Let Us Not Forget These Seven Endangered Species

In the midst of the global warming controversy, let us not forget about those that are endangered victims of our reckless disregard for the earth that helped give birth to us all. I’m talking about those victims of climate change.

National Geographic provides a list of seven species most affected by climate change. Interestingly, many live in arid countries. The list also includes species that were recently believed to have gone extinct as a result of global warming.

  1. Polar bears
  2. Orange-spotted file fish that inhabit coral reefs
  3. Coral are declining everywhere, including warmer climates.
  4. Quiver trees, indigenous to the arid west of Namibia and South Africa
  5. Adelie penguins
  6. The Golden and Monteverde harlequin frogs of Central America are believed to have gone extinct as a result of climate change.
  7. North Atlantic Cod

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And for those doubters, NASA provides some profound evidence that atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen precipitously since industrialization. Carbon dioxide that has been trapping heat on earth since the nineteenth century. The greatest impact being most evident after 1950.  Yet, the president questions the validity of global warming, as we saw by his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord.

We, as humans, cannot afford to continue to turn a blind eye to the impact we are having on this planet that is shared by more species than ourselves. Species that we coexist with. Species that provide our livelihood and ensure the balance between all species on our planet. Even though I admire the cockroach for its adaptability and resilience, I would hate to see them take over the world as we know it.

While there are species that can hibernate for centuries, even millennium, could they survive on a planet that could become as hostile as Mars? So let us not forget those species that are most vulnerable, many of which we depend on for our own survival as only one of many species inhabiting this planet.

 

 

 

 

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Racism, Xenophobia, Avoidance, and the Possible Consequences

Our president’s response, or lack thereof, to white supremacy in the wake of the Charlottesville incident can be called nothing more than racial discrimination avoidance. Why Avoidance? I use that word because it encompasses many of the reasons why our country is so divided now.

By avoiding the topic of fractured race relations in this country, we have fostered an environment of hate for groups like the Neo Nazis, KKK, and other white supremacists to flourish. Not only are these groups growing in numbers, they have come out of the closet because they feel validated. Especially after the president placed those protesters and the counter protesters on the same moral plane. These are the same counter protesters who were there to let the world know they support inclusion and equal opportunity for all.

When I study the map published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, who monitors hate groups and their location, I was appalled at not only the numbers of such groups, but the foundations from which they have risen. I was more surprised at the fact that many of the hate groups align with religious organizations.

As white supremacists become more emboldened, and the nation continues to turn a blind eye to the rise of hate crimes perpetrated against those most vulnerable in our society, we will not stand idly by and allow occurrences like Charlottesville to take away our rights to peaceful coexistence. Rights that people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, and Heather Heyer died for.

Most of us are familiar with the Nation of Islam, of which the honorable Malcolm X was a member. But after his trip to Mecca, he separated himself from their extreme ideology. And even though I do not condone violence in the name of race, I cannot deny that I support the premise that when our nation turns a blind eye to enforcing laws that protect our African American communities, we have the right to bear arms to protect ourselves. Rights supported by the Second Amendment of our Constitution.

There is a new generation of young African Americans who are willing to take up arms to defend the communities in which we live. No longer complacent or afraid to fight for our rights, this next generation of African Americans is willing to put their lives on the line for the rights generations before them fought and died for.

Don’t get me wrong. If I can paraphrase the president, “No one hates violence more than me! No one.” I do not want to bear witness to any more bloodshed in the name of white supremacy like we saw last weekend. But if this continues, the marginalized people of color, white empathizers, those whose sexual identity is outside the rest, as well as Jews and Muslims will unite to ensure that we do not go down without a fight. That would be a sad day for our country. And I don’t want it to be our country’s defining moment.

As long as people continue to believe that discrimination is a remnant of our past and not a reflection of the present, we are placing our country in harms way. We must not allow the president to create a moral equivalent between white supremacy  and those who believe in inclusion and equal opportunity. White America must stand with us and acknowledge the wrongs of our past and present. We must all come together peacefully to heal our nation’s wounds, or face the possible consequences; no matter race, religion, sexual identity, or ethnicity.

