I (Un)Pledge Allegiance

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“You say stand, I’m taking a stand.”

Quarterback (QB) for the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick made a strong statement for what he called and “injustice toward minorities,” for recent police shootings. During the national anthem of a football game, the NFL QB decided to sit on the bench instead take part in the pledge. Once the game ended he conducted an interview with the press stating why he decided to sit. Immediately there were mixed feelings from many who agreed with his decision as well as the criticism. But what fueled him to do so. What really got to him? This has been a topic for the past couple of years and now he’s coming forward; why?

One theory is one that popped  into my mind immediately. Colin is a native of Wisconsin, where recently another shooting took place in Milwaukee. The police shot and killed a young Black male which set off protest across the city. Police squad cars and other vehicles were turned over and set on fire. Giving that Colin is a native to the state, he could have felt the topic now hit close to home. Or maybe it was the result of held in frustration over time, almost like the powder cafe effect.

But does the mass media play a role in the mental anguish that leads to these various forms of protest. Because these types of interactions have been taking place with law enforcement and the community throughout history, but never has it been part of our 24 hour news cycle. When something on on television is consistently played over and over again, it can make a matter appear worst than it really is at the moment. Still, Colin is not an anomaly. He just gets added to the many public figures that have come out recently in light of shootings by the police.

Now, on the other hand you have the critics, who counter the sentiment toward the police. One argument states that police are on edge because of the environments they are forced to service. The neighborhoods are rot with criminal elements and behavior that can rival the death toll south of the border with Mexico’s drug cartels. Police and their supporters would go on to state that police are responding to the growing violence in these high crime areas. Another view is that more Black males kill each at higher rates than police. Logically and logistically this makes sense, especially when looking at a city like Chicago. Which at the moment has a crime rate higher than it has seen in over two decades, as well as higher than some poverty stricken international cities.

But does that mean the deaths are justified. Are the police killings justified because someone in the community kills. Meaning, “Hey, they shoot each other, why is it such a big deal when I kill ’em?” Well the other side would say, that one death never justifies another death. But the most obvious reason is that the guys who shoot in the community are not protected by the state. Their shootings are not upheld by the law. These men kill, yet they are thrown in prison for lengthy sentences if not given the death penalty for their crimes. In the opposing view of the police, people would state cops never get into trouble. If they do, it could only be described as a slap on the wrist or amount to an unpaid vacation.

But should we be prompted sit for the pledge of allegiance? Should we not view the United States flag as a symbol of freedom? Let’s analyze this pledge. The end of the pledge states, “With liberty and justice for all.” The justice for all is the portion of the pledge which prompted Colin to sit. So how did the military troops get brought into this equation. Aren’t they fighting for our right to stand and protest. Don’t they fight and die so we can have those unalienable rights to express how we feel when we feel social injustice has taken place.

Or is there another aspect to the pledge and the flag. Because the pledge also states the we shall remain, “Indivisible with liberty.” We are more divided now in America both socially and politically than in what seems like decades prior. What is that saying again, “A house divided can not stand.” But what good is a house standing if the foundation is rotten to the core. And if there is injustice, than Colin would have a point. Because whether you like what he did, he is in full alignment with the Constitution. He expressed his freedom of speech and freedom to protest. Some may feel just because you have the right it shouldn’t always be expressed. True, everything that is a freedom does not technically need to be outwardly expressed. Yet, he has done no harm. He has physically assaulted or called for the deaths of anyone. This is not like saying fire in a crowded movie theater, but more so like saying,” Hey, this movie theater has faulty wiring, which could lead to a  serious fire.”

However you view this, both critics and supporters of Colin both are in alignment with freedom in America. He has the right to sit and not stand. But understand, that just as much as he has the right to protest, the opposition has a right to disagree.

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Interracial Dating: Does It Matter?

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“Is love really color blind?”

