Black History Month by Kenikki Thompson age 11

February is recognized as Black History Month in the United States and Canada. During this month, people are encouraged to learn about African and African American history. Black History Month actually started out as a week. It was celebrated the second week in February because it was between the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. They were both important to Black communities at that time.  It was began so that people would not forget about African American culture and accomplishments.  Because of slavery and Blacks not being able to learn to read or write, a lot of the history was not written down.  What a lot of people knew was by memory and stories being handed down from generation to generation. 

In 1970, the week celebration officially became Black History Month. It was especially for kids in school to learn about African American history because most schoolbooks only talked about Blacks as slaves.  The history was much more than that.  There were so many pioneers.  Their stories needed to be told too. There were scholars, inventors, musicians and more to learn about.  Many schools now make sure their students are learning about some of the very important accomplishments of African Americans during Black History Month.

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There  are a few things you might not have known. Dr. Charles Drew helped create blood banks. 

 

 

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Marie Van Britton Brown was a nurse who was worried about people possible breaking into her home so she invented the first home security system. 

 

 

 

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Garret Morgan created the gas mask and the traffic signal.

 

 

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The Underground Railroad, which helped guide slaves to freedom, even has history where we live in New Jersey. Harriet Tubman, the most famous fugitive from slavery traveled to Lawnside, NJ, where a home was used to hide escaping slaves.  She also worked as a cook in Cape May hotels during the summers of 1849 through 1852 to help raise money for her Underground Railroad journeys.

Although February is actually Black History Month, you can learn about it all year. There are so many interesting facts and people to learn about.

Kenikki Thompson

Valued Girl Talk Marlton member

HALLOWEEN -A TWEEN GIRL PARENTS NIGHTMARE

This weekend as I was perusing the aisles at the local Halloween store, I overheard a parent and a young girl, who couldn’t have been more than 6 years of age, arguing over her costume choice. It was hard to ignore, as the girl was very vocal in her choice of a sexy police girl costume. WHAT?!SEXY” police girl costume for a 6-year-old?! NO! I identify with this mom’s concern and admire her for telling her daughter no.

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Of course, the child did not take no for an answer and kept throwing her tantrum in the crammed aisle. As I got closer, I noticed these sexy police girl costumes, in a size 4-6x, come with a mini skirt, black thigh highs and a low-cut top. FOR A CHILD?! The mom looked tired, frustrated and defeated by her daughter and the pressure from the selections of costumes the store had to offer. I leaned in to the girl and said, “I never saw a police woman wearing a skirt or any of those clothes, you won’t look like a real cop.” She looked up at me confused so I googled DIY police woman costumes and showed her how she could look like a real police woman at almost no cost. Mom smiled at me and the two of them started discussing how they were going to go home and make their own costume that looked like a real police woman. They both thanked me and were on their way.

Leopards-1024x804.jpgIt’s estimated that more than $1 billion dollars will be spent on Halloween costumes for kids this year. Halloween is meant to be fun, and dressing up should be creative but age-appropriate. Halloween costumes are a great way for kids to have fun expressing themselves and show their creativity, but sometimes it can cross the line — especially for the girls. The pressure to wear a sexualized Halloween costume is increasing both in the marketing industry and among peers. Sexy Halloween costumes, long popular with adults, are now turning up in the kiddie aisle. Revealing getups are now available for girls as young as 3 and 4. WHY?

We want our daughters to grow up feeling comfortable in her sexuality -whatever form that takes -and to have the freedom to express that however she so desires. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok with them being taught at such a young age that her sexuality and looks are more valued above all other traits — on Halloween or any other day of the year.

Pirates-1024x702.jpgIt’s normal for girls to use Halloween to want to look more grown up, but there’s a fine line between enforcing family rules and shaming girls for their clothing choices. So how do you negotiate kids’ outfits without killing their Halloween fun?

