Donald Trump’s America


ap220x20016x121fffffft-pad220x200ffffff-u2Photo credit : Redbubble

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, Donald Trump won the Presidential election of the USA. A shock to millions. So much has happened since then, many of it, unprecedented. I’ve made it a practice to stay away from discussing politics and religion with anyone, especially, if they stand on the opposite side. People are heavily entrenched in their beliefs. On many occasions, people were spewing so much hatred on Social Media; I had to un-follow them. We are still friends; I simply chose not to be exposed it on a regular basis.

Some of the best people I know voted for Trump, including many members of my church. I should point out I haven’t been actively attending for some time. In one of my few political posts during this election cycle, I wrote about the NC chapter of the KKK holding a victory rally for DT. One church member and “friend”came at me. Like a bull in a china shop. She said I should get down on my knees, pray for the spirit of discernment, and ask for forgiveness. She wrote a lot of other hateful and insulting things. Initially, I was taken off guard. I kept it together, by taking a deep breath before formulating my response. There are ways to tell people to go to hell, and have them look forward to the ride.

My post today is about DT’s rhetoric. Some claimed to have voted for him because they want a wall. Others say he is different, says it like it is, and not afraid of being “politically correct” or offending anyone. Personally, I don’t care what their reasons are. We can’t all bat for the same team! However, this is what I care about; DT thinks all Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers. Blacks live in poverty, and are uneducated. Muslims are terrorists. He has mocked the disabled, openly disrespected women, gays, LGBT etc. My friends, these are the issues I care about, and have a problem with.

Since the election, a great number of people think it’s open season to attack (physically and verbally) groups who are different and disadvantaged. I don’t mean the peaceful protests right after the election. No, I am talking about 7th graders in a Michigan school, chanting “Build that wall” in the cafeteria around their Latino classmates. In another school incident (outside Chicago), the words “Whites Only” were written on a bathroom wall. A former football player, awoke one morning to find racial slurs written on his car. Minorities being threatened by whites. People asking their Muslim neighbors to leave, or they will be deported. The Muslim woman shopping in Wal-Mart, who had her hijab ripped off, and was then told, they were no longer allowed. The list is endless.

Surprisingly, the same people who were so vocal about their support for DT, are now very silent. Right here, is where a small sore grows, fester, and turns into a virus.  I don’t see any of them saying this is wrong. Sure, they might briefly comment on another person’s post, if at all. However, no one have personally come out, and condemned the behaviors. I’ve seen them share photos and videos of the protests though. What a sad time in history.

I know the people who voted for DT don’t want to be associated with hate groups. The same people have gotten offended, when anyone remotely suggests they are racists, because of how they voted. Heck, they don’t want to be viewed as homophobic, racist, or anything close. I understand this. I do. You agree with DT’s political views, and that’s okay. However, when you turn a blind eye to the consequences of his campaign’s rhetoric, we all wonder if this is truly the way you feel, simply too afraid to speak out, or suffering from the typical “not-in-my-backyard-syndrome”.

Take a stand! It is frightening to step outside your cozy comfort zone. You might not belong to the groups he threatened to displace when he is elected. No. You might never have to worry about any of the injustices so many suffer daily. However, there are millions who do. Can we stand with them please? Can we assure them they are wanted here (legally of course)? We need help to bridge the divide. A little goes a long way. Speak up and speak out.  We need you. They need you. The world needs you.

The Electoral College meets in two days. Many of DT’s supporters, are now very dissatisfied with the people he has chosen for his cabinet. He isn’t draining any swamp. He has already gone back on a few promises he made. Some have already regretted casting their vote for him. Too late now. If DT is confirmed President of the USA, we will accept it. We hope and pray, he does what is best for the country. He is a self- preservationist after all. However, we can’t stand idly by, wringing our hands, and do nothing, when we see another human being in need. This is America, after all. Rise up.

