Tag Archives: America

Can We Talk about Consent?

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“There is no policy too sensitive to question, and no subject so taboo that you cannot even mention it”  – Lee Hsien Long

I can tell you I feel a little uncomfortable writing about this, but it continues to be a problem. I was appalled by the case of pop singer Kesha, who is unable to get out of a contract obligation with her producer who,according to the pop star, raped her and the biggest takeaway is that they think she is lying. (source). Of course, the court doesn’t say that explicitly. The article states:

“The judge said that granting the singer’s request to nullify her deal would undermine the state’s laws governing contracts and the court couldn’t do that.”

The court wouldn’t make a person stay in a contract if they believe she was in harm or danger. But they obviously think she is in no harm or danger, and just wants to get out of the contract, and using her lady parts as an excuse. She probably had sex with him to advance her career. Of course. Oh, wait, did I mention she is considered a party girl, and sings about it? (source). To me, this is saying that her consent doesn’t and didn’t matter. What people and what the judge believes, is all that matters. And that is why I am here.

I want to write about consent, because there are not enough of us, who have never  been sexually assaulted, talking about the issue, talking about our close calls. That’s right, not all women, but a lot of women in my generation, may have hung out with a guy who we thought was cute, and we had no intention of having sex with them. We may have kissed a little too long, but we got the courage to say that we didn’t go any further, they got it, and they stopped. Not because they are superheroes, because that’s what you are supposed to do. The thing that cannot be highlighted enough, is that we are in control of our bodies, and when we are with a guy this should respected no matter what. Now, Amber Rose gave an example a couple of weeks ago on Tyrese and Rev Run’s show on Oprah’s network that might be a little too raw and uncut so people would easily disagree with her. She takes it all the way to the point that even if you’re naked with a man, and then you decide to not have sex, no is no. And the reality is why it isn’t enough? Now, I have discussed this with several people, men and women, and I find that they think Amber Rose’s example goes too far. That if you allow yourself to be naked in front of a man, what do you think he is going to do?

Here, look at the clip.

If you think that a guy should just be able to have a go when they’re naked, what is different when they are clothed? If a girl tells a guy she wants to have sex with clothes on, and changes her mind, what does having clothes or not having clothes on make a difference? To some extent we are saying men have no control of themselves and we should let them have a go anywhere or that the women deserves it? I think they need to exercise some self-control, we let them run some of the most important parts of our lives and country.

So let me take it out of that extreme example.

When I was in law school, my first year, I had a boyfriend. We were still getting adjusted to a long distance relationship. He was slightly the jealous type, but not when we were in the city, in fact, he wasn’t clingy at all, so when I went off to law school, I thought he’d be fine, no problem. Well, not so much and when I would go out, he was one annoying person even when I was just trying to hang with my girlfriends. So one day, I was tired of it, and slightly stressed out about law school and we were fighting quite a bit so I went out with a few girlfriends. I met a guy, a tall, dark and handsome guy, and I may have had too much to drink, and at the time, I wasn’t much of a drinker so when he asked to come over, I was flattered, and hesitantly gave him my address.

After we left the bar, he came over and we were having good conversation, but the alcohol was waning. We eventually started kissing, but my mind was already changing. Talking to him, made me miss my boyfriend at the time. I forgot to mention, even though I invited him over, this was the first time I had ever done this. And I remember how I felt when he tried to push me further and I wasn’t feeling it. I was terrified, and I realized I potentially put myself in a dangerous situation. Why? Because here was this man who was 6’2”, maybe 6’3”, in good shape and everything, and I was worried that he could make me do anything. Eventually, he got the picture with no problem, and went and slept on my couch till the morning. As I laid on my bed, I prayed and was extremely thankful. Because the reality is that it could’ve went really left. Like, it really could’ve been me, and it would’ve been all my fault, because I let him in. But no. The guy accepted my non-consent, and that’s what missing in the conversation. There are plenty of men who understand what no is, so the ones who don’t, they don’t get a pass. THEY DO NOT GET A PASS. If I was in a similar situation, with a guy who didn’t accept my no, why would it be my fault if I am subsequently was raped. (Feel free to explain otherwise in my comment section)

So with any movement there is always a need to allies. I find that a lot of advocates involved with sexual violence are people who have experienced it themselves. What about all the women who have made it through without being attacked? Regardless if you have been in a situation such as myself or you have had sex with one person your whole life, we need more people (men and women) who have never sexually and physically assaulted, especially those who have gone out on a date, and said no.

And then there’s this thing called….VICTIM BLAMING…

It’s one thing when men victim blame but I see a number of women who victim blame, like WHAT?!?! But do you know why? Because it hasn’t happened to them. And that’s the problem. A women who is snatched while walking to her car is the same as the person who is just making out with a guy she likes who doesn’t understand no. We have to stop making concessions for certain situations. We have to continue to push what consent really is, and make sure our boys and girls, men and women get it, therefore, we must continue to talk about it.

