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How do you discuss race with your children using current events?

On the go? I felt this conversation about race was so important, I created an audio version just for you! Check it out:

“How do you discuss race with your children using current events?” (Audio version)

“The Marines are set to have the first Black 4-star general in their 246-year history!” That was the title of an article posted on July 20, 2022 by NPR that I saw on LinkedIn. People typically have varying responses to articles like this: pride, celebration, skepticism, disgust, hope, anticipation, confusion, and inspiration are just a few. Nonetheless, it is a historical moment–one of which our children are witnessing and learning how to digest. The reoccurring question that we have to face as a society is, “does his race matter?” Well, today I am going to discuss this in a way that anyone can comprehend. This discussion will examine how we can use current events (like the article I mentioned above) to spark a conversation about race with our children.

My household rules about race discussions

Before discussing race in my house, I always lay some ground rules for my children:

  1. Discussing and learning to appreciate who you are while embracing your heritage and culture does not make you superior to anyone else. We are all created equal.
  2. Since we are all created equal, everybody deserves dignity and respect. I usually break it down for them. “Every” means “without exemption,” and it does not matter how the body is wrapped. That human being standing before you, whether physically or virtually, deserves dignity and respect.

Let’s dive in!

Color blindness is a myth

I know what some of you are thinking, “but I was medically diagnosed with color blindness!” Trust me, I am not being insensitive to your disability. In fact, my father is color blind, but in the context of discussions about race, color blindness is usually an argument that one only sees a person for what they have on the inside. At first glance, that sounds awesome! We should all have racial colorblindness, right? Well…it’s not that easy. I will use my own household as an example.

If you would’ve asked me a few years ago, I would have proudly proclaimed that we were raising my daughter to have racial colorblindness! “I don’t want her to say, ‘white folks this’ and ‘black folks that,’ I just want her to say ‘folks!'” It worked!… Until my oldest daughter made it to Transitional Kindergarten (about 4 years old). When she came home from school, she was excited to talk about all of her new friends. “There is one girl that is brown like me, but everyone else is yellow,” she said proudly.

I was shocked but didn’t say anything.

I simply let her continue to tell me about her new friends. She continued to come home and discuss how excited she was to have new “yellow” friends–one had the same name! That’s when it hit me: this young child got it right. She recognized a difference but still searched for a common ground. She naturally gravitated towards children with similar backgrounds but made a point to play with others who brought different interests to the classroom. For example, she absolutely hated water getting on her face, but she slowly began to explore swimming when she saw me and some of her “yellow” friends having fun in the pool.

In other words, my daughter recognized a difference but didn’t care! She didn’t need to pretend to be color blind to show genuine interest in others. She learned–and quite honestly taught me–how to embrace the things that made her different from her “yellow” friends. Now that she is in junior high, she obviously knows the difference between the many races, but her friend group remains diverse. She didn’t need color blindness; she needed her parents to avoid teaching her polarizing lessons about race.

It’s ok to celebrate

When discussing historical events (like the one I mentioned above) with our children, one of the most polarizing lessons we can teach is, “the general’s race doesn’t matter.” Some argue that highlighting the general’s race suggests that he was promoted because of his race. Some even argue that highlighting his race is ironically racism or “reverse racism.” In reality, the article described the general’s many accolades and credentials. It then discussed how senior military leaders have continued to focus on decades-old efforts to increase diversity and equality by eliminating systemic barriers. The barriers are eliminated so that the most qualified person and “best fit” gets the job/promotion.

Highlighting the general’s race is not to discriminate or claim ones race is more superior than the other. It is a celebration of progress! is progress that our parents and grandparents did not see when they were my age. It brings hope and encouragement that no matter how recently we were segregated, we are healing and making headway.

Need more to celebrate?