If you are a parent of a tween, (I will pray for you-lol) Halloween just got a hell of a lot more problematic for you with all the provocative costumes available. Before you decide to take your daughter shopping for a costume, have a conversation. You are going to have to help your daughter manage the image she’s putting forth with her costume. This is a parenting moment. Our children rely on us to set boundaries for them, so do it. Set clear expectations and share your values. Encourage her to express her creativity and have fun, but in a way, that is appropriate. Pre-teens/Tweens have no real comprehension of the negative message they’re sending when they put on a sexy Halloween costume. They are way too young to dress sexy, don’t give in to this.

If you are a parent of a teen (I will pray for you A LOT-lol), it’s normal for them to want to experiment with dressing provocatively, and Halloween is a prime opportunity for them to try to get away with it. As a parent, I don’t like it, but we need to understand it. As the girls are now into their teen years there are big changes in their bodies that we want them to love and accept. Adolescent girls should be able to expose a little bit of skin – whether it’s Halloween or not -without feeling ashamed or vulnerable. This is another great parenting moment. Although we want our young ladies to love their developing bodies, it is also a great opportunity to revisit and share your values with your daughter. Help your daughter to explore her creativity and choose a tasteful costume that also satisfies her desire to fit in, explaining that it doesn’t need to be focused on sexuality.

There’s something sad about the world that the trend in young girls’ clothing is so sexual. They grow up quick enough. Let them have a childhood that is free from worrying about who society expects them to be.  Our girls deserve to be free to discover who they are on their own. All these provocative costumes do is bring negative and unwanted sexual attention to our little girls. They are too young to comprehend the ramifications and it is our job, as parents, to protect them. There is never a reason a kindergartener should be dressing as a “sexy police girl” costume for Halloween.

Have a Happy& Safe Halloween

Mary Beth

Let’s End All Racism Now

 

I believe we are all born equal and die the same way, equal in rights, equal in opportunities, equal in dreams and goals. We all begin life with a winning trust in others and an expectation that people are all good. So how is it that so much racism and hate are in the world?

a40b43290aa742579d2781809981863dRacism, researchers find, is a learned behavior exhibiting in children as young as three years of age. They state, the two most powerful purveyors of racism in children’s lives today are the media and the adults they know. Racism is an attitude of a person who with their acts, behavior, and their words differentiates another person for faith, skin color, and social and cultural backgrounds. It is sad to live in a world where racism, hatred, prejudice, and ignorance still exist.

ae1abad2fdc1fef12b419d5ca66c29b2--racism-today-stop-racism.jpgMany people are hesitant and uncomfortable discussing racism and racial differences, especially with their children. But whether you talk about it or not, kids will notice when someone is being treated different or looks differently than they do. From an early age, children should be taught to appreciate diversity and practice empathy. Despite all our best intentions to avoid and mute any mention of racism, children learn about it from their environments. Children need to be prepared for a future society that is becoming increasingly diverse and we need to encourage them to see this diversity as a positive. Parents, caregivers, teachers and, in fact, all humans have a responsibility to ensure all children learn to navigate the complexities of our diverse world with empathy and respect.  It’s time to start talking to our children about race.

53dcb51fc25df8dceb8384b386a01874--anti-racism-skin-colors.jpgThis is not a new problem. We all know that racism abounds in our society. Yet, the recent events in Charlottesville, VA. are shocking to us. The most frightening thing about what happened in Charlottesville is that these hate groups exist all over America. And they will continue to build and grow until we put an end to it. With the recent events being broadcast all over the news and social media, there is a good chance your children have been exposed to these images. Children need to be reassured that they are safe, please have a discussion with them. Reaffirm your beliefs and explain the values you wish to instill in your child.

80480ef40b8400f66535dfa84e67b296--stairway-to-heaven-stairways.jpgWill racism ever disappear completely? I am hopeful. I wish to live in a nation where no one will be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This may not happen in my lifetime, or yours, but let’s do our part by continuing the fight against the hatred in the world.

First, we must confront it in ourselves. Anti-racism begins with a basic respect for all people. All people of all races are equal, don’t judge the book by its cover. Reach out and get to know people who are different from you, learn about them and their cultures.

