[Be The Change] Understanding the Ukraine Crisis + How To Help

Street artist MyDogSighs

Every so often, a world event hits us in such a wide eyed way that we have to dive down a rabbit hole of history and education we’ve delicately put to bed. Maybe it’s been the onslaught of chaos in the world these last few years that’s pushed you away from International affairs. It’s a lot. Or, maybe history was never really your thing. Admittedly, that’s what I thought – first in High School, then in college. It wasn’t until about 2008 that I came to terms with the depth of the reality I was living in. I realized that to prevent the past from becoming the future it’s my due diligence to understand the full story of humanity.

This is a story that’s happened before, and if we’re not careful – it very well could happen again. Our world is a reflection of the self, and our understanding of the world – doubly so. Good news is that it’s never too late to dive in; it’s never to late to educate yourself.


So, how the hell did we get here?

All things considered, the digestible timeline here is the one you have the time to stomach. If you thought “haven’t we been here before?” You’re damn right. It simply depends where you want to drop in on the wealth of Kremlin inspired misinformation and massive Russian influence.

Rewind back to the 2014’s Ukrainian Crisis – where some could argue, that the fighting simply never stopped these last 8 years. Or, you could look at 2004’s corrupt and Russian influenced Ukrainian elections which ignited the Orange Revolution and a massive shift in geopolitical rhetoric. Or, go further: back to 1991, when Ukraine – the second largest country in the former USSR and the second largest country in Eurasia – claimed it’s independence. Or, there’s the historical plight of the Jewish communities throughout the region that have gone on for centuries. So, let’s break it down:

December 1991: After the USSR was dismantled and the Soviet Union fell, the Ukrainian people voted for their independence.

1994: Ukraine agrees to make themselves a non-nuclear power, and the country transfers their nuclear arsenal of weapons to the Russian Federation in the Budapest Memorandum. Signed by the UK, Russia and the United States, The memorandum states that all parties agree to honor the sovereignty of Ukraine, and their right to the land. The total payload given away was 1,900 warheads – the third largest stockpile in the world.

2004 Election: During the 2004 election, there were two distinctly different candidates – both named Viktor: Russian sponsored Viktor Yanukovych and the western-oriented Viktor Yushchenko, who was suspiciously poisoned before the election. No surprise here that Yanukovych won – however, the Ukrainian people called bullshit and took to the streets wearing orange, the campaign color for Yushchenko and inspiring the Orange Revolution. Eventually, a re-election was forced where Yushchenko was finally proven to be the true winner.

Spring 2008: During a NATO summit, Putin opposes then eventually prevents Ukraine from joining. Remember this, as NATO itself is the military alliance between the two North American Countries and 28 countries from Europe.

Winter 2014: Well, who could have imagined, Russian sponsored Viktor Yanukovych was elected president in 2010; now, he wants to point the nation of Ukraine to reconcile with Russia. Widely considered a controversial move, this is one of the straw’s that started the 2014 protests along with the timely arrest of Yanukovych’s political opponent Yulia Tymoshenko. Ultimately, Viktor flees to Russia and puts Ukraine in a progressive position to discuss its future with the EU.

Spring 2014: The Russian military forcibly takes the Crimea, and essentially breaks all vows made in the Budapest Memorandum concerning Ukraine’s independence, as well as their borders.

Spring 2019: Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the current man-crush of the free world, is elected president of Ukraine on the platform of ending ties with Russia, as well as eradicating corruption from state government.

December 2021: Over the course of the year, President Zelenskyy has made good on his promises to get rid of government corruption, making moves against all Ukrainian oligarchs with Pro-Russian influence. By December, Putin places Russian troops at the Ukrainian border in addition to calling on NATO to deny Ukraine future admittance

February 2022: Russia announces they recognize the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states from Ukraine, and sends in Russian military personnel. These two regions have been hotbeds of separatists since the 2014 conflict. Eventually leading to full out engagement by Russians and the invasion of Ukraine from those provinces.


Whichever way you go back, you eventually have to bring that knowledge forward which gets us to where we are today. International timelines have been expedited and the global economy has been put on notice. Ukraine has become a stage, and Putin wants to put on a one man show; for Europe, and for the world. One of the biggest threats to both Putin’s Russia, as well as his legacy, is a unified European Union; through Putin’s actions and the events of the last two weeks, that unification has become a self fulfilling prophecy. Nations around the world are freezing assets of high value players, while countries like Norway, Finland and the notoriously neutral Switzerland have picked a side.