If that’s not enough to celebrate, then how about we celebrate how inspiring the general’s story is. He came from Shreveport, Louisiana. That means there are young people in Shreveport (and surrounding areas) who can/will see someone succeed who looks just like them. It inspires them to pursue their own dreams because those young people relate to the general’s experience. “If he can do it, so can I!” I have seen and heard this numerous times. We cannot discount the effect headlines and historical events like this have on our future generation. Each of us can influence a unique group of people, and General Langley is no exception to this rule.

Systemic racism still exists

This is the final topic and probably the most taboo when discussing race. Some of you may be ready to jump ship, but don’t worry; I’ll keep the ship steady, so stay with me. I have discussed my thoughts on systemic racism with a couple of people, but now it is time to share it with the world. Sometimes, we solely identify written rules, policies, and regulations as the “system,” but we fail to discuss the most integral part of any system–the human being.

For example, I talked to a Human Resources (HR) specialist who said her company has several non-discriminatory hiring policies in place; however, if she sees a “Shequita” (or any unique name for that matter) on the application, she will place the document on the bottom of the stack. That means Shequita never even had a fair chance at the job! Why? Because the HR specialist assumed Shequita was black, she used her authority to deny Shequita’s application. Is it unethical? Yes. Does the company have policies in place that condemn this type of behavior? Yes. Does the company have monitoring and accountability measures to prevent this from happening? Let’s just say the HR specialist had been doing this for at least two years when she told me this story. This is just one of many examples of how a human being can commit discriminatory acts on behalf of a company and inevitably create/maintain systemic barriers.

Let’s move forward!

So when we discuss this topic with our children, it is important that they understand that we celebrate progress while pushing for more. We celebrate the removal of barriers–both people and policy alike! This is an all-hands effort that requires us to embrace our differences, isolate detractors, and celebrate the many steps forward! The ongoing race war will only end in victory if all races fight together for unity and equality.

The ongoing race war will only end in victory if all races fight together for unity and equality.

Olaolu Ogunyemi

Thanks for joining me today! Have a great weekend!

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In case you missed it: Mental Health Monday Discussion with Ashlee B. the Hypnotherapist and Black Connections!

I love joining different platforms to discuss mental health! That’s why I am excited to share my latest conversation with a hypnotherapist, Ashlee, and Sandra at Black Connections! In the first hour, Ashlee and I covered various topics from our unique perspectives to include mental health challenges in the military, proven strategies in hypnotherapy, masculinity and trapped emotions, and more!

Check out the session on the Black Connections Instagram page!

We thought we were done!

As Ashlee and I were wrapping up the first hour (planned), Sandra began to provide new perspectives including the struggles returning citizens face adjusting to life after prison, childhood molestation, children in the foster care system, and more! The unplanned second hour became an hour of release, hope, and encouragement! Check it our for yourself.

Do you prefer reading about mental health?

I have great news for you if you prefer reading about mental health: I offer two FREE downloadable journals at https://parent-child-connect.com/free-resources! Also, I have discussed this topic several times on my blog. Here are a couple of examples for you to get you started: Command your thoughts: Three actionable steps to remove toxic thoughts! and How to shift your perspective and live a better life TODAY!

Olaolu Ogunyemi: U.S. Marine Officer | Mentor | Best-selling author

Thanks for you continued support and encouragement! Please like, comment, and share this post.

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Olaolu Ogunyemi and Jesse Iwuji join Chip Baker on The Success Chronicles!

Happy hump day! I am humbled and excited to join Jesse Iwuji on Chip Baker’s The Success Chronicles! Click here for the full discussion on Spotify.

During this short session, we discussed mindset, vision, collaboration, faith, and more! Get out your note-taking gear and be prepared to jot down some helpful nuggets!

Olaolu Ogunyemi & Jesse Iwuji on Chip Baker’s The Success Chronicles (YouTube version)

Who is Jesse Iwuji?

Jesse needs no introduction, but in case you don’t know, in all things Jesse Iwuji does, there are two constant elements: his devotion to service and his inspirational nature to many. Jesse went from competing at the top level of Division-1A college football to rising the ranks of the military as a Lieutenant Commander, and is now the only current driver in all of NASCAR at the national levels that actively serves his country as a US Military member.