 

 

 

Paraphrasing Maya Angelou, “Still We Rise”

As an African/Native America I was reminded of the words of Maya Angelou, “Still I rise” after watching the horrors of domestic terrorism unfold this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. However, because of the unfortunate events that occurred, I am heartened. Heartened because the warnings of the persistence of racism and bigotry being alive and well in America have finally been acknowledged by many who have chosen to turn a blind eye to its existence in the past.

We can no longer hide behind the insistence that we are a raceless society because we elected our first black president, Barack Obama. We can no longer ignore the existence of hatred of those who are different than ourselves. No longer can we say that our children live in an America where sexual identity, race, religion, and ethnicity do not define our position in society. Because we, as a nation, watched helplessly as factions of the alt-right spread their vile message of divisiveness to anyone willing to listen.

The people of this country expect minorities to speak out against the “ugly Americans” who espouse superiority, hatred, and separatism. But we, as minorities, did not expect to see so many white Americans stand with us in saying this hatred and divisiveness has to stop. And to all of you who gave voice to our pain, I say thank you. Thank you, because over the weekend you saw the world through the same colored glasses as we do.

For the first time in my life, I feel a part of something that is bigger than myself. For the first time in my life I feel validated by the society in which we must all live as one. I have often said that we must stand together or divided we will fall. And for the first time in my life, I feel as though I am really a part of the United States of America.

My heart goes out to those who felt the brunt of this weekend’s tragic events. And I offer my sincerest condolences to the family of the young woman who lost her life in protest against the few who espouse white supremacy. In my view, she is a martyr for a noble cause. Heather Heyer’s name will be written in tha annals of history among the many who lost their lives in the name of equality, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thank you America for restoring my faith in a country that has been divided by hurtful political rhetoric. As unfortunate as the weekend’s tragedy was, for once I can paraphrase Maya Angelou and say, ” Still we rise. ” And, I hope this will be a defining moment for this great nation of ours.

Trump’s White House Saga Escalates After Only 203 Days in Office

After only 203 days in office, President Trump and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un are already escalating their animosity towards one another, resulting in the frightening prospects of war. The most disturbing aspect of this escalation is that our president hasn’t even bothered to find out how the citizens of this nation feel about declaring war against North Korea.

I, personally, find this a frightening prospect, even though North Korea is only the size of Vermont. And their nuclear arsenal cannot compare to that of the United States. Will this precipitate the next world war? Or can China and Russia aid in negotiating a de-escalation before our countries start what might end up as the end of life as we know it on earth?

If Trump listens to anyone, it will be Putin. And Korea has Kim Jong Un’s full attention. That is good and unfortunate at the same time. If Trump had listened to the people of this nation instead of supporting Vladimir Putin, then maybe this escalation would not have happened to begin with.

Because, aside from his base of supporters, I surmise that the majority of Americans would not have endorsed this unnecessary, and possibly deadly, game of cat and mouse. No what matter political affiliation, race, religion, or sexual identity the people align with, I sincerely believe this is one issue we can stand together on.

One thing I can say about this president, every day brings something new. A new crisis, and new policies that rescind everything Obama has done, and new Tweets. Before today I was intrigued by the chaos this administration has created, chaos unlike any other administration in recent history. Now I’m not only skeptical, I am fearful. United we must stand America, or divided we will fall.

 

Bankrupt City Shimmers with Hope for Its Future

It’s been almost a year since I moved to Detroit, Michigan, much to the chagrin of family and friends in Denver, Colorado. “Didn’t Detroit file bankruptcy?” Or “But the crime rate is so high,” were common responses I got when I told others of my plans. Both statements hold more than a modicum of truth to them. But, neither concerns stopped me from moving then, nor will they cause me to leave now.

