Ca school district sued over yoga classes

A family has brought a law suit against the Encinitas, Ca school district over a yoga program. You can read the AP article here.

The lawsuit claims that these classes violate the separation between church and state. Why? Because yoga’s origins come from Hinduism; and this is true.

So, the question is this: are the teachers proselytizing Hinduism? Are they promoting the religious tenets of Hinduism?

According to the article, they are not. Teachers are simply teaching the children the movements of yoga, but not talking about Hinduism at all (which is the case with almost all Western yoga classes).

Based off that, it doesn’t seem to violate the separation of church and state, but we’ll see where the case goes. If this family is Christian (and the article does not state that), I suspect the problem they have with yoga is the belief that doing the movements means you are worshipping Hindu gods, thus sinning against the biblical God (or whatever god they worship).

My opinion, of course, is that movements cannot injure the pride of a god that does not exist. However, if the case rules that the yoga classes are legal, children whose parents don’t like the class will have to sit it out, like they have done since the classes started, apparently. But the parents complained that their kids weren’t getting the required amount of exercise set by the state. In that case, I suggest they do an alternative form of physical activity during the classes (such as walking around the school or something) with another teacher.


No respect for life

By now, most people have heard of Trayvon Martin the teenager who was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. If you haven’t, read the here and here.

Initially, it seems police there were just going with his word that he shot in self-defense. However, after the release of the 911 recordings (where the operator tells Zimmerman not to follow Martin, but he does anyway) and the testimony of Martin’s friend, who was the last person to talk to him minutes before he was killed (it seems Martin was aware he was being followed), Zimmerman’s version of events is in serious doubt. An arrest is probably imminent.

While I think Zimmerman probably saw Martin as a threat in part because he was a young, black male, I think the larger issue is that a person acted irresponsibly with a firearm. Whatever Zimmerman thought Martin’s intentions were, whether or not they were based on racial bias, he was incorrect about those intentions and a person lost their life.

In light of the facts pointing to him instigating an confrontation with Martin, Zimmerman should be held accountable for this child’s death. I imagine that whatever way Martin tried to defend himself, it was not with a gun, because he was unarmed. Yet, Zimmerman used unreasonable force in an altercation he in fact started in the first place.

Race is definitely a factor here. But the easy access to guns, the assumption that this access just goes along with having a free society, and the general thoughtlessness in our culture when it comes to life (be it human or animal), should also be part of the conversation as well.

Occupy PDX

Looks like Occupy Portland’s days are numbered. Portland Mayor Sam Adams says they need to vacate the areas they have take up residence in (Chapman and Lownsdale Squares in down PDX) by this Sunday, according to the Willamette Week.

I’ve had really mixed feelings about Occupy Portland because I support the ideas behind it. I think our economic system is immoral and unsustainable. But Occupy Portland seems really unorganized and I don’t understand the goal; in fact, there doesn’t seem to be a goal other than to protest for the sake of protesting. Plus, the lack of organization is inviting a lot of undesirables into the mix that is starting to cause a lot of mayhem.

Now I’m about to make a huge generalization here, but I also believe that some people are there just to play activist. When I first heard about these protests, I always wondered why aren’t people going to their state capitols to camp out? Spend all that energy supporting the locals at our state capitols and in D.C. to shake stuff up.

But my jaded self thinks that “Occupy Portland” sounds a lot more hip than “Occupy Salem”.

As an African-American, I am all about civil disobedience as a last resort to change policy. But there has to be a goal. We  did the lunch counter sit-ins so that we could be allowed to eat where we wanted to. We did the Freedom Rides to bust up segregation in public transit. These were planned, organized events that were, frankly, dangerous and not for anybody that just wanted to claim their right to peacefully protest.

At this point, I think the whole Occupy movement has jumped the shark. It’s commodified and commercialized. My only hope is that a seed has been planted that will eventually lead to real action down the road.

So mom gets a pass?

By now, everyone has read about or seen the video of Judge William Adams and his wife Hallie beating their 16-year old daughter, Hillary, for illegally downloading music. It is a very difficult video to watch.

