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Having My Say...
Ramblings of Professor Marsha Bass

SEPTEMBER 14, 2014

The Meanest Mother in the World


My mother was the meanest mother in the world. When the other kids got to stay out late after dark, she always made me come home by the time the street lights were on. If I didn't make it, she went completely out of control and took my bike riding privileges away.

When all of my other friends starting testing their new looks in make-up and training bras, she refused to let me join in the fun. She said something about not wanting to grow up too fast because I had so little time to be a child. And then, of course, she had to throw in the fact that I still had nothing to train...

Ethel didn't play, and she never lied. She always spoke the truth and respected those who heard it enough to trust them to use it as they best saw fit. No one had to agree with her for her to love them. 

She would never allow me to wear the short shorts that I thought were so cute and always preached about how hard it is to remove first impressions. Sleepovers were out of the question. She made me sleep at home in my own bed on many occasions to teach me to appreciate what I have and learn how to entertain myself because we are alone VERY often in this life.

In regard to education, there was no argument. What could I say to a woman of color who had secured higher education herself in the 1940s? And then, when Daddy was diagnosed with tuberculosis, she went out and actually worked to take care of my older brother Michael, who was still a toddler. And, she kept on working. She EVEN asked to be placed on 2nd shift so she could stay home with me during the day. She even had to mess those days up. She was too mean to let even someone else take over the primary care for me even though she knew she had to work.

And when boys became an interest, I was never old enough. What kind of woman tells her daughter that if she got pregnant as a teenager, that SHE would be solely responsible for the child? What kind of grandmother says that I would have to miss school events, football games, parties with my friends? I tell you this woman was unreasonable. She even told me that I would have to wash diapers by hand because she wouldn't put the wear and tear of the extra laundry on her Kenmore. And my favorite piece of wisdom - " I am NOT a live-in babysitter. I raised YOU to be responsible for your own actions. If your choices lead to a child as a teenager, do not expect me to stop MY life to care for it when you are fully capable of holding yourself accountable for your own actions."

I still get chills thinking back to THAT 8th-grade conversation! I didn't even know how to make a baby, let alone bring one home. It took me 29 years to take Grant home to that crazy woman.

Yes, my mother was incredibly inflexible. If she said, "No," she said it without hesitation or apology. I couldn't wear Mama down with constant begging (I didn’t even try) and if I EVER complained to her about something Daddy did (he wouldn't let me go see Jenny), she would shut the conversation down immediately in full support of his parenting decisions. What a wimp!

She made me get involved in stuff at school, and she even embarrassed me by coming to ALL of my plays, concerts, and school recognition programs. She also MADE ME go to the parent-teacher conferences because she said the information was for MY benefit, not hers. I recall My English teacher telling her that I was a wonderful student, but could not get me to SHUT UP. She didn't even take my side! She told him she had the same problem at home and that they would work together to help me focus. Why couldn't she just leave me alone?

She never took my side! My first year of marriage, I returned to her after a heated argument; she stopped me at the door and told me to go home and talk to my husband and work it out. She said Grant deserved a better environment to live in. Blah, blah, blah... once she got a grandbaby, she forgot all about me!

As I look back now at 52, it is so hard to believe her spirit has been soaring for eight years now.  When I relocated to California, I actually began to remark to Kyle that I couldn’t wait to get home to call Mama to let her know I made it. Yeah, I still catch myself thinking………Mama was some kind of mean mother.

And the, I pray, "Father, I hope my children will one day say the very same thing about me....maybe tinged with a hint of crazy." As this old world continues to morally and ethically decline, mothers need not only be mean, but MEANER for there is much, much work to do and few have the intestinal fortitude for the task. Mean mothers are God's gift to protect humanity from the evils that so clearly burden us. I no longer have mine, so if you do, thank her for being one of the meanest women in the world.  She is responsible for the ripple effect that will pass through your generations, saving them from falling to the peril that lies ahead. She has given them every armor necessary for success. Yes, I hope you, too, had one of the meanest mothers in the world.

“When you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” Ethiopian Proverb


365 Days of Retirement: "I Love Natural Hair"

The Matriarch


Humbled: FB Birthday Wishes Thank You

Electric Shock Therapy Used on Autistic Students

August 29, 2014 12:49 PM PT

365 Days of Retirement: "I Love Natural Hair"'

#retirement #Siblings #family

I recently relocated to the San Diego area to fulfill a lifelong dream and also better manage my scleroderma. When I arrived, my brother Kyle gave me this awesome "housewarming gift."


No, I'm no where near retirement so I could not quite understand the intent... unless he was telling me that I LOOK old enough to be retired (as brothers do). Then, I noted the author. It is the work of my first cousin, Duane Filer, chronicling his first year as a retiree. He shared a story involving a trip to see one of Kyle's hometown friends perform at the Troubadour Nightclub in Beverly Hills. While the entire experience is engaging, I was struck by a passage in which Duane describes his fondness for natural hair:

My favorite bank tellers at the Bank of America in Carson are Shayna and Jackie. Shayna is this beautiful young black girl who is doing this beautiful/popular thing with her hair - JUST LETTING IT GROW WITHOUT ANY CHEMICALS ON IT...NO STRAIGHTENING...AND IT LOOKS GREAT. My nieces and even Arinn [his daughter] are trying this natural hairstyle - which I prefer sooooooooo much over the long colored weaves. Hey......... I love natural hair! (pg. 637)

I just thought how terribly nice to have such a wonderful affirmation of the natural beauty in women. And I happen to know Duane; he is a highly intelligent man who has devoted his entire life to family and community service. Ladies -- this is male advice we can trust!


