Tuesday, November 26, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Dr. Diana L. Hayes



While I was a student at Georgetown, I had the pleasure of taking a class -- just one, sadly -- with Dr. Diana L. Hayes.

It was just a 'Intro to the Bible' class (I got an 'A,' because, obviously), but she was a revelation, so dynamic, so knowledgeable. I hadn't known anything about her before I took the class, and when I went on to do a little surreptitious research, I was incredibly impressed by her body of work and her focus on the experiences of black Catholics. I went on to read everything I could find that she's published. I sincerely regret that I didn't have a chance to take more classes with her -- and that I didn't keep up with her after the class (and it would probably seem creepy and fangirlish if I contacted her today to tell her how her example influenced me, right?).

She is the first black American woman to earn a Pontifical doctorate in theology (Catholic University of Louvain), and also holds law and doctor of sacred theology degrees.

Dr. Hayes has also written books with Fr. Cyprian Davis, about whom I wrote earlier this month. Her books include Taking Down Our Harps: Black Catholics in the United States, Hagar’s Daughters: Womanist Ways of Being in the World, And Still We Rise: An Introduction to Black Liberation Theology and -- a Lenten favorite in my household -- Were You There?: Stations of the Cross.

Dr. Hayes has since retired from Georgetown, but has lectured throughout the world on subjects including black theology, womanist theology and black liberation theology.


Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

Monday, November 25, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Venerable Pierre Toussaint



The formerly enslaved hairdresser, philanthropist and devoted Catholic Pierre Toussaint could one day soon be named a saint.

Toussaint was born into slavery in Haiti in the 18th century. By the time he was in his early 20s, he'd moved with his owner's family to New York City, where his owner, who had been trying to escape the Haitian Revolution, apprenticed him to a hairdresser.

He picked up the trade quickly and soon was hairdresser to some of the city's elite. He was allowed to keep much of his earnings for himself and became a wealthy man, though still technically enslaved. When his owner died, leaving a destitute widow, Toussaint used his considerable fortune to help support the devastated woman. Although he bought the freedom of his sister and several other enslaved blacks -- including the woman who would become his wife -- Toussaint never actually purchased his own freedom.

When his owner's wife died about 1807, she freed Toussaint in her will. As a free man, he continued to practice his trade and fed many destitute families and cared for orphans, including his niece, Euphemia, whom he and his wife raised as their own child.

He was said to have attended Mass at 6 a.m. daily for decades at St. Peter's Church on Barclay Street (he was not allowed to enter St. Patrick's Old Cathedral because he was black).

He is considered by many to be one of the founders of what would become Catholic Charities.

Toussaint died June 30, 1853. His body was moved to the new St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City in 1990, about the same time that the cause for his canonization was opened. He was declared venerable -- the step before canonization -- in 1996.


Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary

You have, no doubt, heard of the Knights of Columbus. It's hard to find a spot in the U.S. that doesn't know the group for its fish fries, game nights, spelling bees or political stances.

Are you equally as familiar with the Knights of Peter Claver, though?

The group is named in honor of St. Peter Claver, a Spanish Jesuit who traveled to what is now Colombia in the early 1600s. There, he worked in the service of enslaved Africans, advocating on their behalf with their owners, treating their injuries and praying with and for them.

The Knights of Peter Claver were founded by four Josephite priests in Mobile, Ala., in 1909, as a fraternal Catholic men's organization. Today it is the largest historically black Catholic lay organization in the U.S. Its headquarters is in New Orleans.

During the past 100+ years, the Knights have provided financial support to organizations including the NAACP, Urban League, National Black Clergy, National Black Sisters Conferences, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Black Catholic Congress and Xavier University of New Orleans.

The current Supreme Knight of the organization is F. DeKarlos Blackmon, who is thought to be the youngest ever leader of the organization (he also has an active presence on Facebook). The current Supreme Lady of the Ladies Auxiliary is Vertelle A. Kenion.

Learn more about the Knights of Peter Claver at the organization's website.


(Images via Knights of Peter Claver Tampa and BlackPast.org)

Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: St. Joseph's Society of the Sacred Heart



The St. Joseph's Society of the Sacred Heart, commonly known as the Josephites, are a community of U.S. based priests which has been devoted to serving people of African descent since 1871.

The group originally began as the English Foreign Mission Society of Saint Joseph, which sent priests to the U.S. to educate newly-freed people of African descent after the U.S. Civil War.

When the mission reorganized as an American-based group in 1893, taking their current name, Father Charles Randolph Uncles was among the founders of the new society.

The Josephites have remained dedicated to their mission of serving exclusively people of African descent in the U.S. in urban and rural communities. They operate schools and parishes, mostly in the South, in six states and the District of Columbia. Since the 1990s, the Josephites have brought dozens of priests from Nigeria to serve in historically black parishes in the U.S. The Josephite Harvest, the society's publication, may well be one of the longest running Catholic publications in the U.S. The Josephite Pastoral Center is a resource for books and other items of use to Catholic ministries serving black Americans (I am particularly fond of the calendar, and purchase one each year).