The world has lit a candle to drive out the darkness of this terror- here is the international response level:


We all have our own sorted reasons for the things that move us, the things that drive us and the things that open our eyes. On a personal level, my Jewish family line comes from modern day Lithuania, formerly the Eastern Block of Europe. For more of my life, I’ve been regaled with harrowing family stories of pogroms – where the translation from Russian is “to demolish violently”, of escaping SS persecution in a wheelbarrow before coming to America, and escaped persecution for being Jewish; and I full well know my story isn’t unique.

Take or make some time to reflect on the privileges that you have and the freedoms that you have -and remember: an injustice somewhere is an injustice every where. Right now, more than ever, it’s important that our global society stands up – and stands together. Whether it’s a small act of service like supporting local Ukrainian businesses and artists, learning the Ukrainian language or buying Ukranian – there are ample ways that we can show our solidarity to the Ukrainian communities both domestic and abroad.

I’ve spent the last few days compiling lists…of…well…other lists. If you’re looking for resources to help you understand the latest international events, or simply show support for Ukraine during this uncertain time, here are some things to get you going.


[📚 Read] For all the education we can glean from reading the news, there are some books I’ve seen recommended time and time again to understand the brevity of the Ukrainian situation. As well as a few other blogs, websites and Reddit forums I greatly recommend browsing. They’ve helped me broaden my horizons as well as deepen my understanding of the past that’s brought us here, as well as the future implications of current events.

Why Is Russia Invading Ukraine

Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine [Anne Applebaum]

Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine [Anna Reid]

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine [Serhii Plokhy]

All The Kremlin’s Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin [Mikhail Zygar]

r/Ukraine on Reddit

[Foreign Affairs Magazine] How to Understand the Ukraine Crisis


[📞Engage] Call your local politicians and ask what they are doing to show their solidarity and support for humanity; ask your employeer to make a public call to action. I was proud to be a Washingtonian last week when our governor Jay Inslee spoke out with his support of Ukraine, and I’m a proud Acosta employee today as they made a formal statement to their employees.


[💸Give] There are dozens of international organizations that are pledging their support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people; if you have the ability to share more than just your time and your heart, please pledge some support to one or more of the following agencies.

UNICEF

International Committee of the Red Cross

UN Refugee Agency

Doctors Without Borders

International Medical Corps

State Specific: Ukrainian Association of Washington


Please remember that though these acts of war and acts against humanity have come from Putin’s Russia, they are not indicative of how the Russian people think or feel. In fact, there have been loud cries from its citizens for ‘No War‘, whether it’s via social media or written on a camera during a televised tennis match. Take care of each other, take care of yourselves – and slava Ukrani.

Flag: Ukraine on Apple iOS 14.6

[Be The Change] The Dangerous Precedent of Georgia’s Voter Suppression Laws

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Since America’s inception, the right to vote has inherently been a focal point of our society – because time and time again it has disenfranchised parts of our society into not having a representative voice in government, and the inability to push for actual change. Even though the original constitution didn’t formally establish voting rights, or ineligibility, we are still at it’s core a country founded by White, Christian Males; thankfully, we have opened up our voting system to finally include minorities, the youth, women and our African American population.

One thing I’ve discovered in the here and now – when there isn’t a law in place to actively progress society, facets of society will use that space to push back even further. That said, with new legislation, came a trove of new pushbacks coupled with a new vitriol; with new change, came those who inherently rejected that change and have done almost anything they can to make it null and void. So, pull up a seat, grab some popcorn – and let’s travel back in time for a little history lesson before we get into what’s currently happening in Georgia.

The U.S. Constitution

After the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment formally abolished slavery. Laying the groundwork for the Civil Rights activism that we’re still in the mix of in 2021, the Fifteenth Amendment is a pivotal point in American society and culture – granting the right to vote to men of any color and was subsequently passed in 1870, As a country founded on the backbones of our African American brothers and sisters, it was tantamount to the evolution of the Reconstruction era of American history once slavery had been eradicated.

Next, finally passed on May 21st, 1919, and then certified on August 26th, 2020 – the Nineteenth Amendment took almost a decade of protesting to pass; and specifically prevents and prohibits the federal and state government from denying the right to vote based on gender. At the time, it brought in approximately 26 million American women to vote in the 1920 presidential election. Unfortunately, this still left the door open to prevent giving minorities the right to vote because by in large – it was an amendment duly applied to White women, which spurred the National Women’s Party to begin their work on the Equal Rights Amendment. However, every time it seemed like we were taking two steps forward as a country, we still had to negotiate with the one step backwards.

In 1962, the Twenty-fourth Amendment was passed – eradicating the poll tax. Yes, there was a tax to vote – and primarily a way to keep the poor, minorities and women from being able to participate in government. Primarily used by Southern States of the former Confederacy, the poll tax was a reaction to the Democratic Party gaining strength and seats in state legislatures. Unfortunately, there were several states who refused to do away with the tax – including Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi and Virginia. It wasn’t until 1966 for the Supreme Court case of Harper versus the Virginia Board of Elections that the poll tax was made formally unconstitutional.

