On Sunday, July 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Amaranth Bakery and Cafe will make it’s debut appearance at the Vliet Street Green Market, which will be held at the Washington Park Senior Center, 4420 W. Vliet Street. Amaranth Bakery and Cafe, located at 3327 W. Lisbon Ave., focuses on local, fair-trade and organic ingredients. Children will have the opportunity to make drums for the community drum circle.
by Mikel Kwaku Osei Holt
“Poor Black folks today just don’t know how to be po’!”
That was the revelation uttered by one of the guests during a hard fought game of Bid Whist at former Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt’s house last week.
Bid Whist is the adult version of Spades and frequently provides a platform for discussions on everything from civil rights to the mating habits of elk at the North Pole. On this particular evening, the discussion had evolved from Tiger Wood’s nationality to how po’ Black folks today navigate their impoverishment, versus how we negotiated through that economic maze back in the 60s and 70s.
One of the more interesting comments came from a sister waiting her turn to play the game. She reminisced about a recent trip to the grocery store where she witnessed a young sister with three small children in tow stacking her grocery cart with expensive meats and junk food, and then paying for those items with food stamps.
Someone responded that too many of today’s young mothers neither have an appreciation or knowledge of how to live within their means, or how to provide their children with nutritious meals while on the public dole.
I was in deep concentration trying to sort my hand for the “Boston” I was about to lay down on my opponents, so I didn’t see who made the comment, but I did look up to hear another on-looker say something to the effect of, “back in the day, poor folks knew how to squeeze a dollar out of 15 cents, and no one ever went without a meal. We could thinly spread out that government cheese when all else failed.”
Chances are you can ask anyone of my generation to verify that statement, and most could.
Like most folks of my generation, we were what you would consider “po’,” but we were never without. Most of us were brought up in two parent households, which meant there were generally two incomes–however small.
Personal responsibility was instilled in us, thus it was expected that young boys, in particular, would contribute to the household income, or at least take responsibility for their personal needs, as soon as they were old enough to “push the plow.”
I started a paper route as soon as I turned 12, and for consecutive summers I worked on my grandfather’s scrap metal truck, at a car wash on 9th and Center Street, and in the evenings earned a few bucks working for my uncle’s janitorial business, cleaning up the Glendale police department and city hall.
My grandparents moved to Milwaukee in the 1940s from the Deeper than Deep South. They lived on farms, probably as sharecroppers, and knew poverty that few of us can even comprehend. They grew many of their own crops, raised animals for food and worked from “can’t see to can’t see” to make ends meet. They moved up North for better opportunities, and brought with them strong work ethics.
Equally important, they brought to urban centers throughout the North a sense of community, much akin to the cultural paradigm of our African ancestors. That meant they shared with neighbors, and our community was just that: a community.
My family took pride in never succumbing to welfare, but I do remember us getting that government cheese, a foot-long block of American that would be a staple of our diet. Cheese sandwiches with salad dressing, grilled cheese, or melted cheese over a variety of meats and vegetables were common.
We had no compulsion against supplementing those meals with a syrup sandwich and a glass of sugar water (Kool Aid was five cents) to wash it down. Of course we had plenty of fruit, some from grocery stores, others from our backyards.
I remember relatives going to neighborhood grocery stores on certain days where Black folks were lined up to get cheap meats, often the left-overs from butchering, like the neck bones, ham hocks and yes, even chitterlings.
I also remember some chickens running around in our backyard on 8th and Locust Street; my father snapping a neck and mother plucking feathers before the bird was roasted or deep-fried with oil or grease that sat atop the stove for reuse.
Kentucky Fried? Naw, we ate Georgia Fried, and it tasted better and cost a lot less.
How much does the average young mother spend these days on fast food? Who is around to tell them there are options, most of which are much healthier, and far less expensive? (Over the years we replaced neck bones and salt pork with smoked turkey.)
Beans were a mainstay in my house—white, northern, pinto, you name it, we ate it, not realizing at the time it was not only good tasting, but also nutritious.
