Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blog Action Day 2014 - Inequality

 Blog Action Day

You knew it was coming. Let's talk about it: Being Black in America. And Yes, this is about race, just to clarify. And no, I'm not tired of talking about it, I'm tired of having issues to talk about. And you should too. As part of Blog Action Day I address the Inequality Black Americans may face in the world that is a problem we ALL need to work on fixing.

I love this quote by Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Tons of people have written pages and pages of commentary on Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and countless other cases where unarmed Blacks have been killed or shot because they 'looked suspicious' or 'fit a profile,' when they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and racially profiled. I am not here to debate the legal system or discuss those yet-to-be-closed cases in depth. What I am here to do is to convince those of you who do not see what the problem is or disagree that there is a problem that there is inequality for Blacks in America. You can substitute other minority racial groups and I'm sure there might be a similar case, but here, we are specifically discussing Blacks.

Let's start with money and education.  It may seem fair to think that two 18 year olds coming out of high school in 2014 will have the same opportunities, whether Black or White. With the same GPAs, same activities; it may all come down to finances. And that is a problem in the USA. Because while all may appear to be equal there is at least 100 years difference in the opportunities. Between the US declaring its independence (1776) and the abolishment of slavery with the 13th Amendment (1865), and really the Civil Rights Movement and the 14th Amendment in 1965, there is a significant gap of who may have been able to have certain opportunities and/or jobs. So one 18 year old may be the 5th or 6th generation in their family to go to college, meaning they have 5 generations of a higher income, and likely savings for college. The other 18 year old from a minority group, may be the 1st or 2nd generation to go to college. If they don't get a scholarship, they may not be able to afford to go to school.

The financial differences spill over into the social status: living in the city vs the suburbs, or deciding to stay at home with the kids or having a dual (or single) working family. Helping a child with homework, being able to attend their little league soccer games, or just keeping them out of trouble are factors that come into play based on socioeconomic status. This is not a pity party; you can certainly overcome circumstances. Sometimes. If you know that other options exist. And this is where the media plays a part in the inequality. The ratio of fast food restaurants in urban areas (where minorities tend to live) is astounding compared to those in suburban areas. Drive through a high urban area and you will most likely see billboards for joining the military, which is fine, but not the only option for an inner-city kid. Kids aught to be told they can be a lawyer, a doctor, an astronaut, an engineer, a chef, a President; wherever the sky leads, but society tends to limit those in certain places. And so kids grow up, and they only know what they see.

A Spiral Effect
The 80s Black Is Beautiful movement was just the beginning of everyone accepting that all shades of skin color are beautiful. We are still fighting the subtleties of the good cartoon characters being a lighter shade than the bad characters. We only just celebrated having a Black princess in The Princess and The Frog (2009) and there was unnecessary uproar when one of the characters in The Hunger Games (2012) was played by a Black actress. Seriously? Half of the problem is the issue itself: years and years of inequality. But nowadays, the other half of the problem is the fact that some can not see there is a problem. And that, is dangerous.

I'll leave you with a few more examples of the subtle inequalities that we need to be aware of.

  • The little old lady grabs her purse a little tighter as a Black kid walks by
  • Being followed in a store, as they pretend to offer you help
  • A jewelry store attendant leaving the diamond necklace in the case for the Black customer but taking it out for the White Customer. 
  • Gossip that the Black employee only got the job to fill a quota. or the student didn't properly earn their admission into college.
  • Looking down at someone who decides to wear their hair in its natural form
  • Telling someone born in America (where English is the official language) that they speak English well. Isn't that redundant? Why wouldn't they?
  • Waiters purposefully seating Black patrons at the back of the restaurant near the kitchen or bathrooms
  • That there's one Black student in the class of 50 in college
  • The media always asking one person for the opinion of their entire race

We are not able to fix a problem that we don't know exists. The absence of knowledge is ignorance. I hope that my first-hand observations make you at least think that there is indeed something that needs fixing. And let's fix it!

Please share your comments below. Let's talk about it!

