PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE

I pledge allegiance to the flag

 

My young eyes followed

Each word on the board dutifully,

As we spoke,

Because I had been told

That’s what a patriot would do.

 

Of the United States of America

 

My home.

Well, my country, at least,

My home was there, too,

But just down the street,

Next to Mikey’s house.

I had never been to somewhere like Texas

Or Tennessee.

Ma said it wasn’t safe there.

 

And to the Republic, for which is stands,

 

And what exactly

Do we stand for?

I wondered.

Uncle Rob and Mom

Were arguing over that

Just the other day.

“You poor people

Are all the same.

Fat. Lazy.

And so irritating,

Begging for my money.”

He had spit.

I remember the contempt in his eyes

When his gaze fell on me.

 

One nation, under God, indivisible

 

Of course, the divide in our family

Was made long before yesterday evening.

Mom had married a Muslim.

And because he translated God

To Allah

Uncle Rob acted like dad was a terrorist.

Then again, so did my classmates,

Which is why mom drops me off

Nowadays.

 

With liberty and justice for all.

 

At the time,

When I rocked back and forth on my heels,

Hand clasped over my heart,

I did not know the term “irony,”

 

But as I would learn,

In my public schooling,

The ideas of “liberty” and “justice”

Are riddled with it.

 

Where was the liberty

When my father was executed

By Mikey’s dad,

The “self-proclaimed” patriot?

 

Where was the justice

When my mother grew weak and weary

From over exhaustion,

While Uncle Rob

Grew fat

With his riches?

 

“For all,”

Echoed through my mind,

As we took our seats in class.

The tattered walls,

The creaky floors,

The wobbly desks,

All reminded me

What a perfect lie that was.

 

There’s no justice for us.

——

 

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GOLDEN STRUGGLES

It’s hard to believe

Life is hard for everyone.

Even Donald Trump.

 

Although Donald Trump

Might not have it quite as hard

As a Harlemite.

 

Better dipped in gold

Than underneath a bootstrap,

Or invisible.

 

In the beating sun

Better to carry the whip

Than pick the cotton

 

That life’s more easy;

Even if they both get burned.

Only one gets scars.

 

But that’s hard to see

From a penthouse apartment

In your own hotel.

——

 

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CAMOUFLAGE

I implore you to ask yourself, Uncle,

What it means to be an American.

Is it to stand in the face of trouble,

And tell the rest of the world “I can.”

Is it to protect the poor and helpless

Against the blades of all the enemies?

Or is it to protect corporate interests,

And sell the rich their path to amnesty?

If we are to be one voice, united,

Why do you exile those you oppose?

Isn’t that making us more divided?

Why is it good people that you depose?

If we are free, Sam, why is it that you

Hide behind that suit of red, white, and blue?

RED SUNRISE – POST ELECTION THOUGHTS

Hello everyone,

 

So I am a pretty far left-wing person, and I’m here to digress about my perspective of this election. It’s currently 10:56 PM in California on Tuesday of the election, and I’ve seen a lot of things happen today. I got a text of disbelief from my family when Trump was leading early on in the election process today. Then I saw all my friend and family joking about how he could never win. I, myself, could hardly believe it, but in the pit of my stomach I could feel that something was wrong. Then the day went on, and I, along with many others, turned in my ballot to vote. Now, I’m in California, so it really doesn’t matter that I voted, mathematically, because California is a strong blue state. Yet I voted none-the-less, because it it my belief that all people should take advantage of the choices they are given. As the night wore on, it became clearer and clearer that Trump was winning this election.

The first major tip off for me was that he was ahead in all the swing states. He won Ohio, which is a corner stone state for elections. And things were still not really setting in for people on my Facebook feed. Then Florida came down to the wire and Trump won. Everyone of my generation has feelings about votes in Florida that come down to the wire, because when Bush won Florida by a supreme court ruling, it was talked about by everyone’s mom and dad pretty much until Obama was elected. This seemed to be when everyone woke up to reality. And suddenly all my friends, all these well intentioned Democrats, started to panic. How could Trump be winning? How? He called Mexican immigrants rapists! He was backed by the KKK! He bragged about sexually assaulting women! He said we should persecute Muslims!