More than anything about us understanding consent, there is a special place in hell for women who make up allegations about rape. On March 13th, ESPN will premiere it’s 30 for 30 documentary called, “Fantastic Lies” about the Duke Lacrosse Team rape scandal. I am not by any means speaking to anyone’s innocence and guilt, but the whole situation didn’t help women at all. This isn’t an election where Hillary Clinton wants all the women to support her. Anyone could be in the position of being physically assaulted. If you haven’t experienced it, you’re just one experience from it happening to you. Regardless if it’s sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or anything else. Just because it hasn’t happen to you, because for every women who is victim blamed is one more validation that we are the problem and aren’t control of ourselves and our experiences.

M/P

Oh Me, Oh My: My Journey To Get In Touch With My Inner Girl

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“I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

So I just got off of vacation and I really wanted to write about my experience and all the things I learned, but my mind decided to fight me and make me write about something, I promised I would never write about, but here it goes. Beauty. Fashion. All the things girly. Yeah, I never imagined writing about anything around the subject, because there are so many more pressing issues in the world, but as I delve into the evaluation of feminism or just simply watching how Hilary Clinton and Carly Fiorina are being treated differently as women, I can’t help but think on these things to some degree. This is what makes a woman, we are layered, and even when we try to avoid certain experiences they sometimes still seem to creep in on us. What we look like still matters just as much as what it’s in our mind, if not more so, unfortunately. So I am in the middle of a feminine revelation, or shall I say transformation. Yes, America, the #1 tomboy has started doing things a little different and I feel compelled to kind of talk about it. I promise at times I was annoyed in writing this…How dare we be defined by a social norm. For the purpose of this blog post, let’s just say I have subscribed to the notion, that being “girly” is a thing and it looks a certain way.

So I have a lot of girly friends. Why? I am not sure and I really don’t know why, opposites attract, maybe? I am a bona fide Tom Boy, and I have a number of really good guy friends too. Not to mention my brothers and I are really close and they taught me everything that I know about sports and in fact, I always love to brag that I know more sports than the average man.

When I went to college that was the first time that I had to face the reality that I didn’t do a number of things that normal girls do. (Well, actually the first time I had to really deal with this is when I was 11 and was mistaken for a boy), but for the first time living with women other than my mother was a culture shock.

Now, of course, there are no absolutes, but there were a number of things, girly things, that I didn’t do. I won’t mention them cause who wants to be that transparent. To further take me down the road of girliness in college, I joined a sorority. Sometimes, outside of the amazing relationships that I’ve built, how did I manage that? Sometimes I used to feel like an impostor when it comes to “girl” things. What is a purse, why were heels even made, make-up – that’s for clowns, right? I used to feel like life would be easier if I were a man. And not because of the obvious benefits men get, but my personality, demeanor and my likes and dislikes used to be very much geared similar to that of a typical male. Heck, GQ is still my favorite magazine (I mean the articles are good and it’s full of half-naked men). I couldn’t even name more than 3 woman magazines.

So over the last few months, I decided to pamper myself, doing things like maintaining my nails, wearing make-up regularly, keeping my eyebrows on point, being dutiful in cooking and cleaning around my place, and diligently eating healthier and exercising. Oh, and my hair has been on point (most of the time). Growing up, with the exception of hair, things like this I was never taught to focus on. It was always about education, be strong, and fight for your rightful place in the world. I have never gone shopping with my mother, nor have we have ever made a trip to a nail salon or things of that nature.

*Enters my first real relationship (with a boy)*

So to only complicate the situation, the first guy I dated, was very much high maintenance. He would always take longer to get ready then I would. He definitely liked a kind of women who was well manicured, done up from head to toe. Over those 7 years, I tried to do it. I failed miserably over and over. We were in a long distance relationship after I left college (thank GOD), and I would go through a mini-transformation every 3 months when we would see each other. I would always tell myself, I would keep my nails done, hair laid, but nope, that rarely happened. I was never comfortable. I never enjoyed getting done up. It was very robotic to me.

*end of my relationship*

So 7 years later, I was free, the inner tom boy came back with a mad vengeance. I still liked to dress cute and do my hair occasionally, but I think over the following year or so, I rarely touched make-up, didn’t keep my nails looking decent, or even appropriately put jewelry together. For a period, I was going through the loss of a relationship so I wasn’t being horribly judged, and since I wasn’t really dating, I got several passes. As time went on, I wanted to start dating again, and I befriended some new male friends who provided me with a new perspective (that I am not sure I agree), but for the purpose of this article, it is the thesis statement and basis of this article.

This idea that most men (heterosexual) do like women who keep up a certain maintenance, because they can’t help but be visual, and it’s not from a place of shallowness, but why wouldn’t you want to keep yourself together and healthy?

