Friday, July 8

Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter. What does that mean to you? I can’t answer for you but for me, there is so much included in those three words. It is the rallying cry of people that have realized that our society has failed a discriminated group. Our society that has failed to make wrong all the wrongs against black people.

Our country has marginalized black people for hundreds of years. Our society has used them as a poster of hate and has said “It’s okay to discriminate against these folks because they’re different.” We have so marginalized these people that there are federal laws protecting them. Think on that. A federal law. The problem is such an issue that there needs to be protection for them in jobs, schools, and everyday life. When you think on this, it is overwhelming to me that this is necessary. Because of a person’s skin color, they are judged and abused.

Society is responsible for the issues that are arising right now. We are responsible for what is happening. We have allowed this type of behavior and ongoing racism for years. If you are not standing against it, you are allowing it. Yeah, that’s a lot of guilt that you don’t want to feel. You don’t’ want to have these uncomfortable thoughts and conversations but guess what? You have to if you want to see this change.

I have to work on my racism daily. I am a very open-minded liberal and I fight my racism. It is something that was taught through years of my youth and even into adulthood. I started noticing how much there was within me when I started working in the Tulsa Health Department. That was the moment of my awakening that we are doing a disservice to this marginalized group.

I have told this story multiple times. I was teaching a nutrition class to a group of first graders for the week at a low SES school. On Thursday of that week after teaching for three days, I had a little girl come up to me and tell me that she got in trouble by her mom because she asked her mom why they didn’t have more fruits and vegetables in the house. Her mom got upset because she got very defensive thinking that her little girl was telling her that she wasn’t doing enough for her and she was better than what she provided. This little girl also was responsible for making her own ramen on the stove for dinner at night. This was mind blowing and extremely sad to me. At that moment, I realized we need to do better.

The racism taught to us is everywhere. You hear it on the news. If there is a story about a man, it’s assumed he’s white because the news will always point out when it’s a black man. When there is a story about a black man, the news will always try to locate a mugshot of the man unlike a white man who raped a woman behind a dumpster and they post his senior picture instead. When it is a black man involved in a shooting, it’s a violent man. When it is a white man who has murdered multiple people in a church, he’s mentally unstable. This is why we are responsible. We have allowed this for tens of years.

Black Lives Matter. Anyone who says that All Lives Matter is saying this because they don’t believe that Black Lives Matter. They say this because they want to keep things the way they are. Saying “All lives matter” is bull shit. Of course all lives matter. If you honestly believe all lives matter, you will be the largest voice in the cry of Black Lives Matter.

This is an issue that needs to be resolved and we are responsible for resolving it. If we continue to just watch the news happen, things will not change. If we continue to not hold our elected officials responsible for the legislation and fear-mongering they are putting through, nothing will change. If we continue to not hold each other accountable for the words we use, we are responsible for each death that is occurring. If we don’t articulate that Black Lives Matter, we are saying we are okay with the way things are.


Black Lives Matter.

Tuesday, October 6

What does Pro-Life mean to you?

The gun debate continues. It is also added to with the situations with Planned Parenthood. These two extremely controversial topics are all ablaze on Facebook and other social media outlets. It gives the opportunity to open discussion but also to hypocrisy.

It is amazing to see how conservatives are saying that liberals asking for gun control are hypocritical because they are also for abortions. The funny thing about hypocrisy is that you can’t see the plank in your own eye. Conservatives care about being pro-life but aren’t pro-life once the baby is born. Once the baby is born and becomes a toddler that possibly gets hold of a gun and accidentally shoots an adult or another toddler because the gun wasn’t locked properly, it’s the adult’s right to have that gun and they shouldn’t be required by law to have it locked.

The other situation is when it comes to the death penalty. Conservatives love the death penalty. They state their “Christian” values over and over again but it is such an unchristian practice. You have made the judgement and taken God’s place to put this person to death. Multiple people have been exonerated by DNA evidence but are still put to death because the evidence wasn’t presented prior to their death. This is murder by the government.

