Her innocence of a simple want of being 'brown like mommy' is sadly tarnished.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Inauguration 2017

Everything about Trump's presidency is set to be unique and it seems that his inauguration is following suit.

With recent, scathing, comments made by notable Democrat, John Lewis, it looks like Mr. Lewis and forty plus of his peers will not attend the swearing in of the 45th President. Is this correct? Reading some of the tweets, they are not attending because they won't support a man who is derisive and happy to ignore any Russian involvement in the US elections, amongst other reasons.

I understand this, but it's a ceremony that shows the peaceful transition of office. Should they not promote this ethos? Rather than staying away, stand strong in front of the man and say "you may be there, but we are here, we will fight for the American public, we will stand strong and united and show you, bullies can't win."

It's a worrying time and also a confusing one. I'm the first to admit that even after seven years of living stateside, I'm still some what bewildered by American politics. And, it makes me wonder what the forefathers would think of his presidency, the inflammatory words he used to gain the highest seat in the land. Which leads to the question some have asked, what will his speech contain? It's a chance for him to inform the public of his intentions - but what exactly are they? So far all I've seen is his tweeting prowess and lack of propriety when it comes to international relations, as well as employing people with questionable backgrounds.

Trump's disdain of the press also has people concerned. He hates them, calls them dishonest. But he's fine with them when they're promoting him. Can't have your cake and eat it. Obama, Clinton and Bush on average, held 15 press conferences when they were president elect's. Trump has held one. He may think he's showing the press who's the boss and if he wants to say something to the world, he can through his tweets. But it shows complete disrespect for journalists throughout the world and how unprepared he is for the job. He can't handle press conferences because he just doesn't know how to answer tough questions. He needs to learn quickly that he has to answer the hard questions as well as the soft, fluffy ones. It's going to be a very quiet Correspondent's Dinner next year.

When a President should be using his 'power' to unite a torn, hurt country, it's frightening to see he puts his own wants and desires before the people. With all this criticism of Trump and his 'unprecedented' ways, we as a nation, have accepted this man as the next leader of the USA. What does that say about us?