Gun Control in the United States

Gun Control in the United States

Gun control in the United States has been an ongoing issue for as long as I can remember, however, as of recent it has become an issue that takes center stage. One of the first events that brought gun control to our attention was the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School with an assault rifle and killed 20 school children, six school staffers, his mother, and himself.

Since the shooting Democrats and President Obama have tried everything to come up with stricter gun policies. Some of their initiatives consisted of coming up with gun laws that would change the sale and use of guns in America. However, the ban on assault rifles didn’t pass in the Senate, therefore no gun initiatives were passed since the mass shooting. The Senate also shot down an Amendment that would prevent people on the FBI’s watch list from purchasing assault rifles.

Next, 49 people were killed and 53 hospitalized after terrorist Omar Mateen shot up Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016. Soon after this brought the gun control issue to the forefront where we needed to not only address gun control but lone wolf terrorists in the United States and the international terrorist organization ISIS.

During this time Presidential candidate Donald Trump found time to poke fun at the gun control issue by saying “if you had some guns at that club the night that this took place, if you had guns on the other side, you wouldn’t have had the tragedy that you had.”

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton went on to call gun control a civil rights issue.

Democrats posed new laws asking for a national gun watch list, similar to the no-fly list in the U.S. They introduced four gun measures that would bar the sale of guns to terrorism suspects who appear on either the government’s no-fly or the selectee list. Democrats even forced a sit-in in the Senate to force Republicans to take a vote, however, failed in their attempt.

People in the United States need to realize that our President’s, Senate leaders, and Representatives are elected officials. They are elected by us and truly the power rests within our hands. We have the opportunity to select members of our presidential and congressional platforms that will ensure that we are represented in the best light and our safety is first.

We have to mobilize as a community to ensure that these gun laws are passed. Think about who owns these guns and the people who don’t want stricter gun laws. Think about who the funders are for the promotion of guns. The NRA is filling the pockets of Republicans and until we destabilize the NRA we will never see a difference. We need to again work together to see a difference, otherwise, everything is for nothing.

Photo courtesy of theoddysseyonline.com

If You See Something Say Something

If You See Something Say Something

After watching the CNN segment Terror in Paris it really touched my heart, because the people of Paris, unfortunately, had to undergo terrorist attacks from ISIS. The attacks unfolded with a team of 10 terrorists who drove through the city attacking stadiums, cafes and other places popular places. Just hearing the accounts from the people who survived the attacks is horrendous. These terrorists attempted to dismantle Paris by using suicide vests and assault weapons to kill anyone they could. A woman was missing half of her head and two dozen people were killed, luckily Paris had just practiced a crisis management strategy the night before, but never knew they would have to use them.

This goes along with the recent terror attack on Paris nightclub where 49 people were killed and 51 were injured. It’s extremely sickening that terrorist kill innocent people, have absolutely no concern for life, and are trained to do one thing: KILL!

We ask ourselves could events like these have been prevented. Obviously, we can only speculate from what we are told, however, let’s assume they could have. When these terrorists attacked a stadium in Paris they were acting strangely before detonating the bomb. The bomber was rapidly looking around and moving fast, however, people noticed but assumed everything was alright until the bomb went off.

For the attack on Paris night club, the FBI investigated Omar Mateen, however, never found anything that could link him to terrorist organizations. But the signs were there, but because of our judicial system they couldn’t legally hold him. If they would have done more investigating would it have mattered? Could the violence have been prevented?

Although we’ll never know the answers to these questions, we can do something to ensure that we are looking out for ourselves and those around us. The United States Department of Homeland Security enacted a campaign called “If You See Something Say Something.” The purpose of this campaign is “it takes a community to stay safe.” This means that in order for us to protect our homeland, we must work with police authorities and the government to report suspicious activity. We must forget the mentality of I don’t want to be a snitch because it could be a manner of saving our life or someone close to us.

These attackers aren’t through with Paris or the United States. We have to be ready for anything because ISIS isn’t discriminating with who they target. We most hold strong and not be shaken by terrorist organizations.

Stop the Hate!

Stop the Hate!

This past Friday the Obama administration announced that public schools should allow transgender students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity. The letter was backed by the Department of Education and Justice so that kids can participate in an environment free from discrimination. This letter extends beyond bathroom privileges and is part of a larger debate on transgender rights and public life.