I myself have never been in an interracial relationship, but I see the struggle. To say that people have an uphill battle when living their lives together is an understatement. You’re under constant pressure to always defend yourselves when faced with opposition. But are there exceptions? Do we accept interracial dating for certain groups and not others? Is this more of an isolated situation? It’s tough, but you have to look at both sides in regards to people choosing to date outside your ethnicity.

What are both sides? Well first, let’s look at what we mean by interracial dating. In the United States, when referencing interracial dating we pay more attention to Black and White people dating. We don’t get into the topic of Puerto Rican and Chinese; Indian and Tai; Saudi Arabian and Brazilian. In America, it’s typically Black male and White woman; White male and Black woman. But just that description is enough to confuse people. The problem starts at the color designation. This nation has been color constructed for so long as a means to designate a group your opposition or enemy.

The issue that people have with interracial dating is the idea that now you are forced to face those hidden emotions. Now everything is in your face; something a lot of people don’t like to see. But why is it anyone else’s business what life you lead. Because as much as we don’t like someone telling us how to live, we feel we have to voice in others’ lives.  But which interracial situation causes the most problems. In my opinion, Black males and White females.

There is this coveting that pertains to White females and this looming cloud over Black males. But I learned something that no one really wants to talk about regarding the matter. It’s about the esthetics of the female if it matters to White guys and Black women. If the female is pretty it makes the White guy more upset and if the female is ugly, it makes Black women more upset. This sounds ridiculous, but it exist on both sides. If the Black woman is unattractive then Black guys could care less. The only exception  is that you never hear White females speak outwardly about any of this.

So basically, it doesn’t matter to a great extent the ethnicity as it is the physical attractiveness and success of the person. In other words, you make yourself appear like you care, but ostracize within your own group. These are the things that people in interracial relationships have to deal with in society. Now is this an isolated situation or is it national. I do think it exist throughout the country, but it’s more overt in certain regions.

Even though the it has been over 50 years since the end of the Civil Rights Movement, there are still pockets of America that are against interracial dating. The more known places are the South and Midwest towns and cities. You can’t see it as openly on the West and the East because they are more liberal. So, living in a city like New York City or Los Angeles is a different lifestyle compared to a small town in Texas or Indiana. Whatever the case may be it takes strong people to deal on a daily with the ignorance of people in our society.

EPIEPRICE!! THE HIGH COST OF HEALTHCARE

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“Where do you draw the line between business of greed?”

Recently in the news, the high cost of the Epipen has caused quite the controversy. And for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Epipen it was is designed to inject epinephrine into the system. The shot’s purpose is used in the case of severe allergic reactions. It aids in blood flow, keeping muscles from becoming constricted, improves breathing, and  increases heart rates. The pharmaceutical company Mylan branded the pen for over $600. But the original amount that consumers were spending was $50 – $60 for a pack. So in response to the outcry from the public, the company stated it would roll out the generic version for $300.

Now, it sounds like they’re giving a deal, but it’s not. Especially considering the original amount was less than $100. Price hikes came a result of trying to remain competitive in the marketplace. But I ask the question; when does competition becomes pure greed. You mean in order for a company to compete, the prices needed to be raised from $50 to $600. There was also criticism over the CEO receiving, or better yet, giving herself a raise. And we’re not talking a few dollars or even a few hundred thousand dollars. She received a nearly $20 million payday, about $18 million up from her previous salary.

Now as a society, we’re always hearing about the government getting tough on insurance companies for their practices. But what about the pharmaceutical companies as well. If you don’t already know, not even a few years ago, another businessman purchased an AIDS vaccine. After purchasing the pills, the price was taken from $13.50 to $750 per pill. The move prompted the government to intervene. And this is why we have so much federal regulation in the United States as it pertains to the corporate world.

But at what point is it greed? How much money is enough or is there ever enough? While these multinational corporations generate revenues hand over fist, the average American suffers. Who can can afford to pay an increase in Epiepen shots even if the cost is down to $300. Still, I have been waiting to hear from the president, but still no answer. I wish that I could say it’s a particular administration, but it’s all of them. None of them will come out and attack what should be illegal business practices.

