Tag Archives: America

[Be The Change] The Women’s March: Where Do We Go From Here

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Source: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Facebook

For the record, I’ve never once really considered myself a political personality – but in our current climate, I view it as a complete disservice to both myself and the world to continue to hold my tongue. As the clock on 2016 slowly rolled into the ever so needed New Year of 2017, many of us mused to ourselves that ‘we made it’, that the nightmare year of 2016 is over.  And over the last few days, it’s felt like 2017 has said: hold my beer, I’ve got this.

On the very first day of Trump’s new administration, any mention of Climate Change, Immigration LGBTQ or Civil Rights was been removed from the White House website. And as of today, not only has Trump has overturned both the rulings on the Dakota Access and Keystone Pipelines, but the funding for the EPA has been frozen – and as the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, employees of the EPA have been banned from discussing anything on social media or with reporters. A while back, Trump produced a list of his proposed actions within his first 100 days as President, and the actions within his first 5 days have set an ominous tone for the next 95. As a nation, we’ve found ourselves swimming in a polarized, political predicament made magnitudes worse by the gross ignorance of pockets of our population, many of which are neighbors, family or even friends.  Though I’ve found myself up in arms, both nervous and frightened by the potential of impending doom looming over the horizon – it’s also why the Women’s March this past Saturday is all the more poignant, and the movement all the more important.

We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

On Trump’s first day of office, he spoke – loud and clear, and we all listened with heavy hearts and bated breath. The next day, millions of women around the world woke up and had an equally important message for the world: We will not stop passionately pursuing human rights for all – for those of faith and the impoverished, for the physical disabled and sexually abused, the LGBTQIA community and native populations; we fight for all – for all colors, all ages, all ethnicities, all genders. Sure, in name – it was called a Women’s March – but in reality, this was a Human’s March, representing the underlying need for us to be treated equally as humans that inhabit this planet side by side. The Women’s March was a march for reproductive rights and against the defunding of Planned Parenthood; it was a march for ending violence including police brutality and racial profiling, a march for LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, disability rights, immigrant rights and environmental rights. It was a march for you, a march for your children and your grandchildren after that – and a march for the betterment of our country.

Collectively, the Women’s March was over 5 Million Strong worldwide, with half a million peacefully protesting at our nation’s capital in Washington DC – now considered the largest inaugural protest in United States History.  Los Angeles alone was responsible for nearly 15% of the national population – drawing over 750,000 into the heart of downtown as they marched their way into history, or rather – herstory.

In just the last few years, America has seen the beginnings of several great progressive movements – including Operation Wall Street, and the Black Lives Matter – generate magnitudes of national support.  But what these movements have all seemed to lack is the leadership and internal administration to push the movement forward with a common goal and a voice. So, here we sit with the Women’s Movement at the same conjuncture as with those recently passed progressive movements – and now we must face a similar question – where do we go from here?  Good news, is there are some answers.

The Women’s March didn’t end Saturday evening – and truth be told, our movement has only just begun.  Just as Trump has his actions for the first 100 days, so does the Women’s March. Meet the ’10 Actions / 100 Days’ Campaign. The first matter of business on the agenda is a call to action – urging people to reach out to their Senators and representatives and talk about pressing, pertinent issues and let them know how you‘re willing to fight for the issues alongside them.

This is not a time to remain silent, this is a time to be heard.   Be willing to call attention to important issues and have discussions – with friends, strangers and everyone in between. Find a local organization in your community and join forces, or find a national nonprofit group that fits your fancy.  Many organizations have partnered with the Women’s March and could absolutely use the assistance – some of those include Planned Parenthood, the National Resource Defense Council, Greenpeace USA, the ACLU, GLAAD, Girls Who Code, Free The Nipple, and more.  For the full list, head here.

Rise up and join the Movement – because if one man can create our current state of political unrest, certainly a group of strong, supportive women – and the men that support them – can right the wrong’s they see in the world.

