Monday, May 26, 2014

Art That Celebrates Diversity

White Sugar, Brown Sugar is celebrating our newest partner, ErinGoPaint!  Our family owns two of Erin's beautiful prints, including this one, my personal favorite

  Erin shares:

I started my Etsy shop with 5 listings, to have a place to put my work, and as an inspiration to keep going. My daughter was still very young, I was completely sleep deprived, working full-time, traveling for business, learning the ins and outs of eating gluten free, and healing myself through food. Working on my art and my shop revived and refueled me.  "Erin, go paint, and you will feel better"... more connected, grounded, joyful!

My daughter, who is now 8 years old, inspired me. I needed to show her that princesses and heroines need not have “pink skin and yellow hair.” And, so that Disney wouldn’t be her sole source of how a princess or heroine could look. I was compelled to create my first multicultural mermaid in her likeness and ended up finding a large audience looking for the same thing.

I believe my illustrations have a very positive influence on how young girls see themselves. Countless clients have told me that their daughters think the paintings are them. The girls get to see themselves reflected as the beautiful princess, instead of a constant stream of images that look nothing like them. It’s certainly not all about beauty, but if young girls can grow up appreciating the beauty that they possess, it will help them to grow into strong and confident women.

Children and fairytales, food, shoes, architecture, animals in unexpected colors, vintage fashion, and positive inspirational quotes all inspire me…With color and whimsy as a constant influence on how I approach a painting or illustration.

Customers can reach Erin via Etsy, Facebook, one of her two websites, and Twitter

White Sugar, Brown Sugar readers can enjoy 15% off their art print order from Erin's shop by entering the code CUSTAPPRECIATE15 at checkout. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Angry White Woman

Recently, my article on professionals not being so professional when it comes to adoptive families spurred a lot of buzz.  Are adoptive moms like me just too damn sensitive?  Or are we chronic defenders of our rights and the privacy our children deserve?  Should we just shut up and take whatever the world hands us, with a smile and a nod?  Or should we spend our energies fighting particular battles, demanding justice, and disagreeing with those who disrespect our families?

Here are some of my truths:

---My kids aren't poster children for adoption.  They are just my kids.  They didn't ask to be adopted.  They didn't ask to have white parents.  But their birth parents chose for us to be their parents, and we are honored to have the privilege.  My children aren't required to be anything but children. 

---I will and am teaching my children that it is ok to stand up for themselves and others when they are being treated unjustly.  It's ok to tell you, a random adult, "no" when they trying to harm my kids in any way.  It's ok to refuse to satisfy the curiosity of adults who abuse their positions of power to satisfy their personal curiosities.   My kids don't have to let you "pet" their hair.  My kids don't have to answer you when you ask, AGAIN, if they are "real" siblings. 

---I will, without shame or embarrassment or guilt or uncertainty, teach my children about their history as African Americans.  We will celebrate Black History Month, MLK's birthday, Juneteenth.  We will have Black Santa ornaments on our tree.  We will talk about slavery.  We will subscribe to Ebony and Essence.  We will celebrate their race, not disguise it in the name of "colorblindness." 

---I will give my children opportunities to foster a healthy racial identity.  This means, for us, having a mentor for our older two children and having a diverse group of friends.  (The research done on adult transracial adoptees says that where adoptive parents went wrong was not connecting their children with people of the children's same race so the opportunity for meaningful relationships could develop.)  I will have their hair professionally cut and braided, as well as take care of their hair myself.  And I will also let my kids be who they are, without trying to alter them to fit any mold

---The idea of talking about race and intentionally fostering my children's racial identity makes some really uncomfortable.  (Even seeing my family makes some people really uncomfortable!) Your comfort isn't my concern.  I'm mothering my children and celebrating who they are (their personalities, their feelings, their talents, and yes, their race).  I'm working diligently to teach them how to grow into independent, strong, compassionate, passionate, loving adults who value justice, equality, love, and challenges.  I want them to know that first and foremost, they are loved and created by God, that they were created to do divine things with their lives, and that we, their parents, will do anything to help them achieve their best.   My concern is not helping you stop feeling guilty about race, pacify your curiosity, or coddle your rudeness. 

