For Leelah….

1 May

As it pertains to Bruce Jenner and his transition to being a woman, I’ve officially reached my breaking point when it comes to the ignorant comments of some of my “friends” on social media .  Whether it’s ignorance to the very real reality of being transgender or whether it is flat out, blatant bigotry and transphobia, their jokes, snide comments and crude attempts at humor ignore and diminish the bravery and leadership displayed by Bruce Jenner in coming out.  Rates of attempted suicide among transgender individuals are at crisis levels, with estimates as high as 40-50 percent of transgender individuals attempting or having suicidal ideation.  Truth of the matter is that genitals do not equal gender, sex is not the same as gender and the mental anguish that these individuals have to endure is something that cisgender people (people who’s gender and sex match) can never fully understand.  Think about those young individuals who are dying at an alarming rate because they are told they don’t and will never fit in this world.  Think about those individuals that are constant victims of physical and sexually violence because or society does not and will not learn about lifestyles that challenge our orthodox view of the world.  Think about those individuals who are told by their religious communities that they are not and will never be loved by the God that created them.  Also, think about Leelah Alcorn and why she will never live to see adulthood.  Think about how her parent’s never accepted her, medicated her and sent her to religiously fundamental “repararative therapy,”  to “cure” her. Think about how even in death, they tried to reject her and hide their own shame at having a transgender child.  When you think about all of those things, I don’t see any humor in Bruce Jenner’s transition, I see only bravery and leadership.

“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s fucked up’ and fix it.” – Leelah Alcorn (November 15, 1997 – December 28, 2014)

Dear Bill Cosby,

15 Aug

Dear Bill Cosby,

In the wake of the senseless deaths of African-American men at the hands of our police state,  I would like to revisit your  criticism of African-Americans, particularly ones in my demographic.

"Looking at the incarcerated, these are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged, “The cops shouldn’t have shot him” What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?"

Mr. Cosby, who cares why he had pound cake in his hand, it does not give people the right to take away his life.  Mr. Cosby, I don’t care if he was standing on the corner with his pants hanging down past his ankles, that does not give people the right to dehumanize him as an animal. This is proof that even a kid who was going to college  like you asked him to, can be killed just like that kid who stole the pound cake.

The message here is that our lives don’t matter, no matter how much moral responsibility we place on our community.  We are not being killed for stealing Coke and pound cake; the targets are on our back’s because we are black in America.  No amount of proper grammar will change that fact. No amount of college education can save us from the over militarized police departments and “stand your ground” proponents that claim a black life every 28 hours.  Jobs on our resume’s don’t provide padding for bullets and billy clubs.

The excessive moral standard and self hatred from people like you Mr. Cosby, ignores the history of lynchings, police dogs, water hoses and night sticks.  It puts a cute bow on the real issue and that is the devaluation of black life.  That is true for the high school dropout and it is true for that guy in DC occupying government housing; as long as their skin remains black.

We aren’t “[running] out and being outraged”  because Michael Brown lived up to any number of the stereotypes you erroneously attributed to young black men.  We are outraged because once again a mother and father in America will never hold their son in their arms.

Why I Hate My Male Privilege

11 May

Very few people know what it is to be a feminist.  There is this evil, warped connotation attached to the word,that conjures up images of angry women burning their bras and emasculating men at every chance they get.  Even with this misguided notion of what it means to truly be a feminist, I proudly proclaim myself to be one every chance I get.

I was a feminist before I knew what the word meant.  I was raised the majority of my life by a single mother and I watched her do extraordinary things that from a young age taught me that women are every bit as capable of doing the roles that society tells them are reserved  for men. Although I had male role models in my life, the one person who raised me to be a "man" was my mother.  It was through her that I learned how to be a provider, a hard worker, a protector and how to run a household, all traits that the patriarchy tells us are only reserved for men.

As I got older I took those lessons and those examples from my mother and applied them to every aspect of my life. Its because of those lessons and those examples that as I got older, I was drawn to the idea of feminism and feminist thought. Its because of those lessons that I began to despise the patriarchy and began to take the unpopular stance that women were every bit as capable as men and should be treated equally.