 

Until the next post,

 

Best,

 

Juan

Happy Thanksgiving Day America!


happy-thanksgiving-day-america-23-2-465x285Photo credit: google images

Someone I know described this year like this : “2016 was like a f*****d up friend you were hoping would change, because you really cared about them.Then you realized that they’re going to be who they’re going to be, and you’re trying to let go, but it’s so hard because there’s this tiny tiny part of you who still believes they’re going to want better. I’m hoping 2017 will be the unexpected friend you just met who changes your life

He hit the nail on the head! For many of us. My dear friends and followers, wherever this post finds you, and regardless of how this year has treated you, please know, the world IS grateful for you. Thanks for being!

Happy Thanksgiving America!

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

I Am Me.


learning-how-to-speak-my-truth(Photo Credit : veganyogalife)

In the recent past, I’ve discovered, and fell in love with a few authors. They give new meaning to the word FABULOUS.  I’m drawn to the ways in which they express themselves. Raw. Unapologetic. Authentic. Below is another piece from the incomparable Janne Robinson. I see so much of myself in the words and phrases below. I make no apologies for how I feel. You shouldn’t either.

If you’re either easily offended or prudish, with all the kindness and respect I can convey here, it’s best if you carry on, now.

This is for the women who don’t give a f**k. The women who are first to get naked, howl at the moon and jump into the sea. The women who drink too much whisky, stay up too late and have sex like they mean it. The women who know they aren’t sluts because they enjoy sex, but human beings with a healthy sexual appetite. The women who will ask you for what they need in bed.

This is for the women who seek relentless joy; the ones who know how to laugh with their whole souls. The women who speak to strangers because they have no fear in their hearts. The ones who wear “night make up” in the morning or don’t own mascara.

The women who know their worth, who plant their feet and roar in their brilliance. The women who aren’t afraid to tell a man to get the f**k out of her heart if he doesn’t honour her heart. This is for the women who rock combat boots with frilly skirts.

The women who swear like truck drivers. The women who hold the people who harass or wrong them with fierce accountability. The women who flip gender norms and false limitations the bird and live to run successful companies giving “the man” a run for his name. The ones who don’t find their success a compliment just because they have a vagina.

Women like Gloria Steinem who, when she was told, “We want a writer, not a woman. Go home,” kept writing anyway. This is for the women who drink coffee at midnight and wine in the morning, and dare you to question it. For the women who open doors for men and are confident enough to have doors opened for them.

Who use “no” to be in service for themselves. Who don’t give a damn about pleasing the world, and do sweetly as they wish. For the superheroes—the single moms who work three jobs to make it. I salute your resilient, cape-flapping, ambitious selves.

This is for the women who throw down what they love, and don’t waste time following society’s pressures to exist behind a white picket fence. The women who create wildly, unbalanced, ferociously and in a blur at times. The women who know how to be busy and know how to plant their feet in the earth and get grounded. These are the women I want around me.

Whoever you are. However you choose to express your truth. Live it. Love it. Celebrate who you are!

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Stay Gone!


original1As a follow on to my last post, I’m sharing the poem below by the oh-so-talented Marty McConnell. The piece is life affirming and brilliant. All too often, we often go back to the same dead-end, toxic relationship. Hoping this time around, things will be different. Holding out hope. It’s so much easier than accepting the alternative; the relationship is over. Has been, for a long time.

IF like me, you’ve done this time and again, or you’re thinking about going back, please read the piece below. A few times, to get the gist of it. You must stay GONE. I don’t mean just physically either! Isn’t it time to live your truth? It took me years to realize: NEVER settle for someone, who isn’t absolutely, insanely, and foolishly happy to be with you!

Leaving is not enough.You must stay gone. Train your heart like a dog. Change the locks even on the house he’s never visited. You lucky, lucky girl. You have an apartment just your size. A bathtub full of tea. A heart the size of Arizona, but not nearly so arid. Don’t wish away your cracked past, your crooked toes, your problems are papier mache puppets you made or bought because the vendor at the market was so compelling you just had to have them. You had to have him. And you did.