It has been key for Iwuji, who is currently serving in our country’s reserve fighting force, to honor his country while pursuing excellence in the business world as a business owner and on the track as a driver. It should come as no surprise that he has championed companies and charities that give back to our men and women in uniform.

Jesse is also a big supporter of NASCAR diversity, equity, and inclusion. Today he is one of two African Americans competing at NASCARs national level of racing. He was honored by NASCAR for two years in a row – the Diverse Driver of the Year Award. He is well versed both on and off the track!

It is fair to say in many ways Jesse is a first in NASCAR. While clawing toward the top tiers of NASCAR, Jesse Iwuji continues to take us all along for a memorable ride showing those who dare to dream that life truly rewards those who stay strong enough, long enough. Find this bio and more information about Jesse on his website: https://www.jesseiwuji.com/

Who is Olaolu Ogunyemi

A loving husband, father, teen mentor, and U.S. Marine Officer, Olaolu Ogunyemi has a deep passion for working with children fueled by an unending supply of energy and imagination! Since he was young, Olaolu has been nicknamed the “life of the party” because he pours his exuberant personality into everything he does. As the fifth of six children, he became intimately familiar with the bond forged during quality story time; thus, Olaolu was inspired to start writing children’s stories to help create loving and memorable family moments. He is the author of the Amazon best-selling children’s book, “Crow From the Shadow,” “Horace the Horsefly,” and “Billy Dipper’s Time to Shine.”

Olaolu writes and speaks in a simple, easily understandable language, and an entertaining style that keeps listeners and readers hooked while learning vital lessons about virtues and sparking a continuing conversation.

Olaolu is a frequent traveler and in his free time, he enjoys playing music, exercising, and spending time with his family. Connect with him on his website: https://parent-child-connect.com

Find out more about Chip Baker and The Success Chronicles?

Chip Baker is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, and forth-generation educator. He established The Success Chronicles to feature interviews from people of all walks of life for positive inspiration and motivation. Find out more about Chip and the great things he is doing here: https://linktr.ee/ChipBakerTSC

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Captain O’s Pull-up Program

How to increase your pull-ups and upper-body strength in 30 days!

**Disclaimers: 1. I am not a trainer. I am just sharing what worked for me. 2. Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.**

We Marines love our pull-ups! Every year we do a Physical Fitness Test (PFT), and one of the three events is the dead hang pull-up. The number of required pull-ups for the maximum score is based upon your age. At my age, you have to do 23 correct repetitions (reps) to get a perfect score on this portion of the PFT. I usually can comfortably do anywhere between 30-40 reps.

This is the program I used to go from 7 pull-ups to 30-40 pull-ups! (Not in 30 days, but over time). You should expect to increase somewhere between 3-8 pull-ups in the next 30 days. Everyone’s body is different.

This guy could only do 7 pull-ups! 👇🏾

(I took this picture and made this “magazine cover” as a freshman in college… I do not know why. Don’t judge me! 😫😂)

I designed this 4-week pull-up program for a Marine that was getting between 12-16 reps with the goal of getting him to 23! Although I absolutely love the gym, he had very few weights and mostly resistance bands. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! So, I designed this moderate-advanced workout with those factors in mind.

You do not have to be a Marine to do pull-ups (or complete my program). In fact, pull-ups are an excellent upper body exercise if done right! Remember, physical toughness is one of our Pillars of Fortitude. Enough talking…

Welcome to my gym! Get Ready to BRING IT! 💪🏾

I will introduce to you the first four weeks of this workout plan. Here are some general rules to remember throughout:

*Do not use negative words in my gym… ESPECIALLY the word “can’t!” You can, and you will! You are mentally, spiritually, and physically strong.

*Work your core every other day. Strong core muscles are critical to doing a proper pull-up! I personally like doing 3 rounds of 3 sets of 15-20 reps of my favorite core exercises.