The Politics Of Passing 1964's Civil Rights Act : NPR
Image: NPR

Through it all, the South did an unfortunately impeccable job of upholding Jim Crow laws. Brought to the forefront by the White Southern majority, the Jim Crow era of laws essentially doubled down on racial segregation and racist policies throughout the South on state and local levels. These laws were put in place solely to prevent and dissolve the economic, societal and political gains made by African Americans in the post-slavery era. Slowly, over time, these laws were dismantled. Starting with the 1954 Brown versus Board of Education trial where segregation in schools was formally deemed illegal, Jim Crow laws were formally done away with in the 60’s with the one-two punch of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights act of 1965.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is in itself an incredibly crucial piece of legislation. Not only did it formally outlaw discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin – and now, sexual identity and gender identity; the Civil Rights Act established laws surrounding segregation – forbidding racial segregation in schools or public accommodations, employment discrimination, and most important to our current discussion unequal voter registration requirements. Piggybacking on the Civil Rights Act, as well as the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was created to ensure that racial minorities throughout our country, but especially in the south, would be guaranteed the rights to vote – making literacy tests and the like illegal, and preventing discrimination against language and racial minorities.

Last, but most certainly not least – we fast forward to 1971 – and the Korean conflict, and various Vietnam wars where we’re drafting soldiers into battle yet denying them the right to have a say in government. This brings us to the Twenty-sixty Amendment which prevents states from denying the right to vote for those over 18.


Image: FiveThirtyEight

All combined, these small changes in policy in addition to the monumental amendments of grandiose importance have made it possible for millions of disenfranchised Americans to participate in their own government. However, In the absence of federal legislation concerning elections, it’s up to the individual states to establish their own qualifications; and hence the rub.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is understanding that blue states aren’t vastly more progressive than red states but that red states do more to disenfranchise their communities more than anywhere else. And thanks to current state level legislation, it feels more and more like we’re heading back into eras of voter suppression within predominantly White communities than ever before.

In 2018, NPR penned an article citing that almost half the United States had implemented restrictions on voting – noting that some states require a photo ID, which could be seen as a nuanced version of a poll tax, in addition to both Ohio and Georgia championing what’s considered “use it or lose it” legislation – essentially purging voters from participating in elections simply if they haven’t recently been part of them.

“You’re seeing a national effort by the Republican Party to try to restrict voting rights, and it’s playing out in states all across the country.”

Ari Berman, Author of “Give Us the Ballot”
Since the 2018 gubernatorial election all eyes from the nation and from the citizens of Georgia have been glued to the polls and the subsequent election resuts.

Paired with the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby County versus Holder which permitted states with long history of discrimination to bypass the federal government in discussion for changes in voting laws, Ari Berman of Mother Jones believes these are part of a bigger strategy by the GOP to restrict voting access. When the 2018 mid-terms were underway, these laws were brought to the forefront of many discussions – especially with Georgia in the mix.

Though there are dozens of states, with hundreds of pieces of legislation on the table – Georgia is the first battleground state to pass such restrictive voting laws in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

There’s a reason that Stacey Abrams is coveted so much by the BIPOC communities of Georgia. There’s a reason that everyone was so keen to get into the kind of ‘good trouble’ that John Lewis was referring to. There’s a reason our country was on pins and needles with the run-off races in Georgia, and why so many of us were championing for, donating to, and elevating Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff for their senate seats.

With their latest litany of legislation, Georgia’s GOP is actively pursuing a campaign against minority voters. As of the other week, Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp signed #SB202 – an almost 100 page bill into effect after being passed in the state house and senate. Some key points to the legislation that was passed. It standardizes early voting on Sundays. This is incredibly important in Georgia primarily due to the vast amount of campaigning, busing and voter turnout that African American Churches bring to the table – making it unnecessarily difficult for the African American Democratic population to participate.

Additionally, this same bill would limit the number of drop box locations in the state, cuts back on the time to request an absentee ballot, pave the way for unlimited voter challenges, require photo ID for mail-in ballots and last but most certainly not least prohibit the community from handing out water, drinks of food to anyone waiting in line to vote. And to boot, the Georgia Democratic Representative Park Cannon – a young, vivacious, openly queer and Black Representative elected just this past year – was arrested…simply for knocking on Kemp’s door because she was concerned about the legislation. Enforcement officials (…currently) are adamant that they arrested Cannon because they feared another January 6th Riot, and arrested Cannon on the charge of “obstructing law enforcement and disruption of the General Assembly”.

