EDUCATION OR LACK THEREOF

It never ceases to amaze me how our educational system has deteriorated and continues its downward spiral.    Children are graduating from high school unable to write a paragraph using proper language, spelling, and punctuation.  Then they go to college and have to take remedial classes so that they can then take a college level English class.  This, after 13-14 years of education, if you count Pre-Kinder.

For many years it appears that our primary goal in education has been to make sure that testing companies make a lot of money.  Statewide standardized testing has replaced teaching in our schools.  Students are made to memorize information that will be on the test in order for them to obtain a positive result, which in turn gives the school a better grade overall, and facilitates funding.  These tests are limited to English and math.

This, to me, is ridiculous, and not conducive to any proper learning.  During these testing phases all other learning is virtually suspended in order to concentrate on the subject matter of the test.  Additionally, this adds an unnecessary burden on both the students, who want to pass the test so that they are not held back, and the teachers, who are being counted on by the administration to produce results which would allow them to receive more funding for their school.

Somewhere along the line we stopped caring about what and how our children are being taught and have allowed the government to take over.  Given the current track record they are not doing a good job.

The implementation of common core is another situation that adds to the demise of knowledge.  Common core emphasizes lack of originality.  It doesn’t leave room for an educator to educate.  It is the McDonaldization of education, and the smoldering of free thought and creativity.

If you look for the definition of education it is “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university” and “an enlightening experience”.  Our educational system is neither instructive, enlightening nor giving.  It is mechanical, repetitive and designed to diminish the interest of the student.

Common core supporters think that having our kids take tests every so often automatically make them smarter, and we will be able to catch up to other nations of the world in terms of education.  Given the fact that we are a superpower and fall below most Asian countries, Russia, and Canada, that is not going to happen unless we begin to educate our children not just have them memorize things periodically for tests.

Actual learning includes the practical application of what is learned, and being able to conceptualize what you know to be able to apply it in different ways.  Presently only about 2% of students in America can do this.

While I’m not against testing, I think that it is important for the testing to be part of the learning process not used as a periodic marker of effectiveness.  Presently we are losing most of our better educators due to the shift to common core, and their lack of being able to actually educate.  In Asian countries educators are selected based on their skill levels, and are trained and provided with opportunities for advancement in their careers.  They are encouraged to create and use their own teaching styles for better results in the classroom.  Standardized type tests are given weekly of the material learned, not once every other year, forcing information to be crammed into the students’ minds.

Definitely changes need to be made from the first year of school all the way through high school if we are to have any hope for our children’s educational futures.

 

 

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ON MUSLIMS & TERRORISM

 

ISLAM AGAINST TERROR

During this election and for the past years terrorism has been a topic of discussion and debate among politicians, lawmakers, and many citizens of the world.  During this election period Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has come out and adamantly stated that he will prohibit the entry of any Muslim into this country until we figure out who is here, and why.

This has caused outrage and disgust amongst many people because we are a country with an open door policy towards immigrants and visitors.  Hundreds of thousands of visas are granted annually to foreigners to visit our country, to study in our country, and to move to our country.  Some of the people who are fortunate to obtain these visas sometimes overstay their welcome and become illegals in our country with little or no repercussion.  Albeit a terrible practice, in the past it has not been a great area of concern.

Speak to many Latinos, and they are offended at what Mr. Trump wants.  Many anti-Trump Americans equate this to acts similar to those committed by Hitler, one of the great political demons of the world.  But how wrong is it to want to implement this freeze on arrivals when what we are facing is a clear and present danger.

During the first quarter of 2016 there have been 24 terrorist attacks worldwide.  Not on our soil, but worldwide.  You may ask how does this affect us as a nation, and why should we buckle down and close the door to a particular group of people just because of their religious beliefs?  They can’t all be terrorists.  They can’t all want to cause harm to our way of life.  Can they?