*As required, do 10 second weighted negative pull-ups to reach rep count. I get it! Your muscles are super tired. You just need to go shower, lie on the couch, and binge watch your favorite show. Not today! Finish every set! If you feel like you have maxed out on the amount of reps you can do, start doing “negatives.” Meaning, start off at the top of the pull-up, and slowly lower yourself down. Click here for more tips on negative pull-ups.

*Pause reps are done at the “top” of the motion unless otherwise indicated. Squeeze the targeted muscle group.

*Always engage core during pullups.

*Slow and smooth reps. Think “jazz” not “heavy metal.”

*I use the term “pull-up” very loosely. I want you to do CHEST ups! None of that “chin barely going above the bar” stuff.

*Warm up, cool down, remain hydrated, fuel your body with the proper nutrition, and have fun!

*Record your max reps before starting the program and after finishing the program.

*I recommend adding at least 3 cardio sessions for at least 30 mins a day. Also, I recommend adding a recovery day between each of the below workout days.

Let’s Get to Work!

Shoulder Day (Day 1):

1. Endurance set:

–2 sets of Max reps–2 min ammo can/military press (90 sec break in between sets). For reference, a military ammo can is normally 30-50 lbs. You can use a sandbag, gallon of water, whatever you’d like.

2. Front raises (3 second pause reps with resistance bands or dumbbells).

— 4 sets of 10-12 reps (60-80 sec breaks between sets)

3. Upright row (3 second pause reps with resistance bands or dumbbells).

— 4 sets of 10-12 reps (60-80 sec breaks between sets)

4. Close grip (6 inches or less between hands) underhand pullups (bar to upper chest). (2 second pause rep at the top)

— 4 sets of 8-10 reps (90-120 sec breaks between sets)

5. Lat Raises (2 sec pause with resistance bands)

–4 sets of 10-12 reps (60-80 sec breaks between sets)

Arm Day (Day 2):

1. Endurance set:

–2 sets of Max reps 2 min close grip pushups (90 sec break between sets)

2. Bicep curl:

–5 sets of 8-10 reps (3 sec pause rep with resistance bands or dumbbells).

3. Underhand pullups (12 inches between hands–bar to upper chest). (2 sec pause rep at the bottom)

–5 sets of 8-10 reps (90-120 sec breaks between sets)

4. Superset!

4a. Deep Weighted chair dips (1 sec pause rep at top)

–5 sets of 10-12 reps

4b. Tennis ball grip squeezes (5 sec rep pauses–closed fist). I use “Captains of Crush Grippers).

–5 sets of 10-12 reps

(60-80 sec breaks between sets)

5. Tricep kick back (3 sec pause rep with resistance band or dumbbells).

–4 sets of 8-10 reps

*Bonus burnout!! 🔥🔥 60 sec (or max time) underhand flexed arm hang.

Back Day (Day 3):

1. Endurance set:

–Round 1: 6 reps of 15 sec overhand Pull-up negatives

(60 second break)

–Round 2: 5 reps of 10 sec overhand Pull-up negatives

(80 sec break)

–Round 3: 4 reps of 5 sec overhand Pull-up negatives

(90 sec break)

2. Superset!

2a. Overhand bent over row (3 sec pause with resistance bands or dumbbells).

–5 sets of 10-12 reps

2b. Underhand bent over row (3 sec pause with resistance bands or dumbbells).

–5 sets of 10-12 reps

(60-80 sec breaks between sets)

3. Weighted wide grip overhand pullups (I use the plate carrier… With plates of course) *HEAVY, evenly distributed weight can be added.

*Try squeezing sandbag or other heavy weight between feet

— 6 sets of 6-8 reps (90-120 sec breaks between sets)

4. W Superman holds (3 sec pause reps)

–5 sets of 10-12 reps

(60-80 sec breaks between sets)

*Bonus Burnout!!: 🔥🔥 Still got more in your tank??!

–3 sets of Max reps overhand pullups.

(90-120 sec breaks between sets)

That’s it! Like, comment, share, let me know what you think. Stay motivated! 💪🏾

Download the full workout FOR FREE!