At the end of the day, it’s become unfortunately clear who and what the American government, as well as the American police, are propping up – and what they are actively working to dismantle. They are trying to dissolve our greatest strength, our differences and our diversity. As a society, America is a stained glass window built off of thousands of unique pieces, perspectives, and peoples. We each have our individual truths, but the fact of the matter is – we must pull back to see the biggest picture, we must view us as one whole America; not within the fractional window of White, male privileges and pride.

One thing I’d like to leave you with – we are not done enfranchising those who do not have a right to currently vote. Many states have a residency requirement, making it difficult for the homeless population. In almost every state, prisoners – current, or former, do not have the right to vote. Our country will not be free, until we are all free to participate within it; we will not be inclusive, until we include everyone.

“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”

John Lewis
Getting in Good Trouble. Remembering John Lewis - National Association of  Social Workers Michigan

How to Help in Georgia

Donate to the Georgia Democratic Party

Donate to ActBlue

[Glow Up] Extend Your Education Beyond the Classroom

The 50 great books on education

Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” ―Abigail Adams.

There are traditional routes for higher education, but in light of the recent events, like COVID-19, college admissions scandals, UC Colleges dropping the SAT / ACT requirement, school’s delayed reopening, and the like – traditional routes might not be the most fruitful or effective learning methods anymore. As more and more people find the solace and mental space to work from home, it’s a great time to consider what else you can do from home and evolve into.


On a personal level, I’ve been with my current company going on a decade, and though I’m content with my Bachelors of Science in Applied Statistics – after being in the work field for so long, there are simply some aspects of the craft that had fallen by the wayside. As the adage goes – if you don’t use it, you lose it; and it’s doubly so when we’re talking about our innate depths of knowledge.

Though I had picked up new applications and industry knowledge – I simply felt I was lacking in other areas of thinking about business and the corporate world at large. As I forayed from my former role to where I currently sit, I wanted to hone back in on analytics, as well as learn a thing or two about both accounting and economics. After some thought, and a bit of pushing by those closest to me – I made some money moves, and was blessed to have been accepted into the January 2020 Cohort of Harvard Business School Online. Fast forward to now and I’m a proud certificate holder of their CORe curriculum. Down to my core, I am so thrilled to have actually taken the plunge into higher education and can’t wait to amass even more knowledge.


The Meaning of Being Educated. Education is an ancient topic aging… | by  Lucien Griffin - Student | Voices | Medium

With infinite options and opportunities – where does one even begin?

With the ample amounts of downtime we’re all suffering from – there are ample paths to take, all of them leading to learning. So whether you’re trying to refresh your skill set, wrapping your head around something new and acquiring certifications or the pure and unadulterated pursuit of higher education – there’s a path for you. If you’re game to learning, but don’t know where to start – decide if you’d like to build new skills, or brush up on old ones. Then start doing some basic searches online to see what’s worked for other people, ask a friend, a colleague, or a peer at work. And you never know, some jobs will offer to even reimburse your schooling – however, mostly with proof of good, passing work. My suggestion would be to find a subject you care about, at an institution you respect – it makes for a great working relationship, and you’ll truly get the most out of your future education!


Due to quarantine and COVID safety, many of us have turned to remote learning over the last year. First things first, we have to face the facts: Long Distance Learning is a bit like being in a long distance relationship; either you’re really good at personal accountability, communication and your loyalty – or, you’re not. Plus, the classes aren’t exactly cheap – you’ll have to put up a pretty penny, or a few, to get your brain fuel. Good news though! The end result is that you’ll be well learned, have honed in on old skills while building new ones, and have proven to yourself that you indeed can handle that challenge – but just know that along the way, there will definitely be a few bumps and bruises.

Almost all accredited universities have an online learning component with digital departments for each and every one of us. This past year, I wrapped up my first online certificate course through Harvard Business School Online and their CORe program where I dove into Econ, Accounting and Analytics; and I’m SO thrilled that I did! I made connections, and not just between coursework and my work life, but social connections that I’m happy to have created this past year. Other institutions I was considering were: Stanford, University of Washington, UCLA Extension and Syracuse.


Image result for college classroom

One thing I’ve discovered in my older age, is that going back to school isn’t always the best fiscal decision; I often wish I had studied something else during my time at University, even picked up a minor or a second major. But, hindsight being 20/20, I’ve realized there are other ways to supplement this type of learning! In that glorious time of life before COVID, you could physically walk into a classroom and simply audit the materials. You wouldn’t have the luxury of testing, or some of the reading materials, but you would be set up for learning success by being in the ether. There are some great online resources for those that are still resigned to staying home – some of my favorites are: edX, the brainchild of MIT and Harvard; Class Central, General Assembly Free Fridays, and Coursera at least for a moment was offering free courses for college students.