And now you pull down the bridge between your houses, you make him call before he visits, you take a lover for granted, you take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic. Make the first bottle you consume in this place a relic. Place it on whatever altar you fashion with a knife and five cranberries. Don’t lose too much weight. Stupid girls are always trying to disappear as revenge. And you are not stupid. You loved a man with more hands than a parade of beggars, and here you stand. Heart like a four-poster bed. Heart like a canvas. Heart leaking something so strong they can smell it in the street.”  Frida Kahlo to Marty McConnell by Marty McConnell.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

#dontfeedthenarcissist#


dont-feed-the-narcissistI have written about my relationship with a narc. Shared articles and personal insights into how they go about attracting their empaths; the ensuing devaluing, triangulation, gas lighting etc. There is a really good chance you have dated one, and never even knew it. You might have had an inkling something was off, but just couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Narcs are crazy makers! Red Flag Series takes you to previous articles I’ve shared on the subject.

If you have dated a narc, the end goal is to not fall victim to their charms. Ever again. It’s not uncommon people to fall for a narc multiple times. The pattern and toxic cycles will continue, until you figure out the reasons why you keep attracting them.

I found the article below on Narcnation. It lays out helpful strategies and advice to protect yourself. Apologies for the length, however, it contains situations you will recognize. So sit down, grab a cuppa, and take notes!

  1. Be slow in trusting. Trust is not something we should just give away, especially to people we have just met or began dating. However, this doesn’t mean to question everything your new partner says and/or does. It does mean to take your time and get to know the person. Do not rush into a relationship or declare your love for each other after a few weeks. Healthy love takes time to develop and should happen naturally and with ease. If your new partner is fast forwarding the relationship in any way, then you must proceed with caution. If you attempt to slow things down and your partner gets upset or tries to talk you out of your decision then you know this person isn’t completely healthy.
  1. Verify and investigate information. This doesn’t mean stalk their Facebook page, or run a background check on them (although at times this needs to be done), or interrogate them. It simply means to listen and listen well. Pay attention to what they tell you. Are there inconsistencies? Have you caught them in a few little white lies? Are they forthcoming with information or do you get the sense they are holding back? Ask questions. A lot of questions. Because how else are you supposed to get to know someone.

This is important and I know this from experience. I met my ex on an online dating site. His profile said he was divorced. We exchanged a few emails before agreeing to meet in person and in one of the emails I asked him how long he had been divorced. This was in January and he answered that he had officially been divorced since October. I inquired about this because I wasn’t interested in someone who had just gotten divorced or was almost divorced. I wanted to be sure that the person I was going out with was 100% available to be going on dates. We went out and we hit it off or so I thought. Six months later, after he love bombed me with ‘I love you” after two weeks and asked me to move in after a month, I found out he was still married (I found out by searching public records because I had a hunch something was off). Being the charming narcissist that he is, he convinced me to stay and claimed he lied because he didn’t think we would turn into anything so it didn’t matter. Stupidly, I accepted this lame excuse and a month later he was officially divorced.

  1. If it seems too good to be true it is! My ex and I had been dating for two weeks when he told me he loved me. I don’t know if I was intoxicated that night because we had went to a bar or I was simply naïve, but I said it back and at the time thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. I had met this seemingly wonderful guy who was attractive, funny, smart, and open with his feelings. I remember thinking our relationship was like a fairytale and that I was finally getting my happily ever after. Within 3 months of dating, the cracks began to show and my dream guy had turned into a nightmare.

Narcissists are con artists. They know exactly what to say and do to get us hooked and then they pull the rug out from under us. We are then left confused and desperate for things to go back to the way they used to be, the way they were in the beginning, but they never go back because the beginning wasn’t real. The narc played us. The narc used us. They abused us and left us with next to nothing because these types of men are always too good to be true.