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This “maintenance” involves maintaining healthy habits with exercise and maintaining certain “feminine” social norms (yes, I’m cringing as I write this). I personally feel like I should be able to do whatever the hell I want, and I should be accepted in that matter. But I decided to think I was wrong, and started making small changes, and began this transformation, and guess what I found.  I have completely different interactions with the opposite sex, with men I know and men I don’t know. But even more so I have different interactions with women too, even in my professional space. I have worn make-up more often to work, and see the differences in the interactions, and it’s puzzling to me. What does this mean? Am I not the same person, behind the make-up, clothes and nails?

When I used to look at famous people, who after hitting a certain level of stardom and maybe were a little over weight, they ALWAYS lose weight if they can. The reality is that people treat you different, and if I am not saying it directly, they seem to treat you better. Yes, I said it, and whatever that might look like to you. And I get that, but I was just raised differently. That the external just means less. That focusing on my appearance says nothing about you. I have met a number of women who focus on all those things, and not much else, and when they gain a little weight or circumstances make maintaining that look difficult, they are lost, and obsess over their appearance, because their interactions rise and fall based on their appearance and it’s sad.

I was fortunate not have to deal with these issues for a very long time, and I am very happy that it only took me 3 months out of my life, but I, like most women have to at some point in their life, wrestle with the social norms of femininity as it relates to being a women and what it means. I will never forget the first time Hilary Clinton ran for President and they were having legit discussions about pant versus skirt suits in regards to her “femininity”. It. was. disgusting. (and let’s not forget, I am not a Hilary Fan, unless you attack her womanhood, homey don’t play that). But I will tell you all this, I have enjoyed getting my nails, getting to have a “nail” lady, and trying new things with makeup and getting compliments from men and women alike.

But what I have learned, which I am sure many of you all guessed, but that it’s really about balance and there is no right answer. You can go overboard with anything, focusing too much on your outer appearance or you can look so bad that no one wants to be your friend. But it really is more than that. That this journey is one of the million things that makes our experience as women different and AWESOME. We produce strong young men and women, because we have to juggle so many different norms. That men don’t get to have the complicated and interesting life that women get to lead. Yes, I just said that. That we have to challenge ourselves, question ourselves more than they do especially in 2016. There is still a struggle with roles for women in the workplace, in the home and in relationships. Whether there is a spiritual component or not in your thinking, women are questioned about the way they parent, the fact they have no kids, are we too emotional or not having enough emotion, so that we are considered a bitch, and the list goes on.

I will never subscribe to this idea that I have to look a certain way to get the attention or affection of a man, but being pampered, getting in touch with my inner girl was and IS nice, but it is my friends, not mandatory to be kick ass. Being kick ass is just what women do whether you are or not in touch with your inner girl. So just do that. Kick-Ass!

M/P

 

 

 

If It Ain’t About the Money… What is it?

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Law Student 1: Is that a body?

Law Student 2: Someone killed her?

Attorney: It was an accident

Law Professor: And we’re going to make it look like a bigger accident.

Law Student 2: Why would we do that? We should go to the Police

Law Professor: Do what I say and ask questions later?

Law Student 3: No, this is insane. You’re insane

————————————————————-

December 4. 2015, in the New York Times, with a very short Op-ed called, “End the Gun Epidemic in America” (source)   described plainly and boldly that America is not doing enough to protect kids, families … PEOPLE.

“Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true.  They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulations. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did. But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not.”

So here is my confession. I like talking about politics, the news, and I love hearing arguments from all corners of the mind. When people grow tired of arguments, I do not, as long as valid points are being made. But I could probably on half of one hand could count how many times I have been in a legit argument about gun control or witnessed an argument about gun control. Now, this isn’t to say there aren’t people who are severally passionate about the subject, and rightfully so.  I will NEVER forget the argument between Rosie O’Donnell and Tom Selleck on her old TV show or more recently Amy Schumer’s stint as the host of SNL where she went out of her way to highlight her distaste for guns. (Not to mention working with her cousin Senator on gun control). Even on the other side of the aisle, there are a number of public NRA advocates who are extremely passionate about not being restricted from buying their guns and the best way to protect oneself is to be armed. One time a guy told me that the first time he held a gun was when he was four years old, and I really thought he was joking…. But he wasn’t. He told me that the reason he would never abuse his gun was due to that fact he was taught about guns at a very early age, and in fact, that’s the problem in America is that there needs to more gun education. Hmmm, I don’t know that, but to each his own.