Vital Links

Women’s March // National  | Los Angeles

`Volunteer // Los Angeles

March and Rally: Los Angeles // WebsiteFacebook

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[Get Political] Be The Change You Want to See In The World

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Throughout my childhood, it was implored on me that there are three things you don’t discuss with strangers: sex, politics, and religion.  I don’t know about you guys, but those are three super interesting conversations that I’m always itching to have with anyone who will participate.  From what I can tell, previous generations weren’t just closed off about what others thought, nor were they closed minded – they literally never had the opportunity to engage with other viewpoints and have their opinions changed, nor change anyone else’s. In just the last twenty-four hours, I’ve engaged in discussions in the waiting room for the doctor, in line at the pet stores and during a work luncheon – and no one has shied away; if anything – they’re enthralled. Throughout each of these conversations, I continually question why this wasn’t okay for my parents before me, and their parents before them. Were they worried they were on the wrong side of history and scared of change, facts, and knowledge?  Or, were they right in the idea that certain feelings and ideals be kept private, for a select audience of our peers?

At the good ol’ age of 31, I’ve been around to see several elections now.  When I first left the Bay Area for college in Santa Barbara, I distinctly remember how anxious and nervous both Bush campaigns made me; I was determined, albeit slightly jaded, in the idea that I could effect a positive change in the world.   Then, I remember being part of history: I remember voting for Obama twice and bearing witness to a monumental moment with our first minority president. At the time, I remember thinking at those times how important it was to be part of the electoral process and if I could, I would double down on that sentiment today.

government of the people.  From the get-go, it was clear that there was a struggle looming ahead of us – but no one was privy to just how hard it would be.  I was, and still am, a proud Bernie supporter – hell, I even wore my ‘Feel The Bern’ shirt to the polls yesterday (and to that token, Los Angeles – you’ve got your election fashion on lock). Watching the election results come in reminded me of a disappointed parent:  it’s not that I didn’t know America was steeped in racist roots or had a slightly misogynistic flair.  But in all fairness, I was hopeful.  Hopeful that people had enough personal experience to negate any external bigotry, hopeful that people could see through the terrible charade of Trump and align more with Clinton’s character, but that’s not at all what happened. Clinton by in large is considered a member of the old guard, and for all intensive purposes – it’s the reason that Gary Johnson garnered up to 3% of the vote in pivotal states – taking necessary votes away from Clinton and ensuring Trump would take the lead. Trump, though bombastic, eccentric and politically incorrect, is not.  He’s made of his families money, can speak straight to America’s diminishing, white middle class – and make minorities cringe when he says “Make America Great Again”.  But he’s different, he’s anti-everything we dislike – and there isn’t a Bernie anymore, so what’s a misguided, poorly informed country to do…right? Sigh. 

The further we push away from the election, the easier it becomes to assign blame.  If the Democratic National Committee hadn’t sabotaged their own party and conspired against the genius that is Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party could have had a chance in the election.  If the media had pulled back on their liberal bias, the public could have had an unadulterated look at our actual political climate.  If the Republican Party could have gotten their act together under a solid message, then an anti-establishment bigot wouldn’t have ran away with the election.  But, I also believe that the fault is equally mine.

As a blogger, as a writer, as a multicultural female, as an American – I deliver information in concise packages with flowery, verbose bows on the outside. It’s my duty to get the facts and information into the eyes, ears and minds of everyone around me and to that token – I feel that I’ve failed.  I didn’t get ahead of the issues, I didn’t delve into the policies or research the politics – for the most part, I had discussions in person, but I didn’t use my influence, my creative prowess, or my passion to push the message further.  So now, I have to hope that this isn’t falling on deaf ears.

More often than not, I’m met with the incorrect (il)logic that ‘One Vote Will Not Change Anything’. The fundamental flaw with that logic is dissuading people from engaging in our current political process.  One voice in a crowd is relatively quiet, but the voice of the crowd can echo far and wide. For minorities, for women – it hasn’t been an easy road.  We’ve been fighting tooth and nail for the right to be part of this process, which makes it all the more infuriating when people choose not to vote.   Unfortunately for those of us that participated, there’s a large percentage of the population that either didn’t vote, chose to vote third-party, or wrote in some asinine shit like Harambe or Hennessey as a protest vote. Granted, Snopes outed everyone’s claim that 15,000 actually wrote in Harambe – but if half the country truly did vote for Trump, it’s not that hard to believe.  Not to mention, voting for a Third Party candidate in such a divisive election, or otherwise even, is a selfish symptom of socio-economic privilege. If you’re one of the people willing to give up your vote, why not think of giving your voice to someone who can’t vote – including anyone in the penal system and undocumented workers; those options are real, and they give a voice to the people instead of taking it away from them.  It’s a right to vote, it’s a freedom – and to be quite honest, I personally wish it was rule of law.

