Tuesday, May 16, 2017

#StayWoke



While some us have been silent about what’s currently going on in America, it is of utmost importance that none of us are silenced. What is happening now is not right and as citizens of this country we were founded with the beliefs that we had the right to speak our opinions. Now on this document that gave that us these rights, i.e. the United States Constitution, it did not mention anywhere that those rights only applied to certain people…or socio-economic class of people. Let that sink in for a second. Tick tick tick… This last election was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The civil rights movement never fixed racism. That much should be apparent from anyone with observation skills and a lack of denial. As it says in the bible Mark 4:22, “For everything hidden is meant to be revealed, and everything concealed is meant to be brought to light”. Racism was swept away under a rug like dirt. Anyone who has ever cleaned a house knows that dirt swept under a rug only accumulates to become an even bigger mess. So here we are in a bigger mess. The great distraction of 2017.


In this new day and age, we are fighting a war on so many different platforms at the same time. There is so much division and strife to keep us occupied that we don’t realize what is really going on.

Distraction 1: Racism. The one good thing the election of Trump has brought us was the revelation of how racist people actually are! Now I bet some of you were shocked to find out that some of your neighbors weren’t feeling so neighborly towards minorities. What we don’t realize is that it hasn’t been so long since black people had to use a separate bathroom or water fountain. Nor has it been that long since we were putting Japanese people in concentration camps. Nor that long since we were importing Mexicans to come work for us for free. Just to mention a few… So now racism is openly out there. The KKK are openly holding meetings and gatherings while we are “powerless” to stop them. Yet still, we are still unable to peacefully protest. Or sit down during the pledge of allegiance. Or walk. Or drive. Or reach for our wallets to hand over our IDs. Or be a kid. Today all of these things that would have been hidden are now able to be captured with the technology of cellular phones and hidden cameras. Now common sense would dictate that we restructure the police force and invest in a better training program. That way we could eliminate some of the officers that aren’t able to keep their gun holstered in a “high stress” situation…like going to check on a reported noise complaint of a teenager’s party. Now in other situations where it actually is necessary to fire your police weapon...rubber bullets prove effective to stop a “criminal” without actually killing them… Food for thought.

Distraction 2: Trump. Trump is a huge distraction. He has created a whole separate entity of the “white house” to issue his own version of the news because as it stands, any truth the news is actually giving us he calls “fake news”. He has been behaving as erratic as half of us knew he would. You, not us, voted for a man without experience, without political background, without any decency/couth, without any knowledge of real American lives, and who actively uses his Twitter account…because that’s professional. He was also the star of his own reality show but that’s neither here nor there. He has actively said contradictory statements and switched up his “political” stances many times. He is a prime example of capitalism. You voted for him thinking he was thinking about you but in reality, if you are not rich and don’t make him money…then no he is absolutely not thinking of you. Or your healthcare. Oh you thought he was going to make it affordable? Well according to the long list of pre-existing health conditions even a common “condition” such as acne…which most people get in their teens, exempts them. Another pre-existing condition is pregnancy, so your own mother and wife are at a loss. Women were at a loss before the reformed health care bill when they eliminated planned parenthood which had a majority of patients there seeking affordable birth control. Mind you that at the end of this bill there is no exemption clause that states this doesn’t apply to white people or people that voted for Trump. So we are all in the same boat. Oh and he’s friendly with Russia’s communist Putin who congratulated him on his election victory. (Russia is that one country that we had that long cold war with…who has never befriended any of our previous predecessors. Just FYI.) He dropped bombs on several occasions already in different countries and do you think he is going to be the one on the frontline of the war he is trying to instigate? He also conveniently FIRED the head of the FBI…so now there’s no one to actively investigate his activities. This is supposed to make America great though? Fire anyone who could provide any checks or balances…great pick guys…yeah and he appointed a known KKK member to the Supreme Court and that guys going to be in there until he dies. So much for fairness and equality when that guy has an obvious bias towards certain people.

