You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ tag.

Last November my Unitarian Universalist church joined the many other houses of worship across the United States in putting up a Black Lives Matter sign.

photo1

My congregation did one better with this sign. It also added the heart logo of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Standing on the Side of Love campaign and a rainbow banner indicating that it’s a welcoming congregation for the LBGTQ community. My congregation voted to erect this sign despite the fact that other houses of worship who have put up Black Lives Matter signs and banners have had them either defaced or stolen outright.

This morning I learned that my congregation has had the sign stolen. Yes, it’s distressing but, no, my congregation is not deterred. The word is that we will get a new identical banner and put it up. My congregation refuses to cower to the forces of racism, homophobia, and other types of ugly prejudice that has especially sprung up in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election.

Advertisements

Santa Claus

This year New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday so my Unitarian Universalist church decided to schedule its usual Sunday morning service. Since New Year’s Day is also the last day of Kwanzaa, the theme of this service was on Kwanzaa and how this congregation’s observance of it is more important now than ever before (especially since my congregation is among the houses of worship that has put up a Black Lives Matter banner on its property).

There was a special Kwanzaa feast following the Sunday service. The special Kwanzaa altar remained up after the service ended so I took a few photographs.

photo1

photo2

photo3

photo4

I even got pretty silly and took this last photo using the Hatsune Miku photo app on my smartphone.

photo5

Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

I went to the last Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School event in Washington, DC for 2016. Once again it was held at the Bier Baron located in Dupont Circle. When I was on my way to taking the Metro at the Greenbelt station I found this Christmas Panda display hyping the annual ZooLights event that’s currently going on at the National Zoo through January 1, 2017.

photo1

photo2

I last went to ZooLights back in 2012. Come to think of it, it also happened to be the last time I actually visited the National Zoo. I made a mental note that I should go and see it again at some point (especially since the admission is free).

As I was walking towards the Bier Baron I noticed that the Church of the Pilgrims had these large banners hanging outside and they were both visible from a distance.

photo3

The larger of the two was a #BlackLivesMatter banner, which streamed down the belfry.

photo4

Outside the front entrance is a rainbow banner with the words “ALL ARE WELCOME” written underneath. Dupont Circle is DC’s LGBTQ area so it makes sense for a Presbyterian church to reach out to people in that community.

photo5

I eventually made it to the Bier Baron, where I shot this promo poster for the latest Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School to be held there.

photo6

A burlesque performer known as Cherie Sweetbottom was the model for that event. Some of the drawings in this entry are definitely NSFW.

picture1

picture2

picture3

picture4

This event only had one contest that day. We had to draw Cherie Sweetbottom as the Virgin Mary (which was a nod to the upcoming Christmas season). I had an idea of somehow having her give birth to the notorious Christmas demon Krampus. Here is what I drew.

picture5

I won that contest. My prize was a drink of my choice from the bar. (I picked one of the fruity beers whose name now escapes me.) That drawing even led me to create Trumpus, which I now have on sale in my RedBubble store.

I did a few more drawings of Cherie Sweetbottom before the event ended.

picture6

picture7

picture8

On the way out I took one photo of flyer announcing a Grampus-themed burlesque show that was taking place at the Bier Baron a few days later. I wasn’t able to make it but I only took the photo because I liked the design of the flyer.

photo7

After going to Dr. Sketchy’s I headed towards the White House to check out the National Christmas Tree, which I’ll write about in a future post.

Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland has recently joined other houses of worship in putting up a Black Lives Matter sign. Here are a few photos of this new sign.

photo1

photo2

photo3

Recently I celebrated the Fourth of July and I enjoyed myself. It’s the occasion where people are encouraged to get all decked out in red, white, and blue clothes and jewelry while playing or listening patriotic music and watching fireworks at night. We display our patriotism while feeling proud of being Americans. Sure it sounds corny but, under the right circumstances, corny can be fun and relaxing. The Fourth of July is supposed to remind people about the best traits of the United States of America including its historical welcoming of immigrants, its historically dynamic innovations, and its long tradition of allowing people to express themselves (such as stating an opinion or being active in a certain religious faith) without fearing persecution by the government.

The rest of the year I find myself feeling less and less enthusiastic about the United States of America. I’m seeing disturbing things about this year’s presidential elections that don’t sit right with me. The more I hear the latest outrageous quote from the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump the more I’m starting to believe those persistent rumors that Trump is waging a false flag campaign in an effort to elect Hillary Clinton as president. I’ve seen the photos of the Clintons and the Trumps socializing with each other along with Hillary posing next to Trump and his two older sons, Bill and Donald playing golf togetherBill Clinton still having a locker at the Trump National Golf Club, and even Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump being seen as friendly in public. There are even the previous positive remarks Donald Trump has made about the Clintons. The evidence is all circumstantial but something tells me that there’s something fishy about all this. Technically Bernie Sanders is still in the race on the Democrat side and he says that he’ll remain in the race until the Democrat Convention in Philadelphia but Hillary Clinton has ignored him while focusing all of her attacks on The Donald and Trump has also said things against Clinton. But those back-and-forth attacks on each other seem to have a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more” feel about it that seems fake.

Worse the mainstream media has ignored Bernie Sanders and they have already acted as if the country is in the general election phase when it’s not the case because, as of this writing, neither the Republicans nor Democrats have had their conventions yet. I already wrote a previous rant about how the mainstream media seems to be more interested in controlling and influencing the story instead of just reporting on the news as an objective observer so I’m not going to delve into too much here.