Learn more about the Josephites at their website.


(Image via CatholicExchange.com)

Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

Monday, November 18, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Father Charles Randolph Uncles



We've already discussed the claims Bishop James Augustine Healy (who was never known to publicly identify as black) and Father Augustus Tolton have to the title "first black American priest," but did you know there's also a third candidate?

Meet Father Charles Randolph Uncles.

Uncles was born about 1859 or 1860 in Baltimore, Md., (which had a significant population of black Catholics) to Lorenzo and Anna Uncles. The members of the Uncles family reportedly were fair-skinned enough to pass for white, but declined to do so. He was educated in Quebec, Canada, but later studied for the priesthood at St. Joseph Seminary in Baltimore.

He was ordained in Baltimore in 1891. That was a few years after Tolton's ordination and decades after Healy's ordination, but since Uncles was the only one of our three "first black American priest" candidates both to have identified as black and been ordained in the United States, he is often said to have the only true claim to the title. The first U.S. ordination of a black man merited mention in the New York Times the day after it happened.

For most of his life, Uncles taught students Latin, Greek and English at schools in Baltimore and upstate New York. He died July 21, 1933.

Father Uncles also had an important role to play in the founding of the Josephites, the subject of tomorrow's post.


Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

Friday, November 15, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Fr. Cyprian Davis, OSB


Meet Father Cyprian Davis, OSB.

The National Black Catholic Congress has described him as the "single most important leader in historical studies of the African-American Catholic Church in the United States."

The Washington, D.C., native and prolific writer is a graduate of Saint Meinrad College, The Catholic University of America and University of Louvain. He has been a Benedictine monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey since 1951.

He teaches at the Saint Meinrad seminary. He also has taught at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans, according to his Saint Meinrad faculty profile.

He has been a tremendous inspiration to historians as well as black American Catholics and seminarians.

(Image via Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology)

Some works written or co-authored by Father Davis (all Amazon links):
Henriette Delille: Servant of Slaves, Witness to the Poor
Stamped with the Image of God: African Americans as God's Image in Black
Taking Down Our Harps: Black Catholics in the United States
The History of Black Catholics in the United States
To Prefer Nothing to Christ



Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Daniel Rudd


Daniel Rudd was born in 1854 to two slaves who lived on different plantations in the area of Bardstown, Ken. Both parents were Catholics. When he was baptized, his owner's daughter served as his sponsor.

After the Civil War, Rudd was educated in Ohio, where he worked as a journalist and founded a weekly newspaper, the Ohio State Tribune. He soon changed the name to the American Catholic Tribune (today known as the African American Catholic Tribune), which was the first Catholic publication owned and operated by a black man. He also worked for many years in Arkansas, where he invented a machine to load gravel and wrote a biography of the state's first black millionaire.

Rudd, who wanted to find a way to unite black Catholics and fight for their equality within the Church, founded the National Black Catholic Congress, then known as the Colored Catholic Congress, in 1889. During the first gathering, in Washington, D.C., President Grover Cleveland invited the group's leaders to the White House. Fr. Augustus Tolton, a man whom many consider to be the first black American Catholic priest, celebrated Mass for the group.

Rudd died in 1933, but the organization he founded still lives on. NBCC had its most recent conference in 2012 in Indianapolis.


Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Orlando Sentinel staffers' book picks for holiday gifts.

Several Orlando Sentinel staffers made suggestions for our list of books to buy during the holidays.

Naturally, I was among them.

Anybody who knows me at all should be able to guess within three tries -- and the second two guesses don't count -- which two books I recommended.

The whole list is here.

I'll probably make some more book suggestions for the holidays soon.

National Black Catholic History Month: Cardinal Francis Arinze


About 20 years ago, my mother and I were in Vatican City when we noticed a black man -- clearly an African -- wearing a bishop's robes.

He was clearly somewhat preoccupied and in a hurry, but did smile and nod at us.

We knew instantly who he was: then-Archbishop, now-Cardinal Francis Arinze, the man who for 20 years was the answer to the question "Who will be the next* black pope (these days, the answer to that question is Cardinal Peter Turkson)?"

Arinze was born in 1932 in Nigeria into a family that practiced a traditional Igbo faith. He converted to Catholicism as a child (and was baptized by Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi). He was ordained to the priesthood in Rome in 1958.

He made headlines in 1965 when he was named a bishop in Nigeria at the age of 32, which made him the youngest bishop in the world. He later was the first black African of the modern era named as archbishop in Africa.

In 1985, Pope John Paul II called him to work in Rome. In 1996, the pope made him a cardinal. He was then the most high-profile black cardinal, so his name was often mentioned when people wondered whether the cardinals would ever choose a non-European pope.

Cardinal Arinze is the former leader of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, which is the small group of cardinals and Vatican functionaries who handle matters related to the Church's liturgical practices.

At age 81, Cardinal Arinze continues to live in Rome, although because of his age, he can no longer participate in any conclaves to choose a pope.

