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3 Back to School Lunch Options That Don’t Include Sandwiches

By on Aug 18, 2015 | 1 comment

Last night, Le Kid and I spent a ridiculous amount of time walking the aisles in Target while he tried to figure out what he wanted to go in his lunch. Like many kids, he picked up boxes and boxes of sugary, empty-calorie snacks that had little nutritional value. Though we were both tired (and cranky), I held firm and vetoed each one (which made him even more cranky). Figuring out what to pack in your kiddos lunch shouldn’t be this hard, I thought to myself, but there was one big ol’ problem holding us back: he did not want a sandwich. When Le Kid first said he didn’t want to take a sandwich I brushed it aside. He couldn’t be serious, right? After all, he’d eaten a sandwich THAT very afternoon, but somehow they were a no go for his lunch? Sadly for both of us he stuck to his no sandwich guns, which left us doing laps in Target trying to figure it out. Also off the list? Lunchables. While they’re super quick, they’re costly and not the healthiest thing on the planet (uhhh…so much sodium!), so I ruled them out too. After about a half hour stuck in Target’s grocery section I had an idea: we could build our own box. I grabbed a Sistema lunch cube, some crackers, a dozen eggs, blackberries, deli meat, and viola! A lunch idea Le Kid didn’t turn his nose up at. The whole ordeal got me thinking about what other options I could come up with that my son would enjoy, while also being healthy. So, in case you’re fretting over your kid’s lunch like me here are 3 healthy options that DO NOT include sandwiches.  #1 – DIY Lunchables Need 1 lunch cube (like this one) Anything you can fix in the box that your kid will enjoy Even though the school year has just begun, I already know this will be my go-to option if Le Kid’s sandwich ban persists. The possibilities are endless, and the combinations will keep your kiddo from being bored. Fill the box with veggies, fruit, crackers, nuts, chopped meats…seriously, go wild. #2 – Pasta Salad Need Cold pasta (or orzo) + added fixings. Pasta salads are another super customizable & healthy way to beat a sandwich ban. All you have to do is cook the pasta, wait until it cools, and then mix in whatever ingredients you love. Want a veggie salad? Cool, add chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and onions. Eat meat? Keep all of the above and throw in some chicken. Throw on some italian seasoning, olive oil, and vinegar to taste, then keep it in the ‘fridge and dish it out until it’s gone. How easy is THAT? Still need help? Here’s a good recipe to get you started. #3 – Chicken fajita pitas Need Pita pockets Chicken Fajita veggies (onion +bell peppers + seasonings) Ok, so pita pockets are like sandwiches, but they’re not. I swear. Sure they’re both made out of bread and wrap around a host of items, but they’re still totally not sandwiches (at least that’s how you’ll sell it to your kiddos, k?). Pitas are FABULOUS, though. You can literally fill them with just about anything, pop them into your kid’s lunch cube and dash out the door. One tip: don’t put things inside that’ll make it soggy. Now…go forth and experiment. Do you have go-to lunch options for your kids? Share them in the comments section below to help us all get even more ideas!  Related Post How Do You Encourage Your #BrownBoyGenius to Read? Here’s Why We Need to Support Boys With...

No Easy Choices: Baltimore Mom Smacks Son to Keep Him From Protesting, But She Can’t Protect Him From Police