Then there is the long decline in the U.S. economy, which started during the Reagan Administration when jobs were relocated from the U.S. to Third World countries so the workers there could be pay very low without having to deal with such things as unions or occupational safety regulations. If anyone has been repeatedly screwed by successive administrations since 1980—both Republican and Democrat—it’s the workers, especially among the middle class. Job security is now a thing of the past and it’s getting harder to find a job that pays a livable wage.

And then there is this disturbing trend of police officers killing African Americans, especially young men, for trivial reasons like a busted tail light or running a stop sign. I live 30 miles south of Baltimore, where an unarmed African American man named Freddie Gray was murdered by cops last year. This week has gotten really horrendous. Just Google the names Philander Castile and Alton Sterling to see news stories about their deaths at the hands of the police along with videos documenting their deaths.

This morning I woke up to news reports that someone had unleashed a mass shooting of cops in Dallas. I get it that the shooter wanted to exact revenge for the police killings of Castile and Sterling (as well as the previous police killings of people like Freddie Grey, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland) but the only problem is that the officers who were killed in Dallas had absolutely nothing to do with all those other killings. The police officers in Dallas had been monitoring the peaceful Black Lives Matter protest there just to make sure that the protests remained peaceful. In other words, they were just doing their jobs and they were senselessly murdered for it. Those Dallas killings aren’t going to bring back those African Americans who had already been killed by the police in other cities and, in fact, it brings a bad reputation for the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole.

I feel like the U.S. is just like the old Weimar Republic in Germany. Like the Weimar Republic the U.S. has been struggling with a broken economy where a lot of people are either unemployed or underemployed. Like the Weimar Republic the U.S. is seeing its share of street violence like the all-too-frequent mass shootings (such as the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando). Like the Weimar Republic you see the mainstream media manipulating public opinion so this year’s elections will boil down to a match between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in much the same way that Adolf Hitler charmed the mainstream media in the Weimar Republic so much that they did stories about him and influenced public opinion. Like the Weimar Republic you hear Latinos and Muslims in the U.S. being made into scapegoats of all of the existing problems in the same way that Jews and Gypsies were once made into scapegoats. Like the Weimar Republic there is extreme income inequality between the haves and the have nots complete with food insecurity and homelessness. Something is wrong when you have war veterans begging on the streets throughout many cities in the U.S. that echo this 1923 photo of a disabled World War I vet begging on the streets of Berlin.

The main difference between the U.S. and the Weimar Republic is that there hasn’t been hyperinflation—yet. But if current economic conditions continue in the U.S., who knows what will happen.

It’s no wonder that Donald Trump has gotten followers for invoking a nostalgia for America while bashing those who aren’t white heterosexual Christians men with no disabilities in the exact same way that Adolf Hitler got followers. The main difference is the strong possibility that Trump is running for president as a way of both stroking his huge ego and (probably) throwing the race to getting his friend Hillary Clinton elected. There are rumors that Trump doesn’t even want to do the day-to-day job as president, he just wants to be able to brag that, yes, he once ran for office and won. At least Hitler seriously wanted to rule Germany, which is one of the few positive things I can say about him.

Anyone who thinks that electing Hillary Clinton will usher in a new era of high employment full of well-paying middle class jobs with police no longer killing unarmed African Americans for trivial reasons is delusional. I’m old enough to remember when her husband was in office and he was the one who championed NAFTA, which resulted in hemorrhaging more jobs out of the U.S. along with “ending welfare as we know it” that didn’t provide well paying jobs to welfare recipients so they could support themselves but, instead, made the poverty situation even worse by fraying the social safety net. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton are closely tied to Wall Street and they are sympathetic to the corporations shifting jobs overseas. And that’s not to mention Hillary Clinton’s infamous quote that African Americans needed to be brought to heel, which resulted in this confrontation by a Black Lives Matter activist on the campaign trail a few months ago and Clinton not even attempting to engage her in any way.

And that’s not to mention how much people dislike Hillary Clinton in general. The late political blogger Steve Gilliard mentioned her as being among the most detested politicians back in 2007 and she is still disliked among the right wing, the left wing, and young people of all political persuasions. I still remember those bumper stickers from the 1990’s that said “Impeach Clinton—and Her Husband.” If she gets elected, I wouldn’t be surprised if those bumper stickers make a comeback.

Likewise anyone who thinks about voting for Donald Trump in an effort—to use his campaign’s slogan—“make America great again” is also delusional, especially if you’re a lower income person. I have long known about Trump ever since he published his first book, The Art of the Deal, and he has long bragged about how he’s rich, and therefore, better than most people simply because he is rich. Sure he was instrumental in creating Trump Tower and other Trump-branded properties throughout Manhattan but I don’t recall him ever being concerned about constructing affordable housing. I don’t recall him ever setting up any charitable foundations to help lower income people or did anything to indicate that he actually gives a damn about helping the less fortunate. I don’t see him starting to become concerned about the plight of—let’s say—the homeless if he does get elected. And that’s not to mention his history of multiple bankruptcies or his cringe-inducing comments about how he would’ve dated Ivanka Trump if she wasn’t his daughter.