It is difficult question to ask, and a harder one to answer.  The answer we all want to hear is NO.  All Muslims are not out to make us forcibly succumb to the teachings of Mohammed the Prophet. They believe in freedom of religion for others, don’t they?  We don’t want this to be true because many of us have met, and are friends with people who are Muslims, and they seem perfectly fine and similar to us.  So why would we want to ban other Muslims?  It would be like banning our friends.

The sad reality is that the numbers of terrorist attacks are rising.  In 2015 there were 117 terrorist attacks worldwide.  What did the terrorists have in common?  They were Muslims.  Extremists, jihadists or whatever you want to call them, but they were Muslims.

This is not 1945.  The world as we know it has changed drastically.  Intel is open to hackers.  Information is passed all around the globe undetected many times until it is too late.  When it comes to terrorism, we are the Monday morning quarterbacks.   What many people don’t think of, because it is rarely mentioned in the media is that the Middle East is not the only place where these individuals want to take over.  They are doing it all over Africa.  We may not care because most of us look at Africa as a distant land full of people living in squalor, what do we care?  We should.

If we felt disgusted about what Hitler did to the Jewish people then we should feel equally as disgusted with what these savages are doing to the people around the world including the ones living in squalor in Africa.  As their movement makes its way across the globe, and they continuing taking over parts of countries and oil fields, and other natural resources, it could get a lot closer to us before we even realize it, by then it may be too late.

Being an immigrant I can say that under regular circumstances I too would support entry of anyone who can legally come into this country from any race, religion or cultural background, both for political or economic reasons.  However, given the state of affairs, I bend more to The Donald’s view in this matter.

If I were a Muslim American citizen in this country I would feel the same way I feel right now as a non-Muslim.  My main concern would be the welfare and safety of my family, and then my religion.  I would support any movement towards resolution and safety.   I would be angry that there are those who share my faith that are causing such destruction and turmoil in the world in the name of my Lord.  I would want them banished and eradicated.  I would not want to be associated with them in any way, shape or form, because their views are not my views.  Their interpretation of the teachings of Mohammed are not my interpretations, and their actions against humanity are not ones that I support.  I would stand by my government and say “keep everyone out until we know who is who”.

This is not a matter of discrimination.  This is not a matter of profiling.  This is a matter of world security, not national security, world security.  How many people have to die or be maimed for the world to take notice, for the good peace loving Muslims to come out against those who share their faith, but not their values?  I know I would.

There will always be people who see this as instilling hatred of a particular group, or politically incorrect, or whatever other apologist term that makes them feel better.  I won’t apologize for wanting my loved ones to be safe.  I won’t apologize for not wanting to turn on the TV in the morning to hear that yet there was another terrorist attack somewhere in the world killing innocent people on their way to work, or to visit family or on vacation.  This is unacceptable to me, and to continue to stick our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not our problem, and that the group that is committing these heinous crimes are not really Muslim is stupid and dangerous.  It is detrimental to our way of life, and humanity.

This is not a ploy to ask you to vote for Trump or any other candidate.  This is a voice of alarm, this is a voice of warning.  We must all come together and fight to protect what we have. By all, I don’t exclude anyone, only those who wish to be excluded because they don’t share a desire to protect our country or our way of life.  This is one nation under God, whoever your God is, we are still ONE NATION.  Let’s be indivisible.  Let’s be just.

THE NEW AMERICAN WOMAN

BUTT DRUMMERS

 

Since the 1960’s women have been struggling for their place in society.  Struggling for the right to vote, for equal pay, for the right to make choices about their bodies.  We’ve been treated like “girls” in the workplace.  We’ve had to endure all kinds of sexist remarks and jokes.  The entire time sucking it up just to hold our own in the world we lived in, a man’s world, just to earn their respect because of what we can bring to the table.

Finally after what seemed to be a break, after seeing women reach positions of importance in government, communications, science and business, we seem to be spiraling back to the dark ages.