Other highlights: Target announced that transgender workers and customers can use restrooms aligned with the gender they identify with, embracing its stance on diversity.

North Carolina is actively serving as the background state on the issues of transgender rights. Currently, House Bill 2 (HB2) bans people from using public bathrooms that do not correspond with their biological sex.

These highlights represent a battle that is taking place amongst our nation and isn’t understood by many. This is a case where people fear what they do not understand. A case that will require intervention by the Supreme Court, just like the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Presidential Candidate Donald Trump believes this is an issue that should be handled by the states government and the federal government should stay out of it. However, if we revisit the controversy on same-sex marriage, 10 years ago many states developed laws that prohibited two people of the same sex from marrying, which is bound to be the end result if states take the lead.

Beyond the legal side of this issue, it’s important to look at the people who are affected by this controversy. Children everyday are growing up believing they have to pretend to be something they aren’t, because of hypocritical parents, grandparents, church members, school teachers, etc. These young individuals having gender identity issues aren’t able to receive help or are uncomfortable with talking about what they’re feeling inside, because they’ll be ridiculed and shamed. Issues like these make children feel they have the weight of the world on their shoulders, because they’re constantly battling with who they are and who society wants them to be. It’s a wonder that people often resort to suicide, because they feel they aren’t understood and will make a significant impact on others if their life ended.

Instead of battling and creating drawn out political or legal battles government, schools, and businesses should come up with simple solutions that will prevent discrimination and protect the rights of every individual. One solution that I foresee in the future is making all restrooms private where everyone can freely use the restroom without making an uncomfortable decision.

As a society we need to move from the past and work toward a better future that’s inclusive for everyone, beyond race, color, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

What’s your 2 Cent?

Welcome Back


Good morning everyone, it’s a pleasure to share my 2 cents with you and for you to share yours with me. I’ve been away for some time due to recently graduating from EMU and starting a Masters program at Pennsylvania State University, and relocating to the DC metro area. However, what’s important is that I am back to bring you updates and a logical perspective on issues that affect our daily living. We’re going to be starting something new in the coming weeks where you’ll have an opportunity to hear me give live voice overs on these topics and an opportunity for you to call in and give your 2 cents. Stay tuned as I have some awesome content that you will not want to miss. The first topic I’ll give my 2 cents on is the “gender neutral bathrooms.” I’ll be back later and look forward to hearing from you.

Shots Fires at Starbucks

  
It amazes me how much time Christians actually spend plotting their agenda against corporations that don’t identify with what they believe. To bash Starbucks for simply changing the design of their “Christmas” cup is ludicrous. 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/11/09/starbucks-removed-christmas-from-their-cups-because-they-hate-jesus-christian-says-in-viral-facebook-video/ 

 How can you really say that they are taking Christ out of Christmas. That’s like saying every company that doesn’t share the belief that Christ exists in the same way as Christians is wrong. I guess you could simply say this is a case of ethnocentricity, where if you don’t do as the Christians want them you’re going against the world. 

But what most Christians need to realize is that the world doesn’t revolve around our beliefs and that we are not the only target audience served by Starbucks. Did you ever think for a second maybe they are trying to become a more universal company that represents no religion but maintains a neutral platform? 

These evangelical leaders who like to declare war because the world is changing for the betterment of all should consider reevaluating their stance on things, because I’m sure their are bigger fish to fry.

Overcoming Racism of the 21st Century

510px-Michelle_Obama_2013_official_portraitThe word racism in the African American community brings back memories of the 1970’s when black people were treated unequal and unfair. It brings forth pent up emotions that many people tried to overcome. While the situation of racism has improved and bathrooms, churches and drinking fountains aren’t segregated it would be preposterous to assume that it is non-existent.

On May 10, 2015, First Lady Michelle Obama, gave a Commencement speech to the graduates at Tuskegee University to help inspire the graduates in their transition from college to their next step in life. She first gave a synopsis on the history of the university and why its culture is significant.

Next, she elaborated on how the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American pilots in the United States military and the only during World War II. However, before WWII it was presumed by whites that blacks could not make good pilots and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to fly airplanes. Many of the blacks that joined the civilian training program were college educated and did joined because they didn’t want to serve in the enlisted ranks on the ground; however, wanted to serve as officers and fly airplanes.

During their tenure at Tuskegee University black soldiers were abused physically and mentally and ticketed by sheriffs when leaving campus for minor offenses. Although black pilots were trained to operate the same machinery and aircraft as their counterparts, when going into battle they were not respected by white officers and their salutes weren’t returned.