By on Apr 29, 2015 | 0 comments

A Baltimore mom is being called a hero after she was seen on camera repeatedly hitting her teen son to prevent him from joining a group of youngsters who were hurling rocks at police. Toya Graham told CBS News that when she spotted her 16-year-old son, Michael, among the protesters she snapped. “I just lost it,” she said. “I was shocked, I was angry, because you never want to see your child out there doing that.” In the video, Graham can be seen punching, slapping, and yelling at her son to “take you’re a** home!” Graham’s frustration is palpable, and as a mother of a son, I understand her fear. Protecting our sons can sometimes feel impossible, particularly when it seems like every week another young person becomes a hashtag. I can’t begin to image how Graham felt when she saw her son amid the charged group of young people expressing their anger and pain over yet another young man killed by police for no conceivable reason at all. No doubt many of the young people felt they could easily be Freddie Gray, and considering the city’s history of police violence, maybe they knew someone who had already met a similar fate in “Black Baltimore.” All of this—how easy it is for our sons and daughters to be killed without consequence–was probably weighing on Graham’s heart when she dragged her son home. Still, I wish she’d handed it a different way. My opinion on hitting kids is clear. I don’t believe it’s a healthy or effective long-term discipline strategy. There’s just too much evidence that says that hitting not only makes kids more aggressive, but it can also change the way their brain works. And let’s just keep it real. While many people will mightily claim that being hit as a kid kept them out of trouble, prisons and graveyards are full of people whose parents never spared the rod. While I’m not judging Graham for using any means necessary to get her son out of a quickly escalating situation, far too many parents subscribe to the notion that they’d rather beat their kids than let the police do it. But here’s the thing. The police will do it anyway, no matter what you do. Spanking “discipline” and “respect” into our children hasn’t stopped white supremacy from lynching, abusing and shooting them to death. — Terrell J. Starr (@Russian_Starr) April 29, 2015 The police don’t care if you choose times outs or belts, or if you smacked your son every time he got out of line or not. The police don’t care if you taught him to say yes sir or no sir, or curse like a sailor or not. The police don’t care if you had “the talk” about how to interact with them or not. As we’ve seen time and time again, respectability won’t save anyone. It didn’t work in the Civil Rights Movement when men and women put on their Sunday’s best to confront racist cops who still brutalized them, and it doesn’t work today as kids are admonished for wearing hoodies and sagging pants, as if it actually matters what they have on when they are abused and killed. The police do not care. And hitting your son won’t shield him from a system that views him as suspicious simply because he exists. If it did, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation right now, because parents have been hitting since forever, and it hasn’t stopped the police from doing the same. Each and every time the police kill someone it seems like we wring our hands about what they did or didn’t do to provoke it, instead of questioning why they were killed in the first place. When a NYPD officer choked Eric Garner to death, folks said, “Well, he shouldn’t have been selling loose cigarettes.” When 12-year-old Tamir Rice was gunned down within two seconds of police arriving on the scene people questioned, “But why was he playing with a toy gun?” When Rekia Boyd was shot in the head while sitting in her car and minding her own business, people wondered, “Why was she out so late?” When Freddie Gray ended up with a severed spine after making eye contact with an officer and taking off, people said, “He shouldn’t have run.” Sadly, young Black folks—even those raised “right” or hit or talked to constantly—are racially profiled by police officers on college campuses and in neighborhoods. They’re far more likely to be stopped than their white counterparts, and sadly, no amount of preventative beatings or time outs can, or will, stop that. If we really want to protect our children from the police we can’t beat them into submission out of fear, we must push for substantive changes in the justice system; increased economic opportunities for our neighborhoods; better schools; and equal and fair protection under the law. Until that happens we will keep seeing more uprisings across the country. Baltimore is only the beginning. Related Post After Ferguson, What Do Men & Boys of Color T... After Ferguson: Here’s The Talk That Needs t... Another Day, Another Man Becomes a Hashtag:...

Another Day, Another Man Becomes a Hashtag: #BlackLivesMatter, But to Whom?

By on Apr 9, 2015 | 0 comments

Time magazine recently unveiled its latest cover, which declares Black Lives Matter. But as news of yet another killing of an unarmed Black man by police spreads across the nation, I’m wondering if our lives really matter, and if so, to whom? Clearly, our lives matter to us and to those who have flooded streets and malls and bridges and universities and embassies to declare it so. But do they matter to those who actually wield the power? Do Black lives matter to our politicians who pay lip service to our concerns, or to those police officers who view folks with brown skin as suspicious? I’m not so sure. When I look at my son I see so many things. I see a kid who’s hilarious and loves to dance; I see a little boy obsessed with dinosaurs and trading Pokémon cards with his friends; and I see the promise of an awesome future. But I also see a tall kid who will grow into an even taller Black man, and that scares me. I have yet to have “the talk” with my son. You know, the one so many Black parents have with their sons about how to behave around the police. At 9, I feel—perhaps naïvely—he’s too young to be burdened with such things. But it’s coming, and that frightens me. Some people will say that if I just raise him to be respectful and teach him to always do the right thing he’ll be protected from run-ins with the police, but I know differently. Racial prejudice and profiling knows no economic or academic bounds. Being rich or smart or “good” cannot protect my son from someone else’s prejudice, especially when that person is a police officer. Recently, Chris Rock made news after he shared yet another selfie of being pulled over by police. So far, Rock has been stopped multiple times in the past few months, each time snapping a photo to record the incident….just in case. Stopped by the cops again wish me luck. pic.twitter.com/6t0wlgwkrJ — Chris Rock (@chrisrock) March 31, 2015 It seems ridiculous that someone would need to leave a record of a routine traffic stop, but as Walter Scott—the latest unarmed man to be gunned down by a cop—shows us, sometimes it pays to have a record of what went down. According to reports, Michael Slager pulled Scott over for a burned-out taillight, but things quickly escalated, and by the end of it all Scott was dead. Though Slager claimed he “feared for his life” when he shot Scott multiple times in the back, a video showed an entirely different story. Without video of the horrific incident, Slager may not have gotten fired or arrested for murder, Scott’s death wouldn’t have made national news. As people praise Feidin Santana for recording the damming video of Walter Scott’s death and turning it over to the press, others have criticized Rock for posting selfies of his police stops. But he isn’t the only famous Black person to experience racial profiling. Both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have spoken about being profiled as well, even while serving the nation. During a trip to Ferguson, Missouri last year, Holder talked of having “the talk” with his father and being pulled over—multiple times—for no reason at all: I thought of my father’s words years later, when – as a college student – I was pulled over twice on the New Jersey turnpike and my car was searched – even though I was sure I hadn’t been speeding. I thought of them again some time after that, when a police officer stopped and questioned me in Washington while I was running to catch a movie – even though I happened to be a federal prosecutor at the time. …I couldn’t help but think of my father just a couple of years ago when I sat down to convey the same message to my own teenage son after the shooting of Trayvon Martin – a conversation I hoped I’d never have to have. As the phrase Black Lives Matter continues to permeate the mainstream, I can’t help but wonder if it’s actually true. Related Post This 12-Year-Old COLLEGE SOPHOMORE Says Studying E... Michigan’s Top Swimmer, Tabahn Afrik, Breaks Rec... 5 Apps Brown Boys Will Love Check Out the Sneaky Way Police Are Using Social...