Charging the highest amount that the market is willing and able to afford, while shifting deadweight loss to the consumer sounds familiar. Oh yeah, it’s called a monopoly. Monopolies under the law are suppose to be prohibited, but we have other names for companies that fit under monopoly like categories such as Oligopolies. Which is few competitors in the marketplace who control nearly the entire market. The government says it makes it easier for them to regulate having the big four or the big five instead of the big ten or big twenty.

Whatever the case may be, I don’t much regulation. It seems as if the government’s regulations are no more than words on paper. Words that only are used to make people feel good, yet never enforced. In the end price increases are normal in business, but not by hundreds of percent. Prices that are so high it’s beyond obvious that the company raising the prices are getting over on the consumers.

Change We Can (Can’t) Believe In

“We had change, but was it good.”

It has already been eight years since Barack H. Obama first took office as the 44th President of the United States of America. I can still remember hearing his slogan chanted as an undergraduate student, “Yes we can.” “Change we can believe in.” Now I ask myself what has changed in America? Let’s look a few areas of interest: economics, social, healthcare, and educational.

The economy has been the biggest topic of discussion since he has taken office. From my stand point I don’t feel any different with him in the White House than had it have been anyone else. Maybe because I am not that fond of a lot of politicians from the start. Look at the job market, the president says jobs have been created, as matter of fact he said over 500,000 the last time he spoke. But I ask myself, what job exactly? Are these 40 hour per week, full medical & dental, 4 weeks paid vacation, as well as maternity leave. My best guess it no, they are not. A lot of those jobs are low wage, 10 – 20 hours, no medical or dental, and no vacation time or maternity leave.

Even with the federal minimum wage being raised, it still doesn’t make a difference because the hours are being cut. So now people are making less money getting a higher wage. For example, if you made $7.00 per hour for 40 hours, you were full time. This meant making $280 per week. But now people are making $8.00 per hour and getting 20 – 30 hours making $160 to $240 per week. They make more money and are losing $40 per week. Doesn’t sound like much to someone in the middle or upper. But when you’re poor, an extra $40 per week ($160 per month) goes a long way. Depending on where you live in the country, that’s two utilities or even a month’s groceries for a family.

Another area where change was promised was socially. America in Obama’s second term has seen a spike in the racial relationship. And I’m not talking race as it pertains to the human species. I’m talking about socially. Socially, the relationship between Predominantly White law enforcement officers and African American males in predominantly Black communities. This is a relationship that spans nearly 400 years in America since the first Black people were brought from Africa as indentured servants. Since then Black and White has been a hot topic. But what is Black and White really?

Sammy Sosa is Black and Adriana Lima is White by American standards. Why because of their skin color. We don’t call it out because they are public figures, but unknown and walking the streets of America, they fall under the Black or White category. Is that the change Barack was talking, but wait a minute that’s not change, that’s business as usual. Then what change, you mean how the race for president in 2016 has brought out as the people flying their Confederate flags in the south. A flag that most have felt was a symbol of oppression in America. If change has taken place, how does this still exist.

What other social change, like gays given the ability to marry in America. That was passed, but yet there is still push back from people not adhering to the law. One woman, Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis refused to even issue a marriage license to a gay couple. She stated it was against what she described as, “God’s definition of marriage.” Further stating, “It would be against her religious freedom.” How is this all taking place a this new America. My knowledge tells me it’s always happened, we just pay attention more. Because the issue of social relationships has now gone into the Hispanic and Islamic community.

But does that mean the same goes for another issue in America which is healthcare. Healthcare as well has caused a stir since the passing of Barack Obama’s Affordable Healthcare plan. A plan that would allow for all American’s the right, not the privilege to be covered in case of emergency and in need of hospital treatment. Sounds good right, I mean who wouldn’t want to live in a country where everyone has healthcare coverage. This is the problem; number one you’re forced to have it. If not, at the end of the year, you’re penalized on your taxes. Hard to stomach when Obama stated it would be an, “OPTION.”

