Condemning the Baltimore Rioters is Not Enough

First off, I pray for peace in Baltimore today and throughout the rest of this week as the rioting comes to an end. I ask for the safety of all of the citizens of Baltimore and the law enforcement officers there. I hope that there’s healing in every way possible–mentally, emotionally, physically–as the city reacts to the unfortunate death of Freddie Gray and the decades if not centuries of tension and mistrust between the city’s residents and police officers.

As I went through my Facebook timeline today, there were plenty of people either questioning why people were rioting (usually non-blacks) or condemning the fools that were attacking police cars and looting (everyone).

I’m going to make it very clear that I agree that it’s ludicrous to destroy one’s on neighborhood to retaliate against the police or against any perceived injustice. It’s absolutely crazy to do things that will land you in jail and make your life even worse than it is now by looting merchandise. And it’s definitely pure insanity, if not suicide, to physically attack a police officer.

Yet, it’s constantly been on my mind lately that we’re living in a world where everyone is a critic, but few people are problem-solvers. It’s a lot easier to shake our heads and smack our lips in disgust, but a lot harder to get from behind our phones and find ways to engage people in our communities or communities less fortunate than ours.

Instead of only shaking our heads and condemning the foolishness of the rioters in Baltimore today, let’s think of ways that we can be a part of the solution to rebuild our communities, as well as rebuild the relationship between residents and the police.

  • Let’s start by being role models for our own kids. Let’s show them the type of people we want them to be instead of only telling them. Let’s learn from the mistakes of our parents and do better.

  • Take the time to mentor a youth that lives in a disadvantaged neighborhood.

  • Volunteer at an organization that offers kids options besides hanging on the streets.

  • Make an effort to know your neighbor.

  • Start a small business so that you can hire people that are typically shut out of the legal job market–teenagers, the formally incarcerated, people that used to be addicted to drugs, people with limited education or skills.

  • If you are a police officer, get to know the residents in your vicinity well-before you show up to arrest them.

  • Smile and say “hello” to a police officer and see if they will smile back.

  • Write letters to community or government leaders to petition more resources, programs, [you name it] for your community.

  • Save enough money for a down payment on a house in your neighborhood to invest in the community instead of keeping up with the latest outfits that the Joneses (or Johnsons) are wearing.

  • Vote.

Best of all, use your money to change the environment around you–support businesses that are employing people in the community. If you don’t see any black employees at your local beauty supply store, don’t shop there. Better yet, try to shop at black-owned businesses as much as you can (or start one!).

The world needs less critics and more action-takers. If you already take action to provide hope and opportunities to young men and women that feel like the world is against them (because often it is), I love you and applaud your efforts. Please go ahead and voice your dissent and shake your head. You are a force of change. But the rest of us need to STFU and do everything within our means to do something that causes less youth to feel hopeless enough to riot.

Today, as Baltimore heals, let’s also focus on healing other marginalized communities throughout the African diaspora.

Leave any comments below or on Facebook. I’d love to read your ideas for healing cities like Baltimore and communites throughout the U.S. that are full of rage due to the weight of systemic injustice (that honestly may never go away).

Fearless Friday 4.24.15 (Don’t Let Your Past Limit Your Future)

It’s Friday! It’s Friday! You guys and gals know what that means…It’s FEARLESS FRIDAY!!! Turn all the way up!

Since I already addressed some fears/concerns/things I’m working on this week in my last post, “The Chubby Tummy Chronicles,” this post will be short and sweet.

On this Fearless Friday…

Do not let your past make you doubt that there are amazing things awaiting you in your future.

Last May, my family and I took a very local trip to Gary, Indiana to visit the home where Michael Jackson and his siblings grew up before the Jackson Five signed their first major record deal with Motown Records in 1969.

Michael Jackson grew up in a 672 square foot house with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom with 8 siblings. His father worked for a local steel company and a local food store. His mother was a homemaker.

Michael Jackson is recognized as one of the greatest entertainers of all time. His siblings have their own share of fame and success.

Why can’t you pursue your dreams regardless of where you came from–regardless of the hand you’ve been dealt? I truly believe that life is not about where you came from, but about where you’re going. And where you’re going starts in your mind.

Be fearless.

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The Chubby Tummy Chronicles

Lift your virtual hands if you’re #TeamNinja! I see you out there 🙂

I was pretty much strong-armed into buying a Ninja because my friend over at Fit2Luv kept bragging and sending pics of all the gorgeous fruits and veggies she was putting into her smoothies. She would go on and on about how great her Ninja was until I finally said, “I GET THE POINT” and bought one. I’m so glad the peer pressure worked because I love my Ninja. It gets the job done without too much fuss.

