Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Family Birthdays

Family Birthdays

Our older son Chinaku and our daughter Beth have June birthdays. All of Beth’s family have their birthdays in June and July, from Kelvin on June 3 to Nkiru today!

We celebrated our grandson Kenechi’s birthday on July 4th. He turned 21. We found the helium balloon on the ceiling in our turret after he and his family returned home.

family birthday balloon

Left-over balloon from Kenechi’s birthday, since I don’t have good pic of Nkiru!

Ikem turned 3 on the 17th.

Today is their sister Nkiru’s 17th birthday. We sent a card and phoned this afternoon. She said she’s going to Philadelphia’s Chinatown tonight with friends.

We’ll drive to Bryn Mawr tomorrow to share the birthday. There’s a great pic in her Instagram account, but I don’t know how to get it here! I’ll share a picture from the weekend next time!

Mount Holyoke and Space

Dr. Beth O’Leary, Mount Holyoke alumna of 1974, has an unusual specialty, cultural resource management.

Would you know what that meant? I had no idea when I spotted the article about her.

Our alumnae magazine has a segment called “Ten Minutes With.” It’s an interview with an alum. I was drawn to the article because the heading said “Moon Studies.

I’ve been a huge fan of astronomy since 6th grade. So I was eager to read the piece.

Dr. O’Leary is an expert in archaeology and cultural anthropology. Her specialty, cultural resource management, looks at sites that have significance for our country in some way and may lead to “National Register nominations of archaeological and historic sites.”

How did she get to the moon studies? She said, “While teaching my graduate seminar in 2000 in the application of historic preservation law, a student asked if United States preservation laws apply on the moon.”

Moon seen from Apollo

View of lunar disc from returning Apollo 11 mission.

She didn’t know the answer. “With a grant from the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium we began to research this question,” she said. “We learned there is in excess of 106 metric tons of cultural material on the lunar surface, and so we limited our scope to the most iconic site—Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing.”

I wrote about that landing in my memoir. I was in the U.S. because of the Biafran War in Nigeria.

Were you alive in 1969? Do you remember it?

In addition to stuff left on the moon, there are the footprints of the astronauts and tracks their equipment left. At first she and others thought the Apollo 11 landing site should be a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

But they learned that other countries would not welcome U.S. appropriation of part of the moon! In the end she was part of a NASA team “that wrote and published guidelines for all future expeditions to help protect the scientific and historical values of the US sites on the moon.”

Americanah and Book Covers

Ainehi Edoro raved about Adichie’s new book covers in her blog. She calls them, “fashion accessories.”

Edoro says, “The most recent redesign is the work of Jo Walker—a well-known name in the book design world.” She praises the designer for using wax print, called Ankara in Nigeria.

She says, “Given that Ankara print is a signature element of contemporary African fashion, it’s hard not to fantasize about what other ways we could make use of these books—a statement clutch, perhaps?”

I can’t wait to see a photo of Edoro with the book as a “statement clutch!”

Adichie’s Fans, Rejoice! |Her New Book Covers Are Wax Print Masterpieces

I wish I’d known about the wax print book covers before my meeting last Sunday evening with a book group in Easton. I could have taken fabric to show!

A few wax prints.

I love wax prints. Here are a few.

At the Yale School of Management reception the week before, I’d met Melissa who invited me to join her book group to discuss Americanah.

Most of the ten women had read and enjoyed the book. They appreciated the comments I offered, including help with pronunciation.

And I loved hearing their take on the main character Ifemelu, her life decisions, her hair, and her blog.

Jim Himes and Black Lives Matter 

Our congressional representative Jim Himes hosted a forum on race relations on Monday evening.

Jim Himes, Congress

Jim Himes, our congressional representative, hosted the forum

The panel included Dr. Anthony L. Bennett, head pastor of Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport, Rev. Cass Shaw, of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, Tenisi Davis, actor and activist, Dr. Khalila Brown-Dean, associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University and Deputy Chief Ashley Gonzalez, of the Norwalk Police Department.

The Darien News reported on the event.

“The discussion, facilitated by Bennett focused on three questions: Does white privilege exist? Does institutional racism exist in Connecticut? And what can the average white person do regarding police brutality and #blacklivesmatter?”

Rev. Dr. Bennett

Rev. Dr. Anthony Bennett of Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport

Bennett said, “There are a whole lot of us who are just tired of having the same conversation about race with the same people. And so I challenged Congressman Himes to [have the conversation] outside of Bridgeport. . . We need to talk to some white folk.”

Darien, a primarily white community, was chosen.

The panelists recounted their experiences and offered advice:

  1. Acknowledge bias and speak out
  2. Listen from a place of openness
  3. Be willing to be uncomfortable.

Many speakers from the audience still asked how to help. Himes and the panelists suggested we do our homework, so we understand what black people face.

“Let’s face it, we’re in a moment of crisis right now where it feels like just about every week we see videos, astonishing and horrifying videos of killing of unarmed, black men, often,” Himes said.

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.

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