So the script from the beginning of this post is from the fabulous Shonda Rhimes famous television show, “How To Get Away with Murder”.  A show that I have grown more and more uncomfortable with due to its focus and message. Many people are bothered by its overtures regarding sex, but I am more bothered by the cavalier approach to murder, death, and killing. Now, I have never been a fan of the ideology that art makes you act in real life. The idea that songs from rapper Eminem or rocker Marilyn Manson could contribute to the violence in the country or video games inherently make kids more violent. But the more and more I watch “How to Get Away with Murder”, I can’t help but feel a little desensitized. In every episode, the show literally gives excuses as to why people kill and the lead character’s drive to win gets numerous killers back on the street. I know Shonda isn’t promoting this in real life, but you can’t help but wonder if everyone walks with the idea that this is only a TV show, and not “what if this was me” in real life. Murder is so common place on all of the shows I watch except in sports and reality shows, I can’t help but wonder, if I became blindly extremist on a topic, would committing murder be so far fetched, because in reality why would it be? (seriously, stop and think about it). One thing for sure is that I could get a gun. We have to do something about guns in our country, because we truly are inundated with images of murder and that’s the reality. We inundated with happy stories. Violence, Drugs and sex, America’s visual cocktail of choice.

Many were upset with Speaker Paul Ryan for easily blaming mental health as the cause to Planned Parenthood mass shooting (source) as a way to deflect from gun control and I would agree. The excuse that you cannot change the heart, mind and condition of the person who decides to kill and murder innocent people is true, but you can change the laws around them, and we apparently we continue to do so. In an article in the Washington Post,  published on October 6, 2015, titled: “New gun laws pass often in the United States. But they usually make guns easier to get” (source)

Read and take away with it from what you will, because there might be a slight bias, but one thing is clear. The NRA feels strongly about promoting gun freedom. It’s America, the land of the free, I don’t have a problem with that. But my question is if they control Congress because of the money. When the lobbyists from both sides and sit down and discuss with the congressional staffers or the right hand people of our lawmakers, do they really agree or believe in what they are voting for, or just have a passive attitude towards guns. If it’s the latter, maybe I would feel a little better. Because I have been passive about the topic myself.

So I titled this post, “If it ain’t about the money”…. , because what scares me if our elected officials are making decisions based on the money, because if ain’t about the money what is it? Cause people continue to die. Everything we do, the decisions we make, the number one reason for divorce is always about the money. But there is something about life and death and money that makes me feel disgusting. I don’t want to believe that we aren’t creating better gun laws because of money, because when innocent people die, it costs everything, because human life is priceless and we need to start acting like it.

“Oh, no. It costs a lot more than your life. To murder innocent people?” says Peeta. “It costs everything you are.” ― Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

So if it isn’t about the Money? What is it? Share your thoughts below

M/P

Do You Know Where You’re Going To

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“The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man may become robots” – Erich Fromm

Lately, the traffic in Austin has been worse than normal, so I have attempted to try several different routes, and it’s been somewhat of an adventure. I’ve been doing so for my morning and evening routes, and I feel like I have driven all over Austin. One day this past week, a thought came to my mind. As I drive around Austin, I never use a GPS. I take great pride in learning and knowing my surroundings. Yes, I am that person who looks down on someone who’s lived in a city more than 2 years and doesn’t know how to get around a city in which you live.

I believe a GPS, although it has purpose when you are somewhere unfamiliar, I find it mentally frustrating, because it doesn’t always take the best route, it more times than not, takes the long road (“safe route”) , and ignores the shorter road (“riskier route”). So it is interesting how so many people are addicted to the GPS.  You also do not learn your environment or you’re too busy paying attention to the GPS that you might miss out on  scenery that surrounds you, and it’s a shame. But more than anything, to some extent you are a robot, following a voice and the mind isn’t thinking.  To some extent, you become a robot.

Now when I had these thoughts, I had no idea what I would sit down to write about this week or how it would relate to the topic of my choice, but I knew it would be relevant, and boy is it ever.

As I peruse my timeline, news feed, or any other social medium since the Friday attacks in Paris, a question comes to my mind:

Are we in the land of robots or the land of the free?

I think the only thing more disturbing than the actual terrorist attacks in Paris, or any other terror attack or violence in any country at any given time, is the arguing about what people should or shouldn’t do or say on their Facebook profile. There has been a lot of social media riff raff about the media attention and sympathy for the attacks on Paris versus other acts of violence whether it be in the black community, in Beirut, or in Kenya, and so on.  In all reality, there are thousands if not millions of people who live in constant danger every day, and should be on your habitual prayer list, but I am not even going to get into that. What’s really surprising is that people are ACTUALLY getting annoyed when the seemingly majority comes together to change their profile picture to the French flag. Now, I would agree that there are plenty of people who couldn’t have pointed out the French flag before Friday, but what you are learning is that some people follow the crowd. Sometimes that crowd is your family, or friends, and now it can be your Facebook friends, strangers, or the mass media. Either way, everyone isn’t paying attention to what’s going on in this world, and are just passing a widget in the assembly line.

So I ask, are we in the land of robots or the land of the free?