Although I am a racial minority, the work ethic that my mother instilled in me, never made me see myself as a victim and it also allowed me to beat many odds. Unfortunately, bucking these statistics made me oblivious to how bad the odds are for women in society and how we as men benefit from this subjugation.  I first learned about male privilege, when I was in college and I was studying feminist thought.  The idea that I received an unearned advantage in life simply because of my gender, was a bad enough idea in concept, but I really didn’t see the affects of it until after I left college.

Once I joined the work force,I began to recognize the subtle effects of male privilege and how it gave me this unfair (still unearned) advantage in the work place.  The leadership at all of my places of employment were majority male and as such there were certain unspoken "men’s only" spheres, that I later learned were affectionately called the "boys club."  I did not apply for access to the "boy’s club,"  membership was bestowed upon me simply by way of my gender.  Unaware of this I entered this sphere and began to enjoy it.  I enjoyed those lunch time conversations about politics and sports, I liked heading out to happy hour with my bosses discussing our new projects over drinks, I didn’t think twice when we met up on the weekend and caught a basketball game or grabbed some beers and brats at the ballpark.  I never thought twice about the fact that some of my female colleagues, who were equally as interested in the same activities, were never invited to these events.  Eventually at one of these early jobs the idea was floated for me to apply for a promotion.  On paper, I was a dynamite candidate for this job and I wasn’t surprised when I received the position.  It never once crossed my mind that the same people in the upper echelon of the company, were the same people who were members of the “boy’s club.”  It never occurred to me that I being a member of the club afforded me the opportunity to discuss ideas and sell myself to the power structure much more than my female counterparts.  Not only was I an active participant in the very patriarchy I railed against, i was benefiting from that system.

So why do I hate my male privilege?

Being aware of my male privilege does not make me feel inadequate or insecure about my abilities.  I still know that my abilities and work ethic (thanks mom), will open doors.  That is not the reason I despise the privilege I get from having both an x and a y chromosome.  The main reason, I despise this advantage is because of my younger sister.

When my sister first went to college she told me that I was a role model to her.  She told me that growing up, I always set an example for her to follow and that she was proud of my success in college and in my career.  How can I as her older brother tell her that even if she works as hard as I do, she may never achieve the same levels of success that I do?  How can I tell my younger sister that, all things being equal, if we do the same job she will only make 77 cents for every dollar I make?

If you ask me why I hate my male privilege, my answers to you will be simple.  I have a younger sister and I may be a father to a daughter someday.  I don’t want to bring them up in a world that places more value on their male counterparts.  I also don’t want to provide them with a world in which they have a 1 in 4 chance of being sexually assaulted and that their attacker has the privilege of having  a 90 percent chance of never seeing any jail time.  I hate my male privilege because it allows rape culture, wage disparity and gender inequality to exist.  I hate my male privilege and I want to do everything I can to make sure my sister and her generation live in a world where it no longer exist.

American Greatness in One Single Event!

9 Jan

As we welcome a new year with new challenges and new political fights.  It is this time of year, that makes me fully appreciate being an American.  Without delving into extreme jingoism and extolling the false narrative of manifest destiny, I can say that one event makes me proud to be an American .  That event is the Presidential Inauguration.

Minus the hyper partisanship of the year long election that precedes this great event, we are able to witness a true test of the values that make this country great.  Even with the bickering that permeates the election season, the inauguration even with all of its ceremony and pageantry is a great testament to the Democracy that makes this country exceptional.

Throughout history without interruption, this country allows people to choose its executive, to choose the one person who will represent them to the world and will lead them against the challenges of the next four years. Without a single gun being drawn, without a single military being called upon we are able to either change leadership or validate the leadership we already have.  Without thought of hereditary claim or sheer military might, every four years we swear in the person whom the people have chosen to lead this country. 

