Racist Remarks Evoke Anger and Fear

Those who still insist that this president is not racist should heed the remarks he made evoking anger and fear in our communities of color across the world. The concerns Trump expressed about Haitians, Africans, and those from Central America yesterday were unequivocally racist. His statement was not about economics, as some insist.

When the president of a nation of  immigrants states that he no longer wants Haitians here because they all have AIDS, how can so many justify that statement by saying he is making a reference to their economic condition? When he calls their countries “shit holes”, how does that apply to the economy of our great nation?

Many seem to forget that the Europeans, who first settled in this country, were the “poor, tired, huddled masses yearning to be free”. The state of Georgia was originally set up as a penal colony. Those who migrated west were, for the most part, the many who lived in poverty and were seeking a better life. Hoping that they, too, would be fortunate enough to find gold in “them thar hills.”

There are  those who argue this is an issue of economics because Canada and Australia vet their immigrants based on what they can contribute to their economy. However, their vetting process is not exclusionary. In fact, many of the heads of state in Canada have come from other countries, including Haiti. If it is left up to this president, there will be no more Haitians in America because, as far as he is concerned, they will contribute nothing to the welfare of our nation. On the other hand, Norwegians are okay with him.

And for those surprised at his racist  commentaries, I ask you why? For those who will accuse me of race baiting, I ask how is that possible? The African American, Hispanic, and Latino communities have been warning us for the last year that the person this country chose to elect as president is racist.

This is nothing new for Donald Trump. His bigotry has been documented since the 1970’s when he was found guilty of housing discrimination. It has continued up through today, because he has yet to apologize for the remarks he made yesterday. And, quite frankly, we’re not expecting one. So, if anyone is a threat to the welfare of our multiracial nation, it is the president himself.

 

Daily Prompt: Evoke

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The Answer to Our Racial Woes Could Be Acknowleding Our Personal Biases

As a multiracial American, I have decided it’s time to reexamine my own racial biases. Biases that have been shaped by my environment and experiences over my lifetime. For instance, I prefer to not acknowledge that my great grandparents on my father’s side were half white. At least that’s what Mama and Papa Cousins told us. And that Papa was very biased against his own dark-skinned black people.

One of my great grandmothers on my mother’s side was a Native American slave owned by a French Canadian plantation owner in Louisiana, and they had children together. We doubt having those children was her choice, however. My grandfather carried a picture of his mother, who was adorned in her indigenous tribal attire.

I was raised during the end of the first Jim Crow era. I remember not being able to use the “white” toilets in the public bathrooms. I remember my grandmother’s embarrassment when I would refuse to use the facilities that had not been cleaned, and with toilets that didn’t flush. I remember my indignation when I had to succumb to her demands that I use the “colored” facilities. And, I remember the annoyed look on the face of the white women. As if they wanted to say, “Better teach that child her place in this country.”

I vaguely recall the march on Selma, and our lessons during social studies class on how the Fourteenth Amendment would improve race relations in this country by guaranteeing that all have equal access to the same rights and freedoms. I remember marching with my parents for school integration and equal access to quality education for all. As a teacher, I can say with certainty that we are no closer to achieving that goal than we were in the sixties.  I clearly remember the day Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.

On the other hand, I supported the black power movement. I watched the Black Panthers, the Honorable Elijah Mohammed, the rise of the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X. I applauded the efforts of the SNCC. I watched the riots in Watts in the sixties on the news. And, I witnessed the riots during a long hot summer in Detroit when we saw the tanks rolling down my aunt’s block late at night, headed off to quell another disturbance blocks from her house.

My views about race are conflicted because the nuns in the Catholic schools taught us that we are all created equal in the eyes of God. If that is true, why are so many black men unjustifiably imprisoned for nonviolent crimes? Worse, how can our nation continue to justify police shooting and killing unarmed black men? Why do I have to wake up to another picture of a seventeen year old black boy beaten so badly by the police during an arrest that his own mom didn’t recognize him?

