Category Archives: Politics

Let’s Take A Look In The Mirror

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I am frustrated when breath is wasted arguing about All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter in connection with Black Lives Matter, but another problem is slowly brewing in the black community, or maybe it’s always been there. The unspoken words that are said through the inaction of our so-called “Uppity Negroes” is simple:

Black Lives Matter… But My Black Life Matters More Than Yours

This is a sad truth that I am learning about in the black community. As my conservative upbringing is being challenged and I am becoming more familiar with the black justice movement, whether it’s the Austin Justice Coalition or Black Lives Matter. I find that many young black professionals, who are way more liberal and progressive than I am, are nowhere to be found. Young Black Professionals who grew up in way more diverse environments or predominately black areas are nowhere to be found. (I am from Lexington, Kentucky and it’s not exactly the most diverse place in the world). As I engage with more activists, I find it puzzling and wonder where are all the young black professionals are who rant and rave on their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and lament to their friends in their Groupme’s and Slack groups about Police.

Where Art thou?

Since I have moved to Austin, three years ago, a city where more black people are steadily leaving, and young black millennials don’t want to be here, I find that segment of the population, to be self-absorbed and completely out of touch with not only reality, but with the suffering of black lives in Austin and across the country.

Why so Serious?

I have been an avid volunteer for one of the largest non-profit organizations here in Austin, a predominantly white city, but the non-profit serves a high percentage of black and brown kids. Many of the children who live in Austin that are below the poverty line are Hispanic and Black. They need mentors, they need successful people who look like them, but time and time again, I am the only black volunteer. Trying to get young black professionals to give their TIME OR MONEY is like pulling teeth. But they are the first to buy tickets for any concert, ready to spend money on drinks, and go to Happy Hour after Happy Hour trying to find a significant other in a city where it is hard to do. Then the deaths of young black men and women across the country began to be more public, either filmed or sound recorded, and the Black Lives Matter Movement was born.

These same inactive millennials, they “feel” for the movement, “cry” about the movement. Because we all know a person who could’ve been Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, or even Freddie Gray. But they don’t do anything. They don’t go to marches, don’t donate their time, and the best part is that they take the time to criticize activists for being too radical, too loud, or not creating enough solutions when the reality is that if maybe they were at the table, with all of their skills, with more educated black folks, finding solutions might be a little easier. While it is easy to blame many of the generational curses that plague the black community on others, we are still are own worst enemy.

To me, the reality is that these “Uppity Negroes”, by their inaction are saying that THEIR Black Life Matters more. I say this and I am an Uppity Negro, and proud of it. But I am in the trenches, and I want you to be there with me. I get it. When you grow up middle or upper middle class, there is a level of comfort that you enjoy, and maintaining that comfort or improving upon that comfort is your main goal. That is all our white counterparts have to worry about. Guess what? YOUR. ARE. NOT. THEM.

The reality I want to leave you with is that the comfort you hold so near and dear to your heart is made possible, because your parents or caregivers didn’t make that one mistake, didn’t have that one tragedy in their life, or whatever else it may have been that you are here, and you are not them. Trust me you are not as removed from the toils of your people as you would like to think. Because no one talks about the fact that there are very few victims of police brutality that are in the “Uppity Negro” status. It is classism at its finest, and we have to stop acting like it’s not happening. If you woke up in a different position or circumstance, you might think differently and wonder why black folks who’ve “made” it, are nowhere to be found. We spend a lot of time trying to convince people, especially white people, why all lives matter is not cool, but what we really need to do is remind black people, that when you say Black Lives Matter, saying those words mean nothing, if you do nothing.

M/P

Originally posted here on Alibix.co ‘s website.

Let’s Talk About Politics and Data

My Faithful readers,

Please check out my new blog post over on Silicon Jungle’s Website here.

It’s a good one!

Voting2

Being Unapologetic: How America Transferred this Privilege from the Presidency to the Candidacy

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“Never apologize, mister, it’s a sign of weakness.”  ― John Wayne

So have you heard about this thing… its called being “unapologetic” … it’s a new trend, a new hashtag… In 2015, it was considered the Top Beauty Trend… “ be Unapologetically you” …*rolls eyes*  and it’s definitely bled into 2016, and everyone is basically saying “be unapologetically [enter any word]”. So yeah, it’s definitely a thing. But it’s not really a new trend.