Forget the fact that the expense of moving half way across the country should be motivation enough to cause me to stay. Forget the largest bankruptcy ever filed by a city, with an estimated value of $18 billion dollars. Put aside a crime rate of 4 out a possible 100 when it comes to safety, and an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent.  I have absolutely no regrets. In fact, this city is more like home to me than one I grew up in.

Many would avoid this city like they would the Black Plague. Pardon the pun. Because Detroit boasts the highest population of African American residents, more than any other city in our great nation. For many, that is reason enough to avoid the Motor City. Especially considering that I came from a city that is predominately white and Hispanic, with much lower unemployment and crime rates than my new home.

I felt I had no choice but to move when I couldn’t get a job interview for the myriad of job applications submitted  for technology, elementary, and business teacher in the Denver school district where the African American student population hovers around 14 percent, and Black teachers comprise about four percent of the teachers there. In Detroit, I had an interview and job offer from a school in Mexican Town within a week of submitting my application.

I also considered the expense of living in Detroit versus Denver, where my rent for a two bedroom apartment with a view of the Detroit River, Belle Isle, and Canada is $400 a month less than my rent in Denver for a one bedroom apartment, in a not so desirable neighborhood near the airport.

Detroit, for me, will become the home I live for and will probably end my life in. Why? That’s simple. Economics aside, the spirit of the people is worth more to me than the popularity of the city I left behind. In Detroit, I feel welcome, like I belong, unlike the city I was born in. People don’t judge me by the color of my skin, or how many zeros are on my pay check.

I have all the comforts of home here. Sports, entertainment, and excellent restaurants. In fact, Detroit has as much to offer in the diversity and quality of cuisine as New York. It’s quickly reclaiming its spot as one of America’s primary tourist destinations. And teachers can get a 50% discount on housing if I stay in the city.

I tip my hat to Detroit and it’s residents. Detroit shimmers now, but will shine like the bright star it is very soon. Thank you, Detroit, for welcoming me, after the city that birthed me turned its back on me.

via Daily Prompt: Shimmer

The Growing Global Anomale: Family Estrangement

A few years ago, my first cousins revealed to me that the rest of the family always thought there was something wrong with me, or that I thought I was better than everyone else. That was why I was never invited to birthday parties or weekend family fishing trips when I was growing up.

At the time, I was befuddled by this revelation, until I took the time to ruminate and figure out how they came to this assessment. The specter of family estrangement is nothing new to me. But, unbeknownst to me, it has become a recurring theme over my lifetime.

I had to ask myself, what are the root causes for family estrangement? According to Psychology Today, research indicates that some family members disengage as a result of a change in lifestyle choices, like sexual identity, or differences in religious beliefs. For others it can result from a disagreement over money. Family estrangement can also be predicated by the loss of a close family member, or family members’ dissatisfaction with the way the other behaves.

My estrangement from my paternal extended family began when I was very young. But I didn’t learn the reason for that estrangement until later in life. I assume my recent estrangement from my daughter encompasses some of the same dissatisfaction with my behaviors, along with  a disagreement over how the estate was handled when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and passed on soon after.

I now understand why it occurred, which gives me what I need. I can get past the grief process and move on with my life.  But it still leaves many unresolved issues, because the communication portals have been diminished to an occasional text from my daughter, or a Like on one of my Facebook posts.

Unfortunately, the feeling of emptiness may never go away for many victims of family estrangement. According to the article in Psychology Today, the effects on the adult dealing with estrangement can be harsh for four reasons:

1) It’s unexpected.

2) It’s ambiguous by nature.

3) A sense of powerlessness is created.

4) Estrangement results in a feeling of social disapproval.

Standalone.org offers support to adults who find themselves alone in the world, without family support. Research indicates that this type of separation from long established social ties can be far more devastating  than the death of a close family member.  There is no finality, or closure in estrangement, like there is with death.

Standalone.org offers suggestions and links to therapeutic options. But, if you, or someone you know has had similar experiences with estrangement, the first mandate is taking care of self first. Get counseling to deal with the myriad of emotions that come with estrangement, so you can learn to trust again. That is when the barriers can come down that have been built over time. You will be able to heal and establish new healthy relationships with others. After all, your new family can become what you make of it.