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Beyond the President, there were several key races in California, as well as throughout the United States that I was keeping an eye on:

California

Medical Mary-J: Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em! California has joined states like Colorado, Washington, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada in their approval of recreational weed; voters in Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota voted in approval of medical cannabis and forever a black sheep of American politics – Arizona voted against.

The Death Penalty: This is why California can’t have nice things. We had a majority vote to approve Prop 66 to expedite the death penalty – but the majority also voted no on Prop 62 to repeal it.  I’m sorry, but killing someone for killing someone to prove that killing is wrong will never make sense.  In good news for the penal system, California did agree to allow parole consideration for non-violent felons.  It’s a small win, but it’s definitely a win – especially compared to Nebraska where they voted to repeal the repeal of the death penalty.

Other key California measures that passed include Prop 59 which recommends California push to overturn Citizens United, Prop 64 which requires the legislature to put bills online for 72 hours prior to a vote and Prop 63 putting background checks on purchasing ammunition, creating one of the strongest anti-gun law states in America.  Last but certainly not least, congrats to Kamala Harris for becoming California’s first African American Senate Representative.

Massachusetts

Minimum Size Requirements for Farm Animal Containment – In an effort to battle intensive animal confinement on farms, Massachusetts is joining 11 other states with bans on confinement.  The new law prohibits methods including the use of battery cages for hens, veal crates on baby calves and gestation crates for pigs.  On top of that, Massachusetts is going the extra mile – barring the sale of meat and eggs produced via these methods, regardless of their point of origin.

Washington DC

What’s better than 50 states? Well, according to the residents of Washington DC – 51.  With overwhelming support, DC voted to ratify themselves as the state of New Columbia.  The decision is now in congress’ hands.

Colorado

Last night, Colorado became just the sixth state to endorse assisted suicide in conjunction to consultations with two different physicians.

For the next two years we’ll be dealing with a Republican Senate, a Republican House and an anti-establishment President who caters to the conservatives that will be electing justices to our Supreme Court. Meaning – we have two years to get our shit together as progressives; two years to undo all of the undoing that is about to occur. Two years until the next midterm elections and four until the next presidential cycle.  As a minority, a female of color who will eventually raise a child that is also a minority, this country makes me nervous. As someone who wants to have a family in the next four years, I’m beside myself at the social climate and culture I will be raising them in. But I refuse to be anything but hopeful…adversity creates strength and resolution, and this election has sent a powerful message:

The sun is still shining, the world is intact and we’re going to get through this…together. It’s easy to throw our hands up, search for ways out of this mess and get frustrated – so instead, get educated, get active in your community and actually BE the change you wanted this election to be. Find an issue you’re passionate about, volunteer on a campaign, join a committee, organize a rally, raise your voice and be heard. 

Let this propel you to passionately pursue what drives you, use this tumultuous energy to create instead of destroy, try to understand the other instead of demonize them and we can get through this better than before. 

PS. Obama, I miss you already.

 

 

[Write On] Listen Up and Get In Formation

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We’ve started the year with two cultural schools of thought, on one hand there’s the loud and slightly ridiculous Stacey Dash phenomenon and on the other, we have the #OscarsSoWhite. So thank goodness that the Queen is back to shake things up and push us forward, Queen B that is. This past weekend, just the day before her highly anticipated Super Bowl collaboration with Coldplay and Bruno Mars, Beyonce dropped the world on it’s head with the release of her latest empowered single,’Formation’.  More than just a song, ‘Formation’ is a statement – ‘Formation’ is a movement;  ‘Formation’ is an ode to the rise of Black Feminine Energy – and it’s time to get in line.