Despite the recent focus on it, being “unapologetically” anything is probably one of the hardest things to do. There are a few things that I do unapologetically, and because too much of anything can always turn into a negative.

One area I consider myself unapologetic is that I wear my heart on my sleeve and my passion on my chest.  At times, people find my openness disingenuous, and there always comes a time when someone thinks I am lying or not being “real” , that I’m just saying it when in fact they learn, oh, no, she’s serious, that’s how I really feel, and I am telling the truth. That’s just who I am.

And that’s what I want to talk about today.

When you’re living unapologetically sometimes people really never believe you. But if you prove that you are unapologetic, and your yes is yes, and your no is no, people are mesmerized. Because most people can’t do it.

We all know that as humans we are imperfect, so of course, we will make a mistakes at some point, and go off our path, and we will be remorseful and apologize. Although I think I am unapologetically open almost 100% of the time that would probably be a lie, realistically, I am probably at 95%, but I am okay with that.

But as I mentioned earlier, too much of one thing, brings about a negative. With this trend of being unapologetic all the time, another camp has also arisen, and in mainstream media, not to mention with the help of social media, the policing of ideals has happened. So you have:

  1. People who apologize for every action that isn’t socially acceptable
  2. People who stand behind their actions no matter what

I mean let’s take a step back and give a shout out to Ted Cruz who unapologetically got up on the GOP Convention stage, and did not endorse Trump. People thought he would cave in. And most people, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, enjoyed every moment of it. And to be honest, I don’t think Trump would’ve had it any other way. Do you think Trump would’ve endorsed anyone else if he hadn’t won the nomination?

No one likes the person always apologizing and caving into external pressure. (Ironic though that Hillary doesn’t cave in and people don’t like that, but I will give you one guess why it’s different for her – read more here) . It’s pretty clear, we don’t want an apologizer for President, but do we want that quality in our candidates? Before they take on the hardest job in America?

In this new state of Politics, we see Trump accept the Republican nomination being one of the most unapologetic persons running for a political office and people are eating it up.

In a Vox.com article called, “How Donald Trump Won” , the writers outline perfectly how the blunders of the Republican establishment have really contributed to the success of Donald Trump. If you look at their first reason in which Trump was able to open the door to his current candidacy it is the emergence of being unafraid to say whatever, no matter the facts.

Donald Trump was unapologetically focused on the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate. Despite all of the subsequent evidence and information that was revealed because of the stink Trump made, he never retreated, asked or forgiveness, nothing… he was truly unapologetic. Fast-forward 5 years and very few things have changed. Trump has to go back on very little such as not using anyone’s money for his campaign as he enters into the main election. But that’s understandable, right? Why use your own money, when you could use someone else’s? Makes sense to me. Except he’s been talking about self-funding as a main pillar in his speeches and that he can’t be controlled. But he unapologetically created a reason for the change:

“I mean, do I want to sell a couple of buildings and self-fund? I don’t know that I want to do that necessarily, but I really won’t be asking for money for myself, I’ll be asking money for the party.” (source) 

And his supporters are okay with it according to an Associated Press poll that determined “Trump Supporters Unfazed by Reversal on Self-Funding”.

Hook. Line. and Sinker.

Although, it would be unfair if I left out that it was released, that he did in fact self-fund his primary campaign. (source).  But he still changed his tune, but he didn’t miss a beat. For the most part, he continues to not ask for forgiveness even when he has contradicted himself, and he continues to speak from his mind and heart.

The reality is that we like this idea of being unapologetic. Even though it’s an unattainable goal, we, the American people, are slightly in awe, good or bad, with the notion of saying what you mean, feel, and sticking to it even if it’s changing along the way. I say this because I am learning that I know a lot more people who are Trump supporters than I would’ve ever imagined, and I am truly amazed by the people who are truly glossing over his racist and xenophobic remarks, as if you can separate those comments from who he is.

He’s unapologetic.

If you think about it, The President of the United States, in the past, didn’t publicly apologize. It’s almost Presidential to be unapologetic, it’s not a new trend for that role. However, our generation has seen President Obama and President George W. Bush admit mistakes and missteps sooner than any Presidents ever before, because our technology and media holds them to a different fire or standard, and I think that America has pushed back unconsciously to the point we yearn for candidates and politicians who are unapologetic.