One of my green smoothies. I remember this one was delicious also. Something about when that lime juice hits that avocado. Yummm.

One of my green smoothies. I remember this one was delicious also. Something about when that lime juice hits that avocado. Yummm.

When my Ninja Pulse first came in the mail, I started throwing as many ingredients into my smoothies that would fit—celery, avocado, carrots, spinach, cranberry juice, yogurt, banana. Frankly, I just had way too much going on. Sometimes, I would make smoothies that I liked, but other times, they weren’t hitting it. I finally found a combination that I LOVE. You may already know it, but I discovered that less really is more when it comes to yummified smoothies.

The recipe for my fav green smoothie at the moment is below. Keep in mind that I don’t actually measure things when I make my smoothies so the amounts are estimates. I’ll call this smoothie…

The Popped Woman Dream

  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Kiwi (optional)
  • About 1 cup of Spinach/Power Greens Mix
  • About Âź cup of The Greek Gods Greek Yogurt (Honey Vanilla)
  • About Âź- ½ cup of Coconut Water
  • 3 Ice Cubes

The Popped Woman Dream makes me wanna holler and throw up my hands in a good way. For the last few days, I’ve been drinking this smoothie before and after my workouts when possible and I’m absolutely lovin’ it.

Even though I’ve been consistent (except for the 2 White Castle double-cheeseburgers last night and the fried chicken with barbecue sauce last weekend), I still feel a little blah about the progress of my slim and toned tummy goal. I remember a quote that said something like “weight gain doesn’t happen overnight, neither does weight loss,” which I keep telling myself. However, it didn’t help that a lady at church asked me if I was pregnant last Sunday for the second time within the past 4 months. I left it at “No” but I wanted to say all kinds of ungodly things to her right after service. Just pray for me.

Even though the question annoyed me, it didn’t sting too bad because although I don’t have abs like Jillian Michaels, I know that I’ve made huge progress from the state my body was in before I started working out consistently. I may have added some muscle instead of losing a lot of fat, but I know that if I stay consistent with getting to the gym and eating healthy, I will get to where I want to be.

Shameless gym selfie. April 10, 2015.

Shameless gym selfie. April 10, 2015.

Most importantly, I’ve realized that no matter how toned I become, it won’t matter if I don’t change my negative self-talk. The reality is I will never look a way that is pleasing to everyone. We all have our preferences, which is o.k. What matters is the way we view ourselves and the way we treat ourselves. If I don’t choose to love and accept myself when I look in the mirror, it won’t matter if I change my perceived imperfections. I would just find another thing that I don’t like that needs to be “fixed.”

If we don’t already love ourselves before we lose weight, get that eyebrow wax, or [insert the blank] we will find something else wrong with our bodies. We will focus on that perceived negative thing until we “fix” it and the vicious cycle will just continue. It’s fine to lose a few pounds, thread that unwanted facial hair, or make other adjustments to our appearance that we see fit. However, we won’t know when to stop if we don’t learn to love ourselves before making the changes, no matter how big or small.

While I look forward to seeing the fruit of my workout labor, I know that six-pack abs won’t be enough if I don’t like me how I am now. So more than a slim tummy, my goal is to not only like, but to love me.

Here’s some Colbie Caillat for your Thursday.

How do/did you learn to like/love you? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook. Keep it poppin’ on this beautiful Thursday!

My Very First Blogger Award! Yayyyy! (Versatile Blogger Award)

I’m beyond ecstatic to announce that I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award; my very first blogger award! Yayyyyy!!!! I was actually nominated last week by the extremely awesome Sabrina of the Queen of My World blog, but I was a bit preoccupied with enjoying the beautiful weather we had on Saturday in the Chi as well as putting together my latest Positively Optimistic & Powerful Woman feature. versatile-blogger-1

Sabrina from Queen of My World has been so positive and such a strong supporter of my blog. I’ve been blown away by how encouraging the blogging community is. Sabrina writes engaging posts that are full of personality so check her out when you get a moment.

Here are the rules for those that I nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award:

1) Thank the blogger that presented you with your award. (Hey, that’s me!)
2) Link to their blog. (Ummm, that would be this blog).
3) Select 15 blog/bloggers that you feel have fantabulous blogs–whether you’ve recently discovered them or you follow them regularly.
4) Nominate those 15 awesome bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award—you can link this page if you want.
5) Lastly, tell the person who nominated you, and everyone else, 7 things about yourself.

