Happy New Year: Reflecting On A Full 2011

I find New Year's Eve to be a deeply reflective holiday (drunken revelry aside) and each year I ask whoever we're celebrating with: "If you could sum up the year in one word, what would it be?"

For me, this year's answer is: FULL.

Full of crazy videos, awkward moments, butchered Spanish, discussions that never happened, crazy cab drivers, flights, airports, reconnecting with old friends, making friends anew, conferences, meet ups, plays, films, white guys with guitars, conjugal bliss, moving boxes, white dance circles, cultural obsessions, keeping it tight, Fung Wah bus rides, weddings, holidays, birth, death, mistaken identity, triumphs, failures, chicken and waffles, thick blood, assumption challenging, and most importantly: laughter.  Thanks in large part to you, my wonderful readers.

I wish you all a safe, enjoyable, and prosperous New Year!

A 61-Year-Old Bootcamper, The 2012 Boston Marathon, And Me

A few weeks ago while traveling in Washington, DC for work, I happened to walk by the gym I used while living there this past summer.  Through the glass walls and door I could see my former bootcamp instructor speaking with another gym member.  We caught eyes she began waving excitedly, motioning that I should come over.

After hugs and a brief motherly/priestly check-in that coaxed out a confession of falling off the exercise wagon and eating lots more sugar, I turned to go about my merry way when my instructor exclaimed, "Oh! I did my marathon! I have pictures! Come and see!"  I'd completely forgotten about seeing her morning after morning, trudging along on a treadmill in the corner, head down, earbuds in place, until it was time to teach her first bootcamp or spinning class of the day.

I followed her into her office, and she proudly placed a large 8 x 10 photo of her victoriously crossing the finish line at the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.  "I finished in 6 hours and because of my age group I placed pretty well! Right in the middle of the pack."

Oh yes.  I should mention that my instructor was running the marathon to celebrate her birthday.  Her 61st birthday.

As I smiled, nodded and listened to her marathon highlights,  she had no way of knowing about the thoughts going on in my head; how just a few hours earlier during my flight from Boston, I continued mulling over the idea of running the Boston Marathon -- a thought planted by my husband after completing a longer-than-usual run.  But I could think of a lot of other things I'd rather do for four hours on a state holiday, like eating a big plate of chicken nachos from my favorite burrito place.
"Wow, well this is really inspiring," I responded.  "I've been thinking about running a marathon myself --"
"DO IT," my instructor insisted,"You can totally do it."
Aside from the whole 26.2 mile thing, I also knew running the Boston Marathon wouldn't be easy just in terms of getting into the race.  I had no qualifying races under my belt.  Regular registration was over.  And considering how late I was in the game, I new the few nonprofits able to get numbers through the John Hancock Charity Program finished their application processes months, kicked off their respective fundraising campaigns, and already began team training.  Yet, I failed to see the timing of this conversation as random.

I returned to Boston and thought of the nonprofit organizations to which I felt most connected.  I had no expectations that my inquiries about applying for a charity team and made peace with the fact that if it didn't work out, well, it just wasn't meant to be.   But I thought, "What the heck, it never hurts to ask right?  What's the worst they say? No?"

So I emailed Boston Partners in Education, an organization whose doors were some of the first I walked through when we moved to Boston five years ago: "I know the application period ended last month," I wrote, "but just wanted to see if you were still looking for team members."  The response?  Suprising: "Hi Tinu,  We are still looking for one more team member to run the 2012 Boston Marathon for Boston Partners in Education and fundraise for us."

After completing an application and providing some additional information to Executive Director, Pam Civins, later that week I received a call inviting me to join Team Boston Partners.  And I accepted.  Afterward I hung up the phone, sat back at my desk and said, "WHAT DID I JUST DO?!?!"  With each ensuing week of training, I'm finding that out.

To keep up to date with my training and fundraising progress, check out my Team Boston Partners Crowdrise page: 

Review: You Got Serve(d)!

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Is it just me, or has splitting a check among friends at a restaurant become harder than it needs to be?  Why does the math always add up when your paying for a meal by yourself but when four or more people get involved covering the bill and tip seems to be an issue?

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Within days for signing up for my Serve account I found myself in plenty of situations where using Serve would come in handy: reimbursing friends for meals after I realized I left my purse in car or at home ( I swear it was just a coincidence!); settling a restaurant bill with co-workers during a holiday lunch outing; and paying back a friend my share of a group baby shower gift.

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Remember to sign up for Serve and receive $10 credit towards your first use. Comment below within the next 7 days for your chance to win an extra $100 credit to your account! Official sweepstakes rules and regulations may be found by clicking here. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

The Black Girl's Guide To Surviving A White Christmas

After last year's guide, I thought it might be time for an update.

And no, these are not tips for surviving your first Boston winter or how to become "Queen of the Slopes" during your first ski trip to New Hampshire -- I'm talking about surviving your first Christmas with your white in-laws.

5. Have an escape plan.
Not just physically, but conversationally.  So when your husband's Aunt Ginger corners you and begins her "20 Questions" drill to find out why you haven't popped out triplets when you've been married for 4 weeks, instead of screaming: "MIND YOUR OWN @#!*&$# UTERUS!" at the top of your lungs,  you can simply deflect and say: "Man this cube of cheese is good! I think I'll have another! Pardon me."