*Sometimes people say "first" black pope, but we already know there have been several.

Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Sister Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A., PhD

"Are you walkin with me?" Sister Thea Bowman from UM Southern Studies on Vimeo.


The woman who became known as Sister Thea Bowman was born Bertha Bowman in 1937 in Yazoo City, Miss. She was the only child of a teacher and the city's only black physician.

Although her parents were Methodists, they sent her to the Holy Child Jesus mission school in the city, which was staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. She was so impressed by the sisters' example and work that she converted to Catholicism while still in elementary school and became a member of FSPA, taking the name Thea, while still a teen.

After studying at Vitterbo University and Catholic University of America, where she wrote her dissertation on William Faulkner, Sister Thea began teaching, a career that would ultimately take her to schools and universities in Wisconsin, Louisiana and her native Mississippi.

After she had worked nearly two decades as a teacher, the bishop of her home diocese of Jackson, Miss., invited her to work as a consultant for intercultural awareness, meaning that she had to take on the complicated work of trying to find ways to bring black and white Catholics together both in Mississippi and nationwide at a time when much of the nation was still grappling with how the Civil Rights Movement had changed the country. She also encouraged U.S. bishops to pay attention to and try to find ways to incorporate the voices of black Catholics. Sister Thea was a charismatic speaker who made dozens of appearances each year.

She worked with Archbishop James P. Lyke on the popular African American Catholic hymnal, Lead Me, Guide Me.

Sister Thea was diagnosed with breast cancer in the mid-1980s. She famously told friends, admirers and the people who came to hear her speak that she was not cowed by her diagnosis.

"I want to live until I die," she said.

By the late 1980s, she had to give her acclaimed speeches and presentations from a wheelchair.

Sister Thea died in 1990, at age 52, in the home where she grew up.

Schools and community centers in Pittsburgh, Penn.; East St. Louis, Ill.; Utica, N.Y.; Cleveland, Ohio; and Gary, Ind.; among others, are named for her.


Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

Monday, November 11, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Bishop James Augustine Healy


Remember when I said there was some debate about who actually was the first black priest in the U.S.?

Meet another one of the candidates: Bishop James Augustine Healy.

He was one of nine children born to an Irish slaveowner and a woman who was said to be the slaveowner's mixed-race, common-law wife. With their wealthy father's assistance, the Healy children were educated in the northern U.S. Three of the sons became priests. One, Father Patrick Francis Healy, is today considered the first man of recent African descent to become a Jesuit, the first person of recent African descent to earn a PhD and the first person of recent African descent to lead a predominantly white college (my alma mater, Georgetown University). Another brother, Michael Healy, was the first man of recent African descent to command a ship for the U.S. military. All three of the family's daughters also became nuns (including one who may well have been the first woman of African descent to have the position of Mother Superior in an order).

James Augustine Healy was born in Jones County, Georgia, in 1830. After being educated at Quaker schools, Healy attended College of the Holy Cross, where he converted to Catholicism and graduated first in his class in 1849. He was ordained at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in 1854 (which places his ordination a full 32 years before that of another candidate for the role of first black American priest, Father Augustus Tolton). He returned from France to take up a position at a church in Boston, Mass., where he remained for several years, working with recent Irish Catholic immigrants. In 1875, Pope Pius IX named Healy as bishop of Portland, Maine, where he would remain until his death at age 70. He was the first person of recent African descent named as a bishop in the U.S.

Although Healy may well have been the first black priest and bishop in the U.S., like his siblings, he was quite fair-skinned and publicly identified as Irish-American. Although born a slave, no records indicate that he ever spoke or wrote formally about slavery or the experiences of black Americans.



Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Our Mother of Africa Chapel



The chapel devoted to our Mother of Africa -- one of the many titles granted to the Blessed Virgin Mary -- is at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

According to the Basilica's website, the marble inlay at the front of the chapel represents that Henrietta Marie, a slave ship. The remains of the ship were discovered off Key West in 1972. The statue is of the Mother of Africa holding the Christchild. Both are depicted with African features.

The art in the room is meant to tell the story of the black American experience, from slavery to modern day. The National Black Catholic Congress notes that the sculptors and woodcarvers of the various projects in the room were Juvenal Kaliki, Ed Dwight, Jeffrey Brosk, Giancarlo Biagi, Jill Burkee and Jean Wiart.

The chapel is the gift of black American Catholics, under the leadership of Black U.S. bishops and the NBCC (stay tuned for a post about the NBCC). James Cardinal Hickey dedicated the chapel in 1997, according to the basilica's site.


The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is located at 400 Michigan Ave, NW, Washington, DC. 20017.

Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Xavier University of Louisiana


No, not the one in Ohio.

Xavier University of Louisiana was founded by Saint Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and is the nation's only institution of higher learning that is both historically black and Roman Catholic. It was established in 1925.

The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament remain a significant presence on campus, although the university is now run by an interracial joint lay and religious board of trustees.

The university is home to the Institute for Black Catholic Studies. It is one of the nation's top producers of black students who enroll in medical school.