---I'm doing a good job.  I know mothers aren't supposed to be self-affirming.  I know we are supposed to feel guilty and uncertain and overwhelmed.  (I'm not immune; I feel these things at times, sometimes in long seasons.)  But I know that God has put people in my life to boost me up: to inspire, to support, to cheer.  I know that my children are ok.  Not just ok, but awesome.  They are smart and talented and beautiful and funny.  They have some great nurture and some great nature.

Listen, I do worry a lot about colorism (my middle daughter is very dark-skinned) and racism + sexism (my son, a black boy).  My heart breaks for the young men and their families who are ripped apart by adults with guns who treat black boys like aggressive men.  I cheer when I see accomplished African Americans.  I point these stories out to my children.   I can't stand the term and concept of "colorblindness."

I want adults to act like adults.  Not turn every thought into words.  Not insist that my family prove ourselves, that my children make them feel better about adoption or race or both.  

You don't hear me ask a person in a wheelchair why he or she is wheelchair bound.  You don't hear me asking a person who is overweight if he or she has an over-eating issue or a metabolic disorder.  Because it's none of my damn business.   And because it doesn't matter.

My kids are people.  As Dr. Seuss said, so wisely, "A person's a person no matter how small."

So yes, when people question my children, when the news reports another senseless murder of a black boy, when I'm asked to produce "proof" of my family's authenticity, my mama bear comes out. 

Label it angry white woman if you want.

But I'd rather go through life knowing I stood up to wrongness rather than coddled it.   I'd rather be the one who defends rather than cowers.  I'd rather be the one who stands strong versus falling down.  I'd rather be the mother my children need than the white person you prefer, the one who pretends color doesn't exist and that we live in a post-racial society where we've all just "gotten over" race.

At times, yes, I'm angry.  And I'm always white and a woman.  But I'm not going to fit the mold that makes you comfortable. 

Because I'm too busy bringing up babies who are going to do great things. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dolls for Kids of All Colors

White Sugar, Brown Sugar would like to welcome our newest partner, A Button and a Stitch

Kathy, owner of the shop, shares:

"I am the wife of my high school sweetheart and have been married for 34 years. I have four grown sons and four wonderful daughter-in-laws. I am “gramma” to Blake, Trevor and Aubrey, and Hallie will soon be joining the family.

Because I am a Christian, I strive to honor Christ in all that I do. That includes my home based business A Button and a Stitch.  As a young girl I taught myself how to sew on an old treadle sewing machine. I had to pump the foot peddle to make the machine run. I have always loved to sew and it just came natural to use my skills in a home based business.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mom while raising my four sons. I recently earned an Early Childhood Education degree and am a child advocate.  The combination of my love for children and sewing are the driving forces behind A Button and a Stitch.
As you browse through my shop you will see a variety of toys and dolls. Diversity makes my shop special. Any of my dolls may be customized to suit your needs. Every individual is unique and I desire to celebrate and honor that in my shop."

Kathy is offering White Sugar, Brown Sugar readers a 10% discount on their purchase.  Use the code SUGAR10 at checkout.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Necklaces for Kids of All Colors

White Sugar, Brown Sugar would like to introduce our latest partner, Hanna, and her incredible company called Kendall Kollection.    I first met Hanna on FB when I discovered that not only does she create beautiful necklaces for kids of all colors (including a Doc McStuffins and Tiana necklaces), but she also lives very close to me! 

My girls loved wearing their Minnie and Doc McStuffins necklaces to Disney in March!  And we are now the proud owners of four Kendall Kollection necklaces.  :) 

Hanna shares:  "My name is Hanna, and I am a stay-at-home-mom to my 2-year-old daughter Kendall. I have my nursing license and in my free time I run my jewelry business, Kendall Kollection. Every necklace I make is unique and handmade. I have necklace designs that are ready to order and I take custom design orders as well. I find inspiration in anything with color. Sometimes it's a shirt, and sometimes it's wallpaper or tulips. I just never know where I might find my next design inspiration!"