Distraction 3: Religious Persecution. So you ever took the SATs? Christians are to Christianity as Muslims are to Islam. Do you understand that relationship? All Muslims aren’t terrorist just as all Christians aren’t missionaries. Also, according to that document referenced above that states we are supposed to have the freedom of religion, that means anyone can worship or not worship whomever they choose. Now the freedom to practice whatever religion was important to the United States because at the time when they included that “freedom of religion” they were still aware of a time and place when you were not able to practice the faith of your choosing. You couldn’t be a Protestant in Catholic England or vice versa, the penalty? Often times it was death. So if you had ever heard of “Bloody Mary” you can probably figure out how she got her name. Now history occurs in cycles and in order to break the cycle, you have to know your history! Recall the Holocaust? That was the horrific genocide conducted by Adolf Hitler that killed millions of Jews. Jews are people that believe in Judaism. Jews are to Judaism as Muslims are to Islam as to Christians are to Christianity. Muslim people aren’t all evil. They are not a “race” of people. They all don’t “look alike” and they all don’t hate America. They are being depicted in an unflattering light that does not actually represent the reality. In fact, you may be shocked to find out they are also human just like you and like you, they have their own families that follow their own belief systems.

Here are some quick facts for you:
-there’s over a billion Muslims who live in Europe, Asia, Africa and yes you guessed it, right here in North America
-there’s 44 Islamic countries in the world
-the religion goes all the way back to Abraham…you might remember him from other religions such as Christianity and Judaism…we all started at the same place…hmmmm….interesting…


Now is the moment you have been waiting for…


The great reveal: What are they distracting us from???
-While you were busy being segregated by race and religion…they are also working to separate us by class making the rich richer at the same time the poor more poor
-They are trying to shift us away from a democracy/republic government and in place create an autocracy/aristocracy, hence the removal of any checks or balances to keep the power from being centralized
-By keeping us in a constant state of fear we become sheep, sheep are easier to control and broke sheep don’t have the resources to fight back
-By keeping us divided we are unable to come together and make any real changes or amendments to the damage/havoc they are creating, so they further intensify the divisions
-Also global warming is real… super real. When you look at the global temperatures over the last thousands of years, which scientist have deduced from ice cores found on Antarctica you will see that it’s normal for the earth to gradually cool and heat up over time but that changed... There was a drastic increase in temperature in 1945. Why that year in particular? Well that just happens to be the year that atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ever since then we have exponentially been increasing the temperature of the earth and killing the ozone layer which actively protects us from the solar radiation.



Have I missed anything else? Probably and that should frighten you. You claimed he wouldn’t have any real power/effect in your lives, you claimed he would look out for you and you claimed he was the right man for the job. Still waiting to see any progress towards “Making America Great Again” … What’s important now is that we don’t forget or get disillusioned into thinking he is just another fat cat. He is a fox. While you are busy mourning your loved ones who are killed in the streets by the police or being deported or losing their jobs/healthcare or being racially stereotyped based upon their faith, he is methodically changing the entire system so we will not be able to depose him nor cease any of the policies he has been eager to create. Money is the root of all evil and he has plenty of it to use in order to make sure things go according to his plans. It is crucial for us all to stay woke because this is only the beginning and in this instance, I would hate to be the one who in the end was able to say, “I told you so.”

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Red Light Special: Amsterdam Style



Prostitution. One of the oldest professions in the history of human culture. Recently I went to Amsterdam and got to see the infamous Red Light District. Now if you have not heard of the Red Light District . . . well let me tell you all about it! It is the oldest district in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The district is home to a multitude of sex shops, window prostitutes, sex clubs and the custom condom store. So not somewhere you want to take your children at night. Now at first when I got there, I was definitely not prepared for what was in front of me. The red windows with the prostitutes looking out at you, trying to entice you to buy a few minutes of the night. It was definitely overwhelming especially when you come from country that is so prudish and uptight. Now I have nothing against prostitution or the legalization of it but one girl in particular frightened me. She was a little blonde girl with both hands on her hips standing in the window smiling out to the crowd. She looked kind of like Avril Lavigne. Anyways, she was a great actress. Her face was smiling and even her eyes were smiling. Me and her locked eyes for a moment and that is where I got creeped out. They say the windows are the eyes to the soul . . . well there was no soul in there for me to see. Not like I go around doing soul checks or anything but looking back at me was nothing. No one was in there. Now the other women or transgendered women didn’t strike me in this fashion. They were still “human”. Just that one in particular instance I was afraid. It was like the grotesque. I couldn’t look away. It made me wonder how many times her soul had been split. Then I started thinking about what these women were like in real life? Who were they? Did they have families? So I began researching. When we think of prostitutes here we think of these women who are victimized into selling themselves because they are unable to work a “normal” job or are snatched off the street only to be forced into a life of degradation. At least that’s the story of what happens here.




