Monday, August 10, 2020

Eighteen


Eighteen years in the books. This year August 10 arrives in the midst of a global pandemic which has caused the need for Quarantine at points and a complete rethinking of how we interact socially. I am thankful in these times to have a life partner who knows me well enough to know when I need space to recharge and process (having a pool to sit beside and take care of has become a happy place). I'm also thankful for the time I've had to know the Mrs. well enough to know instinctively when she wants her back rubbed or scalp scratched. Per my note last year about calling BS, I also know when to drop a "Fuck that clown" when need be. The murder of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd in particular have caused a trauma like I never felt before. There were days I woke up fully understanding when those who are depressed say they have to fight just to get out of bed. In those low moments, I count it as a blessing to still have a Franchise Player on my team who can make me laugh, say the thing that will keep me moving in the right direction, and remind me we've got an empire to build.
The silver lining of Pandemic Love has been the challenge to find new ways to spend quality time. Not being able to go to indoor spaces has meant coming up with ways to entertain that don't require a specific venue.  Nothing like quarantine to finally pull the inflatable movie screen out of the box for Friday Movie Nights, or hop in an RV and go see the magnificent beauty of the Grand Canyon (well worth the drive). As we get deeper into these years where we’re making moves that will create a legacy for The Dimpled One and The. Munchkin to build on, there seem to be more things that require our attention. It means more planning goes into making sure we have time for each other. After 18 years I’m still up for the challenge like when I first proposed with a ring sizer.  I look forward to what lies ahead in Chapter 19.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Seventeen

This is the first time in a number of years that I woke up on my Anniversary and was not able to kiss my wife on the cheek to start off another year of marriage. Isaiah had a major baseball tourney in Cooperstown (see highlights on my social medias) that means I’ll get home late on a hallowed day in the Team Carroll household. Before I get into this year’s note, let me first say that I am by no means the perfect hubby. Reading comments last year I feel like you fine folks give me way too much credit. I promised myself I would start this year giving a few low lights so you better understand what Nkechi really has to put up with.

3. I forget to take the trash cans down the driveway (occasionally). May seem like a small thing, but I can only imagine how bad Nkechi wants to throw a shoe at my head when she walks in after long day on set and she has to then wheel the trash cans to the curb. Meanwhile I’m in the house chillin watching Queen Sugar.

2. I come up with lame gifts sometimes. Much like Janet Jackson (who we’re going to see next week), I’ve had some stellar gift hits, but also some duds. I’m surprised she didn’t take the Clinique set I got her for Valentines Day back to the store. Don’t know how I convinced myself that would be a good idea.

1. I once failed to secure Mothers Day Brunch reservations. I know. IDIOT. The phrase “You had one job!” comes to mind. And this is number one with a bullet because I. It only let my wife down, but MY OWN MOTHER. I had to wear it that day because i deserved all of it.

Now do you see why it’s the LEAST I can do to shower Nkechi with some love each 8/10?!

This year, it occurs to me to put it out there in the world that since the Mrs is getting feature stories written about her, regular DEADLINE props for “All-American” and is running the show that I need to become more the Draymond Green to her Steph Curry in contrast to the Penny Hardaway to her SHAQ as I mentioned last year. Draymond Green? You might ask. How you figure that? Let me explain.

Much like basketball has become position-less, I think marriage has become role-less. There’s not just one provider like there’s not just a primary ball handler. Tall centers no longer stand in the paint and wait to get passed the ball just like women no longer wait at home for their partner to bring home the check. They go get their own. You get my drift. Draymond Green has become a 100M dude in the League because he’s quick enough to keep up with guards while being strong enough to battle big men. There’s three particular attributes of Draymond’s game that I’ll be incorporating into my hubby game to help make Nkechi a unanimous MVP like Steph and not stroke out due to stress:

1. SCREENING - Of course Steph is more than able to create on his own off the dribble, but he also gets a fair amount of free looks because of solid screens set by Draymond. As the Mrs has more and more come her way, my screen game will also be increasing so that she continues to have both the time to create and her time to recharge.

2.  BOXING OUT - Draymond leads his squad in rebounding and to do that you have to box out. Every possession is important in a game and you have to fight to maintain possessions of the ball. With all of the competition for the Mrs time, I’m finding the need to be more vocal about carving out space for us. I’ve seen what it looks like when folks get so busy that they lose sight of the marriage (ball) and someone else swoops in to disrupt things. Not trying to get outhustled when it comes to the Mrs. Ever

3.  TRUTH SERUM - We know Draymond Green has no filter. Doesn’t mind beefing with his Coach. Didn’t mind telling KD where he could take his talents. In the past I have been the type of listener who tried to let the Mrs come to her own read of a situation or person.  Now that the volume of people who would like to be on her radar has increased,  I’m calling BS when I see it. We have a wonderful village that we’ve built through the years. To become a member now is to come with love and good intentions. Anything else and your messing up the Team. Like Draymond, I’m not about having the dynasty I helped build messed up.

