Tag Archives: Politics

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

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

The Right Words to Say

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“We never say so much when we do not quite know what we want to say. We need few words when we have something to say, but all the words in all the dictionaries will not suffice when we have nothing to say and want to desperately to say it.”  – Eric Hoffer

It has been over a month since I have written a blog post, and I very much relate to Hoffer’s quote.  I had nothing to say, and many times I tried to put words together, but I couldn’t formulate sentences. I attempted and have several posts, started and unfinished. And each time, I felt more and more unsatisfied.

Maybe I am emotional, or maybe I just lacked the words.

But as I look over the posts that I tried to write, there is an underlying theme:

FAMILY

Often when people obsess over something…. it is because they lack it. Is this not where desire comes from? The lack of it. Now, if you know me personally, I do not lack family. It’s quite the opposite. I have more family then I can deal with it. But they are very far away from me and I miss them very much. But I appreciate them for giving me the tools to spread my wings, to be able to be here, far from them.  But sometimes, it’s just not enough.

Maybe I am emotional, or maybe I just lacked the words.

But that’s not it, I am always emotional.

I am avoiding the issues, trying to move around problems, and push forward. But I cannot push forward till I deal with what I am lacking. That’s kind of how I feel about American politics right now. It doesn’t matter that we live in the same country, want the best for our friends and families, our interconnectedness no longer matters to the people in charge nor the ones running for office and trying to be in charge.

Now, nowhere does it say that America is supposed to be like a family, but that’s exactly what it feels like. Some of the most broken relationships come from things that happen right in the family.

Abuse, divorce, theft, and death.

We do things to our family members sometimes that we would never to do a complete stranger, because it’s not appropriate. And it’s so unfortunate. And based on our experiences in our family or the way we are brought up, these experiences affect our views on the most pressing issues in America right now.

  • Immigration.
  • Social Security.
  • Abortion.
  • Gun Control.
  • Race Relations (especially with the police)

So back to my family….

I have been very fortunate to have only lost a cousin in the 29 years of my life. I have mentioned this before, mostly because I think of my namesake, with whom I have never met, and as much as I would give anything to meet her, I didn’t lose her. But I have two grandparents, who have been a part of my life since the day I was born. I was always special to them as I am their only granddaughter and that works out perfectly for me.

However, my grandmother has stage 4 ovarian and colon cancer, and my grandfather who is in perfect physical shape, has been diagnosed with early stages of dementia. They have been married for over 60 years, and I love them very much, and blessed to have them in my life. Growing up with your grandparents, you think the world of them for so long. Then as you get older and become an adult, things are never as rosy as you think, because you learn that they are human. But I appreciate that lesson, because as you make mistakes, and you learn the mistakes of your parents or your grandparents, it makes overcoming your mistakes easier. Because if they fell down, and got back up, made poor decisions, and learned to make better ones, so can you.

So now, as one’s physical body slowly fades, and the other, is mentally fading, they are constantly on my mind. Talking to them, visiting with them, is harder each and every time, and more and more, our convos are shorter, not because I don’t want to stay on the phone longer. But they just can’t. It is a good day when our conversations last a whole 5 minutes, but they rarely do. And when they do, it’s mostly my grandmother telling me (at the ripe age of 29), to not rush into marriage. Yes, the woman who’s been married for over 60 years. Either way, I have learned that in the past we used to talk a lot, but now we say very little, but it means the world, because the only thing that needs to be said is that we love each other.

Now this brings me back to the issues that are being discussed over and over.

We do so much talking. Presidential Candidates are doing

so

much

 talking.

But when you hit the nail on the head, it doesn’t take much. The few lines from the presidential debates that seem to stick with you, feel like zingers, such as, “no one gives a damn” about Hilary’s email. But in all seriousness, you’re not saying much when you have to repeat yourself over and over. I tried to find the number of  speeches Trump has given about immigration, but I couldn’t find the exact number. What I did find were articles that highlight that Trump’s focus on immigration is a good thing. Prior to him zeroing in on it, very few republicans were willing to have conversations about immigration. (source) . If this is true, maybe something positive can truly come out of a negative. Except the words we say matter, what we say matters.

