Monday, January 18, 2016

Why People of Color Should Vote for Bernie Sanders Over Hillary Clinton

With the Democratic nomination for presidency tightening between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and with a few weeks to go before the February caucuses, I would like to pitch in my 2 cents. 

Imagine that you are a person of color (POC). You reside in a home located in the backdoor to a large factory that spews nitrogen and sulfur oxides, arsenic, and lead, among other pollutants. You put on your work shoes, finish your last bite of a home-made peanut butter jelly sandwich, and rush out the door to your 1993 used Honda Civic. Once outside, you immediately breathe in the air pollutants, not because you want to, but because you have no other option. You pull out of the driveway, and head on your way to work. Suddenly, you see flashing lights in your rear view mirror, to see a cop car signaling you to pull over. So, you pull over. 2 cops step out of their Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. From your side mirrors, you identify both cops as white males. Both have their hands on their gun holsters, ready to draw their Glocks at any moment's notice. They arrive at your car, and demand to see registration and license. You show it to one of the cops, who heads back to the cop car to run some checks. The other cop tells you to step out the car, put your hands on the hood of the car, and starts to handcuff you. Your heart starts to race. You have no idea what is going on. You have a squeaky clean record. You ask, quivering, "What's going on?! Why are you arresting me?!" The cop tells you aggressively to "shut up!!" The other cop comes back from the squad car, and begins "searching" through your vehicle. The cop then pulls out a small plastic zipped bag from his pocket that appears to have some sort of white powder nearly filled to the top. You scream, "That's not mine!! I don't even do drugs!!" With nobody around to videotape and witness the arrest, you have no legitimate recourse. Instead of going to work to punch in your hours, you get booked. Instead of coming home from work and enjoying a home-cooked meal, you do jail time. When you come out of jail, no one will hire you because of your criminal record. You have been forced into a systemic cycle of oppression. 

Given Hillary Clinton's plans on tackling gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform, along with her voting history, and her accepting donations from corporations, I can clearly picture the above scenario to occur habitually to POC with a 2016 Hillary Clinton presidency.
 It appears that Hillary Clinton does not support the end of civil asset forfeiture, civilian oversight of police departments, feedback and contribution from civil rights activists and leaders, laws on allowable use of force, and reducing funding to police departments that do not make progress toward policing reform. Truth be told, Clinton's proposed policies seem to very well make an impact, but may only put a dent in the system. Due to her stances on these aforementioned issues (and more), Clinton's policies, to me, seem to be more and more band-aids on a never-healing wound.   

Now, imagine again, that you are a POC. You live in a neighborhood, sharing the same block with a diverse group of individuals. You step out of the front door of your house, and take a heaping breath of fresh air. You smell the fresh grass, you see one butterfly courting another butterfly, and you smile happily as you trot towards your 1993 used Honda Civic. Absent are the polluting factories. In place of them are sources of renewable energy. As you drive off to work, you wave to your community police, Alex Doe, who is riding along on a bike. Alex Doe has been a neighborhood police for the last 5 years, and knows the history and inner-workings of the neighborhood. As you see Alex fading into the distance, you can't help but feel safe that you are in good hands.

Given Bernie Sanders' plans on tackling racial justice issues (including supporting the aforementioned policies that Hillary Clinton seem to not support), along with his voting history, and his civil rights activism and morally consistent actions since the 1950's, I can vividly picture the above scenario to happen in neighborhoods across the nation with a 2016 Bernie Sanders presidency. Bernie Sanders' proposed policies may very well be the beginning of the break down of institutional racism, systemic oppression, and white supremacy. If his civil rights policies do not produce desired results, I feel confident that Bernie Sanders will work with civil rights activists and leaders to enact policy changes that will uplift POC and intrinsically heal broken wounds.

Beyond Bernie Sanders' racial justice platform, the following are Bernie's other policies that may benefit many POC's life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. As you read the following, think about how each of these policies might affect you as a POC and your community.

  • Bridge the income and wealth inequality
    • raise the minimum wage to $15/hour (including enacting paid family and medical leave, and universal childcare) 
    • ensure the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share in taxes (including closing tax loopholes, imposing the estate tax, and tax on Wall Street speculation)
    • bring outsourced jobs back to America
    • invest in youth jobs program to help the youth climb the economic ladder
    • expand social security
    • strengthen unions
  • Make public college education tuition-free, so we can afford higher education and move up in the economic ladder
  • Reform the way the political process works by reforming campaign financing, so each and every one of us has a voice and a vote that can be heard
  • Instill Voting Rights Act and make voting easier (including making election day a national holiday)
  • Combat climate change, so that people do not have to succumb to living near environmental hazards
  • Create fair and humane immigration policies, so families can stay together 
  • Fight for equal pay for women
  • Fight for LGBTQ rights
  • Ensure healthcare for all (including more affordable prescription drug prices) 
  • Break up big banks
  • Support organic farming 
Bernie Sanders' vision of America is a near-identical embodiment of that of Martin Luther King Jr. Bernie Sanders is instilling massive enthusiasm in the American people and is surging in momentum every single day. We may only have one chance in 2016 to elect a president who will fight for POC, who is committed to righting the wrongs for the past 200 plus years, and who will work hard to make America work for everyone. 