I think that not only is the U.S. just like the Weimar Republic but it has been that way for the last few years. As for President Barack Obama, I voted for this guy twice but he mostly failed in his promise of bringing hope and change. To be fair, he had to deal with an obstructionist Republican majority in Congress who had it in for President Obama from day one of his administration because he was both a Democrat and an African American. But when you have a president who refused to prosecute those on Wall Street who tanked the economy back in 2008 so they are free to continue their corporate crimes and when you have a president who is currently trying to push adoption of both the TTP and the TTIP (which are both ultra-secret trade deals that are rumored to be “NAFTA on steroids” and the few leaked provisions call for corporations to actually overrule national sovereignty) against the will of the majority of Americans, I have to say that he is not blameless for the mostly unfavorable opinion I have of him. Not even his championing of legalizing same-sex marriage is enough for me to overcome the disappointment I have felt for him and his administration and I think history will eventually judge him harshly.

The U.S. is just like the Weimar Republic and unless we have a government that actually tries to do something about the situation, then our current system of government will be replaced by something far worse. After all, look at what ultimately happened in Germany when the Weimar Republic was replaced.

Black lives matter. Police lives matter. Everyone matters. We are the 99%.

Ramadan

Before I headed over to The Wind-Up Space where I attended another session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, I took advantage of the increasingly longer days to walk around the Station North Arts District. I haven’t been to that area in a few months (mainly because I got involved with a book discussion group that met on Mondays) so I’m noticing the changes that the area has undergone. There are all kinds of new businesses and art murals popping up in that area, which is pretty cool. It’s quite a contrast to when I attended my first Dr. Sketchy’s event way back in 2011 and the area was still pretty marginal and run-down at the time.

picture1

piicture2

picture3

picture4

picture5

picture6

picture7

picture8

There are also tributes to Freddie Gray, whose senseless murder at the hands of the Baltimore police and the riots that followed that incident has just passed its first anniversary.

picture9

There is also this really cool mural that no longer exists because the building it was painted on was torn down. Here is what the mural once looked like when I took these pictures on previous visits.

photo3

photo4

Here is what the building site looked like on May 9, 2016.

picture10

There is also a Harriet Tubman Solidarity Center, which, judging from the signs in the windows, are definitely involved with the Black Lives Matter movement.

picture11

picture12

It’s located directly over what looks like a sex shop known as Pervfect Playground Boutique. (Both places were closed when I was there.)

picture13

The last time I was in the area was during my ill-fated attempt to catch up with a Bernie Sanders march that was happening in Baltimore. I checked out the BAMF Cafe, which had opened last year, but I didn’t order anything at the time because I was short on money and I had brought my own lunch (which I ended up eating in Penn Station). I did plenty of gawking at the geek-themed decor. On this trip I not only returned to the BAMF Cafe but I actually ordered a sandwich and iced tea (both of which were pretty tasty) and I took advantage of its free wi-fi. I also took a few more pictures of items that I somehow missed on my last visit.

picture14

picture15

picture16

picture17

picture18

picture19

After dinner I headed over to The Wind-Up Space where I switched to my pencils. The model for this Dr. Sketchy’s session was a burlesque performer known as Tempete La Coeur. At this point is where the NSFW drawings begin.

picture1

picture2

picture3

picture4

picture5

picture6

picture7

I took part in two contests that were held that evening. One contest was based on the fact that May 9 was the birthday of J.M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan so we had to somehow incorporate Peter Pan into our drawings. I made this effort where I portrayed Tempete La Coeur as Tinker Bell but it didn’t make it among the finalists.

picture8

The next contest was one whose theme the organizers were stumped on and they asked the audience for suggestions. One guy called for justice. I decided on something even better. Lately I’ve been reading the newer issues of the Howard the Duck comic book series and I’ve been doing the Throwback Thursday series devoted to the original 1970’s comic book series. So I called out “Howard the Duck” and they decided to do a combination where people could incorporate justice or Howard the Duck or both. For added measure, they even played the theme song from that notorious bomb 1980’s Howard the Duck movie. I made this effort but it didn’t make it among the finalists.

picture9

I drew one last picture before I headed home for the evening.

picture10

Last week I checked out a brand new event in Baltimore known as Light City. Basically it was a week-long event where there were art installations that consisted entirely of lights. Obviously it was the kind of event that could only be viewed at night. I learned about Light City on Facebook and I was awed by what I saw and photographed.

I passed by the historic Bromo Seltzer tower on the way from the Camden Yards Light Rail Stop to the Charm City Circulator bus stop.

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

I also passed by this Baltimore Ravens banner highlighting the fact that this season is their 20th anniversary.

Light City, March 31, 2016

I ate dinner at the Shake Shack but it was so unusually crowded inside that restaurant that I ordered my meal to go so I could just walk to the Inner Harbor and eat my meal on one of the benches. I was glad that the weather was nice and warm so I could do that. After dinner I walked around and took in all of the sites. There were these historic light poles that were placed in the same general area. The installation was known as In Light of History. They looked really pretty. There were copies of free newsletters that one can pick up. I didn’t read my newsletter copy until after I got home and I found out that they were there to mark places where the slave trade took place in Baltimore. That was pretty heavy to read, especially the vintage newspaper ads (which are posted on this website).

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

There was a vintage Baltimore City police car that was parked outside.

Light City, March 31, 2016

The outside of the World Trade Center had these animated lights that were really pretty.