My Fab 15–Versatile Blogger Nominations

If you’ve received the award already, no worries, feel no need to accept the award again. Regardless of whether or not you’ve received the award before, there’s no obligation to accept the award. To everyone on this list, please know that I love reading your blog and connecting with you in the blogosphere. Keep up the amazing work and stay encouraged! I’m so grateful for having “met” you.

Properly Improper
Undomesticated Me Blog
Yesterday, I Was a Mom
An Introspection of Latoya
Think Out Loud
Frugal Fab Mommy
Mummy On My Mind
Dear Dumplin
Rookie Notes
Schmommy
Black Nerdy Diva
Phat Girl Fresh
Jeune Afrique
Everything Shaquana
Desert Rose in Bloom 

7 Things About Yours Truly

1. I’m an only child.

2. I’ve technically been out of the country 4 times, but I only really count 2 of them. I studied abroad for a summer in London, England and spent one of my Spring Beaks in Lima, Peru during college. I also crossed the U.S./Mexico and U.S./Canada borders very briefly.

3. Back to travelling, I absolutely love the energy of New York City! Being there makes me want to conquer the world!

4. I’m not super-into astrology and horoscopes, but I feel like the prototype of a Scorpio. Scorpio=Me.

5. I was an English Writing major in college and had absolutely no plans for what to do with my degree. Therefore, I ended up working in call centers my first few years out of college.

6. I have a serious weakness for desserts. I’ve changed my eating habits considerably over the past few months (rarely eating fried foods and drinking a green smoothie pretty much everyday), but my husband brought home 12 fancy cupcakes of varying flavors this weekend and I don’t know what to do with myself! I don’t want to eat them. I shouldn’t eat them. But I have to!

7. I don’t like shopping (most of the time). I like to get in and out of stores, or better yet, I prefer to shop online.

Now, your turn!

Positively Optimistic and Powerful with Crystal Marie

Crystal Bio Pic

One of Crystal Marie’s favorite quotes: “There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise.” -W.E.B. Dubois

Happy Monday to all of my beautifully popped people! Welcome to the 3rd installment of the Positively Optimistic and Powerful Women Series. This month, I am beyond ecstatic to bring you a woman that lives and breathes her faith in God and her passion for mentoring young women. I am privileged to have been one of her many “Little Sistas” in college and can testify that she is passionate about education and helping young women build confidence and self-esteem.

Crystal Marie is a native of North Chicago, IL and attended Wheaton College, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. In 2014, she received her Masters of Business Administration from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management (Magna Cum Laude) and was the recipient of the 2014 Hotchkiss Scholar Award, Lake Forest’s highest honor. In addition to her many other endeavors, she somehow finds the time to blog over at Snapshots of Life.

Just to give you all a little taste of her blog, here’s Crystal Marie’s belief statement for Snapshots of Life:

Speak BOLDLY for Women and Girls! These are the words that guide my life. When God’s most beautiful creation (Woman) begins to question her worth, beauty, and intellect, the world suffers. Society sets unattainable standards for women and we have been trained to sit quietly and accept the extermination of our authentic selves. Who says, “Enough, No More?”

I started Snapshots of Life Blog for every woman and girl who wants to begin the journey of self-acceptance and authenticity. I am not an authority on Women’s Issues. I am just a sister, daughter, and friend who desires to share my thoughts and experiences as I seek to fully embrace the woman I am meant to be. I desire to start a movement of sisters who embrace our authentic selves.

Now let’s get to the interview!

Popped Black Woman Blog: When did you become positively optimistic and powerful?

Crystal Marie: I can’t pinpoint when it exactly happened, by nature I’m extroverted and optimistic; I tend to look at things from the “Glass Half Full” perspective. I do believe that I became most powerful in my life when I made peace with my weaknesses. First, I recognized my need for a Savior and my inability to save myself. Second, I learned to believe that non perfect Crystal is much more lovable and relatable than perfect “image” Crystal. The secret to real power is embracing our powerlessness.

PBWB: I completely agree. We are all imperfect in some way. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be human. Can you tell us some particular challenges or struggles that you have personally overcome?

Crystal Marie: I’ve struggled with unhealthy body image which manifested itself in over-exercising/dieting and many of the behaviors associated with eating disorders. It has taken a lot of prayer, therapy, accountability, and daily, healthy practices to get me to the point that I can acknowledge this was/is an area of struggle for me. But being honest about it, has allowed me to feel stronger and freer than I ever imagined. I actually just wrote a blog series surrounding this issue on my blog. As a Black woman, I wanted to break down the stereotype that says “unhealthy body image and eating disorders are not black girl issues.” We can’t get help if minority women in particular believe we are immune to this issue.