Alexis Herman, the first black woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of Labor, and current U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin are among the university's notable graduates.

Learn more about the university at its website.

Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information about black Catholic notables.

Friday, November 8, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: St. Josephine Bakhita



(The video above is a Portuguese-language film about St. Josephine Bakhita's life)

The woman who came to be known as Josephine Margaret Bakhita was born in the Darfur region of the Sudan circa 1869. She was kidnapped by slavers while still a child and sold several times, the last time to an Italian consul living in Khartoum, Sudan.

When the consul and his family returned to Italy, Bakhita went with them. In her early 20s, she became a Catholic. By her late 20s, she told her owners that she wished to officially join the Canossian Sisters. By 1896, she had professed her vows. She served the community as a cook, doing embroidery and attending to the door, according to Catholic Online.

Bakhita died on Feb. 8, 1947. Her last words were said to be "Our lady, our lady," in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

She was canonized on Oct. 1, 2000. During her canonization Mass, Pope John Paul II described her as "a shining advocate of genuine emancipation." Her feast day is Feb. 8, the anniversary of her death.



Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information about black Catholic notables.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Lyke Conference



James Patterson Lyke was born in 1939 in Chicago. He was ordained a priest in 1966, and later served as the first black Catholic priest in the state of Tennessee. In 1979, Pope John Paul II called him to serve as auxiliary bishop of Cleveland, Ohio, where he served until 1990. In 1991, he was named the archbishop of Atlanta, according to the Lyke Conference site.

Lyke was one of the leading forces behind Lead Me, Guide Me, the popular African-American Catholic hymnal.

He died of cancer on Dec. 27, 1992, at age 53.

In the spirit of Lyke's life and interests, the foundation named for him works at engaging "the richness and giftedness of the Black community in the vibrant nature of the Catholic Church" to develop "powerful and effective Black Catholic worship."

The foundation has hosted the Archbishop James P. Lyke Conference eight times since 2004, the year it started. The 2014 conference will be June 11 to June 15 at the DoubleTree Hotel in New Orleans.

Read more about Archbishop Lyke and the foundation and conference named after him at the Lyke Conference website.


Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information about black Catholic notables.



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Pope St. Victor I


Some aspects of The Roman Catholic Church as we know it -- indeed, most of modern Christianity -- would not exist without the efforts of Pope (St.) Victor I, said to have been the first black African pope: He decided that Easter, the celebration of Jesus Christ's Resurrection, would always be observed on a Sunday.

He also was the first to write Church documents in Latin instead of Greek.

Victor was born in northern Africa, probably in the area of Tripoli in modern-day Libya. Little is known about his early life. He became pope in 186 or 189 A.D., according to the Vatican.

Pope Victor died in the year 199. He may have been martyred, according to Catholic News Agency.

His feast day is July 28.

(image via The Q Continuum)

Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information about black Catholic notables.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Moms at Work: Through adoption and surrogacy, single men become dads

Single men may well be the most overlooked group of potential adoptive parents.

Also, it's National Adoption Month.

Read more at Moms at Work.

National Black Catholic History Month: Mother Mary Lange



If Mother Mary Lange, OSP, is canonized, she will become the first black American woman saint.

Elizabeth Clarisse Lange was born in the late 18th century in what is now Haiti (some sources claim she was born in Cuba) to a wealthy family.
By 1813 or so, she was living in Baltimore, Maryland, where she was part of a community of French-speaking black Catholics. By the 1820s, she was educating black children in her home at her expense. In 1828, a priest approached her and two other black women about teaching more children and she explained that what she wanted most of all was to dedicate her life to God and become a nun.

Although no black women were nuns in the U.S. at that time, the priest and archbishop of the diocese agreed to sponsor her. She took vows and became known as Sister Mary in 1828, according to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

She established and was the first superior general of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, which was the world's first order of nuns founded by a woman of African heritage. As part of the order, she nursed the sick during a cholera epidemic and worked as a domestic at a seminary, among other tasks, according to the Mother Lange Guild. After the Civil War, when black children who had been orphaned by the war came to Baltimore in droves, Mother Mary Lange headed efforts to care for them.

She died on Feb. 3, 1882, well into her 90s.

In 1991, with the approval of the Vatican, William Cardinal Keeler, then Baltimore's Archbishop, opened the formal investigation of Mother Mary Lange's life which many hope will lead to her canonization.

Read more about Mother Mary Lange at a website devoted to the cause for her canonization.



(Image via National Catholic Review)

Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information about black Catholic notables.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Moms at Work: Fewer hospitals market formula to parents

Fewer hospitals are giving away infant formula to new moms, according to a new study from a nonprofit consumer advocacy group.

Read more at Moms at Work.

National Black Catholic History Month: Who was the first black Catholic in the Americas?


Who was the first black Catholic in the Americas? Nobody knows for sure, but there are some historical candidates for the position.

Maybe it was Estevanico, the sixteenth-century man who was the first person in modern recorded history both to have been born in Africa and to have spent time in what is now the continental USA (it's been rumored that he never gave up the Islamic faith of his youth, though).