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

There was live entertainment in various venues throughout Light City but people crowded the stage so much that I only got short glimpses such as the performance dance in the next photo.

Light City, March 31, 2016

The Inner Harbor was really crowded even though I went to Light City on a Thursday night. The Baltimore Sun reported that nearly 400,000 people attended that show the entire week. I’m not surprised, especially since the next photo shows how jam-packed the Inner Harbor was with people. (I can only image how crowded it got on the weekends.)

Light City, March 31, 2016

Everywhere I went there were all kinds of pretty lights everywhere.

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

There were echoes of Freddie Gray’s murder at the hands of the Baltimore police officers and the Black Lives Matter movement in this light display that was shown on the McKeldin Square fountain that featured people who were victims of excessive force by the Baltimore Police Department.

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

There was an area full of circles where people were invited to step on them. Generally the discs changed color every time someone stepped on them.

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Light City, March 31, 2016

Next to that area full of circles was this tent that where a private party was held that was off-limits to the general public.

Light City, March 31, 2016

A group of Bernie Sanders campaign volunteers got in on the fun by putting up their own light display urging people to vote for Sanders. (The Maryland primary will be coming in a few weeks.)

Light City, March 31, 2016

It was an amazing night. I was only able to take in just half of what was going on in Light City. Based on the map I saw, it looked like the whole thing started from Rash Field all the way past the Inner Harbor attractions (Maryland Science Center, Harborplace, etc.) until it ended just west of Fells Point, which was a huge amount of walking. I wasn’t able to return to Light City to finish touring the rest of it due mainly to the fact that I have a lot of other things I needed to do (such as spring cleaning, working on income taxes, etc.). I hope they do it again next year. I would definitely take at least two nights to see everything and account for the huge crowds that this event draws. Next time I would pack a dinner, snacks, and drinks from home instead of battling crowds to order a meal at one of the many restaurants and fast food outlets in the area.

American Flag

On this Labor Day I’m posting this because next year’s elections could have a potentially devastating impact on labor in this country, especially if the elections boil down to a Clinton vs. Bush campaign because neither one of them are very friendly to the workers in the United States. I know that I’ll probably piss off some of my friends with this stance (especially those in my Unitarian Universalist congregation) who have already indicated their support of Hillary Clinton but that’s life. As a woman, I would love to see the first woman get elected to the Oval Office in my lifetime. In fact, I would be overjoyed if such a thing happened. I just don’t think that history-making woman should be Hillary Clinton for reasons that I’ll go into right now (and none of them have to do with Monica Lewinsky, Whitewater, or Benghazi).

Lately I’ve been getting more and more concerned about how the mainstream media in the U.S. seems to be gunning for a retread of the 1992 Clinton vs. Bush Presidential Election next year, except it would be former President Bill Clinton’s wife, Hillary, running against Jeb, the son of former President George H.W. Bush (and the younger brother of former President George W. Bush).

Here’s my take on this: I think it’s a horrible idea. It sends a dangerous message that the only people who can ever hope to occupy the White House are the ones who were either born into or married into the Bush family or the Clinton family. It creates a plutocracy not unlike the Kim dynasty in North Korea. I don’t consider this a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is an American issue and it’s one that’s for the future of democracy of a nation. Limiting the White House only to people who are members of either the Bush or Clinton family cuts out many other brilliant and talented people who would be capable of serving in the Oval Office and who could improve the United States as a country. Had there been such a limit in the past, think of the people who would never have made it to the White House so they would have never made an impact on this country like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter.

Let’s say that Hillary wins next year. When she serves her two terms (assuming that she gets elected to a second term), will the Oval Office seat next go to Jeb Bush? And if that happens, will the Oval Office next be given to Chelsea Clinton? And if that happens, will one of the children of either George W. or Jeb get elected to the White House? And so on and so forth.

I know some of you will say that it’s not fair to judge either Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush on what their relatives have done when they were in the Oval Office. In Hillary’s case, I’ll tell you as someone who was in a long relationship and marriage until recently, I know first-hand that people who stay together longer tend to share the same outlook on life in terms of political beliefs, religious beliefs, ethics, interests, etc. That was why I stayed with my husband for as long as I did despite his flaws. We had a lot in common and he wasn’t always such a total putz—that came later after he left me for our seriously mentally ill friend but that’s another story. Would Hillary have even considered marrying Bill in the first place had they not shared the same goals and beliefs? Probably not. Besides, Hillary hasn’t said or done anything that would indicate that she would rule this country differently from her husband.

As for Jeb Bush, I realize that many families have members who have rebelled against or distanced themselves from their families and you get situations where the children are either more liberal or conservative than their parents. But Jeb has never struck me as the rebellious type and he has never said or did anything that indicates that he has distanced himself from both this father and older brother politically. So I don’t think he would be that much different from when his father and brother served in the Oval Office.

While George H.W. Bush signed the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, the fact that he relied on Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics and the fact that he constantly catered to the right wing religious extremists tempered the good he did when he signed that act. While Bill Clinton was better on women’s issues (like keeping access to abortion and birth control legal), his advocation of NAFTA and his repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act pretty much helped start the 2008 economic collapse and it has led to workers getting screwed over more and more while jobs get increasingly outsourced to China, India, and other Third World countries. And that’s not to mention the notorious Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Act and his sacking of Jocelyn Elders as Surgeon General because she advocated masturbation as a form of safe sex. George W. Bush basically continued the economic policies of his father’s and President Clinton’s, which led to the 2008 economic collapse. On top of it, he lied about the weapons of mass destruction that supposedly were in Iraq as a pretext for a U.S. invasion against a country under false pretenses.