Image result for classroom

For Washington residents, did you know that our state is fucking rad? Trick question, of course you did – it’s why you’re here! When I applied for my library card, I was over the moon because I realized that with your Seattle Public Library Membership you get a free Lynda subscription; FREE! (and, if you’re not a Washingtonian, you can also get one by signing up with Linkedin Premium!) Lynda hosts all sorts of digital learning, from Photography and Photoshop to Microsoft Suite and Access, to programming with C#, Python and JAVA. Meanwhile, Washington State Library’s Microsoft Imagine Academy is dolling out free access to amazing tech learning software from Microsoft that covers applications, data science, IT, web developing and computer science.


“If you think education is expensive, try estimating the cost of ignorance.”
— Howard Gardner


What uncommon routes, courses or classes have you taken to give yourself an educational glow-up as an adult? Let me know in the comments below!

[Be The Change] Why ‘Defund The Police’ Isn’t As Radical As It Sounds

With the perseverance of the 2020 Black Lives Matters movement, I’d like to focus catchphrase that has everyone up in arms – defunding the police.

👊🏿👊🏾WHAT does it mean to Defund The Police? 👊🏾👊🏿

First, let’s just start with a few simple definitions – first, let’s just talk about what it is for something to be defunded. From the Cambridge dictionary, to defund is to stop providing the money to pay for something.

With that out of the way, now we need to focus on the matter at hand: what does it mean to defund a public community service, funneled by our tax money? I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure every person who pays their taxes deserves to know where the money is funneled through – regardless of the programs. Schools, hospitals, transportation – all get defunded, all the damn time; but, we still have them as public, societal programs.

We’re not saying eradicate and abolish the police, or decline to fund them entirely – we’re asking that communities, cities and states take a harder look at both where the funding for their police, their training and their equipment come from and the proportional rate of funding compared to other helpful civic functions – public housing and assistance, education reform, child protective services. We’re asking for a reinvestment of Black and BIPOC lives.

Rob Rogers | Defund Police

Now, we could probably try and chant “re-evaluate and redistribute our tax money through better channels of public service than a racist police force because it’s killing people“, or we could shorten it to “Reform the Police“. But let’s face facts, those slogans simply aren’t as persuasive, powerful or conversation starting as a protest march thousands of vibrant faces deep in a beautiful display of the complexities of the human condition, screaming “DEFUND THE POLICE” in unison.

• In 2019, the police murdered 1098 US citizens

• Black people were 24% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population.

• There were only 27 days in 2019 that the police did NOT kill anyone


👊🏿👊🏾WHY are we asking to defund police departments?👊🏾👊🏿

Our current police system is rigged against Black and minority communities, and needs staunch and inherent reform from all directions. From the salaries of those at the top, to the training – or lack thereof – for new officers, and the vast stockpile of militarized weapons police forces are receiving.

“…we have everything from office equipment, clothing, tools, radios. But then we have some pretty heavy-duty things, things like armored vehicles, assault rifles, grenades and something called a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP), which was invented by the Department of Defense as a counterinsurgency strategy to be able to fight IED attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Karim, Marketplace Morning Report

If you’ve watched any of the protests at all, you’ll notice LRAD cannons and tanks, armored vehicles and oodles of tactical gear; a stark contrast to what we’ve seen the medical community supplied with in the wake of COVID-19. Since moving up to Seattle a year and a half ago, this city has become a new home to me – and because of that, I’ve taken a vested interest in how our city has been handling the protests. Statistics provided are from USA Today.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 115896358_10108235282075537_2139149364256992582_n.jpg

Population, 2018: 744,949 (20th most populated city in the US)

Police dept. funding as % of total budget, fiscal year 2020: 27.2% (5th largest out of 50 largest cities)

Total police budget for fiscal 2020: $409 million (17th largest)

Total city budget for fiscal 2020: $1.50 billion (19th smallest)

Law enforcement employees per 100K: 262 (123rd highest out of 634 cities with 65K +)

Total law enforcement employees: 1,954

Violent crimes reported per 100K in 2018: 680 (111th highest out of 634 cities of 65K +)”


👊🏿👊🏾HOW does defunding work?👊🏾👊🏿

The actual, literal act of defunding is simple, it’s just not easy: all you have to do is reduce spending to the department while moving that money to social services better suited to assist the entire community. Here’s the rub – to get there you have to go through policy makers and politicians; the same ones who are potentially bankrolled by part of that same budget you’re asking to diminish.

