Congratulations, again.

Once again, you’ve selected. And once again I’m reminded how rare it is that my 5 shades of brown family is ideal representation.

When are businesses and publications going to realize that diversity can add a larger client base? And, more importantly, when are they going to act on it?

I comb through the contest albums, scrutinizing the many beautiful faces contained there. Each child unique, each child special. I linger at my favorites – the kids who immediatly captivate with infectious smiles, quirky features, freckle sprinklings, or that indescribable “it” factor that says star. The competition is often tough – if only judging the children.

But usually, these competitions are advertised as part model magic and part photographer ability.  I’d assume,then, that the child who wins does so because his portrait is amazing: crisp, lit well, staged to perfection – especially if the prize is publication or opportunity to receive products to model.  And yet, it seems there’s a caste system in this circuit. The best quality photo, the best showcased personality doesn’t always get the kudos.

Those at the top are long haired children with pale skin and bright colored eyes. Next, the children whose ethnicity is obscured by wild locks, vibrant eyes, soft tanned skinned, or any combination of these.  Occasionally,  an exotic child with uncommon features rises up in admiration. Last, though, seem to be the children of Black heritage.

Is there no marketability for these children?  Aren’t there consumers who identify with these models?

If I were to speak out, as one friend suggested, what would I say?  To call for diversity might be seen as a demand for some type of model quota.  And I’m not sure that’s what is needed.  But I’m always in awe when businesses have not a single face like ours in any of their advertising, or when every page of a magazine presents the same mold of child. 

I don’t expect to “win” them all. It’s not realistic. My children aren’t the perfect match for every entity searching for talent. But I expect to see results of competitions that are fair to all applicants.

In one magazine’s “Best of the Year” child-model competition,  I was rooting for another child (and her photographer ). The ‘tween is stunning. Confidence radiates from her. And her look? Straight out of a major editorial for a fashion magazine.  Though she was entered in several categories,  she wasn’t even recognized as an honorable mention.   I remain awed that her pictures didn’t earn publication.

And some of those who took top honors? Blurry, cluttered, color cast photos. Mere snapshots beating editorial images. How is that even permissible? What publication of merit will survive with subpar pictures?

As for the shops, I wonder if there is a consensus that people of color don’t buy from boutiques?  I hardly think there was a poll, or that demographics of customers support the generalization. There’s money to spend and fashion is a bridge across cultures and ethnicity. Not to showcase diversity in advertising, though, might lead clients to seek out creatives who do.

Frankly, I’m tired of the playing favorites. Contests, bookings, and publication shouldn’t be about who you know (or how much support you can buy).  There has to be some merit for quality and originality.  A great photo is worth the risk of breaking free of the “trendy.”  It’s the difference that makes memorable impact.

NaNoWriMo #18 (ending near)

I woke when she did. She lay on my arm, nestled against my chest. Her hands tugged at my shirt. “Mommy!” she insisted clearly, before continuing in a garble of sounds she is convinced are words. I checked the blinking phone. Sixteen percent charge. Twenty minutes had past since the alarm, which never sounded.

I nudged her from my arm to the bed before jumping up to fumble through my closet for suitable attire. What might one wear at the end? Black. Don’t stand out. Be comfortable.

I brush my teeth, my hair. Paint my face, noting the increasing lines around my eyes and the darkened circles that never seem to fade. I’m joined, then, by the littlest, who reaches for toothpaste and mumbles. The tween comes in stealth-like, whispering good morning while searching for eye-liner she’s not supposed to wear.

And then, it’s time to go. I nod at the teen, sitting on his knees at the end of his bed. I blow a kiss to the husband now busy helping little one with her brushing. I holler for the man-child to let him know my unfinished coffee is his for the drinking.

Unfinished. So much yet to do, so much still incomplete.

Along the road, time seems to slow. I see with absolute clarity the rustling trees. They toss their leaves, which cascade in a gentle dance to the ground before floating up again with gusts of wind from passing cars. The street shimmers, still wet from yesterday’s rain.  A truck revs up beside me, its driver invisible in the still dark morning.

I stop to drop off the teen.  She hugs me then. “Don’t be a hero, mom. You should call out. We care about you.” Her hold on me is firm, hot tears wet my neck as I comfort her with strokes of her hair.

“I’ll pick you up from school, like always. Meet me by the soccer field.”

Ma follows me outside, drawing her coat tight to shield herself from the bitter cold.  She lingers by the van, while the dogs tug in opposite directions to begin their walk.  “I love you,” she mouths, offering a smile.  She stays firmly planted in the driveway as my car lights pin her with increasingly softer glow.

And then I am driving along an empty street.  Lights are eerily green, sending me forward without delay.  The radio hums, but the songs are indistinguishable, unremarkable, unnoticed.  I turn the final corner into the parking lot, and Robin Thicke belts out, “For the rest of my life…” as I turn off the engine and he is silenced.


NaNoWriMo #9 (Innocence)

I’d like to pause that moment in time. That moment when the little boy – pale skin flushed red in the autumn chill, brown hair tousled in his scurrying, big eyes bright with wonder of the world – still looked at things without judgment.

