Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year...Reclaiming My Time!

Welcome to the new year! As one who keeps busy, with legislative work as well as a full-time teaching job, it is important to balance one's time in a way that helps one to remain effective and happy. This year, I am working to achieve greater balance as I look forward to new opportunities!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Young, Black, and Suicidal: A Cause for Alarm

The son of a classmate of a close friend of mine committed suicide recently. What awful feelings of hopelessness and despair must have filled his waking thoughts until he made his terrible, fateful decision to end his pain. I talk about suicidal children in my 19th century black literature classes--two texts that I teach are Frederick Douglass's Narrative and Harriet E. Wilson's autobiographical novel, Our Nig respectively (see links below for the complete texts). In each, we see the despair and the traumatizing effects and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that our ancestors bore, even as young children.

For Douglass, the devastating realization that his young, black life was doomed to enslavement made him contemplate suicide at the age of twelve: "I often found myself regretting my own existence, and wishing myself dead; and but for the hope of being free, I have no doubt but that I should have killed myself, or done something for which I should have been killed." 

Similarly, fourteen year-old Frado, the free Northern black indentured servant (a fictionalized version of Wilson) has suicidal thoughts, which are overheard by James, the sympathetic son of her white mistress: "'Oh! oh!' I heard, 'why was I made? why can't I die? Oh, what have I to live for? No one cares for me only to get my work. And I feel sick; who cares for that? Work as long as I can stand, and then fall down and lay there till I can get up. No mother, father, brother or sister to care for me, and then it is, You lazy nigger, lazy nigger—all because I am black! Oh, if I could die!'" 

These two protagonists do not kill themselves, but they speak to the depth of psychological pain experienced by children who live without hope. In the past several years, the statistics for black children who attempt and/or commit suicide are rising. I was reading an article on black children and suicide that was published a couple of days ago (November 14, 2017) in The Root-the entire story is below--just click on the link.  

A 2016 article in CNN quotes a study in JAMA Pediatrics, noting : " youth may experience disproportionate exposure to violence or traumatic stressors, both of which have been associated with suicidal behavior. Also, research has shown that black youth are less likely to receive services for depression, suicidal ideation, and other mental health problems compared with non-black youth"--click here to read the entire CNN article. The article also notes that the highest youth suicide rates are among Native American youth.

Monday, September 25, 2017


It's that time again! The Plainfield Division of Parks and Recreation will once again host two Halloween events: Doggy Howl and Trunk or Treat! The Doggy Howl will take place at 12 Noon on Saturday, October 28, 2017. Trunk or Treat (limited to children ages 12 and under) will take place on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 from 6:00 PM until the candy runs out. Both events will be held in the parking lot behind Plainfield City Hall at 515 Watchung Avenue. The Trunk or Treat Costume Parade will start at 6:30 PM, and awards will be given for "Best Family Costume" and for "Best Trunk." Contact the Recreation Division at (908) 753-3097 for an application to enter the Trunk or Treat competition, or just print out the application below. No application is necessary for the Doggy Howl, but please make sure that your pet is leashed. This is a great event--there are prizes for "Best Small Dog," "Best Large Dog," and "Best Dressed Duo"--you and your dog! Please bring some pet food for donation to the Plainfield Area Humane Society! These annual events are a lot of fun--I look forward to seeing you there!



Monday, September 4, 2017

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Thursday Concert: "FLAVUH," NY/NJ's Preeminent Neo-Soul Band!

Okay, Plainfield! I know that those of you who came out to last week's awesome "Rhythm Revue Dance Party" with DJ Rahiem Diggs and DJ George Moore had a great time, as the photos (below) attest! It was a wonderful evening of music, dance, and fun! Well, we are finishing up this year's "Thursdays in the City Summer Concert Series" with an encore performance by FLAVUH, described as "NY/NJ's preeminent neo-soul band," featuring Plainfield's own Wayne Griffin! Playing classics and hits, this band will want to make you bring your dancing shoes again!
The final show is this Thursday, August 31, starting at 7:00 pm at City Hall Plaza, 515 Watchung Avenue!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

This Weekend: Youth Commission Pool Party & Senior Swim Soiree!

The City of Plainfield is hosting two great events this weekend--one for the teens, and one for our older active adults! This Saturday, August 26, 2017, from 2:00 - 6:00 pm, the Plainfield Youth Commission, in partnership with the Plainfield PBA, will host the "Youth Commission Pool Party and PBA Community Cookout" at Hannah Atkins Pool, located at 508-552 West 3rd Street. In addition to music, games, and food, there will be a FREE GIVEAWAY to the first 50 teenagers (in the pool area). ID is needed to enter the pool area (15-19 year olds) and, as always, proper bathing attire is required.
Sunday, August 27, 2017, from 3:00 - 7:00 pm, the City of Plainfield is proud to sponsor the "Senior Swim Soiree" for our seniors (AKA older active adults), also at Hannah Atkins Pool, located at 508-552 West 3rd Street. Registration is required--call (908) 753-3097! Come and enjoy water aerobics, card games, music, dancing, and food and drink. There will also be a Bathing Suit Contest (Best Cover Up, Best Designed Bathing Suit, and Most Colorful Bathing Suit). Bring your own beach Chair! Lifeguards will be on duty!
So...come on out and have some fun as we end the summer pool season!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Thursday Concert: RHYTHM REVUE DANCE PARTY & Battle of the DJs!

Bring your dancing shoes, because this week's "Thursdays in the City Summer Concert Series" will showcase our Rhythm Revue Dance Party, featuring a "Battle of the DJs," with our DJs playing a variety of music--classic house, old school, r & b, hip hop, and even favorites from the 60s, 70s, and 80s! The show starts this Thursday, August 24, starting at 7:00 pm at City Hall Plaza, 515 Watchung Avenue! We will close out on August 31 with an encore performance by FLAVUH, described as "NY/NJ's preeminent neo-soul band!"