Let me back up for a second.

After 31 years on this pseudo-green Earth, I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit that the ideas of race, ethnicity, cultural adversity and then diversity run rampant in my veins. If you are who you surround yourself by, I’m socio-culturally middle class, with a multicultural twist. Minority Report, Oreo, Chocolate Sprinkle. My nicknames say it all, but it runs deeper.  When standardized tests were distributed in school, I always took longer than everyone else figuring out which box to check for ethnicity – what if I didn’t see my box? Does that mean I didn’t matter – do I not count? Can I check more than one box?  Where do I fit in here?

The multiracial, only child of a split family, I always had issues reconciling my ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and the notion that they might invariable be two different identities were always kept at bay.  Remember Sun In? That shit turned my hair bright orange, not to mention warnings about sunscreen never seemed to apply to me.  When my dad remarried to my step mom and the three of us would go out together, people would infer I was adopted; fast forward twenty years later, and they mistake my fiance for their son.

Spot the Amanda

 

Silicon Valley born and raised, I grew up in the tiny and incredibly educated suburb of Menlo Park with my mom, and Palo Alto then Los Altos with my father. They were nice areas to be raised in and all that jazz, but let’s get one thing real for a second, they’re not the most diverse areas of the country; in fact they’re pretty monotone, sometimes painfully so. Whether it was with family, or in social endeavors, I always felt like the technicolor sheep of the family – never fitting in and always standing out.

Mentally, sonically, emotionally, I grew up in a boombox, self-identifying with Hip-hop and rap, including Janet Jackson’s anthemic Rhythm Nation 1814; but academically and socially, I attended programs where, in one way or another, I was the diversity. Whether it was attending Castilleja Middle School during the academic year, or their BRIDGE Program over the Summer, I wavered between a drop of milk in oil and a drop of oil in milk; an ever ebbing cascade of racial complexities that arose from a bi-cultural background that up until that age hadn’t been explored. Then, by the time I transferred back into Public School as a Junior in High School, Menlo Atherton High School had gotten national recognition with a center spread in ‘Teen People” as the most diverse yet segregated High School in America.

Serendipitous to consider it now, but it was around that same time that Destiny’s Child came out with their debut, self-titled album.  In a moment where I couldn’t find a cultural footing, somehow, with them, I found resonance, a voice, a mainstream media identity – or in my eyes, hope.  At 16, while away at an out of town basketball tournament, I walked into the room while several of my teammates were discussing their disgust with interracial relationships.  As I slowly sulked into the shadows, shuddering at each syllable, I faintly but distinctly overheard the words “…they shouldn’t be allowed to marry, and definitely shouldn’t be allowed to have children.”  My heart and ego sank in time as my head hung low for the duration of the tournament.  After, in an effort to reconnect to my roots, my aunt escorted me to a seminar in Los Angeles for Young African American Women; around the same time, I became a camp counselor in West Menlo Park and was quickly adopted under the wing of East Menlo Park’s more diverse subset of counselors where I became a master domino player, learned the proper way to eat fried chicken, not to mention the difference between sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie.  And in whatever down time I could muster, I buried my head in multicultural literature from James McBride’s The Color of Water to timely tomes from Danzy Senna, Caucasia and Symptomatic.

Combined, the ideas drilled in my head lead me to believe the next large sociocultural revolution would be a mixed race revolution, and we would be leading at the helm. But invariably, the events themselves, made me feel even more alone.  It was then, that the idea was finally and formally drilled into my head that there was a difference between being genetically ‘African American‘ and culturally Black.

Beyond the entertainment value, viral witticisms masquerading as lyrics and a host of regal outfits – the video  contains a not so subtle history lesson delivered with a passionate one two punch in under five minutes.  Starting with  emotional imagery and vocals that ask ‘What happened in New Orleans‘, Formation’ delves into the modern Black experience,  exploring the nuanced variety of genetic variability. Cascading through Southern cityscapes and landscapes, including estates and plantations, ‘Formation‘ offers a bevvy of emotional imagery: a cop car – and city -underwater,  a breakdancing toddler stalling a line of police with their hands in the air, ‘Stop Shooting Us’ haphazardly spray painted on an otherwise barren wall and coordinated feminine empowerment.