Crystal MBA Graduation

Crystal Marie received her MBA in 2014, graduated Magna Cum Laude #Woot #Woot

PBWB: We definitely are not immune from any of the “not black girl issues,” ranging from eating disorders to depression and everything in between. Besides for unhealthy body image, what do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing young women and women today?

Crystal Marie: Lack of a relationship with God: When we don’t know our Creator and His plan for our lives, how can we truly know ourselves? So much time is spent on relationships that won’t last, while the ONLY relationship that will last, is neglected.

Low self-esteem: We don’t love or value ourselves, so we accept treatment and behave in ways that are beneath our dignity.

Sexting, Selfies, and Social Media: The desire to be told we are beautiful and sexy has grown to such a disgusting and unhealthy level by young women. Countless hours are spent on pointless life updates, manipulated /inappropriate pictures, and private thoughts that should NEVER be published. Personal business is broadcast for the world, reputations are ruined, jobs are lost, and self-respect is lost through false “online” lives, rather than investing in our real lives. Sisters, we are better than this.

Lack of Discipline and Focus: It is disheartening to see how easily many women throw away their futures before they have even begun. If I could tell my little sisters in particular, one thing it would be, “Sit down and FOCUS. Intelligence is beauty; focus on this kind of pretty. One day your education and decisions will play a major role in your life goals, don’t squander it.”

Crystal Marie co-facilitating a workshop with her best friend for over 500 high school girls focused on self- esteem, beauty and media images.

Crystal Marie co-facilitating a workshop with her best friend for over 500 high school girls focused on self-esteem, beauty and media images.

PBWG: You’ve had so many “Little Sisters” over the years that you’ve mentored. I’m blessed to be one of them. When you think about yourself at 20 years old, what do you know now that you wish you knew then? Maybe give some words of advice for your new “Little Sisters” in the blogosphere.

Crystal Marie: “Stop worrying: the degree, the job, the relationship, the house…the desired FUTURE it will ALL come! Just be in the Moment, girl.” “Turning 30 is going to be the BEST birthday of your life or at least so far! Thirty will be so amazing and  freeing!”

PBWB: That is great to hear! For me, by every birthday, I feel so much more comfortable; so much more myself than the year before. I love the wisdom that comes with time. What woman past or present do you look up to the most and why?

Crystal Marie: Proverbs 31:10 asks, who can find a virtuous woman for her price is far above rubies. I can say that I have found such a woman in my mother. I have met many talented and beautiful women but there is no one woman I respect, love, or look up to more than my mom. My mom is the epitome of grace, strength, realness, and beauty. My mother has such a loving and intimate relationship with God and it permeates everything she does in life. It’s amazing to watch the lives she touches and the way she NEVER sets limits on herself or others. I also admire the way my mother views motherhood, she believes it is her greatest calling and that is evident by the way she raised my siblings and I. We were and have always been first. I find it very difficult to watch mothers who don’t act like mothers because my mom made it her life goal to invest in our lives. If I could be half of the woman my mother is, it would be my greatest achievement.

PBWB: Absolutely beautiful. Speaking of achievements and goals, what are your goals over the next 5-10 years?

Crystal Marie: My goal is to start a foundation for underprivileged adolescent and teen girls. Ten years from now I want this dream to be a reality which requires me to invest in its conception now.

PBWB: Love it! I can definitely see that happening! What would you say are your ultimate goals?

Crystal with Jackie Robinson West

The “Snapshots of Life” blogger interviewed Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Little League Champions for a Black History Month event earlier this year.

Crystal Marie: To be Joyful. I spent many years looking to be happy but I’ve learned that happiness is temporary, Joy is eternal no matter the circumstance. This is the type of Joy only God can give.

To be remembered with a smile. I desire to bring joy to other people’s lives. I want others to feel valued and loved in their interactions with me. If I die and one person is compelled to smile when describing me, than my life will have counted for something.

To enjoy the work I do. No job is fun all of the time but I want to do work that means something. I want to be so passionate about the work that I do that it propels me to keep pushing even on the hard and boring days.

I want to pay the rent of a stranger. For many years, I have prayed that I will be in the financial position to one day write a check for a stranger that completely covers their rent or any other need they may have. I don’t need the accolades, I just love the joy that comes from making someone else smile.

