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"We have a problem With Hypocritical Celebrities Speaking Their Minds"

We have a president who happens to be a celebrity…

…Who happens to speak his mind

…”And we all love him…”

This makes me ‘more black…’

‘More Gay…’

‘More Immigrant.’

And certainly more proud!

I am extremely happy that you are not happy that celebrities speak up and speak out for the marginalized. Whatever happened to ‘compassion’?

Nonetheless, the callous nature of our human will makes me more patriotic, more ‘pro-life’, more ‘African American’ and ‘more legal’.

“Labels, labels, labels… they surely hurt; -)”

What truly hurts is prejudice. That’s what is sad!

Last week I wrote about Franco and his tragedy of not being ‘gay enough’ that could potentially get him deported.

For people who are never enough… they never seem to have enough privileges and they never seem to have rights.

-They cannot be articulate and be well-spoken without others being surprised and they cannot have a great job without others pondering on the color of their skin

-They are more likely to become a statistic

-They cannot go without worrying about the appropriateness of their hairstyle

-They cannot go without being monitored at stores

-They are not allowed to be their own person

-They do not get to express intimate love in public

-They cannot live openly with their partner

-They live with everyday threats and fears of deportation

It sucks having to talk about it but lets face it, I too have inalienable rights and I wish to exercise them,, I wish to be free, to be happy, to speak and if I can’t, if I don’t have the opportunity to shout loud enough, it only gets better having someone else do it for me.

I clearly remember the people sitting behind me, in the social security office, ‘probably thinking that I was ‘illegal’, having overheard the social worker utter the words, “You ‘cannot’ get a SSN.’ Sadly, he didn’t properly look over the papers before him else I would have been saved the embarrassment. One too many people have to face this nonsense everyday. No! I am not illegal and neither are they, we all went through a year long process, passing all the checks and balances that the immigration system has to offer.

I am not going to shy away from the fact that there is bias in all shape and form and that’s O.K, because we are all humans and thus we err. But what’s just plain simply wrong, is social prejudice.

When celebrities speak their minds, I cry because every drop of tear washes the pain that floods us inside. When lady Gaga shouts, “GAY, LESBIAN, STRAIGHT OR TRANSGENDER” to over 150 million people, #ImWithHer 100%. Silence is a crime against your religion, against your country and against your people.

I am grateful for the great people who willingly risk to speak for me when I cant speak for myself. The fact they are heard is ‘enough’.

So when celebrities speak, please let them [next to them we are all hypocrites]. We need them more than ever.

Resistance works. #Resist

Anyways, hope everyone gets to see the Grammys on Sunday!

The Problem with Diversity – Walter Ben Michaels

Let’s take a look at Walter Benn Michaels’ point of view on economic and social inequality in the modern American society, which he talked about in, “The trouble with diversity”, an essay he wrote in the New York Times Magazine back in 2004. It seems like a long time ago but considering America is transitioning under a new regime, it’s only wise we acknowledge the ideologies, perspectives, the point of views that gave rise to populism and nationalism.

One such ideology is the idea that diversity is not helping us. It is a distraction from the real and actual problems in society, such as economic inequality.
Michael argued that focusing on diversity has kept our eyes off the real problem; economic inequality. He emphasized that liberals in America have masterfully distracted the concerned public from the economic inequality present throughout the country by promoting and celebrating diversity as a means to addressing discrimination towards minority groups.

Lets agree, first and foremost that Michael has made a very critical point.

America still has not done enough to address economic inequality, which is an ever growing problem that is negatively affecting the greater portion of the country’s population.

And even though we are discussing America, this is a problem globally, country-by-country. But Michael believes that it is predominant in America mainly because we are distracted.

Michael basically took a risky approach; though he made mention of it, he failed to acknowledge the seriousness of America’s problem with prejudice and discrimination. Prejudices pose serious challenges to the American public and unless you are affected or have an invested interest, you are probably not going to think too much about it. But to ignore these concerns, undermines the significance of these issues and is insensitive at most.

But we’ll look at both concerns: the economic and social problems we have to deal with.