So then how did he win? It seems so obvious to me that he is not an acceptable candidate for our country, but 49+ million people voted for him. That’s a literal fuck ton of people. It’s not just racism. It’s not just anti-Hilary. People believe this guy will actually change the way America works. At its core, they believe what he has said to be true. In at least some of their eyes, all these things he said is true. Now, I dislike Trump, but he is a powerful speaker. He uses concise, simple language that is direct and to the point. You know that idea that some guy is a ladies man because he is self-confident? That’s what Trump expresses to people. He also uses my favorite rhetorical device, hyperbole. “Make America Great Again,” is a slogan that feels hyperbolic. But hyperbole incites people. It hits people in their emotional areas. It’s an appeal to pathos, but it appears as a logos argument, which makes it really hard to argue with.

Which is what the election became about. It became about who had the more important issue. And the reality is that Trump crafted more important issues. They might not be really important in the scope of the world, but he made them seem more important—and at what point does “seems” and “reality” not simply become the same thing? I’ve talked about this before. If you say something is true for long enough, it becomes true, because truth is relative to what humans perceive. Hillary became the enemy to Red America. Less people trusted her than Trump, despite numerous studies showing that he lied on a more consistent basis than any other candidate in the entire election cycle. And the problem is that the DNC let it happen. They did not handle Bernie Sanders well, which divided the party and made “party unification” something that felt begrudging. “Fine, I’m with her, I guess” was a real bumper sticker, to further illustrate my point.

Trump thrives on hyperbole. He made a TV show emphasizing the phrase “You’re Fired.” If you have ever played a game competitively, you know that once you begin playing your opponents game, you have already lost. If you are an aggressive team, you have to stay aggressive, or you will lose because you are in an uncharted territory. You may think Trump is an idiot, but he’s clearly grabbed American democracy by the…throat. Now, I’m all for country unity, but country unity requires the unity of all people. Which I’m not sure a Trump candidacy can ever do.

Some of my close friends are terrified. The LGBTQA friends I know are horrified by Mike Pence, and rightfully so. The guy OK’d electroshock therapy to “cure gays.” My immigrant friends are afraid—even the ones that are here legally, because they know that a mob mentality can sweep away people who have done nothing wrong. It only takes a spark to catch fire, but that spark can burn for hours on end. Don’t believe me? Move to California for a summer and see how fires start. Or look at how some people are speaking to and about minorities now, and see that in many peoples eyes, People of Color are still lesser beings.

“Who could have seen this coming?” Well, I did. It was pretty clear from the primaries that he was going to win. He knocked his opponent’s off balance. He sowed the seeds in rural voters minds that politics were failing and that they had been rigged, then used his ethos as a “successful” businessman to get them fired up enough to come out and vote. Rural voters were up from 19% in 2012 to 26(ish)% this election. This is something that the Hilary campaign did not do. I’m not saying Hilary didn’t run a good campaign—by normal standards, she ran a very good campaign. She was composed, she was rhetorical, she was educated, she was far more prepared than any candidate we’ve seen in recent debates aside from perhaps her primary opponent, and she was extremely experienced. The problem was, that wasn’t what this campaign was about.

I brought up hyperbole, and negativity was another key aspect of this campaign. This should have been obvious, given how vile the 2012 campaign got due to Citizens United. What, did we think things were suddenly going to be nice? No. Trump is a direct result of Citizens United. He embodies negativity, and even embraces it. He took a video tape of him bragging about sexually assaulting a woman, embraced that he did it, and moved passed it. WE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT HILARY’S DAMN EMAILS. Trump didn’t let something phase him, or act as a thorn in his side—even if it meant saying something more obscene the next week to get away from it. Hilary…kinda did. And maybe it was out of her control. People kept bringing it up, and maybe this wouldn’t have happened to a man and our country is still sexist. Excuses. True maybe. But they are excuses.