PMWB: Wow, those are some truly inspirational goals. I hope my fellow P.O.P. readers have been even half as inspired and encouraged as I have been by your words. After so much depth and wisdom, how about we end on a lighter note? What are some things that you enjoy doing in your free time?

Crystal Marie: I love listening to music. I have a very well-rounded/slightly eclectic taste in music. Lyrics are a big deal to me; I love a great beat and hook as much anyone else but if I can’t connect with the words, if the lyrics don’t come from a deeper part of the author then I will lose interest in the song. My perfect day is curling up in a comfy chair with a good book, my Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, a cup of Panera Iced Green Tea and a white chocolate chip cookie. I ADORE Alvin Ailey American Dance Company. Front row seats to their annual  performances in Chicago just gives me LIFE! Mentoring is my Greatest passion. I love encouraging and spending time with young women.

PBWB: I will definitely have to check out an Alvin Ailey performance. Maybe that should be on my next 101 in 1001 list! Now tell us…what is your favorite book, poem, song, or quote?

Crystal Marie: [My favorite scripture is] Jeremiah 1:5, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you.” [My favorite book is] We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century by Dorothy Sterling. Presently, [my favorite song is] “Unbreakable Smile” by Tori Kelly.

PBWB: I’ll have to put my library card to use and check out that book. I’m always on the hunt for my next read. It’s been truly an honor to have you on the blog. Thank you so much! I’m sure everyone will want to know where to find more inspiration from you. Please let all my popped people know where to find you online.

Crystal Marie: Check out my blog: Snapshots of Life and my Facebook Group: “Snapshots of Life: United Sisters Group.”

Crystal Global Trip Internship

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous. “ -Coco Chanel

Words cannot express how grateful I am that Crystal Marie stopped by to share so much of herself with us. She’s been such a positive influence in my life and I’m happy to share her wisdom with the Popped Black Woman Blog Community. To all my positively optimistic and powerful people, leave your comments below or on the PBWB Facebook page. Keep it poppin’ 😉

Fearless Friday 4.16.15 (We’re All Good Enough)

Source: Rosie the Blogger by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com, after J. Howard Miller, 3/9/09 via flickr

Source: Rosie the Blogger by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com, after J. Howard Miller, 3/9/09 via flickr

This week I was afraid of…

Not being good enough.

I’ve really been on my blogging grind this week. I joined Brown Girl Bloggers last weekend and have been requesting friends, reading a lot of great blogs, and reaching out to other like-minded bloggers. There are so many phenomenal blogs out here that I wish there were enough hours in the day to sit and read them all several times. I’ve been inspired by so many twenty and thirty something women creating a name for themselves and making cash money from their hard work. They’ve shown me that it’s possible to use my writing to build brands, community, and bands (the type that makes some people dance).

But of course along with that inspiration came that green-eyed, snaggletoothed fool otherwise known as Envy. She took over my brain and put dirty little thoughts in my head. I don’t have as much style, talent, [Insert the blank] as this blogger or that blogger. I wish I was more like them.

Then after snaggletoothed Envy came her sister, Insecurity. What if these fantastic bloggers really do check out my blog? That would be great, but what if they don’t like it? What if they think it’s poorly written or even worse…just plain boring?

Today, I remember…

Instead of letting the fear that I’m not good enough permeate too much of my mind, I choose to meditate on the Popped Black Woman Blog Affirmation.

II. I am more than a conqueror over obstacles, anxiety, fear, and self-doubt. They will not prevent me from pursuing my dreams.

V. I will not compare my shortcomings or achievements to those of others. My journey is mine.

VI. I will only compete against the person I was yesterday.

If I keep working hard at becoming a better writer, encourager, and community builder, I can’t go wrong. Each post that I write helps me become a better writer and blogger. It’s not fair to me when I compare my success as a writer or blogger to someone that has been putting in work for years.

I just read a great blog post by PHAT Girl Fresh about the current Miss Jessie’s Blogger Book Tour. The entire post is great, but I especially love the short backstory on the Branch sisters. It took Miko and Titi Branch 7 years to transition from salon owners to owners of a popular hair care line. Then, it took another 10 years for their brand to be what is today, a household name for every natural-haired girl worldwide and popular enough for them to publish their success story. Even if you’re a natural gal who has never used their products (I haven’t), you’ve at least thought about it, or at the very least, heard of it. It took them decades to accomplish this. Again, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

What were your fears this week? What did you do to become fearless? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

Feel the Wrath of My Keyboard (My New Grievance with the Chicago Park District)

A part of being positively optimistic and powerful is standing up for yourself and for others that are mistreated or marginalized. This doesn’t require a lot of neck-twisting, eye-rolling, or cussin’ folks out. We have so much more power than we think we do simply by expressing our grievances as calmly and respectfully as we can. Sometimes, this may require us stepping back from the situation to calm our emotions and put our unintelligible, angry thoughts into a form that is clear and persuasive.

