Relationships+ Family

Black Fathers Speak on Getting Our Kids Home Safe at Night

4 Entrepreneurs, an Olympian, one retired military, all married with 9 kids between them, these brothers will do what it takes in order to maximize the probability that their children will make it home safely every night.

Take a listen.

Dr. Rhadi Ferguson –
Be Moore –
Dwayne Meekins –
Tru Pettigrew –

To hear more discussions on the topics of relationships, wellness, and parenting visit

Entertainment Family News Relationships+ Family

Ooh Kill ‘Em!: Black Male Mentoring and Fictive Kinship

I love the South.  I love country folks.  I love country Black folks from the South.  I have two of them for parents.  And if you have them southern roots (pronounced “ruhtz”) like I do, you probably have more “play cousins” than you can count.

“Play cousins?”

For those of you without it, I’ll give you some cultural capital in context.  Stick with me, because I’m about to engage in come circuitous storytelling:

I’ve been outside the country for the latter part of the last few months, so I missed a rack of happenings in American popular culture.  Amongst the movies, new songs, and references I noticed when I got back was this “Ooh kill em”, often used in hashtags.  A quick internet search had me landing on this gem:



First of all, if you’re not familiar, Vine is the latest phone app that allows you to overshare things in your life no one else wants to see.  Thankfully you can only film these “events” for six seconds at a time.  However, every once-in-awhile one of these videos is so funny/clever/bizarre/annoying that it deserves our six seconds of attention.  Or more.

Since posting their Vine videos, lil-dancin’ Terio and his co-signing cousin Maleek have become internet-famous, inspiring everything from NBA point guard copycats to hip hop diss records.

So what does all of this have to do with cultural capital, play cousins, and fictive kinship?  Maleek and Terio aren’t related by blood.

In this epic Complex interview (you gotta listen to the audio.  Nobody short-sells answers like a nervous six-year-old!), the following exchange occurs with Maleek, Terio’s 16-year-old cousin who provides the footage and the soundtrack for his dancing and hooping protégé:

Interviewer: And so, how’re you guys related?

MALEEK: That’s my lil’ cousin.

Interviewer: Is there like, a parent’s sister’s son or something?

MALEEK: Nah, we like…he like, stay next door to me

Translation: they play cousins.  (Not a grammatical error).

Brotha and Sistah vs Brother and Sister: Are y’all Really Related?

In academic-speak, this is an example of the formation of a fictive kinship, a relationship in which people who aren’t related by blood claim a familial bond.  These relationships occur between and within all races of people. African Americans in particular have a long-held desire to unify through shared experiences, largely due to a unique and sordid American history of having their cultural practices denied and ridiculed.  For example, during American enslavement, Black family structures were routinely destroyed by the trade of humans across the Atlantic and between colonists.  This African American practice of identifying each other as “brotha”, “sistah”, and yes, “play cousin” developed as a valuable way to ascertain who was “down”, as well as in creating extended functional families.  These ties were especially important when blood bonds between Black people had been broken. Today, Black Americans still use these fictive kinships in the same way.

 Black-on-Black Male Crime Mentorship

I don’t know what the day-to-day interactions between Maleek and Terio look like.  I do know from my own experiences with the teenaged “old-heads” in my neighborhood where I grew up in Ypsilanti – and with my older play cousins in North Carolina who I saw when I visited my parents’ homes – that these dudes were excellent part-time role models and informal mentors.  They were flawed no doubt (I’m thinking right now about the time when this old-head named Tim tried to tell how you had great sex with girls.  Looking back, there’s no way in hell he had learned anything for himself; that bullshit had to have come from sneaking into someone’s porn collection), but they were well-meaning and had nobly taken on a role passed down to them by older play cousins who had done the same for them.  To be clear, I’m not talking about some Big Brother, Big Sister-type of relationship where these dudes provided daily and guided interactions.  I’m talking about those times when me and the rest of the young bucks had our bikes in a circle talking about girls/bikes/cars/sports and a couple of the older dudes would roll up on their bikes and start schooling us.  Just from reading and hearing the interview, I could hear at least the same type of bond between Maleek and Terio.  Are they closer than that?  Maybe.  But I know play cousins when I hear them.

