Category: Rights


The Eye Experiment

In 1968 and again in 1969 and above in 1970, teacher Jane Elliott ran experiments on racism on her class using brown eyes and blue eyes to divide students into groups.  The original documentary and this one shows the effects of what happens when blue eyed children, the first to be treated well, are then treated in a manner consistent with racism to a simple degree.  The behavior of the children that have blue eyes is stunning.  They retreat into themselves, display anger, and often can be seen becoming sad or upset.  Their privilege is gone and now they are forced to be judged as they judged the brown eyes.  At the end of the experiment, on of the blue eyed boys spends a lot of time trying to rip the collar she made them wear so they could tell what color eyes the child had from a distance to simulate skin color reaction in people.  He spent a long time wrapping it around his hands and trying to tear it any way he could but it wouldn’t tear.  Watch this clip as often as you like as I’m not sure how long it’s going to be there for observation purposes.  Soak in the nuances of the blue eyed children’s behavior and notice how they react to their surroundings.

This is what is happening in white society today as whites become the minority in society.

There is discomfort behavior, where often the person reasons that white culture or white exclusivity is failing and needs to somehow be paid attention to such as with white awareness month or white college funds.  The discomfort ranges from frowning upon uncomfortable situations like making a decision if something is racist or not or if it even should qualify as racist.  What’s the big deal, I’m not racist.  Then the agitated behavior when someone is treated differently by a brown eyed person who doesn’t talk to them or treats them with some degree of standoffishness or indifference.  How dare they judge me, I’m not racist.  The agitated behavior also occurs when a brown eyed person is doing something he or she has always done but is now being credited for like going through drill cards faster or not forgetting his or her glasses.  Note especially the behavior that the blue eyed children respond with when compliments are no longer forthcoming and are turned around in an opposing direction, there is agitation and anger there masked with disappointment or unfairness.  Also pay special attention to the kids when they have to wear the collars now.  They are uncomfortable and often act as though it is heavy for them.   Their body language changes and the children actually start acting differently becoming defensive, quiet, plotting and often oversensitive.

I would imagine if the experiment were allowed to continue beyond a week or one day, the rationale of the blue eyed children would become very tense and very edgy or sharp.  “Politically Incorrect” if you will.  Brown eyed children would begin to be ostracized for succeeding and called out for activist roles even though there are pockets of blue eyed children that still believe they are the best there is and that they are the majority.  There would divisional lines drawn up on playgrounds where some brown eyed children would be asked to return to and not leave because it’s where they originally played in the playground.  There would be brown eyed children denied access to areas of the playground where blue eyed children loved to play the most even though those areas are big and their numbers are small.  I can see some blue eyed children that play with the brown eyed children being ostracized and dealt with like they had given up on their own group and have done the unthinkable.  As the children aged and went on to high school, things would become violent and certain behaviors expected out of brown eye children would be ignored in blue eyed children or at least excused.  Detention and suspension would ruin your whole life and someone would never recover from that stigma.  Blue eyed teenagers would begin to oppress the brown eyed students out of certain hallways and causeways, claiming them as their own.  Brown eyed teenagers would fight back by being defiant and loud, doing things they knew would irritate the blue eyed teenagers more.  Soon, things such as simple personal boundaries would be blown out of proportion and violations would be ridiculous and juvenile.  Name calling and finger pointing would occur and the teachers, the teachers would do nothing.  They are too busy trying to educate through this unholy mess using common core learning which teaches how to subtract one from one in a long over-complicated equation.  The government wouldn’t care because they are just kids and can’t vote yet.  The parents would be angry that this is what has been done to their precious children without receiving the lesson from the package.

This my friends, is exactly what is happening today.  Take a moment to check if your eyes are brown  or blue.

 

 

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Extremists in the United States who express the need to hurt Americans who do not submit to their extremist ideals.   People leaving the United States to become part of an extremist army hell bent on destroying good Muslims with values that are right and good.  The destruction of New York City Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.  All at the hands of Islamic Extremists.  Repeatedly, for over thirteen years, Muslim American groups have spoken out against extremism; separating ourselves from these people with soft explanations, patience, caring and loving words, expressions and essays.  Still, many look to us to see what we say every time another attack happens and we repeat those same words and phrases for another time to make people understand I have no interest in killing anyone for their beliefs.  Whether you love America, freedom, Jesus, Israel. Palestine, Buddha, the pantheon of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, your right to bear arms, or whatever the latest Islamic extremist rant is about today.  I strongly believe and respect your right to believe in the God and/or Goddess of your choice or to NOT believe in anything at all.

It is no longer my job or responsibility to apologize for all Muslims and Islam every single time some nutjob does something incredibly nutjobby.  I am no longer going to explain that not all Muslims are like that, especially me, because I don’t feel that way, never felt that way, and am never going to feel that way.  If you haven’t learned that in the last thirteen years, my re-explanation is not going to help you understand that right now.  You are probably going to espouse that prejudicial point of view regardless of what I say when I say it every time something happens.