We all have different strengths. My husband is a persuasive speaker. He probably can convince a dog that it’s actually a cat. Although I can be articulate when I want to be, I know for sure that I can go into beast mode when I write. I would rather treat someone’s life with my pen rather than play the dozens with my mouth (but best believe I have my moments!).

Two years ago, I had to put my treat-your-life writing skills to work when a Chicago Public Library employee treated me like one of Cinderella’s black step-sisters. I won’t go into the details of the incident, partly because I half remember it and also because the specifics aren’t important. One of the library employees, not sure of her title, was unnecessarily rude so I took it upon myself to send a very long, detailed email to a general email address that I found on the Chicago Public Library website (info@chipublib.org in case you need to put someone in their place).

I didn’t really think anyone would respond. My husband didn’t think anyone would respond. However, I had to give it a shot because I was so upset about the incident. To our surprise, I received the following email: (Note that I removed the identifying information of the library branch that I had the issue with simply because this was a one-time event and they usually have good customer service.)

Dear Ms. (Removed my last name)

I apologize for the bad experience you had at the (Removed library branch name) branch yesterday.

I’ve forwarded your complaint to the Library’s Assistant Commissioner for Neighborhood Services, who oversees this branch.

Paul Keith
___________________
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60605
www.chipublib.org

Then I received this email:

Ms. (Removed my last name),

Thank you for taking the time to let us know about the service you received at the Chicago Public Library (Removed library branch name) Branch. We do apologize for the inconvenience you experienced and the rude service you described. I’ve included your concerns as you’ve stated below. The branch manager at (Removed library branch name), (Removed branch manager name) is a very service oriented manager and will address you concerns with the staff. I know Ms. (Removed branch manager name) would be happy to talk with you about the details of this incident in order to direct her efforts towards correcting such behavior appropriately. She can be reached at (Removed telephone number of branch manager).

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. I do plan to follow up with (Removed branch manager name).

We hope you will continue to enjoy the resources and services offered by the Chicago Public Library.

Best Regards,
Roberta V. Webb
District Chief
South District

I’m showing my P.O.P. community these emails to show you that it is possible to have your voice heard when lodging official complaints about poor customer service received at public institutions. Sometimes it seems like there is very little accountability in public service offices (DMV anyone?), but we have to speak out for the potential for any type of change to occur. Speaking out doesn’t have to involve screaming loud for more impact. If you feel disrespected or mistreated by a public or private sector establishment, you can definitely use your pen or keyboard to voice your concerns without losing your self-respect or adding more lines to your rap sheet.

Recently, the Chicago Park District has become the focus of my writing wrath. The short story is I was looking forward to finding a summer program for me and Little L to do this summer. Last summer, we took a swim class for babies 6-18 months at the University of Illinois at Chicago and took a music class for babies 6-12 months at the Old Town School of Folk Music. The classes were fine, but I think I was too ambitious. It was a tad bit stressful to get my then 10-11 month old to both classes on time and in good spirits.

Little L at her Old Town School of Folk Music class, Summer 2014

Little L at her Old Town School of Folk Music class, Summer 2014

This summer, I was looking forward to finding a Chicago Park District program that may be a little bit closer to home. I was extremely disappointed (angry really) when I logged on the Chicago Park District website to discover tons of classes for Little L’s age range (1.5-3 year olds) on the North and Southwest sides of the city, which consist of predominately white and Hispanic neighborhoods, but very slim pickings of classes in this age range where we live on the Southeast side of Chicago (full of predominately black neighborhoods). I saw one swim class somewhat near me (maybe there were two or three, but definitely a stark contrast to the plethora of classes available in other areas). Where were the arts & crafts, gymnastic, or gardening classes for young toddlers on the Southeast side (or even West side, the other predominately black section of the city) like in the areas heavily populated by whites and Hispanics? You guys already know that my hands are hot and ready to shoot an email off to play@chicagoparkdistrict.com to tell them exactly how I feel.

What do you all do in hopes to spark change? Do you find that writing emails or letters to establishments or politicians help? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.