What Are You?

This poem/ open word piece is dedicated to anyone who has been wrongfully identified as a different race or ethnicity. It is also a testament of how I feel when people judge or make an assumption based on my physical features.

Your almond shaped eyes are so deer like, Are you middle eastern.

Your skin has a golden brown hue, Are you Puerto-rican.

You eye brows are dark, thick, and well defined, are you Italian.

You are hips are larger in proportion to your tiny waste, Are you African American?

Your nose is round and lacks a defined ridge, Are you Mexican?

Your hair creates the most perfect spiral curl, Are you Dominican?

Your lips are so full, are you Latin?

You speak Spanish, You must be a Latina.

You speak English with a lack of ethnic accent, you enunciate your words, you know the difference between to, too, and two. What are you?

I speak multiple languages, fluent in two and can understand four because I have a desire to communicate to every person that crosses my path. I do not expect everyone to know English. I speak Spanish because I yearn to travel the world.

My full lips allow me to speak up when everyone falls silent. It helps me to spread a positive message to the world, and call people to action. My lips are full of action.

My curls decide to twist, wrap, and take a different course everyday. Just like life my curls take their own direction. Sometimes I see them as a mess where others see their beauty. My curls are there to show a perfect representation of my life. Its crazy and a mess but outsiders only see the beauty of it.

My round nose that lacks definition. It does it’s job. It smells the small things like flowers budding, chicken frying, and my dirty dishes. It may not have a defined look, but its purpose is to allow me to appreciate the little things and warn me against hazard.

My large hips protects me when I fall. They allow me to bounce back. The also bare all the negative comments about women and how their bodies should look. They hold me upright when I should be falling apart.

My eyebrows are dark, thick, and well defined. They protect my eyes from dirt and anything that should not be within my precious eyes. They are well defined like my perception on things that do not belong in my life. They are thick because they had to shield my eyes from the world.

My golden hue skin. This was created from love. Two people who did not see color but love. I golden hue is unique like no other because it is never the same hue. It changes with time. The more light in my life the darker I become. The more I see darkness the lighter my skin becomes It reflects my life and mental health. It is an indicator of where I have been through.

Lastly my eyes. The beautiful almond shapes sees the world as it truly is. It sees that brown people are not viewed the same as the white man. My eyes see that the color of my skin is a predetermination of guilt. It sees that when I speak Spanish because of a language barrier others look at me like I do not belong. I see the the media wants to cast people of middle eastern decent as terrorists. I see that not all men are treated equal even if we are created equal. I see the injustice. I see the pain that is caused by injustice. Most importantly I see you judging me for who you think I may be from only my physical features.

What am I?

I am human like you.

Back to Politics. Netflix scandal.

Unfortunately I cannot stay away from politics for too long. Writing about politics allows me to scream my opinions about issues that I cannot talk about daily at work. Working with people on a daily basis is amazing. I love the constant interaction and the ability to help people each day, but the downfall is that I have to censor all of my political views, therefore it is inappropriate to divulge personal political views at work with few exceptions of course.

I recently came across a movement of people deleting their Netflix accounts due to a new series that they are creating based on a movie.  People are boycotting a movie spin off show called Dear White People.  People are boycotting the show on the assumption that the show promotes racism and has an anti-white agenda.  There are currently 178 thousand dislikes on the trailer, and the 2014 film is currently streaming on Hulu. Now of course, I am a huge supporter of protest and old fashion boycotting to make a statement over injustice,but I wanted to find out about the show/movie and do a little bit of my own research.

“Dear White People” released in 2014 is a satirical comedy-drama film focusing on escalating racial tensions at a prestigious Ivy league college from the perspective of several African American students. Dear white people is a conversation about race relations. Many white Americans watched the trailer, and felt that it is race baiting. A narrative with a liberal agenda. Let’s actually talk about the show, and reality that is faced within society.  This movie and soon to be show is a comedy that through satire highlights the struggle of many African Americans and biracial individuals that enter into the world of academia after high school.  Not to place every person of one race or background under the same stereotype or “box”, but how is highlighting the college experience from an African American going to a traditional college automatically an anti-white agenda.  There are plenty of shows and movies that highlight traditionally black college and the various activities within the school (Stomp the Yard and Drumline to name a few). Traditional college with crazy parties, horrible Greek life, focus on rape culture, and binge drinking (Neighbors, Neighbors 2, and Greek to name a few ).  These shows highlight both black and white college students in a certain light, but each do not have the interaction between the two or deals specifically between the common interaction faced traditionally on college campuses.