3 Reasons to Participate in #MuseumWeek

By on Mar 23, 2015 | 0 comments

One of the funniest moments with my dad happened in a museum. One Saturday he took my brother and I to the National History Museum here in L.A., and as we wandered around, my dad asked us to snap a picture of him. My dad is an interesting guy and he wanted a super interesting picture, so he did something you’re never ever supposed to do: jump into the exhibit! That day my dad hopped over the railing and into the mammoth exhibit to pose for the picture…until the alarm went off. Then, he promptly jumped out and dashed into the hallway until it stopped ringing. His picture? A blur…but it was an awesome blur! And it’s also a memory that’s stuck with me for my entire life. I spent a large part of my childhood visiting museums, and so far Le Kid has as well. On any given weekend we’re hanging out at one of L.A.’s many museums, so I was geeked to find out there’s an entire week set aside to encourage people to explore these important institutions. Today marks the beginning of #MuseumWeek, an international effort to get people into museums. More than 2,000 institutions from all over the globe are participating in the effort to spread the word about how wonderful and important museums are to the world. In honor of #MuseumWeek Le Kid and I will be heading down to the San Diego Natural History Museum to check out their collection, and we think you should participate too. Here’s why. Museums are FUN Museums aren’t stuffy, boring affairs. While you should certainly steer clear of jumping into an exhibit like my dad, most museums have hands-on programs for kids that are not only fun, but are also good for the brain. From arts and crafts, to building robotics and digging for dinosaur bones, a trip to a museum is the perfect way to spend the day. Museums teach us about the world I don’t know about you, but I LOVE to travel. Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to London, Paris, and Johannesburg, and I want to see so much more. Unfortunately, my budget doesn’t always support my wanderlust. So, when I’m feeling the itch to hit the road, I turn to museums to experience the world’s cultures, religions, and people until I can travel again. If you want to go abroad, but just can’t afford it right now, head to a museum and immerse yourself in another country’s customs instead. Museums make history come alive Visiting museums helps history come alive—and no I’m not talking about the movie. Like most children, Le Kid LOVES dinosaurs. He loves playing with dino toys, watching dino docs, and drawing pictures of dinos. But you know what made him want to be a paleontologist? Seeing actual dinosaur fossils and speaking to scientists at the National History Museum of L.A. Hanging out a museum helps people see exactly what they learned about in books or school, and you know what? The real thing is usually way more awesome. For me, seeing artifacts from Ancient Egypt and the Kingdom of Nubia at the British Museum completely blew me away. What’s your favorite museum? Will you be participating in #MuseumWeek? BTW: be sure to follow BrownBoyGenius on Instagram to see our pics from #MuseumWeek. Related Post Let’s Talk About Sex: When Did You Have The Talk... EVERYBODY Needs to Listen to This Cris Carter Spee... Another Day, Another Man Becomes a Hashtag: #Black... Is Free-Range Parenting Dangerous for Brown...