To me, a debate over two hours is exhausting, or I walk away from long speeches feeling like little is said. It is less about the words that you say, it’s more about what is being said as it is with my grandparents. And this is coming from a bona fide motor mouth. Growing up, I hated awkward silences, or people who said few words. As I have gotten older, I’ve learned the importance of saying the right words and listening to the words that are being said to you. It is one of the best, and most difficult, lessons that I have ever learned. Maybe with less words, and more meaning, we can have better conversations, but we have to all give it a try. And there are probably some people who are out there not saying quite enough. But I talk about that a lot, standing firm, expressing yourself, and even chasing waterfalls. Today, I am saying take a moment to think about what you have to say, share, or joke about. I have thought about this post for a very long time, and it took several attempts to find my truth to share. What I found is that owning your truth doesn’t always involve a litany of words, because sometimes it can be said in a few short words. But you must find the right words to say.

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: Episode 4

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, damned if you don’t” – Eleanor Roosevelt


 

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The art of critiquing and judgement can be mastered by a skillful commentator who can provide insightful instruction that provides positive change in a person, group or an ideal.  However, a critique can be weak and distract the listener if the critique is formed out of jealousy due to one’s personal agenda or insecurity. With that being said, there are a number of concerns going in the world today that are being critiqued, yet if you google news articles about millennials, there are a lot of people with misplaced critiques. I am honestly tired of baby boomers and generation Y’ers making predictions about the millennial generation, MY generation. Many of the things that are being said about Millennials are just wrong. Where to start? Most news articles say that millennials are lazy, soft, self-centered, narcissistic, dumb (er), technology-obsessed, selfie-obsessed, and the me, me, me, me generation. As if we are the only generation with those issues. Now I understand the implication is that we have those issues at a more alarming rate than any generation before us. Let me ask this, a generation that experienced one of the highest unemployment rates ever, is it fair to imply that laziness is one of the main reason our generation is struggling to have jobs?

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And jobs are not the only critique. Since 2012, and as recent as a couple of weeks ago, studies are showing journalists continue to write that millennials are not buying cars, homes, or using credit cards; Millennials are also living at home with her their parents and using public transportation. The articles stem from legitimate concerns that it may be hurting the economy, but, uh, every one of those industries either failed, needed a bailout, or were practicing such shifty behavior that more regulations were created to force them to act fairly; so EXCUSE US for not wanting to purchase or depend on those items as much as our parents. (Because we can all agree that using cash and public transportation, and less credit is really better for so many reasons we will not go into today.)

And the notion that people see millennials living with their parents as a bad thing is just ludicrous. It is true, if you are doing absolutely nothing with your life and living with your parents, that is bad, but a number of millennials, I would go further and say, there are young PROFESSIONALS who live with their family members while saving for a house or getting to the point where they can live on their own. I mean, have these people had a roommate lately? It is not a cakewalk. I would rather live with my  family, before a roommate, and I have never had a bad roommate experience. But if their parents do not care, why should we?

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Luckily, there are a few articles out there, highlighting our better qualities, that we are volunteering more, more involved with civic engagement and voting in elections better than our parents at our age. (Source). Yet, it doesn’t keep the perpetual critique of our generation. In a recent article in the Washingto Post, Catherine Rampell wrote an opinion piece about how millennials cannot afford life milestones that have been established in the past. She states, “We want to move out. We want to own our home. We want to marry. We want to work. The problem is, many of us can’t.” (source). But I would argue that this is okay. One of the number reasons Americans are in too much debt is because they are trying to keep up with Joneses, so why is it a problem that millennials view their current financial status realistically and are not interested in the joneses. Rampbell goes on to say, “America’s young adults have gotten a lot of flak for missing many of the milestones that earlier generations checked off with ease. Perhaps preferences for these kinds of life milestones will eventually change, too, as norms evolve out of economic necessity. But in the meantime, don’t malign millennials for “rejecting” milestones that remain out of their reach.” (source)So the question is, if we are changing the social norms due to economic necessities, are we really afraid of risk, or actually being smart about our current decisions?

