Whose America?

img_1701-1
Hundreds of thousands protested along 42nd Street in Manhattan during the Women’s March.

Crowds of protesters flooded the streets of every major city in the United States; hundreds of thousands in Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York City and Boston. Even my hometown of Miami drew over 10,000 protesters. To think, just days before the mass demonstrations, I had no idea of how immense the protests would be. As my social media feed continued to update, I learned that it was not just a movement in America, but it was a worldwide collaboration. London, Nairobi, Berlin, Paris and Prague too? Over 1 million people worldwide protested on Saturday (see article Washington Post ). It was a worldwide march lead by women, with a unified message; the disapproval of the recently elected United States President, Donald Trump.

There has been a tremendous amount of controversy surrounding this campaign and his ascent to the White House. Many have viewed his words as racist, misogynistic, xenophobic and divisive. One of Trump’s most troublesome ideas is to build a wall along the southern border of the United States, in which he initially stated that the Mexican government would pay for (see article Los Angeles Times). He also painted a grim picture of Mexicans and other immigrants from Latin American countries as being responsible for bringing crime and drugs into the United States.

On 16 June, at his campaign launch for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, Donald Trump aired his views on immigration, saying: ‘[Mexico is] sending people that have lots of problems … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.’ (see video The Guardian).  

Not only did Mr. Trump speak harshly  about Hispanics, but he also proposed a ban on immigrants from Muslim countries, (see video CNN News) creating a larger rift within America and its immigrant communities.

According to News One, Trump received single digit support from black voters throughout most of the campaign. His rallies were overwhelmingly white and there were several instances in which black people were physically assaulted by white crowds (see video Washington Post). Furthermore, Trump publicly received support from the white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) (see article Washington Post). Trump’s campaign swiftly denounced the group’s support, however their public endorsement left an undeniable stain. With this kind of negative press, relations with the black community became as tense as ever.

And just 24 hours before a nationally televised presidential debate, a recording of Mr. Trump having a conversation about groping women and “grabbing them by the pussy” was made public (see video New York Times). This brought even more controversy to his campaign and the timing could not have been worse. Surely, his approval ratings would drop. Surely Mrs. Clinton would expose Mr. Trump and use his words and ideas to show just how unfit of a candidate he was. But like a cat with nine lives, Trump survived yet another blow to his campaign and came out seemingly unscathed.  His crowd remained fervently supportive of him.

Going into the November election, the polls and experts had Hillary Clinton ahead with a double-digit lead (see article CNN News). But on the night of Tuesday, November 7th, the unexpected happened. Clinton’s so-called lead never actually materialized. As a matter of fact, the race was a lot closer than the experts had anticipated, and the world witnessed one of the biggest upsets in election history. Though reports will show that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes, the electoral map was overwhelmingly red (see article CNN News). The results of the election created an uproar. Members of the Democratic party demanded a recount. It even brought our electoral college system into serious question; many legislators are now arguing to have it removed all together.

What a campaign year! Our country seems more divided than ever. Though many continue to contest Trump’s presidency, the fact remains that he is our nation’s leader.

I was part of the massive crowds that marched, chanted and protested. And as I marched among the throngs of people, something became apparent, more than ever. Dr. King’s words never rang truer:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

 

img_1681
Protesters crowd the streets at Grand Central Station.

The historic crowds were impressive and beautifully diverse. The marches brought people of all walks together. However, I had to ask myself:

 

  • When scores of unarmed black bodies were being mowed down by law enforcement, sparking protests and giving birth to the phrase Black Lives Matter, where was the uprising then?  Where was the outrage?
  • When mass shootings of innocent men, women and children in Colorado, Connecticut, and Florida revealed how our gun laws continue to put as all at risk, where were the mass protests then?
  • When families were being torn apart by aggressive deportation practices-again, where was everyone then?
  • When our native American brothers and sisters’ livelihoods were under direct attack by greedy and heartless companies threatening to build a pipeline directly through their water source and ancient burial grounds, where was everyone?
  • Where was everyone on November 7th?

 

All of our struggles are just as important, but they are not always treated with equal care, respect and the unity that they deserve.

The mere threat of the Trump administration galvanized millions world-wide. So what gave this march priority over everything else? I cannot quite say, but moving forward, if we want to preserve our rights and dignity as Americans, it would behoove us to capture a wider lens that includes everyone in the struggle. We can’t just protest when we are inconvenienced. We must speak out against oppression and injustice for everyone.

 

Advertisements

Quality Education for All Children

IMG_2998

We came, we marched, we conquered. I am not sure if all of our kids understood the importance of yesterday’s march. However, I can say that they enjoyed the experience. I simply enjoyed their smiles and their company. I am however saddened by the fact that their futures dangle in the hands of people who have no real insight on what it takes to give our children a fighting chance. How can you say you are a proponent for quality education and you bicker over policies, rhetoric and theory that ultimately puts adults first and children last?

