What’s Next?

Like many people, I woke up today in shock and still exhausted from last night’s election results. I went to bed angry and disappointed, thankfully falling asleep — probably more from sheer exhaustion than anything else — after spending a short time pondering how I will explain this to my three daughters in the morning. The three daughters that were so excited to go vote for the first female presidential candidate. The three that went to bed with an 83% chance of waking up to the first female president in US history.

This morning, they ran into my room excited to hear the news, but like many of us who witnessed it live, their hopes were dashed and confusion set in…

“If he says mean things and isn’t a good person, why did so many people vote for him?”

That was just the start. They were profoundly sad, gracing me with many hugs to help with their (and my) disappointment. I’ve been a mess ever since…

Since school drop off, I’ve spent time reflecting with other like-minded people, reading great posts like Anil Dash’s Forget “Why?”, it’s time to get to work , pondering the most bizarre and contradicting exit polls I’ve ever seen, and attempting to temper my fear since Trump really didn’t run on anything but adjectives, a wall, and locking Clinton up (and I doubt the last two will ever happen.)

We don’t know what the next couple years will bring from this government led by an extreme narcissist — and while I don’t imagine much good coming from it for anyone who isn’t a white male, I do know that we can continue down the path we started on…

That means we will continue teaching our girls about love, empathy , decency, politeness, and inclusion — giving and expecting it back in return. It means continuing to teach them to think beyond their immediate needs, when they have enough (and what enough means), to consider others less fortunate. It means continuing to work with the amazing Girl Scouts of WNY to help the poor and marginalized, whether it’s helping food pantries or marching in the Pride Parade. It means supporting local businesses that are run by or support women, minorities, people of color, and LGBT.

There’s a lot we can do to lessen the impact of a Trump presidency for future generations. The most important moment starts today. Let’s show our kids that bullies and fear don’t win in the end.


#ImWithHer for them.

Tomorrow, we take our three girls to vote for President for the third time in their lifetime. The first two were for the first African American President. Tomorrow, the first female President.

The best part is they know no different. This diversity is normal to them. It’s so amazing to know that their generation is already off to a great start.

Now it’s up to us to keep setting good examples. Examples free of inequality, prejudice, hatred, abuse, degradation, and violence.

Let’s get this done.

An Amazing 10 Days for America

Early February was an amazing time -- absolutely amazing -- to watch the performances from two highly talented African Americans, on the highest profile stages in American culture, that so perfectly captured Black Culture and Black America in 2016. Even better that they took place in the midst of one of the most insane Presidential election cycles America has ever seen.

It all started with Beyonce's Formation video:

And her performance at the Super Bowl:

Killer Mike, Margaret Cho, and Bill Maher had a great conversation that perfectly dissected that song and performance:

My favorite quotes started with Killer Mike:

White people, it's not always about you.

And then Margaret Cho at the end:

Black Pride doesn't have to take anything away from White Culture. It doesn't have to take anything away -- it can exist on it's own. I think this is what Black America needed. It's what all of us needed. It's really important.

Then a week or so later at the Grammy Awards, Kendrick Lamar delivered a performance that not only stole the show, but was quite possibly the most thought provoking and important live musical performance by an African American that I can remember.

Killer Mike's quote above is applicable to pretty much everything in life: it's not always about you. You can get offended at these performances or their anger, live in denial, or nitpick over imagery or words. It's wasted energy. Just because you don't understand or want to believe someone's feelings and/or experiences, doesn't make it any less true or any less important to that person.

Its an important (and hard) lesson to learn and a key to developing empathy and compassion. We all need to do more to turn that empathy and compassion into change. We need to show more support and stand up to racist bullshit: speak up, write more, vote for equality, vote with our dollars, and vote with our time and attention. After all, Desmond Tutu said it best:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

It's why I was so excited about Obama and now Bernie Sanders. I would much rather live in a world with less inequality, less hatred, less exploitation, less short-term thinking, and less selfishness. It's not always about you. We live in a modern, extremely inter-connected society that has the ability to provide a little more and put everyone on a better path -- whether it's on a racial level, gender, sexuality, or economics. Small sacrifices by many can improve our society as a whole and make us a greater nation. (And we are already pretty great, despite Trump's asinine campaign slogan.)

Let's all do more in 2016 and beyond.