This year this event is special because we usher in this peaceful transfer of power on the day we celebrate the life of the man who extolled the virtues of peace and love.  We usher in the second administration of the countries first Black President on the day we celebrate the life of the the man who fought for equal rights for all men.  Let us be motivated by the drive of this president and the spirit of Dr. King to fight for the change we wish to see in this world.


“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others? Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.” –Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dear Mr. President, Thanks For Killing Democracy.

7 May

Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
I can’t remember if it made me cry
When I learned of the elections we would buy
But something touched me deep inside
The day Democracy died.

Ok, so I’m not as great a song writer as Don McLean, but it conveys the same point.  The utter shock, the utter sadness when I learned that our great Democratic system of government was murdered in cold blood.  That shock and awe was only magnified when I learned that the murderer got away with this great crime with no consequence, no recourse, actually he was celebrated, congratulated and rewarded for his crime. Farewell Democracy  you lived a good life (July 4, 1776 – July 20, 2008).

The murder of which I speak, occurred on July 20, 2008 during the height of the 2008 Presidential Election.  The murderer in question is our current President, Barack Obama.

This may sound like an over exaggeration, but I honestly believe that then candidate Obama made it easier for our Democratic system to be hijacked by special interest and corporations.  In July of 2008, then candidate Obama made the decision to opt-out of public financing for his campaign, a first for a major Presidential candidate.  This announcement made an initial splash, but the press eventually died out and then candidate Obama parlayed his successful $750 million  campaign into the 43rd Presidency of the United States.

Initially I was uneasy with the presidents decision because  he went back on a previous campaign promise to take public financing.  Little did I know that this was only the tip of the iceberg and that it would have deadly consequences to democracy and elections to come.

If President Obama’s decision to eschew public financing was the initial death blow to democracy, the Citizens United decisions pissed on its grave.  This decision now allows unlimited, undisclosed corporate financing into elections.  These two events in my opinion have severely hampered the democratic process.

This is not a partisan problem, it has consequences on both sides of the political spectrum.  Money will be spent in enormous amounts without limits or disclosure and elections will be bought, not won.

The real world consequences of both of these decisions are taking shape now for the 2012 Presidential election.  The President is already being called “The Billion Dollar Candidate” (Billion with a “B”)  and most of that money is going to come from corporate donors.  Yes the President will sell this as small donations from ordinary Americans but the bulk of that money will come from corporations (hey Goldman and G.E.!).  Its only natural that the President’s 2012 opponent will match these donation numbers, and the 2012 election will turn into one big spending contest, with no serious discussion about the issues.

This is a scary prospect because 1.) No ordinary person is going to be able to run for office in the future without being wealthy and self-financed and 2.) candidates will be beholden to the corporations that finance their campaigns (i.e the definition of CORRUPTION).

The remedy to this problem is to 1.)  place limits on campaign spending and publicly finance campaigns and 2.) disclose campaign donations.

Without these remedies, the amount of money spent on elections will continue to grow in coming years, the influence of big corporate donors will drown out the voice of every day Americans and will open up the door to corruption.

R.I.P Democracy Sad smile

Party like its…1994

7 Jan


Now that we are a few days into the 112th congress, I think it is only fitting to see how Washington and its new players fit into the ongoing soap opera that is the United States political theater.

Examine the words of President George Washington (who by the way if you cant tell is my favorite President) who stated that “domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension…is itself a frightful despotism.”  That is exactly what we are seeing play out in the 112th congress.  The new majority party in the House  has made it its priority to repeal, replace and defunded most, if not all, of the legislation that was passed by the Democratic led 111th House (spirit of revenge, much).  Just look at the first piece of legislation the new majority has proposed, the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Act” (their words not mine).   They also refuse to pass a budget, because it will block any funding from going to any of the new programs or reforms (which personally irks me because I am a federal employee) passed by the previous congress. By the way this is all  just in the House of Representatives, never mind the problems in the Senate.