No, Shaming Kids In Public Won’t Make Them Do Right

By on Feb 26, 2015 | 0 comments

Do you think publicly embarrassing kids is a good way to keep them in line? Research suggests putting children on blast may actually do more harm than good. When I was a teacher, I witnessed one of my seventh graders get pimp slapped in front of the class by his father.  It was the last period of the day and I was tired of  him being disruptive, so I called his parents, which usually got most kids in line (albeit briefly). That day, I hoped my student’s parents would deal with him and hopefully convince him to change his behavior, but I wasn’t expecting him to get slapped in the middle of the classroom…in front of everyone. I was stunned, he was mortified, but his behavior didn’t change. I dunno about you, but I would have been DEVASTATED had that happened to me. I would have withdrawn, been pissed off at my parents, and maybe stopped talking all together….but it had the opposite effect on my student. Instead of getting himself together because he’d been embarrassed in front of his friends, he kept talking, kept being disruptive, and kept trying to prove he wasn’t a punk because his dad smacked him down in front of the class. I was reminded of this incident after hearing a Florida mom was arrested earlier this week after her daughter showed up at school sporting a white t-shirt with a message about her failing grades scrawled across the front. According to officials, the middle schooler also had visible bruises from an “excessive” beating by her mother, Melany Alexander, and a threat for more if she didn’t get her act together. Alexander is being held without bond, but her form of “discipline” isn’t unique. Publicly shaming children, especially on social media, is nothing new. If you’re on Facebook you’ve probably seen a picture of a young boy with his hair cut to look like an old man’s receding hairline. The message? Stop acting grown. Back in 2012, a North Carolina dad made national news when he filmed himself pumping bullets into his daughter’s laptop after the teen went on an expletive-filled Facebook rant about her parents.  Last year, a video of dad viciously beating his teen daughter for allegedly running away to hang out with boys went viral. Many gave the dad props for teaching the young woman a lesson, but between the hair pulling and name-calling, all I saw was abuse. As a parent, I understand why some attempt to shame their children into acting right. Many times they’re frustrated and embarrassed by their children’s actions. And sometimes they just don’t know what else to do. At times, parenting feels impossibly hard, but using shame as a discipline tactic just doesn’t work either. Why? Head over to MommyNoire to read the rest… Related Post Why Did He Run? On Mike Brown & Parenting Bro... Michigan’s Top Swimmer, Tabahn Afrik, Breaks Rec... 7 Picture Books to Read With Little Brown Boys Leland Melvin Has the BEST NASA Photo Ever, But...

For Marshawn Lynch & Brown Boys Who Dare to Control Their Own Stories

By on Jan 29, 2015 | 2 comments

While the NFL gears up for the Super Bowl, its biggest media event of the year, Seattle Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch just wants to be left alone. Unlike other high-profile athletes who can’t get enough of the spotlight, Lynch avoids it, choosing instead to focus his energy on the game, his family, his business, and his charity, the Family First Foundation. Lynch’s aversion to interviews (about football) is well known. During media appearances for last year’s Super Bowl, Lynch avoided most questions about the upcoming game and instead famously told Deion Sanders, “I’m just about that action, boss.” This season, Lynch has been fined more than $131,050, in part, for violating the league’s media policy about talking to reporters. And the NFL isn’t pleased. According to ESPN, if Lynch had skipped out on the last media day before this year’s Super Bowl, the league would have fined him $500,000. That’s a big price to pay for sticking to your guns. Lynch didn’t ditch media day, but once again explained why he was staying mum. All week I told y’all what’s up,” he told reporters. “And for some reason y’all continue to come back and do the same thing that y’all did. I don’t know what story y’all trying to get out of me. I don’t know what image y’all trying to portray of me. But it don’t matter what y’all think, what y’all say about me. When I go home at night, the same people that I look in the face — my family that I love. That’s all that really matter to me. So y’all can go make up whatever y’all want to make up because I don’t say enough for y’all to go and put anything out on me. Instead of allowing reporters to pressure him to talk, Lynch channels Audre Lorde. Before her death the author famously wrote: “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Unfortunately, far too many young men allow themselves to be eaten alive. Instead of merely being “about that action” and pursuing the lives they want, many of our boys allow the opinions of the media, their teachers, their parents, and even their friends to define who they are. Why? Being unique isn’t easy. Being different can be scary, and in some cases dangerous. James Baldwin, one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century, fled to Paris because he was different. Baldwin left America to not only get away from this country’s searing prejudice, but also its crippling homophobia. Baldwin spent most of his life in France, writing openly and honestly about race, sexuality, and justice in a time when all three topics were taboo. Had he let others define who he was at the time—poor, black, gay, an outcast—Baldwin wouldn’t have become one of the most celebrated writers in history. Baldwin isn’t the only one who dared to be different. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Walter Dean Myers, Barack Obama, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kiese Laymon, Teju Cole, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Marcus Garvey, and many more Black men have bucked the conventional ways of doing things and made their own way. Because here’s the thing: Telling your own story is revolutionary. By controlling what he says and not allowing the media to twist his words, Lynch retains his power. Sure they can try to cast him as shy or uncooperative, but only Lynch determines when he wants to speak, and what he deems important. While the media seems intent on making him talk, Lynch has not only made a name for himself for his unwillingness to engage, but he’s also become a shining reminder to always let your actions speak louder than your words. And for many of our boys, that’s a message they need to hear. Related Post How Do You Encourage Your #BrownBoyGenius to Read? Check Out the Sneaky Way Police Are Using Social M... This Brilliant 11-Year-Old Ferguson Resident Is th... EVERYBODY Needs to Listen to This Cris Carter...