The fact of the matter is that those issues needed to be put to rest. Instead of “I accept responsibility for X and in the future” it should have been “Yeah, I made a mistake, but you know what? Everyone makes this mistake. It’s so common.” And then listed all the other embassy attacks that were mishandled and private email servers that had been used. Maybe even, I don’t know, bring up her opponents use of hidden information? If the election is about hyperbole, negativity, and strength, then don’t let it be Trump’s court. Make it your court.

I digress. I am worried for my friends. Tensions are high. That happens when things are taken out of proportion, which happens a lot around election year. The stock market was up earlier today, and now it is falling. Women feel threatened. Non-white Americans feel threatened. Non-Christians feel threatened. Democrats feel threatened. Journalists feel threatened. Our allies feel threatened. Countries that are not are allies feel happy because America is in turmoil, but they know they are threatened in the back of their heads too.

Now, I’m sure I could be called a “Libitard,” for buying into the facts that have been presented to me, but I don’t think that’s true. I’ve long come to terms with “Liberal Hypocrisy” as a mainstay of thought. The idea that a liberal has all answers to problems so that they can get a long. A so-called “higher path” to the bigoted, narrow minded Republicans. But, in the words of Lewis Black, “if liberals are so good at winning, why do they lose?” I’ll tell you why. Because from up on that seat, that high horse, it becomes harder to get down and vote. “We’ve got this in the bag.” “There’s no way we can lose.” “They’re handing us this election by putting Trump against Clinton.” Really? 2/3rds of America doesn’t vote. What if half of one of that third comes out and votes? That’s what happened for Republicans. But it’s more than that. It’s taking our politics seriously. It’s standing up and saying “I’m going to watch the news even though I hate the news because my life will be changed by this election.” And change it shall. Many people are talking about moving out of the country. Canada’s citizenship website crashed. Maybe the reality is that we’ve been spread too thin. There’s no way the needs of Iowa match the needs of California, Texas, New York, and Utah.

And I get it, State’s have rights to. I live in California. I know that my life is probably going to be the least impacted out of the whole country by this election—save nuclear war. But as a citizen of this country I am distraught. Because Donald Trump has been divisive in his rhetoric. Sure, he united a party that was on the verge of falling apart, but uniting half the country and alienating the other half is worse than alienating a quarter of the country. Think about how much you hate your opposing party’s candidate. Think how much you hate that one aunt that is voting in opposition with you. Think about how much you were surprised your friend was voting for the enemy team, and how much you loathe them now. It’s almost brother versus brother. It makes my stomach hurt because all these things we stand for—and I don’t even know which “we” I am referring to—but the things that we stand for have been compromised. I was taught that bullying was a weak man’s trade. I was taught that being braggadocios is proof of an excess of pride. I am not Christian, but I was taught that humility should supersede the rest of life. I was taught that all men are created equal. I was taught that if you worked hard, things would get better. Tonight, I have been taught that you can short cut your way to success by taking advantage of people. And I’m not sure what that means for the rest of the world. But it’s 12:08 AM now, and here we are.

I wish I could end on a positive note. That the sun will rise in the morning. But if the sun rises red with anger, and hate, is that really a sun we can all live happily under?

 

Edit:

Here’s a post-post election thought that I figured I should add in. I sat down to add this at 12:03 PM on the day after the election. Ironically, “Good Morning” by Kanye West was the first song on by Pandora. As shaken as I still am by the decision America made last night, life does go on. Hate will get us one of two places. One, further divided. Riots are starting, which I am not surprised about. I am worried they will escalate to Civil War. We haven’t experienced a Civil War with nuclear weapons, and I doubt we want to. The other option I see hate bringing us is the same cyclical nonsense that occurred when Obama was first put in office. Remember that? Remember the Tea Party people? And while the phrase “not my president” has continued to this day, I would hope that we could be the better people, and put that aside. There is only so much space in prisons. Do not sit down if hatred sets in, but do no be the person to insight violence. Protect each other. Do not let this so-called “white lash” become the split in our country that causes us to sink under.

THE FIRST GREAT DEBATE

Hello everyone,

 

What an interesting time we live in! Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton debating for the candidacy. I feel like if you went back 20 years, this would be hard to believe. I mean really, Donald Trump? That liberal minded-wait, what? He’s a Republican? Wasn’t he pro LGBTQ and pro-choice for a while? Didn’t he say on camera that we had to increase wages? You’re telling me he’s not saying those things anymore? What happened?