These tactics served to rid of the black airmen, however, these airmen realized they had a double duty-one to their country and the other to their family at home. Flying airplanes for them was a celebration for themselves and liberation for all African Americans.

Mrs. Obama continued her speech by going detailing the discrimination that she has experienced as First Lady to President Barak Obama. She explained how she’s been put into a category of questioning that none of her predecessors encountered. For example, she has been asked questions like, “Was she too soft and not enough of a career woman? Was she too loud”? Additionally, a magazine cover was published displaying her with an afro and carrying a machine gun, which made her question how people viewed her. People had even gone as far as referring to her as Obama’s baby mama.

Throughout all the flack she has encountered she realized that everything people were saying was just noise. It did not define who she was, didn’t change who she is and could not hold her back.

“While we as African Americans have come so far, those age old problems are stubborn and haven’t fully gone away”, said Michelle Obama, first lady of the United  States of America. She expressed to the graduates that there will be a time when they will feel people are looking right past them and make assumptions on who they think they are based on their limited notions of the world.

Some African Americans feel as if they’ve been suppressed for so long and there’s no way to dig out of the ditch of society. Others feel we live in a society where the government is working against the black population to ensure they never overcome. However, as Mrs. Obama said those feelings they encounter aren’t a reason to throw up their hands and give up. They are not an excuse to lose hope.

This message should be not for graduates of Tuskegee University, but for African Americans overall. Just because you are stuck and bound by your current situation doesn’t mean it will be the same forever. It is important to take the hand that you are dealt and make the situation better opposed to making it worse. “To succumb to feelings of despair and anger only means we lose. However, our history provides us with a blueprint on how we can win. It teaches us that when we pull ourselves out of the lowest emotional depths and channel our focus into studying and banding together we can lift up our communities and together we can overcome anything”.

We need to step up as a community and stop blaming society for our problems, take those problems and make them into something positive. We can make our communities better by going to school and becoming educated and coming back to our community and investing our time rebuilding our community. If we are ever to overcome our situation and make something better for ourselves it starts from knowing our self-worth and applying ourselves without looking for handouts from society.

 

“It’s About People Taking to the Streets, Amplifying Their Voices and Saying ‘No More’”

“It’s About People Taking to the Streets, Amplifying Their Voices and Saying ‘No More’”

The film Selma is a depiction of what the African American community encountered during the Civil Rights Movement. It also reminds us of the struggles the African American community continues to face today. The film showed how African Americans didn’t have the right to vote, however when voting became legal the white supremacy used tactics like literacy tests, violence, unfair poll taxes, ridiculous registration practices, and redistricting in order to deter blacks from voting.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was the spokesperson for the African American community in Selma and didn’t give up without a fight. He petitioned the oval office ordering President Hoover to extend protection to those who would like to vote, considering it was then legal. When Hoover refused to move, because he was afraid of his political legacy, MLK continued to lead others into the streets of Selma hoping that their non-violent protests would soon pave the way for legislation that would provide equality and protection under the law for all.

MLK went through many other challenges while trying to lead his people to freedom. For example:

  • He encountered threats from the government about murdering his children and wife it he didn’t stop the marches.
  • Faced opposition within his own party, because people were tired of going out on the streets of Selma and being brutalized by local authorities.
  • Was thrown in jail, because he refused to stop marching for equality.
  • Swayed by various women, which lead him to cheating on his wife nearly destroying his family.
  • Carried the burden of multiple people being murdered while marching for his cause.

MLK was a brave many that stood in the face of opposition and took a challenge and starred it in its face and conquered it. The highlight of the film was when he went on the bridge to march with his people from Selma to Montgomery to deliver his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, however was met with opposition from the state troopers and instead of marching, kneeled down and prayed to God and as he rose, he made the decision that it wasn’t the right time to march, because he didn’t want to see anyone else hurt. Knowing when to pick the battles that you can win is important, especially if you want to see change for a cause that you believe.

The next time MLK went on the bridge he was successful with the march and as he marched from Selma to Montgomery and finally arrived in Washington he was joined by many others. President Hoover stood on the right side of history allowing blacks the right to vote and equal protection under the law.