“My dog’s not a puppy,” he said with a smile. “He’s three!” The word rolled off his thick tongue like tree, and he took great effort to convince three chubby fingers to remain upright as he trapped his pinky with his thumb. He couldn’t have been more than four, himself. He looked at me, and began to rattle on about his dog. His mother, eyes wide with something akin to horror – – or was it disgust? – – gently urged him away. His father tugged the dog’s leash and quickly continued along the path away from my group. The couple spoke to one another in hushed whispers as they hustled further and further still.

Moments prior to our seconds-long encounter along the trail, the boy’s parents had seen our little entourage ahead of them. Three of my children, my mother, our tiny Grigio on his leash, and me were slowly making our way back to the parking lot. When they saw us, the man halted, jerking his happily trotting dog as he tried to avert our paths crossing by returning the way they’d just come.

“It’s okay,” mom had said happily, as she scooped Grigio into her arms. “I’ll pick him up.” They hesitated – that deer in the headlights pause – before slowly, begrudgingly pressing forward.

Our children – both sets – smiled happily as we drew closer, oblivious to the tension. It’s amazing, really, how young people are blissfully oblivious to prejudices of their parents.

A lump had formed in my throat, but I returned the boy’s ready smile. “Oh, three? He looks so young,” I responded, eying the puppy-faced dog as the boy patted the caramel-colored fur on its head. Stone-faced and silent, the parents continued their now-purposeful escape away from us.

As he was quickly led away, he turned to walk backwards and continued to chatter, raising his voice to be heard over the increasing distance. “Well, bye!” He finally shouted, turning to catch up with a fast paced trot that matched his parents fleeing.

“I can’t believe they were going to skip the trails just because we were coming along the same path,” my mother said in a hush meant only for me. “Why deprive themselves of the experience? Clearly their dog didn’t mind ours. He didn’t even notice.”

“I think they minded us, not Grigio.” I said what she chose to purposely ignore.

“Yeah, I know.”

Delving into Online Classes: My Daily Digital Images Experience

Week two begins


I’m taking an online class. The intention in my enrollment is to fulfill a “teacher recertification” requirement. Yes, I must leave school every day with a bag full of papers needing to be graded and still find time between interactions with my family (and procrastination about aforementioned grading) to take classes. Three degrees mean nothing to the folk handling my credentials. It’s about new and “innovative” teaching techniques, theories, and, let’s be honest, repackaged ideas for meeting the same goal: increasing student engagement and real learning.

Anyway, the class is called Daily Digital Images. It called me to it from the title. I do, afterall, take digital images daily. And yet, a week into the class finds me already behind one assignment. Yes, I’m participating in the forums, but I didn’t do all the work.

Today, especially, I’m finding little motivation to continue. The learning goal for this week is to explore my camera and what features it offers. When I post replies, I do so hoping not to sound pretentious. I don’t want to be the student masquerading as the know-it-all. I’m not the expert in utilizing digital images in the academic classroom. But I know my camera. I shoot all the time. I edit pictures, make art pieces and portraits, and document life. So I find it hard to “contribute to the learning community” with relevant responses (considering my background) while maintaining what will come across as a “positive, supportive and professional tone.” Everytime I post reply, I wonder if my intentions are clear. And I check back to see if there’s further discussion on my point or my question. I really don’t like being the one with no replies!

I’m hoping to shoot around when I get home tonight so I can complete the week’s required exercise. I’ve got to try “something new” with my camera. I’m not sure what that will be. Maybe a new subject? A study in the chaos in my foyer in macro? A test of my lenses with a single, stationary subject? A fiddling with my studio lights?

a place called home

If I were Dorothy, I’d click my heels and recite “there’s no place…”
But I’m Rachelle:
homeless, wandering, in search of something…
I miss knowing
who I am and what I aspired to become.
There’s no map for directions
(I probably couldn’t navigate it, anyway)
There are days when I feel like stopping,
just sitting on a plot of earth
and watching the grass grow in tufts around me.
But I’m reminded of responsibilities
created in my explorations.
I wish God spoke louder,
Decifering codes is not my talent.
Yet, I listen.
Sometimes I even close my eyes and will answers to come.
Is silence actually the reply?
I want to hold hands with wisdom.
Grasp tight to its finger and follow where it leads.
Like a child, I crave security.
A place for me to call home.

Mirror, mirror


Shiny, it stands affixed before me
Staring in silence, watching the house
I draw closer, my image mimics
My reflection is weary, is tired
Lines feather out from drooping eyes
In corners, crooked path awaiting tears
Speckles of injury dot high cheeks
Chins hug one another, seek attention
Hair frizzies edge a creased forehead
I inhale, nostrils flaring with intake
This is me. This is me.
Fingers fumble to draws, pull handles
The familiar shuffle of compacts sounds
Colors beckon me to choose them
The foundation of today’s cover up
What mask shall I wear today?
No one wants the truth anymore
So I slather on the fake
Hide the history of disappointments well
cosmetically covering up each new hurt
And pretending all is just fine.

Inspired by the Six Word Fridays meme.

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