And then there’s Hillary Clinton. 20 years ago, she was aspiring toward politics and her husband was coming up on his own election as president. And here we are. Of course, not everything about Hillary’s career has been great-people knock her for her use of a server in emails, and she has changed positions on several policies over the course of history. She backed NAFTA, which according to many experts has been a major failure. She also initially backed the TPP movement.

That being said, on the debate stage last night, we saw two very different people. At least, that’s how it started. Hillary was focused, expressive, and composed. Trump started out this way too. He even had some good argumentation in regard to trade. His points about taxation of companies matches tariffs that the United States has done in the past. However, as the debate wore on, it became clear that experience outmatched explosiveness.

Trump’s emotional bravado was shut down by Hillary’s hard use of factual information. She presented policy after policy with enough detail to be legitimate, yet not so much that it was hard to comprehend. Constant interruptions by Trump made him look more a child bully than a man ready to run the country.

Regardless of your political opinion, it’s hard to believe Trump was ready for the scale of the debate last night. I mean, the guy turned to calling Hillary’s argument “all words” at one point. Can’t the same be said about his own speech? What does he really get done? Hillary’s composure was undeniable, which was incredible. Sure, sometimes she sounded a bit mechanical, but I’d take a woman who was practiced and firm enough over this character that struggled to stay on topic. And of course, Hillary was not always on topic either-that’s a classic political fault of every president. But her ability to bring things back and eventually come around to the question at hand was unparalleled by her opponent.

Trump’s answer to a race question, purposely pointed at Black Lives Matter movements and police struggles, was turned into a foreign policy answer about eliminating ISIS, and an attack on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s “weakness” in this area. Is this really the person we want running our country? One who “agrees with Hillary” about unification, and yet presses divisive rhetoric and avoids relatively simple questions about racial injustice?

All this in mind, I would say that Hillary pretty clearly won the debate last night. If you didn’t watch it, I highly recommend checking it out. It was surprisingly easy to watch, which was not something I can say about all debates. What do you think? Did Hillary win? Is my analysis fair? Let me know!

REAL RESPECT

Hello everyone,

 

I’ve been debating what to write about today, and while I was thinking about writing about heroes and battles because I am reading Beowulf, I decided the instead talk about respect. Now, as you know, 2016 is an interesting time in life. I, myself, am a cool 21 years old and have really just gotten the hang of knowing things…sort of. Anyway, respect is something that I hear thrown a lot today, and it really is hard for me to understand where people are coming from.

Let’s take the Trump campaign (an ever wild ride). People are saying that it’s their right for us to respect their opinion, or that we are being disrespectful by not condoning their bigoted statements because they are entitled to them. And that’s actually well and true—they are allow to say all these things, and in some ways it is disrespectful to disagree with them. However, it is also true that disagreeing with their opinions is also a right, and by saying we shouldn’t do so, they have created the same argument for us which they used to protect themselves. So that doesn’t really work.

Now let’s tackle respect for the flag. A symbol of the nation. By not standing during the national anthem, Colin Kaepernick challenged the idea that we must always respect the symbol of our nation. And he’s within his rights to do so. Peaceful protest is protected by the nation, and to say that it should not be done is simple minded. Nations fall and rise over the course of history, like everything. I guarantee you the party of Lincoln is vastly different today than it was when he was alive. Everyone remember the USSR? What about the great Roman Empire? The idea of a nation is a human construct, just like our rights. That being said, our rights are a positive construct, while a nation is always debatable. Kaepernick believes that our nation currently isn’t a positive construct, because it does not treat all people equally. And in all honesty, he’s right.

So the claim that he’s being disrespectful to our nation comes under the assumption that our nation always deserves respect. And it doesn’t. Respect is a human construct to preserve alliances and avoid violence. But it is only earned mutually. A person cannot say “you must respect me” and then spit all over you. Or rather, they can say it, but you will not harbor any respect for them. So this claim by conservatives makes no sense. Why would Kaepernick respect a country that has shown time and again that it does not respect him, or the idea he is representing?