4. If you can cook, BRING IT...
Word on the street is I caused a bit of a "ruckus" one holiday when my North Carolina Sweet Potato Casserole went head-to-head with some one else's sweet potato dish that consisted of drained canned sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows.  Now I have nothing against Bruce's Candied Yams, but you can guess which recipe relatives were emailing me for after the fact.  I'm not bragging, I'm just saying...

3. ...And if you can't cook, LEAVE IT.
You have one chance to make a first impression, especially when it comes to your cooking.  When it comes to holiday gathers, how many of you try to ascertain who brought or made which dish before putting the food on your plate?  Go on ahead, raise your hands...I'll wait.

Mmm-hmm...thought so.

Don't be that person whose food everyone avoids because it gave them the runs last year. If the culinary arts isn't your strength, just stick to something that's hard to mess up like a bottle of Two Buck Chuck.

2. Bring your own playlist.
If your in-laws are part of hip-hop's allegedly, largely white audience, you might want to make sure the word "n*gga" isn't repeatedly blasted over the sound system throughout the evening.  Because having a conversation with your grandmother-in-law or your 5 year-old niece while 50 Cent is in the background rapping "...hoes down, G's up I see Xzibit in the cut, hey n*gga roll that weed up" is just...well...awkward.  I mean do you want to explain those lyrics to a 5 year-old during the family Christmas gathering?  Me neither.  Problem solved.

1. Smile and nod...or at least just nod.
Maybe you don't understand why Cousin Bucky believes the President is the antichrist, or why Aunt Melba's dog has its own seat, name card, and place setting at the grown ups table while you and your husband are still stuck at the kid's table.  Maybe no one told you that between every round of Yankee Swap everyone bursts into the Notre Dame fight song or Uncle Amos insists on asking about your "Oriental" friends he met at your wedding when he should be asking about your Korean friends.  The bright side is you can still be remembered as the pleasant, always smiling in-law, but in your mind think whatever you want!

Safe travels to everyone making their way to be with friends and loved ones! Best wishes to all of you during this holiday season.  Enjoy!

19th Annual Cherry Creek Diversity Conference - February 4, 2012

I've never been to the state of Colorado.  And when I think of "Colorado" what comes to mind is thin air, mountains, skiing, and wondering whether it's colder than Boston.  But I'm always up for having my assumptions challenged.

So I'm even more excited to have the opportunity to present a workshop on interracial relationships at the 19th Annual Cherry Creek Diversity Conference, the largest diversity conference in the state of Colorado.  The conference takes place on February 4, 2012.  For more information or to register, check out

"We'll Bury You But We Won't Marry You!" : How To Make Interracial Couples Feel Unwelcome At Your Church

If you've Googled the words "church" and "Kentucky" over the last couple of days, chances are you didn't stumble up on articles about fried chicken establishments accused of deep frying animals other than chickens.  Most likely you read about Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church and a recent vote by its members to control the movement of interracial couples within its four walls.  In a previous post I've mentioned some of the dynamics my husband and I experienced while dating, engaged, and married as it relates to our experiences in church, but in light of current events, I found it apropos to highlight some additions that at times left us scratching our head:

Referring to someone in the third person while he/she is standing right in front of you.
Last Sunday I noticed my husband chatting with a gentleman I didn't recognize, so  I walked over to introduce myself, standing next to my husband and across from the gentleman, politely listening as they carried on their conversation.  The gentleman kept asking my husband questions about me even though I was standing right in front of him.  I thought it was a bit strange as he went on talking to my husband using the term "your wife" but then I realized he hadn't put two and two together nor my husband and I.  When he finally stopped long enough for my to introduce myself, I did so as:  "Tinu DIV-HER. HIS WIFE." And yes I did roll my neck and raise my voice while I said it (forgive me Lord).

Placing the entire responsibility for the "test" in your testimony on one ethnic/racial group.
Recently, my siblings and I were discussing some of the crazy shenanigans that go on during testimonies at New Year's Eve/Watch Night church services.  Invariably, the first people to grab the microphone are people you haven't seen at church since last year's New Year's Eve service.  But my personal qualm is the inappropriateness/irrelevance/offensiveness of some of the things that people get away with sharing.  I've heard everything from people blaming the white man for their delayed promotion, to referring to someone that treated them unfairly as "oriental," to talking about situations where some is trying to "Jew you." So essentially what is meant to be a moment for the body of Christ to come together and encourage one another by hearing about how God is at work in individual lives gets hijacked by people who want to vent for forty-five minutes about topics not suitable for anyone under the age of eighty-five.  Yes, you may be tired and your feet hurt and your gout is flaring up again, but consider whether bringing that up in front of an entire church congregation (including visitors) on New Year's Eve in the right venue for sharing that information.  

Degrading an entire continent, nation, or people group... through prayer.
When it comes to churches supporting mission trips and missionaries, historically the continent of Africa has been a "popular" destination for people, money, and resources.  So to sit in a church service and listen to a prayer for the individuals and the work they are carrying out is nothing new to me.  However, what does catch me off guard is when these prayers are basically a laundry list of diseases that people hope to avoid contracting during the mission trip.  Now don't get me wrong, I have no issue with people staying healthy while traveling,  however, I do have an issue with the single story that we tend to project on the people and places we consider "the other."

Because this is a humor blog about interracial relationships, I was a tad reluctant to write anything about this topic.  I can't say I find anything funny about a congregation determining that the only church activities my husband and I should participate in are each others' funerals.  And yet it reminds me of the need for grace and the fact that there are no perfect churches, but rather broken churches filled with broken people.