Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's So Hard To Stay Nice (Part Two)

You're different. Everyone's made it clear to you all your life. Strangers, teachers, peers, and for many, even parents. You've suffered. No one understands. But you're still alive, you've made it through even the worst of times.

And just when you're starting to feel a little stronger about yourself...just when you're thinking, "hey, I'm going to step out into this world tomorrow and be proud of who I am!" Just when you're feeling it...someone kicks you from behind yet again. But you have to stand back up...yet again. That's what you have to learn from Constance's story.

I'm unsurprised but still disgusted to find out what happened recently to Constance McMillen - the lesbian teen whose school cancelled prom so that she wouldn't go.

The parents who had been organizing a private prom, the one she was supposedly invited to, tricked her into going to the wrong location. YEP, they sent her to some "fake prom" along with 7 other kids (2 of which have disabilities). So there you go, that's high school for you.

This is the stuff of MEAN GIRLS. This is the stuff of nightmares a-la showing up to school naked. This is the kind of stuff unpopular kids go through. This feels so personal. I may not be lesbian, I may not have gone on a public mission to challenge my school's discriminatory actions, but I was an outcast. But not to this extreme. Many of us have had moments like this, but not in such a massive and public way. Imagine, your whole school turns its back on you. How is that? Not one person informed Constance or the other 7 people that they were being sent to a fake prom.

Yet if you read this short article, you'll see that Constance said they all had a blast - all 7 of them. They did so because that's what the outcasts do. The popular thing dies after high school, and then the outcasts move on to do great things. Some popular kids make it too, but from my experience, the ones who really made me suffer didn't go too far.

Some people just don't get the pride. The pride that comes with years of experience as a person of DIFFERENCE. But those who are different get it. No matter what marks you as different, and no matter what extreme of different you are, if you're different you get it. There will be a point when you must decide - I will no longer give in. I am not a mat.

You have to get up every time, and you have to stand proud. Be DIFFERENT! Be BLACK, be LESBIAN, be WOMAN, Be ASIAN, be LATINO, be WHO EVER YOU ARE. And be it proud! Don't you let others beat you up literally or figuratively. Don't let others beat the YOU out of you. Don't give in.

I'm so touched, so incredibly touched, by this infuriating yet uplifting story of DIFFERENCE.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Late Night Thoughts

It's so hard to stay nice.

I say it over and over to myself all the time - it's so hard to stay nice.

If you're a nice person deep down, it slowly gets beaten out of you over time. It's beaten out much faster of those who struggle in more ways than others - those of color, those suffering from poverty, those with any mark of "difference."

Take a look at Constance McMillen, who's high school canceled it's prom just to stop her from wearing a suit and going with her girlfriend. Sure, the parents organized a private prom that will be open to students of any sexual orientation. But last I heard, Constance stated she's not even sure she'll go because she has to see how her peers treat her back on campus after this huge ordeal. All she wanted to do was wear a suit and bring a gal.

I can't begin to tell you how many guys I saw cross-dressing and fake-fondling one another in my high school years - from some cross-dressing fashion shows to male beauty pageants. As long as they weren't "serious," no one complained.

But for others, the harsh realities of our troubled world kicks in much much younger. Young children, abused in so many ways, around the world. Those who are most disadvantaged, neglected, and ostracized are the most vulnerable. It's the typical, "well, it's terrible what happened to Chelsea King, but what about all the daily, unreported, sexual crimes against young black girls in poor communities? You never see their faces on nation-wide news..."

There is so much cause for bitterness. There are so many reasons to become calloused as we get older. Cynical. But we must fight cynicism, as Conan O'Brien so eloquently put it on his final night on the Tonight Show.

I realized that I had let myself become somewhat cynical, and upon hearing O'Brien, who specifically directed his message to young people...well, I was touched. Yet I haven't been able to shake it off fully. I still struggle to stay nice. I am still scared of people sometimes, because I fear getting hurt or cut down in some way. For the longest time I was convinced that "everyone's fake." Then I realized, no, people are afraid to open up. Once you open yourself up to someone - you know, cutting the crap - you can't take it back. They've seen you. So people shell up and say "hey, how are you, let's have coffee sometime" without caring much to follow up.

So now, as much as I struggle to take in all the ugly stuff during the day - sarcastic remarks by a casual acquaintance, blatant attitude from a stranger, upsetting stories of tragedy and injustice on the news, disrespectful men on the city streets...I try to shake it off because I don't want to become mean. Plus, it would be too easy to become mean. To be open-minded, and to take in more perspectives than your own, that's hard. And it's a task that can never be truly fulfilled.

For what it's worth to any struggling reader out there, I want to reach out to you and say, don't give in. Let someone into your soul. Then others will let you into theirs.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Skin Color: Hispanic

I logged into Myspace right now and was notified of an "AMBER Alert" in my area (end of post). I clicked on it only to find the worst possible description ever: the young four year old girl and her kidnapper have the skin color "Hispanic."