Maybe it was even Pedro Alonso Nino, who sailed the ocean blue with Christopher Columbus in 1492 (there's a Facebook page devoted to him, too!). It could even have been Juan Valiente, the sixteenth-century conquistador who traveled with Pedro de Alvarado's trips to Chile and Guatemala and helped develop Santiago de Chile. Or Juan Garrido (John the Handsome), said to have been a freedman of West African heritage who traveled with Hernan Cortes to Mexico (and even may have had some role in the Tenochtitlan massacre).

We may never know.

We know for certain, though, that more than a decade before the first enslaved Africans were brought to U.S. shores, a child of African heritage born on January 3, 1606, was baptized in St. Augustine, Florida. The baptismal records are reportedly still in the storied city's archives.

(Image via Catholic-link.com)

Related:
It's National Black Catholic History Month
National Black Catholic History Month: Father Augustus Tolton
National Black Catholic History Month: St. Martin de Porres

Sunday, November 3, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: St. Martin de Porres

(Image via Catholic Apologetics)

Today is the feast day of St. Martin de Porres.

De Porres was born in Lima, Peru, in the 16th century as the son of a Panamanian freedwoman who is generally considered to have been of mixed Native and African ancestry and a white Spanish nobleman. He became a lay brother of the Dominican order when he was in his 20s.

A popular (apocryphal?) story about de Porres tells about the time when a colony of mice infested the monastery where he lived. Although his Dominican brothers wanted to poison the rodents, de Porres instead spoke quietly to one of the pests, promised them food as long as they stayed away from the humans and then led them all outside, away from the monastery. He is said to have kept his word.

Pope John XXIII canonized de Porres in 1962.

He is the patron saint of African Americans, mixed-race people, people seeking racial harmony, hairdressers, lottery winners and social justice.

Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

National Black Catholic History Month: Father Augustus Tolton


Some people say Father Augustus Tolton was the first black American priest, but that's not clear (I'll discuss why in a later post). What is clear, however, is that he was born into slavery and was the first child of two American slaves to be ordained a priest.

Tolton was born in 1854 to the enslaved Peter Paul Tolton and Martha Jane Chisley in Missouri, and baptized Catholic. He felt the call to the priesthood as a young man, but was rejected by multiple American seminaries because he was black. He was ordained in Rome in 1886, and returned to the U.S., where he ministered in the Chicago area for many years. He died of heat stroke on July 9, 1897, as his mother, sisters and several nuns prayed nearby.

The Official Organization for the Promotion of the Cause of Canonization of Father Augustus Tolton (1854-1897) is working toward, well, the canonization of Father Tolton. There is also a Facebook page for the effort.



(Image via OSV.com)

Related:
It's National Black Catholic History Month

Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.

Friday, November 1, 2013

It's National Black Catholic History Month

(Image via Catholic News Service/St. Louis Review)

Yes, today is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation to Catholics. Today is also the first day of National Black Catholic History Month.

That means very little to most people, but it means a lot to me.

Surveys indicate that there might be about 275 million Catholics of African descent in the world; I am one.

I'll be posting throughout the month about black (mostly American, I think) Catholics and the black Catholic experience.

More on Catholics of African descent:
Demographics
Websites of interest
Ministry resources
National Black Catholic Congress

Follow my National Black Catholic History Month tag for more information on black Catholic notables.


Friday, October 25, 2013

What's wrong with 'black names'?

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. This was my Sept. 24, 2013 post.





So what exactly is wrong with giving your kid a 'black name'?
A writer on the New York Times' Motherlode blog is trying to figure out the answer to that question. She wants to know whether she's dooming her son to problems later in life if she gives him a name that is easily identifiable as belonging to someone of his ethnicity.
The writer, Nikisia Drayton, is a black American. 'Keion,' the name she has considered for her son, is meaningful to her husband because it belonged to his childhood best friend, but she and some of her friends and family worry whether it's too black-identified, or, the word she uses, 'ghetto.' She thinks Keion is a poor choice because when she did a Google Images search for the name, multiple jail or prison mugshots of black men come up in the search. 
I certainly remember being an expectant parent and thinking about baby names, but I responded to Drayton's handwringing with an eyeroll and a yawn. If the idea is that Drayton can prevent people from judging her son negatively by giving him a less ethnically identifiable name, she's in for a particularly unpleasant shock. 
I should add a disclaimer here: My name is Anika. I am a black person with a 'black name' -- one I absolutely love.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Repost: Moms with tattoos?

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. This was my Oct. 16, 2013 post.



Pop quiz: Name five things you associate with motherhood.
Is apple pie on your list? Hugs? Band-aids? Bedtime stories?
How about tattoos?



Monday, October 21, 2013

Saturday, August 3, 2013

What happens at NABJ conferences: A story told in GIFs

The way you react when someone responds to your tweet that you're going to NABJ with a reply that NABJ is a racist organization and that nobody would allow the National Association of *White* Journalists to exist.