Love you Nkechi. Here’s to another year.


Friday, August 10, 2018

Sweet Sixteen for Team Carroll


You have to get good gifts for your Sweet Sixteen and for us the biggest box with the red bow on it was a new house.  No greater symbol of solidifying a family foundation than realizing the goal of getting that house with the space for the kids to run around and the layout to host the village.  The type of home that serves as a base until the young ones are ready to go off on their own.  This gift comes on the heels of continued growth in career and family that saw Nkechi find a new creative haven, The Dimpled One growing into the student-athlete we envision and the Munchkin all set to start Kindergarten in the fall.  These blessings were made even sweeter by the small storms we endured to realize them.


Its one thing to feel like you've got that Ashford and Simpson type marriage (Solid as a rock), but it's a whole 'nother thing when it is proven to you.  Team Carroll was forced to sound the alarms and put on the marching boots this year when things weren't going right at Isaiah's school.  There were venting sessions, meetings, phone calls, texts, and more venting sessions that ultimately brought about a level of resolution.  But much like racism in any other setting, the issue still lingers not far from the surface, and it appears like the issue may even extend to my work home.  Recently I said to Nkechi that should things not go the way that we hope, I may need to think about taking my educational talents to "South Beach".  Without skipping a beat she responded with

"Oh for sure, it's not like you shouldn't be running a school already,  anyway. If you need to take some time to figure out what your next move is.  By all means do it!"

Yep.  Solid as a rock.  We are blessed to be in a position where we can begin to call our own shots, and it will never be lost on me that my partner will ALWAYS be the loud and proud Spliff Star to my Busta Rhymes even though in reality, she's SHAQ and I'm Penny.  I'm thankful for the Franchise we've built and look forward to putting up more Championship-worthy seasons.  Love you Boobs and the entire village that cheers for us.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

40-40-15

It's been a good year.  Nkechi and I both celebrated 40th birthdays, and threw a big party to commemorate the milestone as well as our impending 15th Anniversary, which we celebrate today.  I was prepared not to write anything this year because I feel like there is much more that I'm learning about continuing to make a marriage work from marriage veterans than there is for me to offer in testimony.  I also don't want people to see these yearly reflections as me positioning myself as some know-it-all.  I am as flawed as anyone and get checked on the regular just like any other husband.  I do however, feel compelled to keep writing these notes each year as a way of expressing thanks for the Grace that has been placed on our marriage and so that anybody who reads these notes who is newer in their journey may know the work that goes into holding it all together.

If you've never read it, I highly recommend the book The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman.  If I were running a pre-marriage counseling course, it would be on the syllabus.  The big takeaway for me is that it lays the foundation for understanding that for each person, there are specific ways that love is experienced and internalized. It is important for each partner to know what those ways are so that the efforts made to show love are received as intended.  For example, if Nkechi loves to hear kind words (Words of Affirmation), but I choose to clean the house (Act of Kindness) as an anniversary gift, then the gesture may not be received with the joy that I hoped, and now I'm salty.  There's great value in understanding how to show your partner love in the way that makes the most sense to them.  The lesson for me in recent years is that much like many things in life, change is inevitable.  Variables like children, job, money, and health can change the love language that is most resonant with a person, and you therefore have to be able to adjust to speaking in that new language.  All of this takes a great amount of commitment, and I am thankful that my dedication
to seeing Nkechi happy and feeling loved is as strong as it was 15 years ago.

I want to thank our village for continuing to lift us up and encourage us as a family.  It was overwhelming to see how many showed up to celebrate with us at our 40-40-15 party and those who sent well wishes from afar.  It is a blessing to have you all in our lives and I hope that those who count us as friends know how much we love you.  See you all next year.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Two Touchdowns Worth of Anniversaries In The Books

As we reach the 14yr marker in our marriage, I feel blessed that all the "training" I got prior to beginning this journey with the Mrs have made these first few years go by pretty easy.  I am buoyed by the fact that moving forward there are plenty of "aid stations" to help make sure that we don't fall off the pace and end up on the side of the road unable to go on.  It seems with each passing year, we get news of friends who are no longer married, and it hurts to see because I know how much love and effort went into the formation of those partnerships.  It is a sobering reminder that keeping a marriage strong is not simply about the love you have for your partner, but a number of intangibles that enable you to keep growing together.