Faith. That’s such an unfair argument. To “have faith” that these people will not treat him wrong, when statistics are in favor of the white man. I think, in all honesty, that I would take the one theme throughout history over a single nation’s measly 230 odd years. And that theme is being human. Black lives aren’t being treated as other human lives are being treated. They deserve that respect. Some people are claiming that they are being disrespected by the Black Lives Matter protesters because it’s anti-American. Well if it’s anti-American to claim human rights, is the problem the people, or the country’s standards? Ask yourselves that, conservatives on this issue, and realize where you stand on the side of real respect.

What do you think? Am I totally wrong? Are my points valid but need a better structure? Let me know!

I’M LOOKING FOR MY FRIEND

I’m looking for my friend,

Have you seen him?

He’s big and tall and quiet.

And he smiles great big smiles.

 

I’m looking for my friend,

Have you seen him?

He’s strong and kind and happy.

And he has a belly full of laughter.

 

I’m looking for my friend,

Have you seen him?

He’s smart and friendly and warm.

And he wouldn’t hurt a fly.

 

I’m looking for my friend,

Have you seen him?

He was shot dead this past week

By overzealous men with overzealous bullets.

 

I’ve lost my friend,

Did you see him?

He was just trying to make his way in the world

Gunned down under the false flag of American justice.

 

Hello everyone,

In response to the recent tragedy in Dallas as well as the shooting of Alton Sterling, I made this poem. I hope it brings some solace to those in need. Let me know what you think.

DO BLACK LIVES MATTER?

Hello everyone,

 

Ok. I’m feeling mostly better. So today I wanted to talk about sexuality and some male inequality that exists but isn’t really established. But as I was thinking about it my mind wandered to a more pressing topic, which is the Black Lives Matter movement. For anyone who has been living under a rock, the Black Lives Matter movement (or #blacklivesmatter if you are on Twitter or Facebook), is effectively a response to the mistreatment of African Americans in American society.

The basic premises is that there have been several shootings by police officers of African Americans, as well as several cases of police brutality in otherwise simple cases, like a headlight being out. Aside from this abuse of power being completely unacceptable, the popular response to #blacklivesmatter on Twitter is #alllivesmatter (All Lives Matter, if you have trouble reading hash tags—I know I do). I think, sometimes, that this response is to change the rhetoric of the conversation to being inclusive—the idea that African-Americans shouldn’t be in this struggle alone. And that’s a very optimistic way to look at things. Unfortunately, by saying “All Lives Matter” instead of “Black Lives Matter” it overshadows the problem. The issue becomes no longer that black people are being severely mistreated by a latently racist society, but that everyone should be treated equally. By doing this, the focus shifts to include everyone—which on the surface sounds good, but unfortunately dilutes the assistance to African-American communities that really need the help. It fractures resources.

In addition to this, many people who use the #alllivesmatter use it in response to people saying #blacklivesmatter, claiming that everyone experiences problems, and that African Americans need to be more considerate of the other people struggling. Pretty hard to believe, right? What’s harder to believe is that some people think that this stems out of non-racist positions. It makes some sense, I suppose—that if a person were completely uninformed about the issue, but informed about, say, the mistreatment of Mexican-Americans in Arizona, it would make African-American struggles look trivial. But this is not good enough. Being uninformed and then making a decision that completely excludes a section of people who are claiming a problem is inhumane, which when done systematically becomes a racism of society. It’s low brain level thought. “Me treat black people well, but black people say they not being treated well. They being unfair” is the voice I hear.

So how do we solve this problem? Well, aside from the “treat everyone as you would want them to treat you” idea, which in many cases is not enough, we need to look at how to respond to these matters. We can’t be 100% zero tolerance of racial stereotypes—then we end up with people being afraid to say “black” as a descriptive word. But they have no problem saying “white,” which is a latent racism. Being afraid of black and not white is…well, racist. We need to learn to think critically about problems—the United States is big. Just because things seem good wherever you live does not make things good everywhere.