If the mainstream media and those in the political establishment have their way, the American voters would choose between going back to the failed policies of George H.W. and George W. Bush by electing Jeb or going back to Bill Clinton’s pro-corporate policies that screwed the average workers while catering to the right wing (such as enacting and signing legislation similar to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which had really screwed the careers of many people in the military simply because they were gay, lesbian, or bisexual) by electing Hillary. Then there’s Hillary Clinton’s refusal to say where she stands on the controversial TPP agreement, which could have an adverse impact on the U.S. economy and environment. (The latter issue alone is why the Social Action Committee at my Unitarian Universalist congregation has considered the TPP to be a moral issue and have set up letter writing tables after Sunday services on this issue over the past few years urging President Obama and our elected representatives to vote against the TPP.)

There are also questions as to how much of a feminist Hillary Clinton really is. Sure she’s given speeches on women breaking the glass ceiling in corporations. As for lower income women, Hillary Clinton could’ve had a chance to help them when she served on Walmart’s Board of Directors by speaking up for the unionization of Walmart’s workers (many of whom are women). But she remained silent on that issue during her tenure there.

I’ve read theories on the Internet written by various people that the reason why Donald Trump has gone to the top of the popularity polls on the Republican side is that people are looking for alternatives to having another Bush occupy the White House. It seems plausible to me but, to be honest, Trump is too much of a buffoon for me to take him seriously enough to even consider supporting him. Every time I do a search for his name in Google News there’s yet another outrageous statement from The Donald that has me questioning his suitability for the Oval Office. (And that’s not to mention the multiple bankruptcies that his various companies have undergone in recent years. I just don’t want someone doing to the U.S. economy what he’s done to his own companies in the past—bankrupt it. That could result in the U.S. going into something like the Great Depression while taking the economies of several nations down with it.)

I think people on all sides of the political spectrum are looking for anyone other than a Bush or a Clinton for President.

For now I have decided to throw in my lot with Bernie Sanders. I recently attended a house party and I really like what he said. I’m well familiar with the guy since, over the years, he has made frequent television appearances on various shows where he has consistently given thoughtful insights into the problems facing this nation. The only person on the Republican side who has come even close to Bernie Sanders is John Kasich and that’s based on watching the first Republican debate. At least John Kasich was the only candidate who expressed his concerns for the poor and why he has never regretted allowing his state (Ohio) to accept the Affordable Care Act while other Republican governors have refused to do so. But, like Sanders, Kasich hasn’t been taken seriously by the media or the political establishment.

Given the mainstream media anointing Hillary Clinton as the next Democratic nominee for the White House, I know that Bernie Sanders has an uphill battle. (Come to think of it, there’s something really perverse about the mainstream media and/or political elites anointing anyone as either the next Democratic or Republican nominee a full year or more before the first of the primary elections even begins. I grew up in an era where the elections weren’t even mentioned in the media until the year that they actually took place in. But I guess that’s what happens when much of the mass media is concentrated in the hands of only seven companies these days.) But I’m ready for something radical because I’m pretty much fed up with seeing the deterioration of this society that has been going on for my entire adult life (ever since Ronald Reagan was elected President back in 1980).

I’ve seen too many people my age and younger go to college only to be offered low paying jobs that a few generations ago required only a high school diploma. I’ve seen too many homeless people on the streets, some of whom hold signs saying that they are vets who have returned from either Iraq or Afghanistan. I’m seeing a lot of homeless people panhandling on the streets while I see homes in the same area where the homeless tread that are either boarded up because the slumlord can’t be bothered with doing any kind of repairs or they are unoccupied because the developers made them so expensive (such as using granite to make kitchen countertops instead of using just wood) that the minimum price of a new home is at least $200,000 and people can’t afford to buy them. (A new development is currently being built in my area where prices start at $350,000. And it’s for a townhouse.) Heck, I’ve even seen panhandling homeless people in the suburbs (mostly in the parking lots outside various malls and shopping centers). Right now I’m seeing more and more African Americans getting arrested and killed by the police for trivial reasons like failure to use a turn signal (such as what happened to Sandra Bland).

As for me, I used to make money selling my crafts at various craft shows. Now I’m extremely picky as to where I’ll sell my wares because I’ve done too many shows in recent years where I’ve made just enough to recoup the original vendor fee that I paid. I know it’s because too many of my potential customers are either unemployed or underemployed because I’ve had so many people tell me “I wish I could buy something from you but I can’t afford it any more because money is too tight” that it’s not even funny. I’ve even had people ask me if I could lower my prices. I’ve tried cutting prices but, right now, my prices are so low that if I was to go even lower, I would not even make a profit.

I was taught in school: if you work hard and apply yourself, you can make a decent living. But I’ve seen people work hard and apply themselves and still can’t get ahead because their pay have been frozen or their companies pay them extremely low wages. This also flies in the face of what I was also taught in school: if you make a mistake, you can always reinvent yourself with just enough ambition and gumption. I used to read stories in school about immigrants who came to this country with just the clothes on their backs and little money in their pockets but they managed to create successful lives for themselves and their families. But what I’ve seen over the past several years have turned what I was taught in school into total lies.

