Do We Need a ‘Dear White Parent’ Movie Next?

Parental Intel Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I’m not racist, but …

The minute you hear a person start off with that phrase, you pretty much know that the rest of their sentence indeed will be offensive — at best. You practically can set your watch to it.

But then there are those times when a person says that offensive/racist thing, and you want to gently shove a sock in their mouth while you school them on why they should never repeat what they just said. For me, those moments usually involve a well-meaning (albeit ignorant) parent, and they are talking about something that pertains to their child. Because, like Wu-Tang, MMM is for the children.

Dear White People movie | Ms. Mary Mack

Example: White woman pregnant with her first baby approaches a welcoming, kindhearted group of new moms with a question. She starts with the red-flag phrase: I’m not racist, but … her boyfriend and baby’s father is black, but “he’s not, like, super black” and she wants to know what color her baby — due in two months — will be. Oh, and she’s also rather preoccupied with the baby’s hair.

Now, there’s a lot to unpack here. And I have questions.

What does she mean by super black? Are we talking literal skin color, the hue of the man, or is this a cultural assessment that she’s making about his internal blackness? And why are there a preemptive worries about the baby’s hair texture and skin color? Are those really top-priority concerns for your newborn?

Lady, you’re about to have a mixed race child in a nation that is slowly choking on the fiction that is “Post-racial America.” Our black boys seem to be born with a bull’s-eye on their backs. Our girls have their hair scrutinized, pet like an animal, discounted, and even deemed against regulation. These same girls — our girls — often grow up not seeing a physical manifestation of themselves on TV, in films and magazines, and too often told that they are not classically beautiful or simply “angry, black women.” Our young women and men of color are erased, devalued and, as a collective, continually robbed of the “privilege of being treated like human beings.”

This doesn’t even scratch at the other part of the iceberg, the part that delves into the all-important notion of identity, self-awareness and self-acceptance in the face of racial microaggressions that peck away at us like ducks. All of it daily work for all of us, us with our brown skin — from barely bronze to super black.

So to hear about this white mom forming her lips to ask her silly, “not racist but …” question about the skin tone and hair texture of her child — actually hoping for very light and curly, respectively —  I want to tell her to stop talking about that. I want to strongly advise her to get educated, get prepared, and get more comfortable talking about race, because she is about to have a mixed race baby, and she will be that child’s trusted guide through this matted web of racism and all its twisted assumption, warped perception, scrambled theories, and truth-lite. She will be that child’s beacon through the bumpy roads ahead. And there is no room in any of this for the weak or the wack.

In short: Be that child’s mother, and don’t start anything with, “I’m not racist, but …” ever.

{mom.me} Five Favorite Fall TV Moms

Life As Mom Monday, October 27, 2014

My admiration for Clair Huxtable runs deep and, and with “The Cosby Show” recently celebrating its 30th anniversary, I’d say it’s pretty long-lasting, too. Clair was a brilliant combination of all good things: smarts, sass, beauty, grace and grit. The woman even walked the work-life balance beam with superlative style and aplomb. She remains my standard against which all other TV moms are measured. But that doesn’t mean that the other Queen Bees of the small screen need to pack up and go home. In fact, there are plenty of World’s Best Mom mugs to go around.Here are five other TV mamas who we think deserve some shine as well:

Alicia Florrick, The Good Wife

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Photograph by CBS

She’s known (usually snidely) as Saint Alicia, because despite being humiliated by her state’s attorney husband’s sex scandal, she nobly stood by him — at first, then in name only — and she never let her detractors see her broken. No matter what arrows come flying at her, Alicia always makes sure that her two children Zach and Grace are protected. Through the show’s five seasons, Alicia has settled into her skin and started calling her own shots, making choices that aligned with who she really is and her true wants and wishes (Exhibit A: Her steaming hot affair with her then boss Will Gardner), and let the optics be damned.

 

Kristina Braverman, Parenthood

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Photograph by NBC

She married into the large, messy, crying, cross-taking, loving family but Kristina has managed to become a centerpiece of the Braverman crew. She’s constantly juggling all the family drama — and there is plenty with this lot — while being a mom to three kids, including Max, who has Asperger’s. She’s battled breast cancer and won; ran for mayor of Berkeley and lost; and this season she built a charter school called Chambers Academy. Yes, there’s a lot on this woman’s plate and things often get a little hectic, but Kristina’s priorities are clear: family, family, family.