  1. Don’t expose your weaknesses/vulnerabilities. If I have learned anything from dating abusive men it is to not share every single detail about my life and my past. I am selective with what I share with people. Some people get a lot and some get very little. It all depends on my level of trust and comfort with the person. Have they proven they are trustworthy? Have they shown that they value our relationship? Do they consistently respect me? How long have I known this person? Do they have a history of gossiping? Dating a narcissist will quickly show you that nothing you tell them is sacred. Narcs love to use our weaknesses against us to inflict pain. They can take a seemingly innocent detail about us and turn it into the most hurtful and degrading insult. Does your partner really need to know that every guy you’ve ever dated was an asshole? No. At least not on day one and maybe not even on day 365. A narcissist can take your love for chocolate cake and turn it around on you by calling you a fat pig that eats cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yes, they are that juvenile. I am not suggesting that you share nothing about yourself with people, but instead be smart about what you share and if someone uses something you told them against you, run!
  1. Take a break from dating. If you have recently ended a relationship, whether with a narcissist or not, it is imperative that you take time for yourself. Taking a break from dating is the only way to really heal. It is during this time that we should take stock of our lives and decipher the reasons why we ended up in an abusive relationship. What is at your core that attracts you to men who treat you poorly? Low self-esteem is typically to blame. We don’t love ourselves. We don’t believe we are good enough or deserving of healthy love, especially if we have never experienced it. Sadly, a lot of our parents failed to show us what healthy love is supposed to look like so we are on our own trying to figure out what we need to do or change about ourselves to attract healthy people. Attracting healthy people into our lives ultimately starts with us. It starts with us liking ourselves and saying no to people and things that are no good for us. To do this, we must take time and not jump from one bad relationship to the next without healing from the previous one. I suggest taking at least 90 days and committing to caring for yourself. Commit to having better boundaries. Commit to your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. Read books, listen to podcasts, exercise, go on a trip, organize your entire house, go to therapy, and learn to cook, or plan a party. Do anything, but do it without a partner or bringing a date. Solitude is so good for us. It is so good to sit with our feelings, especially our loneliness. Push through the bad feelings and eventually you will work them out and move forward.
  1. Do a boundary check. Do you know your limits? Do you know how to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty or offering a lengthy explanation? What are your dating deal breakers? Do you even know what you are looking for in a partner? Make a list. Get specific. What will you tolerate and what will you walk away from?
  1. How does your partner speak about their exes? If your partner talks poorly about his exes and blames their breakup solely on them, get out now. This is a huge red flag and should be taken very seriously. If your partner bad mouths their ex, you can guarantee they will bad mouth you as well. At first you might feel bad for your partner and what they went through with their supposedly “crazy” ex. However, if you have done the work on yourself and are stepping into the dating scene armed with information, education, and a good sense of what a healthy relationship is, you will realize that this person is no good for you. Healthy people are able to breakup with their partners and not talk badly about them. Healthy people do not blame the failure of an entire relationship on the other partner. Healthy people can experience the end of a relationship and walk away without seeking revenge or name-calling.

On our first date my ex told me his ex-wife was crazy and had cheated on him. He even went as far as calling her a borderline (meaning she has borderline personality disorder). Now, his ex may very well be disordered and she may have cheated on him. I don’t know for sure. But, what I do know is that my ex was horribly abusive in every way you can imagine and told me I was crazy and accused me almost daily of cheating on him when I never did.

  1. How do you feel when you are not with your partner? Are you calm and secure because your partner is consistent with their character and showing you care and respect? Or are you anxious and restless because you never know if your partner is going to call or stick to scheduled plans? Do you have mixed feelings about your relationship or have a strong feeling of uncertainty? Do you know where you stand with this person? Has the relationship been defined? Have you been open with what you want and what you are looking for in a partner? Our bodies can tell us a great deal about things, people, and situations. When we are around good company we feel calm, secure, and at ease. There is peacefulness when being around these types of people. When we are around bad company our bodies can feel tense and stressed. We can experience worry and anxiety, doubt and confusion. Being involved with a narcissist can make us feel on edge, keyed up and chaotic, which is exactly the type of response that gives them pleasure.

Trying to fall asleep with my ex next to me was nearly impossible. I would be anxious and restless lying next to him. My skin would itch all over and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I remember feeling like I couldn’t go to sleep because I didn’t know what he would do. He would badger me when we argued and everything I said was taken out of context or twisted around. He had an excuse for everything and normally I was to blame for why he lied or called me a cunt or choked me. These one sided arguments could last for days even without my participation. I eventually realized that it didn’t matter what I said because he would always find a way to make me the bad guy. I was always wrong. So, instead of fighting back, I shut down. I stopped talking or I would respond with one word answers or simply say ok. This infuriated him and thus kept it going. I know why I was anxious sleeping next to him. I didn’t feel safe and my body was telling me that.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you need a list of more resources, please feel free to get in touch!