I am tired of living in a society where if you make one wrong move or mistake, no matter how slight or minor, your whole life gets aversely affected and you have a hard time turning it around so you are forever condemned for a decision you made between the ages of 18-25. If you enter a field that years later becomes obsolete due either to technology or outsourcing to Third World countries you’re screwed, especially since there is literally no government or business investment in retraining for positions that companies say they want to hire people for. If you enter a long-term relationship or marriage that goes sour for whatever reason, you’re condemned to financially struggling, especially if you haven’t been lucky enough to land one of the few high paying jobs that are out there in this tough economy. I’m tired of living in a society where, if you’re not a white heterosexual man who was born into a higher class so you can attend an Ivy League school with sky-high tuition, you’re condemned to financially struggle. I’m tired of living in a country where the 2016 elections may boil down to a man who’s both the son and brother of previous presidents and a woman who’s married to a previous president and the mainstream media has hyped this as destiny. I’m sure that the Founding Fathers didn’t fight a revolution so the presidency would be opened only to people whose last names are either Clinton or Bush and both sides have been anointed by Wall Street corporate elites with lots of funding.

I’m also tired of not seeing much of an opposition in this country to the status quo (other than the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose encampments were later forcibly dismantled and suppressed by law enforcement, and the current Black Lives Matter movement). I know that, in some cases, it’s because the corporate-dominated mainstream media have tended to ignore them. But there are times when the activists themselves have been out of touch with the concerns of ordinary everyday working Americans. One recent example: a few weeks ago a local peace group decided to hold an event in the local coffeehouse in my area on a Sunday afternoon that would include a movie followed by people writing letters to the local elected officials regarding that highlighted issue. Paper, envelopes, stamps, pencils, and a sample letter template would be available so people can write letters.

The issue in question wasn’t about income equality or police brutality or the TPP or the Keystone XL pipeline or the environment or the increasing power of the Koch brothers in this country. It was about U.S. foreign policy but it didn’t focus on whether the U.S. should go after ISIL in Syria or should Congress uphold President Obama’s recent deal with Iran that could possibly bring peace to the two nations. Nor was it about U.S. policy in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and/or other Middle Eastern countries. It also wasn’t about North Korea or China either. Nope, the issue was about the Obama Administration’s policy in Thailand.

Thailand?!? Are you kidding me?!? Don’t get me wrong, I know that Thailand has plenty of problems these days but there are so many more pressing issues affecting the United States right now that these activists should focus on instead of Thailand. An average working person is more worried about his/her job being outsourced to China and the possibility that he/she won’t be able to find another job in this tough economy than what’s going on in Thailand. Peace activists focusing on U.S. policy in Thailand would be like a firefighter focusing on saving only one tree when the whole forest is on fire.

All of the crap that’s been going down since Ronald Reagan was elected President back in 1980 has left me with a cynical outlook on life that Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh can appreciate. This reality I’ve seen is the main reason why I wrote this post a few days ago where I was less-than-enthusiastic about my friend trying to start a Wondering Contest that’s supposed to encourage people to wonder. (Basically my thesis is that if you’re living with economic uncertainty, the only wondering you’re going to be doing is wonder where your next paycheck is coming from and wonder if it will be enough to afford all the basic necessities for survival.)

Yes, I’m dying for change. That’s why I enthusiastically voted for Barack Obama back in 2008 only to end up being disappointed by him. While he did some good (such as doing away with President Clinton’s horrible Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy and increasing access to health insurance for millions of people who were previously uninsured), he appointed Wall Street people to his cabinet, some of whom were the same people who helped with trashing the economy in 2008, while ignoring genuine progressives like Howard Dean and Paul Krugman. That’s not to mention the ongoing Sequestration where federal employees like my ex-husband has had their wages frozen for years while allowing Wall Street companies to get bailouts for their trashing of the economy in 2008. If the Republicans hadn’t put up an opponent who said stuff like “I like being able to fire people” while proving that he didn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone other than those in the top 1%, I might have considered voting against reelecting President Obama. But, no, they had to put up the disaster that was Mitt Romney. Bernie Sanders has been a Democratic Socialist for years and, if you look at his voting record, he has long advocated for the underdog in the Senate.

Bernie Sanders is also getting attention from the media and the political establishment and they both see him as a threat. Right now I’m seeing efforts to derail his campaign, such as what happened recently in Seattle when he faced two hostile two women claiming to be from the Black Lives Matter movement. However other people affiliated with the Seattle chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement have disavowed those two women. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone connected with either Hillary Clinton’s campaign or the GOP is responsible for this in an effort to discredit Sanders. So far these attempts hasn’t worked but I’m sure that these kinds of Richard Nixon-style dirty tricks will continue in the coming year.

If he fails to get the Democratic nomination in favor of Hillary Clinton and if Jeb Bush gets the Republican nomination, I’m going to vote third party. Seriously! Right now I’m looking at the Green Party as a possible alternative (although I am definitely open to other parties as well) because I refuse to take part in this plutocracy that’s disguised as “free elections.” I know that some of you will say that voting for a third party is “throwing away a vote.” Well I consider voting for either a Clinton or a Bush to be “throwing away a vote” because the American people deserve way better than this.

To be brutally honest, if I really wanted to live in a country where the top leadership is opened only to one or two families, I would’ve moved to North Korea years ago.

