20 Jan 2016 Leave a comment
I was a junior in college when the reality of today’s economic and social injustice hit me squarely in the gut with soul crushing force. After managing through my own set of difficult circumstances – escaping the cycle of poverty and dysfunction that included abandonment by my mother, gang-involvement, a stint on juvenile parole, a teenage abortion and becoming a high school drop-out – I was working several jobs to get myself through school at the University of Southern California.
One of those jobs was assessing kids involved in a long-term study on the impact of early learning on brain development. As a research assistant I would go to the kids’ homes and periodically assess their progress. Many of our participants lived in neighboring South Central Los Angeles where poverty, violence and drugs were rampant, but given my own experience growing up in similar conditions, that type of environment didn’t shock my senses very much.
I arrived at my assigned child’s house one day and began my normal routine of introducing myself to the parent and figuring out where in the home was best to do the assessment. I was used to working just about anywhere given that most homes I went to were tiny and cramped and generally didn’t have a lot of room to work with, but on this occasion I noticed right off the bat that this was going to be different.
As soon as I walked into the tiny one-bedroom, single-story apartment, I looked around and saw things everywhere – dirty clothes, dishes, shoes, plastic and paper bags, and what seemed like countless other things – on just about every surface imaginable. There literally was not a single space to clear off or rearrange and the house smelled like it hadn’t been exposed to fresh air in weeks, so I decided to work with the child on the apartment stoop.
The child was about 5 years old – a young black boy who even despite his living conditions had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. I made my way through my standard questions – “How often do you read?” “Sometimes, when I’m in school.” “How often does your mom read with you?” “Never.” “Do you enjoy reading?” “Yes.” “How much? On a scale of sad face to happy face, point to the face that shows how much you enjoy reading.” He pointed to happy face. So on and so forth. When we got to the end, I told him he did great and began to put away my things. As I was packing, he abruptly pointed to something and said, “Can I have that?” I didn’t have anything special so I looked at him confused and asked, “Have what?” “That.” He said, still pointing. I looked down again and saw that my happy face assessment sheet was at the top of my stack of papers. I immediately realized he wanted to keep my sheet – my black and white, photo-copied a thousand times over, sheet that had sad to happy faces on it. Then I realized how anxious he seemed that I might say no, so I asked, “Do you have any books at all in there?” “No.” “Do you have anything to read at all? A magazine or something?” “No.” “Do you have toys? Or anything to play with?” “No.” “Do you have anything at all? Like crayons or pens or something?” “No.”
And then it struck me: this bright kid, this happy, starry-eyed kid, this kid with all the potential in the world, had nothing. He had a filthy, dirty apartment with no active parenting, no role models around, and I was about to make his week just by giving him my happy face sheet. So I said, “Well of course you can have my sheet!” Then I started to furiously dig around my bag to see what else I could find. I found some neon highlighters he could color with, a few extra happy face sheets, and some red and blue pens.
I gave it all to him. Then I said, “Ok, I have to go now. Have fun coloring your sheets. And remember to read at school every chance you get!” He happily nodded as he walked back into his filthy apartment. I walked to the sidewalk, sat on the curb, and sobbed uncontrollably. I sobbed with despair I hadn’t felt, well, ever. I knew as soon as I walked away what was likely in store for that kid – I knew the odds were against him, just like they were against me. I knew that statistically-speaking, he was likelier to end up in prison or dead than end up attending college. I knew that I had just witnessed the human tragedy that is wasted potential.
And I knew I was powerless to do anything about it. Until I realized that I wasn’t.
Until I realized that change is achieved one person at a time, one day at a time, and one vote at a time.
I think about this boy all the time. I wonder if he beat the odds. I wonder where he is. I wonder if he’s still alive. He still makes my heart hurt. I thought about him when I first heard Bernie Sanders speak.
Choosing which candidate to support for president was one of the most difficult tasks I have done in the recent past. I’ve always been strong in my resolve, firmly planted in my roots and guided by my sense of justice. I have never made a political decision based on what was the “smart” or “safe” thing to do (just ask any of my often times dismayed political advisors) and I have always done what I believed aligned with my values and my ideals. But this decision was difficult because both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are both accomplished and worthy candidates, and both are light years ahead of any of the Republican choices. And as the first Latina elected to the Nevada legislature in the history of the state, and as a young woman who has struggled mightily in this male-dominated world of politics, Hillary inspires a lot of pride.