My mother was raised in a small town in Illinois, so she wasn’t as well versed in ‘southern cooking’ as many others in the neighborhood, but my grandmother passed on her knowledge of not just how to prepare wholesome, nutritious and tasty meals with a minimum of ingredients, but also how to stretch those meals for several days.
One thing we had back then that many young folks don’t have today is a family network, grandparents, aunts and uncles who passed down vital information from generation to generation.
Being po’ wasn’t easy, but for most Black folks growing up in Milwaukee when I did, it wasn’t a lifestyle or a culture, but an experience that inspired and empowered us. In the back of our minds was the thought—which isn’t the case today—that poverty was a way station en route to a better life. It was not the final destination.
Many poor young folks today buy expensive meats and sugar laden cereals for the same reason they buy—or rent—an expensive television set even though they don’t have a table to put it on.
I can’t imagine what my mother or father’s response would have been if I asked them to buy me a pair of $150 Jordan’s. We shopped at the Discount Store on Third Street, and were lucky if we had a pair of tennis shoes to go along with the one pair of dress shoes that seemed to come in one style and color.
I can’t count how many po’ babies I’ve seen in recent years wearing expensive, name brand shoes. For what? They are going to grow out of the shoes, which poor mothers today falsely believe somehow think the infant’s appreciate. That wasted money could be better allocated for food, clothing or maybe a book.
Growing up po’ back in the day didn’t mean we suffered, it meant we were creative. We couldn’t go to the Hampton’s, or on winter cruises. On warm nights my father would pack us in the family car and we would go for a drive.
Milwaukee was hyper segregated back then, thus a trip down Lake Drive was an event we cherished. Along the way, we would look at the big houses and manicured lawns and dream big dreams, reinforced by lectures from our parents who explained through hard work and discipline we could achieve whatever goals we set for ourselves.
That’s in sharp contrast to what many poor Black children are told today, if they are told anything at all.
I can still remember our annual summer vacations. If we didn’t drive to Georgia, we went to the Salvation Army camp. We really enjoyed ourselves, and for us it was like a European vacation, away from our segregated urban community. It didn’t cost much, if anything, and it cemented memories that have lasted a lifetime.
Back in the day, the church was more than a place of worship, it was a family gathering spot, a social service center and the cultural foundation of the Black community.
Outreach was a paramount tenet of the church, and when a family was in need, the church—and congregation—was there to help out, whether that entailed providing food, clothing, or help paying a bill.
I also remember attending several ‘rent’ parties. A desperate family would orchestrate a rent party when times were particularly bad. Everyone in the neighborhood would show up. People brought food and beverages, and offered what they could to help the family out. These parties were fun, but they also represented the essence of “community.”
Being poor wasn’t a stigma back in my day, probably because we knew every one was a paycheck away from economic crisis. What made that possibility easier was that we lived under the umbrella of an African cultural paradigm, where families were part of the collective. We took care of each other; we shared with each other and uplifted members of the extended Black family in times of grief, turmoil or economic struggle.
I guess the reason why that paradigm has all but died is rooted in three sad realities:
First, the Black nuclear family today is more a rarity than a reality, and the extended family linkages that held us together have been severed.
Secondly, we allowed Uncle Sam and patronizing Missionaries to infuse a new cultural paradigm. Uncle Sam told us we could live off the public dole, but only if we broke up our nuclear families.
As a condition of this new system of slavery, mothers had to throw their husbands out the door. Uncle Sam became the new ‘Daddy,’ and he was an abusive bastard that not only controlled the finances, but also the mindset of his ill-treated wife and children. He replaced the church with a crutch, and created a new culture of poverty that stripped all sense of dignity and motivation from his victims.
Missionaries and poverty pimps became rich off our poverty as they put shackles around young Black mothers’ wrists and minds.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, my generation viewed poverty as a launching pad, a plantation to escape from.
We had a culture, a spiritual guide and strong nuclear families that sacrificed and instilled in us the determination and wherewithal to move beyond our status to a better life.
Yeah, today’s Black poor don’t know how to be po’. Too many of today’s poor think it’s a lifelong illness, when in fact it’s a curable disease you can treat with a teaspoon of self respect and two doses of self determination.