The Senate is its own beast.  The Democrats held onto their majority in the Senate at the cost of a few seats.  The first thing on the agenda for the Democrats in the Senate is to reform the filibuster (aka The Tarantino, because it “Kills Bills”).  The long standing practice of talking a bill to death that you don’t want to pass, well except for that part about talking it to death, because you don’t have to stand up and talk  to stall a bill anymore.  But I digress.  This is again, “the spirit of revenge” at work.  Plain and simple, the GOP effectively used the filibuster to kill or water down, most of the legislation of the Senate, so what is the Democrat answer to that; redefine the filibuster, change the rules  to fit their needs.

So here is the scorecard.  The GOP wants to vote repeal all of the legislation of the previous congress in the house (even if it is symbolic), while the Democrats want to change the rules that worked against them in the previous Senate.  This is maddening.  The slippery slope is that congress after congress in the future  will continue to undue or change the things that worked against them in the previous congress.  One party will dig the ditch, while the other one will come behind it and refill it with dirt.   The end result, government becomes completely dysfunctional.

While these Senators and Congressmen (and women), attend their thousand dollar a plate fundraisers and sleep in their lobbyist subsidized apartments in the nicest areas of DC, Maryland and Virginia, the people that suffer from the congressional pissing contest between the Democrats and Republicans every year, are me and you.  Both parties are so busy trying to prove to the American people that their ideological beliefs are correct, that they forget to actually accomplish anything substantive that will help the American people.  While both parties are bitching back and forth on FOX and MSNBC about why the other party (and cable network) is hurting America, Americans are actually HURTING (go take a look at the deficit and the unemployment numbers).  The spirit of corruption, bickering, and the ever changing “domination of one faction over another,”  is killing this country and the evidence is the trillions of dollars of debt we have, the high unemployment rate and the litany of problems that we continually blame on people that we disagree with politically.  The political posturing by these two factions have real world consequences, because while they are fighting back and forth about who has the bigger..(cough) gavel, some soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan (or Pakistan or the million other places we send our military) is fighting to keep us safe, some single parent is hoping not to lose their job or healthcare, etc.  

Whether it’s the right or the left, liberals or conservatives, progressives or libertarians, we are all Americans and we live in one great country.  The problem is that the ever growing ideological schism in our government, is leading this us directly to President Washington’s prediction of “frightful despotism.”

Bury the “N” Word

12 Aug


Radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger, has recently come under fire over her use of the “N” word on air with an African-American caller.  In context Dr. Laura was trying to say that it is false to condemn White people for using the term, while simultaneously condemning White people for using it.

As a Black person in America, I know the legacy of that word, and I know the power that it has.  To me it is the ugliest word in the English language, and should never be uttered in any context, and any person that uses it automatically loses credibility with me.

That being said my personal views on the word, clouded my judgment on this recent controversy.  After reading the exchange and listening to the audio again, I realize that a lot has been lost in this discussion.

First, let me state that it is utterly wrong for any person to use the “N” word. Period.  Which is why Dr. Laura is not completely absolved in this instance.  That being said, Dr. Laura made a very valid point in stating that Black’s constantly use the word.  That struck a chord with me because it made me think about the Michael Richards incident at the Laugh Factory.  Despicable.  But let’s look at Dave Chapelle, Chris Rock and the litany of other black comedians that use this word for “comedic effect,” where are the boycotts against them, where are the calls for their TV shows to be cancelled, where is the backlash in the Black community. It’s non existent.  Why is it ok for a black Rap group to use the word in their name, but no ok for a White rock group to use it as a lyric in a song? The answer is that both instances are wrong.

Dr. Laura was irresponsible for using such an ugly word in any context.  But it highlights the problem that we as Black people have with this word.  We can no longer continue to use the word internally and condemn those “outside” of our circle for using it.  As long as we continue to use it, we give people like Dr. Laura, Michael Richards, David Duke, young white kids who want to fit in with hip-hop culture and any other group to use it.  It’s time, Blacks, Whites, and people of all colors to stop using this word in any context.  Only then will we bury the “N” word.

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