In the recent years the new generation has been pushing women back to a time when we were just sex objects, and homemakers, only now its worse.  The new generation only want to be seen as sex objects.  They have no intention of being homemakers.  Their offerings are physical. Perky breasts, shapely butts, flat abs, puffy lips, eyebrows “on fleek”, and anything else that makes them look like a centerfold.  Nothing of real substance or permanent, just the visuals.

Rappers refer to them as “bitches and hos” and incredibly enough they refer to each other, and themselves the same way. They accept this as a compliment, or their reality.  Pitbull sings about slapping their ass and having them rub up against him, they love it and eat it up.  Their clothes are revealing to show off all their wares.  There is no need for anything on a mental level because “ain’t nobody got time for dat”.

At what point did these young women lose their self-respect?  Where did the situation take a turn for the worse?  Many of these women were raised by strong single moms who worked and were the bread winners for their families.

In my opinion this loss of self-respect is partially a product of what is presented to our society by Hollywood.   Hollywood has been at the forefront of liberalism for a long time, if not always.  New ideas, new concepts, any thoughts and changes that need to be entertained are brought to us in our living rooms and big screens over and over each night.  I refer to it as the brainwashing of America.

There are positives and negatives to this.  I think the negatives outweigh positives.  I think we need to look towards the ulterior motives for everything that is presented to us as a society.

The glamorization of drug use was brought to us by Hollywood through movies and shows like Scarface and Miami Vice, among others.  The oversexualizing of women was presented to us through music videos showing young women shaking everything while the rappers and hip hop artists felt them up in their videos treating them like tasty treats to have at their beck and call.

Despite the ads on television warning of the dangers of AIDS and the easy transmission of STDs, sexual activity with multiple partners continued to be portrayed in a progressively more graphic manner on television shows.  Sex became an open topic and the more you had, the better.  All the progress made by strong, self-reliant women is slowly disappearing, and again the upcoming generation is pushing things back to square one.

THE WONDERS OF OBAMACARE

 

STAND IN LINE

There are approximately 324 million people residing in the United States.  According to the official Obamacare page 11.4% presently have no healthcare coverage. They claim that this is the lowest its been in 50 years, but what do the current plans under Obamacare offer that makes it worth signing up for insurance.  Let’s outweigh the pros and the cons.

I can only speak for South Florida because that is where I live.

For those who are not offered health insurance through their employer, and can’t afford a traditional plan because of limited income, and costs of living, their only options are Obamacare or the payment of a penalty once tax season comes around.

In South Florida some of the popular and more affordable plans have been offered through Molina, Preferred, and Albetter, just to name some.  Of these currently two are no longer taking any more enrollees.  I’ve come across family, friends, and strangers who constantly complain about the issues that they are having with this mandatory insurance.  What follows are some examples of the different issues I’ve been told about:

When you sign up, you have to provide an “average” of how much you “expect” to make the following year because that is how they figure what you have to pay monthly. So the average person states the same number they made the previous year which is fair, and expected.  They are then quoted a monthly amount.

I’ll use the example of one of my family members who had this happen to him.  He was quoted around $150.00 monthly.  Obviously this plan comes with a high deductible despite it being one of the better plans afforded by this company.  During the year he had the opportunity to work overtime, which he took advantage of in order to make more money to support his family.  He also got lucky and was given a raise. It was not a significant amount, but a raise nonetheless.  By the time tax season rolled around he went to prepare his taxes and was informed that since he made more money than what he had approximated, he now owed the government over $1,500.00.  He contacted the woman who sold him the plan to ask about this, and to notify her that he would have much rather been uninsured, since he is quite healthy, and did not visit any doctors during the year because the fine would have been $675.00 not the over $3,000.00 that it ended up costing him.  Her response was that she could get him a lower plan with an extremely high deductible, and that if he fell ill he could call her on his way to the hospital and she would change it up so he would have better coverage.  Yes, she actually offered this.  Whether she can make good on it or not, it was offered.