(Family Features) While a fondness for reading can come naturally, for some children, it can be difficult to get started, especially with competition from various electronics and toys. But you can encourage a love of reading and help expand your child’s vocabulary as they grow using these simple tips.
For Young Children Even very young children can begin to learn new words. Be mindful of talking to them and teaching them the names of objects you encounter each day. Whether you’re running errands, or making dinner, explain to them what you’re doing and they’re sure to pick up on new vocabulary words.
Read often. Simply the act of reading to your child on a regular basis – such as prior to bedtime – can really help to encourage a fondness for reading, as well as improve their vocabulary. Don’t be afraid to stop and explain difficult words to them. Keep your child engaged by asking them to describe different words as you go along.
Draw and describe. Ask your child to draw a photo of events that happened throughout their day and to describe each part of the picture. Even very young children will be able to put together a narrative of their daily activities. Storytelling will challenge them to remember the names of certain objects, people and places.
Engage on the go. When you’re out running errands, ask your child to describe different objects they can see from the car, such as people, animals, buildings, parks, etc. In this way, you can help them recognize colors, as well as build upon their vocabulary.
For Older Children Once your child is learning their letters and beginning to read full sentences, you can really begin to encourage their vocabulary.
Label it. As your child begins to learn to read on their own you can look to items around the house to help support their education. Use index cards or sticky notes to label household items such as “bath tub,” “door” and “floor.”
Make it fun. One great way to encourage reading is to get your child involved in vocabulary building and letter recognition. Give your child vocabulary games such as flash cards and word searches that will help further encourage your child to read. Find activities and ideas via “Kidsville News!” and a new word search at www.kidsvillenews.com each month.
Visit the library. Enroll your child in a reading program at your local library. Make sure they are exposed to new books, which will help them continue to develop an extensive vocabulary.
Research books. To make sure you know what your child is reading, look to sites that offer suggested book listings for children of various ages such as www.ReadKiddoRead.com and www.teachersfirst.com.
Ask for a story. Just as a drawing can help encourage your child to build storytelling abilities so too can writing their very own stories. Start by asking them to write a few sentences about their favorite pet, a neighbor, or a family member. You can also encourage them to write letters to grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends as well.
For more educational activities and book recommendations to help expand your child’s vocabulary, check out “Kidsville News!” in your area or online at www.kidsvillenews.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
While ost teens have a violent, angry outburst at some point during their adolescence, nearly 8 percent have regular violent outbursts that would fall into the category of a mental health disorder.
That’s according to a Harvard Medical School finding published online Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the first studies to measure the prevalence of the disorder — called intermittent explosive disorder — in teens.
“To our surprise, it turns out to be one of the most common mental health disorders in adolescents,” said study leader and Harvard epidemiologist Ronald Kessler, whose previous research noted a similar prevalence in adults.
The new study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, is based on a survey of more than 10,000 teenagers and parents, which found the disorder starts early in life, by age 12 on average, and is two to three times more common in boys than girls.
But some psychiatrists question whether intermittent explosive disorder is even a true mental health condition in teens and are fighting to keep it out of the latest edition of the handbook of psychiatric diagnoses, called DSM-V, which is due out next May. They argue that it’s akin to domestic violence, which also isn’t considered to be a psychiatric problem.
It defines intermittent explosive disorder as recurrent outbursts that are “grossly out of proportion to the provocation” or life circumstances, but the draft also specifies that a person must be at least 18 years of age in most cases to receive the diagnosis. It does note, though, that the diagnosis can be made in teens who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or other behavioral disorders.
“This is still up for discussion, and the new study clearly shows a young age of onset,” said Dr. Emil Coccaro, chair of the psychiatry department at the University of Chicago, who was not involved in the study. He added that he hoped the DSM committee would drop the age restriction in the final version that’s published.
We are the local Affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute whose mission is “To improve and advance the lives of black children and their families through education and advocacy.” BCDI-Milwaukee has been serving African American children and their families in Milwaukee for over 18 years.