You walk in the place and are sad because you don't immediately see anyone you know





...but then you turn around the corner and you see somebody you've known since you were a toddler...hanging out with one of your friends from college...who's got an arm around a former co-worker...who's waving at a friend you met at the last NABJ conference.





How you know Atlanta and Los Angeles are in the house.





When you run into a former friend or ex.





When you're in the middle of a conversation and you see somebody come by in an entirely inappropriate (too tight/short/low cut/garish) ensemble.





Then you see one of the NABJ babies for whom you've been a mentor -- and she is gainfully employed, doing well and looks like a million bucks.





When you plan to go to a session and are glad it's as useful as you had hoped, either to what you do now or what you want to do.







When you decide to leave a session because the description led you think it would be something that it is clearly not.





When one of the big-name speakers or presenters is incredibly boring and unprepared and expects the crowd to be impressed by his/her mere presence and reputation.






When you stumble onto a session by happenstance or by tagging along with a friend and it's really good and informative.





When you're introduced to someone you admire -- and that person already knows who you are.





When you run your Big Crazy Idea by your mentors or other people you admire and respect -- and they co-sign it and encourage you to do it.





When somebody very attractive looks you up and down and smiles appreciatively and you're glad to know that in that moment, you've still got it.






When you go to that party and you intend only to stay a few minutes, but your friends egg you on, so you decide to get a drink





...and then the music starts getting good to you





...until finally you just let go.





But now the conference is coming to a close. See you next year in Boston, NABJ.





Next week, it's back to the workplace.





RELATED ITEMS:
NABJ 2013, some good -- and some not so much
My second day at NABJ 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

My second day at NABJ 2013


As promised, I went back to NABJ 2013 today.

Again, some general, preliminary thoughts:

1. There weren't as many sessions on the schedule today, and the ones that were scheduled weren't nearly as interesting (with the exception of a morning session about the Affordable Care Act).

2. I skipped the main session with the parents of Trayvon Martin, largely for the reasons I mentioned in yesterday's post.

3. I went to a session called "Covering the Big Events," which was about how to rally a multimedia, diverse newsroom to cover large events such as natural disasters, sports championships and big-deal elections. It was pretty good, although there wasn't really time for me to talk with the panelists about how to make sure web/interactive teams are involved in that kind of planning from the get-go.

4. I had 25 minutes to attend a session called "The Branding of You" (I had to go pick up kiddo from summer day camp) which I thought would be interesting, but the panelists wasted so much time at the beginning of the standing-room-only session that I had to leave before they even got into the meat of the discussion.

5. The Affordable Care Act session on the federal health insurance marketplace exchanges was valuable. For the first time, I think I understand how it's all going to work. Also in that Affordable Care Act session, there was a raffle -- and to my surprise, I was one of the winners! I'm the proud owner of a brand-new iPad.

6. I managed to escape paying for parking today, but only because my husband and I had lunch in one of the hotel's restaurants, which will validate for parking as long as you spend more than $30.

RELATED:
NABJ 2013, some good -- and some not so much
What happens at NABJ conferences

Thursday, August 1, 2013

NABJ 2013, some good -- and some not so much.


I attended #NABJ13 today, and left with mixed feelings about the conference, as usual.

This year's conference is hosted at the Gaylord Palms resort here in Orlando, so I didn't have much of an excuse for skipping the event entirely.

Some general impressions, not well-formed:

1. It's always a pleasure to catch up with old friends and meet new people at NABJ. It's something of a cliché at this point to say that the annual conference feels like a family reunion writ large, but you know what? It really, really is.

2. The first session I peeked in on was about the verdict in the George Zimmerman case. My employer's top editor, Mark Russell, was one of the speakers on the panel, along with a couple of straight-news reporters and a few more opinion journalists. I think, at this point, that I've had to deal with so much about the case that my brain wants something of a break from it for a little bit, so I wasn't as engaged in the panel as I might have been.

3. I left that one to pop into a meeting of the digital journalism task force, which was a good experience. I may or may not have volunteered to be on the board next year.

4. The session on data visualization was the highlight of the day for me. A reporter and editor from American Public Media's 'Marketplace' led that session, which taught me some new ways to think about data -- and gave me some new tools I hope to implement soon.

5. If you're actually planning to attend as many sessions as possible, there wasn't enough time on the schedule for lunch. I was lucky that my darling husband, who is working with college students on the NABJ Monitor, had thought to save a plate for me.

6. I actually left in the middle of another forum about education reform -- mostly because I was dismayed by the way moderator Roland Martin kept bringing the subject back to himself and his own thoughts on education. He did quite a bit less moderating of the discussion than I would've liked to have seen. Of course, I left halfway through, so maybe it got better. Somehow, I doubt that, though.

7. The parking rate for day visitors at the Gaylord Palms resort is beyond obscene. I guess NABJ neglected to negotiate the same parking rate ($10) that the other conventions had. The charge to park for NABJ is $19.26, which is absolutely ridiculous, especially since that's the price to park in a hot parking lot. It's not even as though the Gaylord has a parking garage to keep cars cool in the hot Florida summer sun. I am Not Pleased.