Looking at the grassroots movements used by MLK during his time we can take those same lessons and use them within our community today to reflect change. For example:

  1. In 2012 after the murdering of Trayvon Martin and the refusal of the grand jury to indict George Zimmerman, the African American community developed a grassroots campaign #blacklivesmatter to bring awareness to the anti-black racism in America.

    http://blacklivesmatter.com/a-herstory-of-the-blacklivesmatter-movement/
    http://blacklivesmatter.com/a-herstory-of-the-blacklivesmatter-movement/
  2. In 2014 citizens of Ferguson took to the streets after the death of Michael Brown, and the unfair verdict posed by the grand jury, which refused to indict the officer who slaughtered Brown in the middle of the street as he was unarmed. This event lead to chaos in the streets of Ferguson, which consisted of looting and killing of others. This movement was taking the wrong turn, because destruction of their own property and harming others wasn’t the answer. However, with the help of leaders of the African American community the community was able to pull together and begin marching and peacefully petitioning the government that change is necessary, because the same racial prejudices that existed back in the 1960s still exists today.
  3. In New York City Eric Garner was choked to death after being unarmed and caught on camera saying “I can’t breathe” at least seven times. No effort was made to resuscitate him by EMS officials that were on seen and the grand jury who reigned over the case refused to indict the officer responsible as well. This movement while also reflecting the lack of care for the lives of the African American community grew to be much more than what it was meant to be. Instead of one group of people fighting for equality it turned into a movement for everyone facing inequality rather it be homosexuals not being able to marry; people struggling to make a living, because their income is considering living below the poverty line or people struggling for jobs. This movement has become a melting pot, because everyone is tired of being suppressed and want answers and results.

    http://www.mcdanielfreepress.com/2014/12/04/eric-garner-icantbreathe/
    http://www.mcdanielfreepress.com/2014/12/04/eric-garner-icantbreathe/

Takeaways from Selma:

Non-violence is the answer if we are to see any change. MLK and his people obtained results from using their first amendment right and that’s how it must be done in order to bring awareness to our fight. This isn’t a fight solely about race anymore, but a fight for all people who have been suppressed and overlooked by our government. MLK would want us to continue fighting and use his legacy as an example of why we fight, when we fight and how we fight. I do like MLK have a dream that one day our nation will rise up to live out the true meaning of its creeds. We do hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

Happy Birthday Dr. King and let freedom ring from the highest valley and through the lowest of lows.

Changing America #icantbreathe

Changing America #icantbreathe

The movement on increasing awareness and preventing police brutality in the U.S. took center stage in early 2014 when a grand jury refused to indict officer Darren Wilson, after firing a fatal shot at Michael Brown, after hearing him say several times, “Stop Firing I don’t have a gun.”

As we know since the slaughtering of Brown other cases have emerged. For example Akai Gurley, a father of two was slain while walking down the street with his girlfriend. Tamir Rice, a 12 year old boy was shot by a Cleveland police Officer while playing with a toy gun. The most recent case is Staten Island grand jury refused to indict the police officer responsible for the murder of Eric Garner.

July 14. A New York City Police Officer put Eric Garner, in what appeared to be an unsanctioned choke hold for selling loose cigarettes; he was then tackled and pinned down by three other officers. The arrest was caught on tape and Garner could be heard saying, “I can’t breathe” at least 11 times, according to Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Visiting Researcher at the Georgetown University in an article for the Washington Post. Garner died of cardiac arrest and the Emergency Medical Crew on scene neglected to administer CPR when Garner wasn’t breathing. The New York City police department defends their tactics by stating, “Strong arm tactics are needed to take down criminals resisting arrest and to ensure their own personal safety” according to Dennis Lynch, of the International Business Times, however these tactics can also be seen as an excessive use of force.

Police brutality in most states goes unnoticed and officers aren’t penalized for wrong doing. For example, at least 179 fatalities resulted from on-duty NYPD officers over the past 15 years and three of the deaths led to the indictment in state court and one conviction, according to A Daily News Analysis. The excessive use of force and continued abuse of authority from police officers has led to a revolt amongst the citizens across the country, for example the #icantbreathe movement.

The #icantbreathe movement is a multiracial, multi-ethnic, multi-class, and multi-generational operation that has been established to protest racial injustice and systemic oppressions. These marches are peaceful and can be referenced to the movements that extend from the 1960s and 1970s. This movement shows that when the government refuses to address the needs and concerns of its citizens, they’ll exercise their First Amendment right to freedom to organize in a peaceful manner. As citizens with rights we expect our government to do what they were hired to do, which is listen to the citizens of the United States and do their best to implement our concerns into policy making.