With the exception of LBJ, who had to grapple with the realities of the Vietnam War in such a public way, Presidents have never been apologetic for their actions, they have to make tough decisions during terms of office, and none of us really envy that responsibility. Being seen as weak is not really a good look.

So I guess I wrote this piece to add a little blame across the country, Heavy is the head who wears the crown. But it continues to get heavier and heavier. I recently enjoyed discussing the secrecy that JFK was able to operate under with the Cuban Missile Crisis or the Bay of Pigs. That could never happen in this day and age it feels like.

To further this point, I personally never liked how everyone was mad at President Bush for continuing to read a book to kids when Hurricane Katrina hit just as much as people are STILL debating the true events surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden. The insinuation that Obama waited until election time to allow it to happen is so interesting to me. I hope he never apologizes or admits to that, because we will have someone much worse than Trump making his way to the nomination.

Being unapologetic for tough decisions is something that Presidents must do when faced with a difficult decision for the nation, but it’s not cool to be unapologetic just for the heck of it. Presidential candidates should be concerned as they run for office about the hearts and minds of the entire country. There will come a day for each President to make a tough decision and be unapologetic, but it’s a privilege that shouldn’t be given too soon or to the wrong person.

The Vicious Cycle of Power: The Real Problem in America Right Now

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“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” – John Acton

The killing of innocent lives is never good, whether the lives are lost here or abroad and whoever the victims are, the loss of innocent lives is never good. The killing of innocent lives that distract from fixing the current problem with policing in our communities is even worse. The last thing that we needed to happen were more innocent black men killed and innocent policeman shot in cold blood, and most of America and the world, had to sit and watch. Some wept, some were confused, mystified, and others were mad. I couldn’t help but think about what the continual root cause of the problem.

Whose hands are truly stained with blood? I can give you a little hint, but it’s not just the Police, and it’s definitely not the innocent people who continue to die simply for the color of their skin.

It’s power. Power corrupts. The duty to protect and serve is a power, and if abused, can be a matter of life or death. Sometimes power corrupts a good police officer. Sometimes it makes a bad police officer worse, but this power is nothing compared to the truly powerful people who aren’t doing anything to fix a broken system. A system that has been broken for years, decades. In fact, it seems to me that they prefer to allow the viscous cycle of power to churn out the same story and it’s getting worse.

Police officers are given a certain of lever of power in their jobs, because they are asked to enforce the law. Crime and violence does occur in many urban communities across the country, and the law needs to be enforced. But power corrupts. We all see this in any workplace where bad managers and directors mistreat employees simply because they can.

Often times, people of color experience this “power” of the law by the hand of police, when police are simply doing their job. Whether it’s because they are getting evicted, parents are being arrested for petty or serious crimes or kids are being removed from their home because of abuse or neglect. Other times they experience this “power” so unjustly by being racially profiled for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Rarely are any of these interactions positive.

So if Police are given the power to monitor communities, and are often above reproach, what about the ones who are corrupted by power? That is why we see police brutality. Daniel Holtzclaw, the Oklahoma City police officer, who was sentenced to 263 years in prison for raping women of color abused the power of his badge.

I am saying the blame on the police and the violence/crime in these communities of color, at times, is unfair, because the system has been built to create vulnerable citizens, first, who then have to live and die by the hands of ill-trained and sometimes underfunded police departments.

The famous quote by Thomas Moore says it best:

“For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.”

The lack of good education, the inability to make a decent wage or to find gainful employment (convicted felons), you cannot help but expect some people to turn to crime. These actions stem from the difficulty to reach the “American Dream”. We then ask police officers to enforce laws against those who have been rejected and hurt by the system.  And now, many police departments have lowered their standards for police officers to ensure that they have enough officers on the force. Thus creating a problem of police officers who are too young and ill-trained. Seems to me that the police and the people in the communities of color are stuck in a deadly hamster reel.

The logical next step is to think who gives the power of the law. The police do not give this power to themselves. And more over, who has the power to improve the minimum wage, improve our educational system or the justice system and to create better programs for our convicted felons.

Politicians. Elected officials. “Leaders”.