The best piece of advice I received this year came during a recent visit to see my Pops where he told me to never stop "Tithing to the Marriage".  He encouraged me to keep investing in my quality time with the Mrs. whether it be something as small as a Date Night movie or a romantic getaway.  Every year as both of our careers grow and the boys get more involved in their activities, it's becomes more difficult to get the quality time events on the calendar, but they are as necessary as the kids vaccinations.  We love our children to death, but we can only go so long hearing them scream "DADDY/MOMMY!  I need you" before we need a break for some adult recreation.

Year 15 will be a big one for us in that we will both be celebrating 40 years of living in 2017.  Since this has become one of my only reflections, now is as good a time as any to start thanking people who have helped us get to where we are and support us in where we are looking to go.  My Dad is the pillar of man and fatherhood that I continue to lean on and I am thankful that he's still here to offer counsel when I need it.  My mother has brought a brand of grand-parenting to the boys that I know that they will come to cherish in the same way that Nana was invaluable to my childhood.  There's not enough roses, spa days, or fancy restaurant dinners to show our appreciation, so I'll just continue to say thank you at every opportunity.  At the end of each visit, my mother-in-law, tells me how thankful she is that I am the father of her grandchildren, and the husband of her daughter.  The fact that she still finds ways to compliment me after all these years motivates me to keep the streak going.

Finally, there is the Mrs., aka "The Franchise".  I continue to feel lucky that she decided to track down my number after not remembering it when I gave it to her.  I'm lucky that she saw enough in me to ride shotgun while I grew up.  Everyday I try to honor that belief by being the best partner that I can.  I look forward to the fun as we celebrate a decade and a half with all those who have been cheering for us along the way.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Quotes from Mis-Education of the Negro That Have Stood the Test of Time

I have started Carter G. Woodson's classic text, The Mis-Education of the Negro, multiple times. Each time something distracted me from finishing.  I knew, however, given the nature of my work as an educator, that at some point, I would need to finish it, and that time has finally come.  As I read the text first published in 1933, I found myself shaking my head about how relevant many of Woodson's assertions are eighty-two years later.  I started dog-earing pages that contained quotes that struck me as instructive and necessary if Black people are to wage in productive struggle for equality and justice.  Below are my favorites:

1.  "It was well understood that if by the teaching of history the white man could be further assured of his superiority and the Negro could be made to feel that he had always been a failure that the subjection of his will to some other race is necessary the freedman, then, would still be a slave."

COMMENT: In the same way that Jews, Russians, Armenians, and other affinity groups take pains to preserve their culture/history in America, there need to be many more institutions doing the same for the African Diaspora.  The creation of such an institution has been the greatest stirring in my spirit recently.

2.  "How the whites can expect to make of the Negroes better citizens by leading them to think that they should have no part in the government of this country is a mystery.  To keep a man above vagabondage and crime he needs among other things the stimulus of patriotism, but how can a man be patriotic when the effect of his education is to the contrary."

COMMENT:  What blows my mind the most about the lack of justice in the murders of Trayvon Martin, Samuel DuBose, and others is that it pushes Black communities to feel less and less a part of this country.  At some point the powder keg explodes and disenfranchised citizens take matters into their own hands.  I pray that day does not come.

3.  "In this way the large majority of "educated" Negroes in the United States have accepted segregation and have become its fearless champions.  Their filled but undeveloped do not enable them to understand that, although an opiate furnishes temporary relief, it does not remove the cause of the pain."

COMMENT:  The crabs in a bucket mentality is real and must be resisted fiercely.

4.  "The lack of confidence of the Negro in himself and in his possibilities is what has kept him down.  His mis-education has been a perfect success in this respect.  Yet it is not necessary for the Negro to have more confidence in his own workers than in others.  If the Negro would be as fair to his own as he has been to others, this would be all that is necessary to give him a new lease on life and start the trend upward."

COMMENT:  Black communities MUST cultivate and support their own businesses instead of allowing for the continual drainage of our capital.

5.  "If the Negro could abandon the idea of leadership and instead stimulate a larger number of hte race to take up definite tasks and sacrifice their time and energy in doing these things efficiently the race might accomplish something.  The race needs workers, not leaders.  Such workers will solve the problems which race leaders talk about and raise money to enable them to talk more and more about.  When you hear a man talking, then always inquire as to what he is doing or what he has done for humanity.  Oratory and resolutions do not avail much.  If they did, the Negro race would be in paradise on earth."

