Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Real Deal Review of Disney's New Princess

I recently watched a commentary of Disney's new movie, The Princess and the Frog on Direct TV's The Reel Channel. The Siskel and Ebert-like critics gave the movie a "Skip It" and "Rent It," as if to insinuate that it would be a waste of time to go see the movie in theaters, sighting that the movie was too busy and didn't know what it wanted to accomplish. Who are these jokers anyway?

I not only went to see it in theater opening weekend but braved a Pink Carpet pre-event( sponsored by The Mocha Moms Inc.) filled with hundreds of mini tapioca, mocha and deep fudge-colored mini Tianas and their parents supporting Disney's first African American princess. This movie was long overdue, and in my opinion, it was done in grand style.

Rewind to 2007. My family visited the happiest place on earth, Disney World in Orlando, FL. Trip of a lifetime, right? The pictures are from my daughter's trip to the Bippity Boppity Boutique where she was to recieve a makeover. Notice that she was attended to by not one, not two, but three "Fairy Godmothers" before they called on the African American godmother to help attach the tiara with blond tendrils into my daughter's medium brown cornrowed hairstyle. I sat in horror as the brushed, and added gel to her already semi-permanent hairstyle. Since when did a tiara come with hair?

What I now realize is that it was the job of each cast members (workers) at Disney's boutique to make our darling daughters conform to the image of a Disney Princess. It was only made worse when I made her stuff her 6T body into a 4T cinderella costume we had from home that made her look more like Princess Sheniquah than Cinderella Princess images will certainely have to change with the creation of Princess Tiana. She's smart, fiercely independent and dedicated, and more importantly coco brown. She was bold enough to challenge the status quo of Disney princesses before her who had to depend on the honor and bravery of their prince to save them and make their dreams come. In my opinion it was a bold move to keep it real, revamping the old Jimminy Cricket addage, "When you wish upon a star . . ." to Tiana's mantra "you have to meet that wish half way with hard work of your own."

How long have we waited for this image for our daughters. I will be 40 years old this year and remembered visiting Disney World at age nine. I saw all the movies of the ivory pricess singing in a shrill voicee, "I am wishing for the one I love to find me. . ." My mother still has the prized collection of LP's 331/2 of each story book album. I,too, have tried to conform to beauty standards that weren't meant for me by wearing a robe on my head to resemble sraight long hair and buying into a fairy tales of a perfect prince that comes ready-made and searches the world to find and solve all my problems.

Not to knock Disney who have tried to diversify their programming on its various cable channels with shows such as That's So Raven, its spin-off, Cory in Da House and The Proud Family that had an almost exclusive African American cast. My personal favorite Disney's animated show Filmore about a Middle School saftey patrol along the lines of a Joe Friday. None of these shows are on anymore and few run in syndication. I can't even buy a Filmore DVD. It'like these images just fade away with nothing to fill the void.

To make The Princesses and The Frog authentic Disney hired AA animators to work on the film. It was done in old style animation to have the feel of classic Disney movies the likes of Snow White, and Cinderella. They even used music or the musicale to help tell the story. New Orleans provided a colorful and vibrant backdrop for the movie, and in my opinion a fair representation of the culture there. The movie flowed and had a strong moral throughout of trusting your heart.

Like the historic nomination and election of President Barack Obama, African Americans became interested in this movie because it hightlighted the FIRST African American princess in hopes that it would open the door for my features and programming of more persons of color. We are critics as as well, and just any image won' do. We supported this movie in droves because it was a solid representation of us.We have to guard what our kids see and the images that are fed to us about us. I wish I could clue those movie critics in on what they take for granted. That not all children see themselves reflected in the media as smart, fun-loving, innovative and inquisive as children are designed to be. This was so much more than a plot line, a twist of voodoo and cliche songs. This was a legacy. Many in my generation and the one before mine have wished for this day, and we know what happens when you wish upon a star.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The 2009 Top Ten Christmas Gifts for your children

Tired of Hannah Montana toys, Dora or Diego play sets or replicas of one the hundreds of children television chararcters you are forced to watch with your child. You already can't get the show's jingle out of your head. Do you really want to invite the talking figurine into your house this Christmas.

If you think about it these toys are more about the brand then your child's enjoyment. Consider my list of Top Ten Christmas list of presents for all ages that hopefully will hold your child's attention and curiousity long after the egg nog has gone bad.