Also, what does this say that you think about me?  Do you think that I don’t love you enough to respect your right to life?  Do you think that I would hate my country, my friends, my family and my life enough that I would turn my back on them to become or support suicide bombing or Jihadi blasphemy?  Do you really think I would support the calculated murder of people who believe differently than I do?  Who love God differently than I do?  Who strive along the same lines as I do to love my fellows on this beautiful planet and bless them, pray for them, and help them when I can?  I wouldn’t.  I love my country, all my American brothers and sisters, and I believe that compassion solves more problems than words that are hurtful or hateful.  I believe that if you love someone, treat them with respect and kindness, and honor them that all will work out and be productive and prosperous.

My communication with God is a loving one, just like yours, and my communication with my fellows is a loving one just like yours.  I am no longer going to apologize for people I have no control over.  I am no longer going to say that these people are so wrong.  I don’t ask all Christians to constantly apologize to everyone for the workings of the blasphemous Westboro Baptist Church, don’t ask me to constantly apologize for every blasphemous Islamic nutjob, either.

Jodi Arias Innocent?

Newly released on the website for supporters of Jodi Arias is a movie worth seeing.  It makes a few good points concerning the prosecutor’s abusive and bullying form in the courtroom and the highlight of domestic violence in the movie also seems well put together.  However, if one was objective, the nature of our judicial system both makes people very happy or very unhappy.  The trial of Casey Anthony angered many, but failed to highlight the backbone of any trial case: Burden of Proof.  The real problem is the Court of Public Opinion that is not judiciary or altogether faulty, it’s based on the snippets aired on HLN, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News that dispenses information about a trial that is not presented to the jury hearing the case.  Most of what is aired is never reviewed by the jury sequestered.  The opinion of the public directly matters little to any case.  What matters are the jurors who must decide the case without what the general public knows.  Things get thrown out of court that we hear on a news outlets which is never considered by the jury.  There are times when it seems that the jury and courts got it all wrong, like with Casey Anthony, but those jurors were working with the evidence provided in court.  It seems unfair, terrible, and like a injustice; but, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor and it didn’t hold out that well when the jury decided the case.  The prosecutor failed.

So, let’s step back for a moment and reflect.  I had a problem with my anger and vitriol to the point I was abusive to people both verbally and emotionally.  All those people who I unleashed my wrath upon still are in contact with me but have no desire to work with me after such terrible aggression.  Through Sufism, I learned that anger is the destroyer of good.  I learned that what I was doing was wrong and I took a path to correct that part of my person.  I know I can’t go back and smooth things over.  My new being must be presented to them for reevaluation.  I can’t say “I was angry and wrong”  I can say through my deeds and actions that “I am no longer the abuser that I used to be”.  I have to represent myself for their proof that I have changed.  The little and sneaky microagressions slip away from me now.  (A microagression is aggression that is like a liar and reactionary.  Sufism teaches action above reactions.)  I can’t wave the “I’m Sorry” flag and magically all that I used to do would be forgiven or accepted as my past.  Why?  Because that is not the way we see each other and things that happen.  It promotes judgement even when judgement is unnecessary.  In their eyes, I will appear as an abusive person until, by my actions, I prove to be different.  I have made a point to apologize to people I have hurt with this nasty side of me that doesn’t exist anymore.  I have followed that one day, maybe far into the future, that those I hurt see I am a new person by giving them my own burden of proof.  Until it is accepted, I will always be judged as being an abusive person.  That is how our society and culture chooses to identify me.  The burden of proof is on me.

I have passed my judgement too.  I think the prosecutor in the Arias trial was wicked with his attitude and anger.  He was like that with all he questioned.  His abusive behavior might lead most into judgement that it is unnecessary to put a picture of the victim in autopsy to remind a witness why everyone was in court that day.  I also find that his amusement with the gallery outside the courthouse by getting pictures taken with them made a mockery of our judicial system.  When the witnesses didn’t act or do as he wanted them to, he was sure to pull out aggression to make them react instead of react.  Jodi Arias knew well what she did, but he took his reactionary whip out and brought her to tears with an aggressive tongue.  I have learned that an aggressive tongue only whips reaction and not action.  Mr. Martinez, the prosecutor, belittled the witnesses that were not lined up for his burden of proof and used hyper aggressive language to assault all witnesses in one manner or another.  I know also that judgement is passed on his aggressive nature and that nature is not seen as being something terrible for the prosecution.  This kind of aggression hurts people, a lot of people, in ways that are deeply scarring and results in a confused reaction.  The interesting thing is that through it all, not many of the news agencies covering the trial mentioned much about the prosecutor’s conduct as being negative.  They chalk it up to aggression equaling a strong prosecutor that gets the convictions he wants.