This year, as are many other organizations, we are challenged to do more with less. What is unique to BCDI-Milwaukee is that our Board and members are comprised entirely of volunteers. This means that there are many people who are truly committed – we walk the talk.
Because of our long history of integrity and reputation in Milwaukee and nationally, our Affiliate has been selected to participate in a number of pilot (grant) projects that will enhance the quality of life of children and their families. It is a privilege to be recognized and regarded. And we continue to develop partnerships along the way to help us fulfill our mission.
As we embark upon this year of challenges and opportunities, we know that with the support of our National office, our Board, and our members, we will continue to change the lives of African American children in Milwaukee. As you visit our website, won’t you consider joining us through membership, volunteering on a committee, contributing financially, donating a book for our “Love to Read” project, attending our events, or sharing our website with your colleagues, family and friends.
Onward in Success for Children,
Wanda J. Montgomery
The Milwaukee Affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute (BCDI Milwaukee) is engaged in a grassroots campaign to fight obesity in African American children.
Obesity affects 12.5 million children and adolescents in the United States. In the African American population, over 20% of African-American children are obese – two out of every 10!
Obesity increases the chances of developing serious health conditions like Type 2 diabetes and diminishes the quality of life every child should have. BCDI Milwaukee receives funding through its National affiliate’s participation in the Healthy Nutrition and Living Initiative funded by a Wal-Mart grant.
In 2011, BCDI Milwaukee participated in a pilot project with Philadelphia, PA and Greensboro, NC. The pilot’s curriculum (“My Little World” developed by Natii Wright of Baltimore, MD) is based on the current Head Start “I Am Moving, I Am Learning” model.
”My Little World” was designed for African American child care programs to promote activities that include exercise and healthy eating. For the initial pilot, BCDI Milwaukee partnered with The Next Door Foundation in Metcalfe Park.
Staff received training to implement the curriculum in their classrooms. The activities were engaging, fun, and encouraged active participation from all of the children.
Schnell Price-Lambert, President of Jo’s Daycare Academy, was so inspired by the “My Little World” program that she shared her thoughts with BCDI Milwaukee: while conducting her morning walk through the Academy, Schnell overheard music playing.
Looking in, she was amazed at the activity and joy of the children: “I just had to call and let you know how excited our children are with this CD. They are having so much fun – we need to get the CD in all of our classrooms.” Schnell added that she wants all of her teachers trained on the curriculum as well.
In October 2011, BCDI Milwaukee President Wanda Montgomery was invited to share the pilot’s success at the National conference in Nashville, TN. Wal-Mart representatives attended and, during the presentation, made a commitment to increase funding and add two additional cities (Atlanta, GA and Ft. Lauderdale, FL). Wal-Mart will also work on securing multi-year funding for this important project.
With this increased funding, BCDI Milwaukee has been able to expand implementation of the “My Little World” curriculum to another child care program, Jo’s Daycare Academy.
BCDI also added another curriculum, “Grow Green, Get Fit” (GGGF) designed by Donna Richardson Joyner, fitness expert and appointed member of the President Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition under President Obama.
The site chosen for the GGGF curriculum implementation is DLH Academy in their second and third grade classrooms.
BDCI Milwaukee is excited about the opportunity to work with these programs and about the steps it is taking to help children and their families enhance their lives through healthy living – and helping them have fun while doing so!
In the very near future BCDI Milwaukee will host a series of parent education events that will be open to the public. Donna Richardson Joyner will be promoting one of them – the date, time, and location will be announced soon.
These obesity programs are just one initiative launched by BCDI Milwaukee to improve the lives of Black children and their families through advocacy and education.
To learn about other BCDI Milwaukee activities, visit: www.bcdi-milwaukee.org or call us at 1-855-653-2234.
1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health promotion http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/
2. Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. America’s Children: Key National Indicators of well-Being. 2010. http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/tables/health7.asp
3. Whitlock, E.P., Williams, S.B., Gold, R., Smith, P.R., Shipman, S.A., Screening and interventions for childhood overweight: a summary of evidence for the US Preventive Services Task Force. Pediatrics, 116(1):e125—144.