Ideally these two kids maintain a healthy relationship and Maleek becomes or remains an important mentor for Terio.  It doesn’t have to be some “wonderful story” where Maleek becomes the main influence in Terio’s life, deters him from joining a gang, pushes Terio to go from wannabe rapper to English professor, Terio writes a best-selling novel, and Tyler Perry directs the movie version of his life (starring a light-skinned dude, of course).  Maybe Maleek is just the fun “cousin” whose video-based encouragement plays a small part in helping Terio feel just that much better about himself.  That’d be a realistic and important outcome.  Hell, despite Tim’s ridiculous sex advice, he always told me how smart I was, and he taught me how to pop a wheelie.  It’s that type of mentorship that makes play cousins special.

This article originally appears on

Maurice “Mo the Educator” Dolberry has taught grades 6 through 20, and has worked at both public and independent schools from Minnesota to Florida to Washington and other places in between. He is currently an adjunct college instructor while working on his PhD in multicultural education at the University of Washington.  Maurice has been a mentor, old-head, and play cousin for a long time, but refuses to give bad sex advice.  Ooh kill ’em!

Maurice “Mo the Educator” Dolberry ©2013


A School is Always Teaching: What Deborah Brown Community School Taught One Little Black Girl


If you haven’t seen it yet, here is the news story about 7-year-old Tiana Parker. She’s a former student at Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Deborah Brown Community School, whose father ultimately pulled her out after being repeatedly told by the school to change his daughter’s hairstyle. Tiana’s dreadlocked hair was in violation of the school’s dress code which clearly states, “Hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” (see page 13).

That’s the basic story, but this goes so much deeper.

Education People on the Move

Omar McGee is Bringing Financial Literacy to South Central LA

My name is… Omar McGee.

Family Relationships+ Family

Parenting: Tackling ADHD

Julian was just like most other 14 year old boys — energetic, fun loving and sports-minded. Summer was about to end, and the only thing on his mind was making the football team. He dreaded school, but was willing to do anything that would get him on the field again. Julian did not want to re-experience last year: athletically he was on top of the world… starting in football, basketball, and baseball; academically, the world was on top of him…beleaguered with low grades, discipline problems, and missing homework assignments. Because of the latter, the school stopped him from stepping foot on the field of dreams and told him to study harder.

For Julian, it was the worst of both worlds.

Family Featured Relationships+ Family

Teaching kids the value of money

Teaching kids the value of money is important, but making them earn their money is even more important. Money gives kids decision making opportunities and teaches them not to be wasteful. Childhood chores provides kids with an appreciation for the things that they have, a sense of accomplishment for the things that they have achieved, and an empowering feeling of independence.

But its not enough to provide chores and allowance for your kids. It is also important to teach your children how to save money that they have earned from work vs money from received from gifts and how to spend the money that they have. Help your children learn the differences between needs, wants, and wishes. This will prepare them for making good spending decisions in the future.

Finally, inspire goal setting. Shopping with kids often inspires a long wish list with our children. Work with them to set goals for earning the money to purchase some of the things on their wish list.

Relationships Relationships+ Family

Happy Baby…Happy Couple? What men aren’t talking about…

It’s been weeks since your delivery and yes, everyone’s happy about the delivery of the new born baby!  But daddy wants his wife back. However, we as new mothers are struggling to keep the house clean, keep dinner on the table, prepare breakfast half asleep, juggle household schedules, get the kids hair combed, daily lunches made and still manage some semblance of an appearance. We are exhausted every day and the thought of stopping on heels and a smile at the end of that day is so close to never gonna happen its not even funny.