The jury didn’t see every piece of information that the viewing audience had either.  The viewing public heard Travis Alexander’s surviving family and friends painting Arias as insane and scary.  I agree that her crawling through the doggy door to sleep on his sofa is creepy.  I also agree that she may have been the one behind slashing his tires and his current girlfriend’s tires, but there is no evidence that that is true.  There were many times that those news agencies who wanted a good scoop aired every enemy Arias ever met, not really contacting any of her friends that think she’s cool.  They didn’t present a case of information but a case of sensation that fueled belief that this woman is guilty in the eyes of a viewing public.  Not much was said about the witnesses for Jodi getting death threats for taking the stand.  It also failed to mention that domestic violence is a problem in this country.  It’s so because the public deemed it so after passing judgement that she was guilty.  I am not saying that Jodi is not responsible for her actions or blacked out in anger against Travis.  That is the burden of proof.  However, I don’t think that Arias has gotten the help she needs either.  What she did was wrong and reactionary to a criminal degree, but the court of public opinion meant nothing to the jurors who were hearing her case deliberated.  It wasn’t the public that found her guilty and effectively put her in prison.  It was the jury and only the jury that could affect the verdict.

We are taught to love everyone, even the most terrible of sinners, and we are taught to guide their spirit to knowing forgiveness.  This teaching falls away when a juicy headline hits the news agencies and gets the public viewer fired up.  The next case will come along and viewers will pass judgement again and there will be surprise when a not guilty verdict is reached by those twelve people who have the power to judge the next time, without reflection that the court of public opinion is not what matters in deliberation.

There are over 2.1 million people in the US that are currently in prison.  There are hundreds of people forced to join gangs of some sort and some level.  Gangs now appear in many prisons as officials have done nothing to curb their deeds or make leaving a gang look attractive.  Instead, the culture of prison is to ally with like races, follow a strict gang agenda, and remain passively assertive against the safety a gang may provide.  The chances of an incarcerated person actually redeeming himself or herself by rehabilitation designed punishment only graces 2% of the population in prison with a life changing lesson.  There are so many gangs that some prisons struggle to keep order of members, their ranking, and which gang one is controlling what portion of the outside recreational yard.  Gangs often look attractive to inmates because it’s a helpful and deceitful at the same time.  The idea of a gang having an inmate’s back is attractive because prison life is rough and hard.  What is happening in most jails and prisons are gang related members learn how to be better criminals, are expected to continue with membership in the gang when released, and fall prey to the unrealistic brotherhood of a gang.  The gang that helps is the gang that can hurt by issuing a hit on you or asking you to hit a friend because they did something to make someone else angry enough to “handle” the member.  Gangster life is a vicious lie perpetuated in places that are desperate for some kind of belonging.  Not only that, but gangs often tell the membership what they need to do to stay in and supplies an attractive pseudo-family to those people who the American Dream is a failure.  Gangs prey on the weak, those that need structure in their lives, and those who have abandoned hope of being able to be and do something other than continue the cycle of poverty.

Gangs hurt people in prison more than the drudgery of being a captive there.  Inmates are told when to sleep, when to eat, when to go to the bathroom, when to shower, and when to wake up.  The prisoner is no longer in control of what happens to him or her.  The gang adds that structure that they can control one thing while imprisoned.  That one thing is the order in which gangs are formed and the order in which each member plays a part.  The gang life is attractive but deceitful.  It promotes control that is primordial needs for a tribe in a bad environment and a failure to control anything at all in their reality of prison.  It’s hard for those people in prison to have faith that someday life will get better because the nature of our society keeps them unemployed and unemployable if they committed felony.  Even those serving for misdemeanors are often turned away from jobs that might head their life in a different direction.  The society we live in makes them pay for their crime for the rest of their natural lives unless given just one chance to get up and do for one’s self.  The failure to get a job due to this cultural problem throws good people back into the system where they go back to the gang and commit more crimes, the lucrative nature of some criminal activities like selling drugs on the street proves to be temptation that they cannot resist, and the will to change is exchanged for the will to remain part of a tribe no matter how bad or terrible that tribe is.

Incarceration hurts people.  It doesn’t allow them a better life or a reflection of misdeeds.  It doesn’t help them to become something more than what they see and know is a somewhat easier yet dangerous way of life.  It dispenses lies.  The inmate with choices to go to school in prison, learn a trade, or even become chefs is an inmate that no longer falls prey to the predatory nature of gangs.  My heart breaks for those people who continue their lives doing crime because that’s all they know, that’s all that’s profitable, and that they feel there is no chance for them to change and become something new, better and motivated.  It’s hard to compete for any job in this current economy, but it’s twice as hard when you’re a felon, breaking off gangster life, and blooming into a hopeful person instead of a hopeless person.  It’s not fair that someone is a felon and can’t restart a straight life out of prison because they are trapped by our culture in a web of judgement, prejudice and punishment that lasts longer than the time already served.  The inmate is then entrenched in the cycles of the system, getting out and going back in.  If someone has served their time and is released from prison, their debt to society has ended.  They are not supposed to be punished anymore the crime they committed.  It’s unfair to hold that crime above his or her head when they have served their time and want to become a valuable member of society.  This culture’s idea that one’s bad choices follow them forever is contributing to the revolving door of prison for people, that they get all caught up by society on what they did and not what they became.

Felons do want jobs.  They want an alternative to dangerous membership in gangs, self destructive behavior, and gang life.  They are forever stamped with an unwanted label and expected to bear the bad mistakes for the rest of their lives.  This is when incarceration hurts and doesn’t help.  Sometimes, you have to forgive someone of their crime and help them make a new way for themselves so that 2.1 million people have a better chance for a happier tomorrow.  Just one chance can break the cycle.  Just one.