In a country where we are free to mourn, cry, and pray in the manner in which we choose, more and more, there are so many people judging each other publicly about the decision that they make. I was listening to the radio on Friday, and they were discussing a report that stated, “A week without Facebook leads to a happier, less angry, less lonely life” (source)

I believe that story without an ounce of double checking of the research. I get frustrated on Facebook at least 3 times in a week, and on Veteran’s day, I think I was upset 3 times in that one day. But the reality is today, as was when I wrote it here, here AND here, you cannot complain about the media not covering certain news or Americans caring about certain people. A lot of people are mad about the unfair coverage of the news, but THIS IS NOTHING NEW. Similar to when my black friends and I had the tough conversations about the police and brutality, that my little conservative, uppity Negro ears didn’t want to hear or believe or listen. But you all are mad at institution that has failed you for years, yet you continue to tune in, re-tweet, and share the news that give you crap and when you wake up and realize that all International Lives don’t matter, I don’t have sympathy for you.

I really do not watch any form of cable news, besides ESPN – and they too, are becoming ratings obsessed. I boycott, not because I am into boycotting, they do not cover or represent mine or anyone’s interest. They continue to prevail, because we are becoming more and more like robots. Following as the winds blows, and rarely making are own decisions. Not to mention, people are constantly trying to change our MIND for their gain and not our enrichment! In fact, sometimes, going against the grain feels like it’s a part of the crowd when too many begin to follow. I mean this shouldn’t be surprising, didn’t you hear, the First Family, are a bunch of robots. Yes, I am referring to the Kardashians. But beyond this seemingly unsurprising robotic nature of many people, I wonder if telling people what they should do, and then they do it, do they really believe it? Cherish it?

I think more than anything, we are doing and saying things without really thinking about why or who we are saying it to, and social media has made everyone’s opinion relevant.

The more important question were the seemingly “Christian” folks on my timeline who took the time to remind us that we shouldn’t allow refugees into this country. Now, I am not negating that they didn’t play any role, but the quickness in which many took to discuss whether or not the refugees contributed to the terror attacks is alarming. What I can tell you is that the hate and fear mongering that we are spewing to each other is not going to help these robots that this world is creating. The part of this that scares me are the young people influenced by ISIS across the globe including America.  We are creating robots, and when they fall into the wrong hands, their fragile minds can be swayed to do and be a part of really bad things, in a million different names, including religion.

There are a few traits, psychologists have found, “They tend to be young, male thrill junkies, craving purpose, glory, camaraderie and a fresh identity….They hunger for significance, even infamy. Some barely understand the Islamic faith. And many are just plain bored.” (source) …. sound like a robot trying to feel alive again doesn’t it? I do not mean to over simplify the issue, but many of the recruits in the Western world are pulled in a social media recruitment, and with the wrong psyche, many things could trigger a person to search and reach to ISIS as did Andre Poulin, a common westerner to join the Islamic State. (source). I cannot sit here and write about how to change the terror attacks in Paris, Beirut, Kenya, and so forth, but I know I see more hate then love on my timeline, and more blind allegiance, than true thought.  America we cannot create any more robots. Our lives depend on it.

M/P

America’s Favorite Subject: Me (The Monday Fits)

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“We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American Eagle in order to feather their own nests” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

This post is obviously about selfishness and it has been in the works for quite a while. I actually originally wrote this blog topic to be called, “The Selfish Side of Minorities… the What about Me Personality”. Then Sandra Bland died, and I kept trying over and over to write about how, we as minorities, can be so selfish when we only look through our lens. This subject matter came to my mind, because of the diversity work I’ve done, and as mistreated as Black people are, many ignore the discrimination that say a person with a disability might experience if it is outside their experience. It’s an argument many people make about minority groups in general that refuse to support other civil rights movements. I honestly felt foolish for writing about minorities being selfish, when you hear the majority complaining about how life is unfair for them with all the focus on race.

Just this past week, in the wonderful state that I live in (Texas), a young Muslim boy was arrested for making a clock that they thought was a bomb. But they didn’t really think it was a bomb, because there was no evacuation AND they admitted knowing that it wasn’t a bomb, BUT arrested him anyway. And then I figured out why I really hadn’t written in almost 3 weeks.

The foolishness is at an all time high! You have presidential candidates supporting a woman who is refusing to do her job, say a felon, who struggles to get a job would love to do. You have the GOP presidential debate “winner” literally making up facts that aren’t true (yes, go fact check Carly Fiorina) – I mean in the age I just don’t understand a. why make up shit b. why others just believe anything out of someone’s mouth. And while everyone was so excited that Obama tweeted to the young Muslim boy about his clock, where were his harsh comments to the school district that racial/ethnically profiled this young boy. Where are the strong words about the behavior? Obama wanted to be seen as a “hero” instead of providing the leadership this country so desperately needs when it comes to race and ethnic relations, but he fails yet again. Why? What’s in it for him?