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

 

 

Sit Down!


gabbydouglascover-696x392Photo Credit: NBC Olympics

Despite Gabby Douglas’s phenomenal history making performance at the London 2012 Olympic Games, her accomplishments since then, and now with the Final Five US Women Gymnastics’ team  in Rio, trolls still managed to find ways to bully her. First they attacked her hair (in this case, her edges), then vilified her, for not placing hand over heart, during the medal ceremony.

I find it incredibly troubling to note, the vicious and demeaning “nappy hair” comments started within the black community. One that Gabby and I belong to. As a side note, the majority of black women, are known for being overly concerned, intensely preoccupied, and incredibly vain, when it comes to their hair. Upkeep is expensive, but sometimes other responsibilities take a back seat to the beauty shop. Hair must always slay! By any means necessary. It is not uncommon for some women to sacrifice health (cut exercise), to keep up a certain look.

I also think it’s incredibly distressing, that the same people who have been marginalized, oppressed, and discriminated against, would take it upon themselves to initiate the attacks. I expected only the loudest cheers of support and praise. Nothing  less. The Olympics is a sporting event, NOT a hair show.  I was, however, encouraged by celebrities who used their star power, to publicly offer encouragement and support, at a time when she desperately needed it.

Next, other groups started attacking Gabby for her supposed lack of patriotism. The ignorance was loud and deafening. Not every athlete at Rio (or any other Olympics) placed hand over heart during the American anthem. Some did, others laughed, cried, smiled, stared into the unknown. It’s common for hands to be either in front, or at the sides. As a litmus test example, one American soldier, Sam Kendricks, stopped in the middle of his Pole Vault performance, and stood at attention, when the anthem started playing. No hand was placed over heart. He didn’t have to.

I’m inclined to think medaling in any event as big as the Olympics, often elicits a paramount of emotions. No one should be judged, by how they respond while the anthem is being played. Now, total disrespect, is a horse of a different color. There is NO law or practice to dictate what to do during this time. My heart went out to her, as she fought back tears during an interview, where she was asked to address the trolling.

I’m also at a loss as to why everyone cannot simply enjoy THIS moment in history. The Final Five is now the most successful, and decorated female gymnastics team ever. A truly amazing feat. One that deserves the highest levels of respect, appreciation, and admiration. Sadly, there is always the “special attention seeking few” who choose to cloud an accomplishment.

To the ones who participated in this inexcusable behavior, I hope you’re all proud of yourselves! No one will remember you, BUT, they will remember the achievements of these fabulous young women, Gabby included! I am sure Gabby doesn’t need me to defend her. No. I think she is quite capable of standing up for herself. One doesn’t get to where she is, and not have a few life affirming experiences, with which to battle the storms.

For all the haters, detractors, trolls, negative Nancy’s; have a seat! As a matter of fact, have several. Stay in your own lane. The fact that you would publicly attack someone you’ve never met,  who worked so hard to help her country win, became a role model to millions of girls in the process, and focus on something so trivial like her hair style, says more about you, than it could ever do about her. You are a troll. Plain and simple. So, how many medals have you won for your country? My guess is NONE.

Let’s say for argument’s sake, Gabby, or anyone else, decides to wear their hair curly, straight, kinky, braided etc. What exactly did she do wrong? Her hair didn’t get in the way of winning. Consider for a moment, if that was your daughter on the world’s biggest sporting stage. The pressure to do well is not for the fainthearted. She won. However, people who don’t know her personally, have begun attacking her for no reason. Doesn’t feel good with the shoe on the other foot, now does it? Society is constantly telling us, we’re not good enough. On the contrary, we are. Always have been. Always will.