When I began reading the first and second hand accounts of the lives of those people that have encountered the red light district, I began to see another face of something that people would want to demonize or abolish. The Netherlands is one of the few countries that has legalized prostitution. Not only is it legal but prostitution is a legal means of employment and those who are employed in that profession have to pay taxes just like everyone else. In fact, the red light district is one of the safest areas to be in, excluding the occasional pick pockets which you can find in any high volume tourist area. Inside the area however, there are more police officers than in the other parts of the city and often most of the ladies will hire private security or body guards to keep them safe, which is something that can not be guaranteed when prostitution is illegal. Security is so tight that you’re not even allowed to take pictures of them. No really…you WILL get shook down if you try to… Which is for the better because although the ladies are in the windows on display, most of their families aren’t aware of what they do on the side as an income. So although most people would want to treat them like objects, we must remember they are also real people with real lives. They deserve to have some privacy too! Being on display like that is also one of the most uncomfortable things that most of them have to deal with. Imagine how it must feel to be a work and having a crowd of tourist gawk at you all day while you're trying to make a living to provide for your family.

When it comes to the actual “sex” factor, I uncovered a few interviews and blogs from some of the prostitutes and it was actually quite interesting. Most clientele they encounter on a daily basis they don’t have sex with. Most are there just because they want to talk to someone, some are tourist who get too shy, some are tourist that are too drunk/high and some are there to fulfill some random fantasy they are too ashamed to asked their wives or girlfriends for. When sex is involved though there is always the usage of contraceptives. Not only that but the ladies are required to get frequent testing as required by law. When prostitution is illegal, things such as condoms or testing are not something that is always monitored or required.  That leaves room for accidents such as pregnancy or stds. Even a “hand job” in the red light district requires the usage of condoms. So when you look at it at it from that stand point it doesn’t seem so terrible after all. Regardless of the “laws”, people are going to be participating in something that has been going on for centuries. When it’s legalized there’s a more controlled area, with security, std testing and protected sex with the usage of condoms. Also when it is legal, there’s designated areas that someone can safely go participate in the buying or selling of sex.

When it comes to profession of prostitution, obviously not everyone is cut out for that job. Just like not all of us are cut out to work in any other industry such as farming or factory work, etc. Successful prostitutes are able to separate sex and love and provide a service to their clientele. From the accounts I read of people who went and purchased ladies, the women were very professional and business-like when it came down to it. Some of them have boyfriends, husbands or even kids with their boyfriends/husbands. They live normal lives outside of the red light district and just treat the job as what it is...a job. In one interview, the woman couldn’t see herself working anywhere else. How? Well for her, this position had very flexible hours, great pay and essentially she was in charge of her own business. She claims that most of the women who work the district also felt that, not all, but most. Most of them were not the "victims" that people were always assuming they were and most of them didn’t need to be “saved”.

Now although prostitution is legal there, there are still many stigmas and controversy around them and their profession. For example, I read one account of a lady that was trying to buy a house and was denied due to her profession. Some people feel that the although the government has legalized it, that it is only because they want to control It more. Then there’s the whole idea that because sex is so open and discussed that it doesn’t cause a repression in society which eliminates the cause for some people to act out in ways that may be unsafe. The Dutch have been a forefront in the world in terms of the legalization of not only prostitution but of the softer drugs such as marijuana. What we can see in terms of the results of their “radical” law-making was the decrease of not only crime but the usage of heavy drugs such meth. Also the amount of human trafficking has drastically decreased. So what first appeared to me to be something quite grotesque, after reading about it and hearing the accounts from both sides of the fence definitely opened my eyes in terms of what was actually going on behind the scenes of something that could be so wrongfully misunderstood.