America has stacked the cards against the most vulnerable, and asked police officers to enforce the laws against them, no matter the cost. We know that the prison system in this country is a billion dollar industry. This is not a conspiracy. This is the reality of the cycle of power that we have allowed to take place. When they talk about making America “great” again, we will never be able to move forward as nation, if we continue down this road.

So what can be done? Pay attention to what’s going on in your community, and not just the Presidential election. Who are your local politicians, what’s going on in state and local politics, who serves on your school boards and are you paying attention to where the money is going? We must hold them accountable. Like actually, pay attention and hold them accountable. People with the time and/or the aptitude to do something, must act. We cannot expect our most vulnerable to have the time or the capacity to fight.

So am I saying it is our responsibility to do something?

Yes I am.

We are not talking about giving handouts or throwing money at a problem. I am talking about making sure our laws are just, and the people that we elect into our offices have our best interests in mind. People like to joke that the Founding Fathers were slave owners among other things, but there are positive legacies that they left behind. They created a system of laws and separation of powers, and a place for people to be heard. But we are not using our voices effectively. Especially those who are in a position to do more. Because we must remember, the difference between ourselves and the most vulnerable, is that we were just dealt different cards. We should be thankful, and make a difference in their lives.

M/P

Being a Woman in a Man’s World: My Thoughts on Hillary with a Pinch of Pat Summitt

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“The man’s world must become a man’s and a woman’s world. What are we afraid of?” – M. Carey Thomas

I have been working on this piece for quite some time. I rarely shop out my ideas, discuss in detail, but something wasn’t quite right with my thoughts. Maybe, I felt that my thoughts were a little controversial or maybe, writing a post that was (kind of) in favor of Hillary, a person I am not fond of, was actually quite difficult.

But as I talked with several people about the public relationship between Bill and Hillary and how it has shaped America’s view of her, and consequently caused the American people not to see her in a positive light. I was met with the same resounding response that points to a simple fact for most people:

“I just wish she had made it here (the Presidency) based on her own merits”

“I think Bill being President has everything to do with her getting close to becoming President”

“She wouldn’t even be the nominee if it wasn’t for Bill”

And so on. Each person I asked was a Democrat. Their responses perplexed me. As humans in this vast and complex world, we are unable to write our own story. Who is to say had Bill not become President that Hillary wouldn’t have risen to the Presidency, to be successful in politics, or affecting change in this country. For this we do not know, but I find that most people think, Hillary is here solely based on her husband.

It’s not even a matter if people think she’s a liar, corrupt, or made mistakes as Secretary of State – it is because, if she makes it to the White House, it will be on the coat tails of her husband.

But I think it’s more than that.

It could be her desire for her own fame and success that has fueled her to the Presidency or it could be her commitment to serve this country. But you know what, if she was a man, it wouldn’t matter.

Hillary is being unfairly judged, because she is a woman. I know people have made this point over and over, but I, an outsider, wanted to make this point again. Because, despite my strong dislike of her, I am flabbergasted by the disrespect Hillary receives from members in her own party.  People still have more respect for her [enter all the bad adjectives you can think of] husband.

How many Presidents of the United States of America made it, because they were white males, from an affluent family, and they just so happened to end up in the White House. There are few Presidents, who earned the spot every step of the way. In general, there are far more people who were given a little help to get where they are today, so why are we holding Hillary Clinton to a different standard? Why do we as women give men a break, but don’t quite do the same thing for women? Is it because we have to be better? Or would we prefer to just work double time and allow men to work half of the time? Not to mention…. infidelity and cheating in marriage sometimes seems so commonplace in America because of the over sexualization in this country. How many of you, who’ve experienced betrayal in your life or in your family, could imagine experiencing infidelity in the public eye at the highest office in America, and for the world to see, not just America, and bounce back from it? How many of you after being completely embarrassed and disrespected, could then decide to run for a public office in the state of New York, one of the most media hungry places in America? How many of you all could face that kind of fire and win, and continue on.

Yeah, her hunger and need for the spotlight might fuel it, and I don’t really care, because to me, that is a tough thing to do and she should deserve a little more respect for her tenacity. Respect that we would easily be given to her if she was a man.

Now to preference who should be respecting, if you have ideological differences with Hilary (as do I), then by all means, you are free to disagree/dislike/hate her and make claims along those lines. But there are women, young and old, black, white, blue and green, who furiously supported Barack Obama, that struggle to support Hilary or diss her for no good reason in my opinion.