I'll go back tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Repost: Keeping our children safe in the face of violence

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.





March 13, 2013






All children deserve to be safe, and well-fed and cared for by the people who love them.

Can we all agree on that?

Jonylah Watkins, whose story is posted above, was fed and cared for -- but she wasn't safe. She died this past weekend after she was shot as her father changed her diaper. She was hit by five bullets. Her father, who was injured in the shooting, had no chance to fight back and/or protect himself or his child in that moment. Jonylah was just six months old. To make matters worse, the incident that took her life wasn't the first time her physical environment had been shattered by gunshots; CNN reported that Jonylah's mother sustained a bullet wound to the leg while she was pregnant with the girl.

Stories like this make me feel so sad. Not just for Jonylah's family -- although I can't imagine the grief they feel right now -- but also for her community and the country in which I live. This should never happen. No parent should have to bury a child because of violence or matter-of-factly accept that violence is probable or possible for children who aren't old enough to drive or sign legal contracts. Not in Jonylah's neighborhood, not in anybody else's. Whose fault is it that the girl is dead? That's hard to say.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Repost: What songs do your children associate with you?

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.


March 6, 2013

One recent day when I picked up my daughter from school, she decided, once again, to make her displeasure known at the music I was streaming in the car.

"Mommy, I don't like this song," she complained. "Mommy, stop it."

I couldn't believe it. The kid, who has questionable taste in music herself, was being judgmental about my music. The nerve of her!

That said, although my husband and I did listen more closely to lyrics once our little one came along, I'm generally pretty comfortable with the music she hears around the house and in our cars. There's nothing terribly embarrassing, although I do sometimes wonder what she's learning from us about music -- especially since parents, obviously, can shape their kids' musical tastes.

When I was a kid, my dad often played The Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain," a song I associate with him to this day. Likewise, the first strains of Z.Z. Hill's "Down Home Blues" always bring a vision of my mom snapping her fingers and dancing to my mind's eye. Quite a few of my favorite songs have similar sounds.

My daughter is likely always to associate downbeat electronica songs with her father and songs in genres including opera and hip-hop with me. I'm OK with that.

Do certain songs or musical genres remind you of your parents? What music do you think your children associate with you?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Repost: How would you respond if someone harmed your kid in front of you?

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.


Feb. 20, 2013



I'm not saying it was right, but let's just say I understand why David Barajas, a Texas man, killed the drunk driver who killed his sons.

The drunk driver killed both of his sons with one crash -- just steps from their home! Barajas, who obviously was overcome by grief in the moment, shot the driver, 20-year-old Jose Banda, in the head.

He now faces a murder charge.

So here's the question: Should he get a break?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Repost: Report: Obese dads raise kids' cancer risk

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.


Feb. 13, 2013

Lots of women decide to get fit before trying to conceive, but some research indicates that men who want to father children should also do a better job of watching their weight.

A BMC Medicine study shows that an obese dad's genes could increase a child's risk for cancer later in life.

Additional research is now under way to determine whether intervention can affect the expression of the gene change that represents the increased risk for cancer.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Repost: Choosing a preschool is no fun

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.


Feb. 6, 2013

OK, I'll admit it: I'm in over my head.

As my husband and I try to determine where almost-4-year-old kiddo will attend school this fall, we're completely overwhelmed. It's hard not to be, what with the applications, open houses, evaluation sessions, and in most cases, sheets of paper detailing registration and tuition costs.

I think I've collected more preschool brochures and website information than I did when I was trying to determine which college I wanted to attend.

I'm not even sure how we'll make a final decision. The schools all seem to be of similar quality, so I tell myself that they're the same and it doesn't matter which one I choose.

But each time I try to convince myself that choosing a preschool isn't a big deal because she's still so young, I'll read or hear about something disturbing happening at a preschool and want instead to question everything I know, have heard or am told about various schools.

What we've found, though, is that there just aren't that many differences between the school that prides itself on its academics and tightly-knit community and the one that instead touts its...tightly-knit community and academics.

Even though we'd prefer to choose a school based on unimpeachable empirical evidence of its superiority, that doesn't seem to exist (it's still preschool, after all), so we're really left to make a decision based on our feelings.

We've got a few weeks before we'll make a final decision, so we'll continue to muddle through our options.

How did you choose which school was best for your small child?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Repost: Report: Dads who share housework have ambitious daughters

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.


Jan. 23, 2013

Dads, want to make sure your daughter is ambitious?

Then make sure you do a good job at sharing housework.

A University of British Columbia study has determined that egalitarian dads who share housework well have daughters who are more ambitious and have broader interests than the daughters of dads who aren't so open-minded, according to the Boston Globe.

The study found that while moms and dads both affect their children's ideas about gender roles, dads have an outsized influence on daughters when it comes to those daughters' ambitions and career choices.