Furthermore, the next time you decide to write negative and offensive statements, whether it’s about Gabby or someone else, PLEASE, have a long look in the mirror, and figure out how you got to this point. The rest of us, don’t want any part of what you’re selling. You might get attention for fifteen minutes, but very soon, you’ll be seen for what you are.  Remember, you’ll catch a lot more flies with honey, than vinegar.

Gabby has accomplished MORE than half of you put together, in your lifetimes. Besides being a three-time gold medal Olympic champion, she has released a memoir.  Landed a reality show. Created her own leotard clothing line. This year, Barbie launched The Gabby Douglas doll.  On a side note, when this post was published, news broke that Gabby has been tapped as a judge, on the Miss America 2017 pageant. I’m willing to bet the accolades and accomplishments doesn’t end there.

Gabby is a role model for every young girl, sat at home, watched the Olympics, and dreamt of representing her country (not necessarily in gymnastics). Millions of us are immensely proud of her efforts. In 2012, she was th BEST in the world! This time around she still managed to help Team USA win gold, again. Little girls who most likely turned to their mothers, with sparkling, wide-eyed innocence, and asked “Mom, can I do that?”, to which came the response “Of course you can baby. And one day you will!”

Gabby, I hope you’re too busy writing the next phase of your life, to bother giving a spearing thought to any of these detractors. Continue to show the world just how great you are.  And long after you’ve retired from gymnastics, you’ll still be blazing trails. I know being in the public eye, and having your every move scrutinized, can’t be easy. Sadly, people think its open season to hide behind their keyboards, and become instant experts on every and anything.

You’re a BADASS. Entrepreneur. Author. Role Model. Olympic Champion. You will ALWAYS have these things to look back on. No one can take them away from you. Happily, it’s not the only label that defines you. We think you’re strong, capable, gracious, and resilient.

So carry on. Get up and own it. We are all cheering for you. Because..”Still You Rise”

Until the next post,

Best,

 

Juan

Keep Shining Dear Ones


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Photo Credit : Instagram

Hello Friends,

I wanted to reach out to anyone struggling with self-doubt. The kind either created by our own minds, or the people we surround ourselves with. I don’t know what your circumstances are, I could never know. However, I can tell you, what others think about you, is none of your business.

Keep doing good. Keep working on yourself. Keep striving. Only you truly know your journey, and what it took to get there.  No one can write your story, and even if they did, how will it turn out?

Do your thing, and do it unapologetically. People will criticize, but you probably know what they are going to say. The same thing that makes your pulse beat faster, your eyes sparkle, when talking about it, do it. As often as you can, for as long as you can.

It has taken a lot of resolve and persistence to get where you are. You didn’t come this far to quit. In the words of R Scott Fitzgerald: “For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whosoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. And if you find that you’re not, I hope you find the strength to start over”

Live. Love. Laugh.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

 

No Man Is Free….


A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Yesterday, in a city I called home for more than a decade, news outlets showed footage of a black man, lying on his back in the street, hands in the air. He was trying to explain to police, the situation unfolding around him. Police showed up, to investigate reports of a suicidal person with a “gun”, and saw a black Behavioral Therapist with his white autistic patient, who was holding a toy truck. He was out walking with his client. Despite the volatile situation, the therapist can be heard trying to calm his patient, to prevent the situation from becoming even more dangerous.

The autistic man is sitting on the ground, a few inches away from the black man. One cop discharged his firearm, and shot the black man in his leg, multiple times. Coincidentally, the one who “posed” a threat by holding the toy truck / which looked like a “gun” wasn’t harmed. The therapist was then handcuffed, and left bleeding on the sidewalk for more than 20 minutes, before being taken to the hospital. When the victim asked why he was shot, the cop allegedly responded “I don’t know”. Current mantra states; do as you’re told, keep your hands up, obey police orders, and you won’t get shot. The cop and his superior’s excuse? He was aiming for the “armed” autistic man, but missed. Mind you, the cop is a SWAT member. Laughable!

I cannot begin to write about the number of incidents of racial profiling in America. I’ve also watched reports of a few brave cops in NY, who have spoken out about the pressure to make arrests. All in the name of quotas.  It’s not uncommon for them to go into the vulnerable communities, and literally hunt for people to arrest. Cops know they can easily pull over a minority for a license plate infarction etc. It wouldn’t be right for me to write this post, without mentioning that Hispanics are also facing this issue, although, to much lesser extent.