Another individual that I know, who does not make a lot of money, signed up for Obamacare and based on his earnings he was paying roughly $45 per month. He had just undergone open heart surgery and would be needing constant follow up care.  During the following year his plan went up about $100.00.  Obviously he had to continue to pay because of his health condition.  The year after the plan dropped him saying they weren’t renewing memberships, and the only plan he was able to obtain charges him over $300 per month, which he can’t afford.

Yet another incident involved a married couple who have Obamacare. Both require monthly visits due to ongoing medical issues that need monitoring.  They signed up with a plan, and a  few months later they were informed that they could no longer be on this plan, no money was returned to them.  The wife called the Marketplace and was told that she could go under a new plan.  It was the beginning of the month and her payments are made on the 15th of every month.  She was told that she could still go to the doctor that was assigned to her.  She asked for an appointment and stood outside his office for two hours in the sun with her husband and then close to another two hours inside to see the doctor.  She even took pictures of the ridiculous line and showed them to me. Right before they were to go in to see the doctor, she was advised that they he would not see them because she had not paid for the current month.  She explained that she pays the 15th of the month, and she was paid up until then.  The doctor did not care.  He turned her, and her husband away.  She then called the Marketplace again and was told that she could go back and be seen that they had cleared it with the doctor.  She called the doctor’s office again for an appointment, who again reaffirmed that until she paid for the current month he could not see them.  Needless to say, she had to wait until after the 15th of the month, when she made her monthly payment to ask for an appointment before the 30th of the month so that the doctor could see them.  So it appears from what transpired, that they are only insured from the 15th to the 30th of the month because from the 1st to the 15th all bets are off.

A close friend of mine who is married and both he and his wife are insured under the Obamacare plan had an issue when his wife started having abdominal pains and went to one of the hospitals on the plan. There she was told that she needed to make an appointment with her physician to have him check her out and refer her for a CT scan.  She explained that she was in pain and could not wait for an appointment.  They said they were very sorry, but that is what she had to do if she wanted the plan to cover any part of it, if not, she could pay for it out of pocket to the tune of $600.00 just for the scan.  She ended up buying a round trip ticket to Colombia that evening, and receiving emergency treatment over there which required a few days of hospitalization, as well as all the prescription medication she needed to take care of her problem upon her return.  The ticket to Colombia was less than the cost of the deductible, and the $600 scan.  The medical care in Colombia cost her $1 for her co-payment, because she is insured and pays a minimal monthly amount to maintain health insurance in Colombia.

One of my personal experiences with how the healthcare system is out of control happened a few years back.  I suffer from psoriasis, as does my mother.  I was given a pharmaceutical sample by a friend of a new medication.   I gave some to my mother and it was actually very good.  She asked her doctor for a prescription since it worked considerably better than what she had been using.   She took the prescription to be filled and was told that the deductible would be $800.00.  Unfortunately, she could not afford this medication since she is a retired, Medicare recipient.

A few month later I traveled to Spain, and took a sample and the prescription with me.  There I walked into a drug store and was able to purchase the same medication for €55 (Euros), which at the time was about $70.00 USD.  I purchased two, one for my mother and one for myself.

We hear the democratic candidates and some of the Republicans singing the praises of Obamacare, but the sad reality is that from what I have seen, it appears to be a scam designed to continue to line the pockets of the insurance companies, who are not accountable in any way.  They also have the benefit of high deductibles so unless you are chronically ill, and live in a hospital, you will not benefit from having the plan.  Other than not getting fined for not being able to afford it at the end of the year, the benefits are minimal for the average citizen, for the insurance companies it’s a win/win because with high deductibles, they don’t have to pay, but they get your money every month.