Build a community that helps to prevent hate and racism issues by creating a better future through instilling values to our youth by providing support and education in diversity and ethnic awareness. Let them know that hate and racism are unacceptable. Advocate for students in your community by making a concerted effort to stop racism, hate and bullying at your school. Learn to speak up and step in when you see racism occurring, and disrupt it in a safe way.

images.pngThe ultimate goal to anti-racism is to make institutional and structural changes in our society to achieve racial equity – equal opportunity and access for all. No one person can do it all or do it alone, but we can all do things to help, and in doing so, work collectively to end racism.

~Mary Beth

Girl Talk Marlton

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Celebrate Mother’s Day

As we near another Mother’s Day celebration, we make our way to the Hallmark store and the florist. But it is not all about the commercialized holiday festivities, at least to me it is not. Call me selfish, but it is about the time I get to spend with my lovies doting on me. The hugs, the kisses, and yes, OK, the flowers and cards. LOL. No matter what we do or where we go, as long as we are together, it is a Happy Mother’s Day for me. When you’ve lost your mom like I have, Mothimageser’s Day is a tough day—but my lovies make my heart full.

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is observed in over 40 countries around the world.

Let’s face it, moms are those amazing people in our lives who act as our guardian angels, cheerleaders, defense attorneys and personal assistants. They do more than we can ever imagine or pay them for. You of course, won’t understand this until you are a mom (or a parent).

Mother’s Day is also a good opportunity to celebrate women in general and to ponder THM_HappyMothersDay_1how to act to achieve equal rights for all. Not all women are mothers, of course – and not all want to be. But, Mother’s Day is a great day for thinking about the diversity of women in general and how all women should be respected equally.

So, whether it be in person, by card or phone, connect with the mother figure in your life and let them know you care.

Enjoy your Mother’s Day.

Mary Beth Iannarella

Girl Talk Marlton

 

The Greatest Love of All

44fad4f6843f1b92f5d97ab041a3709aI believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way, Show them all the beauty they possess inside, give them a sense of pride to make it easier, Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.

Everybody searching for a hero, People need someone to look up to,
I never found anyone who fulfill my needs, A lonely place to be,
So I learned to depend on me.

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows, If I fail, if I succeed,
At least I’ll live as I believe, no matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity.

Because the greatest love of all Is happening to me.
I found the greatest love of all, inside of me. The greatest love of all, is easy to achieve.
Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows, If I fail, if I succeed, At least I’ll live as I believe. No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity.
Because the greatest love of all, is happening to me. I found the greatest love of all,
Inside of me. The greatest love of all, is easy to achieve.

Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.

And if by chance, that special place, that you’ve been dreaming of,
Leads you to a lonely place, Find your strength in love.

This song by Whitney Houston came on the radio as I was stuck in traffic last week. For the very first time I listened to every single word. She sings of self-love and standing up for your beliefs. But we all know the decision to love one’s self is not quite as easy as the lyrics suggest. There are many struggles faced in learning to love yourself and being happy with who you are, even the parts of yourself you aren’t too fond of.

Given all that has been happening in our country with youth on youth violence and youth suicide, I was struck by the timeliness of the message of this song. However, it was the chorus, which resonated with my spirit. I believe we need to teach our youth how to connect with themselves so they can create a better future for themselves and the next generation. We must teach our youth, and ourselves, the true meaning of self-love, The Greatest Love of All.

Mary Beth Iannarella

Girl Talk Marlton

 

 

Listen up, girl

0b05378e-a9ef-4b72-8b34-11604e323133Last week actress and doctor, Mayim Bialik from the hit TV show The Big Bang Theory released a video on her social media that went viral. In this video, she implored both men and women to stop referring to women as “girls”. The actress explains that the language we use matters, particularly when it comes to gender and equality. When we use words to describe adult women that are typically used to describe children, it changes the way we view women”, says Bialik, who also has a ph.d in neuroscience. It implies that adult women are inferior to men. While most of it is not intentional, it doesn’t make it less demeaning. We never refer to a grown man as a “boy” because it would come across as emasculating. When “boy” is used to dismiss a man, it is an insult and should be taken as one. As should the word “girl.”