Imagery that grew only stronger with her performance the next day at the Super Bowl’s halftime show; decked out in gear halfway reminiscent of the 1970’s Black Panther movement spliced with Janet’s Rhythm Nation video, Beyonce urged a generation to mobilize and get in ‘Formation’.  The end result was a provocative performance of a ‘visual anthem‘ sure to live in cultural infamy.

Fast forward to three days later, and you’ll meet exactly what’s wrong with this country and could invariably elect someone as ignorant as Donald Trump; In light of the controversial dance ‘Formations’ and dress during her performance invoking the Black Panther Party, Malcolm X and supposed dissent against the police -not to mention a display of their own cultural ignorance – protesters are heading to NFL’s New York Headquarters on February 18th . Not only have people willfully avoided history textbooks or contextualizing social issues like the suffrage and civil rights movement, but on top of that their ignorance has become ego driven arrogance; and I’m not sure what frustrates me more – an echoed rhetoric that minorities, especially women, are only here to entertain and not educate, or the idea that people are more offended by the message of the song than the actions that drove the creation of this performance.

I’ll be the first to admit that I never paid much attention in my European History classes and found most of my United States history courses beyond boring; but when it came to the Civil Rights Movement, I had an uncanny desire to devour all available knowledge. And I know this: The Black Panther Party was made of revolutionaries that fought for a culture that had been undermined for their entire cultural history to be recognized as equal.  Yes, they were born out of the failed non-violent Civil Rights Movement of MLK Jr and Medgar Evers but the movement didn’t promote violence, it promoted fairness while protecting the community from the racist behaviors of others while simultaneously pushing citizens to police the police – an idea that is still echoed in today’s society.

To the calls of it’s Football and not Hollywood, last time I listened to Sportscetnter I got a whole earful about girlfriends and wives, houses and style; things that invariable have jack all to do with competitive sports.  And now, we’re taking a critique to a traditionally all white variety of Halftime Entertainment.  So for a second, let’s talk about the NFL.  Let’s discuss the amount of sex crimes and prostitution rings that are cracked down on during high profile games every year, the egregious amount of drunk drivers that get into accidents leaving games or the fact that from start to finish, NFL games are riddled with advertisements parading the US Military as a revered enterprise. Yet a five minute segment that gives weight to a population more often misrepresented and underrepresented in mainstream media receives a bevvy of backlash? It’s time that people get their priorities in formation

A Moment of Reflection

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Every generation has a moment they remember with lucid clarity, as if each of us were immediately transported back in time.  The emotions, conversations and physical interactions with people run through our veins.  We still get goosebumps.  It was still yesterday.  For those that are older, there were the Gulf Wars, Vietnam, MLK’s assassination, JFK Jr’s assassination, Pearl Harbor day….the list truly goes on and on.  For my generation, it’s today.

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When I woke up that day, it was to a phone call from my best friend – I will never forget the terror and anguish in her voice; I asked my mom why she would let anyone ring me so early in the morning and with a solemn wave of the hand, I was given the remote so I could turn on the television in my room.  “Which channel, momma?” But it didn’t matter, it was the only thing on TV – a tower, standing so strong and tall, burning from the inside out.  As I grappled with what I was seeing, together – my mom, my best friend and I – watched as the second plane hit.  I was angry, scared, and confused; as a generation, we tried to put the pieces back together but we couldn’t make them fit.

My first class that morning, the second week of Junior year, was AP United States History.  The teacher, a stickler for rules and outlines, put down his notebooks and erased our chalkboard.  I had always considered him a stoic man, with a dry wit and a nice smile.  His eyes spilled out sadness, even though there were no tears.  His voice, a powerfully calm voice, swept the room – Today, there is no lesson…because today is the lesson.  This class is about the thorough examination of American culture over time; but there is no use in discussing history while we are in the process of making it.

We will never forget.  We will never forget that what tore us apart as a nation also brought us together.  We will never forget that we are all brothers and sisters working toward a common goal of increased awareness and human community.  We will never forget that we have each other.

And we will never stop making history.