 

 

 

 

Racial Discrimination is Alive and Thriving in America

Over the past year, more than one member of my immediate family has been a victim of racial discrimination, and it ended with me when I clicked on my author website, the weekend of Martin Luther King’s holiday. Instead of seeing the book trailer I purchased, I see the IKEA monkey with the song “Dust in the Wind” playing the in background. That video is offensive because African Americans are often referred to as monkeys.

Coincidence? Possibly. But I have a hard time believing that because I had to ask myself, why this weekend of all weekends? And, was someone offended by my Afrocentric science fiction novel for young adults? After all, science fiction has been a literary genre reserved for White and Jewish male authors.

But that incident was like a single grain of sand on a crowded beach. My grandson was profiled by the police in California in August of 2016 when he made the mistake of going through the garbage where he was living temporarily to retrieve something he didn’t intend to throw away. That simple act resulted in the SWAT team, with military armament, arriving at his girlfriend’s grandmother’s house.

The entire block was cordoned off as the helicopters hovered in search of a 23 year old black man and his friend, who had already made their way to the beach. To make matters worse, the officers saw movement in the house and were about to enter, when they finally contacted the home owner by phone at work. She told them it was the dog moving about, but she was more fearful for her temporary boarder. My grandson’s only reaction was “It was a good thing we weren’t there. Because we would have been another hashtag on Black Lives Matter”.

london-scout-41029The night following the presidential election, my daughter, who lives in Denver,  took my youngest grandson with her to the grocery store. My grandson was one year old at the time. As she crossed the road to enter the store, she noticed two white women sitting in a parked car, and they appeared to be upset about something because one was crying. My daughter crossed in front of them when the driver revved her engine, and looked at my daughter like she had no right to cross the road when and where she chose.

My daughter turned to look back at her to make sure the woman saw her and my grandson, who she was holding in her arms. The driver rolled down her window and yelled out, “What’s the matter with you people. You act like we owe you something!” My daughter chose to ignore her because she didn’t want to get into an altercation with the women while she was holding the baby. That was when the passenger jumped out of the car, ran up on my daughter, got in her face and screamed “What the fuck is wrong with you, you black bitch?” My daughter pulled my grandson closer to her, because she was afraid the woman would hurt them both.

Thank the Lord for the noble. Because a white man stepped in between the two of them and asked the white woman, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” My daughter’s reaction? She couldn’t thank that white man enough. She was afraid. Not for herself, because she’s a scrapper, but for her son. She says she still tries not to imagine what would have happened had the unidentified white man not interceded. Especially considering there were a lot more people who stood by and watched the whole incident transpire, but chose not to get involved.

mike-wilson-236802Once again the ugly menace of racial discrimination, known well among this country’s black communities, raises its ugly head. This spectre has been ever present in the history of this country. But since the election of Donald Trump as president, it has gotten worse. As a matter of fact, many African Americans would argue that what we are experiencing now is no better than the prior Jim Crow era in many aspects.

For instance, when the opioid epidemic grew in rural White America recently, the country rallied around the push to eliminate opioid addiction and to rehabilitate addicts, rather than imprison them.  But where was this outcry and show of support for those suffering from opioid addiction in the 1980s, when the Black communities were reeling from the epidemic?

Is it possible that those travails that are prevalent in the white communities are seen as more pressing or more consequential than those in the African American communities?  I would argue yes. And this time I don’t need to support my premise with articles that come to the same conclusion.

America is divided. Economically, ethnically, racially, and in so many other ways. What’s far too familiar about all this is White America’s outcry that African Americans are trying to take their jobs and their livelihoods. As Star Trek’s Spock would say, “Statistically, Captain, that would be impossible.” Unlike Detroit, which is 82% African American, Denver is only 15% African American. And even though African Americans in Denver have one of the highest rates of college graduates in this country, we still struggle to get that which is rightfully ours. Equal opportunity, without fear of reprisal or harassment.