So to the new daddys I offer this, strap on a tight belt of patience while you take part in as many chores as you can. Both of you are getting less than your desired amount of sleep but not only will she notice the work you put in, her appreciation may pay off in ways that you didn’t expect!

Relationships Relationships+ Family

How You Can Avoid The Seven Year Itch…

Ive been with my husband for 15 years and married to him for 9 of them. I don’t pretend to know what makes a perfect marriage, actually I don’t that a perfect marriage exists. But I do know that we have spent the last 9 years together 24/7 and we still like each other! I recently read an article about “15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years.” I enjoyed the article, agreed with some things and had a different opinion about others.

Going to bed mad.
The author says, hey by all means, if you are angry go to bed mad. I have to agree with that. Trust me, after a long fight and much tension in the air, sometimes things seem much lighter and not so big a deal in the morning. The most important thing that sleep does is provide time to calm down and allow the negative energy between the two of you to dissipate.

Don’t break up a happy home.
The author says to stay out of trouble’s way. I agree. (1) both parties need to communicate their boundaries to others looking to cross those boundaries. (2) “friends” with intentions, steer clear! You don’t need friends like that! (3) If you won’t do it, say it, or type it in front of your spouse, don’t do it period. (4) Any “friend” that does not want to be friends with you and your spouse is not a friend, steer clear.

If you think that sex is not a big part of your relationship you are wrong. After a few years, and especially kids, your sex life starts to take a back seat to working, chores, kids, daily routine and nightly exhaustion. How do you fix it? Make time for your sex life. Sounds crazy but sometimes you need to arrange your schedule to make sure you get it in several times a week.

Team work.
Marriage is a team sport. If you have ever participated in team sports you understand that you don’t win every game. Sometimes, many times, there are lows and hard times. But no matter what you work it out and you work together. Sometimes one of you has to pull the load while the other plays the supportive role. Know your role and play it well. Don’t complain, suck it up and get the team through it.

Play to your strengths.
We have always had roles since we started living together. I hate washing clothes, he hates washing dishes. So I wash dishes, and clean the house. He washes clothes, and takes out the trash. We both cook, and we both help with homework, play with and discipline the kids. Sometimes I get caught up working late, so he washes dishes. Or sometimes he gets caught up working, so Ill wash clothes. Big picture, switch hats when necessary to get the job done and don’t complain, thats daily living for us.

Find Compromise in Faults.
We all have them. But funny, we tend to see our partners more than we do our own. My suggestion, find a compromise. For example, my husband keeps piles of papers everywhere. Im a less is more type person so that drives me crazy! Our solution, a basket for all of his “stuff.” This keeps the surfaces clean and still allows him to compile his things in one place.

Past times.
The author says to do your own thing. I agree. I think you should both have extracurricular activities outside of your marriage. Mine is yoga and volleyball. Those are things I do totally on my own. I enjoy time on my own, it allows me to be me, not mom, not wife, just me. And that is necessary. At the same time, we also find enjoyment in each others interests. Sometimes my husband will sit and watch Columbo with me or I will watch Bruce Lee movies with him. Although we both have our own interests, we also spend time finding enjoyment in each’s interest as well. One past time that we really enjoy together is movies. We have had date night (day) every single week for over 5 years. And our date is usually spent at the movies because we are both movie buffs.

I learned something about myself through my marriage, humility. I have found that sometimes I need to apologize, take a back seat, play the smaller role or even admit that my feelings were hurt. Being a person that wanted to be the strong woman all of the time, that was hard for me. But I have found that at times humility has strengthened our relationship.

I Complete Me.
Everyone remembers the famous line “You Complete Me.” And though it may sound very romantic at the moment, the reality is if you need someone to complete you, you need help! When it comes to relationships, I don’t believe that 2 halves make a whole. Rather, two incomplete people do not make one whole happy relationship. I think you need to be a strong, confident, competent, sexy individual on your own in order to bring something to the table in a healthy relationship. In the end, it’s two strong individuals that make a hell of a power couple.