Fans can reach Hanna on both Etsy and Facebook.   And if you enter the code "Blog10" at checkout, you get 10% off for being a White Sugar, Brown Sugar reader! 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

I want to wish all of my readers a very blessed Mother's Day.   Hop over to to read my post on why Mother's Day is for ALL mothers.   You might be pleasantly surprised!  :) 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tees that Educate, Empower, and Entice!

White Sugar, Brown Sugar would like to welcome one of our new partners, New Tribe New Traditions, and it's customers to the blog!

I discovered this fabulous t-shirt company while browsing Etsy, and I'm in love with the products!  How many times have you had to tell strangers to quit touching your child's hair?

Or you want to celebrate all shades?  (This is particularly meaningful to me, as each of my three kids is a different shade of brown----and all their shades are beautiful!)

There are so many fabulous designs to choose from.  And don't worry, mamas!  There are tees in your size, too!
Dawn Kimble is the owner and creator of New Tribe New Traditions.   She shares:  

 I am a married mother of three who prides herself on being a renaissance woman. I am a t-shirt designer, a painter, quilter, seamstress, organic gardener and a self-proclaimed foodie. I was a stay at home mom for 7 years and during that time I smocked little girls dresses, made quilts and carpooled.

I have more than 16 years of experience in child development and education, and more than 7 years of experience in nonprofit administration. I have a BLS in education and psychology, a MS in Leadership and Adult Education and a Certificate in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Administration. I am really passionate about community outreach and women’s rights. I am highly invested in supporting my community through volunteerism, service learning activities, and arts education.

I started my Etsy shop two years ago as a way to express myself and earn money. I was pleasantly surprised that this little shop has turned into so much more.

I have worn my hair in its natural state for almost 18 years and I was pleasantly surprised when the natural hair movement took root. Seeing the creativity and passion of women around the world embracing their natural beauty really inspired me to fall in love with myself all over again. I had an “aha” moment where I finally understood how I could connect my love of art with my love for community outreach. The natural hair movement became the perfect way for me start a business in a difficult economy, indulge in my love of art daily and also reconnect with the young girls that I volunteer with and mentor.

I believe that when girls (especially Brown Girls) embrace themselves, their self-esteem and life potential is elevated! I Embrace and support kinky, curly, and coily hair, I create original t-shirts that reinforce the idea of its beauty and uniqueness. And I hope that I provide a small self-esteem boost for girls who may question their beauty. This is one of my passions so I regularly donate items to underprivileged girls and collaborate with organizations in my community.

Follow Dawn on Twitter
Like her company on Facebook
White Sugar, Brown Sugar readers:
Use the coupon code SUGARLOVE on the Etsy site for 15% off your order!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Self-Esteem/Self-Worth/Self-Confidence: The Problem Is, These Start with Self

I read a lot of upbeat blog posts, articles, shared/pinned quotes about self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence.   I even pin or share a few myself. 

They sound good.  They inspire me for a few seconds.  The smarty-pants ones make me smile or chuckle.

But they don't last.

I taught college composition for nine years.  Not a semester went by without one of my classes writing an advertisement analysis paper.  They would take a list of terms and using their critical eye, dissect a chosen print ad, pointing out all the ways the advertiser attempts to sell a product.  

This is not easy for many students to do at first.  They have a hard time imagining that an advertiser uses everything from color, to eye gaze, to orientation of the image, to props, to text to manipulate and entice the consumer.

But the more ads we examine a class and in small groups, the students begin to see the truth. That the advertiser doesn't have our best interest at heart.  The goal is always to sell something, to sell a lot of it, and keep us coming back for more.

The students also discover the contradictions.

I've always been disgusted by Dove and their "real women" beauty campaigns.  Dove will feature a "real woman" (or usually a line up of real women) who are curvy, yet have not an ounce of cellulite, who advertise "skin firming" cream.

The skin firming cream they don't actually need...but actually do need?  Huh?

The contradictions in society are never ending.  All the stories on the racist rants coming from famous white people (ahem, Paula and Mr. Sterling) and murders of young Black boys, but the Lupita is our most beautiful person and what is Kerri Washington wearing this week? 

I've thought a lot about the struggles my children (and I, as their parent) face.  Almost everywhere we look, my kids aren't represented, an if they are, they are almost always represented inaccurately or stereotypically. 