Okay, this is just off. A "Hispanic" skin tone does not exist. Anyone can be Hispanic, and you might not even know it.

Asian Latino and former astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz, Afro Latina singer/actress Cristina Milan (Flores), and white Latino James Roday (Rodriguez) from the USA series Psych, are but a few examples.

Well, since Latinos/Hispanics have every possible skin tone under the sun, maybe they should start replacing the skin tone description of "Hispanic" with "George Lopez." Just as offensive, but it would get more to the point, I would say.

In all seriousness though, I hope this girl is found:

ATTENTION: There is an AMBER Alert in your area.
Please CLICK HERE to find out more information.

Missing From: Thousand Palms, CA
Missing Date: 2/23/2009 12:00 AM

Contact: Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Circumstances: On February 23, 2009, at 0930 hours, Monica Ruby Morales was abducted from Thousand Palms, Riverside County, California.

Missing Child
Name: Monica Ruby Morales
Hair Color: Brown Eye Color: Brown
Skin Color: Hispanic Age: 4YO
Gender: Female
Description: Short hair, wearing a yellow shirt with white print on the front, blue pants, yellow sandals

Name: Unknown Unknown
Hair Color: Brown
Skin Color: Hispanic Age: 30YO
Height: 5FT5 Weight: 150LBS
Gender: Female
Description: Wearing a white shirt and jeans

Vehicle Information
Model: Van
Color: Green
Vehicle: Full sized

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Art of Balancing Your "Scary" Muslim Ties

Remember when Obama's campaign was working hard to dodge the negative Muslim/Arab tag during the elections? Such as how one time, two Muslim women were barred from a campaign event so that they wouldn't appear in pictures with him, and that other time when a disheveled old woman rambled on about how she was scared of him being an Arab at a McCain rally.

Well, it's funny now that this comes up:

Excerpt from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. "In his first post-inaugural interview, Barack Obama says to an Arab network what he couldn't say on American television."

My favorite part: "Wha...wait? Why haven't we met them? Don't you think they would have enjoyed sharing in the campaign process? ...That would be like if the first thing John McCain did after winning the presidency was go on the AARP network and let them know that he too sometimes forgets where he is."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bart Police Officer Pleads 'Not Guilty' To Murder Charges

The police officer who killed Oscar Grant has been charged with murder. From KTVU.com:
Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff made the rare decision to file a murder charge against a police officer for an on-duty incident.

"At this point, what I feel the evidence indicates, is an unlawful killing done by an intentional act and from the evidence we have there's nothing that would mitigate that to something lower than a murder," Orloff said at a news conference. He said he would not speculate on whether the charge would end up being first-degree murder or second-degree murder.

The officer has plead "not guilty" to the charges, as reported by SF Gate:
The former BART police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man early New Year's Day pleaded not guilty Thursday to a murder charge during a brief but tense court hearing, at which his attorney said he planned to seek a bail reduction that could allow his client to be released from jail before trial.

Johannes Mehserle, 27, entered his plea in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland as about two dozen supporters looked on, including his parents, Todd and Agatha Mehserle. The couple were escorted to court by police officers a day after their Napa neighborhood was evacuated when two suspicious boxes were left on the porch of their home. The boxes turned out to be harmless.

I've seen a few of the videos of the shooting on YouTube and they make it quite clear why the ex-officer is being charged with murder.

We'll see what happens...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Demands of Somali Pirates--More Reasonable Than You Think

So yeah, about those scary black pirates who've stormed our poor calm capitalist waters. Yeah, um, they're trying to tell you that your toxic waste is all up in their business down in Somalia.

Oh silly American media, you forgot that part! You only told me about the scary black men stealing booty.

How is it I have to go to "terrorist" news source, Al Jazeera, to find out that these "pirates" have much more depth to their attacks than what is immediately visible?

Somali pirates have accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast and are demanding an $8m ransom for the return of a Ukranian ship they captured, saying the money will go towards cleaning up the waste.

The ransom demand is a means of "reacting to the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years", Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates, based in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, said.

"The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas."

The pirates are holding the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and military hardware, off Somalia's northern coast.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, 61 attacks by pirates have been reported since the start of the year.

While money is the primary objective of the hijackings, claims of the continued environmental destruction off Somalia's coast have been largely ignored by the regions's maritime authorities.

Now for the juicy part...
"Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there," he said.

"European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne.

"And the waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes – you name it."

Nuttall also said that since the containers came ashore, hundreds of residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments.

You know, I get tired of that nonsensical public mentality that is only capable of understanding criminal-like activities as undeniably evil. Can't it be the case that people are forced into criminal activities when they are being consistently beaten down? Can't some people steal a ship to get some leverage in their demands for basic human rights like clean water for their peoples?

When the world has turned its back on you and shat all over your water, it makes sense that your only option is to fight back by any means necessary.