But despite my frustrations, I have nothing to really complain about. I still live in America. I look at what’s going around the world such as the displaced refugees in Syria. The women and children who are desperately in danger of being raped or molested against their will. Those are real things, real problems. Those people should be crying from the roof top for the world to care about them. But they are too busy trying to survive to really cry out. We are always crying and we pit our struggles against one another regardless if we’re minorities, in the majority, or whoever. And then we want people to have sympathy, fight for our causes, or understand our perspective.

I do believe that people can change their mind on topics or difficult issues, but they do have to be open to them. There are also people about  causes that do not directly affect them. However, I find it hilarious that people support candidates who are completely unaware of their struggle and they act like it.  Donald Trump has done nothing in his career to make you think he’s concerned with the middle class struggle, but that he is concerned with power and money. What most people do, support, or the interest groups they entangle themselves with is really indicative of the kind of person or candidate they will be.

People’s character is really based on who they are when no one is not looking.

Whhat they do before they hit the spotlight, before they run for President is more indicative of who they are and what they will support. I mean it’s okay to be fooled by pretty words, but we shouldn’t be. We should look at these elections from that angle. Remember we are selfish beings, why do we think they somehow are more concerned about our needs. But I did not come here to blog about the elections, again (as tempting as it can be).

I wanted to discuss the Black Lives Matter campaign. Yes. I have no problem with organizing, coming together, and pushing the agenda of stopping the violence against our young black boys and black girls. But the idea that we can convince others that Black Lives Matter, hurts my heart, because in all honesty we can’t. Hence the preceding all Lives Matter rallies that have occurred and now Police Lives Matter movements popping up across the country. It is sad that they feel threatened by the Black Lives Matter movement. That even in this very selfish world, they have tried to convince us that focusing on our black lives is inappropriate. See I was wrong to think, as minorities, we are selfish because we only care about our particular status in this world, and not banding together more often to help with several causes. It is true that we all have a different fight, and if you were born or live in America, this is the country of me. So why is it so upsetting that a Black Lives Matter movement exists, or that over the past year, it has become harder and harder for me to not write about race relations. I know there are other matters going on in the world, and other issues affecting me and those around me, yet it’s what I care about.

It is because I am black, I will always be black, and when I raise my kids, no matter who I marry, they too will be black. There is nothing selfish about being concerned about my black life, my future child’s black life, and most important, my brother’s black life. What is selfish, is that idea that people, who are not black, telling me to not care. What’s worse are the many black men and women of power and influence, who are also telling me not care too. Everyone is pointing their finger to themselves and saying me, me, and me when we need to come together. But I cannot sit around and wait for that, I choose to nurture our children of tomorrow. The fight to convince the other side will never be won, because you cannot convince someone else that YOU matter, but you can teach a young child to remember that they matter, that they matter in the scheme of the whole world and not in their silo. That is what I have decided to do as a concerned citizen, person , and most of all, as an American.  I can longer spend my time writing about something I know is important in hopes that you will understand, because there are more important at stake: Our children, our future.

M/P

What’s With the Middle Class? (The Monday Fits)

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“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein


It’s time to be a little direct. There is something wrong with the middle class. Politicians, theorists, and writers tell us time and time again, that the middle class is the social class that matters most. “Depending on the class model used, the middle class constitutes anywhere from 25% to 66% of households”, but the most legit models all have the middle class as the majority. (Source)  More pointed, many believe that the continuing existence of America depends on the success of the middle class. I would say the middle class has a lot of power.  The upper and lower middle class, create the largest voting bloc, yet we do very little with this power to influence. Instead, we are the ones who are influenced, let others speak for us, and define our future. (Trust me – Google – What does the middle class care about, middle class priorities, what is important to the middle class, the results are interesting)

So let’s look at #BaltimoreUprising. Many ponder how the events over the past two weeks could happen in an American city in 2015. Why they are pondering, I am not exactly sure, Ferguson feels like yesterday to me. I ponder more about what could be done to fix the problem, and do we really care enough to fix the problem? I found, as did many other Americans, the major network’s media coverage of the riots to be a farce and self-serving versus a balanced, honest coverage of the events that were occurring. More and more, we can’t rely on our mainstream media. There was peaceful protesting. There were rioters. There was unnecessary violence. But more times than not, there were teenages, adults, gang members, church members, and even local politicians protesting the violence against our young black men in America peacefully. Luckily, last week ended on a positive note, with indictments being served to the officers. Not because the officers are automatically assumed guilty, but justice, as best as it can be, will be served in a trial for those innocent till proven guilty officers.

Now back to the media. Would we, the middle class, ever protest and stop watching the inadequate mainstream media that continues to feed us crap. Would we ever demand more from them so that we could be a more informed class since we consume more of it then any other class? NO, NO and MORE NO. The first episode of HBO’s NEWSROOM so eloquently makes this point, and yet, we still allow ourselves to be bamboozled.  And the sad reality is that these passive behaviors do not only occur in the media we consume, it’s everywhere. So when I look at the events of Baltimore, yes, I do believe the middle class is the biggest problem. We are not demanding more of our politicians, of our cities, our governments, and we are not giving enough. We might not have enough time, our lives are stressful just like everyone else, but we also have the power to change things in the lives of our citizens who are less fortunate than ourselves.