How Much Do U.S. Cities Spend Every Year On Policing? [Infographic]

Defunding the police does not necessarily mean getting rid of the police altogether. Rather, it would mean reducing police budgets and reallocating those funds to crucial and oft-neglected areas like education, public health, housing, and youth services. (Some activists want to abolish the police altogether; defunding is a separate but connected cause.) It’s predicated on the belief that investing in communities would act as a better deterrent to crime by directly addressing societal problems like poverty, mental illness, and homelessness — issues that advocates say police are poorly equipped to handle, and yet are often tasked with. According to some estimates, law enforcement spends 21 percent of its time responding to and transporting people with mental illnesses. Police are also frequently dispatched to deal with people experiencing homelessness, causing them to be incarcerated at a disproportionate rate.

via @thecut
Don't Understand #DefundThePolice? Here Are 8 Online Activists and  Resources That Might Help - BUST

Our educational system is in disarray, many districts using outdated text books or without enough materials for all students. There isn’t enough job training for the unemployed and homeless communities to get them back on their feet, nor are there enough resources to bring citizens out of homelessness – even though there are thousands of high rent apartments that are empty. Our veterans aren’t taken care of appropriately when they return to the states. Mental illness has run amuck and there could be a vast focus on that for the betterment of society.

Each one of those functions is something that has been defunded over time, and each one of those could use reinvestment – let’s face it, that pseudo-utopian version of the United States would be beautiful, with education, access and housing for all; we could actually make America great again. Not to mention, that providing those social functions would help eradicate the future need FOR MORE law enforcement.

👊🏿👊🏾WHO would step in to... 👊🏾👊🏿

In the US, the police deal with far more than just crimes – they also deal with civil disputes, mental health issues, drug abuse and overdoses, as well as family disputes and domestic violence calls.

Let's Talk Defunding the Police in Canadian context - Canadian Cultural  Mosaic Foundation

In each of these situations, an officers lack of diversity or community training can be costly – when you’re a Black American, they can also be deadly – as we’ve seen with Jacob Blake. One look at the infographic and it’s painfully obvious that many of the reasons behind crime are wound up in mental health; and by in large, that’s something that we do not tackle as a society – drug use included; if we had better funding for programs aimed at curtailing drug additions, as well as an end to the drug war – which by in large targets BIPOC communities as well – our society would get back on the right foot again.

In lieu of police serving more social functions with no psychological or sociological background to assist them, we could send in trained mental health professionals; for non-threatening emergencies, we could simply rely on the same EMT crews that are dispatched for car accidents.

👊🏿👊🏾WHEN? The time is NOW. 👊🏾👊🏿

With the Breonna Taylor verdict, or non-verdict, on all of our minds – I know people are angry, upset, outraged. We’re taking to the streets, we’re demanding change – but what we need to do is demand it from the right people. That isn’t the President, or the Executive branch – it starts with your local officials for your city, for your county – and for your state.

Find your local officials here.

We need to remember to vote not just every four years, but every year for state office and every two years for congress. Register to vote, double check you’re registered and if voting by mail or absentee be sure to turn in your ballot as far ahead of time as possible.


Do your own research on local and state government, and truly try to understand how they’re spending their money. How are you going to be a champion for the people today – how are you going to ensure that Black lives not only matter, but are an equally important and integral part of our gestation as a nation? Which side of history are you going to be on?

Hands on Wisconsin: What does "Defund Police" mean? It's complicated |  Opinion | Cartoon | madison.com

[Be The Change] The Modern Perpetuation of American Racism

Protests over the death of an African American being arrested by Minneapolis erupted into violence.

Take a little trip back in social history, back to when the slaves were emancipated and went off to find their own land to call home; as a people – we were taken from a continent, had many native rites, traditions and languages extinguish – and then forced into a world where we were considered 3/5 of a person, then to where we weren’t allowed to own property, open a bank account, vote, go to “good” schools in “good areas”.

Fast forward to now, and these ideas have compounded with dangerous ideologies – those that protect and serve, protect and serve the majority. There is no equality, and most of all – there is no equity. Before the Civil Rights movement, Compton was supposed to be the new African American utopia – it’s why my family moved there. In the Civil Rights movement, we saw an uprising of people who were done with this indoctrination – and it was brought down by those who were supposed to protect and serve them; guess what: we’re seeing it again.

The agenda being set up, is one that is supposed to discredit and decimate the “legitimacy” of a group of people who are asking to simply be treated as HUMANS. The destruction of property is not the destruction of a people, or a community; but if what’s valued are capitalist ideals, then this sends a message – one that historically, and unfortunately, has not been listened to. And if I have learned ANYTHING from my history classes, it’s that we are doomed to repeat our mistakes until we learn from them.