But only one of these candidates makes me think of that young boy in South Central Los Angeles– and that’s Bernie Sanders. We used to live in a country where the “American Dream” was attainable for most. We used to live in a country where you could make it if you tried, where upward mobility was a tangible thing, and where education was the key to success.
But that’s not the America we live in anymore. Fewer and fewer Americans are able to break the cycle of poverty, wages are stagnant or declining for most except for the top 1%, and our political system is dominated by millionaires and billionaires. Secure retirements and pensions are becoming a thing of the past, and that key to success via education is instead becoming a weight of massive debt hanging around the necks of young people everywhere, myself included. How did we end up in a country where you can break the cycle of poverty only to end up in a cycle of debt?
I believe that Bernie Sanders wakes up every day with these things on his mind. That the unfairness of it all weighs on his heart, just like it does mine, and that when he is elected, he will do whatever it takes to make America the land of opportunity again. I believe that Bernie Sanders will lead the charge, with many millions of Americans behind him, against the unfettered Wall Street greed that has threatened the very existence of the middle class and shackled so many more to permanent poverty. I believe that now, more than ever, America needs a political revolution.
I hope you will join me. Caucus day is Feb 20th and you can pre-register for the Democratic Caucus HERE.
19 Jan 2016 Leave a comment
ANNOUNCEMENT: If you have NOT signed up with the Nevada State Democratic Party to be a Temporary Precinct Caucus Captain and attended an official DNC Caucus Training, YOU WILL NOT BE RECOGNIZED AS A TEMPORARY PRECINCT CAUCUS CHAIR … you must fill out the official Democratic Precinct Caucus Chair form and attend an Official DNC Caucus Training … please pass this on to your friends.
27 Aug 2015 1 Comment
When I was young, somewhere between the ages of 11 and 16, on Friday nights, my mother used to take me down to Hollywood Boulevard, so we could visit the different little shops they had there. My mother bought me a lot of turquoise jewelry back in the day, at those shops. On Saturday nights she would drive me down to Sunset Boulevard, so I could see the prostitutes. Not just me though, my girlfriends too. And not just female prostitutes, but also male prostitutes. I think maybe that’s one of the reasons I don’t pay too much attention to someone’s lifestyle choices. If you’re happy, and you’re not hurting anyone, then I’m happy for you. First do no harm, then be free.
I remember hearing Dolly Parton on the radio once, saying when she was young, she thought the prostitutes were beautiful and that’s what she wanted to look like when she grew up.
She was a single-parent and a junior-high school teacher. She worked in what they called a war-zone, for the Los Angeles City School District. Sometimes she’d bring one of her female students home with her, only to take them off some place else for a little bit. I found out much later, the girls she brought home, had been raped by a family member and were pregnant. She was helping them, because no one else would.
Without going into too much more history, let me just say, my mother was pro woman, in the strictest sense of the word. A suffragette. She’s a definite reference point for me when I voice my opinions. Mostly because she gave me her’s and I refined them for myself, to make them mine.
I moved to Las Vegas when I was 33 and I lived there for 2 years. There were too many transient people there for me, and not enough culture. For the whole state of Nevada, there are only three things to do. 1) Get drunk. 2) Gamble. 3) Have sex. Now by prescription, you can also do drugs and I have no problem with any of these things, as long as they don’t affect my immediate reality and for the most part, they don’t.
I remember coming out here and not being able to find the supermarket. It was my first time out and I came in through the north end, because the guy on channel 3 news, told me the south end was washed out. Actually, it was the other way around. That ought to have been my first clue, about how much Las Vegas pays attention to Pahrump. They look down on us apparently. We have legalized prostitution. They think it ought to be outlawed, outright.
Let me be one of the first to say, I don’t believe any human being ought to be marketed for sex. Now let me be one of the last (hopefully) to say it’s been around since ancient Egypt and it’s not going away. The only thing that makes it “bad” in my opinion, is the predominantly male, Judaeo-Christian, fundamentalism, that pervades society’s general attitude towards it.