Speaking of brands I've been impressed about this brands dedication to learning toys. ALmost everything this company manufactors could have made my list. Leap Frog, the brand not the field day game has two products that range from your 4/5 yr olds learning to read to your pre-teens who are challenged in subjects like Social Studies and Science,and by nature of school are forced to read to learn their subject matter. The fact that I found both 1 and 2 at the Big Lots store at a reasonable price makes them the perfect stocking stuffer.
1.Leap Frog's Sing Along/Read along Karokee Reading set is a cross between Hooked on Phonics and the Friday Night set down at the Applebees. Language controlled song lyrics are broadcast and highlighted on your tv screen and corresponding books so as the child learns the song they make correlations to sight words. Pretty cool if you can stand the repetition. Soon, your child will be ready to join you in a duet down at Applebees.
2.I almost bought the next one. The Crammer Study and Sound System also by Leap Frog for ages 8yrs to 15 creates digital flashcards and downloads quizzes to a hand held music player. So when your pre-teen declares I study best to music you can give them the benefit of the doubt. Ask the pre-teens that I teach I am big on metacognition or the ability to unpack their thinking.Beyond the obvious technological appeal you can put the ounes on the kids for preparing for upcoming texts and quizzes.
3.Disney Create a Story by V-Tech
4.I've kept this next one in mind as a potential birthday gift for every inquisitive boy I know since spottiing this in Target. Spark your child's desire to preserve history with the Backyard Safari Underground Time Capsule. Trust me the kids would love a reason to dig up the yard. This capsule reminiscent of the container a bank tellers sends you through the shutte has a rock on top to mark the place in the yard you've buried your treasure.
5.Fisher Price Kid Tough Digital Camera Two words-ho-bby, okay, that's one word emphasized. Hobbies can become talents, and talents can become careers. Think about that when you're child is taking endless pictures around the house.
The next three come from a direct sales company I used to work for on sabbatical from the school system. Discovery Toys, just like the name suggests can be found online at
6. Marbleworks Starter Kit for building and construction will provide hours of innovation as your child constructs various courses to send the basic marbles soaring. It's cause an effect to a new level.
7. Think it Through Learning system by Discovery Toys is a twelve tile self-checking sytem. You can buy bundles of questions in Math, Reading and Science to use with the tiles to reinforce what they've learned in school. Hey, everything doesn't have to be electronic.Your kids will find the simplicity a novelty.
8.We can't forget the babies. There are several models of this same concept, but the Toddler Talk lets you record your voice on a toddler-friendly cell phone so that baby can hold a conversation with his parents anytime.
Here is a twist on two classic board games.
9.Monopoly has an updated version for the Future Bankers of AMerica. It's the Electronic banking debit payment system.
10. When I was young my best friend and I loved to play the WHo-dun-it board game, Clue. With shows like Bones and 24, Milton Bradley had no choice, but to revamp the famous phrase, "Mr. Watson in the parlor with the candlestick." In Clue Secrets and Spies important messages are sent by spy text to a digital "cell phone" enclosed.
Well, this is my list. Hopefully you'll find them, educational, in stock and way cool.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Grace and Mercy- A Gas Pump Story

Don't be like me. I cannot multi-task anymore. Honesty, my husband told me. My sister told me to slow down. My mother is praying for me. Some things (I'm convinced) only happen to Sherryle like detaching the hose and nozzle of a gas pump.

Did I not just tell you in this blog that things for me are harried and I have a complex. Well every waking hour I am doing three things as usual. I stop to get myself gas because recently I had to cipher gas from the school's building supervisor, but that's another story. A brotha admonished me about talking on the phone at the pump. But, I was trying to call my friend to see just who was coming to my book release. I keep the pump running while I go into the convenience store. My mind is just going. I am calculating every misstep and planning do overs in my head. So as I leave the convenience store I pull off.

Nozzle and all go with me. I hear the tarring sound, but I remain calm. When I peeped that I had cole ripped the pump off I keep going cause embarrassment is catching up with me fast. I go to the corner slinging the nozzle and bust a u-turn. My plan is to dip in my neighborhood and ditch the pump. I'm having an outer body experience. I rip the offending nozzle from my tank like a murderer would his victim. I'm praying to God to have mercy cause no one can be that busy and no one should be that distracted. Embarrassment is riding shotgun as guilt is on my heels, cause I am gunning it away from the scene of the crime.