Yesterday one of my friends, Phil Shapiro, forwarded this video he made where he’s starting a side project. He wants to start something called a Wondering Contest. The whole purpose he has in mind is to facilitate more wondering in people which, in turn, would lead to more innovations in all kinds of fields ranging from science to politics. Here is how he explains his proposed Wondering Contest.

In contrast to this Wondering Contest, this morning I came across this article in The Guardian about the pre-trial hearings regarding the six police officers accused of murdering Freddie Gray in Baltimore a few months ago. The last two sentences in the previous link really resonated with me and it provided the proverbial being splashed in the face by a bucket of cold water while I was wondering about the idea of having a Wondering Contest.

One protester, Lee Paterson, said he remained concerned that charges could be dropped.

He also said: “You know, this whole thing is bigger than Freddie Gray. It’s about poverty.”

That man has hit the nail right on the head. Starting as far back as the Industrial Revolution (and maybe even earlier) there has been income inequality in Baltimore where rich industrialists took advantage of African-Americans and immigrants by paying them incredibly low wages that led them to constant economic struggle.

Sure, there was a brief thaw with the rise of the unions but Baltimore’s problems started with white flight out of the city in the 1950’s and 1960’s and it has been sliding since then. Ever since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 both Baltimore and the rest of the U.S. had to endure unions being dismantled (which started when the air traffic controller union endorsed Ronald Reagan in the 1980 elections only to have President Reagan return the favor by sacking them when they went on strike seeking better pay, better working conditions, and a 32-hour workweek) and jobs being outsourced to Third World countries while low paying service jobs have risen and CEO pay has literally gone through the roof. If you read some articles written by the likes of Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, you’d see the rise in income inequality and how it has affected more and more people.

So my friend wants to encourage more wondering by having a Wondering Contest. The only problem is that it’s hard to wonder if you’re worried about where your next paycheck is coming from and, if you do get some money, will it be enough to afford food, shelter, and other very basic necessities. You can’t do much wondering if your in constant worry about whether you’ll be homeless or have to file for bankruptcy or whether you’ll be able to afford to have enough food on the table to feed your entire family. It’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in action.

I’m getting more of a first-hand experience in confronting tight financial situations and trying to find paid work ever since my husband abruptly walked out on me then sued me for divorce as soon as he could. I was okay when I was married but now I feel like I’ve been treading water ever since the divorce and I don’t know if there will be an end in sight.

I get that something like a Wondering Contest can facilitate innovation and invention that can help people in the long run. But unless people can earn a living wage to feed themselves and their families, they won’t give much thought to wondering other than wondering whether they can stay financially solvent. Take a look at dirt poor countries like Haiti or Malawi and you won’t see much wondering or innovating there. Hell, take a look at the poorest states like Mississippi or West Virginia and you’re not going to see much wondering leading to innovation there either.

And nothing kills wondering and innovation faster than having a rich and powerful corporation squash smaller entrepreneurial companies—sometimes with the help of the U.S. Government. Today The Guardian posted an expose about the powerful egg lobby’s attempt to ruin a small start-up known as Hampton Creek with help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The effect an action like that have on wondering is immeasurable.

I think society needs to foster wonder so that it can lead to more innovation that benefit mankind but I think it can only be achieved if more pressing social problems like income inequality, racism, corporate domination of the U.S. government, poverty, and the ability to find jobs that pay a living wage are addressed first. Otherwise, fostering wondering in this current economic and political environment would be like firefighters focusing on saving only one tree when the entire forest is on fire. As Abraham Maslow said a long time ago:

The good or healthy society would then be defined as one that permitted people’s highest purposes to emerge by satisfying all their basic needs.

As posted on Us Magazine‘s website this morning:

An NAACP leader in Spokane, Wash., is under fire — and under investigation — after her parents claimed that she’s been lying about her race. As reported by multiple news outlets, including Spokane’s KXLY and KREMRachel Dolezal has identified as African-American, but her birth certificate lists a Caucasian mother and father, Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal, as her birth parents.

Ruthanne and Larry told KREM on Thursday, June 11, that their daughter is of German and Czech background, but was married to a black man and had adopted siblings who were African-American. They claimed she started identifying as the daughter of biracial parents following her divorce in 2004.

Read more: http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/naacp-activist-rachel-dolezal-accused-by-parents-of-lying-about-race-2015126#ixzz3crIEqvrz
Follow us: @usweekly on Twitter | usweekly on Facebook

As a white woman of nearly the same ethnic background as what Rachel Dolezal’s parents claim she is, I can get wanting to help nonwhites achieve the same equal rights that she had long enjoyed being raised as a white female in the United States. Especially if she was raised in a religious faith that emphasized social justice (like Roman Catholicism or Unitarian Universalism) or if she grew up with a close friend or two of a different race. What I can’t get is doing what her parents said she did.

I remember as a teen checking a book out of the library by John Howard Griffin called Black Like Me, which was about the few months in 1959 that Griffin, a white man, disguised himself as an African American while traveling around in the Deep South because he wanted to do an expose about the Jim Crow South at the time. But Griffin only pretended he was a person of color for a few months until he got enough information so he could proceed with his book. Rachel Dolezal continued her charade for years and still would’ve continued with pretending to be an African American had her parents not outed her.