What we see here in South Florida is that one company comes in, signs up everyone, takes their money in advance and a couple of months later they terminate the contract.  The “insured” has to then find a replacement company, who nine times out of ten provides significantly less services at a higher rate that they can barely afford, with even higher deductibles.

In a recent debate, Trump indicated that he would open up state lines so all the companies could compete nationally, and this would drive the prices down.  I don’t believe this to be accurate, it would only expand the scam and make it even more difficult to document. Thus benefitting even more insurance carriers, and leaving the average American once again screwed.   Bernie also wants everyone to have healthcare for free, but that means a minimum of an 8% rise in taxes every year, and what does “free” really mean.

It is interesting how the government imposes what they feel the public needs in a manner that only benefits the insurance companies and pharmaceuticals.

Why don’t they start where the problems originate?  Why don’t they limit the prices that can be charged on medication?  Why don’t they have a flat plan that everyone can afford with zero deductibles and low co-payments?  Why don’t they oversee what hospitals charge on a regular basis for things like slippers?   I saw an itemized bill not that long ago for a patient who had entered the hospital by ambulance and died in the ER. On the hospital bill there was a $13.00 charge for slippers.  This was absurd since she was horizontal during her entire visit.  Unfortunately, they are not held accountable for the abuses.  If they really want to “help” the average American citizen who can barely afford to live on their menial salary as it is, much less pay for mandatory health coverage, which offers minimal or no coverage at all why don’t they do what needs to be done?

If insurance companies and pharmaceuticals can afford to bombard us through the media with constant advertising, they can afford to bring down the prices of the medications they provide.  I will be the first to step up and say that I will sacrifice not being able to see yet another advertising for some medication with a laundry list of how it may end up killing me before it saves me, for the sake of lower medical costs for fellow Americans in need.  The only problem with this is that nobody does anything because it is even worse than going up against the NRA, and then, who would contribute to political campaigns.  Perhaps the problem is even more entrenched in the gut of American politics than what we can even imagine.  We all know that big business is always going to control government, but in the past years it is more obvious than ever which side our political candidates constantly lean towards. I would really like to see just one politician or President stand up and really do something for the health and welfare of the country, and not just talk the talk.

ISSUES WITH JUSTICE & JAILS

INMATES

Having worked in the legal system for most of my life, I have had opportunity to see firsthand how our justice system works both at the processing level, and after conviction.  When compared to the judicial system in other countries, ours leaves much to be desired.  There are many issues that plague our system, despite the amount of money that is spent yearly on it. The following are some of the more prevalent ones that can be easily remedied.

Presently, too many people are convicted or negotiate pleas which leaves them with a criminal record for crimes that are minor and/or non-violent.  Once there is conviction, sealing or expunging the record becomes impossible so they are stuck with this record forever.  This becomes a problem because it hinders the ability of these people to find adequate employment, or obtain financial aid if they want to improve their life and go back to school.  It also limits where they can live, since background checks are commonplace to move into communities.

When you are arrested and charged, your attorney will more often than not, encourage you to take a plea because the outcome is certain, and you don’t have any guarantees with a jury.  It may be recommended in some instances when you don’t have enough money to pay for a trial, which can be costly.  Other times the evidence against you is so great that there is no reasonable doubt, and a conviction would be certain.

When being sentenced you are prone to receive a longer sentence if you have prior convictions. In some states you can be sentenced to life after 3 felony convictions. Presently there are about 28 states that have the 3 strikes law or habitual offender laws.   Some states implement these laws to make sure that repeat offenders are off the streets.  However, this method can be extreme, especially for crimes that are not serious and/or non-violent.

Once incarcerated you will be sent to a prison, either state or federal, depending on your crime.  In our present prison system there are a growing number of private facilities.  There are about 1.5 million prisoners in the United States.  Private facilities house about 6% of the current state inmate population, and about 16% of federal prisoners. This does not include the inmates held in jails.  It has been noted that some of these private facilities also have occupancy requirements, which encourages more convictions.