Why do blacks have a higher rate of unemployment than Hispanics? Even though we have a higher rate of college educated individuals than Hispanics? Especially considering that, like Hispanics, we tend to be employed in jobs others choose not to consider. These are all reasons why the black community believes we were living Jim Crow 2.0.

So, yes, I have my own personal biases that are hard to let go of when we have a president that continues to denigrate and castigate the black communities. A president who refuses to acknowledge the voice of the Native Americans who do not want a pipeline built on their land. A man who called Mexicans rapists and murderers. A president who supported a Congressional candidate who believes that the best time our country ever had was when my ancestors were enslaved. A candidate who was accused of sexual assault against young girls.

Even though I accept individuals into my life based on their values, faith in God, and morals, I have a hard time trusting those who continue to undermine the freedoms we fought so vehemently for as a nation. My distrust results in implicit biases that I have difficulty reconciling because, in my eyes, we are moving backwards as a nation instead of moving forward.

But, I had to reconcile my distrust and feelings of betrayal by whites before I could accept my Czech son-in-law into our family. I had to learn to trust that he did not carry the same racist baggage our country was built on. I had to learn to trust that he would treat my daughter with the dignity, respect, and love she deserves.

Now, I am learning to trust that the majority of Americans will not allow our country to sink further into the Jim Crow 2.0 quagmire. We will all continue to stand together against social injustices, genocide, biases against those with different sexual preferences, and racial divisiveness. We are America. As individuals, we are judged on our merits. It is my hope that, as a people, we will continue to resist the divisiveness that plagues our country, so the world will continue to see us as the great nation that we are.

 

 

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Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis From the Eyes of Its Children

When some of my students recently recounted their families’ flight from Yemen, my heart bled for them. I thought of how their extended family culture has been severely disrupted, with family members being separated by thousands of miles. How one of my students recently returned to Yemen with her parents, hoping her stay would be temporary.

Little did she know that the US Supreme Court would decide to lift Trump’s new travel ban. A travel ban on anyone coming to the US from Yemen without “bonafide ties”, such as close family. But no one seems to be sure what the terms “close family” or “bonafide ties” means. In an extended family culture, such as Yemen’s; aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins represent close family ties.

As many have stated before, I couldn’t help but think of the quote on the Statue of Liberty. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I wonder how this ban will impact the innocent refugees who are already here. Innocents like my students.

Another boy talked about his grandmother who also recently returned to Yemen. She, too, was expecting to come back to the US. One boy told me his parents were still in Yemen and he was living in the US with his uncle and cousins. He talked about how he missed his mom and her cooking.

But along with the travel ban’s impact on families, Yemen’s President was assassinated almost two weeks ago. Actually, Ali Abdullah Saleh was the former president of a country that has been in turmoil for many years. But the students still look upon him as the leader of their conflicted nation. According to Al Jazeera, he and his Secretary General were killed by Houthis rebels when they blew up the President’s House. The Houthis, on the other hand, claim they attacked the former President’s convoy in Sanaa.

One boy told me how he would play outside his home in Yemen, only to look up and see missiles flying overhead. Others recounted stories of how people mysteriously disappeared, or were captured and publicly put to death. All this over a power struggle between multiple opposing factions. For now, the Houthis are at the forefront of this battle for control.

There is also an escalating health crisis. Cholera is overcoming a large portion of the population. Hospitals are not only understaffed, they are underfunded. Health care providers are working in conditions that are often unsanitary. And that is the tip of an iceberg that has been growing for years. The epidemic has only gotten worse because of a Saudi Arabian blockade imposed on Yemen for the bombing of the Saudi Capitol by a rebel Yemeni group.

As I listen to the children’s stories and read the news, I’m struck by the perception and candor of these upper elementary and middle school students. I’m also bothered by the ease with which they recount the horrors of their short lives. As if they had somehow grown acclamated to the escalating turmoil around them.