Some 10 years ago give or take, the Nevada brothel workers, offered to pay taxes on their income, they were denied. This is during a time when Harry Reid was trying to get more corporations to move to Nevada, thus bringing us more jobs. According to what I read then, Harry was going to try to rid Nevada of brothels because that’s what the corporations demanded, in order to relocate here.
Also from what I read, if the brothels were allowed to pay taxes, it would make them legitimate businesses. and of course we can’t have that.
Before that, there was some odd religious group here in Pahrump, who had coalesced a 20 or 30 member group, who wanted to shut down all the brothels outside the Township limits. That failed miserably and there’s an ongoing feud between whomever the County Commissioners seem to be and one of the local brothel owners. I like the brothel owner, he’s a very nice man who contributes to the community. He donates to the high school, the middle school, etc.
Another thing about Pahrump, the people here love their guns. I have a gun. My father gave it to me. He used it in WWII. I know how to shoot it and I’m a very good shot. It stays in my night stand, next to my bed.
Pahrump is mostly quiet. There’s a Wal-mart mini superstore here, redundant I know. Some mom and pop stores, two supermarkets and two drug stores. More churches than you can shake a stick at and 5 or 6 brothels outside the Township line. The first drive-by shooting here, was some kid on a 10-speed bicycle with a be-be gun, he shot a window out of someone’s house.
We don’t call them prostitutes anymore, we call them sex-workers. In the brothels, they are protected, they are seen by a doctor and they’re paid a really well, for the services they choose to perform. Some of the crime is worse now. Some father shot his daughter’s boyfriend, because his music was too loud. The corner market has been robbed at gun-point 3 times. There’s a lot of illegal drug use out here, but the one thing we don’t have is, street-walkers.
24 Aug 2015 1 Comment
I can see the look in your eyes. Politics, politics, politics. Before Citizen’s United, it wasn’t like this, it wasn’t a non-stop barrage of political rhetoric. Ah well …
Just in case no one noticed, or for the few of you that did, I’m working the Bernie Sanders campaign. I network and it’s good. Our precinct caucus isn’t until February of 2016, however this is when it starts to get interesting.
Back in 2008 at about this time, I canvassed, phone-banked, registered voters and organized events for Obama. I was driving my car, parking, getting out and knocking on a door, handing the resident literature or door hanging. Talking to people and telling them all the reasons they ought to vote for Obama.
Then I attended my precinct caucus and became an Obama Delegate. I’m not going to bore you with the remedial parts of this event in my life, especially when there are much better things to talk about.
For instance, when the Chair of the Central Committee lied to me about showing up for the County Caucus. He said I didn’t have to go because I’d already pledged my support for Obama. Did I mention he was a Hillary supporter? No? Oh, well he was, so was the rest of the Executive Board.
He was surprised, to say the least when he saw me at the County Caucus. Caught in a lie, dead to rights. It’s also very interesting to note, the Executive Board is in charge of the County Caucus. They tried to have the Obama supporters removed. So, just in case you were wondering, in the state of Nevada, once you are a pledged Delegate, no one can have you removed, unless you threaten or commit bodily harm to yourself or others.
I remember taking pictures of the snow on the ground and some stray fire truck in Goldfield, on our way up to Tonopah, for the County Caucus. My husband was driving and the word ‘idyllic’ comes to mind.
We were miscounted 6 times, against our favor, of course. In the end with one supporter from each candidate, we finally got an honest count. All of the Obama Delegates, were reminded to bring our Delegate slips with us. There’s a piece of paper you sign when you’re a Delegate, so if you’re a Delegate, don’t lose that piece of paper. The reason I say this is because the chair also tried to say our Delegates weren’t valid because he couldn’t read the slips. Water or coffee had spilled on them and I guess he was hoping we’d forget our slips. We didn’t, not one of us.
We had dinner at the hotel and started driving back. There were two lanes on the way South from Tonopah, we all waved at each other on the way back home.
Remember I said it gets interesting, it does. I found out that some of our friends had a flat tire and the chair and his two E- Board buddies, pulled over long enough to yell out the window at them, they were “N”- lovers.
Between County and State Caucus, whenever people went down to the Democratic Central Committee office, for anything Obama, posters, bumper-stickers, buttons, they were told either A) they didn’t have any or B) they cost an exorbitant amount of money, neither of which was true.