Millennials are called lazy and a me, me, me generation partly due to the fact that we were the first wave, of the “reward everyone epidemic”. You know, everyone is special and gets a trophy on awards day, even though some students have done absolutely nothing and may be mediocre in some areas. This ideology does hurt growth in kids, because they are not facing reality and living life slightly sugar coated. According to critics, it is preparing our generation to be less likely to take a risk. Yet, when we decide to do something outside the norm, it is wrong. Did I miss something? Is it not a risk to disagree with the status quo, and reject the path of our parents before us? To not follow the direction of the “wisdom” that contributed to the blunders of 2008?!? By no means, do I believe the previous generations did not accomplish many things, and provide a pathway for us to follow, but the critiques are surrounding cars, houses and credit cards!

Because of 2008, there should be excitement that this current generation is thinking and creating our own solutions, options, and situations differently. The gift that technology has given us, is that we can research and have access to information to fully understand something without necessarily personally experiencing it. This gives us the ability to innovate  and make judgements regarding the things that have happened before us, and that is a good thing, but baby boomers have a big problem with this. Being somewhat of traditionalist, I think the best combination is a mix of tradition and innovation. You cannot live on tradition alone, nor can you live blindly with no acknowledgment of history either.

Malcolm X says, “If you have no critics, you’ll likely have no success”. So to some degree, we are doing something right, to receive such staunch criticism. But if we just look to our political system, on both sides of the aisle, the top leadership that was voted after the mid-term elections have all be in office for over 30 years and refuse to step down and let the younger generations change the world, and that’s where the critique should be fully, but only a few speak up. So I guess Malcolm was right.

M/P

You Really Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know

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“True wisdom is knowing what you don’t know” ― Confucius


I am a firm believer that with hard work and dedication you can accomplish just about anything that you set your mind to; it’s that optimistic gene. Optimism is just one of those things that you are born with or you’re not. You kind of can’t help it, and although, a pessimist never annoys you, you don’t quite know what their issue is with just about everything. Don’t Worry, Be Happy, right? Not quite.

What I mean to say is that I am firm believer that with hard work and dedication, the right resources, tools, and mindset, you can accomplish just about anything. See the slight difference? A lot of people choose to believe that hard work and dedication is enough to overcome obstacles such as poverty and a very difficult background, and I’m going to take a little time to disagree.

In a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted in April 23-27, 2014, asked, “ Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Because of the widening gap between the incomes of the wealthy and everyone else, America is no longer a country where everyone, regardless of their background, has an opportunity to get ahead and move up to a better standard of living.” (source) 

The majority of the poll (at 54%) agreed with this statement. Do you know why? “After adjusting for inflation, the average income of the top 5% of households grew by 38% from 1989 to 2013. …By comparison, the average real income of the other 95% of households grew less than 10%.” (Source). This is a direct quote from Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, from about a week and a half ago in her somewhat untraditional speech as the Federal Reserve chairperson. “Ms. Yellen offered extensive evidence of increasing income and wealth inequality, offering a number of figures to support her case, including lots of data from Federal Reserve’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances. The report began in 1989, and was most recently conducted in 2013 and published last month”.(Source).

I understand why she used her platform to address such an important topic, because there are too many people who don’t believe the widening income and wealth disparity has the potential to hurt the economy. Yes, people should care and help the poor and impoverished, because it is the right thing to do. BUT we are also reaching a point, not helping the less fortunate reach a modicum of success, will affect the middle and upper middle class. And every one at least agrees that America cannot survive without the middle class.

One of the ideas that continue to the current climate of the wealth/income disparity is the notion that anyone no matter where you come from in America  can reach a certain level of success; those golden days are gone. What I find surprising is that many of the people who over emphasize that anyone can take the road out of poverty are people who themselves, pulled themselves up from their bootstraps, and don’t understand why everyone else or others are struggling more and more in the current economic climate.