I would like to just make note, that Obama’s rise to the Presidency, although historical in its own right, the differences between overcoming the obstacles of race versus gender are actually drastically different. As a black woman, I can tell you the preference and deference black men with less abilities get over me time and time again from women is not only maddening, but sad. The blunt truth is that it’s happening simply because they are men. The long and short of it, women want to support men. It might be biblical. I get it. But we represent over 50% of the population and continue to allow men to make decisions that affect our lives and bodies, and yet, we struggle to view women in a positive light for being strong, dominant, and unafraid.

And I must pause here, because Pat Summit passed away last week, one of my favorite sports hero and I believe she was one of the few women, in the public eye, who was strong, dominant, and unafraid – and she had our respect completely. There is no question that her success and rise to popularity were forged with her own blood, sweat, and tears to be successful as a coach in women’s college basketball and to win Olympic gold. But she was the best of the best in a woman’s world. Many wanted her to cross over to coach men, whether in college or professional sports. But as I write about Hillary, I wonder if not crossing over was one of her best decisions.

One reporter shared:

“More than once, Tennessee’s athletic bigwigs considered asking Summitt to coach the men instead. With each crash-and-burn, it became more obvious that men couldn’t handle this particular job and that Summitt would be the safest hire available. She considered it but kept turning it down.

I think women should help women,” Summit said. A good reason, but there was a better one.

I wouldn’t want people to think I looked at the men’s game as a step up.”

It wasn’t. But it remains a concrete ceiling. If it were glass, a woman could at least see the path to coaching a men’s team. Imagine the fun, if Summitt had decided to burst through it. ” (Source)

And maybe we should take a lesson from Pat’s book.

  1. Women should be helping women.
  2. Let’s stop acting like their “world” is a step-up.

I must say this article is really less about Hillary, but my views on how women should go about supporting each other. Let’s try to hold each other to the right standard and support them in the same way we support men. Let’s stop holding ourselves to a higher and more unrealistic standard, and stop burdening ourselves for no apparent reason. We make mistakes, we are human. If we aren’t forgiving our fellow women then we probably aren’t forgiving ourselves. And trust me, men are not thinking twice about it, and moving on to the next thing.

M/P

It’s Never Too Late To Decide How You Will Live

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“Like wildflowers, you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would” – E.V.

So this is the last week I will live in my 20’s and I am very excited about it. I never thought I’d feel this way at this stage in my life. From a very early age, people talk at length about not really enjoy getting older past 30, but I have no plans on turning 30 for the next ten years. I have learned so many good lessons, even the ones that make me cry when I think of how stupid I was or rather hard-headed, because I am sure someone gave me the perfect advice and I just didn’t want to follow it. It’s something special to learn from mistakes, maybe I am wrong, but I have always been a fan of learning. So going into my 30’s, I kind of feel like it’s the first day of school, and as I’ve mentioned before, I was excited about every single first day of school. There was no exception. For three simple reasons:

Something new…

                                                       Something unknown…

                                                                                               Something unexpected…

was going to happen. This is how I view the future, it’s still exciting and I am just a little more equipped. As I get older, life might not be easier, but if you allow life lessons to teach you, you get smarter or that’s the goal.

But I am not going to lie, all of this reflection comes at the same time as a couple of my favorite athletes and  I subconsciously feel as if we’re doing this together. My favorite football player retired this year, and it was announced that my favorite basketball player will be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this year. Yes, I am referring to Peyton Manning and Allen Iverson and there is definitely a connection here.  Trust me.

If you haven’t read or listened to Peyton’s retirement speech, you should, it’s definitely one of the best sports speeches of all time, but clearly I am biased. But there is something that he said towards the very end of his speech that resonates very strongly within me:

“When I look back on my NFL career, I’ll know without a doubt that I gave everything I had to help my teams walk away with a win. There were other players who were more talented but there was no one who could out-prepare me and because of that I have no regrets.(source)

I am sure there are some people who would argue about his talent level, but it is very true that very few out-prepared him and because of this he had no regrets. I am sure there are things he wished hadn’t happened, but when you give it everything you got, and it doesn’t work out, you can’t help but not have regrets. And I would have to argue that is the way to live. There are definitely experiences that give me a little anxiety when I think of them, but I don’t regret them. How can I? Our experiences and mistakes make us unique, but as we get older it is harder to live this way, with no regrets. There are so many external factors, such as family and friends, society or the lack of money, status or power, telling us how to live or how we should live, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Forget the milestones you haven’t hit, who decided them in the first place.