Needless to say, we got our own OFA office and stayed as far away from the Dem office as humanly possible. They weren’t going to help.Which brings me to the more interesting parts of this cycle. For a moment, I was the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Event Chair. Now I’m not. My husband was the Democratic Central Committee Chair, now he’s not. He resigned, therefore I also have resigned, never to return to the Central Committee offices again. Even though we already did all the “heavy lifting.”
The First Vice – Chair decided to make up his own Agenda for the next meeting, without consulting anyone, and add to the Agenda, a recall vote for the Chair. Did I mention he’s a Hillary supporter? He is.
Just when I thought we were going to get a little more Progressive and have some music and dancing at the Jefferson – Jackson dinner.
Now I have a vendetta. In 2008 I was on a mission, now I’m on a mission and I have a vendetta. This time both my husband and I are going to caucus, all the way to the state level, for Bernie Sanders.
Last time I was alone and called a ‘point of order’ over the Consent Agenda. There was a vote in the Agenda and that’s not allowed. This time when I call a ‘point of order’, I’ll have back up.
05 Jan 2015 Leave a comment
1. Join your local Democratic Central Committee
2. Pay your dues
3. Submit a Letter of Intent to run for an Executive Central Committee Board position
4. In 2016 become a Precinct Delegate
5. Volunteer to become a County Delegate
6. Volunteer to become a State Delegate
7. Submit a Letter of Intent to run for a State Executive Central Committee Board Position
In order to win County Central Committee positions, engage your friends to pay their dues and vote for you. Only dues paying members can vote for committee positions.
In order to win a State Central Committee position, you must engage other delegates to vote for you.
This is how we win.
09 Oct 2014 Leave a comment
I remember being in 5th grade and having finished all the “Hi-Light” booklets there were to read, doing all the work that went with them, then the student teacher came down on me like a ton of bricks. I was told to choose a “real” book, read it and do a book report. Not one to back down, even at that age, I accepted the challenge.
Our next Library visit, he monitored me to make sure I picked a “real” book and not one to be intimidated, I picked “The Borrowers”, 700 pages. Then when I got home, I asked my mom to read it for me and give me the short version.
She challenged me to read just one chapter. 5 chapters later, I was hooked. Wherever Mr. Simmons is now, I want to thank him for being so adamant with me at that tender age. I have had the opportunity to read many books of girth since then. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Illiad and the Odyssey, The Upanishads and everything in between. Even Michao Kaku’s Quantum Physics, which I highly recommend by the way.
Did you ever wonder where your children get their information? Once upon a time, when I had elemetary school aged children, I did and this is what I found.
Pearson Publications publishes textbooks for corporations, schools and students. Pearson owns several subsidaries including but not limited to eCollege, MyEnglishLab, Penguin Readers, Addison–Wesley and Financial Times Press.
That last one really caught my attention. It ought to catch your attention too. The Financial Times is a publication dedicated soley to business, economics and finance.
Pearson is part of Pearson PLC and bought Simon & Schuster from Viacom, then merged it with its own education division in 1998 and split it into International and North American divisions.
Nothing like diversification is there. [sic]
McGraw Hill Financial Inc, headquartered in Rockefeller Center in New York City. They’re mainly focused again, on business, economics and finance. Some of their subsidaries include Standard & Poor’s along with, J.D. Power and Associates. They are the majority shareholder of the S&P Dow Jones.
How did these people get a hold of our children’s education?
Houghton Milfin Company was a subsidiary of Education Media and Publishing Group Limited, based in Ireland and registered in the Cayman Islands. Formerly known as Riverdeep. They changed their name in 2010 after buying Harcourt Publishing.
So the corporations publishing our children’s texbooks, are in control of, not only their education but also our finances and at least one of them is based in the Cayman Islands.
Isn’t that where all the rich people hide their ill gotten gains?
With only these three corporations, all dedicated to finance, in control of our children’s education, I have to ask, what kind of Monopoly game are they playing with our future? Our children are our future, educational textbooks and lesson plans, pale in comparison to way my generation were taught.
Our children are supposed to be better educated and have better lives than we did. So when did that change?
Every parent ought to be asking that last question.