The conditions in many of these facilities are substandard.  Inmates are not given proper diets, medical care, or proper clothing in winter, and rainy months.  Sometimes there is overcrowding and inmates are made to sleep on the floor until there is room.  Most of these facilities are understaffed in order to increase the profit margin since they are privately owned by corporations.  This creates an unsafe environment for the inmates as well as the corrections officers.   Many of these facilities implement “lock downs” for long periods of time for any reason. During these “lock downs” inmates are not permitted to go outside.  Sometimes “lock downs” make it easier for the guards to manage the inmates since they are understaffed.

In these facilities there are a large number of inmates with mental illness.  In a National Institute of Corrections report in 2006, it was estimated that there were over 700,000 mentally ill people incarcerated in state prisons, almost 80,000 in federal facilities and about 480,000 in jails locally. That was 10 years ago, so those numbers are probably a lot higher now.

Some people are of the opinion that if a person commits a criminal act, it is an evil act against humanity, and there should be no empathy.  That these people should be locked away to rot somewhere and forgotten.  However, not everyone in prison is a violent offender.   Being incarcerated in itself is the loss of the freedoms we all take for granted.  Abuse, lack of medical care, and not providing proper nutrition are not part of that deal.

In order for our prison system to work in a more efficient manner I think changes have to be implemented   at the sentencing level.  Alternative programs for non-violent offenders would achieve a better result than traditional incarceration.  Allowing non-violent offenders with not many convictions to seal their records after completing their sentences would also allow them become gainfully employed or obtain financial aid to go to school.  Prisons should revert to being state owned, with no profit margin to watch over.  Mental health assessments should be performed on each inmate, prior to being sent to any facility in order to determine the capacity of that future inmate to cohabitate with other inmates.  A larger focus needs to be made, especially for the non-violent offender, and it should be focused on rehabilitating the inmate for future reintegration into society not just punishing him. This requires re-education, and assistance, not abuse, and neglect.  We already spend more money than any other country to house all of these individuals, many for over a decade, why not take the time to make the system one that would decrease the rate of recidivism.

 

RACISM AND OUTSIDER’S VIEW

BLACK GUYS IN SUITS

I have different views on racism, depending on what aspect of racism we are addressing.  It is an issue that is complex and intertwined with many other social issues.  Here I address one aspect of racism.

As some may have read in my previous blog entries, I was born in Cuba and came to the United States when I was five.   My parents, while not racists, were separatists in the sense that they did not believe that different races should intermarry and have children.  I remember constantly arguing with them about this growing up because I didn’t see what the big deal was.  We all have the same body parts and we bleed the same color.   Their main arguments were that society did not treat children who were a product of a bi-racial union the same, and the concern about which race would bi-racial children identify with.  My response was always “who cares what society thinks?”.  The injustice and unfairness of it all made me defend my stance on this subject.  Interestingly enough they had black friends who visited our home, and some relatives on each side who married blacks and Asians, and had children.

Something that is different from other cultures to the Cuban culture is that to most Cubans, black Cubans are not considered “black”.  They are considered Cuban.  They may refer to them as “el negro”, but its used as an affectionate, and friendly term much like how the term “gordita” is used to address an overweight or fat woman in an affectionate manner.  Translated to English “gordita” is the equivalent of “fatty” that has a totally negative connotation.

As a young adult, I would watch the news and read articles about the demonstrations and protests by the blacks against racial issues.  Being a white person it was really difficult to see what the need for any of this was. Blacks could live anywhere, and had the same freedom, and opportunities, so what was the problem?

