Race in America. Part 1 of ?

I wouldn't have it any other way.

About a month ago, on February 26, 2012, a 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed. Sadly, as a black/African American boy/man, this isn’t surprising on the surface – it happens far too often in the US. This case, however, was a bit different than prior cases – it made it into the media. Whether it be by way of social capital – the class background of his parents – or the glaring injustice, after a few weeks, the story finally trickled into mainstream news and the incident that happened in Florida was featured on one of my friend’s Facebook posts, where I learned of it (in New York).

The details of the case are shady, at best. Afterall, Trayvon is dead and cannot account for his side of the story. George Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon, made many claims as to what happened that night and even as of late,

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Dear USA: About that mid-life crisis

Dear USA:

July 4, 1776 - Declaration of Independence

July 4, 1776 – Declaration of Independence

Happy 237th birthday. It has become apparent over the last several decades, particularly within the last two, that, at the hands of those in power, you were creeping upon a mid-life crisis. It seems that it is in full-swing at this point. Instead of buying an expensive car and getting a divorce to shack up with or marry a younger woman, those (predominately white middle and upper-class heterosexual men who are over the age of 55) in power have thwarted the very definition under which you were founded and exist.

Just over eleven years ago, “We the People” allowed for fear to overrun our desire for and constitutional right to Freedom in lieu of the passing of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001). The sections within this piece Continue reading

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Girls become women: Breaking social norms – how to do it

Read this: How to talk to little girls

At younger and younger ages, girls are (overly) body conscious, so much so that they worry about getting fat at age three… yes, three. With so many unrealistic social messages about women’s bodies, it’s no wonder we have an issue with unrealistic body expectations.

We (“Western” nations, particularly the US) live in a society where women are often judged and judge themselves by what they look like. We need to do everything that we can to subvert and change socially prescribed conversation topics. We need to change the way that women view their bodies (and the way that men view women). What we tell our children early on and what they hear us say about ourselves and others, really does matter. The earlier we start, the more likely we can make lasting change. Continue reading

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The New Yorker, Bert, & Ernie: Man friends

hey bert

“Hey, Bert. Want to talk about masculinity?”
“Gee. Masculinity? What is masculinity, Ernie?”

An upcoming issue of The New Yorker (pictured right) will feature Bert with his arm around Ernie, who is leaning into Bert while they watch a really old television with rabbit ears, which shows on it an image of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

The Defense of Marriage Act was just partly overturned and Prop 8 was found unconstitutional. These are things to be celebrated, for sure. As much as this image makes me smile and makes me happy, I also find it incredibly problematic.

Bert and Ernie have been roommates Continue reading

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Diamonds: Pulling the wool over love’s eyes

Last week I read an article that summarized all that is wrong with the diamond industry fairly well. Dhar wrote “Diamonds are a sham and it’s time we stop getting engaged with them,” for Business Insider, where the lack of investment of this refined rock was explored, as well as the history of its ride into the limelight and wedding “necessity”.

Workers at government-run mine in Sierra Leone panning for diamonds in water/river.

Workers pan for diamonds at a government-run mine in Sierra Leone. Al Qaeda is known to have made millions of dollars from the sale of diamonds mined illegally by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone. Chris Hondros/Getty Images (From http://money.howstuffworks.com/african-diamond-trade.htm)

However, one of the most convincing arguments against a diamond, in my opinion, is that the preservation of life is worth far more. Blood Diamonds, a book by Campbell (2002), explored the history of De Beers’ exploit of Sierra Leone diamonds and the resulting “conflict diamonds”. People literally die in order to bring diamonds to a jewelry store near you. Somehow the concept of a death rock does not say, “I love you,” to me.  I cannot wrap my head around those two concepts (death and love) peacefully coexisting. (I do know several people who have opted to purchase used rings or stones. To be more socially responsible, Continue reading

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Fighting and finances: Airing dirty laundry

I came across an article this past week that spoke to me and pointed out something to me that I hadn’t considered. I’ve always known that my disdain for money was linked to growing up as a working-class kid with parents who fought every Friday, as that was the day the bills were sorted out. The article on my mind, One Indicator Of Massive Credit Card Debt Is How Often Your Parents Argue About Moneytalks about how college students are more likely to carry credit card debt when they grew up with parents who openly fought about money.

I’ve thought a lot about this article since I read it. Today I have been thinking about it quite a bit. You see, I’m “supposed” to sit down and pay my bills today. Continue reading

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One hand in my pocket…

and for many of our Congressional members, the other one seems to be thwarting the Legislative branch of government in the US.

dc_capital_lobby_080225_mn-thumb-250x187-1352

“Follow the money…” (All the President’s Men, 1976). Image from Open Secrets.

I will be very pleased when the day comes – if it ever does – when money does not rule the process of voting in Congress. However, for now, “capitalism is the devil’s wet dream” (DiFranco, Serpentine, on the record Live at Carnegie Hall, April 2002), and Gabby Giffords, former Democratic representative from Arizona, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times to that effect, “A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip” (Giffords, New York Times, April 17, 2013).

In light of these events, rather than Continue reading

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“Shot rings out in the Memphis sky…”

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photo shoulder and up of Martin Luther King, Jr - in color - green grass in backgroundOn this day 45 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. In the interest of this day and what it and Dr. King’s life represents – in my opinion, the continuing need for progress toward understanding and equality – here are links to some history about Dr. King and for access to his speeches and works.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute

Snippets of speeches by Dr. King (NPR)

Various other speeches/writings by Dr. King

Quotes and access to “The Purpose of Education

May the dream live on…

(the title of the post is from the U2 lyrics to “Pride (in the name of love)”)

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The “not on my bucket list” list

(Note: Apparently this needs a warning to not read before going to sleep. This is particularly true if your dreams are easily influenced.)

There are many things that I’d really like to do at some point in my life and are on what some call a “bucket list”, these include going to Ireland and Australia, skydiving, and many other things. However, there are also some things that are on my “anti bucket list”… things that I am happy to NEVER do.

  1. Go on the Grand Canyon Skywalk. The older I get, the more I seem to be afraid of heights. I can still climb a tree and be happy and feel safe… but having little foundation under my feet, or the illusion thereof, scares me to no end.
  2. Being near (you know, within running or swimming distance) a wild Continue reading
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Counterintuitive Protection: A “child’s” perspective

“She wanted to kill me. What did do? I was only a child, an infant at that, merely eight months old! Did I cry too loudly or too often? How could the thought enter her mind?! How could she actually pull out a knife? She’s my MOM!Does she even want me now?

Those were the thoughts and feelings that frequently flitted about my mind the first several months after my mother told me about her homicidal thoughts toward me as an eight-month old infant. It was one of those things that you much rather go through your life not knowing: the ole proverbial TMI – Too Much Information. But then again, she had to get it off her chest to alleviate some of her own guilt. I cognitively “got” that part relatively quickly, but the emotional understanding was much harder to come by.

My mother suffered from postpartum psychosis Continue reading

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