There is no denying that we hold the largest voting bloc, and can potentially have the most influence. Yet, we do not use this power to our advantage, which would be fine, but when the results of our passivity comes upon us, we cannot act like we have no hand in the matter. If middle america doesn’t start waking up to the America as it is, the working class, and lower class will continue to grow. Karlyn Bowman and Jennifer Marsico write:

“In an Allstate/National Journal poll, 85 percent said that over the past few years, the number of Americans who had fallen out of the middle class is greater than the number who had earned or worked their way into it (11 percent).(source)

Many would think that we should look to the wealthy and those with more resources to fix the problem. Do you know what they spend their money on? They spend their money convincing us of whatever they want us to believe, and we fall for it every time. They know more about us, than we know about ourselves: that we have more power to fix our problems than we realize. Reihan Salam  on Slate writes:

“We often hear about the political muscle of the ultrarich. Billionaires like the libertarians Charles and David Koch and Tom Steyer, the California environmentalist who’s been waging a one-man jihad against the Keystone XL pipeline, have become bogeymen for the left and right respectively. The influence of these machers is considerable, no doubt. Yet the upper middle class collectively wields far more influence.These are households with enough money to make modest political contributions, enough time to email their elected officials and to sign petitions, and enough influence to sway their neighbors. ” (Source)

And he’s just talking about the upper middle class. We choose to fall for advertising and what the “machine” give us. When the Koch brothers came out a few weeks ago about having Republican candidates vie for 300 million dollars, where was the outrage? It was like the Koch brothers were ring masters making them perform like circus animals. Every republican candidate or potential candidate should have been appalled and ALL of them should have revolted. I found it very insulting, but I guess I was the only one. Because all of the candidates understand one thing, that they need the money. Not because they need money, most of the candidates have more money than you or I, but they need the money to FOOL us, TRICK us, to feed us some story. Now, it’s not a Republican thing, Hillary and the other democrats are ripe to play to middle america too, cause we got the power and we don’t know how to use it. We have the ability to go against policies, regulations, or actions that are not in our best interest, and make everyone pay attention! Not to be trite, but if we had just an ounce of the revolutionary spirit of our forefathers, we may could get things on track. Its time to throw tea off a harbor.

Anyone should be able to see from the Baltimore riots, that there are systematic, generational problems that are plaguing the community as  in other urban cities across the country. Some people cannot recognize this. They are the ones who want us to focus on buildings and the damage. Seriously, CVS can afford to fix that damn building, trust me, but some of the families in the community do not know if they will have a roof over their head next week AND their caregiver IS working 2 or 3 jobs. The next group of people believe that money is the biggest problem, and having more money or throwing money will fix the problem. Well, if we’re talking about giving more Americans working a living wage, then YES, more money could help. “In 2012, 2.9 million Americans worked full-time jobs and still lived below the poverty line. Some 22 percent of our children live in poverty, and it’s worse for African American youth—38 percent—and Hispanic children—34 percent”. (source) 

But the reality is that it takes people. It takes creating capacity in our communities to help break through the strongholds poverty has on these  families, and not let those in charge fall into corruption. It takes more than a village, it’s takes us all. And since we’ll never get 100% participation, make sure you’re not one of the  people who is unwilling to make a difference.

I don’t like to be too definitive in my posts, because I prefer for people to make their conclusions and start their own conversations. We just are not doing enough. I may have a slight bias, because I am raising money for my community, and I see people who will not offer a dime to it, but will pay all kinds of money to see artists who do not NEED their money.  But more importantly, I see too many people in my own sphere, not just my close friends and friends, but people I work with, drink with, network with, are more likely to be doing everything to make their lives and loved ones better, but not much else. If the only things you can do is go to work, take care of your family, kids, and not much else, just imagine doing the same thing, each and every day but what you do isn’t enough to put food on your table, pay your rent, you’re not on welfare because you have a job, your spouse has a job. You are not a “statistic”, but you can’t make enough to get by. And every time your child walks out the house, you have to worry if they will make it home alive. Wouldn’t you cry out for help? Poverty, more times than not is a systematic, generational curse, that is easy to leave only for a few. You can continue to be passive and act as if it’s not your problem, and wait till it’s at your front door. Will you be more worried about the buildings and pass the blame, or will you look at the mirror and realize that you could’ve done more. Don’t let that happen, just do more now.

M/P

The Monday Fits: The Wannabe SuperHero Syndrome

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“The lies we tell other people are nothing to the lies we tell ourselves.”

