The Longaberger Basket

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Longaberger BasketEarly in 2017, I attended a ‘multicultural church’. It’s said that Sunday is the most segregated day of the week. From my experiences, I would agree. Most churches I have attended from the USA to England have been one dominant culture or another.  Very rarely do I find an equal mix of people.

While I had a great experience at this new church and the overall operation of the church was better than anything I had ever experienced, I still didn’t feel at home there.  This was a majority White church.  Some may say, “Race doesn’t matter. God is God. It doesn’t matter what the make up of the congregation is.”  While that is true,  I’ll add that church is also a cultural experience. As I sat through the musical selections, I was not moved. As nice as the music was, I just couldn’t relate to the style of music.  I was accustomed to and prefer Gospel music while attending church.  I recall taking a few friends to various churches with me throughout the years and their response was always the same “wow, I feel like I just left a concert”. I don’t want to minimalizing the Black Church experience to simply Gospel music, but music is a major compenent.

As we got into the sermon, I became even more distant.  While the Gospel of Jesus may be universal, the delivery is not. The speaker was a visiting, military chaplain.  Prior to going into his sermon, he spoke about life in the military. One of the things he addressed was constantly moving and the toll it took on his family.  I could not imagine this and it really made me think about the sacrifices that many military families have made and continue to make as they are placed miles from home.  He struck a chord with me when he said that no matter where the family moved, the family always had a Longaberger Basket on their coffee table during the holidays.  They didn’t feel like they were “home” unless they had that basket.

In a previous job, the women went crazy over Longaberger baskets. I didn’t get the craze, much the same way I don’t get the Lilly Pulitzer or LulaRoe craze. To me, Longaberger baskets were ugly, overpriced baskets.  And while preferences for baskets have no skin color, I can say that a majority of my circle did not obsess over Longaberger baskets the way the White women did at work.  As the sermon began, I can honestly tell you that I don’t remember anything that he said. He lost me at Longaberger. Weeks later and now months later,  all I remember from that sermon is the Longaberger basket.

A lesson in cultural proficiency

Last year, I was able to teach a course at my Alma Mater on Institutional Racism.  During one class, we spoke about bias in education by way of IQ and other standardized testing.  I even showed a clip from Good Times to further relay the point.

 

In the South Side of Chicago, people didn’t have saucers to put their cups on. So the point of reference was lost on the test question.  Within my immediate circle, we don’t have expensive baskets as the centerpieces of our tables.  So, the reference in church was lost. The aspect of not having a permanent home was touching and the fact that one object was the only real symbol of home for this family was something that could not be taken lightly.  However, the overall church experience didn’t engage me culturally or speak to me in a language that engaged me.

As we head into Easter, I imagine that churches will remain largely segregated. In order for that to change, church leadership will need to become culturally proficient about other cultures outside of their own – have multi-lingual programs and a wide variety of worship music – as examples.  Otherwise, they will not attract and retain a diverse congregation. And while it would be nice to have more inclusive worship on Sundays, I also appreciate that church has served an important mooring for many.  In a time when segregation was legal, the Black Church served as the hub of the Black Community. For some, it may be the only time of the week to connect with those of similar cultural and/or lingquistic backgrounds.

Will I go back to this church again? Perhaps.  The daycare system was pretty amazing. I recieved multiple cards in the mail after I arrived and emails. Overall, it was a good experience, but I’m going to need a little more Soul with my Jesus!

 

 

I took my fat a@@ to the gym

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I took my fat a@@ to the gym

Finally, after years of absence, I signed up for a gym membership.  We have a lot of heavy-duty equipment in the house. However, I just can’t will myself to step on the treadmill or elliptical machine.  Tired of all the excess weight I’ve put on since 2012, I decided “enough is enough”.

While I have been slow to actually focus on my health, I can say that recent health issues have really kicked my a@@ into high gear with regards to taking better care of self.  I can honestly say that if I didn’t have a child, I would continue as normal. However, the thought of not being around for my daughter makes me sad and slightly depressed.  I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Sure. However, the thought of dying young because I couldn’t stop drinking sodas is not something I can live with on a daily basis.

It took very little research to decide on a gym. Cheap was the only requirement.  I went online after reading a billboard advertising a new member deal and VOILA!  I’m officially a member of the gym.

It’s already hard enough to go to the gym, but to walk into the gym on the first day and have the customer service look at you like you have 2 heads really made me want to walk out of the door. I was met with a lukewarm greeting at the door and I had to ask for a tour after I indicated I joined online.  The tour was a big disappointment.  Locker room under construction. No locks for sale for the lockers. Restroom entrance has a big tarp covering it. “These are all aesthetics”, I say to myself. “You don’t need any of these things to work out”.  However I walked back out as quickly as I came in.

Day 1. Failure. I’ll come back when I have a lock for my stuff.

Day 2 (not sequential). I return back to gym as I received a text message that there was a problem with my payment.  Hmmmn – my bank shows a charge from your organization, how could there be a problem when you charged my card.  Patience. I must practice patience.  Card re-processed. Head to bathroom. Tarp on bathroom. Locker room still under construction. “These are all aesthetics”, I say to myself. “You don’t need any of these things to work out”.

This gym is the “Home of the Judgement Free Zone.” Yeah right.  Who are you kidding? I’m judging everyone in here and I haven’t even started 1 workout.  I’m looking at them and I KNOW they are looking at me.  I head over to an elliptical machine. About the same time, a girl jumps on to one next to me.  Phone in tow, without hands, she is going full force on that machine as if her life depended on it.  Meanwhile, I’m trying to balance myself as I’m looking for a safety harness while also pushing 5 different buttons trying to make the machine “go”!  WTF really? I felt like I needed a degree in computer science to work the machine.

After 10 minutes I literally thought I was going to die. Meanwhile girl next to me is not about to stop any time soon.  After cleaning the machine (I learned gym etiquette in my previous gym life),  I roamed the gym looking for my next target.  I settle on some leg machines. I watch the lady to my left and the lady to my right.  I had to perform minor gymnastics to even get into the machine.  Once on the machine, nothing. “How the Fu@K do you work this machine?” Ugh…I really don’t want to ask anyone, but I nervously ask the lady next to me and she briefly coached me.  Ok it’s working now – kind of.  After 5 minutes, I moved on. Treadmill it is.  Easy enough. No running for me as I’m an accident waiting to happen. 15 minutes and I’m done.  I walk out the gym slightly satisfied while also feeling like failure.

The next day I hate like a pig. There is always next week!

Do you have any quirky or funny gym stories?