**This is such an expansive topic, that I haven't even covered the top of it, but hopefully I've given you a thought-provoking essay and you can continue researching on the topic.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

BBD - on Relationships

(Continuing with the Bible Broken Down series, here is my paraphrasing from a sermon.)

Sermon 6/1/14
Pastor John Adolf
Antioch Baptist Church (Texas)

Reverse Can Be A Curse
1 John 2:19

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. (NIV)

Sometimes we do things we know we shouldn't too. Some of the tears that you cry are your OWN fault. The scripture says If they were really with us, they would not have left us. But since they left us let them leave. This is for the single people out there. Stop chasing people who do not want to be with you or who leave you when you need them. Four principles of a relationship:

1. If they left you they were not supposed to be there anyway. Love yourself so you can love others. Don't be a mop, broom, dustpan, etc. but tell them that "Because I love me, I can't let you treat me like a prisoner." Let. Them. Leave. Too often time we go after the ex or if we are bored we call up an old friend that had deserted us. Stop doing this to yourself. You deserve better than someone's crumbs, if that.

2. If they left you, their part in your life is over. What's behind you is comfortable. But it's behind you for a reason. if you are holding on to your past you will never graduate to your future. God will not stop you from putting the wrong people in your life. Some of the people in our lives you just have to say to yourself . . ."I put them there." God will let you do it until you submit to Him. Some people's role in your life is meant to be short . . . Don't make it long!!

3. The lesson they've taught you've caught, so move on. Relationships will take you to school. Some people that you like don't like you. If they don't like you when you are broke, they won't like you when you are rich. Learn the lessons, then live the lessons you've learned. Doesn't make sense to flunk the test over and over. Use your notes!!!!! Stop dating the same guy/girl but with a different name. If someone lied to you or was crazy, jealous, or a cheater, recognize the signs and don't do it again.

4. If they don't leave, the promise will not come out. Mr. Right can't come if Mr. Wrong is holding up his spot. Your windshield and your rear view mirror show two different things. Don't go in reverse. That can be a curse.

Let Jesus be there for you and have faith that things will work out.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lighten Up

Perhaps someone has called you crazy when you tell them your great idea to solve world hunger. Or maybe you had lofty goals of running a half-marathon and your leg cramped up at mile 7. Time after time of these things happening you may think that its just not in the books for you. But the truth is that you need to lighten up the expectations you are setting for yourself and allow yourself to enjoy the ride there. Running a half-marathon with little or no training will absolutely set yourself up for failure. Why must we always try to boil the ocean? The minute you do your research about the training regimen for running long distances, set realistic goals and push yourself to accomplish those smaller, menial tasks, the closer you will be to accomplishing what you though was your impossible. If something has been done before then it's not impossible, but sometimes we think it's impossible for us, aka 'your impossible.'

As part of the #FedUp Challenge, I recently gave up added sugar for 10 days. Now, anyone who knows me knows how much I love candy and small drops of deliciousness. But I really wanted to go ALL IN and give it a try. In my younger years this would have seemed impossible, but today, I realize that it's not that hard, and in the big scheme of things 10 days is not an eternity. So I got some friends to join for support, and set up my menus and for 10 days I gave up things that I normally would have eaten like Ice Cream, and Chocolate, and the occasional Soda. Besides the obvious benefits of living a healthier diet, this really gave me some perspective on what it is to try. People often set lofty goals at the beginning of the year to lose weight or to do more of X and less of Y, but then when you ask them in December what they did to accomplish that it's very vague as to why it didn't work. Perhaps they joined a gym that wasn't realistic to go to after work or they honestly were not willing to do the things it would take to not have all of the foods that they like.