I personally wouldn’t sell myself or be in need of purchasing a few minutes with a prostitute but that’s just me and I would never intend on speaking for the actions and thoughts of another. I was inspired to write a book about the grotesque but in doing the research found that there was more to that lifestyle than my first inspired idea would pay homage too. I would never care to perpetuate a stereotype that indeed was not the truth. In the society we live in now, we tend to want to hide or mask the aspects of life that make some people uncomfortable but that is not always the best solution. We have to remember not to judge others and by taking the time to really learn what it is like in the shoes of another it will open up a whole world of understanding for us all.

Below are some of the links for the interviews and blogs that I read in the event you wanted to check them out too.



Friday, April 14, 2017

13 Reasons Why: Netflix Series



There’s a new on Netflix is a show called “13 Reasons Why” about a high school girl named Hannah who kills herself and makes 13 cassette tapes to tell her reasons why she killed herself. Now at first I was a bit skeptical about watching the show because well . . . let’s face it, no one is particularly thrilled to watch a show about why a young girl decided to kill herself. Not only does this subject alone makes people tend to shy away, when you add in the factors such as age, society and bullying . . . it makes the whole thing almost too much to bear watching.

I think the show does a great job depicting the life of Hannah. You can hear her words and emotions from the tapes she had created as you watch her and everyone around her go through the different events and scenarios that lead up to her last days. You also get to see and hear the stories of the people in her life and what they are going through during and after her life ended. That in its self I found to be fascinating because you often hear the victims story so you don’t think about how complicated everyone else’s life around them is as well. It is also interesting to see the effects suicide has on the people that are effected. Not just family members but the peers that knew the person.

Another aspect of this show I found interesting was really understanding the characters in the story. It reminded of my days in high school and the people I had encountered. As children, we are often so consumed with our lives and hormones we don’t see the different sides to the people in the other cliques on campus. For instance, one of the characters is a star basketball player who always appears so jovial and social. His parents also bought him a 60,000 car so from the outside he would appear to have it all. Or there is the cheerleader with the star athlete boyfriend with all her friends who also appears as if she has everything anyone could ever desire. Obviously, they are people so have they have feelings and home lives that no one is really aware of so to see them struggling with their insecurities and struggles was a good look. There’s so many movies that tend to put these caricatures of these high school stereotypes that make these characters non-believable.

I never experienced bullying growing up but I think it’s interesting how different it has come in the last 10 years. When I was growing up, I wasn’t aware of anyone really trolling around on Myspace, Blackplanet, or AIM. Also, not everyone was equipped with a smartphone or even a flip phone so life/social media wasn’t always “on”. I didn’t have to worry about someone taking screenshots or pictures and spreading my business. At that point it’s like teens getting bullied never find any peace and are always living in that hell. Something that most adults aren’t familiar with dealing with. So the parents in the series aren’t quite able to understand the children or get them to talk/open up to them.

Now I don’t want to give a way too much but this was definitely worth watching. For young people, maybe they can find more kindness to their fellow peers, find a reason worth living, and see how their choices impact the people they come in contact with. For adults, maybe they can more understand how different/difficult is for the teenagers growing up, the struggles they have to deal with, signs for trouble teens, and maybe a way to open the dialogue so that we can prevent the amount of suicides among our younger generations. If you don’t think that suicide is a problem amongst teens, then you are sadly mistaken because currently suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death. So even if you don’t go watch this series be aware of those around you and treat them with the same kindness and respect you would want to receive in return. It’s not cool to be a bully and lashing out at others will not ease your pain.


If you know someone who is suffering or contemplating suicide below is the link for the resources to find help for them.