Why Can’t The USA Mind Its Own Business?

First I would like to clear up the idea that the USA is not the big brother you can just call when there are bullies on the playground.  This concept that we have to “free the world” is obsolete and no longer works.  There are now more dead American Military in Afghanistan and Iraq has surpassed the amount of the dead in the September 11, 2001 attacks on American soil.  The idea that it was a winning idea to go to Afghanistan and rid them of the Taliban may have seemed like a good idea when the vengeful emotions after 9/11 burned fervently in American hearts and minds.  Twelve years later, our government continues the battle in Afghanistan and more of our stellar men and women in uniform as our representatives are dying for a needless war.  It is time for Iraq and Afghanistan to stand on their own two feet and make it or break it on their own.  Our big brother policy in Iraq fueled by the imagined issues of weapons of mass destruction has done nothing more for Iraq than to kindle the fires of issues between Shiite and Sunni struggles for power.  Now, Syria produces some images of biological weapons being used and suddenly we need to to get involved in the passionate civil war that has been raging there for a goodly amount of time.  As if somehow it is the USA’s number one issue to rid the world of biological weapons, weapons of mass destruction, and push freedom our style down the throats of people who are interested in only in establishing their own brand of freedom.

In Afghanistan, after the Taliban were removed from central governmental power, the Afghanistan tribal leaders held a loya jirga to decide if their King who has been in exile for decades would return to rule Afghanistan.  The King, in his infinite wisdom obviously knew that his people would make the decision on their own via loya jirga.  The administration of the USA government, who was President Bush Jr., said that they would not support monarchy rule in Afghanistan because, sadly, it was against the USA’s definition of democracy.  The meeting was held anyway and the King was not restored to power, but did mention that he respected loya jirga and it’s decisive direction in Pashtun culture.  At the same time, the Bush Administration alienated the number one homeless culture in the Middle East, the Kurds, by telling them that they could not gain control of Kirkuk, the ancient capital of Kurdistan.  The Kurds have a autonomous state in northern Iraq that the Bush Administration advised them to abandon in the name of USA bred “democracy”.  Of course, the Kurds did not follow that advise and is currently engaged in an agreement with a Bush company for trade of oil, which one could wonder, was the underbelly of the military action in Iraq.  Saddam Hussein did in fact gas many Kurds during his stint as Dictator.  I am unwilling to forget Halabja, where infants, babies, toddlers, mothers and fathers succumbed to a terrible attack via Al-Anfal campaign to repress Kurdish opposition.

It seems ill fitting that the USA would eagerly eye ending a civil war in Syria when there are others that could be helped.  I remember during “Where’s My Vote” protests in Iran against their leader recently elected by sham voting counts, many called to the Obama administration to help them with their problem.  As a result, the USA did not move to help them and consistently parades about thumping our chest over Iran’s need for nuclear power and the side benefit of nuclear weapons grade uranium to make them another nuclear power in the Middle East,  How tragic that we sacrifice a billion dollars to Pakistan, the number one producer of terrorists and terrorist sympathizers in the Middle East as madrassas grow like weeds there, but we are unwilling to help two of the major populations without homes or stability: Kurds and Palestinians.  The harboring of Osama Bin Laden and his wives in Pakistan was passed off with a very strategic strike of his compound and he was surgically “taken care of” by a Navy Seal team.  This military action caused Pakistan to save face by deporting his wives and killing the US informant via hanging to appease the American hating population.  If only the Palestinians sat on an oil reserve perhaps our view of the decades long war with Israel would be over and we would be enjoying “democratic” gas in our gas tanks.  Why can’t the USA mind its own business?  Because the government still believes that ancient idea of war being good for the economy trips us up at the door all the time.  When are you, as a USA citizen, going to say enough is enough?  Hopefully right after I do…enough is enough.

I wanted to wait before I posted this primarily due to its sensitive subject for so many people either pro or con for George Zimmerman and his guilt or innocence.  I don’t want to inflame either side but I also think that Rachel Jeantel is being displayed in an ugly light by most media outlets.  Rachel was on the phone with Trayvon Martin and he said that a “crazy ass cracker” was following him.  She was uncomfortable on the stand and had a bristly attitude which most media outlets misunderstood to be detriment to Ms. Jeantel’s character.  She was asked to speak up, repeat what she said for clarification, and was clearly upset by lines of questioning that echoed in pauses of uneasy silence.  It is unfair that Ms. Jeantel was unfairly judged by media and possibly the jury because of her strong and brisk personality.  I understood every word she said, I felt her frustration and her intolerance of not being listened to.  That is the majority of the problem with prejudice; the inability to listen, understand, and ask questions that clarify meaning for the listener.  That isn’t what this post is about.  This post is about Ms. Jeantel’s strong nature, standing her ground, and losing patience with the attorneys directing and cross examining her testimony.  Both sides failed to truly listen to her and she may have taken the presence of a bad attitude.  For centuries that has happened to women over and over again; if you are a sharp, strong, unmovable force to be reckoned with, there will always be one or two idiots that dismiss you as being a “bitch”.  This is why Ms. Jeantel will never be a victim.  She would not tolerate treatment of herself by others that is grating, abusive, and unworthy of her attention.  Ms.  Jeantel is the woman that shake the foundations of societal judgments that women are to be meek, take what they are given, and feel lucky to have two peanuts and a roll of toilet paper as a reasonable salary.

