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.

Meet my Squishy.

Squishy: A person who carries their emotions on their sleeve and are open to express emotions to others. People who are not afraid to share their love, heart, and soul with others. A person who appears to be more vulnerable but open to the possibly of love and romance.

One of my best friends is of the opposite sex. We both meet in college and learned that personality wise we are pretty similar. Although I have theories on the nature and cause of our dynamic personas, it all boils down to that we just vibe and understand the underlying nature of one another on a weird level because in many ways we are practically the same person. We know our downfalls, and what outside forces change our beings.  We are different enough but face similar obstacles in many realms of life especially in regards to trusting others.

Due to our natural similarity, my dear friend figured out my love life by fixing and accomplishing the impossible within his own.   He is due to be married to the love of his life within the next few weeks, and along the way discovered our weakness.  Our weakness is the squishy.

To allow some history, I am a guarded person. I keep my emotions in place and never allow myself to truly love someone on a romantic level. I am great at making people like and most of the time love me without returning the same mutual feelings.  By nature I do not feel emotions on the same level as “normal” humans. I rarely get “butterflies” in my stomach, I do not see wedding bells and future children, and I never plan on them meeting my family or friends (which are a huge part of my life). That does not mean I do not date because I date and get a decent amount of interest, but usually my friends and family find out by me talking about “this” guy I dated last month.

Recently I had a slight change.  I was introduced to someone who intrigued me initially, annoyed me beyond measure, but ultimately made me have the “normal” emotional feelings that people have. As my friend, mentioned at the beginning,  would say “I met my squishy”, a person that felt natural to be around, but also gave me the butterfly feeling. Someone who I did not shut off within the first three hours of meeting.  That I laughed at the very things that usually would make my skin crawl… you know the horrible pick up lines, being philosophical for no reason at all, talking about how sexy Latinas’ are (because he assumed I was a Latina which drives me crazy), making everything into an analogy that makes absolutely no sense at all, not being direct, and making  unnecessary rash and rude comments as a joke to prevent people from getting mad. In general he is everything that I never go for in a guy, but felt drawn to him for no good reason.  I finally felt vulnerable. Being near him felt natural and familiar. For once I did not give half truths to someone that I hardly knew from a random stranger on the street. A light finally went off.

To put everything into perspective, and to get to the point of this whole thing, I finally felt something.  I felt the mushy, squishy feelings that I have suppressed and never thought possible. I met one of my “squishes” .  Luckily, I have a guide who has went through the same process as me to help figure out my feelings and to make me recognize that he is not the only squishy I will encounter. I will find one that one day, I will ultimately marry (which if anyone who knows me well enough knows is a frightening thought for me). One day I will become truly vulnerable, and this person will awaken every emotion that is buried deep inside.  Until than (which I am glad it is not now because I am truly not ready for it) I will go through life carefree and know that deep down I am actually human and not a machine without feelings. I will constantly be searching for the person that gives me instant butterflies, and will be my forever squishy.

My advice is to open yourself to unexplained feelings.  If you are an over emotional person who falls for each person that crosses your path, know that there will be someone that will one day reciprocate those same feelings.  For those who guard your heart and soul, you will find someone that will destroy every barrier that you are hiding behind.  It is okay to be afraid of the vulnerability, it would more concerning if you are not. Regardless, you will be loved beyond measure and  you will love like you never imagined possible. Romantic love is in the cards for you. Just have faith or run away both are viable options (in my unemotional, unprofessional opinion).

Spoiler alert: This first squishy was not a squishy meant for me. He is meant to rescue someone else (and I am meant to rescue another-at least for the time being), but I have determined that without him disturbing my unemotional state, I would never have gained the knowledge that there is someone out there that will awaken my soul like no other person has.  A special thanks to my best friend, his future wife that some how manages to love him and be great friends with me (two people who are resilient and tough as nails), and of course to my first squishy who has shown me what life as an emotional person feels like,  who unfortunately will somewhat remain in my life due to mutual acquaintances.

Until the next time…. I will continue to chase the butterflies.

-Bella Kat

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

Security in Exchange for Freedom

The other day, I heard one of the most startling statements on the news.  A French politician was talking about the recent attack on the country.  He made a statement along the lines that France has come to regret the amount of freedom that it has placed within the hands of the citizens and that the state has failed to protect their citizens.  Later in this same news segment a political analyst stated that France is looking to enact legislation similar to the American Patriot Act.

Since the attack that occurred on September 11, 2001 there has been increase in the amount of information the government has been able to obtain without a warrant.   There has been an increase in spy activity on citizens and occupants of the United States.  There have also been extra measures taken to protect the United States from future attacks.  We are slowly diminishing our liberties and freedoms that so many revolutionary figures have fought to gain.

Why has our society moved away from freedom to gain a small amount of security?  So many of us are frightened to the point that we are willing to sacrifice our freedom to feel safe.  The reality is that no matter the implements put into place, we can never be truly safe.  Each day you have to face the world and the evils that exist within it.   There is no full proof plan that can be put into place that will protect us at all times, so why are we so willing to give up our freedom for a small sense of protection and security.  Why allow the government to infringe on the rights that so many people fought and gave their lives to protect? I am not saying that this spy ware and extra measures that has been in place has not caught many individuals with harmful intentions, but it has placed limitations on millions of citizens who have done nothing to deserve the invasion.

Hopefully people begin to realize that limiting the rights and freedoms of their citizens will not help prevent these terrible and unfortunate attacks throughout the world.  These attacks will continue, but hopefully throughout the course of unrest Freedom will prevail on top.

I would like to end with a quote by Benjamin Franklin, who summarizes the dilemma perfectly: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

*note I stayed rather vague on the topic because it is a simple rant. I have done some research on the topic although this is not my specific area of focus within political science.  My research focused on the causes for Americans to need a sense of security and the abuses that has occurred from increased protection measures.