So lets be frank. Yes the show does highlight white people in a negative light based on what we have experienced as black people. Yes does it stereotype white people as one group of people with similar views, similar notions, similar stances on another group of people.  Do I agree with placing all white people in a box. Well no. I think that perpetuating stereotypes only helps divide people rather than bring them together overall, but it does not validate this show as white baiting or anti-white agenda.  The reality is that within American society there are already certain stereotypes that are ingrained within us due to (wait for this one) movies that have already reinforced these stereotypes. People within the film industry only have a limited amount of seconds to get across a minor characters’ personality and a basic inclination of who they are.  This means that the film industry prey upon stereotypes that are already ingrained within society.

My issue lies in the fact that people are upset about what one show is doing to “whites” in placing stereotypes on them to fit into a certain dynamic for a show, but it was not an important issue when the film industry has placed stereotypes on minorities for decades. Again I am not validating Lions gate’s decision to perpetuate one stereotype, but it is the reality that we all live in. If you are triggered by this show than you should reevaluate the entire industry within our country. Just like liberals, conservatives pick and choose which films and projects to rally against. If you want to protest, protest the whole system! Don’t fall victim to the stereotypes, and realize you cannot escape them. Stop watching all media, stop paying to watch movies, stop streaming videos, and stop watching television.  This may seem a little severe because it is. The alternative is to realize most films perpetuate stereotypes to get a message out there. Its a sad reality, but maybe you could learn about life from a different perspective by watching a new show or simply do not watch the show at all.

So go head and boycott a show that has had a ton of money spent on it already, that is being released within the next few months. Also miss out on 1,000 of hours of new material being released by Netflix this year.  Sometimes you have to pick your battles. If you would prefer to give up Netflix than so be it. I will not condemn anyone for boycotting because it is one of the most underrated forms of protest that has the ability to make a huge impact. Just remember the next time you watch a film and an African American is portrayed as ghetto, uneducated, and loud. When a Hispanics shown as being loud, with a lot of children, and illegal immigrant. Asians as nerdy, traditional, all Chinese, strict parents, and heavy accents. Overweight people as lazy, food crazy, and without motivation.   All these stereotypes are wrong too, and do not call someone a snowflake when they protest in a similar way. Honestly I cannot say I will watch all of Dear White People because every show is not my cup of tea. Well actually I’m not a huge fan of the modern film industry and I usually do not watch too many shows or movies, but all of it is something small to think about. In addition I challenge everyone to research a topic before reacting. You might learn something. I also promise a review on the show once it hits Netflix.

Until next time.

-Bella Kat

Kindness does not need Validation

So I recently discovered a pet peeve of my own, and decided to share. My older sister lives in a secured building. The building is an income based apartment complex.  The guards that are employed are all there regularly, and start to build relationships with the tenants and regular guests. Although I could probably give a thousand stories about these wonderful guards, this will probably be the first and last.  One of the regulars always bring in extra snacks and food for the kids that live in the building.  Honestly he gave me more hope in humanity. As I was leaving one day, we happened to start talking because after I cleaned snow off my car, a little kid came over to my car and offered to help clean it off for a small fee.  Although the kid asked for two bucks and could not even reach halfway up my car, I allowed him to help me clean off the car and in reward I bought him a hot chocolate and gave him the change from a twenty dollar bill.  Before I left that guard asked if I was going to take a picture with the kid or post about the occurrence on social media. After talking with this guard for a while, I found out that he takes pictures of his “good deeds”, and has gained followers and recognition from his actions.

This man openly said that he loves all the positive feedback and it pushes him to do “more”. I love that he is helping others, but I could not help but question his motives. Does he perform random acts of kindness just to gain more followers and more likes?