 

Rainbow Johnson, black-ish

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Photograph by ABC

She’s an anesthesiologist, her husband’s an ad exec and they have four kids, including 6-year-old twins named Jack and Diane. Come on. A Mellencamp shout-out? That gets her some instant points. The show, about an upper middle-class African-American family living in the suburbs, has a Cosby-esque vibe to it and brings some much-needed diversity to TV Land. It’s still so brand new, debuting three weeks ago to booming ratings, but from the episodes I’ve seen, Rainbow is goofy, sweet, loving and present for her family. It all makes me think Dr. Rainbow is angling for a place in my C-Hux shrine.

 

Claire Dunphy, Modern Family

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Photograph by ABC

Yes, she can be a tad hyper. Some call her nagging, pushy and overbearing, but Claire’s working with a lot over there in the middle of that nutty Dunphy-Pritchett clan. We’re talking: three very different kids; a goofball, but hilarious, sweet husband; an ever-cynical father; a same-age, hot-as-hell step-mom; an uptight brother with a lovable, but sometimes dramatic husband. And then there’s that niece of hers — Lily. Don’t even get me started that one. Truth told, most of us would opt for a wine I.V. if we had to walk (stomp around? jk. Don’t kick me, Claire!) in her stressed-out shoes for a month. But Claire loves those people and wouldn’t trade them in for anything. Well, maybe that niece. Bring back Baby Lily!

 

Frances “Frankie” Heck, The Middle

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Photograph by ABC

Although I don’t watch the show, it does get lots of praise, especially around this flustered mom of three kids (lazy teen son, awkward tween daughter and a weird youngest named Brick) living a working-class life in the Midwest. Her tall husband is short on emotion and excitement. We’ll call him plainspoken. It reads like a Roseanne meets Malcolm in the Middle hybrid show, and Frankie acts as our guide, providing the narration. While she would rather bring home sandwiches for dinner than cook and the house is on perma-mess mode, Frankie makes sure that she’s there for her family, and they love her for it. She’s not perfect, and that’s OK. In fact, it’s pretty damn refreshing.

Did I miss anyone? Who are some of your favorite moms on TV this season?

Originally posted on Mom.me.

October is September, Which is Basically January (Let Me Explain)

Life As Mom Tuesday, September 30, 2014

If you’ve read this blog long enough, you already know how I feel about the month of September. It’s a fresh start, a clean page, and I always look forward to it. This year, let’s just say September was not the freshest. It was kind of loaded and hectic around work and life in general, and I was tangled up in a lot of deadlines and To Dos. Plus, The Youngster started Kindergarten, and that was its own bag of stuff. Lots of change. Lots of adjustment.

Red Candy -- Nicole Blades| Ms. Mary Mack

And now here we are, getting ready to start October. So I’ve decided to hit the reset button on all of this. Tomorrow kicks off the third year (whuuuut) of #30WriteNow. Definitely hope you join us for that.

I’m also planning to get back on the meditation wagon. I feel off of it last month, and of course tried to beat myself up about it. But then I read something  in the NYTimes this morning. It was a chat between Kobe Bryant and Arianna Huffington, and they touched on meditation and sleep. Arianna said something that felt like she was speaking directly to me:

I try not to judge myself if I miss a meditation. Judgment creates the vicious cycle.”

Indeed, lady. So no more of that, Blades! It’s just about getting back up and trying again. That’s a cycle I can support.

On a Roll -- Nicole Blades | Ms. Mary Mack

I’m also returning to my #readmore goal that I set for myself earlier this year. I plan to attack the stack of books on my nightstand, adding nothing new until what is there is gone. To do this, I aim to read for one hour every day. No magazines, no links, just books.

Feeling good about this. Feeling good about all of it.

If you want to join me in any of these “projects,” drop me a line in the comments below, on MMM’s FB page, on Twitter or via email get[dot]msmack[at]gmail[dot]com.

All right, friends. Fingers on the reset button!