AUGUST 15, 2014 7:47 PM ET

"A riot is the language of the unheard." Dr. Martin Luther King


#Ferguson #TrayvonMartin #EricGarner #MichaelBrown

Some people always overlook the blood, tears, and loss of life that have paved each path to such desperate acts. No matter what injustice happens in the Black community, there are still those who find a reason to somehow see nothing but a few unruly folks getting out of hand and make comments alluding to the fact that our mistreatment is somehow warranted because, as a community, we do not know how to behave when wronged.


Do not be deceived. The media may not show it but there are people of all backgrounds, races, cultures, and faiths supporting the #Ferguson community and protesting against the local law enforcement brutality. Many are waking up. Many know that if we do not value one life, we value none. Many know that time is near before several communities could find themselves under siege by local police forces equipped with military grade weaponry but no proper training. Law enforcement personnel are the experts in public safety. They should be trained in how to AVOID escalation and LEAD the public in this manner (not unlike teachers should know how to avoid escalating issues in the classroom). No one skips into an arrest. There is a great opportunity to help make changes for the better for many communities across the country if we can overlook the cosmetic issues that take precedence over the real tragedy.

But to the few who seem to see "looting" and "rioting" as the greatest difficulty here, then let us review a few truths:

Suspicion of a crime in the Black community often leads to the death of the unarmed. I, for one, would rather see this trend stopped now as it IS spilling out to other areas of society. But it is MOST PREVALENT in the Black community.

Suspicion of guilt (OR JAYWALKING) does not warrant a gunning down in a street (and being left like an animal -- this is someone's child).

For decades, issues related directly to the Black community have been pushed aside and ignored, especially since many felt the election of President Obama signaled a perceived "end" to racism issues. The disorder you see is the result of waiting too long on a justice system that never seems to get it right with us.

Can we not all agree:

A child gunned down walking home from a convenience store is wrong..
A child gunned down for jaywalking is wrong.
An unarmed man choked to death for suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes (after he had just broken up a fight himself)....???? Really???

August 7, 2014 5:55 PM ET



I know Facebook serves to give us a shameless 15 minutes of fame, but every year at this time, I am reminded of how terribly blessed my life has been.  Through all the challenges of “the now”, we often forget about all the people who helped nudge us back to the proper path when the journey got more than just a little rocky. 

With each name read on my wall, I recall how you have touched my life in some unique way. To be able to have so many wonderful people take time to consider me on this day is truly awesome!  I am especially grateful to have been able to reconnect with some childhood friends who gave my spirit a chance to reflect on the feelings of  youth.  You know me best and have held steadfast through valleys, mountains, feast, famine, tears, and laughter.  Best birthday present was spending time with everyone in California in July! 

My Facebook prayer for the coming year is that I am able to offer a prayer, comforting words, or just support when it is needed. I believe that we owe it to each other to make sure our meetings always touch the lives of others in some positive way.

I’m so thankful that God loves me, I’m happy and blessed to reflect it in return, for as many more birthdays as He allows! Thank  you for your birthday wishes!

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1Peter 4:8

August 7, 2014


Jennifer Msumba is suing Judge Rotenberg Center following shock therapy

Electric Shock Therapy Used on Autistic Students at Judge Rotenberg Center in Cambridge Massachusetts.

#Really? #WhatHaveWeBecome?

When I first became aware of this story on CBS, I was immediately reminded of the movie Frances, the story of Frances Farmer played phenomenally and unforgettably by actress Jessica Lange. As one diagnosed with depression as a teenager, I was once asked if I would consider electric shock therapy. The news of this story caused the very same chill to rise on the back of my neck. I have to believe that we have come far beyond the antiquated and obsolete mental disorder treatments of the 30s and 40s AND EARLIER. As some of the most dependent members of society, mental health patients should find comfort from others not a dangerous threat of pain in order to curb what is perceived as offending behavior.

Autism is a neurological disorder that cannot be SHOCKED away. Many autistic children cannot even communicate how painful the treatment is. This is why I applaus Jennifer's decision to champion this issue even more. As an educator and parent, I would NEVER treat a child in this manner. I know that we are constantly seeking ways to help children find success in the classroom but THIS is NOT it.

Lavender essential oil burning gently in the background, hugs, praises, a calm voice -- these are all techniques that can positively affect behavior in the classroom. I am hoping this treatment is banned.


Learning should be challenging but not frustrating. I am happy to provide these stress-free suggestions for making your journey to success one to enjoy!

Join the conversation on my Facebook page: Education Coffeehouse: Encourage, Engage and Educate

~Professor Marsha

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