The video was secretly filmed by Hillary seven years ago and she claims she is showing it now so her dad can get help. Her parents have also since divorced. But one thing has stood out to me among all the reactions from the public: almost all the rancor is directed towards her dad and none towards her mom.

While the judge defends his horrible actions by saying he was trying to discipline Hillary, Hallie also defends herself, but just with a different method; it’s basically all her husbands fault.

She says she was “brainwashed” by her husband, physically and emotionally abused by him. When she saw the video for the first time, she says that she considered killing herself.

Ok, here is my thing: considering how he was acting in the video, I don’t doubt he was also abusive towards his wife. But, it seems like Hallie is not really taking responsibility for her part. And, in my opinion, society gives her a pass because she is a woman and we’re trained into easily believing that the man is always the root of the problem, when most times, home dysfunction is a joint effort.

So while the judge definitely deserves the anger being directed at him, he does not deserve all of it. Hallie needs to claim 50 percent of that.

Liebster Awards

My German is really rusty…actually it’s nonexistent. BUT, I recently learned the word for “friend” in German: “liebster”.

Where am I going with this, you ask? I’ve just been awarded The Liebster Blog Award, granted to us bloggers with fewer than 200 followers to help spread the word about our labors of love. My benefactress is Michelle, who hosts the Is That Your Child podcast. And, it’s kind of fitting since my hubby has some German ancestry.

Now, there are rules to accepting a Liebster Award, but nothing too cumbersome:

1. Thank the blogger that gave you the award by linking back to them.

2. Post the award on your blog (click and drag the pic onto your desktop for mac users or right-click and save to your computer for pc users).

3. Now list 5 blogs with a modest following that you like to read. Let them know you’ve given them a Liebster by leaving a comment on their blog (or just email them). Just know they may, or may not, want to participate…

Pretty simple. And it’s nice for small-time bloggers to know that, even among the tons of blogs floating around the Internet, someone appreciates their stuff.

Here are my 5 picks:

1. People, Places and Things: Charing talks about everything in her header; culture, politics, travel, lifestyle. Sometimes it’s related to Philadelphia, sometimes not. She also writes for the Atlanta Post. If you want to think deeply and be intellectually challenged, read her stuff.

2.Biraciality: Erica is African-American, German and Irish. She writes about her experience being mixed and news items related to the mixed experience. I discovered her blog a few months back and was struck by the honesty in her writing.

3. Mixed By Love: This is a new online community for mixed families that includes a blog. A notable post is an account of the site creator’s first encounter with racism.

4. The Path Less Taken: This blog probably has more than a 200 following, but this is one of my favorite blogs. Jen has posted some of THE best articles on gentle parenting I’ve read on the web. Her children are also unschooled (yay!).

5. The Natural Haven: This is another blog that might have more than a modest following, but it’s one of my favs. The bloggers talks about natural hair through the lens of science. Extremely informative. She also recently launched a hair magazine, Natural Bloom.

Skagit child abuse case

All the world’s problems would resolve themselves if people would just start treating their children with dignity and respect. But we are a long way off from that.

I just read a story about an Skagit County (Washington State) couple accused of killing their adopted Ethiopian daughter by child abuse. Her body was found in her backyard this past May; enough evidence was found to now charge her parents with her death.

Since arriving in the states in 2008, the little girl, Hana, according to the local prosecutor, was starved for days at a time, forced to sleep outside, locked in closets, and not allowed to use the indoor bathroom. Oh, and they would hit her with some kind of plumbing tool every day.

What caught my eye about this story (besides the general horror) was this: a book called “To Train a Child Up”, was referenced in the legal documents. Apparently the author’s child-rearing methods are popular among some Christian families, as the authors themselves are Christian. But here and here are two blog posts (from Christians) that question (rightly) these practices.

So I read part of the first chapter of this book and had to stop after it was suggested to pull a baby’s hair if they bite you while nursing. They also suggest hitting babies for countless other behaviors, including…crying. Crying.


This is what bothers me about organized religion. The total absence, for some folk, of questioning and critical thought. If you find yourself assaulting a child in your efforts to “train” him/her, I think it’s safe to to say you should start questioning everything about yourself.