Nonetheless, yesterday was hopefully, a step in the right direction for the spirits and minds of our children. Maybe one of them will be inspired to lead and fight for what they all deserve; a quality education.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmGgnleFvVc&feature=youtube_gdata

The Day That Changed Everything

I was running late for my 8 a.m. class, as usual. It was my senior season at Wayne State College (NE) and the football team had 5 a.m. workouts that day. It was a real challenge to meet the rigorous demands of balancing college athletics and academics, but I embraced it. The morning of September 11, 2001, was a typical daily grind for me; get up at the crack of dawn, put in an hour workout with the team, run over to the cafeteria for a hardy breakfast, jog over to the dorms for a quick shower, grab my books and run to class.

As I jogged past hundreds of co-eds up to the second floor of the Humanities Building , I failed to notice anything different or out of place. All I could think of, was damn, I am late again. I could just imaging interrupting my professor’s lecture, but instead, everyone was engulfed in the images on the television. I didn’t even realize that classroom had a television until that morning.

As I approached the screen, to get a closer look, I saw that one of the Twin Towers engulfed in smoke. No one said a word. Their eyes were simply glued to the burning image. The scrolled message at the bottom of the screen read, “Plan crashes into one of the Twin Towers.” As the building continue to go up in smoke, I couldn’t believe what I was watching. It did not seem real.

I could just imagine all the people who must have died instantly on that plane. And suddenly, I saw a large shadow fly across the adjacent buildings and then …. an explosion! The second tower was hit by another airplane. Everyone in the classroom let out a yell of disbelief and awe.  That is when I realized; I think we all realized, at that point, that this was not an accident.

Class was no longer important. The campus went silent.  For the next few hours more news was revealed about the terrorist plot. For the next few days, America shutdown. Classes were cancelled, practice was cancelled, NCAA, NFL and Major League Baseball games were cancelled. For those few days America stood still. From that point on, everything had changed.

A view of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn. The blue lights are a tribute to the Twin Towers that fell on the fateful morning of September 11, 2011.

I Wish a #*?@! Would

I received an email Thursday evening from the league. The final standings placed us as the #3 seed. Playoffs! But now I only had one day to get the information out to my kids and their families. What a logistical nightmare (courtesy of Sandy).

The game was to be played on Saturday at noon, against our league rival. It would be my 3rd time facing this team in the post season. They have an outstanding coach. She does a great job preparing her athletes.

I decided to have a one hour practice before the game. That means I had to wake up early on Saturday, a cardinal sin in the world of teaching. To add injury to insult, the trains were making all local stops from Harlem to Brooklyn (courtesy of Sandy) .

At 42nd street, a shabby, homeless looking woman boarded the train. She reeked of alcohol and she looked as if she had not bathed in weeks. Her hair was matted and tangled. Her skin was wrinkled and had a dark dusty film over it. She looked as if she emerged from rubble from a fallen building.

It is obvious that she boarded the train to silicate donations from riders. I could not make out what she was saying or what her “message” was, as I was listening to Spotify on my iphone 4s, but judging by the facial expressions of the passengers on the train, it must have been inappropriate for, lack of a better word. No one looked like they were willing nor wanted to assist.

She stood about 10 feet or so away from where I was standing with her back to me. Once she was done with her soliloquy, she began yelling something at the passengers and then the unthinkable happened. Out of frustration, she spat on two women passengers who were sitting in front of her. Then she began to walk about the train. The passengers parted like the Red Sea, making room for the deranged women. DAMN! I thought to myself, punch me, push me, kick me, but please don’t spit on me. I would have gone medieval.

The two middle-aged women held each other and began to cry. The train was packed and everyone saw what happened, but no one said anything. People pretended as if nothing happened. You could see the discomfort on everyone’s faces, but no words.

I became angry. My mind said to go over to her in physically remove her from the train myself. But I had to be rational.

At the next stop, many passengers got off. I’m not sure If it was their stop or if they were trying to escape the madness. I immediately sought out the conductor a few cars over. I got his attention and told him what happened. He held the train and I and went looking for her.

I stepped on to the train and yelled out to the other passengers,  “WHERE DID SHE GO?!” No one responded. They began to look at me as if I was the crazy one. By now she had left the train. As the train stood at the platform, I continued to search for this crazy woman and then I looked across the platform and there she was soliciting change from other riders.

I told the conductor that she off of the train. I identified her and he got on the dispatch system. He waited for me to board and the next thing I heard was, “please stand clear o the closing doors.”

What made me even more upset than the women’s actions, is the total lack of action taken by those in the train who witnessed the entire ordeal. No one from the MTA  came over to check up on the two victims.

And to think, next year fare is going to increase. I kept saying to myself, “I wish a —– would!”– `a la Cedric the Entertainer.

Just to think, after all that, I went on to coach a hard fought game, but we could not pull it off. The final score was 6-16. Ousted once again. We dropped too many passes and missed too many opportunities. Damn, maybe next season.

An intoxicated woman blatantly disrespects an elderly passenger on the MARTA, while others standby and watch (2008).