She directs viewers to Google the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis — a theory that says, according to Dictionary.com, that the ‘structure of a language determines or greatly influences the modes of thought and behavior characteristic of the culture in which it is spoken.’  Clearly, language determines thought and can influence our decisions.  So, if the words we use have a massive impact on how we see the world, then we should be more careful about the words we use for the benefit of ourselves and those around us. As for the people who call women girls, she says: ‘I know your intentions are probably good, but I hope you can learn to see the unintended and negative impact.

Our language matters, because when we say “girls,” we are using a word that implies a maxresdefault.jpglack of experience. There are a lot of words used for women, not all of them are flattering. Truthfully, as a woman, “girl” doesn’t bother me as much as “ma’am” or “honey”, to me they are worse! My mom always called me “honey” and I knew it was a term of endearment but coming out of the mouth of a stranger takes on a completely different meaning. To me, they are insults disguised as compliments. It gives a false sense of intimacy to a total non-relationship. We are not friends, we are not a couple, you probably don’t even know my name. It’s demeaning and insulting even if you say it with a smile. If you do not know my name-ask. If you do know my name-use it when addressing me.

YES-words have power. Negative or positive-You can lift someone up or you can bring someone down with just one word. Always try to think about what you’re going to say before you say it. Also, the context matters, how you say it and what you’re talking about makes a difference. Even if you don’t totally agree with Mayim, it might be good to try and change things and show all women the respect and basic rights that are deserved.

You can view her video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHH3lhYwqcY

 

Mary Beth Iannarella

Girl Talk Marlton/The Wishwall Foundation

We all judge each other, and it is OK

b036f98c3c60785e075834f61a10fb55.jpgYou always hear DO NOT JUDGE OTHERS, but I think it is a part of human nature. No matter how subtle, most of the time we judge unconsciously or by intuition.  I judge others all the time, and you do, too. You are judging this article right now, and that is okay.  From the moment you meet someone, you are judging their clothes, hair, makeup, and so on. You don’t even notice it, but we do it all day long.

Judgment is nothing but evaluation of evidence or facts to help us decide.  It is that little voice inside our heads that tells us to ask that sweet looking woman for directions instead of that young teenager because you judged him that he wouldn’t know.  Or when you decide to not pick the checkout line with the young chatty girl because you assume she will be too slow. We judge or evaluate life experiences, situations, things, opinions, thoughts, and people based on the values, emotions and logic we were taught. As human beings, we are blessed with touch, speech, hearing, taste, smell, common sense (most of us-lol) and intuition. These senses help us to evaluate every person or situation-in other words, judge.

Accept your urge to judge, it will help you make good decisions. Assume everyone else judges everyone else (because they do).  Ask others to share their judgements of you. Listen with an open heart and mind.  Embrace your judgements and be willing to learn from others judgements of you. Every person you meet has something special to give you—that is, if you are open to receiving it.

judgeMerriam-Webster defines “judgment” as “An opinion or decision that is based on careful thought. The act or process of forming an opinion or making a decision after careful thought. The act of judging something or someone. The ability to make good decisions about what should be done.” Many people don’t use the “careful thought” part of the definition and that is where I think good judgment and bad judgment come into play.

Judge when it is right to judge, and know how to judge. That’s imperative. There’s a thin line between judgment and ignorance, which leads to injustice. Knowing when to judge is also very important. Discretion and calculation in judgment is strength, for it shows wisdom and maturity.  Gossiping, ridiculing, or wanting to cause harm to someone by judging shows only your immaturity and ignorance.

People fear being judged because they fear being evaluated. Don’t fear it, instead originalembrace it! We must recognize that we are all imperfect and it is okay. People are going to judge you regardless of what you are or are not doing, so just do whatever makes you happy. And when you choose to step out and walk into the things you have been called to do, you can and should except judgement. Prepare for it and it will not come as a surprise. We cannot always help what happens to us, but we can help how we react to these things.

 “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” ~Pema Chodron

My wish for you is to Live Courageously!

Mary Beth Iannarella

Girl Talk Marlton/The Wishwall Foundation

 

http://thewishwall.org/desideri/we-all-judge-each-other-and-it-is-ok/