Through the years I had more interactions on a closer social basis with blacks from many different countries, not just Americans, and my suspicions were right.  They are like everyone else.  I also had the opportunity to ask questions, which is second nature to me because I’m very inquisitive.  I asked some of my friends if they ever felt discriminated, and if so why or how.  I received several examples of how they experienced “feeling different” or singled out in their daily lives. Even the black Cubans.   Most indicated they were watched in stores while they were shopping, or had been passed over for a job by someone who was less qualified but white.  I think what  I expected was more severe examples, actions that would enrage anyone into wanting to protest out in the streets.  What I learned is that the subtle instances that go imperceptible to those of us who are not black are what eventually nag at you when they are directed at you.  So I got it.  I understood the anger and feeling of helplessness and unfairness at being singled out, even in an almost imperceptible manner.

Then I thought about shootings and gang related deaths, they usually take place in inner city neighborhoods where even the police don’t want to go.  Whose fault are these?  Is it the white man that is coming in, and taking over, and selling the drugs to black kids or creating gangs?  No, it’s black men who are doing this.  It is black men who are making the wrong choices to be criminals, to be drug dealers, to put black children’s lives at risk over, and over again. It’s their choice to belong to gangs, to not go to school, and to want an “easy” way out, by selling drugs or engaging in other illegal activities.  They do nothing to improve their situation.  You can call it stereotypical and racist to portray a black man this way, but it is not.  It’s not because there are whites, Latinos, and Asians that engage in similar behavior, and there is no excuse for it. But you don’t see whites, Latinos and Asians protesting about their lot in life, they accept that their choice to be losers is why they have done nothing in their life, they don’t blame black people or any other race or cultural group for their lack of motivation and bad choices.

The reality is that slavery can’t continue to be blamed.   Discrimination and racism at this point are just excuses used by black opportunists like Al Sharpton to promote race versus race problems in this country.  I find it offensive that every time a black man dies in an incident related to gun violence people like Sharpton come out of the woodwork, and start protesting.  Where are they when these kids are growing up in impoverished areas?  Why aren’t they supporting their fellow blacks to improve their situation instead of constantly complaining about it on the national news?  People like Sharpton make me sick because all they are is opportunists who really don’t care about other people, only their own agenda.  And yet, he has the gall to equate himself to Martin Luther King, and call himself a civil rights leader, when all he wants to do is continue to promote hatred, and separation.  If he invested as much time helping black children, and black men succeed as he does in getting them riled up, and keeping them down by filling them with anger, resentment and an unreasonable feeling of never ending entitlement, then all blacks living in those circumstances would be in a better place, not burning up and destroying their own neighborhoods, and ending up arrested.

Instead of being a motivational speaker, they are demotivating their fellow black Americans by making them believe that they should be receiving entitlements because their ancestors had to endure slavery, and that white men owe them something.  Unfortunately it is easy to influence those who are angry, and feel that they are owed something.  Look what happened to Cuba with Castro, and look where it got them.

So definitely awareness of the issue is important for conscientious change.  But is that enough to solve the racial problem?  No.  In my life whenever anyone has ever told me that they have a problem, or even when I have had a problem, I have always tended not to focus on the problem, but to immediately focus on solutions.  I strongly believe that as humans and as Americans we need to become less problem focused and more solution oriented or we will never move out of the current mindset.

So, in my solution oriented mind, I think to resolve the racism issue in this country and the divisiveness that exists we have to first get to the bottom of the actual problem.  Getting to the bottom is not rehashing slavery, ad nauseam.  So that needs to be put to the side, and not addressed as a present issue, because the reality is, it is not.

As time has gone by we have seen a great majority of black Americans succeeding in life, graduating from universities, being gainfully employed at good jobs, owning their own businesses, acquiring wealth, basically living the American dream.  Why were these black Americans able to excel and fulfill their goals?  They are not genetically different.  They were not born into rich families. They are just average Americans taking control of their own lives and achieving their goals.  This demonstrates that there is opportunity.  This demonstrates that racism isn’t such a detrimental factor that you can’t overcome whatever racism you feel you are experiencing to accomplish your goals.