Firstly, let’s look at some Michael’s strongest arguments to address economic inequality. He pointed out in his essay that race does not exist to start with. This has been a proven scientific fact but according to Michael, the very people who embrace this premise (liberals) are also quick to highlight that race exist, instead as a social entity. From this standpoint, many in society have included diversity of identity and especially race, in every aspect of social institutions, from schools to corporate enterprises. Michael hinted that we have taken a greater interest in the ideas of race, sexual orientation, religion, just to name a few, than we have in the ills of class division and economic inequality. We have become oblivious to the fact that a small portion of the population is getting richer and richer while the mass is descending into greater poverty. Michael also stated, “But class are not like races and cultures, and treating them as if they were- different but equal- is one of strategies for managing inequality rather than minimizing or eliminating it.” (Michael, 677). To build on this point, Michael stressed that we are urged to be respectable to the poor and to stop thinking of them as victims, since to treat them as victims is condescending – it denies them their “agency.” … and so we can focus our efforts of reform not on getting rid of classes but on getting rid of what we call classism. (Michael, 681) The trick, according to Michael, which is intertwined in our modern social culture, is to view poverty as a respectable entity rather than something that needs to be eradicated. And one final point brought forward by Michael, that justifies his perspective is based on his claim that we have become much of an identity conscious society to the point where we leave little or no room to recognize the cause of economic prosperity. He said that the closest thing that we have to a holiday that addresses economic inequality instead of identity is Labor Day. He further elaborated that even the very purpose of Labor Day, which was originally intended to figure out how to build a stronger labor movement and make the dream of economic prosperity a reality, has been suppressed to the point where it merely marks the end of summer. These socially acceptable attitudes, in Michael’s perspective, has allowed the phantasm of respect for difference to take the place of that commitment to economic prosperity.

While Michael’s standpoint is agreeable in many instances, his approach is quite frankly, insensitive.

But let’s explore why Michael’s claim is nonetheless valid. Economic inequality is undoubtedly a general problem that is affecting the entire demography of the American population. Moreover, many Americans who are living in poverty belong to minority groups. This premise does make a good argument for addressing the problem of economic inequality. So entirely disregarding Michael’s position would be a mere shortsighted response.

But it is fair to hold him accountable, and others who support his view, in areas where he ignores the deeply rooted hate and prejudice that scourges the outlook of American society. Gays and Lesbians can still be legally fired in 28 states in the United States of America because of their sexual orientation and African Americans face the highest level of unemployment of any racial group. These problems bring to question, the credibility of our fight for equality.

If much of our population still cannot access the basic entity to economic mobility – Jobs – then we still have not worked on our economic foundation.

Discrimination is a bigger concern for more American who continue to face prejudice than economic equality is and while private and public institutions are taking an interest in bringing these issues to the forefront – however they see fit – their attempt should not be seen as a matter of liberal identity politics. Economic and social inequality are equivalent problems that are affecting the American population and as such they require an equal amount of interest. Minorities stand to greatest to lose in any plan for economic prosperity because they are still battling to secure their basic human rights. Until justice is served to marginalized groups, America stands a meager chance of accessing economic advancement, through equality and prosperity on a large scale.

With that being said, much needs to be done in areas of social equality before we can fully address the issues of economic inequality. Understanding economic equality based on different sectors of America’s demography offers greater insight into the root causes of our economic downfall, rather than disregarding altogether the specific problems or identity based concerns that continues to affect certain groups. But as we know, we have a long road ahead before much of our social problems can be addressed, especially when we have a government that could careless about us. Somehow we have to start building those grass-root organizations that demands change (and practical change), or else, the next four years may just turn into another eight years in just the blink of an eye.

The Dread of Stereotypes: What do you think?

How do you feel about being labeled or stereotyped? We know stereotypes to be good and bad but often times, they are not true and they can have serious, negative impacts on our lives.

Overtime I realize that sometimes, the greatest challenges that we face everyday are simply as a result of the false perceptions that people form about us and it all comes down to what we know and don’t know about each other. What we don’t know, we fear and that fear leads to the many prejudices that we have towards the people around us.

The COO of Facebook, a feminist at heart and a very outspoken advocate for equality, Cheryl Sandberg said, “We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interests.”

A psychological study of human behavior shows that we are innately aggressive and competitive. Conflict is an inevitable part of human culture. We see each other differently and the greater our differences, the more likely we are to act upon them.