{mom.me} Your Fall TV Cheat Sheet on Returning Shows

MMM Showcase Tuesday, September 23, 2014

As usual, there has been a lot of talk about the new shows hitting the small screen this fall. But, real talk? How many of them do you think are still going to be on the air come Christmas? Exactly. A slim few. It’s a regular deathwatch out here. And may the odds be ever in your favor. So instead, let’s talk about some of our battle-tested, network TV faves that are coming back and bringing excitement, fun and a little shelf life with them.

RELATED: 6 Things I Learned About Motherhood From Clair Huxtable

Here’s a quick who-what-when cheat sheet for the 10 returning shows we’ve been waiting for all summer. If you’re not caught up on the current seasons, be warned: We’re spillin’ and spoilin’. Bookmark this post and get your binge going.

1. “The Good Wife” (CBS, September 21, 9 p.m.)

Photograph by DAVID GIESBRECHT/CBS

That this show is entering its sixth season and still so strong, so sharp and so, well, good makes it somewhat of rarity. And last year’s action-packed season was a powerhouse. We were left shocked and shaken by Will Gardner’s death; reeling at Diane Lockhart ditching her firm and joining the Team Florrick/Agos; and intrigued at Eli Gold asking “Saint Alicia” to run for State’s Attorney — her husband and now Governor Peter Florrick’s old job. And we haven’t even begun to unpack the hot, complicated, double-crossing muddle that is the relationship between in-house investigator Kalinda Sharma and smirking law partner Cary Agos. We are ready for the ride, Good Wife!

2. “Homeland” (SHOWTIME, October 5, 9 p.m.)

Photograph by CBS via Getty Images

Full disclosure: I gave up on “Homeland” midway through season 2. But there are plenty of folks who have been edge-of-seat for almost a year waiting to see what happens next, and Season 4 promises to really shake things up. First off: Nick Brody is dead. Like, legit dead. No tricks. Meanwhile, Carrie Mathison, who was preggo with Brody’s baby, is struggling with single parenthood. The action shifts to Pakistan, as Carrie takes on the assignment of field operative there to overseeing a drone strike program. She leaves baby back in the U.S. (possibly for good?). Saul is back, as is Quinn, plus a bunch of new characters. However, knowing “Homeland,” the newbies might not last all 12 episodes.

3. “New Girl” (FOX, Sept. 16, 9.p.m.)

Photograph by FOX

After the will-they-won’t-they question around Nick and Jess was resolved (they did), and Schmidt started dating both Cece and Elizabeth, the show began drifting south. Then Schmidt moved into the empty flat across the hall and Coach (Damon Wayans, Jr.) returned — pushing poor Winston’s already back-burner storyline into Weirdo With Cat territory. It felt like the show lost its focus and fizz. The writers wisely decided to turn the boat around with a bombshell breakup of Nick and Jess and moved back to the hilarious hijinks we’ve come to expect from the group. Season 4’s premiere episode was funny ha-ha and felt like a reboot of sorts. A new “New Girl,” even. (Had to do it!)

4. “The Mindy Project” (FOX, Sept. 16, 9:30 p.m.)

Photograph by FOX

Sound the horns, release the doves: Mindy and Danny are together! The show’s second season was pretty great. They homed in on the right mix of hilarious and heartwarming: a steamy kiss on an airplane, Dr. L and Dr. C getting together only to later have the tear-soaked “I don’t want to mess up our friendship” break-up, and everyone running around NYC until the two finally made up and made out on the floor (literally) of the Empire State Building’s observation deck. It was like a mash-up of “When Harry Met Sally” and basically every Nora Ephron rom-com. Season 3’s first show was aces. Lots of laughs, raunchy jokes, plus a Dancing Danny — you can’t ask for much more.

5. “Modern Family” (ABC, Sept. 24, 9 p.m.)

Photograph by ABC

Phil Dunphy will always be my guy, but the fresh funny just wasn’t there for me these last two or three seasons. But that said, things definitely happened on the Emmy-winning show last year, the biggest being Mitchell and Cam’s wedding in the two-part finale. The planning of the nuptials took over most of the season, and this being a sitcom, naturally there were plenty of shenanigans leading up to the big event. In the end, Lilly’s dads were hitched surrounded by their large and ever-loving families. Season 6 promises the intro of a bunch of new guest-stars, and maybe — if we’re lucky — maybe that absent freshness will make an appearance too.

