Transgender Communities

During the first two months of 2017 there have been seven reported killings within the transgender community. Two of these deaths occurred within 48 hours of each other during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. One death is one death too many, and the oppression of the transgender community needs to be a spotlight in our current society. With Trump’s administration making significant steps backwards for the rights and human security of the trans community, I feel that it is crucial to stress the importance of empathy for all people, especially the trans community. Most of the deaths that have occurred have been transpeople of color. I have heard comments that express the trans community as being attention seekers. Here is a short video explaining the Hijra, an ancient type of trans/third gender culture in India. The Hijra takes it’s influences from the Hindu goddess Bachuchara Mata. A goddess that was honored and considered Hijra. When India was colonized, Hijra people became outcasts. I bring this up to remind us all of the profound depth that trans culture has, and hopefully to expand one’s open mindedness to trans culture.

Trayvon Martin

Two days ago it was the five year anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death. An unarmed seventeen year old teenager was killed by a volunteer neighborhood watch guard, George Zimmerman. Zimmerman walked away from the case with no charges, no repercussions for murder. This is not the first case of a black person being killed and there being no justice in United States History and it was not the last, sadly. Despite the heartbreak and injustice, it is essential to move forward and bring awareness to these issues.

All Things Considered host Audie Cornish was able to interview Patrisse Khan-Cullors, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. The podcast is titled “Black Lives Matter Finds ‘Renewed Focus’ 5 Years After Trayvon Martin” and explores the growth of the BLM movement over the course of the past five years.

Khan-Cullors believes that the movement is becoming less reactionary and more productive, but believes that there needs to be more long term goals, including BLM supporters possibly being in office.

This podcast from NPR was hard to listen to because Trayvon Martin’s death should have never happened, but it was comforting to hear Khan-Cullors speak about the BLM with courage and a hopeful attitude towards the future.

Skin, color, and evolution

Here is a podcast from the NPR Morning Edition show called “Your Family May Once Have Been A Different Color”. This podcast dissects the possibilities of the different skin colors your ancestors may have had, beyond interracial marriages. This podcast from 2009 which is only seven minutes and twelve seconds long is still relevant, especially today. This podcast explains how humans can re-evolve their skin colors from light to dark or darker to lighter skin. Human evolution has both high and slow rates of change that affects skin colors. Skin color is not fixed, it is fluid. It is a part of evolution. It is not an indicator of someones character. I am hoping that with a greater understanding of the science of our skin colors, there will be less reasons for people to be racist or bigoted because one’s melanin.

People Can Change

Snap Judgment released a podcast titled “The Rabbi and the KKK”. I don’t want give away the whole true story, but a Jewish family moved into a new neighborhood, and was verbally threatened by a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) group. The father of the home was also a Rabbi. He took it upon himself to frequently call a KKK member named Larry Trap and ask him over voicemail why he did the terrifying things he did.

“I want to get out of what I’m doing but I don’t know how” Larry, the KKK member to the Rabbi.

My whole point in posting this particular podcast is to show that despite our current political climate, and with a resurgence of the KKK, is it is possible for people to change both their minds and actions to choose love. I am hoping that this podcast inspires others to communicate with and know their neighbors, be open minded, and to not be discouraged.

Grace Lee Boggs and The Next American Revolution

One of my favorite activists of all time is Grace Lee Boggs from Detroit, MI. She died two years ago in Detroit, MI. She was 100 years old. In the past few weeks with all the chaos and heartbreak going on in our world, I have been finding comfort in Grace Lee Boggs and her words.

I would recommend to all people the book “The Next American Revolution Sustainable Activism for the 21st Century” it is a profound text with numerous ways that we can resist and uplift our current world. Grace Lee Boggs had a profound focus on community involvement throughout her life and within her activism. This includes knowing your neighbors, calling government officials, starting urban gardens, and focusing on educating children beyond the classroom…just to give a few examples.

If reading is not doable for you right now, due to time or anything else, I would recommend watching the movie “American Revolutionary: The Evolution Of Grace Lee Boggs” or listening to one of the many podcasts she was featured in. Here is one of my favorites.

I hope whoever reads this engages with Grace Lee Boggs and her wisdom, and finds some peace from her.

Bannon? Devos?

As a teacher in Hamtramck Public Schools in Hamtramck, MI I have felt an immense amount of heartbreak in the past couple weeks due to President Donald Trump.

Hamtramck, MI is a sanctuary city for many people throughout the world. However, Hamtramck has a large amount of  Muslim citizens, many of which are refugees or immigrants from Yemen and Bangladesh. This past week I had a talk to my students about diversity and inequality. I asked for volunteers to give me examples of inequality from the past or present day. One third grader raised her hand and said “My mom can’t visit her mom in Yemen because Donald Trump won’t allow it. That’s not fair.” I agreed with the girl, and I told her that that most definitely is not fair, and that America is amazing because of how diverse we are.

Then as of February 7,2017 Betsy Devos of Michigan has been confirmed as education secretary for the United States of America. It seems that further injustices are along the way.

I am trying to stress to my students how important they all are. I am trying to make sure that they know they are supported and loved by me no matter what. I am trying to contact my government officials to voice my opinions and hopefully be heard and taken into consideration. I hope you do the same.

Sadly we cannot change much about Betsy Devos now, but you can contact the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and give them your opinion on Steve Bannon. We can show up for unrepresented people and stress that bigotry does not have a place in our government in the United States.

Rhetoric–words have meaning

Today a guy in my technical communication class said “Nazi shit is hilarious.” Then I called out the man, because what else do you do when someone tries to make Nazis or the Holocaust humorous? The man then told me that he was being sarcastic, and that he obviously . Which I still find to be distasteful. I am finding that in the current political climate in the United States, we must be more aware of our rhetoric, now more than ever. During a time when Muslim people are vulnerable because of bigoted ideals, it seems immature and irresponsible to make comments that are attacks, even facetious attacks, against groups of targeted people.

I believe that Americans, and people all over the world, at least the open minded humans, need to preach love. We must not fall into sarcastic comments tainted with hatred. We must be proactive about about sharing messages of equality and freedom to one another.