White America’s ‘Broken Heart’

Charles M. Blow has a pretty great take on what's driving the 2016 Presidential election:

Much of the energy on both the left and the right this cycle is coming from white Americans who are rejecting the direction of America and its institutions. There is a profound disappointment. On one hand, it’s about fear of dislocation of supremacy, and the surrendering of power and the security it provides. On the other hand, it’s about disillusionment that the game is rigged and the turf is tilted. It is about defining who created this country’s bounty and who has most benefited from it.

When it comes down to it, poor to middle class white Americans are scared because:

America has a gauzy, romanticized version of its history that is largely fiction. According to that mythology, America rose to greatness by sheer ruggedness, ingenuity and hard work.

The "American Dream" (the rags-to-riches version) is not real for most people and hasn't been for a long time. According to Blow:

Much of America’s past is the story of white people benefiting from a system that white people designed and maintained, which increased their chances of success as it suppressed those same chances in other groups. Those systems persist to this day in some disturbing ways, but the current, vociferous naming and challenging of those systems, the placing of the lamp of truth near the seesaw of privilege and oppression, has provoked a profound sense of discomfort and even anger.

The American Dream has been replaced by the dream of being debt-free, which says a lot about our society: one of $1.2 trillion in student loan debt and around $800 billion in credit card debt. Both problems rich people don't have to deal with very often.

The effects of this inequality are now coming home to roost for many Americans. Blow:

Indeed, the current urgency about inequality as an issue is really about how some white Americans are coming to live an experience that many minorities in this country have long lived — structural inequity has leapt the racial barrier — and that the legacy to which they fully assumed they were heirs is increasingly beyond their grasp.

The conservative side of this white anger is perfectly represented by the anti-political correctness that is sweeping through their ranks -- especially Trump and his supporters. As I linked to a while back, being "anti-PC" is a guise to do one of two things: dismiss issues as frivolous in order to justify ignoring them (or) at worse, an attempt to silence the debate and concerns of marginalized people.

Mike Huckabee: Some Syrian refugees may have ‘nefarious purposes’

Huckabee on why we should be hesitant to accept Syrian refugees:

"That's not a lack of Christian charity. It's the essence of charity, to provide for needs, but not to put your own children at risk, if what you're importing could be people who have a nefarious purpose for wanting to be here." -- Mike Huckabee, via the Washington Post

For Huckabee's reference, the definition of charity:

  1. generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless
  2. something given to a person or persons in need; alms
  3. a charitable act or work
  4. a charitable fund, foundation, or institution
  5. benevolent feeling, especially toward those in need or in disfavor
  6. leniency in judging others; forbearance
  7. Christian love; agape (AKA unconditional love)

So no, it's not the essence of charity by any stretch of the imagination. It's pretty much the opposite, and all you need to know about his beliefs and brand of religion.

I have no idea how anyone can take this guy seriously.

One Year On

Prior to the previous weekend, I stumbled upon an article that mentioned the first anniversary of Ferguson. I was shocked. Had it really been that long? It felt like just a few months ago.

But then I realized it hadn't felt like a year because of the constant stream of police-related violence and deaths over the past year. How many? A lot. Like 1,091 a lot. (Mapped and featured on Vox.com, courtesy of the non-profit Fatal Encounters.)
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Jon Stewart on Charleston

The whole video is worth watching, but the real heavy hitting part is this:

"I honestly have nothing other than just sadness, once again, that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other in the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal yet we pretend doesn't exist," Stewart said. "I'm confident, though, that by acknowledging it — by staring into that — and seeing it for what it is, we still won't do jack shit.

(Source: Watch Jon Stewart simply lose the ability to tell jokes over America's gun violence - Vox)

Truly saddening, so unnecessary, and so preventable -- even the racist jackass that did this admitted he had second thoughts because they were all so nice to him. Can you imagine that? Actual nice people that didn't look like him! WTF.

Beyond all that, the whole 'is this terrorism or not' debate is ridiculous. He intended to start a civil war, he had an intense hatred toward another group of people, and he committed mass murder. How is that any different than any other person we define as a terrorist? Nothing, that's what. White people can be and are terrorists too. End of story.

In other news, Jon's guest for the day, Malala Youfsafzai, is truly inspirational. It's worth watching the whole episode.