If you only care about life while it’s inside a womb, you have your priorities wrong. You believe that a woman who was raped should endure and relive that moment over and over again until the baby is born. Then you’ll probably judge her for being raped and say she did something that caused the man to rape her. Why not ask the question of “why do we live in a society that rape is even questioned?” Rape is rape. The woman didn’t do anything to deserve that. She didn’t dress in a certain way, she didn’t lead the man on, but you still want to judge her and say that she is at fault. If it were me, I would not want to carry my rapist’s baby and know that I could possibly be bringing in a child into a world of such evil.

If a woman decides to terminate a fetus, that is her choice. Let’s also get another thing straight. Federal money isn’t paying for abortions. Planned Parenthood receives funding for women’s health. Do your research instead of quoting biased lies by conservatives.

If you are truly pro-life, you will be pro-life until the end of that person’s life. If the person needs assistance, you’d be the first to say, give them assistance. If you are pro-life, you will fight tooth and nail for every child to have equal access to health. If you are pro-life, you will help the homeless. If you are pro-life, you will help to mandate gun ownership and responsibility. If you are pro-life, you will try to limit the amount of death by guns. If you are pro-life, be pro-life, not just pro-fetus.

Tuesday, May 19

Social Media and Real Life

We’ve been reading a lot of articles about how Social Media can make us feel like we aren’t doing enough or that everyone else is happier than we are. The crazy thing is, if someone posts on Social Media that they are not doing well, we see them as acting like victims. Do we reach out to them or ignore the negative post?

I always want to post happy things on Social Media but there are times that I need to reach out and ask for help but never do. I don’t do this because I don’t want to bring someone down or let them know my weakness. Not everything is sunshine and roses all the time.

My big question is, why do we victimize people when they need help? You see this everyday from Conservatives. Welfare recipients are just victims not willing to make a life themselves, rape victims are asking for it, and homeless people are unwilling to help themselves. When someone asks for help, why is it seen as weakness?

In my mind, it takes a much stronger person to reach out and let people know that they need help. It takes a strong person to show their weakness. Do we ignore because we are uncomfortable with our own weakness? I say yes. The things we don’t like in others are usually things we don’t like in ourselves. We are brought up to believe that only strong people are successful but the definition of strong is misconstrued here. Strong is being able to reach out when you need help and helping those that need help.

We need to change our mindset on this. When someone reaches out on Social Media and exposes their weakness and need for help, we need to reach out and help them. That one moment could make a massive difference for someone. Would you rather be the person that helps someone or the person that ignores?

Let’s get out of our bubbles and confront what makes us uncomfortable. Social Media isn’t going anywhere and it’s a part of our lives whether we like it or not. Focus on positive things but also reach out when negativity takes hold. Also, be the person that will help and not ignore.

Tuesday, May 5

What The Republicans Get Wrong...again.

The Supreme Court has taken up the case for Marriage Equality. I’m sure everyone has heard that the Oral Arguments were presented at the end of April and listening to them gave me great hope and also great sadness. Not only did we have to listen to the opposing views during these Oral Arguments that marriage is not for people of the LGBT Community but we also have had to hear about these viewpoints from multiple individuals after as well.

You have politicians running on platforms against Marriage Equality and that Christianity is being criminalized because of their refusal to do something for a Same-Sex Marriage. These are the same people who say they fight for Conservative Constitutional review and that the Bible and the Constitution should be taken literally and not interpreted. They say that the Supreme Court has no right to make any judgement in this case because it is up to the people and states to vote on this situation. They also state that marriage is a right.

The hypocrisy that we are seeing here is nothing new. I’ve written about it several times and we’ve had several notable figures point this out. If you say it is a right, you can not have a majority vote on this minority's right, plain and simple. That is why it is before the Supreme Court.

Republican Candidates are running on a platform of hate. Ted Cruz announced his candidacy at Liberty University. An extremely conservative Christian university. Mike Huckabee announced today and stated that the efforts by the Supreme Court “threaten the foundation of religious liberty by criminalizing Christianity and demanding that we abandon biblical principles of natural marriage.” Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina all want to make sure that I am never allowed to marry.

I bring up this previous information because all the Republican Candidates for President have made their line in the sand. If you aren’t a Christian, a Conservative Christian, you can bet they are not for you. This country was found on Religious Freedom.

I have a real fear that if a Republican makes it into the White House in 2016 that all the amazing work we have done and progress we’ve made will be tossed to the side because several of them support putting a Federal Marriage Amendment together saying that only “one man, one woman marriage” will be the law of the land.