Derek Landy, Death Bringer

Superheroes are not real. Tragic heroes are not real. Yet, we love them. It’s as if there is a new superhero movie rolling out every month. But why do we love them? Is it because we want the power, or are their inner battles compelling to the human spirit? To be super in one area, but completely devoid in another. Often a superhero, is really just a tragic hero, and in that moment of weakness, that brush of defeat, we are just like them, we can relate to the superhero, but ultimately they win. Our desire to overcome, is that it?

Maybe.

Or it could be much simpler than that. It is our urge to save, fix “things”. Whether we are saving people or fixing other people’s problems, we like to take something that is broken and make it better. DIY projects, self-help books, and the fascination with How-to YouTube videos. We even like just the “feeling” of trying to fix things, even if we ultimately can not. This obsession of fixing things has a created a fantasy, hence why superheroes, tragic heroes were ever born, right? To fix or handle impossible situations, that in our human form we are utterly incapable of fixing. The problem is when something is desperately in need of fixing, and IS in our reach, we say that we are going to fix it, over and over, but we do nothing…. enter the Wanna Be Superhero Generation (or pretty much Congress). ”

I find myself falling into this trap too. I tell myself, others, maybe even post on social media my intentions of getting so and so done and then I don’t meet the finish line. I desperately want to, but I lie. I lie to myself, and then to others. And I think that worst part of it all, I do it over and over again; to the point the attempt is addictive. And sometimes we reward ourselves for simply trying.  There are times that I AM successful, but more times than not, I bite off more than I can chew, and I still want a pat on the back for trying. I think this is no different than what happens to many of us. We have wants and desires, even if they are often unhealthy or irrational. It’s like Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player in history, who will likely never be surpassed, yet it’s not enough, he wants to save a franchise as a general manager/owner too.

But reaching for happiness, success is not a bad thing, but we need to be realistic in  our efforts. Because if we do not, there are things in our reach that we convince ourselves that we can not reach, when they totally are. The failures have convinced us that the attempt is good enough. At some point, we have to realize that things that are most important, and then DO them.

Enter tax reform.

Saying that we want tax reform has become good enough, the attempt, the talk of trying, has satisfied our desires. Tax reform, is one item that is always on the list of items that we need to fix, yet, we are not trying to fix it all. I mean, there are people who have tried to fix it, like previous legislators Dave Camp or Max Baucus, but most of them are lying to themselves, and most of all, to us, the electorate, and we believe the lie every time. I wish for 1 day, every American would care that they are lying to us about fixing the tax code; Republicans, Democrats, Independents, so then we can hold them accountable, but we don’t really want to do that now do we? We want them to stop lying to themselves, but then so would we.

Last week, President Obama, introduced tax policy that could do some good, but also showed the continual reality there will be no real discussion or compromise on tax policy; there were more items that Republicans will fight against; more of the same. Everyone is guilty of not getting it done, but I am just tired of us acting like it’s a top priority when that is a total lie. This quote explains that explains the U.S.’s approach the best, “Tax reform is dead—long live tax reform”.  We live in a perpetual paradox.

The last time we, America, enacted a comprehensive tax reform was 1986. Yet, many of America’s major competitors have been actively reforming their tax laws in recent years. Even our closest neighbors are getting ahead of us. Canada has already reformed its tax laws and Mexico is doing so right now. If Congress doesn’t take action, the U.S. risks falling further behind.(source) This was from a Wall Street article from Dave Camp who introduced legislation last session for comprehensive tax reform. So why do we give ourselves false hope? Why do we have good intentions, but not exactly execute?

“Policy wonks have long dreamed of simplifying America’s tax code. Hopes soared after 2012’s election, when Barack Obama and John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, both suggested that tax reform could be part of a grand bargain that raised tax revenue, curbed spending and cut the deficit. (source) . Will the next two years be any different? Are will it be a huge part of the 2016 campaign fodder, again? The countries surrounding us are doing it, why are we failing?  If you just google the last five years of articles concerning tax reform, you get a million and one articles, about what it is the most important thing that needs to help the long term health of the economy and it is tax reform.

The reality is that we like to lie ourselves. The truth: “Congress lacked (and continues to lack) the willpower to take on such a behemoth task that required serious examination of many financial sacred cows – whether to trim the mortgage interest deduction, how to tax the earnings of private equity firms and hedge funds, what the the top income tax rate should be.” (source).

So we are ultimately unwilling to do the things that we need to do, to get where we need to be. I know that I lament about the lack consensus in most issues, and in areas where we have consensus, we still lack the ability to take action. Tax reform involves both of these components. There are items,  President Obama mentioned like expanding the earned income tax credit (EITC) for workers without children, because it will reduce poverty. (source). But there are other policy initiatives that are just going to cause legislators to get ready for the next campaign season and choose stances that is an advantages to one’s self.

And that’s the real lie, we are not superheroes, not even close, we are not going to engage in efforts that don’t benefit ourselves, so maybe we need to stop expecting people (politicians) who don’t have the same interests to do something about it, or if we choose to vote for them, we should hold them accountable and make them.