Since our focus here is to change things the first place I would start to make changes is in our neighborhoods and schools.  Money definitely needs to be allocated to improve inner city schools, that is a given.  Another important move would be incorporating black history into regular American History.  There is no reason why the contributions of every single person whether black, white, Latino or Asian should not be incorporated into American History, and taught in our school system.  We need to have a sense of unity as a country.  Something I find counterproductive is everyone’s hyphenated nationality. At this point in time, if your parents were not born in Africa, then you are not African-American. You are an American.  Same applies to everyone else.

As Americans we also need to loosen up and accept that each race and cultural group living in this country has their basic differences, and that in order to respect each other, and see each other as equals we have to acknowledge the differences, be able to joke about the differences without being offended, and embrace the differences.

I listen to Power 96, a local radio station in Miami.  They have 3 morning radio hosts.  One black man, a woman of Cuban descent, and a man also of Hispanic descent, who were all born in this country so they are American. They have this segment called “Black, White, Hispanic or Other”. During this segment they read an article about someone who committed a crime of some sort and were arrested. Most of the crimes involved some action that can be generally attributed to a particular group.  The listeners then call in to win prizes if they can guess if the person committing the offense was Black, White, Hispanic or Other.  In the beginning I thought this only promoted racism, and stereotyping but after listening to the show almost daily, I realized that what it does is portray the differences that are inherent to each races and/or culture.   It’s this type of openness without fear of being labeled or criticized that promotes unity.  Everyone laughs on the show, makes jokes about how stupid the person was to get caught doing whatever they did, and they move on.  Unfortunately the television media is not as open.  Problems, tragedy, and heated issues keep people plugged in and watching.  I don’t think that it’s a stretch to say that the media has played a very important part in the continued divisiveness in this country, but that’s an entirely separate topic.

In summation we need to  let go of the past, clean up neighborhoods, improve education, and respect and acknowledge the differences in others.  This is accomplished through relaxed open communication, not skirting around the issue in order to not be offensive.  Since it is impossible to brainwash closed minded people of any race into acceptance or change, we need to start with the younger generation so that we can work towards better future results. Any positive change will inevitably improve the situation.

THE IRONIES OF LIFE

IRONY:  a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

IRONY PICThere  are many ironies in life.  There are laws, rules and regulations that are absurd.  They defy logic.  Many of these can become even a legal problem.  These are some of the ones I can think of that are ridiculous.

  1. Head shops are permitted to sell paraphernalia in states where marijuana is illegal. If you get arrested for possession, and have a pipe or bong, you will also be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
  2. Places that sell and install stereo systems are permitted to sell and install systems that will rattle your neighbor’s windows when you pass by, however, they violate local ordinances regarding noise pollution and disturbing the peace.
  3. Automakers are permitted to make vehicles that can travel 150 m.p.h., or more, but the speed limits in the U.S. are half that. If caught traveling even 35 miles over the speed limit you can be given an Arrest Form instead of a traffic citation which would require a court appearance, and it is a misdemeanor.
  4. Stores that sell auto accessories legally sell headlight covers and tag covers that are illegal to put on your car, because they impede visibility.
  5. You buy a house, and decide to fix it up and maybe upgrade it. Once you finish your upgrades your property taxes go up.
  6. Motorcycle drivers are permitted to drive without the minimum insurance coverage required to drive a car, and yet they are more at risk for injury in an accident.
  7. Your credit card company offers you a great deal of 15% off your purchases if you use your card, but if you don’t pay it all off the first month you may end up paying 25% or more for every month that you have a balance.
  8. We spend 13 years teaching children in school English and Math skills, yet when they graduate and take a placement tests in colleges, they have to take remedial classes.
  9. You have a retirement account that you invest in, and can’t touch that money while in the meantime the bank can play with it, but yet when you need it you have to pay a penalty.
  10. You pay high prices to see concerts or live sporting events, yet you end up seeing it on the jumbo screen because everyone’s head is in the way or you are too far.