Should Americans Spend More Time Emulating the Canadians Instead of Mocking Them?

I often wonder how many undocumented immigrants of European and Canadian descent we have in the United States. I have always assumed it was a nominal number because most of the controversy surrounding sanctuary cities and the deportation of undocumented immigrants revolves around Muslims and Mexicans.

According to the Pew Research Center, immigration has decreased for Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina. While immigration to Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington has risen. There has also been a steady decline in the number of Mexicans migrating to the US. And most of the Mexican immigrants I encounter, through the school system, express a desire to return home, once they have acquired enough capital to establish themselves financially in a country with a relatively high rate of unemployment.

Because I live on the Detroit river, right across from Canada, I feel some degree of discomfort with the focus on the southern borders. If immigration is decreasing in states along the southern  borders and the Midwest, and  increasing in the northern and Atlantic coastal states, then shouldn’t we be more focused on protecting the northern border and our coasts than the southern border?

But, maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way. Maybe we should be modelling Canada’s immigration policy, rather than relying on race, ethnicity, and religion to revamp our own. Because in Canada, immigrants have to undergo a more rigorous vetting process than they do in the United States. A process based on a nine point rubric. Instead of considering race, religion, or ethnicity when vetting prospective immigrants, according to an article in the New York Times, Canada considers economic factors. Factors like the individual’s “age, education, job skills, language ability and other attributes that define their potential contribution to the national work force.”

It works so well for our northern neighbor that we are quick to mock, that Canada’s current cabinet has more Sikhs than India’s. At one point their governors general hailed from Haiti and Hong Kong. The governor general being the ceremonial head of state. And in Canada, half of the immigrants come with a college degree and the children of immigrants read at the same level as the natives. Canada’s immigrants are also twenty percent more likely to own a home, and seven percent less likely to live in poverty than immigrants in America.

So if we were to model our immigration policy after that of the Canadians, and adopt the same attitude as them; race, religion and ethncity become less important than what the individual can contribute to our culture and society. We could forget about that wall on the Mexican border. We wouldn’t have to worry about whether the individual seeking immigration status is an Islamic extremist, or some unidentified member of some Mexican drug cartel. And as my Arabic students tell me, we could stop focusing on race, and begin to appreciate one another more for what we contribute to society instead.

 

 

Just When You Thought Trump Tales Couldn’t Get Any Better, Donald Trump Jr. Adds a New Twist to Keep You Hanging

This blog will be short because there’s no need in beating the proverbial dead horse, unless the horse is not quite dead yet. Since the beginning of Trump’s campaign, there has been some question about our new president’s perception of Vladimir Putin and Russia. Some have referred to their strange relationship as a “bromance”. As time progresses, revelations have compounded, one upon another, that bring their relationship more and more into question.

We have gone from one controversy surrounding Paul Manafort’s – Manafort being Trump’s first campaign chairman – meeting with Russian officials early on in the Trump campaign, to the possibility of Trump Jr. now being investigated for conspiracy over a meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information on Hillary Clinton to share with the Trump campaign. This meeting occurred with Paul Manafort present, weeks after Trump Sr. won the Republican nomination for presidency.

To further complicate the story, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, agreed to the meeting along with the others. Now if that doesn’t create a sense of intrigue and collusion, I don’t know what does. The three top people in Trump’s campaign meet with a Russian national to get the dirt on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent. This might just be the beginning of a climactic decline for the Trump administration.

The Trump story and his rise to the presidency reads like a bestselling novel. Only this mystery is not fictional. And the worst part of this whole debacle is that Putin is enjoying this more than the Democrats are.

The Trump campaign trio could be facing charges of violation of campaign finance obligations, because they sought information of value from a foreign national. And Donald Trump Jr.’s failure to disclose his contact with this Russian national, while seeking a security clearance, might just be the surface of the mire Trump Jr. has created for himself and his father. This story is definitely becoming a page turner. I wonder what happens next! Whatever it is, it doesn’t look good for America.

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