So, what have we learned this week:

1. Protesting your rights to “wear a mask” and “go back to the beach” because you’re bored is fine, but protesting the human right to be treated equally somehow is not.

2. Former Presidential Candidate, and potential Vice Presidential nominee Amy Klobuchar oversaw multiple cases involving said officer, and declined to prosecute.

3. The ex-officer that was arrested has been charged…but only with third degree murder / manslaughter. This should have been second degree, or a hate crime. We’re literally saying that the death of George Floyd is no different than selling someone bad drugs; racism and ignorance are not a “bad drug” – they are detrimental mentalities which lead to the destruction of human life, vis-a-vie second degree.

If you’re curious on formal definitions – and given that 1st degree involves pre-meditation, this is how it breaks down in Minnesota:

2nd Degree: Any intentional murder with malice aforethought, but is not premeditated or planned in advance

3rd Degree Murder: Murder is not based on having the intent to kill. This charge may also result if a person sells bad drugs. The maximum penalty for murder is up to 25 years in prison.

Manslaughter: any killing committed as a result of recklessness. (also, Recklessness: lack of regard for the danger or consequences of one’s actions; rashness.)

4. Our President can somehow pull up random quotes from historical racists but somehow doesn’t know who Frederick Douglass was….oh, right, and he’s inciting a larger race riot by literally saying “LOOTING LEADS TO SHOOTING”

5. During this morning’s show, the CNN crew reporting on the events live were arrested on air by the police – let that sink in. That in America, where we pride ourselves in free speech – the police came in and took the whole crew in. What type of message does that send?

Finally: “A riot is the language of the unheard”

If you have never felt that you needed to protest, take to the streets, and raise your voice simply to be heard as an equal: Congratulations on whatever incredible privileges life has awarded you. Are you your brother and sisters keepers? Do you realize that a rising tide raises all ships? Then shape up and wake up to the realities of the current moment.

[Reading is Sexy] Catching Inspiration with ‘The Net and The Butterfly’

Oftentimes, the mind likes to play tricks on the heart, dolling out various forms of creative comas; for me, these generally come in the form of writer’s block.  Somewhere, in the back of my brain, I’ve deemed my sentences as pedantic, my metaphors aren’t juicy enough, my epiphanies aren’t anywhere near novel or the syntax resembles that of a kindergartners.   This is all fine and well if you’re not trying to make a name for yourself in the creative sector, or a living off of being a writer; but for the rest of us, well, that’s a horse of a very different color.

Enter: The Net and the Butterfly.

For all the times I’ve started a blog post and let it sit on the back burner, created a cover letter that I’ve then torn to digital shreds, or haven’t been able to put my finger on a press release, The Net and the Butterfly has released me from my anxieties of incomplete creativity and put me on the path for success. The brainchild of authors Olivia Fox Cabane, who penned The Charisma Myth, and Judah Pollack of The Chaos Imperative, this is perfect resource for any and every individual that’s looking to innovate their mental state and put a fresh spin on their success.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking for their next big break, or need a simple kick in the ass to get a project started – this is the book for you.  Take charge of your creativity and catalyze your inner momentum with engaging exercises, apt anecdotes to get your head spinning and solid solutions for whatever is sullying your sanity.

Hypothetically, you could finish this book in a single sitting – it’s wonderfully written and mentally probing, if you do it right; but by doing so, you’re  not doing yourself any huge favors, and you’re probably cutting corners by not marinating on the mental floss the book has given you. Pace yourself properly and really digest what you read by getting through one, maybe two, chapters a night and actually doing all of the exercises, you’ll be surprised by what works for you, and you’ll could be so immersed and enthralled in that new reality that you might just carry it over to your day to day life, maybe without even thinking about it. So whatever your vocation, or trepidation, is – The Net and the Butterfly posits some great knowledge and reignites the creative flame; and I’m speaking from personal experience.

For more on The Net and the Butterfly, head to the official website – or if you’ve caught the vibe and want more, snag your own copy on Amazon!

 

[I Can’t Breathe] A Mixed Message

Confusion rains down in waves, stemming from an ocean of emotions that well up in your bright eyes and rush through your veins, your tangled hair mirrors the modern tangled state of affairs we live in while the complexities of modern society beg your outlying community to define you and defile you, place you in a neat little box for the comfort of those that surround you.  

We exist in a country founded by our lightest of skinned forefathers, yet America was never meant for us – we’ve built this country on our hands and knees, with our blood, sweat and tears; yet, America was never meant for us.  It’s an ideal that was struck into rock and yelled from the mountain tops as true and sacred – the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness –  but that was never meant for us; constitutional amendments granting us security, sanctity and safety protect our white brothers and sisters, but that wasn’t meant for us, either.  Us – the others, the colored, the separate; us – the multicultural and different, the dichotomized and the disenfranchised; us – the stolen nationalities and original tribes of this land.