The sad part is that the more that I think about the subject, I have realized that it has became a trend. People perform these great acts of kindness, but seem to post about the occurrence, video the “random act”, or take pictures with the people they helped. Why do people need others to validate their actions? Why has this become a trend?

Personally, I probably will never understand the need for validation. On a daily basis, I perform tasks that are thankless and goes without ever being noticed by anyone.  Being a good person does not need validation. Being a kind human and treating everyone like they are important does not need others approval or acknowledgment.  My satisfaction is knowing that each day I make a difference in this big world, no matter how small!

So I have a challenge to anyone willing to hear my rants. Go out and perform random acts of kindness, even if it is as small as giving a compliment to a stranger. Just one small random act of kindness can improve your day and your overall attitude as well as will help others.

Make today great for your self and others. Put out good vibes and always remember everyone is fighting their own battles.

Until next time!

 

I am not an Exception

The other day, one of my good friends put a post on Facebook explaining why he is not an exception.  He made a great point and an important remark that I feel should be shared to the masses. He wrote the following:

“I am not an exception. I repeat, I am NOT an exception!

Now that I have your attention, here are a few reasons why. I am NOT an exception for:

– Pursuing higher education
– Being educated!!!
– Being able to hold a deep and insightful conversation on complex or controversial topics
– Having goals and a plan to obtain them

An exception is defined as, “a person or thing that is excluded from a general statement or does not follow a rule.” So being that none of my above examples should come as shocking for a person in their mid 20’s, I am not an exception. Pretty simple right?

Unfortunately, my melanin causes some peoples logic program to malfunction and they throw an “exception” label on me because it’s tough to comprehend. Though, I could understand it, you know, if I was the first black person to do it. Maybe even the first from “the hood” with dreadlocks and tattoos, but I’m not. All I’ll say is, if my computer program kept throwing exceptions, I’d rewrite my program. Though, even with the many instances of black excellence that occur daily, I can honestly say I’m not surprised people still believe there are just a few “exceptions.” Cause between the media and unfortunately the actions of some of our community members (yes, we have to own up to our own part in this situation), that “general statement or rule” will continue to reign.

There are thousands upon thousands more individuals like me, and more being born each day. We are determined to achieve greatness in whatever form it takes in our personal lives, and are willing to use all of resources to do so. I thought that was the “American Dream”!

So let the world know, WE are NOT exceptions.

Changed minds change lives. #geniusmentality” 

I repeatedly write and rally against stereotypes, and the placement of imaginary boxes society places upon people, but I have always allowed people to reference my achievements as an exception. I am constantly reminded that many people of my race with similar socioeconomic background never end up going to college or having the opportunities that have been presented to me.  As I am constantly fighting against the boxes society has created, I have never pushed against the reality that, I am not an exception. I am not a lone wolf. I am one of many educated African Americans. I am one of many black Americans that pursue a higher education, who land a decent job, or that can have a meaningful conversation.  In comparison about 33% of African Americans pursue higher education compared to 41% of whites.  Over 1/3 of the African American population pursues higher education, and this percent is constantly growing each year. 1/3 of a population is not an exception.  When will society wipe away the rules on what is normal for a person of a specific race? When will  a person stop being defined by their pigmentation? When will we all realize that we are not a product of our race, our past, our socioeconomic status?  These factors may help create our personality, our determination, our being, and our outlook on life, but it does not make anyone an exception. Instead it allows us to prove that pushing barriers reaps great rewards, and anyone can live the American dream.  The next time you want to give someone a pat on the back and tell them they are an exception, remind yourself how many people overcome the same obstacles.

To my dear friend who wrote this enlightening post. You are right, you are not an exception, but yet you are still exceptional. The definition of exceptional: to describe something that is unusual; not typical. You are not exceptional because of your circumstance or your accomplishments as a black man, but you are exceptional because you are enlightened beyond your years. You are exceptional because you treat people with dignity and respect. You are exceptional because you set goals that are bigger than yourself, and you never rest until you get there. You are exceptional because you are not the typical guy with dreads who made it out of the hood, but an enlighten young guy who never allows others to put his accomplishments in a box.  Your genius mentality is inspiring to so many.