Is it really an option if I make you do something. For instance, I have a slice of cheese cake and slice of pound cake. You have the option to choose, but soon as you take the cheese cake I punch you in the face. You gave me a choice, but I felt it was the wrong one. Then tell me I don’t have a choice, instead of punching me. The other problem with the healthcare plan is that small businesses laid-off workers and hours have even been cut at companies for employees. Why? Well it has to do with cutting into profits, and the business not being able to sustain. You can’t hire people if the monetary cost are running through the roof. Some people have to get cut and others employed can’t get hired. And even if you do get hired, you’re forced to pay your own insurance. Tough, when you’re getting 10 – 20 hours on the job.

So where is the change; how about education. Every year students are graduating in mass from institutions across the country. Then, once they walk across the stage, receive their diploma, and the celebration is over, now what? And that question leaves so many young people baffled at what direction to in; what does my future look like. In today’s society so many young men and women are forced to take on other outside jobs. Meaning if you work in an office building Monday through Friday, then maybe pickup more hours freelancing in the evenings and weekends. Why? Well because the new full time is 35 hours, so a lot of 20’s coming from school are only getting 20 – 30 hours on the job.

20 – 30 hours! Who can live off of that in this country. Especially if you are in a major metropolitan city. Not to mention student loan debt that must be repaid after that 6 month grave period. So a lot of people go directly into graduate school. There you go, pile on more debt, to an already crisis situation. But graduate school is an even shorter timeframe than undergrad. So your debt is even more, no job, the prospects you do have pay low wages, and on top of that in your mid to late 20’s still living with mom and dad.

That is just the White males and females, the landscape is even more bleak for minorities coming from school. What are young people left to do? They have to go into their own ventures to make ends meet. Becoming an entrepreneur is now more than ever a necessity than a leap of faith in the past. Because while big business and government fight it out, the people suffer. With all that has been said, one again, what has changed. Seems to me like business as usual. The only difference is that we see things more now than in the past. The internet, cell phone footage, and sharing via social media has made it difficult to hide things from the populace. In the end if this is change, then we need to change the change, because we still have a long way to go if it is change.

I Do Means I Don’t, I Can’t, and I Won’t

Image result for wedding ring“The diminishing attraction of I do.”

Boy meets girl, girl says yes. Boy and girl start dating, boy and girl get really serious. Boy proposes, girl says yes, boy and girl get married. Boy says I do, girl says I do, boy and girl live happily ever after. This is the case for most people, or so most people think. Well I’m wondering how is this so, when the divorce rate in America has already surpassed 60%. We focus on the expectations of marriage, but what about the human element of marriage. Well, the human element; what is the human element?

When I say the human element, I mean is monogamy normal? Is it normal for someone to meet another person at a young age. They get married, stay together until the day they both or one past away. And even after the death of a spouse you’re sometimes expected to never marry again. It sounds like a great idea initially. I mean, you get to have a companion for the rest of your life. Whenever you’re sick there is someone there to care for you. You lose your job, there’s someone to aid in picking up the slack. Even a parent who can assist in the raising of a child so you’re doing the work alone.

What about more of the human aspects, the biological. Why when people say I do, it becomes I don’t, I can’t,  and I won’t? Why when marriage comes into play the consistency of the things you did before diminishes? I am not married, but from my basic understanding of the human species I have observed certain characteristics as to way relationships fall off. For starters, a reason as to why most fail is quite obvious, money.

When you meet in your 20’s it’s ok to have money woes. You live in a 400-500 square foot apartment. Hey, who cares, as long as you’re having a good time right. Wrong because with marriage comes even higher standards and expectations. That 400-500 square foot apartment must be upgraded to 2,000-3,000 square feet. That cute apartment in the city becomes a home in a suburb. That bicycle turns into a caravan or SUV. And that takeout becomes groceries each month. Why, well it’s because children typically come soon. Like that riddle, “First comes marriage, then comes a baby.”