Read more about the study here (http://www.livescience.com/26428-dad-sexism-daughter-ambitions.html).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Repost: What do you want more: $$$ or vacation?

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.


Jan. 16, 2013

Working moms, which would you rather have: a year of vacation or a 20 percent salary bump?

A study from Working Mother magazine reports that most moms would rather have a 20 percent pay raise than take a year off from work. That sounds about right to me.

The survey, which was sponsored by the Chase Slate credit-card company, also indicated that moms are the chief financial officers of households, and as CFOs, generally are responsible for about 75 percent of household spending.

More than half of the moms say they work outside the home because they are focused on or interested in their careers, and not just for the money -- but at the same time, about 85 percent of us want to be better moms in 2013 than we were in 2012.

Do these results surprise you? Read the rest of the information from the survey at WorkingMother.com.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Repost: My kid won't stop singing an annoying song. Help!

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.


Jan. 9, 2012

Is there some kind of rule that whatever I find most annoying must be the thing my daughter wants more than anything?

Not long ago, she came home with a song in her heart and on her lips.

She seemed to have a grip on the song's melody, and although I wasn't paying much attention, she kept humming it and dancing. I noticed that she sang the word "baby," the word "sky" and the phrase "oh, oh, oh," but I thought it was something she and her friends at preschool had made up and that she'd forget it in an hour or two.

She didn't. It became...maddening.

Then it occurred to me to Google the preschooler-mangled lyrics so I could figure out what the heck she was actually singing. After a minute or two, I was able to determine that the tune that made me want to throw things was a Katy Perry song.

"Firework," to be specific:



It turned out that it isn't much better when you hear the actual (silly, but child-friendly, luckily) lyrics clearly. And it also turned out that my daughter, upon hearing Mommy and Daddy play the real version of her favorite song once, quickly realized we could play it whenever we "wanted."

Yes, it was a mistake to have her in the room when I finally figured out what the song was. A big, big, BIG mistake.

She now requests it at every opportunity, and to make matters worse, she wants us to jump and dance with her as it plays, and she wants us to play it loudly. You are probably unsurprised to hear that I'm not a big fan of dancing around the house with that song playing at earsplitting decibels.

I'm so confused by the turn my life has taken. When did the most-played song in my household become a shouty, irritating pop ditty? Is my child doomed to terrible taste in music? Which urchin on the playground at her preschool is responsible for teaching this song to her, and how can I return the favor to that child's parents?

And why is this song such an earworm?

Maybe I can learn to deal with it. If I could only just ignite the light and let it shine, and own the night like the Fourth of....AAARGGHH!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Repost: Coming to grips with Sandy Hook

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.


Dec. 19, 2012

So what do we do now?

After the funerals, the post-mortem psychoanalysis of the Sandy Hook killer and the debates about mental illness and gun control, what can concerned parents do next?

My guess? The best thing those of us who are not directly touched by last Friday's horrible incident can do is to go on with our lives. That's not to say that we should be unaffected by what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary; I think anyone would have to be made of stone not to feel a lump in his or her throat when hearing or reading about what is most parents' worst nightmare.

However, this is not a time to make drastic changes in a family environment or schedule, nor is it a time to revive the tired old mommy wars in a not-so-subtle attempt to slam working parents.

We should continue to reassure our children and answer their questions about the massacre in an age-appropriate way, to the best of our abilities. We should even talk with them about death, and what it means and is and isn't.



And while it's certainly a time to be vigilant and encourage our children to be watchful of their surroundings, it might be going a step too far to surreptitiously profile people who seem as though they might match the profile of mass shooting killers.

As difficult as it seems, this is definitely a time for parents to keep our wits about us and try to keep to our regular routines. I doubt that a few extra hugs and cuddles will hurt anybody or anything, though.

I quite literally shudder when I think about the terror felt by the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I'm terribly sad for those lost, those who experienced or heard the horror as it happened, the parents of the school's children and the entire community.

How are you and your family handling the aftermath of this terrible event?

The next morning: More Zimmerman verdict commentary


My last post listed commentary that went up within two to three hours of the jury issuing a 'not guilty' verdict in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial in the case of Trayvon Martin.

Here's more commentary that I found this morning:

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: After Zimmerman acquittal, hoping for peace and change
Essence: George Zimmerman verdict: Black moms react
Criminal Defense: The embarrassment of the George Zimmerman verdict
The Guardian: Open season on black boys after a verdict like this
New York Daily News: George Zimmerman verdict: Jury's decision unsatisfying but respectable given the circumstances
New York Daily News: George Zimmerman now free to do what he should've done that tragic night: Walk away
The Atlantic: On the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman
The Black Snob: Zimmerman verdict is the status quo, but you are not
Global Grind: Rest in peace Trayvon Benjamin Martin
Tampa Bay Times: What the George Zimmerman verdict means -- and doesn't mean -- for race and media in America

RELATED: Read my initial 2012 post about Trayvon Martin's death.

Photo: George Zimmerman is congratulated by his defense team after being found not guilty (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/POOL)