 

Freedom and Security

Within the past few years, I have learned an important lesson about social media. Not every person you meet spend their time educating themselves before spewing nonsense onto posts. Due to the fact that most people do no educate themselves on many topics, I will rarely engage in a debate on a topic.

Yesterday I violated every rule that I every set for myself in regards to social media.  There was the usual political stuff flooding my news feed when I came across a post by an acquaintance from college. He placed an article about a woman who had died waiting on the current immigration ban to be lifted to receive medical treatment.  Of course he had a nice “liberal” (what most Americans would call liberal not my definition) anti-trump message to accompany the article. For some odd reason under the comments a guy commented on the post stating that she would have received medical attention if it was not for 9/11, Boston bomber, and so many other attacks (most of them were domestic unfortunately making his comment invalid to begin with). For some reason every fiber of my being pushed me to respond.  I could not help myself. To save you a lengthy read, and save you the ignorant responses that were given, I will simply explain what triggered my response, and some information to understand why I responded (and the other gentleman that helped debunk the ignorant answers given by this young man)

Okay, lets first break down the issue area.

Issue: President Trump signed an executive order that was intended to protect the country from foreign terrorist that would enter the United States. The EO imposes a 90-day travel ban on citizens of seven predominately Muslim countries that include Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. The order also suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. In addition, it indefinitely prohibits Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. The order calls for a review of the visa and refugee programs, arguing that “numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001.” The entry of Syrian refugees and citizens from the seven predominately Muslim countries is “detrimental to the interests of the United States,” the order says, using the language of a federal law that the president cites as legal authority to act.

To start and to not hide my opinion in a ton of misguided facts and information. Placing any sort of ban on citizens of a certain country because of religious affliction is WRONG.

Now it’s time to explain my blatant and obvious objection to the ban.

President Trump claimed to be placing a ban on seven predominate Muslim nations to protect our country from foreign terrorist that would enter the United States. To start there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, and ranks Islam as the second most populous religion behind Christianity. It is currently the fastest growing religion in the world and is expected to surpass Christianity within the next few decades.  According to research most Muslims in multiple countries around the world state they condemn ISIS and see radical in a negative light, and believe that suicide bombing and mass killings in the name of Islam are rarely or never justifiable actions.  In many cases, people in countries with large Muslim populations are as concerned as Western nations about the threat of Islamic extremism, and have become increasingly concerned in recent years. Research proves time after time that Islam overall is a peaceful religion that does not condone violence and mass murder without cause.

Although research proves that Islam is not a violent religion, and many Muslims do not condone the behavior that is portrayed by small violent factions that promote destruction throughout the world, people are still placing the blame and a ban on states that are heavily Muslim.  What grinds my gears is the fact that people place the blame on one religion but overlook all the Christian terrorist that commit crimes in the name of God.  Like ISIS, the Army of God promotes and executes violence within society in the name of God. This radical Christian group kidnaps doctors and their families, bombs abortion clinics, and participate in mass killings of innocent bystanders at planed parenthood centers. Why are we not condemning every person of the christian faith. When I wear a cross around my neck, I do not get shy looks or sideways glances. People do not anticipate me to cause harm to them. Why is there a prejudice?

Now back to the topic, a ban on these countries only increases the racism and prejudices that are already perpetuated within American culture.  It allows people to continue to treat Muslims as a lower class. Within our history, America has been plagued with limiting rights for one group and always has the most asinine reasons to justify limiting the rights and freedoms that are the founding principals of the our country.  One day we all need to wake up and realize that we are all part of the Human Race. We all generally share the general goal of living in a world that is not plagued by war, money, and violence regardless of race, religion, creed, or location.

My second issue is the prohibiting Syrian refugees. Many people believe that these people are terrorists or are gaining entry into the country to live off welfare.  Here is a few facts. On average it takes two years for a refugee to gain clearance into the United States. The interview and clearance process is demanding and requires an absolutely perfect application without flaw. Also less than 1% of refugees are considered for entry into the United States. Listed below is the current vetting process for refugees.