Now you have yourself a home, with a mortgage payment. You have a child, car note, utilities, student loans, food, and medical bills. Then the problems start because the bills start stacking up. From the bills comes the arguments, then comes the sleeping in separate rooms. After that comes the separation, then divorce. Money just drains so much from you and compounds problems if you have money woes. But there are other issues such as attraction that ends marriages as well.

When you first meet someone you’re attracted, but marriage comes into play and attractions become second to the marriage. Like I said I am looking at the human element of what we are as people. Our human attractions toward someone comes from a desire. A desire to what the other person. Desire goes away because the thing that brought them together goes away. For instance, if I desire to buy a luxury vehicle, I’m attracted to having this car. Then once I buy the car the desire eventually goes away. People look at you at go wow, nice car, but to you it’s just a car. Desire leaves, why because you might need a paint job. Give your car a new look, so you look forward to driving the car.

Continuing a desire for something makes you want it. But the less desire conversely makes you not want it. Which brings me to the next reason marriages fail. You just know they’ll be there everyday, so hey why worry about missing out; they’ll be here tomorrow. In dating, you don’t know they’re going to be here tomorrow, savior the moment today. Taking for granted something is here today and tomorrow is something we all do. “Why call the person now, I’ll wait until they get home.” “Why keep myself looking good, I’m only with so and so.”

And there you have it, I’m not doing that, I can’t do that, I won’t do that. But in dating I’ll do it, I can, and I will. Human relationships diminish because we as people need to continue to desire something to continue to want it and work to keep it. What happens when Millennials turn 40 or 50 years of age? I just wonder what will come of my generation if it’s 60% today.

What Is Heritage Really: The Confederate Flag Argument

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“Is it about segregation or self-sustainability?”

Throughout the United States history, the Confederate flag has long been a subject of a lot of debates. What does this flag truly mean? Some say it is the flag that is representation of people who wanted to keep slavery going; in addition to the fact they lost the war.  Others state that it is a representation against the government not allowing the southern regions to express the freedom of the states. Then you have the those who are more overt that feel it is segregation and proud of it. I myself have views on what the Confederate flag means and why people still today fly it with pride.

In my view of what the Confederate flag means, I first try to look at the side of people who are for the flag. All throughout my own life I have heard the words pride. People state that, “It’s not racism, it’s heritage.” Now I have disagreed, but as a rational thinker I have to understand what it is before showing resentment myself. So I observe the history of the south. At the height of not only slavery, but Jim Crow, the south was the dominant region. You could almost say, if not for the most part, it’s what built the United States. Toward the end of slavery, America was the wealthiest country in the world, and it came in part because of the strong leadership of the men who built and maintained the Confederacy. (We’ll come back to the slavery aspect later).

Not only did these men lead the Confederacy, you could almost say they have taken the blame for keeping slavery going. In their defense, they would say yes we did, but the north benefited as well, if not more. To call these men in the south a bunch of hillbillies who hated African Americans was just inaccurate. Especially considering it’s what provided so much economic stability for the country that gave the men up north their power positions. Not only that, but Confederates wanted to express their own freedom of the places in which they dwelled. They felt, “We have our own government, our own self-sustaining economy, our own trade deals.” “Why should we be forced to conform to the North’s way when we obviously can have our own state.

Well this is where the idea of racism comes into play. That strong leadership, that strong economy, that strong self-sustaining system was due to African Americans being held against their will. Slavery kept the machine motors running. But in today’s society, people fly the flag and say it’s not hatred, it’s heritage. Tough to say considering the subjugation is what kept the system strong. How I see the matter, is if the Confederates would have been told, “Fine, keep your system, keep your flag, keep your everything.” “But, you can not hold these group of people against their will.” “We are not saying you’re forced to employ them or give them anything, but they are no longer held to service you.” There still would have been resistance in telling these men how to run their region of the country.

And that is what makes the heritage argument so difficult for me to understand. Because I have always asked the question, what is heritage really? It’s tough for people to explain because keeping the power was keeping Black people against their will. Now had the Confederates have said fine, we’ll free them, but we want our own system from here on out in the south. We want our own power base. Meaning our own trade deals, currency, farming techniques, government structure, and so forth. Had they have done this, the resistance would or course be there. Hell, I might even disagree, just off of the fact that we would have a split nation, but then I could to a great degree remove the slavery aspect.