It is my opinion that once some people are confronted by a strong, no nonsense, pretty woman that they expect some amount of stereotypical yielding toward men.  Sometimes there are some people who can’t deal with strong women at all and label them as a bitch because she is not bendable toward their will and not her own free will.  It is especially hurtful prejudice toward women of any ethnic background, religion, culture, and success level.  The strong, unwavering woman to some people is unattractive because her tolerance threshold for ridiculousness is very low.  When a strong woman gets placed in uncomfortable circumstances, she stands up for herself and clearly draws a line in the sand that says “No.  You don’t get to treat me poorly”.  This is what Ms. Jeantel presented to the jury, defense team, and prosecution team and pretty much every home in America who cared about the case.  The cultural differences aside, there are some that prefer the fainting Victorian lady on her lacy bed.  The worst part of all this is not only that she was a woman not tolerating any crap, but she was a black, curvy woman that defied the pressure of either attorney to hamper her personality.  She was firm.  She was clear on the facts.  She had no patience with word games or spin flung by either attorney.  The problem was three fold: Ms. Jeantel is African American and expected to react poorly as a stereotype of being both a woman and a black woman, she is a teenager who has had enough (pardon my language) bullshit to last her a lifetime, and because she did not fit into a file box as a “hood rat” or uppity negro that just plays the system for what it’s worth.  She is a teenager that obviously doesn’t tolerate bullying, inappropriate behavior, or treatment that she feels is unwarranted.  Ms. Jeantel had the presence of being outside her comfort zone and her wall of defense rose quickly.

Now, if we observe without any preconceived information Ms. Jeantel’s testimony, the young teenage woman seems prickly and intolerant of her circumstance and the arena to which it played.  This is why Ms.  Jeantel is not going to be a victim, a fainting maid on her Victorian bed, or a door mat for someone to use and abuse.  Oh no, not Ms.  Jeantel.  She isn’t going to tolerate any such behavior and given that she is a strong woman, it’s going to be relationship based on what she deserves and doesn’t deserve.  She isn’t going to let anyone dog her down, hurt her, or pull her apart.  This creates an air of Ms. Jeantel that tolerates very little, gives very much, and loves her friends and mourns a friend.  The stereotype of a woman, especially a young woman teenager, is that we are supposed to have predefined responses to emotions like crying or getting angry in a way that is “ladylike” and “sweet”.  As much as I dislike the observation, but woman have been presenting as stronger in environments that are hostile.  They have to be because predators are always sizing up their prey, which Ms. Jeantel will never be because of her strength, love, and dedication to herself, her self esteem and attitude.  I can only hope that as she matures, so does her strength.

The New (Old) Face of Racism

In the wake of the trial of George Zimmerman, who was brought up for second degree murder charge in Stanford Florida for the killing of a young, African American Trayvon Martin, was found not guilty by a jury of six women.  Boiling over, the New and yet Old Face of Racism raises its ugly head across the country.  This is a new face of racism that holds old modus operandi that has plagued America for countless generations all they way back to the formation of the US and its exercised slavery that continued  even after the eloquence of the Declaration of Independence saying all men were created equal…except for my slaves, they don’t get rights. This is the echo through America’s history of racism, prejudice, and cruelty to those that are found to be lacking the “right” color.  The N word, which has been an insult since the beginning of the United States, is still used today not only by insulting racists, but also the African American culture to perhaps soften the blow of such a terrible word.  The fact that people still use this word in 2013 is telling to the stagnation of equality for the different oppressed races that live here in America in areas where the population is supremely racist calls to mind that the search for fairness will always be blind and grappling for stale arguments for racism.  In the 1940’s after Japanese war planes attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i, Japanese Americans who had a love for the US, were interred in camps because of their race and the ignorance that plagues US history.  African Americans had to go to the back of the bus, different bathrooms, drink from different water fountains and be seated in the “black only” sections of eateries.  The “black only” schools, the “black only stores and white proms and “black proms” still exist today.  There are still places in Florida and other Southern states that have a sign saying:  Nigger don’t be here when night comes.  I have seen them.  African Americans suffered under the yoke of racism, so have many others.