1. Registration with the United Nations.

2. Interview with the United Nations.

3. Refugee status granted by the United Nations.

4. Referral for resettlement in the United States.

The United Nations decides if the person fits the definition of a refugee and whether to refer the person to the United States or to another country for resettlement. Only the most vulnerable are referred, accounting for less than than 1 percent of refugees worldwide. Some people spend years waiting in refugee camps.

5. Interview with State Department contractors.

6. First background check.

7. Higher-level background check for some.

8. Another background check.

The refugee’s name is run through law enforcement and intelligence databases for terrorist or criminal history. Some go through a higher-level clearance before they can continue. A third background check was introduced in 2008 for Iraqis but has since been expanded to all refugees ages 14 to 65.

9. First fingerprint screening; photo taken.

10. Second fingerprint screening.

11. Third fingerprint screening.

The refugee’s fingerprints are screened against F.B.I. and Homeland Security databases, which contain watch list information and past immigration encounters, including if the refugee previously applied for a visa at a United States embassy. Fingerprints are also checked against those collected by the Defense Department during operations in Iraq.

12. Case reviewed at United States immigration headquarters.

13. Some cases referred for additional review.

Syrian applicants must undergo these two additional steps. Each is reviewed by a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services refugee specialist. Cases with “national security indicators” are given to the Homeland Security Department’s fraud detection unit.

14. Extensive, in-person interview with Homeland Security officer.

Most of the interviews with Syrians have been done in Jordan and Turkey.

15. Homeland Security approval is required.

16. Screening for contagious diseases.

17. Cultural orientation class.

18. Matched with an American resettlement agency.

19. Multi-agency security check before leaving for the United States.

Because of the long amount of time between the initial screening and departure, officials conduct a final check before the refugee leaves for the United States.

20. Final security check at an American airport.

That must seem simple right? Wrong. This is a long tedious process. Throughout the process these refugees are being examined by multiple U.S. agencies to determine that they are not in fact a threat to our society. After a refugee enters the United States, they are not able to live free off of our “precious” tax dollars. Did you know that refugees must pay back the cost of their flight to the U.S. after finding a job, or that refugees do not get long-term subsidized housing. All refugees pay back their flight into the U.S. Each refugee receives a stipend of $1,000 to cover three months in a suitable apartment. After three months they must find a way to afford rent on their own. All refugees must apply for jobs after entering the United States. Luckily Syria was a lower middle-income country before war, therefore many refugees are educated and trained.  This allows for refugees to apply for better and more stable jobs within the States. So to cut my rant short, refugees do not get an easy road. These people are placed through extensive checks to insure our safety. What more do we need to do?  What more can we ask for? Why ban people in need?

I will stand for the right to treat each human being with dignity and respect until they prove to not be worthy of my respect regardless of race, color, religious beliefs, political beliefs (unless you spew garbage that cannot be backed up with facts or is outright untrue),  or ethnic background.

I will always preach that are country was founded on freedom for all, and a place with a rich history of immigration. I will end with two important quotes one is by Emma Lazarus, and is placed on the beautiful lady liberty, and ideals I stand by:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

And lastly a quote by dear old Ben Franklin “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” If you are going to allow the government to control our lives and determine who comes into the country to make it safer, you are essentially allowing the government to control other aspects of your life to insure safety. Every day I will choose Freedom over Safety. How safe our we under a government that will determine what we do and who should be allowed the freedom granted under the constitution.

I will end with a simple statement: Stop promoting safety over freedom, Let Freedom Ring!

Here is video to reinforce it all https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9dwHYu_EK4  #meetamuslim

Dear Mr President

Dear President Trump,

I have constantly rallied against your campaign while you were running for president. To my dismay you became president.  After you became president-elect, although I still adamantly was disgusted by the election result, I have decided that you have won the electoral college (an elite system that was created to only allow certain individuals vote for the actual president) I would still respect your title as president.  With that said I may respect your title, but you disgust as human being.