COMMENT:  The siren song of being a public intellectual is melodic and enticing.  However, it CANNOT distract one from being a worker or be intimately connected to them.  In addition, one must seriously examine whether they are supposed to be the chief or a lieutenant.

6.  "No people can go forward when the majority of those who should know better have chosen to go backward, but this is exactly what most of our misleaders do.  Not being learned in the history and background of the race, they figure out that there is no hope for the masses; and they decide, then, that the best thing that they can do is exploit these people for all they can and use the accumulations selfishly.  Such persons have no vision and therefore perish at their own hands."

COMMENT:  To whom much is given, much is expected.  I take this one personally.  The fact that I've been able to accumulate the credentials that I have meens that I must reach back to pull the next group of kids up the ladder.

7.  "It is all right to have a white man as the head of a Negro college or to have a red man at the head of a yellow one, if in each case the incumbent has taken out his naturalization papers and has identified himself as one of the group which he is trying to serve.  It seems that the white educators of this day are unwilling to do this, and for that reason they can never contribute to the actual development of the Negro from within.  You cannot serve people by giving them orders as to what to do.  The real servant of the people must live among them, think with them, feel for them, and die for them."

COMMENT:  Black communities must be overprotective of who the allow to lead the few institutions over which we have say.  Black, white, or otherwise, there are too many examples of people who have taken advantage of the blind faith of Black people for personal gain and destruction.

8.  "To educate the Negro we must find out exactly what his background is, what he is today, what his possibilities are, and how to begin with him as he is and make him a better individual of the kind that he is.  Instead of cramming the Negro's mind with what others have shown that they can do, we should develop his latent powers that he may perform in society a part of which others are not capable."

COMMENT:  Sounds like a precursor to culturally relevant pedagogy.  In order to make Black children the best individuals that they can be, they certainly can't be schooled to believe that they are inferior, second-class citizens in their own country.

9.  "Negroes do not need someone to guide them to what persons of another race have developed.  They must be taught to think and develop something for themselves.  It is most pathetic to see Negroes begging others for a chance as we have been doing recently.  "Do not force us into starvation." we said.  "Let us come into your stores and factories and do a part of what you are doing to profit by our trade."  The Negro as a slave developed this fatal sort of dependency; and, restricted mainly to menial service and drudgery during nominal freedom, he has not grown out of it. Now the Negro is facing the ordeal of either learning to do for himself or to die out gradually in the bread line in the ghetto."

COMMENT:  Black people must be equipped to be self-determinant.  Our history is littered with tales of how we are most successful when we strike out on our own independent of institutions built on foundations of discrimination and social reproduction.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Moving Beyond McGraw-Hill's Whitewashing of History

McGraw Hill publishers recently put out a history textbook approved by the state of Texas where the trans-atlantic slave trade is painted more as a migration of workers than a culture-stripping death voyage where survivors were forced to jump start the engine of capitalism or die.  It was not until a parent, Roni Dean-Burren, objected to the characterization that McGraw Hill admitted they could "do better" in communicating the facts about slavery in this country.  It is rare the textbook that actually gets it "right" when it comes to describing the ramifications of the slave trade on people of African descent, however this case is among the more egregious.  There are many astute people who lend their brain power to the creation of a textbook, and to believe that something like this is just an oversight is a stretch at best.  I am at the point now where I no longer expect those who guide the institution of education to accurately tell the stories of underrepresented minority groups.  It is simply beyond the scope of their mission.

At its best, American public education was designed to develop an informed citizenry so that the democratic process at the foundation of the country could flourish.  At its worst, public education serves to maintain a status quo of haves and have nots so that the bourgeoise will always be able to depend on the proletariat to do the work necessary to uphold their way of life.  Those who manage to combat the oppressive nature of public education manage to do so by augmenting what is offered in school through alternative methods.  Most notably I think of Chinese communities in America whose children attend weekend schools so that they have a full understanding of their language, history and practices.  I have seen the same model employed by both Russian and Jewish families as well.  There are great African-centered rites of passage programs that need to be scaled up in response to the continued revision of the history of African descendants in this country.  It is the only way the story will be told properly. One of favorite college professors, Dr. Howard Stevenson, would often say in class, "The lion's story will never be told as long as the hunter is the one to tell it."

More important than anything else, this most recent example of whitewashing the history books further motivates me to act and I hope that for all those who have read about this and other incidents, that they will do the same.