6. “Nashville” (ABC, Sept. 24, 10 p.m.)

Photograph by ABC

The big question from last season is: Whom will Rayna choose? Cowboy Luke, who popped the question on stage after their duet of “Ball and Chain”? (Of course.) Or will it be her original love, the wounded and recovered Deacon, who told her that he finally knows how to love her and gave her back their old engagement ring? Juliette is ready to come clean to Avery about sleeping with slimy Edgehill records chief Jeff Fordham, but it’s too late! That damn Gunnar and Zoey already filled Avery in. And another big secret is unwittingly spilled when Will tearfully confesses to Layla that he’s gay. Problem is, the reality show cameras are hidden and rolling. Oh, and Scarlett decided to pack it in after unraveling on stage, but Gunnar serenades her with one of sweet ditties and she just might change her mind about leaving.

7. “The Vampire Diaries” (The CW, Oct. 2, 8 p.m.)

Photograph by CW

The biggest news for Season 6 is bad boy vamp Damon Salvatore and good witch Bonnie Bennett are dead* after getting trapped on the Other Side when it imploded. The asterisk is because on this show, people rarely die and stay that way. Plus, Damon finally got the girl — Elena Gilbert — and they were happy. Elena’s vixen doppelgänger Katherine is no longer (boo.), while history teacher/vampire hunter-turned vampire Alaric Saltzman returns (yay.). Meanwhile, the Travelers’ spell left Mystic Falls drastically changed: No vampires can enter the town. It looks like Matt Donovan, basically the only human left on the show, is going to have to step up.

8. “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, Sept. 25, 8 p.m.)

Photograph by ABC

Moving into Season 11 without the excellent Cristina Yang roaming the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial eating people’s souls for breakfast, I’m not sure how Mer, Der and the team will fare. Last year, we found out that Meredith Grey has another half-sister (RIP Lexie) working at the hospital: cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Margaret Pierce, the love child of Dr. Richard Webber and Mer’s deceased mother Dr. Ellis Grey. And Meredith revealed to her longtime love Derek that she really doesn’t want to move to D.C. with him. Tension! Speaking of tense, Callie and Arizona broke up, made up and finally decided to use a surrogate to expand their cute family, while Jackson and April got hitched and — oops — got pregnant. Definitely makes room for some interesting developments this season.

9. “Scandal” (ABC, Sept. 25, 9 p.m.)

Photograph by ABC

Season 3 left us with Olivia Pope no longer able to handle President Fitz and their “difficult, devastating, life-changing, extraordinary love.” Liv shuts it all down and hops on a plane with backup boyfriend Jake Ballard to destinations unknown. A broken Fitz and first lady Mellie struggle to deal with the death of their son Jerry, Jr., who was actually poisoned by puppet master Papa Pope. On the subject of bad dads, Mellie reveals to Fitz that his father, Big Jerry, raped her 15 years ago, Awful! And self-proclaimed monster Cyrus Beene is a single dad after his husband James was shot in the face — by Jake! As for the rest of OPA: Harrison is likely a goner, and that Huckleberry Quinn romance (ew) still haunts my dreams. (P.S. I’ll be taking over Mom.me’s Twitter handle for Scandal’s Season 4 premiere. Join me!)

10. “Parenthood” (NBC, Sept. 25, 10 p.m.)

Photograph by NBC

Every episode brings waterworks, and with this being the final season, we need to just give into quivering lips and bring out the jumbo box of tissue. Last year Julia and her hubby Joel separated and considered divorce, while Sarah reconciled with mumbling Hank. Amber and her PTSD-suffering soldier, ex-fiancé Ryan had a quickie in the hospital bed after he was hurt, and we saw Amber buying a pregnancy test in the finale. Sweet-pie Drew’s college FWB Natalie became his full-fledged girlfriend, and he drove off to meet her in The Pontiac that Grandpa gifted him. Speaking of the elder Bravermans, Zeek and Camille finally moved out of the old family home. The show’s executive producer Jason Katims has hinted about “losing a member of the family” in this final season, so … gird yourselves! (BtwI will be recapping Parenthood’s farewell season every Friday here on mom.me!)

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