Although you promised to get career politicians put, you in fact have become the epitome of a politician.  You promised during your election “to make america great again”.  My first question is what made american great in the past. Depending on the person, there will be a diverse amount of answers, but to make this letter short, lets take this to the core values of America. What made America great is the fact that are values in our country is the freedom and democracy.  As you have only been in office a few days and seem to continuously attack one the main core values of America.

You silenced government agencies’ twitter pages, have them taking down certain pages to accommodate your philosophies,  you have condemned women for exercising their right to assemble.  This is not America. This is not Freedom. This is not democracy. THIS IS ONE MAN CONTROLLING AND MANIPULATING THE GOVERNMENT!  This is what happens in communist, oligarchies, and under dictators.   How are you making America Great again?

Here is a small piece of advice from someone who does not identify as either a republican or democrat.  Put your own big-headed opinions aside and listen to the concerns and cries of your fellow Americans.  What would make America great is to stop the government from infringing on our basic rights.  Allow people to make their own choices in regards to their body. Stop allowing watchdog agencies to tap into my computer because I smear your name. Stop thinking I am an uneducated person because my opinions differ from yours.  Accept that america is great because we are a melting pot of people.  Stop worrying about building a wall to keep people out, and build a society that does not need to be a police state, but rather a community that will expel the negative (which right now includes you).  Stop worrying about the numbers at your inauguration, and worry more about the fact that this country was built on a separation of church and state which never seems to correlate to laws that do not directly violate our freedom to practice any religion that we shall believe. Stop telling me about your christian values when you cannot even stay married to the same woman without divorce. I guess what I am saying is stop being you. Stop saying you are going to make America Great when you are just proving to be just as hypocritical as any other politician in office.

So even if you will not make America Great, I will continue to make America great again through my daily actions. I will continue to spread love and understanding. Instead of blaming people for having a difference of opinion than me, I will listen and learn from their knowledge of the subject.  I will listen and be understanding even when I disagree because that is the ultimate form of respecting someone else.  I hope within the next four years that you prove me wrong, and you truly make America a great place to live again.

Well I will conclude with talk to you later Mr. President. I hope you will hear my message and many other Americans cry for a Greater America.

 

Truly yours,

KAT

Love is Love: Raising Children

Recently, I was discussing with a group of coworkers about the fact that I am currently not interested in pushing out a baby.  Before I continue I am not against having children, but as of right now children are not in the cards for me. So to continue on with the story.  Everyone in the group chuckled and told me that I will most likely going have a kid, and we started discussing how raising children in modern society is a huge task, and some of the harsh realities of society today.  During this conversation, my supervisor stated “KP, you must not want children because you would dread the day when your son tells you he is gay, I mean look at all these homosexual and transgender children nowadays.”

At first, I was a little upset at the fact that my supervisor thought I was closed minded. I was also shocked that he assumed that when I talked about how modern society has destroyed the traditional childhood experience he thought I was referring to subjects such as the above.  This statement plagued me that entire night because deep down inside when I really thought about it he was absolutely right.

I consider myself open minded, but I would be completely mortified if my son came home and sat me down to tell me he is attracted to men.  I would feel that I failed as a parent.  I failed to show my son the right way to live life.  The plain and simple truth is my son should not have to sit me down and have a conversation about the person he loves or is attracted to.  He should not have to declare to me or anyone else who he is as a person.  He should not have to “come out of the closet”.  As a parent I would want my son to causally introduce me to his boyfriend without forewarning me of his gender.  I would want to raise my son to know that love is love no matter what.  I want to have that relationship with my children, where my son comes home gushing to me about his latest crush regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, or any other factor that separates all of us individuals within the human race.  Simply I would want my son or daughter to live a life that resembles their true personality, and to have children that never need to worry about the negative connotations in society regarding love and sexuality.

Moral of the story, my supervisor was right in all the wrong ways.  I am not afraid for my kids to be different from the norm, I am afraid to be a mother that raise children who think that being different or loving the same gender or a different race is not acceptable. I want them to grow up in a household that shows them that love is love no matter what, and I will be more than thrilled to meet person they decide to share their heart with. To my future children (although honestly I am okay with not having any devils) never fear that I will be closed minded and love whomever your heart desires.