And that is what makes the topic so divisive. I’m sure there are people who fly the flag as a symbol of wanting more freedom of state, or even in rebellion against our current system’s policies. But the fact remains that the men who fought so hard “did” want to keep slavery going. They “did” want to hold a group of people against their will. And whether you want to believe it or not they “were” bigoted and lost the war. So today in the year 2016 is that the case, I can’t say for sure. But in that time period it “was” about slavery as well as a symbol fighting desegregation in the south during Jim Crow.

RIGHT 2 CARRY

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“How relevant are they really?”

As we enter a race for a new president of the United States, one of the topics of interest pertains to the place in which guns have purpose in our lives. And I am not referring to law enforcement officers, but civilians. The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution clearly states we have the right to bare arms. What does that mean? Does that mean I have the right to bare any arms? Is it limited to certain guns? Or did that mean something different for the time period in which people were living during the time the document was written.

The lines starts to blur between what is an acceptable gun to have and the right to access such guns. Pistols are clearly alright by most, but a high powered gun like the AR-15, tends to rub people the wrong way. Me myself, it’s hard to say because you do have questions. Why does one need something such as an M16, AK47, or the AR-15. What are the provisions one should have placed on them when you want to own a fully automatic rifle. Even the language is subject for debate because gun owners and enthusiast alike disagree with the populace over what is an assault rifle or not.

Well let’s first observe the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The document was written at the end of the year 1791, and since then debates have gone back and forth for the past 225 plus years. When we talk about the 2nd Amendment there are two areas of interest: gun control and gun rights. When taking away the gun (control) you start to infringe on people’s sense of security (rights). But what is a right? Rights are established in a society to give people the freedom and alienable ability to live how they choose so long as it does not negatively effect the lives of others (social morality).

Now when you are lax on the gun, people feel their rights are not being infringed upon. Well what has people up in arms about the topic. In the recent years, there has been a stretch of shootings using high powered rifles like the AR-15. Victims of those lost reach out asking for stricter gun control. While the gun owners feel the laws are fine the way they have always been. But today it’s a fight; between the owners not wanting to give them up and the government trying to restrict usage of certain guns. The government simply says we are trying to lower the risk of higher victim count. Gun owners say the government are using mass shootings as a platform to put policy in place to harm them for others irresponsible behavior.

Being responsible is very important to take notice of. Why? Because the majority of gun owners are law abiding citizens. They realize the severity of owning a gun and work to keep themselves from getting into a legality situation. Their argument is that the majority of gun violence comes by way of illegal handguns. Illegal is key because if you’re willing to own a gun unregistered and brandish it in public, you’re not concerned with policy by the government. Another argument is that gun owners feel the government is using a crime statistic, which comes from urban gang violence, to push their agenda. While not addressing that issue (inner city crime), which to them (gun owners) seem like a much bigger problem.

But the government says otherwise in their claims. They feel by restricting the amount of rounds one is able to possess; even in the case of a mass shooting casualties are lessened. We also have politicians who want to go as far banning all guns that don’t fall under the equation of handgun or shotgun/rifle designated for hunting deer and other small to midsize game. The government would further say that when the 2nd Amendment was written, it was suppose to be intended for muskets, not M16 assault rifles. Now gun owners would disagree stating that the individuals then were merely using the technological weaponry of their day. But the rebuttal from the government would be the forefathers could not have foreseen assault rifles. These men were also slave owners, which gives the government an in to imply that the forefathers were not right about everything as well even if you think the forefathers would have agreed.

In the end, the fight will continue between the two sides: those for guns and those for gun control. America already has more guns per capita than any nation globally, quite odd considering we are not in war time. It will continue, so long as the people feel infringed upon and the government feels cause to interfere in ones’ life if they see ones’ life or lifestyle to be morally unfit and a threat to this nation.