Here are the FACTS: African Americans are 30% more likely to be pulled over than whites. After being pulled over, African Americans and Hispanics are three time more likely to be searched. In 2015, African Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rates of whites. They are also arrested at more than twice the rates of whites. They are 75% more likely to be charged with offenses, and sentences are 10% longer when arrested for the same crime. The list goes on.

In stark contrast, people have shared their experiences, and videos of what is considered white privilege. I’m equally astounded by the restraint showed by law enforcement when arresting a white person, in comparison to people of color. In one incident, a police pulled over a white motorist, and saw he had a shot-gun in his car. Nothing came of it. The police and the motorist, ended up having a long chat. He was sent on his way. No ticket, no arrest, no checking to see if he had a permit to carry his gun.

In the past few weeks, the televised brutal and horrific murder of Alton Sterling and Philande Castile, brought about huge demonstrations, and clashes with police. There have also been instances of multiple police officers getting shot and killed, by men who reportedly got tired of police killing black men. Using violence to fight violence never solves any problems. I also know not every police officer is crooked. There are good men with integrity risking their lives each day, for our safety.

I’m beyond horrified at the state the country is in. Men, women, children have fallen at the hands of police. I started sharing my feelings on Facebook, showing my support to end racism in the police force. I tend to stay away from political posts on social media.  I don’t waste time arguing about religion and politics. There is no need. I’m not sure if it was the culture shock of being absent from the country for more than six years, or being exposed to the graphic images of men dying, but I made my feelings known.

For the most part, some folks have been supportive. Others have stayed silent. Very silent. The same silent types have voiced their opinions on the killings of the police officers. Is one life more important or precious than the other? I can’t tell you how much this worries me. Maybe it shouldn’t. I mentally filed this observation away. If I dwell on it too much, it can develop into unwanted feelings. One uninformed and uneducated person, in another country, with no links or experience to the situation in America, decided she was offended by my status, and took to airing her views. A few have also stated that it isn’t happening in their country, so why protest. I need to take a closer look at my friends list! Obviously, they’re suffering from the #notinmybackyardsyndrome#

Race relations in America is a very emotive issue. Tensions have never been higher. Police have always killed black men. The only difference now, is that cameras are rolling. Anyone who denies that racism exists in America, and especially in the police force, is part of the problem, not the solution. Closet racists perhaps. It’s easy to recognize them, and their thinly disguised racist remarks, “Well, he should comply with orders”, “He had lengthy criminal record”. “Let’s wait for all the facts to come out”..

I’m in NY at this time. I’m not keen on driving (besides public transport isn’t too bad). I simply don’t want to give the police any opportunity to meet their quotas, or become another “driving while black” statistic. Multiple black women have died in police custody. I’m not saying this will happen to me, but the people who died didn’t think it would happen to them either. I’ve never really felt at home/settled in America, if I am honest. The current situation just adds to my growing unease. However, I find myself here now, and I will make the best of it.

I simply want to state here, as I’ve done on social media, that the world is watching. Racism has no place in the police force. It’s time for law enforcement to be held to a higher standard, and stop killing black and other minorities. We need a more thorough vetting and training process for policemen, including rigorous psychological assessments. The most powerful nation in the world, and this is the example we set.

I’ve been encouraged by people peacefully exercising their right to demonstrate against the obvious injustices facing minorities in America. Back in my beloved city of Bristol, crowds marched to show their support. I say thank you. For taking a stand and showing the rest of the world that you won’t stay silent. For doing more than lip service, as minorities are being slaughtered on America’s streets. I too, will find a march in my local area, and take part. If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything.

I’m not saying everyone should be out marching, or doing what they can to end racism in any form. I would never ask that of anyone. I often wonder though, if black cops were out systematically killing Caucasians, how would society handle this? Would we just stand by shake our heads, and helplessly mutter:” This isn’t right…Something needs to be done..Blah blah..”. I don’t think so.