I think it’s admirable whenever a white person can willingly put aside his/her white privilege, reach out to people of different races, and develop a deep empathy for them. Rachel Dolezal could’ve done a lot to educate her fellow whites in what it’s really like to live as a person of color had she remained true to herself and didn’t pretend to be someone that she really wasn’t. Thanks to her parents’ unmasking, her credibility is now tarnished and it’s such a shame.

Like I wrote earlier, I’m a white woman who has a nearly identical ethnic background of Rachel Dolezal (according to Dolezal’s parents). Late last year I attended the Justice For All March that was held in Washington, DC and organized by Rev. Al Sharpton which protested the brutal deaths of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and Mike Brown—all at the hands of police. Last month I attended one of the May Day demonstrations in Baltimore protesting the brutal death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police and I actually took photos of police and Maryland National Guard units wearing full riot gear with their guns out ready to shoot at any moment. (When I told a friend about this later, he was so horrified by what I said to him that he told me that I could’ve been killed.) On the Cinco de Mayo I took a walk through the Mondawmim area along Pennsylvania Avenue until I reached the intersection with North Avenue because I wanted to take photos of the area one week after the riots erupted in the wake of Freddie Gray’s funeral.

I did all these things while still retaining my white identity. Not once did I make any attempt to pretend to be an African American woman because I would’ve looked ridiculous had I done so. My features are so white that any attempts by me to pass as a black person would make me look like I had just stepped out of one of those minstrel shows that used to be popular among whites before the start of the 1950’s Civil Rights movement but today would be considered racist. Or I would’ve looked like Grace Slick, a white singer with the Jefferson Airplane, when she briefly attempted to appear in blackface in the late 1960’s as a form of solidarity towards Angela Davis and the Black Power Movement but quickly dropped it when there was public backlash against her idea.

But it’s just as well that I did these things while remaining true to myself and my core identity because I didn’t have to keep any deep dark secrets like Rachel Dolezal allegedly did.

Just saying.

Update (June 15, 2015): Rachel Dolezal has announced her resignation as head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP. I think it was inevitable given the media storm that has risen up all around her. Had she stayed, she would’ve spent more time trying to defend herself than actually doing the job that she was hired to do.

Lost among the media storm is this story that basically said that Rachel’s estranged parents are Young Earth Creationists and her father, Frank Dolezal, once worked for Creation Ministries International, whose leader, Ken Ham, also founded the infamous Creation Museum in Kentucky.

With a childhood like that, I can, to some extent, understand why Rachel Dolezal did what she did. She wanted to put her Creationist childhood past behind her in much the same way that I wanted to leave the place where I grew up, Glen Burnie, because of the harassment from the bullies and people who looked down on me like I was some inferior being who should’ve been snuffed out at birth.

But Rachel Dolezal went way further than I ever did in putting the past behind her. She actually claimed to be of a different race. That in of itself wouldn’t be bad if she had willingly done it out of a decision to honor and respect the African American community and she admired it so much that she wanted to be one of them. But there’s the issue of these police reports she filed where she claimed to have received hate mail when evidence indicated that the mail in question had never been processed by the U.S. Postal Service. Filing a false police report is a crime and could lead to prison.

Then there is the issue of Rachel Dolezal’s days as a student at Howard University. It’s not unusual to have white students attend a historically black college like Howard University. (A former white minister at my Unitarian Universalist congregation had decided to take a leave of absence so she could do some post-graduate course work related to her ministry. She said that she could’ve attended Howard as a legacy student because her late father, who was also white, had attended there back in the 1970’s. She ultimately opted to go to Meadville-Lombard School of Theology instead.) But she allegedly did it on a scholarship that was originally created for bright and talented African American students. If that’s the case, then she received the scholarship at the expense of an equally bright and talented African American person who could’ve used such financial help.

At the end, while I can sympathize with wanting to leave her past behind by adopting a new persona, I can’t go along with getting a scholarship that she wasn’t entitled to get nor can I go along with filing false police reports.

Just saying.

Update 2 (June 15, 2015): A few hours after I attempted to explain that I could understand why she wanted to leave her past behind by adopting a totally new persona since her parents were reportedly affiliated with the anti-evolution Creationist Ministries, I come across this story.

Smoking Gun report published Monday reveals that Rachel Dolezal once filed a lawsuit against Howard University for discriminating against her as a white woman.

WTF?!? I’m totally done with Rachel Dolezal and her story. This is so many different levels of fuckery that even the most expert psychiatrist in this country can’t fully unravel and heal. Then there’s this.

On top of that, reports have come out from people who said Rachel has even policed their own Blackness or their seats at the table as people of color. 3 or 4 people have come out to say they’ve had encounters where Rachel Dolezal has questioned how Black they are or whether they are worthy of speaking about white privilege in the black experience. You wanna talk about giant balls and nerve of steel. She is wearing a coat she tried on one day and decided she really liked the feel of it and then tells other people their coats aren’t worthy.  It is the pot calling the kettle unBlack and that takes some nerve and possibly some boldness that comes with white privilege.

Rachel Dolezal has totally dug herself a very deep hole and it’s going to take a very long time for her to get out of (that’s assuming that she even turns her life around). I’m totally out of here now.

The only silver lining I can see in this story is that blacks and whites can now find common ground and unite against her. Maybe this can lead to some more open dialogue between the two races and eventually America can move beyond its often complicated and poisonous racist past.

Just saying.

http://www.nablopomo.com

Previous Entries

Categories