I stop. I am in my neighborhood for God's sake. I stop - for God's sake. He hasn't raised me like that. I open my trunk now like a mob boss and dump the nuzzle and house in my trunk like I don't want to be recognized for the crimes I have just committed. I am like that lady in the Ikea commercial that thought she had gotten away with being undercharged, screaming, Start the car...start the car to her husband. Except I can never tell my husband. My husband would never understand how I am riding around with a nozzle and hose in the trunk.

I'm still planning my day though : go to school, get off early to go to a meeting at my son's school, return pump to gas station, bring my son and his nurse home, go get my daughter from school, feed her and go to her Christmas concert. Yeah, that'll work.
Luckily, I find my firiend at home and she talks me off the ledge. "Sherryle, turn around now and return that bleepity bleep gas pump. I'm sure she wanted to say. I think about it. It's going to put a serious monkey wrench in the start of my day. But isn't ripping a gas pump off its hinges a proverbial wrench in and of itself. So I bust a u-turn for the second time and call my job to tell them I am going to be late

A Korean man comes from the convenience store as I pull up. He's on his cell phone and he's walking over to pump eleven. He's bewildered. He's looking at the where the hose and nozzle that I housed in my car used to be. I approach and tell him I did it. I practically have my hands behind my back. He tells who has to be his boss what I'm sure could be translated as, "the crazy lady has returned."

I am in tears and explaining everything about my morning besides what I had to eat. I am explaining how I come to be so harried. He does not want to hear my truth, just,"the pump, where is the pump?" I take him to my trunk and let him see my hostage. He grabs it quick from the vechile like I was returning his loved one for ransom. My payment is his advice. "Next time you stop because...." What was said after that because could have meant the end of me. You probably could imagine gas dripping and sparks flying as a consequence of dragging a hose and nozzle. What he said after because was inconsequential but for the Grace of God. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. Apparently it follows after anything I should happen to string along as well.

Feel free to repost wit th following tag as a cautionary tale.
Sherryle Jackson is the author of Soon and Very Soon and The Manual (Urban Christian/Kensington). Her blog Capitol M (Mom) Capitol T (Teacher) is designed to help busy moms make enroads with their children while making time for themselves. For more information visit or

Friday, November 27, 2009

Deconstructing Superwoman

Somewhere in between planning my dream wedding with Barbie and Ken, and actually jumping the broom myself, I bought into the image of a woman married-with-children as some sort of superhero. She was a cross between Super Woman and Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman, in my opinion had the better outfit.) For six years I’ve tried to wear the bullet proof brassiere, star-spangled briefs and fill her incredibly big and awe so sexy go-go boots. I had no idea I was experiencing a well known complex or syndrome among woman, but I was terribly miserable. I was a writer, for goodness sakes but felt guilty when I sat in front of the computer for any length of time. I gave to my family, and only when they had retired and were tucked in bed, would I allow myself to create. By then I was exhausted. The misconception was that I should be able to do it all: be a meek an humble career women that morphs into a baby-changing, house-maintaining diva that remains sexy to boot.

The Women’s Gender Study done by Iowa State and Kharkiv National University defines the Superwoman syndrome as a wish by a female to be excellent at all her roles to the detriment of herself. The study also warns about the psychological stresses associated with this kind of conditioning. Women are germane to the notion that our households won’t run unless we are in the thick of things and find comfort in defining ourselves by the roles we play in others’ lives. Not until I became a mom did I feel the need to wear the “S” on my chest, trying to be super at everything. I still take it personally and feel guilty when my house isn’t as clean as it could be, or if I haven’t given my husband and children every bit of my time that they crave. I multi task to the point of an ADHD diagnosis, taking on the entire load out of guilt and mastering much of nothing. My greatest sense of pride is being a wife and a mother, but sometimes it feels like my greatest failure.

If you are like me there is hope. Linda Ellis Eastman wrote a book called, The Super Woman Syndrome. It talks about saying no to others and saying yes to yourself for a change. Giving yourself time to recharge is also important so that you and your family don’t suffer. I’ve heard it said, ‘a happy mom is a happy home.’ It is important to build in options and resources like family, a moms group or sister circle that allow you to take time away . I learned quick that it is a mindset, being a good wife and mother does not mean being consumed by those roles. There are only 24 hours in a day and I have a right to carve a few of them out for myself. I realized I am not a superhero, nor do I wish to be anymore, and I have managed to pull my real identity out from under the rubble.