The first thing to Lighten Up is to be realistic. If you want to bike across the country you must first own a bike, and secondly you need to know how to ride it. If you never save money in your budget to buy a bicycle, than you've already sabotaged your plan. But if you give yourself permission to accomplish smaller tasks and not just the main one at large, than you would have the following on your list:

  1. Purchase a Bike (and accessories)
  2. Learn how to ride
  3. Map out route
  4. Join a bike group
  5. Ride 4-5 miles per day for a month
  6. Ride 30-60 miles per week for a month
  7. Stretch, Eat Healthy, and Exercise
  8. Etc

Not only are you making your final goal realistic, but you are also giving yourself tiny milestones along the way that you can feel good about, so you are less likely to say this is 'your impossible.'

The next thing to do to Lighten Up is move quickly from your un-successes. This one is tough because you never want to feel as though you have given up, but sometimes changing the audience or the way in which you do something is the key to moving forward. A person could try to open up several businesses, but if they don't get customers then they are just pouring money down the drain. Starter costs will be incurred in any type of new business, but sometimes your just have the wrong product in the wrong city, targeting the wrong audience. And you have to be ok with trying different techniques, and finally calling it a wash and starting over.

Thirdly, you have to always remember your motivation. You are going to have to do things that you don't like, no matter how much you love your job or task. If you are opening up a dance studio you are going to have to deal with angry parents and learn how to make the financials add up every night. If you are trying to lose weight you will sometimes be sore after a workout. Starting your own business you will lose money upfront. Going back to school, you will have to study again and have homework and tests. Qualifying for the World Cup (which is going on right now!!!) you are going to have to practice more than you've ever wanted to.

Failure is such a dooming word and concept that we are afraid to even START things because they are our impossibles. But if we Lighten Up about how to accomplish these things and stop trying and just do, we will be setting ourselves up for much more success. Never let people deter you from your dreams, and never let fear keep you on the bench. I love Yoda's saying of "There is no try, just do and do not." Make a conscious choice to 'do' and set up realistic ways for yourself to get there. Lighten Up a little and have some fun along the way.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Everything and Nothing - Fitness and Nutrition

There's a lot going in my head these days. A lot of Everything and the calmness of Nothing. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about my greater purpose and what else I am here (on Earth) to do. And left and right other outside events have occurred which only validate the path I am following. Owner of the NBA Clippers made some racist remarks which only fueled a fire on social consciousness and how, no matter what the product or idea is, we, as the consumer, have so much more power than we are utilizing. Peaches are showing up left and right and I am having to remember that not everything that 'falls' into your lap is for you. The wrong thing can be made very easy to do when it's wrapped up with a bow at your doorstep. Use discernment to determine if it's a gift or a trojan horse (c'mon 5th grade greek anthology class!).

And the latest event was a headache last week. I finally pinpointed the cause with some trial and error and with the help of google, determined it was caused by sensitivity of a tooth. Anyhow, that got me doing some research and I'm thinking I want to try the remineralization of tooth enamel through nutrition. There's some fascinating articles out there, but if you think about it - if someone breaks their arm, they put it in a cast and in a couple of weeks or months the bone repairs itself. Your tooth and bone are the same material, yet we've been trained to handle this with a drill. Anyhow, I'm very curioius to how this would work. Most of the websites reference a study done by Dr. Westin Price, and also this book: Cure Tooth Decay, which uses 3 main lifestyle changes: Remove Sugar, Remove Phytic Acid, and eat Raw Dairy and Nutriedn Rich Foods.

Great, I have some ideas of where to start. But what to eat and what to buy at the grocery store? I am not the type to want to figure my menu out for 3 hours and then go to the store for another hour then come back and cook. So, I was trying to figure this all out when I saw a lot of the nutrition surrounding this referenced the Paleo Diet. Bamm! There you have it. Aside from fruit (and you all know how much I love fruit) and cod liver oil (yuck, but I guess I will have to have) the remineralization techniques and the paleo diet are pretty spot on. So, I guess I'm giving this a whirl.

I ran The Biggest Loser Run/Walk on Saturday (5K) so I'm still on leftover energy from that, so this all fits in on being healthy, staying in shape, and creating a better nutritional regime.

So, wish me luck!! Ordering the Paleo Book now :)