I feel honored that they are willing to share their experiences so openly. But, then I realize that for some of these children this might be their first experience expressig their freedom of speech. Because in a country in war against itself, it’s hard to know who you can trust and open up to.

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The OMG Healthcare Saga

With the passage of the president’s new budget plan in the House, combined with his proposed tax reform, our country might soon experience one of the biggest Oh My God healthcare moments ever. At the same time, the tax reform proposal favors tax cuts for the wealthy. Tax cuts that have to be offset by cuts somewhere else. So, the new budget proposes significant cuts to entitlement programs.

 

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Proposed Entitlement Cuts

Consequently, the loss in income generated from taxes on the wealthy will be offset by reductions in entitlement programs that millions of people depend upon to stay financially solvent and healthy. If these budget cuts are passed, the burden for caring for the neediest in our country will be placed on insurance companies in the private sector. My best guess is that health insurance premiums will blow up, especially for those with preexisting conditions. And if the president wins, federal funds to Planned Parenthood will be cut as well.

So, while it is very obvious who benefits from the proposed tax reform for many of us, most in Congress argue that the tax cuts for the wealthy will increase business spending on hiring as business owners ramp up for further investments in growing their business. But, will the same thing happen this time as it did with Reaganomics? Will the increase in GDP be modest because profits from investments are not reinvested? 

Who Loses?

It will be those who can least afford even a modicum of financial loss who will suffer the most. It will be the opioid addicts that Trump promised to help who will no longer have access to free methadone treatments. And the expectant mother struggling to keep herself and her baby alive during a high risk pregnancy.

Many lower income students will no longer be able to afford college because of the proposed cuts to federal student loans. Teachers and other public servants like me can forget about student loan forgiveness. And, for those in the lower income brackets, a 2% increase in their tax rate can mean having to choose between paying the rent or putting food for the family on the table.

Those over the age of 65 will suffer the most. Medicare has meant they can afford their prescriptions, treatments for illness and chronic conditions, and wellness visits. There are many whose only source of income is their Social Security, already being cut, or SSI disability check. Many Boomers, not able to qualify for any of these options, pray every day that they can stay healthy long enough to qualify for these benefits at the age of 65. That is because many have dropped their insurance coverage because they can no longer afford it. And there will be cuts for children’s federally funded health insurance along with cuts in family emergency services..

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The OMG Moment

Will Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare be so underfunded that many Boomers will be forced to rely on their own children to survive? For the losers in this political game, cuts to entitlement programs with tax increases for the poor will create one big OMG moment as we begin to wonder how we got to that point. Especially considering that the proposed tax program benefits those who already have more than they could hope for anyway. We should all hope that Congress wakes up and comes up with a better bipartisan plan before they make a mistake that could ensure the Republican Party’s untimely demise.

 

 

 

 

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Money, Money, Money!

AEB7209D-D483-4151-A0A0-15C6A958A648‪I just got my first $17/wk tax break. That equates to $884/yr, or $6188 for seven years before it goes away. That’ll drastically boost my retirement fund if I invest it in an IRA!?

What happened to the $100 extra on our paychecks? How much of that will we lose because of proposed budget cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, or increased healthcare costs? Where’s the love?!

Oh yeah. It went to the 1%.

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Nativism Gone Awry

It’s funny that so many Americans today tout nativism as the remedy for our country’s ills. Ironically, many of my ancestors were Native Americans. I have a genome that encompasses over twenty indigenous tribes from as far south as Mexico and as far north as the Aleutian Islands. So, I can support that nativism agenda. Give us our country back.

Too many forget that the settlers who came here from Europe were not native to this land. In fact, their efforts to claim this country in the name of Manifest Destiny resulted in the death of millions of my ancestors. Is it not hypocritical to condemn Hitler for massacring millions of Jews, when “Americans” killed tens of millions of Native Americans?