African Americans have been oppressed heavily all over the US.  Native Americans, who were here before anyone else, were given blankets infected with smallpox to remedy the problem that white people wanted their land.  Gypsies in America are treated poorly because they are considered “dirty and disgusting” in many places in America.  In some areas, African Americans were ostracized by everyone had they chosen a white spouse.  Worst than that, African Americans, Native Americans, and other races are still fighting for their God given rights where pockets of racism live and flourish.  Just see how the Native Americans and African Americans and other oppressed people live in abject poverty because of racism.  To her dying day, my own mother used the word “gook” and “kike”  to Americans with “slanty eyes” or American Jews.  It seems that the undercurrent of cultural fear exists in America for anyone that might be a terrorist wearing hijab, or the Sikh head covering turban, and if your name doesn’t sound American you are the new Muslim enemy.  But it doesn’t stop there.  The fear of change and the ability to learn the truth about people who desire change are very different people.  The fact that white American racist fears what it cannot understand has become an excuse to be violent, angry, and hateful to people that may be different. This treatment hurts them, especially when people like former President Bush the son moves to have affirmative action equality found defunct because there is no prejudice against them.  The people have a tendency get emotional and distrustful of others because you spin the wheel of racism every time one meets someone new.  They have a tendency to get mad when they need FEMA help after Hurricane Katrina and don’t ever benefit from it.  Homes still stand wrecked.  In New Jersey, after Hurricane Sandy, Governor Christie fought to get help after the devastated areas appealed to him.  They got what they needed and wanted.  I could go on and on, listing how unfairly African Americans, Latinos, and other different looking races are oppressed here.

Its okay to feel wounded by decades of poor and nasty treatment.  I once worked as a warehouse manager for a small garden bench company.  My guys, who were all African Americans, were struggling to get the line moving because of some bad materials.  I left my office in my nice clothes, put on a apron, and dove in to help them out.  My boss, who was a white man, told me and I quote: “Don’t help them niggers, let them do the hard work.”  I was appalled.  I went to his boss and told him what my boss said and he,. being a white man, shrugged and answered “whatever the work that needs to be done, let the niggers do it”.  Three seconds after that I went to the NAACP, AFL-CIO and made complaints about this boss problem.  It was not long after that that the company fired me and closed it’s doors.  I know an African American family that changed their last name from White to Whyte to separate themselves from the last name of their defunct owner after the Emancipation Proclamation.  It has been centuries and that same view this wonderful family attracts from white people is still rude, prejudice and hateful.  Somewhere, sometime, perhaps now, is the time to draw the line of our tolerance level for racism as an American citizen and stick to it.  We need to say, “I’m not taking this anymore”.  Of course, the people have a right to be angry.  How many generations of KKK members have carried the torch of hatred?  Aryan Nation, too.  It’s the time to stand by our brothers and sisters and say “I am not going to settle for this kind of treatment by anyone toward anyone.

It’s time for America to grow up and put her big girl panties on.

When someone says “polygamy”, the ugly face of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints ruled by Warren Jeffs and the cookie cutter clothes and hairdos immediately come to mind.  The darker side of polygamy exists right there in the prairie dresses and teenage marriages that cast an ugly light onto a very real and often healthy polygamous relationships.  With the Warren Jeffs fiasco, other sects of the FLDS who have nothing to do with his brainwashing or underage marriages.  As a matter of fact, these families are not protected by any law and risk arrest that will lead to the scattering, shattering and cruel handling of a loving family that works.  A good example of such healthiness exists in the relationship of Kody Brown, Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, Christine Brown and Robyn Brown chronicled in TLC’s show “Sister Wives.  It also fails to shed a light on other practiced polygamy households that observe God’s word and works through their marriage and their children’s happiness.  Muslims have long approved of plural marriage and, as a matter of fact, I have had only two non-polygamous relationships in my life one with an ex and the other with my current spouse.  All other relationships have been open, outright polygamous, and relatively happy relationships as long as they can possibly last.  In America, many people are appalled and not supportive of such relationships mainly because what they can’t entertain in their own mind remains a mystery that has fear attached to it.  The fact that there is always a period in everyone’s life where we come to choose morality and healthy relationships as a plural family unit.  It does  work, it is natural, and should be delve into the word of God, there are many polygamous relationships that exist there.  The problem is that it happens in America and brings out the ugly haters of polygamy and what it stands for.  I have been married six times, and the current relationship I have is awesome and sharing of each other exclusively.  I can’t say that it is easy to be monogamous, my life seems geared toward that but I respect my current spouse and I enjoy a monogamous relationship.

Polygamy, also called “polly” is when a man takes on numerous wives to have a long family with.  That is the reality of polygamy, not the Warren Jeffs sect that chooses wives for men.  Even in other FLDS, Muslim, and Paganism faith based households are polygamous.  For Muslims, the man must be able to treat his first wife the exact same way as the second wife both spiritually, monetarily, and physically.  Polyandry is also called “polly” but it is a woman who has many men that she is married to.  Though polyandry is not supported in Abrahamic Faith, it is supported by many others under the order of “Harm none, do as thou wilt”.  There are just as many happy families living a polyandry lifestyle that is supportive and deeply loving of one another and children.  Not everyone is cut out to be accepting of sharing their woman or man with other women or men.  To some I have stumbled into on the internet, they are hateful to such lifestyle choices with great prejudice and disdain.  People who are monogamous are often abrasive to such relationships, spewing hatred and hurtful communication to those who have healthy polly lifestyles.