Christians often talk about having a child-like faith, we can similarly take this approach towards the way we live with an adult perspective, and this is why I am excited about gething older. I want to approach life with the heart of a child but with the experience of an adult.

So moving onto A.I. a.k.a Allen Iverson. A few weeks ago when the NBA Hall of Fame induction was announced, Iverson did a number of press interviews and his quotes also resonated with me as I contemplated the end of my 20’s.

But before we go there, we must look at life through three phases.

Phase 1:  Budding (from the beginning – from birth, new idea or new experience)

Phase 2: Maturing (the largest part of our life – This is the part where we’re really living and the most growth happens)

Phase 3: Knowing (Experienced and the time to give back – a wise savant)

Often people think of the cycle of life, or the phases of life occur in one cycle. But to me, we go through this cycle of life a couple of times in every area of our life it seems. In some areas, I am still maturing and very far from being the wise savant that I want to be and others I have already done several cycles. This happens, because even though in some areas we have learned and grown, life knocks us back down on our feet and you have to learn something completely new about something you thought you knew a whole lot about (i.e. being laid off from a job, lost a loved one and learning to live without them, etc.)

I thought Allen Iverson described this best while fighting back tears about becoming a Hall of Famer:

“It’s hard to be a Hall of Famer, I had to fight, I fell, got back up,  fell, got back up, fell, got back up, it’s still going on in my life right now”  (source)

This is the cycle of life that is real. You fight. You fall, but you get back up. And at this point in life, I am very comfortable with living with this cliché. Because some cliques are just freaking true. More over, for those who are unfamiliar with Allen Iverson, he was known for one thing in particular, something I consider most important in life – heart.

Sports commentators we’re surprised when Allen Iverson, a mere 6’0” would compare himself to the likes of LeBron James and others in today’s league, but it was all about the heart:

“Their heart…and the way they compete… The fight in them. That’s why I would say LeBron. LeBron ain’t got none of my game, but his heart is all mine.” (source)

And LeBron only seconded what Iverson said, by stating that while he was not able to take any part of his game from Allen Iverson, he was inspired by his will:

“I watch Jordan more than anybody for sure. But I’ll watch tapes of A.I., too. I don’t take anything from A.I.. Well, I do — his will. They say he was 6 feet, but A.I. was like 5-10½. Do we even want to say 160? 170 [pounds]? Do we even want to give him that much weight? And he played like a 6-8 2-guard. He was one of the greatest finishers we’ve ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever. He gave it his all.” (source)

So as I enter into the land of 30, I find myself with the same child-like feelings of giving it my all, even when the cards are stacked up against me, but at least in a more slightly thoughtful manner. This is why I am excited. I have learned to say no, one of the hardest parts of growing up for me, so that I can continue to be excited, and passionate for the things I love, to have time to lead with my heart. So more than anything, I want YOU to stop and think about whether you have decided to live the way you want to live or are you only living by how you think you should live. It’s never too late to decide to act differently…. don’t be afraid to fly.

M/P

Moving the Needle

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“If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can always pick up your needle and move to another groove.” – Timothy Leary 

Today I was determined to get a blog post done.

I feel like a caged bird, and I haven’t had a chance to sing, so I am going to write a few paragraphs about what’s been going on in my head since I’ve been missing in action. Beyonce’s Formationmade headlines, a few (or quite a few) Republican candidates finally dropped out, there’s been a mass millennial revolt against Hillary, and I can’t help but notice the story that hits me to the core… my favorite player, Peyton Manning, may or may not be a good guy… who knows? (Kanye and Kendrick get honorable mentions for doing what they do best, Kanye made headlines for being crazy and Kendrick for a compelling performance at the Grammys) … Of course, I do not have time to write about all of these things, and there are plenty of other issues brewing, such as Trump’s unwavering support. He attacked the Pope ya’ll.

