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Under Our Skin. getting real about race.

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benjamin-watsons-book-under-our-skinIn a book of just 204 short pages, Benjamin Watson expresses his thoughts and feelings and ideas in such an honest and thought provoking manner. Eloquent yet very forward, he takes us inside himself as a man, as a Black (African American) man and as a man of God. This book is not preachy but an honest dialogue of a man’s heart. Whether or not your beliefs are the same as his, you will come away on page 204 different than you were on page 1.

He examines racism and himself from the following -anger, introspectiveness, embarrassment, frustration, fearfulness and confusion, sadness and sympathy, offense, hopelessness, encouragement and empowerment. He draws us in to help us examine ourselves and to be brutally honest and open. I actually love the way he thinks about his own feelings, thoughts and actions and then frames them in a biblical perspective before communicating outwardly. As you progress through the book, you can feel the raw honesty of acknowledging where he fits in the situation instead of flinging blames and accusations. He presents the root -the heart of mankind that only God can change.

Watson does not allow us to sit back and point a presumptive finger at racism. He makes us take that hard look of examining ourselves against the issue of racism and admit that it is inside each of us.  If racism was just ‘a’ person or even ‘a group’ of people we could contain it. But it is much larger than that. This is a human kind issue.

Besides recognizing racism as evil, he expresses the need the conversation -dialogue. Too often we presume things to be one way when they were actually meant or viewed another way. We should seek the common good instead of the small things that are so divisive and hurtful. If we stay closed-minded and never dialogue among each other we allow those differences to stagnate our worldview. Those experiences we have never get shared until something on the racial spectrum happens and then we simply blow in an unhealthy way. It is gravely important that whites and blacks try to dialogue and understand the other side. But, Watson, candidly recognized that racism will not go away completely but we can make it better.

From each book I read, I take away something or garner a favorite quote. I have expressed my views and concerns with many and they mostly parallel Watson’s. But here is where he goes a step further than I …

“And you and I are both guilty,

We all have malice deep down.

We all harbor wrong attitudes towards others.

At its core, the issue is not about race. It’s about the human heart.

… Nothing will change … unless …

Unless God changes our hearts and minds.

God, hear our prayer … (p. 17).

Watson makes it personal for me. He uses the pronouns you and I, whereas I always used ‘they’. Sad but true. It took longer to read this book than I expected because it caused me to be reflective throughout the chapters. And that is just the thing that makes for a good non-fiction book.

Thank you Mr. Watson

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My Own Pastry Chef!

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imageIt is hard to believe that three short years ago, this precious child of mine would be going out into the world to blaze her own path. Her father and I sent her to a math and science camp at a regional university each summer while she was in high school. Upon graduation she was offered a partial scholarship. Her major was going to be math and she was going to be a teacher. Our job as parents was well done in getting her feet planted in the right direction -or so we thought. One day while filing college preparatory paperwork. I noticed a Johnson and Wales and Culinary Institute of America packages in the mix. I pulled them out and asked her about them as I proceeded to toss them. She stated she was just curious and just wanted to see what they were about. So I gave her the packages and went about my merry way of dreaming of becoming a college student’s parent with stickers and mascots all over my car and heading up to football games.

A month or so later, a letter arrives in the mail from JWU stating that my wonderful has been accepted to the university with partial scholarships. So I asked her why was she perusing this if she was already set to go the school we have worked so hard to groom her to attend. Her reply was “I’m good at math but my passion is baking and creating”. Now I always thought that you find what you were good at and worked with it to become your passion. The problem with this case was that I had never seen my daughter bake or cook or show any interest in doing so.  She actually loathed being in the kitchen and could not stand to clean the kitchen on her days. As time progressed we noticed a marked decrease in her interest for our school of choice for her and more interests in creative schools. After lots of prayer, conversations and watching; we decided that the decision would ultimately be hers. We would bite our nails and eat ice cream way too late at night and grant her the freedom to choose her culinary school.  She was accepted to JWU in the Fall and CIA in the Winter. Since she was ready to leave our nest, she wanted to start that Fall and so it was off to North Carolina -6 hour drive to drop of our daughter to a culinary school although she did not know her way around a kitchen.

Three years later, this bright eyed and ambitious mature young woman has graduated with an A.S. in Baking and Pastry Arts and is just one semester from finishing her B.Sci in Food and Beverage Mgmt with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship. She works part time for a grocery supermarket in Charlotte, NC. While home visiting, she showed me a paper she wrote. The professor asked the students to tell about a person who was influential in their career. My daughter chose me -her mother 😭.  She stated the she watched me cook and sew for years and thought it a miracle when I would go into the kitchen where there was only a can of beans, four strands of spaghetti and a pack of crackers and come out with a gourmet meal (my son does not view this ordeal the same way!). She also mentioned of all the soups and cakes and pies I would make from scratch. This, she says, inspired her to use her imagination to create things. I am Jim Dandy proud of her accomplishments but cannot help but wonder if I missed her cues of wanting to be in the kitchen because I was and still am a kitchen hog! She took charge of cinnamon roll duty today. While I actually watched. image imageThese cinnamon rolls and yeast rolls are so light and fluffy. She made a topping for them that rivals Cinnabon but lighter. They are awesome but I must admit, -I am jealous! My powdered cinnamon and powdered nutmeg were substandard for her -she grated her own nutmeg and cinnamon sticks!!!! 😐