A great number of both polly relationships hide their definition to avoid the police shattering their family unit because it is illegal, but such laws are often helpful to a tunnel vision opinion that all polly families live in sin and degradation.  This is simply untrue, but people hang on to old ideas to resist any meaningful change of the status quo.  It is also interesting to note that when someone is arrested and charged with polly “crime”, the family is ripped apart and forced to fracture under the cruelty of such laws.  Marriage definitions for every one is rather different.  Some people believe marriage is only for procreation and making a family with children to raise. Some people define marriage through the lens of their religion, feeling it is of celestial importance to be fruitful and multiply in a plural marriage.  The hiding of polly lifestyles in the present time represents an array of unchanging puritan evangelism that is not flexible to the Constitutional right to pursue happiness.  The conservative bases of many churches of Abrahamic religions outlaw both kinds of polly relationships on the grounds that they are righteous and whoever fails to listen to them will burn in hell for all eternity.  Then there is the chugging little train that could where some Christians fail to accept anything remotely different than vanilla sexual relationships or different ideas about the holy definition of marriage.  Then there are always those people who peep into the polly life and come away with perversion accusations.  The fear of the unknown because it may mean change gets caught up in sensational stories of group sex with wives, husbands, and lovers because they seem to feel entitled to have the only right opinion.

Warren Jeffs and his cult have forced women into marriage with older men and some of those women were minors.  The sad reality of his kind of the FLDS is not at all FLDS are like that.  These are families that work and are helpful to children and each other.  Because of Jeffs, we are all lumped into a summary box filed by those who would oppress people with an oppressive religion that gives them the right to do what Jesus/Issa told them not to do: judge others lest ye be judged.   Being polly, being gay, and lumped sum filing of labels for those they feel are perverted will somehow one day include animal/human sex, molestation of children, and the sin of gluttony will prevail and all morals be damned.  That simply isn’t true because the real polly family is about love which is still a mystery to many.

As you probably know,  Jodi Arias’ jury was unable to come up with a unanimous vote on life or death.  The jury was split 8 to 4 for the death penalty.  Arizona law, as far as I can easily research, will only accept a unanimous jury ruling of life or death punishments.  Several of the jurists who were disbanded after being unable to unanimously decide on a sentence have discussed at length on media outlets telling why they couldn’t come up with a unanimous decision and just how difficult it was to manage in the jury room.  The problem that remains is a new jury must be picked and a very abridged version of the evidence and testimony.  It is highly doubtful that this brief version of the trial, as both sides do not call witnesses to the stand.  In Arizona, the finding of Arias in the verdict stage remains upheld and so does the intentionally cruel finding.  The only thing the next jury is going to have to decide on is if she should get the death penalty or life in prison with or without the option of parole.  On July 18th, the new jury will begin to be selected and it will be by their vote that Arias’ sentence is, but is that fair and can they be sure to get jurors who have never heard of Jodi Arias, Travis Alexander’s brutal murder at her hands, and the string of experts paraded to the stand to uphold the defense’s and prosecution’s proof of Arias’ alleged abuse.  That’s not the real question though that looms in anyone’s mind.  It is the delivery of the death penalty that has taken its toll on the jury, even though they were asked to sign a paper and prepare to vote for the death penalty.

All of this begs the question:  If you were on a jury, hearing the same amount of truth, expert testimony and a grueling 18 days long testimony of the perpetrator of the crime, and autopsy photos were put up on a large screen at a time in the trial where remembering the victim was important, would you be able to dole out the death penalty after all of that?  The testimony that took five months and five years to happen paraded the sexual lives of two people, listening and watching Jodi Arias lie on the stand, and after seeing her breakdown multiple times gave the four in the jury a sense that Jodi is a living, breathing, human woman who made the worst decision in her life and brutally murdered someone that she said she loved.  There was an enormous amount of evidence linking her to the crime, the fact that she admitted that she did it after telling two falsehoods to media outlets because she was defending herself are all a part of what those 12 people are going to decide is worthy of giving her a sentence that spares her life for prison or does not support her continuance and she gets sentenced to death.  There are three women on death row in Arizona one of whom was put there by prosecutor Juan Martinez.  If you were a juror, given the extensive parade of fact, fiction, and expert testimony, could you look into Jodi’s eyes and say: “This woman deserves the death penalty.  Could you do it?