What people fail to understand is diversity or more plainly is that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT. But Americans can be rather selfish and egotistical. If I can do it, so can everybody else?

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People are different and come from different backgrounds, have different parents and experiences. Two children from the exact same parents, with similar upbringing and experiences, can end up very different. I think it’s insulting, as if people want to stay in a place where they cannot do better for themselves. Now wait, there is a segment of the population that is lazy, doesn’t care, and wants others to do for them forever, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT THEM. But people who don’t understand the nature or nurture of raising a child miss the point.

A few years ago, I was a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and my little sister in the program told me one day that she wanted to be a teacher, but that she was only going to work for about 3 years, because she has this back injury from when she was 9. That girl was A okay. Here I was talking to a ten year old who already knew that saying you have a disability (even though it’s not a real one) could get you out of work was disheartening. The harder part is not being able to explain to her that this “mindset” that she was taught by someone she so desperately loves and tries to win their affection is wrong.  In that capacity, I felt helpless, all I could do was try to show her a different way.

Why is this important? As James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer Riley wrote, in their Washing Post opinion piece, “Getting more poor kids into college won’t fix income inequality”, they make that the debate by the time kids make it too college, it’s too late. The major problems plaguing the K-12 education system are hurting our children’s possibility of overcoming income equality. (Source). Now, I agree that the kids cannot be raised by the school system, but if you’re surrounded by laziness, lack of hope, or simply have parents who don’t know how to help, school may be the only point of access to provide a child with a light to want and dream of more. So if our school systems are ineffectual then the possibility of changing generational curses of poverty seem to get further and further away from us. I only saw my little sister twice or three times a month, I could only show her so much; our schools have to better for our youngest children.

I am a daughter of an amazing teacher, she would be amazing by the world’s standards, because she literally won almost every teaching award possible, but what makes her truly amazing are the things she did, and continues to do are outside of the classroom (and she’s retired). I would call my Mother, the “Queen of Social Capital” for poor and underserved populations. What people fail to realize is the lack of social capital that a person/child has, can make a difference where they end up on the totem pole. The definition of social capital is the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively. But it is so much more than that, you have to first know the relationships and the network before you can begin to use it, and if you don’t know, you cannot function properly and succeed. I call my mother the Queen, because she grew up poor and reached a certain level of success, so she can relate to others who are born in a similar background, and help navigate them through the difficulties of being poor, making it through the K-12 school system successfully, and eventually college.

Now do I think it’s possible think all teachers have the capacity to do this? Not one bit. And in some communities, like Austin where I live, there are great non-profit organizations that help kids and their families obtain access to help their kids succeed. But in my mind, we need to better arm adults to improve themselves, recreate ways in America where you can improve your situation and pull yourself up from your own bootstraps, because I like that idea, but we can’t say pull up, if the bootstraps are not there.

I’ve mentioned in other posts about the never-ending, never-seems-like-they-are-going-to-fix it public assistance programs, or minimum wage problem. Not enough Americans are sitting down to discuss their differences and find a solution to this problem. But I think there’s more to it than partisan politics, I mean no one would be a loser for fixing social programs, and I believe that at the end of the day the democrats and republicans are not as far off from each others as they think are. Maybe they are, but the real truth is that “the policy preferences of the wealthy (average income over $1 million annually) vary widely from those of the general public.” – (source) . Money has seeped so far into the political system, interest groups drive many of Congress’ decisions. But pointedly, most legislators, judges, or people with influence are all rich. So unless they are truly empathetic, what is their real understanding for creating policies or reform for social policies that could really make a difference for the people. The way elections work it is hard for a person from the middle class or upper middle class who is educated to run for office.

A person who struggles to overcome the hurdles of poverty sometimes just doesn’t know exactly what to do during that journey is the same to me as a rich bureaucrat who doesn’t really know how to actually IMPROVE the system and combat wealth inequality. So please go vote, but in the next two years, let’s see if we can bring REAL change makers to the ballot.

M/P

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