There are many other issues at hand here too, not just LGBT issues. I am a proud Liberal and will do all I can to make sure that none of these people make it into office because there is not a single issue I agree with them on. I think they use fear, lies, and Fox News to make United States Citizens vote for them. It’s a terrifying thing when ignorance is everywhere you look. We can’t keep our heads in the sand and we must do what we can to make sure these fear mongers don’t make it far. 

Wednesday, October 29

Another Post, Same Issues

If you’ve read anything I’ve written, this is probably going to be a repeat. I can’t help but right it though. With that being said, here we go.

The hypocrisy is unbelievable these days. Conservatives say that they are worried about their freedom being taken away from them but they have done nothing but that to others for years. They say they are against abortion and adoption is the route someone should go but they want to tell the American people who can adopt and what kind of family can adopt them.

They say that they are the poster children for Christian living but refuse to assist the homeless because they shouldn’t receive handouts and should work for what they have. They don’t want to help those children once they are born because it’s the parents’ fault they are in an unfortunate state and poverty. They want to drug test those parents and put them through an already humiliating time so they can receive food stamps. They judge them if these people treat themselves to some kind of treat because if you’re on food stamps, you shouldn't be able to buy a sweet treat for your children. Those Little Debbies are reserved for those who can afford it.

They are still fighting to keep marriage between a man and a woman because they say that it is not good for the children but do nothing about the divorce rates. Most of these touting these beliefs have been through a divorce, which is against their religious beliefs, but they seem to miss that part of the Bible. They say hate the sin, not the sinner but don’t see the sin in their own soul.

The most recent hypocrisy is with Ebola. They are called, by their religion, to care for the sick but want to keep these people out of the country. If your disease isn’t one they are aware of, they don’t want to help.

They have said time and time again that they want to change the way Conservatives are seen these days but are constantly going against what they say. What they say is like the weather. Hear them say it and then wait five minutes to see them back-track and make their own words lies.

I haven’t written or made any of my news videos for a long time because it finally beat me down. How long can you argue on the side of humanity when humanity won’t even try to accept change? Things are changing and I do believe, mostly for the better. If we can make sure that groups like the Tea Party stay a minority, we will be winning.
I am 100% for having someone have a different opinion and challenging my, and others, opinions daily. I love a debate and have actually evolved my thoughts because of ways these things were presented to me.

The only thing that I can hope for is this:

Matthew 7:3-5

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Thursday, October 31

The Duality of LIfe

There are two of me. I know this and it's been this way for a long time. Before I came out of the closet, I was pretending to be a straight man. I paid attention to the way I walked, talked, and interacted with people. You name it, I was on top of my game to make sure that no one had an idea that I was gay. If someone ever asked me, I got very defensive and upset.

This was the first time that I was two different people. After I came out, I was still acting certain ways around people who didn't know I was gay, certain family members, but around those who did know, I was very comfortable. It's true that I still had a bit of a closet to me even after I came out. This was because I didn't want to be seen as gay because of what people might think if they had an idea that I was gay. I never wanted to be judged.

I can say with pride that I was the best people pleaser I knew. I wanted people to like me and throughout my growing up, I would change certain things about myself because I wanted to be accepted. This is something I think we all go through but for some reason, I think there are certain aspects of being gay that make us more likely to be people pleasers. When we come out, most stop being people pleasers and stand up with a backbone of "I'm here, I'm queer, so deal with it!" I never grew out of my people pleasing. It's still something I struggle with.

I call this blog "The Duality of Life" because of multiple reasons. I feel there are two parts of me. One that is very confident in my abilities and another that is so shy, reserved and afraid of judgment that it hinders many aspects of my life. When I'm at work, I am not trying to impress anyone and I'm just being myself. I know that I'm in an environment that isn't going to judge my looks or the fact that I'm gay or what "kind" of gay I am. At work, I feel the most confident.

When I'm out with friends or on a date, this is my most vulnerable. I'm not confident. I see all my faults, I notice everything about myself that I want to change. Now, there are differences. If I'm out with friends at a bar or party and I know someone that I'm attracted to won't be there, I'm confident because I'm not looking for a date. I don't have to make myself vulnerable.

I do this while I'm dating someone as well. The insecurity has led to the downfall of many of my relationships. I've been working very hard over the last few months to correct this because I want to be the person I am at work with the person that I'm dating. I don't want to feel less than or that I don't deserve to be with this person. I also don't want to self-sabotage because of the negative feelings I have for myself.
You may ask, "Why are you saying all these personal issues? Just deal with it!" Well, for me, this is dealing with it and it's also something that I believe multiple people deal with, straight or gay. Also, writing helps me a lot.

The people pleasing is such an important part of this conversation because if I don't get a response that I think is satisfactory from someone, I take it very personally. I feel like I've done something wrong instead of just allowing myself to think that this other person is busy, doesn't feel like talking, or what have you. Why is it my fault that this person isn't responding? It's not and I'm finally starting to understand that.
I'm not a people pleaser at work. True, I want my co-workers to enjoy my company and I want to make them laugh but I'm not going to sit back and let conversations pass that I feel are inappropriate. I'm not going to allow a superior make me feel less than because they're just a person like me and I'll say hello, even if you're the're a person, not a deity.

How do I get this duality into a single constant? Now that is the question that I have yet to answer. How do I become the person that I am at work while I'm dating someone or while I'm out at a party where there is someone that I like? How do I see this confident person in the mirror or when I have personal reflection?
When I am alone and thinking...every night before bed, I see my faults and also where I can make improvements. Making personal improvements are a good thing but you have to accept yourself for who you are and where you are in life. I have to learn to not dwell on someone that doesn't respond the way I expect them to because that's my personal expectation and you should never put those expectations on others. No one is like you and that's what makes living life so amazing.

I see myself as a very positive and optimistic person. Where does being negative get you except...nowhere? My goal is to constantly remind myself that I am loved and lovable. That I am a good person who truly just wants to make people smile but at the same time, look out for myself.

The duality is coming into a singularity these days. This constant reminder that Stuart Smalley taught us all, "You're good enough, smart enough, and dogonit, people like you!" is one that I will be using daily. Instead of thinking of the negatives about myself, I'll focus on the positives. When a negative thought comes into my head, I'll replace it with optimism which I'm so good at.

My hope is that we will all become aware of our duality and work on bringing the multiples into one. Think of the world we could have if we were selfless and giving people who saw the amazingness that is in each of us. If that consistency was there, what a happy place we'd be in. My hope is also that you'll help others on their journey towards a singularity of optimism. If you have a friend that is being pessimistic, help them turn that frown upside down.

If I can do it, anybody can! And if you need a reminder about what happiness is, here you go:

"Happiness is like peeing your pants. Everyone can see it but only you can feel its warmth."

Thursday, March 28

DOMA in the Internet Age by Lona Dallessandro

As I was listening today to the oral arguments made at the Supreme Court regarding DOMA (U.S. v Windsor, No. 12-307), an interaction between Chief Justice Roberts and Roberta Kaplan, the attorney representing Ms. Windsor, struck me. It was not just that it was a bristly and confrontational interaction, but also because it made me think about the timeline for DOMA (it was signed into law in 1996) and the issue of marriage equality and its relationship to the other big thing that follows the same timeline – namely the dawning of the Internet age.

I have included the excerpt from the unofficial transcript below for your review, but to summarize, Justice Roberts was asserting that gay people do not need any special protection against discrimination because, as he put it, “political figures are falling over themselves to endorse your side of the case”. It is as if the Chief Justice is trying to make sense of what might be causing the “sea change” of opinions that is sweeping the nation and the only conclusion he seems willing or able to draw is that the “gay lobby” or “homosexual agenda” has a hold on the political process in this country.

I think he is forgetting that since DOMA, another major change occurred in the US (and the world) – we all became connected through the commercialization of the Internet, the introduction of World Wide Web, and the advent of mobile phones. Just like in the 1950s and 60s, when access to television grew to over 90% of households in this country, the last 15 years have been hallmarked by dramatic growth in the data communications sector. According to the US Census, in 1997, only 18% of households had access to the Internet. By 2010, that number had grown to over 80%. That is WAY more people being able to communicate with each other, to learn about each other, and to find ways to understand each other.

It means that closeted teenagers can find people online from other parts of the country who are like them and can realize that they are not alone. It means that when gay people hear about something that is discriminatory in one state, they can communicate the offense immediately to their networks around the country. And it means that gay people can have conversations with straight people via Twitter, Facebook, blogs like this one – and find common ground on issues of child rearing, and relationships, and finances. I personally think that it is much more likely that the REAL reason that we are seeing such unprecedented support for gay rights in this country is that we actually know more about what it means to be gay in this country and as such we are more likely to want equal treatment for gay people because we see them as part of this community of humans.

In 1965, Alabama state troopers and local deputies savagely beat black activists as they marched peacefully from Selma to Montgomery to demand voter registration rights for black people. Television cameramen captured the incident on film, and it was that footage from “Bloody Sunday” that propelled action like the Voting Rights Act, which was signed into law later that year. (You can read more about the Civil Rights movement and TV here: Imagine what might have happened on Rosa Parks’ bus in 1955 if there were dozens of Vine videos and Instagrams going viral on the Internet – would civil rights have moved more quickly in this country? Would we still have had racial segregation of schools well into the early 70’s?

I think Justice Roberts does a disservice to the people of the US when he dismisses the change of hearts on the issue of marriage equality for gay couples as merely the result of political lobbying or vote buying (my words, not his). I think he (and the rest of the Court) would do better to look at the issue in the context of what else is occurring in our society. In a national opinion survey published in the April, 1996, issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Dr. Gregory Herek, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis concluded that “Heterosexuals with a gay friend or relative have significantly more favorable attitudes toward lesbians and gay men as a group”. It also states that negative attitudes about homosexuality are strongest among heterosexuals who say that they do not know anyone who is lesbian or gay, which at the time of the study was 67% of the US adult population. In a 2010 CBS Poll, however, that number had shifted dramatically – 77% of Americans surveyed admitted they actually know a gay person.

If knowing a gay person increases tolerance and acceptance of gay people, then the fact that 77% of Americans now say that they know a gay person could easily explain the “sea change” in attitudes. I think we can, at least in part, credit access to the Internet (and therefore access to more people) for the fact that the number shifted so impressively from 1996 to the present, and not just the action of a few, well-connected lobbyists. It is one example of how technology serves people well, and it makes me proud to have been a part of the communications industry throughout those years of growth and change.

Excerpt from the Oral Arguments’ unofficial transcript:
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: You don't doubt that the lobby supporting the enactment of same sex-marriage laws in different States is politically powerful, do you?

MS. KAPLAN: With respect to that category, that categorization of the term for purposes of
heightened scrutiny, I would, Your Honor. I don't -



CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: As far as I can tell, political figures are falling over themselves to endorse your side of the case.

MS. KAPLAN: The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chief Justice, is that no other group in recent history has been subjected to popular referenda to take away rights that have already been given or exclude those rights, the way gay people have. And only two of those referenda have ever lost. One was in Arizona; it then passed a couple years later. One was in Minnesota where they already have a statute on the books that prohibits marriages between gay people.

So I don't think -- and until 1990 gay people were not allowed to enter this country. So I don't think that the political power of gay people today could possibly be seen within that framework, and certainly is analogous -- I think gay people are far weaker than the women were at the time of Frontiero.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, but you just referred to a sea change in people's understandings and values from 1996, when DOMA was enacted, and I'm just trying to see where that comes from, if not from the political effectiveness of -- of groups on your side of the case.

MS. KAPLAN: To flip the language of the House Report, Mr. Chief Justice, I think it comes from a moral understanding today that gay people are no different, and that gay married couples' relationships are not significantly different from the relationships of straight married people. I don't think -

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I understand that. I am just trying to see how -- where that that moral understanding came from, if not the political effectiveness of a particular group.

MS. KAPLAN: I -- I think it came -- is, again is very similar to the, what you saw between Bowers and Lawrence. I think it came to a societal understanding.

I don't believe that societal understanding came strictly through political power; and I don't think that gay people today have political power as that -this Court has used that term with -- in connection with the heightened scrutiny analysis.

Lona Dallessandro is a wireless and broadband solutions expert who has been working in the Internet technology space since 1995. She is also a biology nerd and wild animal advocate. While she is a VP @ Telespree Communications, a small wireless technology firm based in San Francisco, she is expressing her own opinions here and via @lonaaustin on Twitter.