In my 31 years on this planet, I’ve always understood that to be intrinsically different from the people who founded and funded this country would never be easy – but we’re currently living at a time that could rival what was started in the 70s.  For the millions that can be shoved into a box on a standardized test asking if we’re “White”, “Black” or “Asian” – there are millions for which world isn’t black and white in the way we’re treated; nuances exist for us on a sliding scale of grey that ranges from biracial, multicultural to polyethnic.  We’re different, and we know it.  We’ve existed in a continuum of absolutes which we refuse to abide by – not “cultured” enough, yet not “white” enough, curious why Sun-In turns our hair orange and our freckles multiply in the sun; we’re on the outside looking in and on the inside looking out, trying to make sense of an upside down world that we didn’t ask for, and that our children will have to ascribe to. One of the few, if only, truths about being of mixed background is that your children will be too, as are their children, and our children after that; one of the only other truths, is that the world will treat you apart from its whole. 

We live in a world where people are more comfortable with the differences of others if they can label them or put them in a societal ‘box’. Mixed children have always raised an inquisitive eye by society but the good news is in the last few generations, America has become an incredible mixing pot for multitudes of races, ethnicities and cultures, opening eyes, hearts and arms to a kaleidoscope of colors. As someone that’s lived through it, the best thing you can do is have an open dialogue with your kids when they get to an age where they can really understand their heritage and how beautiful it is – because truth be told, it will always be a conversation piece of dialogue. Especially now that a new Civil Rights Movement has emerged.  It’s been lurking behind us for years, if not decades, while remnants of the original movement swept under the rug during the age of the Vietnam War have slowly resurfaced. The rights we fought so hard to attain, the equality that we worked so very hard for – they still have never really been our own.

And now, halfway through 2016, we’re bitterly basking in an awkward afterglow of our cumulative mess. Just half a year has gone by, yet our American cops have killed upwards of 590 civilians – the same people that are entrusted with helping and saving our lives, the same people we are told to implicitly trust with the rules and regulations of our society.

Waking up this morning, I was overcome with a range of emotions, from determined to hopeful, to downright terrified. I’m hopeful.  I’m hopeful because adversity has never stopped us, and it won’t now.  I’m hopeful because change has needed to come for a long, long time and I believe we have it within our reach to actualize it.  I’m hopeful because I have another day to make a difference in the world and fight for what I believe in. But I’m also scared. I’m scared because the rate of racial intolerance is exponential, because there are so many that quite obviously are not living freely, because my brothers and sisters of minority races all over this country are fighting to be treated as equals and fighting so the second amendment actually applies to them instead of only to our lighter skinned peers, I’m scared that a family member might be the next victim, and I’m scared because the same police that are supposed to protect and serve are the ones taking lives of those they’re supposed to be protecting and serving. I’m scared because it’s not a minority versus police issue, it’s an everybody versus the police issue that the media has swept under the rug – that the media is building into a race war and I’m scared because the American population is letting it.

There’s a line that’s been drawn in the sand, and I’m scared because I don’t know where we go from here. Being bi-cultural and black has amplified my feelings even more, especially when the shootings and lynchings are reminiscent of a time that I thought we already made it through and now it’s clear that the civil rights movement was only silenced, not won.

Am I white enough to pass? Or am I black enough to get shot? Questions I never thought I’d have to ask but here I am, wondering what my life’s worth on paper.

Hate does not drive out hate, only love can do that; fear does not drive out fear, only love can do that. But the hateful and afraid are the ones ruling our country and acting out, and they will until we can bond together, forget our skin colors, ethnicities and creeds and love each other;  we need to raise each other up, instead of holding each other back – and we – we the darker skinned, we the less fortunate, we the impoverished…. – we need our friends, peers, brothers and sisters of all origins to realize that for us to survive as an American society or an American community, we cannot hold our equals down and we cannot ask them to take less than what they deserve.

We need to use our voices and our intellect to educate the uninformed and ignorant, we need to rise up as a people and say “this is not working; fix it.” We need to systemically fix our judicial system and change the tactics used by the police. The police need demilitarized weapons, and they need training in multicultural awareness, racial tolerance and empathy. As a community, we need to vote for and elect our policemen the same way we do for politicians – and we need to hold them just as, if not more, accountable.

We collectively need to right the hundreds of wrongs done by our forefathers and theirs before them, but we have to do it together because we’re all we have and this world is all we’ve got.