MLK’s words ring through now, more than ever: “No man is free, until all men are free everywhere”.

Until the next post,

 

Best,

 

Juan.

Freedom Is Not Free.


 

aphiliprandolph212163America celebrated Independence yesterday. All around the city of Brooklyn, people came out with the familiar celebratory BBQ  get up; food and drinks to feed a small army, grills, loud music, and of course, family, friends, and loved ones, to mark the nation’s annual tradition. Amidst the flurry of activity, I couldn’t help but reflect on what makes us truly free. Can we be truly free of any and everything?

Rhetorical question, yes. There will always be a crisis to handle, problem to solve, and some part of our world to be put to right. Isn’t life a constant changing of the guards from one problem to another? If we are to grow and learn from experience, then these challenges are necessary, right? Isn’t this what those self-improvement guru’s want us to believe? I have also blogged about the need to remain steady and firm in the face of difficulties.

My thoughts then turned to the things I can control. My actions and how much they impact my future happiness. There is no personalized life book that comes with any of us at birth. We make what we think is the best decision, and hope for the right outcome.  I guess I can only look back now, at the battles the past few years, and ponder heavily on how one decision changed the course of my life. Forever.

Stay with me.

The year started out with major disappointments. Two days in, and the bad news opened like flood gates. Adding to the existing string of difficult issues already being tended to. They kept coming. Granted, I have to accept and appreciate all the good. The small and big moments of happiness, that have help me through the most difficult few years of my life. Some of which have been noted on my Earth strong post. You can’t have the great without the struggle. The only prayer I offer up these days is one of hope, for things to turn around.

I used to attend church regularly. Served the members of my congregation in every capacity possible. Did all the right things. For a very long time. Somewhere along the line, all that changed. As a result of one decision. Call it the consequences of veering off the path, or some type of karmic shift, I don’t know, but the ensuing years have been very harsh. I was free to make this decision, but not free of the consequences. No one ever is. Freedom does come at a cost. Always.

I’m writing my memoir. It is a project I’ve started and stopped many times. Why a memoir? I mean, everyone has a story, but not everyone is sharing it with the world. You WILL understand, once it’s published. I’ve abandoned all completion timelines. The story needs to be written and accurately. However, it is coming. Months or years from now, it will come.

When you get to a certain age, for all intents and purposes, it appears you must go through a few years of extreme hardship. I’m aware some people have more. Whether it’s the loss of an important relationship, financial downfall, home, or anything that means something. I remain grateful to the universe though, for the things, experiences, and good, wholesome people I’ve been blessed to cross paths with.

I hope this refiner’s fire I am going through leads to something glorious. Since I no longer hold many of the beliefs about Deity I used to, I only have to believe the universe is preparing me for an elevation of gigantic proportions. I also hope whatever karmic debt I owed in my previous life, will soon be repaid. Then there is the question of whether or not, I ever owed any “debts” to speak of.

I hope the struggles of the past few years continue to strengthen my battle weary shoulders. Among my friends, I’m always admired for qualities such as fortitude, resilience, and inspiration. Sometimes I get tired of the fight. Don’t you? Tired of having to keep a brave face all the time. A partner once told me : ‘You’re strong woman, you don’t need anyone’. Sadly, he failed to recognize underneath all the strength, is a woman who wished he would see the silent battles I fought. Another time and universe I guess.

I also know, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten (Tony Robbins). My heart and soul hungers to be free of so much. I’m working on it. I think it’s time to make life a whole lot simpler. Continue working on my bucket list….I hate that phrase, but it applies for now

I hope wherever you are, and however this post reaches you, life has been kind to you. I hope you and your family are well, and happy. I wish you enough. Of everything.

Until the next post,

 

Best,

 

Juan

Life Is A Party.


life_is_kind_of_like_a_party_There is a lot I could say, about the true beauty, simplicity, and meaning, of the words in the photo above. However, there are situations, where you just let the words speak for themselves.

I hope, however, if you’re reading this post, there is at least one person in your life, who helps you to clean up the mess.

You deserve it. We all do.

Until the next post,

Love and Light,

Juan.