The #icantbreathe movement is multi-faceted, because it extends much further than stopping police brutality. For example, another goal of the movement is to address the economic injustice that exists amongst the citizens of the U.S. Supporters want the president to develop regulation that would reward good employers that pay a living wage with benefits and allows workers to organize and bargain collectively. People are living below the poverty line and cannot sustain a family on current income and have to subsidize income with Medicaid and food stamps. As a first world country the government should ensure that its citizens are able to live and work comfortably and should be embarrassed that its citizens have to march for equality in order for government officials to take notice that our society is broken.

While I cannot personally support movements that condone violent protests I can certainly support a movement like #icantbreathe, because it can serve for whatever the individual can identify with, for example people can’t breathe, because of police brutality, no justice from slain family members, racism corrupt government, republicans wanting to control women’s productive healthcare, and income equality.

For myself I self-identify with this movement as well, because of gender inequality, LGBTQ people have to fight for civil rights, same-sex marriage still isn’t legal in every state, and religious freedom bills are trying to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

This movement overall is becoming stronger and has the backing of many and it will be interesting to see the results of the movement.

Tylenol’s Outlook on Family Structure

Tylenol’s Outlook on Family Structure

Tylenol in its new campaign “For What Matters Most” introduces a new variation to the Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want” is a classical painting of an American family preparing to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. The original photo was published 1943 and inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt. When viewing the picture you can see it depicts a traditional family with grandparents at the head of the table. The family is Caucasian and appears to be well off financially, which is what the American family structure resembled when the photo was created.

In Tylenol’s new campaign the picture is viewed differently. They’ve collaged a series of videos to answer the questions: What would a Norman Rockwell holiday look like today? In the videos we are introduced to a diverse perspective of the original maintaining which includes sever family structures. For example, the videos include a Jewish blended family that includes two moms; a Japanese and Chinese American family; and an African American family, representing the majority of family types that exist in America today.

Tylenol has taken a stand to represent the American family as it actually stands today instead of pretending as if the family structure is a one-size-fit-all. The typical family structure has changed just like America and can be characterized as a melting pot. It shouldn’t be expected that Norman Rockwell is turning over in his grave at the re-imagining of his work, because his work consisted of painting images of mainstream white America. However, some of his latest work depicted different races. If he were alive today he would more than likely have adopted the attitude of mainstream America.

United Airlines and Orbitz Afraid of Competition

United Airlines and Orbitz Afraid of Competition

Aktarer Zaman, founder of skiplagged.com is being sued by United Airlines and Orbitz for introducing unfair competition into the market, which is considered illegal.

The basics of his website is to help travelers find the cheapest flight option available. The idea is to purchase an airline ticket with a layover at the individual’s destination of choice. As stated by Patrick Gillespie in an article posted on Fox 13, “if you wanted to fly from New York to San Francisco you book a flight from New York to Lake Tahoe with a layover in San Francisco and get off there without bothering to take the last leg of the flight.” Further, the strategy only works if you book a one way flight without luggage.

While Zaman’s strategy isn’t new and he doesn’t earn profit for his services, American Airlines and Orbitz wants his website shit down. If his site is allowed to continue it could result in profit loss for the airlines. However, considering that Zaman’s business is legitimate it could be determined that American Airlines and Orbitz is blocking third-party competition, which is illegal. The courts could also conclude that American Airlines is hiding cheaper flights from customers when their focus should be to provide great value at a reasonable price. As a result of the Zeman’s website it has caused American Airlines to eliminate Orbitz as a third party booking agency.

Gillispie also says, “Other travel experts expressed that American Airlines may not achieve much if Zaman’s site is shut down, especially if a world where information is becoming more readily available. Think about the customers who aren’t aware of the hidden destination flights that provide a cheaper booking for the flight. Remember Snowden’s leakage of the NSA’s spying habits; now consider the headline: ‘American Airlines Scams Customers by forcing them to Purchase Higher Priced Tickets. Obviously this wouldn’t be a good look for the company and it could result in an even bigger crisis.

It’s also important to remember just like Zaman thought of a loop hole to provide cheaper rates for customers, if his website is shut down they’ll continue to be someone else who makes an even better program, therefore making it difficult for the big name airlines to reduce third party competition.