There are things to take into consideration though.  First, Jodi did take the stand and tell her story which to a jury makes her human and personable to the extent that she made an terrible error and a fatal lapse of moralistic actions.  Remember, the jury that was hung did not hear the same things we heard about Jodi on every single news station and HLN.  We know more behind the scenes issues that the jury didn’t have access to.  Second, Jodi clearly has some issues that are psychotic in nature but that also is not enough to convince four jurors to give her the death penalty.  Finally, the jury was not sequestered and essentially had to follow that admonition the Judge Stephens relayed to them every day.  There are four people, who even upon signing an agreement that they could give the death penalty in the sentencing phase, chose not to do so.  The query now is, could you decide on death or life in prison with or without parole with a clear conscious?  I don’t believe that anyone knows really what they would do in such a circumstance unless they were actively in that place.  After watching every grueling day of the hearings, I am unsure I could give the death penalty.  I would not want to be responsible for the death of any one person, no matter how terrible the crime.  I also strongly believe that Jodi hasn’t ever learned that violence against another human being is wrong.  Jealousy is an evil, treacherous emotion that when unchecked can be horrifically manifest in ugly ways that are not productive.  I honestly also believe that Jodi has a serious mental illness that is characterized with a flat affect and an inability to properly grasp psychologically healthy relationships primarily because she has issues with acceptance of it.  Jodi was very good and hitting all of Travis Alexander’s buttons in order to create a unhealthy and unstable hold on him because she was the one who deflowered him and introduced him to sexual behavior that is not vanilla.  I would not be comfortable sending anyone to death, but I would have never made the jury cut because I couldn’t say that I would sentence her to death or life in prison with or without parole.  I also disagree with people who say she deserves what she gets primarily because I do not believe that incarceration helps anyone who may have a dangerous mental illness.  That illness needs to be treated and an adequate amount of therapy may make a change in her life, but as I have learned, violent offenders very rarely ever rehabilitate.  I think that is mostly because we don’t know enough about the brain and its inner workings to properly treat and rehabilitate violent offenders.

So on the 18th of July of 2013, Jodi Arias’ new jury will be constructed and the question of her sentence will become clear hopefully for her sake and the sake of the Alexander family who have suffered terribly waiting for this closure that they need to move on.  Forgiveness is not simple and it is a journey taken by the brave and courageous.

 

Those who are in prison for a decade or more have a higher chance of offending and it happens for ridiculous reasons.  While incarcerated most who have committed crimes that are felonies with long sentences are not given or afforded the training necessary to live a life beyond their sentence, they also are woefully unprepared for a life of freedom outside of prison.  In prison, the average long sentence of a decade or more does not prepare the newly released prisoner with the tools necessary to be responsible and productive members of society.  I say this because I’ve watched shows about lockup on MSNBC that clearly shows that prisoners being released after a decade or two in lockup can result in incarceration because they were not prepared for the stress of bill paying on a budget that is woefully hinged upon a felon actually finding a job on the outside that is going to make ends actually meet.  Not only that, but often spending that amount of time in prison forces inmates to become part of a gang on the inside and extends to the outside upon release.  It is also a reality of life behind bars that some of the worst offenders have mental illness that will go untreated on the outside of prison because drugs and counselling is often unavailable to the average inmate upon release.  A growing number of the people incarcerated are suffering from mental illnesses that, when untreated, land them back in prison or jail obviously the product of a destructive or self destructive cycle.  It is also a requirement that when you fill out an application for a job, you must answer the question “Have you been convicted of a crime” with yes and give some details about that.  That is what stops felons from getting a meaningful employment opportunity, the fact that no one in good paying jobs hires felons and also then contributes to the newly released re-offending.

The idea that somehow a felon, who had been a good inmate and stayed out of trouble while incarcerated, will not get a job that actually helps them with the pressure of meeting a bill’s due date.  They only employment that many find is inadequate and draws the felon into the trap of re-offending and being locked up yet again.  There are numerous ways that this can change for formally incarcerated.  Making health care available for the mentally ill could actually cut down the amount of people going in and out of prison.  The reality that mental illness is more common for those that cycle in and out of jail and prison needs to be spotlighted.  We also have a tendency to lock people away and forget about them, then release them into a hostile environment for a successful life without giving them training or other skills that they can use on the outside that would help success happen.  We “throw away” people who commit multiple crimes over and over in the prison system.  We have allowed our prisons to become a breeding ground for gang culture which only teaches them how to re-offend over and over again.  The crux of the problem may be that we need to invest in these people and train them for employment, stress of bill paying, and teach them what they need to do to live a productive and successful life without crime.  Sure, there will be those who cannot be helped or choose not to be helped.  What we fail to do is invest in them becoming productive and responsible.  We fail to invest in them because they are felons.  Instead, we are willing to pay for their decades in prison and are unwilling to give them the fighting chance they need on the outside.

Imagine that you have served the last 25 years in prison.  While you were incarcerated, computers are available to everyone, cellular phones became a necessity, smart phones are the personal data assistant, satellite powered television is in many homes, the internet was born, and dial up connections became extinct.  Imagine being released and not having the ability to get a decent job, handle the stress of responsible living, and having no trade to pedal for employers.  Imagine how hard it would be to get a job even in fast food restaurants.  Imagine if the only choice you had to succeed is to commit a criminal act so you don’t have to deal with the stressful reality of life.  Imagine that no one will give you a job because they just can’t trust a felon to do the right thing.  What would you be willing to endure in exchange for money that paid the rent?  What if you had no options?  In this day and age, we still throw people in a six feet by seven feet room and hope they learned their lesson.  When the released felon re-commits, we call him or her a lost cause because we are the ones that made that so.  We did nothing to help her or him to become something worth themselves.  Instead, we treat them like animals and pound that prison culture into their heads because we chose not to fill their head with some knowledge and a trade to fall back on instead of stealing cars, killing other gang rivals, selling drugs, armed robbery and other felonious crimes.  If we continue to invest just enough for their three hots and a cot, we get exactly what we give.

Nothing.