Many argue that it was a smallpox epidemic brought here by the Europeans that killed the native population. Others believe that a broken heart led to their unfortunate destiny. And there are those who propose that they were merely too weak to survive the settlers’ occupation. Perhaps, it was all of the above and more.

Various historic accounts support the fact that anywhere from 14 to 70 million Native Americans were forced from their homes and died so the settlers could move in. Many, today, place the blame for the demise of many natives on the tribes that once controlled this country. I read one article that claims that only the strong survive. And, in the battle over the land the “Indians” once called home, those tribes were weak. Many say the loss suffered by the Native Americans resulted in a more robust nation, thanks to the settlers.

Kinda reminds me of the article written by the New York Times about our current president stating that all Haitians have Aides. So I assume that is his justification for wanting to deport the earthquake refugees. NYT goes on to state that he also said that the Nigerians, who are here, will never want to go back to their “huts” in Africa. Maybe because they have it so good here?

My cousin married a Nigerian. Their family owns a comfortable compound outside of the capital of Lagos, with no grass huts. And they return to their homeland often to regenerate and reclaim their roots.  They are Ibo, said to be the Lost Tribe of Isreal. To have survived this long as a dominant tribe hardly makes them weak. So we should be supportive and uplifting of such a noble people, rather than denigrating and castigating them for being who they are.

Further historical records support evidence that Africans came to America long before the Europeans. And instead of dividing and conquering the native population, they respected their rights to their land, leaving their home unscathed. The Africans most likely returned home to tell tales of a mighty nation of people who lived to embrace the land that gave them life.

Instead of castigating those who are not of European descent in this country, we must all accept the fact that America is a stolen nation. A nation ripped from its indigenous population to provide a home for immigrants from countries across our globe. A nation that must reconcile itself with the fact that the settlers massacred tens of millions of people to claim land which was not theirs to claim. We must learn to embrace the heritage of those indigenous tribes who are left. And it wouldn’t hurt to give back to all who were so ruthlessly harmed in the name of Manifest Destiny.

And to President Trump I say, America is not yours to take. It is time to remember our country’s indigenous population, while we embrace the words engraved on the Statue of Liberty. “Give me your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shores.” We are a nation of indigenous tribes and immigrants, and that is where our strength lies.

 

 

 

Where’s All the Deregulation Profit Going?

It’s a snow day in Detroit, and as I was napping I woke up to the President boasting about all the money companies are getting back because of his efforts to deregulate. I had to ask, “ where is all this money going”? While Wall Street is seeing record profits because of his efforts, or so the president asserts, why haven’t I heard Average Joe praising deregulation because he got a pay raise or a better job?

In the Motor City I haven’t heard about any mass hirings because of deregulation. If the automotive industry is benefiting, they must be spending those dollars on robotics. Definitely not a job maker. Nor do I hear that the money is being spent on retraining displaced factory workers.

Speaking of training, I haven’t seen any educators jumping for joy either. Many of us continue to struggle, living from paycheck to paycheck. We haven’t gotten back any of the money we had to spend on supplies needed at the beginning of the school year. Supplies like paper, pencils, staples and staplers that end up broken by an overly determined child who thinks he or she can make it work better. And if Congress gets the tax bill passed, we won’t be able to deduct that expense. So if the president and Congress is expecting the corporate tax break to result in reinvestment, excuse me for my skepticism.

As the president told the black voters during his campaign, our communities are crime ridden and our schools suck. So what do we have to lose if we stand behind a president who supported a candidate for Senate who said that the best times our country ever had was when my ancestors were in slavery? In our estimation, we will lose those civil rights our ancestors and contemporaries fought and died for.

And as far as Amarosa, I think I speak for most of the black community when I say we can’t mourn the loss of something we never had. And that something is leadership with empathy for the common man and woman. I project that the 2018 elections will see another record turnout of black voters similar to what we just saw in Alabama. And the majority of us will be voting against this president and everything his Congressional supporters and staff represent.