Could that explain our problem with bigotry against each other? And could that explain our failure to disregard stereotypes and instead, judge each other individually base on individual talents, interest and accomplishments?

“In society there are Muslims who are terrorist, immigrants who don’t know how to speak English, gays who are obsessed with sex, blacks who are uneducated, aggressive and rude and lower income people who are dirty and illiterate.”

The expectations we set for each other through these commonly held beliefs, leaves many of us tarnished and betrayed. Negative stereotypes are damning – setting expectations for people is crushing. We can paint an entire group, an entire society, or a generation of people with the same brush, but within each subset of society, there are people with individualized differences and they want their differences to be recognized. Everyone is different and those differences count! Everyone is their own kind of person.

Only if we could live by the words of Mahatma Ghandhi, “I don’t believe in stereotypes. I prefer to hate people on a more personal basis. The measure of a truly great man is the courtesy with which he treats lesser people…” simply, we just want to be humans and be recognized for that.

New Blogs: Reality Check With Brian and Others!

New Blogs: Reality Check With Brian and Others! – Since April, we have had two new bloggers. Kelly started contributing to our weekly blog since April and Brian has been contributing to the forum since the start of May.

Kelly has been sharing with us what life is like in college and how she deals with anxiety, depression and OCD and Brian, our newest blogger will be keeping us up-to-date with current events in his blog: Reality Check. When he’s not blogging about mental health, Brian spends his free time thinking too much, getting distracted and deliberating about how he “should” spend his free time.  When he’s actually doing something, he enjoys learning, volunteering, the arts, spending time in Nature and “being productive”.  A self-described social justice junkie, Brian first had his consciousness raised to the issue of mental illness in 2011 after seeing the musical Next to Normal.  Behavioral healthcare program coordinator by day, Brian enjoys evenings and weekends living with his partner, their two kitties and a few plants in lovely East Hampton, CT.  Last week Brian shared his first piece, which touches on the issue of addiction and its root causes: Finding a Fix.

Also, on a monthly basis, professional blogger, Amy will also be contributing to the forum; she has had a very fascinating past and she hopes to grab our attention as she reveals some of the very traumatic experiences that has had. In her own words, “I’ve had to befriend my past, embrace my experience, and express what had happened to me.”

Amy’s Blog is called The Detourist and you can read her story HERE.

The New Schedule for each blog is as follows:
Mondays: Daily Life of a College Student – Kelly
Tuesdays: Everything Music – Kevin
Thursdays: Journal Black Gay immigrant – kevin
Fridays: Reality Check – Brian
Monthly: The The Detourist- Amy

Look out for all the new posts in the weeks ahead and feel free to share your concerns and gratitude in the Discussion Forum.

"From the Outside Looking In"

“Everyone’s journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Jamaicans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.”

This is a quote by the very historic American writer and playwright, James Baldwin… In the quote, I replaced the term, ‘Americans’ with ‘Jamaicans’.
Baldwin in my opinion was first and foremost a human being BUT in his time, he was merely BLACK and GAY. The sociopolitical stigma and prejudice that encompassed the topic of color and sexuality forced him to migrate to France in the 1940s. Though still evolving, France was one of the more liberal countries at the time (and currently is).

Referencing back to the quote above, bear in mind that 20th century America represented the ‘Egypt’ of Baldwin’s lifetime and it does make you wonder what life was really like in America in the 1940s.

Still yet, we can look to Jamaican society for a firsthand experience.

On the other hand, America today, for people like myself represents the ‘Canaan’ of what France was for Baldwin in the 1940s.

A man without roots, without a country to call home. James Baldwin used his experience to unveil what it looks like beyond being BLACK,
beyond being GAY and even more, beyond being an IMMIGRANT, a line of thought that is still unfathomable to many people in our lifetime;
in this day and age.

Baldwin superseded labels – in my opinion, Baldwin was neither BLACK nor GAY, nor was he an immigrant,
he was a human being who was denied his rights.

I’ve been inspired by James Baldwin.

What does prejudice look like in America from the perspective of a French lifestyle?
What does hope look like in France from the perspective of an American lifestyle?

These are questions Baldwin may have possibly asked himself.

The following poem is by Warsaw Shire [the poet behind Beyoncé’s recent album] – she explains what she thinks of home amidst prejudice and fighting shame.