However, as I thought about these headlines and our continued infatuation with celebrity, I couldn’t help but think of the term, “moving the needle”.  The literal definition is referring to the needle on a measurement instrument such as a scale, compass, speedometer, etc. On a scale, your weight makes a significant difference and moves the needle, or like your foot on a gas pedal. Now, the expression, “moving the needle” for the purpose of this post refers to our internal compass, and how does the needle move, what makes a significant difference in its movement? Where do we stand morally, personally, spiritually, or even professionally? We each have one that dictates the decisions that we make, the people we befriend, and even where we spend our money. We inform our compass through experiences, information, and things that we see through our eyes. In my mind, our compass should not be quickly moved based on external factors.

BUT….

At this point in our society, with the Twitterverse, THE Facebook, snapchat, and the other million ways, we have several touch points for our minds with images, words and videos that inform our mindset, our decisions and most of all, our internal compass. Once upon a time, people had more time to hear something, read something and have time to PROCESS information at a slower pace. At this ancient time, people were slower to move the needle to their moral compass, right? Public and personal opinion was not quickly altered based on 140 characters. Mistakes essentially can’t be made, because we have zero tolerance, moving the needle is easy. It’s as if a significant difference can be based on something so small.

But why?  It’s more than instant gratification. Well, unless making decisions or forming opinions instantaneously brings you some form of pleasure, it is more than that. The definition of a decision is “a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration”. But we are failing to take time to think and have the “after consideration” part. We decide and think later, and sometimes maybe never. And by the time, one person makes a hasty decision, there are flocks of “robots” ready to follow.

But how did we get here? Because we have always been there. GOTCHA! I know right, when I started doing research into ancient democracies, I find that each generation, maybe in a different form have struggled with the thoughts of a few dictated the moves of the masses. Democracy doesn’t discriminate against who the people listen to, it’s just tradition that the smartest, loudest, and sometimes most well-spoken and richest grab the attention of the masses… as it did in ancient Greece:

“Of this group, perhaps as few as 100 citizens – the wealthiest, most influential, and the best speakers – dominated the political arena both in front of the assembly and behind the scenes in private conspiratorial political meetings (xynomosiai) and groups (hetaireiai). Critics of democracy, such as Thucydides and Aristophanes, also pointed out that the dēmos could be too easily swayed by a good orator or popular leaders (the demagogues) and get carried away with their emotions. Perhaps the most famous bad decision from the Athenian democracy was the death sentence given to the philosopher Socrates in 399 BCE.” – (source )

So we have always been here. In democracy, the wealthiest, most influential, and the best speakers are heard. So this is why Donald Trump is here. Bernie is here. And even Beyoncé. The world was in a frenzy with Queen Bey, because often black stars and athletes aren’t able to use their platforms in the same capacity. Because we (America) are not used to listening despite having wealth and influence. Case and point: Oprah. If we look at Oprah’s effect on Barack Obama’s campaign in 2007, her influence was huge (source), yet she rarely wields her expertise in this area. Although it is old news, I remember her being heavily criticized for coming out and supporting Obama, yet she had a heavy influence on so many other areas of American life. Just google Oprah and her influence and see what you find. So why not in the political arena? Not that I personally want her there (not a fan), but if the Koch Brothers can do it, why not her? I digress.

Another example, 8 months before the Supreme Court decided to legalize gay marriage, the most powerful man in the Tech world, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, wrote a piece in the Bloomberg Business Week called, spelling out that he was gay. (source). Now it’s easy to say, Barack wouldn’t have won without Oprah’s influence, and the Supreme Court was likely going to pass the legislation regardless of any outside force as they are supposed to do. But I think we would be naïve to believe that our leaders, in any industry, affect policy, because the reality is that they do, and it is important for us to understand, believe, and hold our leaders accountable for speaking for us.

I definitely have come around to this notion (read my old blog posts), because I personally want to believe that people should be of their own mind, and not be influenced by others, but history would tell us this is a lie. There is a responsibility for the populous, for us to be informed, so that we can make smarter decisions about who we choose to follow, but people with money, power and influence must be responsible with their actions. We need our leaders to move the needle. But intentionally and deliberately. I cannot not write enough posts about how we need to be paying attention to this upcoming election, Republicans and Democrats, and we should drive the issues that matter to us. I think Donald Trump is a baboon, but the people he’s speaking for are out there screaming and supporting him. Bernie and Hillary are talking about black lives, because of the Black Lives Matter. So yeah… let’s get with it, and move the needle.

I’m Back, move the needle with me.

M/P