 

 

Pros and Cons of Internet Neutrality

If you’re reading this blog, I wonder how many of you are aware of the media discussion on Internet neutrality and the associated pros and cons. We should all be concerned because within the next couple of weeks the FCC will be voting to determine whether this two-year old regulation should continue. Deregulation will allow Internet Sevice Provders (ISPs) to bundle services, much like cable companies do today. I have done some research and below are some of the pros and cons associated with deregulating the Internet.

Pros:

  1. The new FCC commissioner, AJit Pai, once worked for Verizon and he believes that deregulating net neutrality will benefit consumers by allowing ISPs to offer discounts on bundled services.
  2. Deregulation should lower FCC service fees on the monthly consumer bill, and it will lower costs for telecommunications providers.
  3. Services that are now free, like Skype and Google, will have to pay more for their own Internet Access, thus decreasing debt incurred by ISPs for infrastructure costs.
  4. The lower cost to ISPs can result in higher profits that can be reinvested in innovation.

Cons:

  1. ISPs will be able to offer preferential costs to affiliates and partners. For instance, Verizon can bundle Yahoo at a lower cost, their preferred search engine, and raise the cost for Google.
  2. ISPs can slow the speed for whatever applications they choose if that service does not fit in their market plan.
  3. Higher Internet access costs for application providers, like Google, will be passed on to consumers and businesses.
  4. Internet service will be less like phone service and more like cable, where the provider chooses what content you can or cannot view
  5. Deregulation will create an oligopoly like cable, where a few companies control the market.

I will leave it to each reader to decide which argument prevails. However, it is readily apparent to me that companies like AT&T and Verizon will benefit the most because they will have more control over the content we engage in. More importantly, they will benefit from the profits derived from bundling. But, we have yet to see the cash flows they are already sitting on being effectively reinvested in innovation and fiber optic infrastructure.

 

 

 

Rooster Soup and Feel Good News

I’m back from hiatus with “feel good news” about Rooster Soup from the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rooster Soup gives rise to an exemplary dining experience for those who, like my father often said, “Pay their bills before they eat.” And for those who are homeless or just need company and a hearty meal, the restaurant offers full service dining, equipped with table settings and a welcoming ambience. In other words, Rooster Soup is not your traditional “soup kitchen”.

Even though the restaurant opened it doors just this year, the establishment has garnered a lot of media attention for it’s exemplary cuisine. Among it’s accolades, Rooster Soup has already been named as one of the “Top Ten New Restauraunts” by Food an Wine magazine and GQ. But the fact that the restaurant was opened for the very reason of giving 100% of it’s profits to the underserved is what makes this story so heartwarming.

Rooster Soup is a novel idea, to say the least. These restaurateurs allow their patrons of misfortune to take a much needed respite from the harsh realities of poverty and loneliness. And if it proves true that good company and friendly conversation deters the development of Alzheimer’s, Rooster Soup offers a medicinal remedy for those who suffer from a disease that indiscriminately steals one’s mental faculties. So, the owners partnered with Broad Street Ministries, who provides the accommodations separate from the primary restaurant, for this unique dining experience.

The restaurant owners Mike Solomonov, Steve Cook, and Mike Dahl like to call it their contribution to “radical hospitality” in the heart of Philly on Broad Street. Even the servers offer their labor without recompense and with love from their hearts. As one patron stated, “No one is judged here.” You can speak on whatever you choose without fear of creating conflict. There is no dress code. And if the patrons have no place to bath before dining, they are never turned away, ostracized, or humiliated.

The idea for the restaurant came from one of the co-owners who was once drug addicted and homeless himself. Understanding that many who are homeless may be mentally incapacitated or have fallen on severe misfortune, in the article’s video he reminds us that any one of us could find ourselves in the same situation one day. What better way to show hospitality with compassion than to open their doors to those who need and deserve it most? Bravo Rooster Soup!

 

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