Don't just take my word for it. Do your research. Be politically educated. And engage in the political process. 

How you can help

If this post resonates with you, please, share it with your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and strangers. Also, with the February caucuses coming up, please go to Bernie Sanders' website to find out how you can help the early caucus states nominate Bernie Sanders. After all, a presidential candidate like Bernie Sanders may come and go like a flicker of light. 

Who will you vote for, and why?

Friday, January 8, 2016

My Experience Coordinating a PowerBall Lottery Jackpot Pool

With the $800 million Powerball lottery jackpot drawing on Saturday, I decided I need to get a piece of this action! So, I asked people at work if they were interested in pooling our funds together to purchase the tickets in order to increase our already minuscule odds at winning.

Hot Dough: Hollywood: Take Notes From The Walking Dead

Basically, the game plan goes like this. Say, 50 people chip in $2 apiece for a total of $100, which gets us 50 entries (1 entry is $2). So, instead of going solo and having my chance at 1 out of 200,000,000, it's now 50 out of 200,000,000. Yeah, I  know. Like that extra 49 entries are going to help.

I get it. But, I am a half-full kind of guy, so having 50 chances is better than just having one chance. And who knows, if we get that winning ticket, I'll be the last one laughing.

So, anyway, back to the original point (sorry, I got a little sidetracked).

I got a few coworkers to participate, whom got excited and reached out to other coworkers, whom were mostly white. We gathered a good number of participants (don't even ask me how many, 'cause I lost count). A brief while later, I bumped into one of my coworkers, a Black woman, in the break room, and asked if she was participating in the Team Lotto pooling.

Her: What?! I wasn't notified of the lotto pooling.

Me: Really?! (How did nobody not include her on this grand opportunity?! I mean, the other coworkers who I told first who went to tell others happen to reach people who were basically sitting all around her. I mean, left, right, up, and down the aisles. I was so surprised.)

Me: Well, I'm glad I reached you, 'cause it's not too late. (Then I described to her how we're going about this.)

If we were to win the $800 million lotto and had not reached out to our Black coworker that day, she wouldn't have been able to cash in on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm glad I reached out to her, and that she's in Team Lotto.

At the end of our conversation, I couldn't help but wonder if, during the course of our recruitment process, we somehow reached out to white people in preference to Black people to join in on Team Lotto.

And more importantly, on the larger scale, how often are Black people overlooked for opportunities that they could have obtained? Team Lotto? Job opportunities? Promotions? Pay raises? Apartment rental approvals? Offer being accepted for a home? Dating? Modeling contracts? 

What can we do, as a society, to be more inclusive of  Black people, so that they too, can join in on the fun of a pooled lotto, even if we don't hit it big? 

As an Igbo proverb says: 
"If I am in heaven, then my brother has no business in hell."

P.S. - If you win the lotto, what are the top 3 things you would do?  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Asian Fathers Value Their Darker Skinned Daughters

My insides do flips and somersaults when I see Asian dads with their darker skinned children. One time, Brooke and I were shopping at Walmart, and I saw an Asian man in his 30's pushing a shopping cart with his dark skinned, coily haired daughter in the flip-up child seat. He was like Dwayne Johnson in The Pacifier on a mission - he couldn't care less of what you thought of him and his daughter. Another time, I saw a Black girl ranging from 5-8 years old holding hands with her Asian father in his late 30's to 40's, looking at clearance toys at Target. The father was engaged with his daughter in their quest to find the perfect toy. Another time, I saw an Asian dad holding hands with his 5-6 year old daughter, strolling through the streets.

My emotions had urged me to go up to the father and salute him, and tell his daughter, "You're in good hands." But my brain was telling me, "Don't be a creep and move right along." Knowing that I did not want to come across as a weirdo, I high-fived the fathers and daughters in my head as I walked on by, smiling. 

Now, you might ask, "Why are you so happy about seeing Asian fathers with darker skinned children?!"

Because day in and day out, I keep seeing photos, ads, and movies that keep stuffing my mouth with corn pop cereals with whole milk for breakfast, potato salad mushed between 2 white Wonderbread slices for lunch, fettuccine alfredo for dinner, and vanilla ice cream with marshmallows, white chocolate, and whipped cream on top for dessert. Media loves light skinned females, and works incredibly hard to make everyone else desire them as well. 

I am sorry, media, but this Asian fell in love at a young age with Cocoa Puff cereal with chocolate milk, Nutella spread smeared between 2 dark rye bread slices, black rice supplemented with cooked black beans, and dark chocolate ice cream with magic shell chocolate, blackberries, brownie bits, and Hershey kisses on top. I love women with skin tones covering all colors of the rainbow, and would be totally fine with my children looking darker skinned. 

So, it warms my heart when I see other Asian men who are like me - we value and appreciate melanin-rich skin color of our women and children, and do not blindly succumb to the white-washing from the media.