The odds aren't in their favor, because of their hairstyles (ahem, school dress codes, what what?), because of their range of skin tones, because of their race and sex. There is a never-ending media reel that not only plays on the TV, but resonates in my heart, leaving my mind restless, my soul aching for justice and equality and opportunity.

And I sometimes get really overwhelmed.  How am I going to combat all that tries to bring my children down?  How will they make it?  Am I enough for them? 

Yo, self.  Take in this truth:  I cannot combat it all, they will struggle, and I am not enough for them.

The feel-good messages of empowerment and esteem and confidence and I-can-do-anything attitude are fleeting.  They don't last.  They come and go.  They contradict themselves.

Lately God has gently whispered to me, when I become consumed with worry and distracted by true stories of defeat, injustice, and prejudice, that any time we look to anything but God for our worth, esteem, and confidence, we will come up short.   It will slip through our fingers like sand. 

The Bible is clear:

John 16:33:  "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Proverbs 31:30:  "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

My heart is heavy with the loud evils that infest and infect our society and loom over families of color:  racism, colorism, sexism.  I'm bothered by the increasingly popular use of the word thug.  I'm bothered by all the murders of young black boys.  I worry that just because Lupita is People's Most Beautiful, that there are voices much louder than a celeb magazine who seek to squander dark sisters like my middle daughter. 

I seek out the positives and rejoice in them.   I love reading For Harriet on a daily basis.  And MyBrownBaby.  And hearing about Because of Them, We Can.  And viewing the photos on We Are The 15 Percent.  And reading Essence and Ebony.  And filling my home and my kids' minds with books on black history.  And celebrating fantastic and diverse musical artists like Darius Rucker, and LeCrae, and Jamie Grace, and Ella Fitzgerald.    And encouraging my children in their relationships with fellow African Americans.

I love black culture and black history.  I love my children.  And I want them to be proud of who they are, celebrate their blackness, and feel confident, empowered, and valued. 

I'm trying really hard to do the right things in the right time.

Yet I also find myself going back to the place of helplessness, confusion, anger, and frustration.  Why can't the world love our family for who we are?  Accept my children as children, full of potential and creativity and hope?  Why will my son grow up in a world where he's seen, by default, as suspicious, angry, and rebellious? 

Because this world is really jacked.  Messy.  Easily angered.  Slow to forgive.  Slow to progress.

And our family is an anomaly.  We puzzle people.  We make others questions their history, their beliefs, their attitudes, their words.  We are game-changers, trailblazers, subversive, strange.

And if I'm going to wait on "the world" to love us, accept us, encourage us, or empower us...I'll be waiting forever.

So here's what I know for sure:

Our value comes from the fact that despite all our messiness, Jesus died for us. And not just us, but every. single. person. 

We can accept this or reject this.

We can spend our energies fighting God and the truth.  Or we can embrace it and thrive in it.

Just because we love God and He loves us, doesn't mean we will be free of tribulation.  But it does mean we have the most powerful, unshakable foundation that can withstand any storm.

I'm going to build on that.   I'm going to teach my children that they are divine and special and wonderful because they were created by someone who loves them without condition.

The other day, my daughters wanted a "mint chocolate" (York), but there was only one.  So my oldest broke the York in half, though the halves weren't even.  One side was much larger than the other.  She looked at both halves and I could see her hesitating.  Which half would she hand her sister?

I asked her to hand her sister a piece.

With tears in her eyes, she handed Baby E the bigger half.

And the tears fell.

And we talked about it.  That doing the right thing, the unselfish thing, doesn't always feel good.  Doing the right thing doesn't always feel good in the immediate.  But what is right doesn't change based on our feelings in that moment of decision.

It's tough for me, as a mom of three littles, to constantly redirect us back to God and the value we have in Him.  The bigger half is easier and more pleasant to keep; it's more enticing for sure.  At least in that moment.   

But the right thing to do is relish in the thing that appears, by the world's standards, to be less significant.

When we hold on to the wrong things, when we think that first and foremost, we need to "find ourselves" in anything or anyone outside of the One True King, it will fail.  Every single time. 

It all starts with God. It all rests in God. 

All things can be done in God...

who strengthens me.

And my children.

And you.