Love has no labels

I remember, before we adopted the girls, people asking me if we could possibly love “someone else’s children as much as we would love our own.” The simple answer is that we couldn’t love them more. Not possible. It doesn’t matter that we share parenthood with others. The funny thing about love, is that it is endless… through loving, you only open your heart more, and make more room for love. It opens you up to share with others, and not to be threatened by others’ love.

Sometimes we get too hung up on externalities, like where a child is born, or what religion we believe in. Love doesn’t see externalities. There is a fundamental need that we have to love, and to share that love with others. As the Dalai Lama was quoted as saying: “The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. It results from the profound interdependence we all share with one another.”

We can’t be colour-blind or ignore the society that we live in around us. But only through loving unabashedly, regardless of colour, religion, gender, age or ability, can we change that society to be more just, and more compassionate.

Young, Gifted and Black: Jully Black

To celebrate Black History Month, I’m profiling some of Canada’s amazing contemporary musical heroes. Children and teens relate to music, and feel connected with singers. I hope knowing some of these talented stars will inspire your kids, as well as mine, to express themselves and walk with confidence. As my favourite singer Nina Simone exclaimed “Oh but my joy of today, is that we can all be proud to say… To be young, gifted and black, is where it’s at!”

jully_black_670x320_1

Born in Toronto, Jully Black is the queen of Canada’s R & B scene. Her proud glorious and powerful personality beams from the stage into the audience, telling you that she knows exactly who she is, and you love her for it. Her vocals are perfect, her attitude is bright, and her self-confidence is a lesson all young girls can learn from. Jully was the youngest of seven children; her parents were Jamaican immigrants to Canada. As a first generation Canadian, her story is one that thousands of young Black Canadians relate to.

I fell in love with Jully Black when her “Seven Day Fool” song hit the airwaves… it was so witty, contemporary and yet grounded in a rich history of music.

I’ve seen her in concert, and she’s so powerful, funny and confident. My daughters watch her videos and simply say “she’s cool.” Absolutely.

Quite a few of her songs have socially active lyrics, but she packages them in pop, singable packages. This is one of my favourites.

Jully doesn’t tour as much as she used to – she was mostly around Toronto last year. But if you have a chance to take your teen daughter to a concert (or one of the other venues she plays, like Pride Fest) I would leap at it. My daughters are only eight, but awestruck by her hair,  her powerful body, and learning lyrics.

Blood collection in Canada discriminates against gay men

The last time I went to give blood, I picked up a brochure from Canadian Blood Services. To my horror! I saw that our dear nonprofit that does so much good, does not want blood from gay men (or an other men who’ve had sex with men.) This is a completely irrelevant hangover from the fear of HIV from 30 years ago.

The video is from USA, but in Canada, and cannot donate blood if they have had sex with other men in the last five years. We now screen ALL blood for HIV yet, the discriminatory policy to gay men remains. Men and women can contract HIV from both heterosexual and homosexual sex. This five year weight period completely ridiculous to apply solely to men who have had sex with men.

I called and complained about the policy year or so ago, but this video reminded me that we need to be persistent to affect change.

If you think this is crazy! As I do, then please call 1 877 709 7773 or email feedback@blood.ca and tell them that their policy is discriminatory, offensive, and just plain stupid.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bYXxMO_mTBY

Young, Gifted and Black: Drake

To celebrate Black History Month, I’m profiling some of Canada’s amazing contemporary musical heroes. Children and teens relate to music, and feel connected with singers. I hope knowing some of these talented stars will inspire your kids, as well as mine, to express themselves and walk with confidence. As my favourite singer Nina Simone exclaimed “Oh but my joy of today, is that we can all be proud to say… To be young, gifted and black, is where it’s at!”

drake-cover-990

Born in Toronto, Drake is a childhood actor (yeah Degrassi!) who grew up to greater things. His emotional, articulate rap music has shaken the often conflicting worlds of rap and hip hop. He’s won a Grammy, and critical acclaim from his peers. Debatably, he’s the most famous young Black Canadian in North America today.

Drake’s dad is African American from the US, and his mom is Jewish Canadian. It’s a pretty typical Canadian mosaic story, and I love that he shares his family’s multicultural background with the world. The quintessential SNL skit was such an awesome tribute. I bet his family was laughing as much as we were…

Now, rap is not my thing. But I appreciate the poetry of the genre, and can recognize talent, even it’s not something I enjoy listening too. My kids already like rap – the clean lyric songs they listen to on the radio, and with their dad. Rap is a cornerstone in North American Black culture, so we try to expose them to it, in an age appropriate way.

Frankly, it’s hard to find examples of Drake’s music that are appropriate for my family-friendly blog. Most of his work is very explicit… but that’s not to say it isn’t powerful, beautiful and tells intimate stories. This song with Rihanna is a non-rap example of his talent:

I wouldn’t be surprised if Drake got back to acting in the next few years… he’s one talented guy.