Random Brain Dumping

Musings and observations about life

A black mother’s worst fear

Not long ago, a black man asked me to bail him out of jail. The problem was twofold: I was broke, and he was locked up because of something he had done.

Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin

He had not been arrested for being a black man. He was arrested for assaulting someone.

I didn’t bail him out, but too often, black men, black boys, black people are arrested for being black.

Sometimes, they are singled out because they are black.

Picture of Hip Hop artist Common in a hoody.

Grammy winning musician and actor Common dons a hoody in support justice in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin.

I recall one of my sons being suspended from riding the school bus for being disruptive. I asked for a meeting with the principal and bus driver, as this was not a disruptive child.

At the meeting, I asked the bus driver if my son had been doing anything that the other children had not been doing.

All the children had been unruly that day, she said.

When I asked how she had been able, then, to single out my son, she said that when she had looked in the mirror, she saw my son nudge another boy.

My son got suspended; the other boy didn’t.

When I asked how that could be, the driver said she had caught my son in the act.

My next question got to the heart of the matter.

Could it be, I asked her, that when she looked in the mirror, her eyes naturally went to the one person on the bus who didn’t look like the others?

You see, my son was the only black child on the bus. We lived in a suburb of Tampa, and the neighborhood kids were bused downtown to a magnet school with strong academic and arts programs.

The Tampa Bay area’s population at the time was 10 percent minority – all minorities.

On a bus that held dozens and dozens, my son was the only minority.

He stood out.

I learned the statistics from the principal, who was quick to point out that the school did not practice discrimination, an accusation I had not hurled.

Children in hoodies

Children in hoodies

The driver took offense.

My response was simple: My son had been easy to spot in a sea of lookalikes. Maybe he hadn’t been the instigator.

The driver conceded I could be right. The principal acquiesced.

My son rode the bus the next day.

As the mother of sons, I’ve often worried that one day they would be singled out for being black, that something would happen that couldn’t be explained away as simply.

Something like the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen, armed only with Skittles and iced tea, killed in February by volunteer neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.

President Barack Obama said this about the shooting death: “I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together, federal, state and local, to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.”


It’s a tragedy that every black mother of a son, particularly, fears could happen.


March 26, 2012 Posted by | Random Brain Dumping | , , | 6 Comments

One cup of joe, but at what cost

A few Christmases ago, a friend gave me one of the best gifts ever: a single-cup coffeemaker that uses little paper pods filled with coffee.

The perfect cup of coffee every time.

Lately, however, I’ve had a difficult time finding the pods in stores, so when an aunt gave me a brewer that uses little plastic single-serve cups filled with coffee, I accepted it and ordered boxes of these cups from the manufacturer, which also boasts of delivering the perfect single serving of coffee.

Both brewers live up to their claims, but I have a problem with the plastic cups.

What do I do with all the discarded ones?

With the pods, discarding them was easy: Because they are made from paper, I could actually just add them to the soil of my many potted plants and to the rose bush, tomato and hibiscus plants in the yard. The paper is biodegradable, and the coffee serves as a great fertilizer.

Cup of hot coffee

One cup of coffee is all I need, but what do I do with the used K cups that my coffee comes in?

Burying plastic isn’t a good idea.

What I ended up doing was pulling the aluminum top off, dumping the coffee into a bag and adding the plastic cup, the paper filter inside and the top to my recyclable stash.

The problem is that the process is so tedious. Fortunately, I drink only one or two cups of coffee a day. I would be hard-pressed if I drank any more than that.

Another problem is that when I checked out the manufacturer’s website to see if it had recycling options, I found that the aluminum portion isn’t easily recyclable because it has a special coating on it that hinders the process. The company says it’s working on a system for high-use areas (not sure where those are) that will at least use the grounds as compost. I’ve found that it’s actually easier to recycle the brewer itself than the plastic cups that hold the coffee.

Fortunately, I never gave up my search for the coffee pods for my other brewer, and I found some while vacationing in Hawaii. Why is it that I could find them in Hawaii but not in Georgia?

No lo se.

So incredibly tedious was my attempt at recycling that when I ran out of the plastic cups, I went back to using the pods.

I’ve noticed that my work headquarters has the plastic-cup coffeemakers all around the building. I assume that the vendor collects the used ones, but I wonder what happens to them.

Are the cups recycled or simply tossed?

Do you use a plastic-cup brewer? You know, the one that begins with a K? What do you do with the used ones?

Maybe we can put our heads together to come up with environmentally friendly uses for them.

I would love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue using the pods, when I can find them, or I’ll use the reusable plastic cup that I recently found for $11 online that allows me to put my own coffee in it and not have to worry about where the waste goes.

March 19, 2012 Posted by | Random Brain Dumping | , , , , , | 1 Comment


%d bloggers like this: