Category Archives: News

March For Our Lives

On February 14, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School became the latest site of a mass shooting. A former student walked in with an AR 15 rifle and 17 people lost their lives. On Valentine’s Day, parents learned their children would not be coming home. The shooter was captured a few hours later.

In the days that followed, it was found that the shooter was known to police for multiple domestic violence incidents. He had been expelled from Stoneman Douglas a year prior, and the FBI received a tip that he was dangerous and had a mass of weapons.

The survivors banded together and began speaking out against the tragedy. These 14 to 18 year olds just watched their friends and teachers be gunned down as they hid in closets and under desks. They demanded that adults do something. They demanded that the politicians get out of the NRA’s pocket and do something about these tragedies. Some adults heard them, some didn’t. These students are tired. We should all be tired.

Something should have been done after Sandy Hook when 20 CHILDREN lost their lives. Yet nothing was done. Something needs to be done. This has to stop.

The kids of Stoneman Douglas organized a national walk out on March 14, one month after the shooting. Students from across the country participated in the walkout. Some students have been featured on national news outlets, such as CNN, NBC, and CBS. Good Morning America, 60 Minutes, and the Today Show have interviewed some of the students over the past month. Celebrities have taken up the call in supporting the students, although in an interview with 60 Minutes, the students made it clear that they were still the leaders of the movement and would not be overtaken by politicians or celebrities.

This upcoming Saturday, March 24, students, teachers, parents, and community members will march in protest. Participants will march in protest of the inaction of political leaders, in protest of the violence in the streets, in protest of the uniquely American tragedy of mass shootings. While the current administration wants to arm teachers, we will be marching. Teachers do not need guns, they need books, pens, pencils, paper, and better pay. Students don’t need metal detectors and security guards, they need to learn in the safest environment possible, not a pseudo prison.

On March 24, we will march. We will march for our lives, we will march for our children, we will march for our future.

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March For Our Lives Official Logo

Seven Banned Words

So we have come to the point in this administration where they are asking the CDC to remove and omit words that are deemed too controversial. As if attacking the press and repealing net neutrality was not enough, this administration is doing all they can to eliminate people. Two days ago, policy analysts at the CDC, Center for Disease Control, were told that they could not use the words: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “diversity,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based” in their upcoming budget proposal reports for 2018. Alternative word choices were presented, such as “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” instead of using the words “evidence-based” and “science-based.” Members of the CDC responded with anger of course, and Matt Lloyd, spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, stated “The HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans,” and “HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”

Five of the seven words are all words used to describe and discuss marginalized populations: people of color, women, children, the poor, and LGBTQ individuals. Banning the words “evidence-based” and “science-based” is a direct attack to the science community by an administration that has aligned themselves with Evangelicals and climate change deniers. The proposed ban of these words drastically limits the work scientists can do and hampers the research that can be garnered from these words.

For example, a researcher may want to study the effect of Zika on developing fetuses, they need to be able to use the word “fetus” in their research. Their budget proposal will be denied because of their use of the banned word. This denial prevents the researcher from getting funding for the research, which will negatively impact pregnant women and their unborn children who may have been exposed to Zika.

For each of the seven words, you can think of a scenario where banning the word from research would have damaging effects. If we enter a world where research can be stopped or denied funding because researchers are using words this administration finds “controversial” we are in very dark days.

As the year ends, we are faced with more problems than we have solutions for. What will research look like if this word ban is put in place? How much will marginalized people and communities suffer because of this ban? What is it that we can do to stop this mess?

11 months in with this administration and I am concerned for the future. I know everyone is waiting on Robert Mueller’s investigation and the 2018 midterm elections, but so much is going on and who knows what will happen next.

The Case for Net Neutrality

On December 14, the FCC will vote on whether to repeal Net Neutrality. The 5 member panel will decide if Internet Service Providers will be able to have free reign over the internet and control what sites Americans are able to visit and use. If net neutrality is repealed, ISPs will be able to speed up, slow down, or block websites if the sites do not pay them a fee or if they do not agree with the site’s content. As a WordPress blogger, this greatly effects all of us. If our sites are slowed down or blocked we will not be able to reach our favorite blog friends and our readers will not be able to reach us. This will effect our readership and if we rely on our site to generate income, it will effect our money. We must protect net neutrality. Call 1-202-418-1000 to reach Ajit Pai and the FCC and call your Congress representatives as well. For more information, visit battleforthenet.com¬†.infographics-vpn-mentor-4

Free Speech is not a Warm Blanket

Amendment 1 of the United States Constitution reads as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This past weekend, a group known as Unite the Right decided to march in protest to the planned removal of a Confederate statute in Charlottesville, Virginia. The march ended in tragedy.

Unite the Right, a white supremacist group, along with other white nationalist groups, KKK affiliates, anti government militias, and neo-nazis, marched through the streets of Charlottesville and the campus of the University of Virginia, waving burning tiki torches and chanting about saving the White race. By Saturday morning, the groups were met by counter protesters and fighting began amongst them. The police responded without force. The fights escalated when a man drove his car through the crowd of counter protestors. People were hit and injured. A young woman died. The police managed to apprehend the driver and disperse the crowds.

President 45 took a while to respond. He did not tweet his response, but rather held a conference where he stated that he condemned the violence, “on many sides” and was saddened by the tragic loss of the young woman. He did not call them white supremacists. He did not say domestic terrorism. He did not acknowledge in any way, that this tragedy was the direct result of White terror. Nope. He cited violence “on many sides.” The counter protestors were met with violence from the armed militia. They responded out of self defense. But let 45 tell it, there was violence “on many sides.”

This tragedy brought out the discussion of the First Amendment. The ACLU of Virginia put out a statement saying even though they do not agree with Unite the Right, they have to respect the group’s First Amendment rights because if that group’s First Amendment rights are taken away, then so will the First Amendment rights of the marginalized groups that the ACLU works to defend. Under this logic, the ACLU and many individuals believe that the First Amendment has to protect all speech, even hateful speech, in order to preserve the First Amendment rights of society.

Well, we saw what happened when all speech is considered protected under the First Amendment. People were hurt and someone died. We can go as far back as the previous election cycle and see what happens when all speech is protected. A racist, xenophobic, womanizer wins the highest title in the land, and hate crimes against marginalized groups increase. But under this premise of “all speech is free speech” everyone should be able to say whatever they want right?

Contrary to popular belief, there is speech that is not protected under the First Amendment. The Newseum Institute listed nine categories of unprotected speech:

  • Obscenity
  • Fighting words
  • Defamation (libel and slander)
  • Child pornography
  • Perjury
  • Blackmail
  • Incitement to imminent lawless action
  • True threats
  • Solicitation to commit crimes

The white supremacists took to the streets of Charlottesville, proclaiming their love for the Confederacy, hate of minorities, and need for a celebration of all things White because they felt they had a First Amendment right to do so. They believed that their right to free speech took precedence over the safety of those they deemed unworthy. Their freedom of speech was allowed to be exercised without question or reprimand because it always has been. They knew that the law was on their side and will always be. Three years ago in Ferguson, Black people took to the streets to protest the state sanctioned murder of Mike Brown. They were met with armed police officers in riot gear. They were pepper sprayed. They were arrested. They were called thugs, lawless, troublemakers. There was a curfew put in place. The National Guard was called in. Protestors were called rioters. The scene was compared to a war zone. Charlottesville did not get that treatment. White people were allowed to walk the streets carrying armed guns and holding Confederate and Nazi flags. There was no riot gear. There was no pepper spray. No curfews. There were only 4 arrests.

The President of the United States did not condemn these groups. He did not say they were thugs, miscreants, lawless, troublemakers, or losers. He did not call for a ban on all foreign White people entering the country. He did not say domestic terrorism. He did not say anything comparable to a condemnation because he knows these groups are who voted for him. He knows these Confederate loving, minority hating, Make America Great Again individuals put him in office. He knows he was supported and counseled by David Duke, he gave Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions jobs in his Cabinet. White supremacy is why he is in office. White supremacy is why he wants to cut funds to education, roll back the Voting Rights Act, and end Affirmative Action. President 45 would not dare condemn the very people who put him in office. Nope. That must be someone else’s job.

Throughout the weekend, there have been debates, Twitter arguments, and think pieces regarding the First Amendment right to free speech. Before Charlottesville, many people felt that all speech was free speech, whether they agree with it or not. Maybe some people still believe this. History teaches us differently. History shows that the belief that all speech is free speech has led to many deaths. This belief cost thousands of Jews their lives. This belief ignited fear in Black people throughout the South. This belief put LGBTQ individuals at risk of losing their lives. All speech is not free speech. You cannot say whatever hateful thing you want out of your mouth and think there will not be consequences. There are consequences. People die. History tells us that and Charlottesville showed that.

We say hate has no place here but America was rooted in hate. America thrives in hate. America was built on hate. Hate put President 45 in office. Hate and bigotry is allowed to have free reign in 2017. It is 2017 and despite those who want to believe #ThisIsNotUs, it is. It always has been. Until something truly changes, it will continue to be.

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Thank You Mr. President

In 2008 you ran on a platform of hope and change. Eight years later you still have hope for a country that is pressumably about to go into peril and disarray.

A young Black man with a funny name and extensive resumé, ascended to the highest position in the land. You are the first, but I fear you will be the last.

You showed class as people ran your name through the mud, disrespected you and your family, treated you like you weren’t the President of the United States.

They claimed you didn’t love America. You proved them wrong by your accomplishments.

The national unemployment rate was lowered. Jobs were added.

Don’t Ask Dont Tell was repealed.

The Affordable Care Act gave thousands of Americans health coverage.

Immigrant children were able to pursue their American dream with DACA.

The Defense of Marriage Act was repealed.

Osama Bin Laden was killed.

You repaired the relationship with Cuba.

You gave us your all. You left everything on the field.

I thank you. Thank you for the legacy you are leaving behind.

Thank you for inspiring us. Thank you for still having hope.

Thank you Mr. Barack Hussein Obama Jr.