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run, hide, fight, how to survive an active shooter event, Shelter in place, gun control

How do you feel about raising kids in a time when it is necessary that they are taught run hide fight protocol as a means to how to survive an active shooter event. It’s not weird to them. It’s the norm and that scares me. There’s even a handy Run. Hide. Fight. pocket card to help you remember what to do in those stressful times.

They don’t even come home freaked out when they are told to run, hide and fight when there is a potential that there might be a “wild polar bear” loose in the hallways.  Yeah, that’s what the principal has code-named “active shooters” as to not “frighten” the children. They’re not frightened. I’m terrified and I have been since Sandy Hook.  Every single morning at drop off, every time I hear a siren during the school day and I cross my fingers, pray and hope that at pick up two in tack healthy children are returned to me. This is my life.

But our government is having an issue pulling the trigger on common sense gun control, which is ironic because I believe they are all very concerned with the citizens of the United States maintaining their “right to bear arms.” You think at the very least, they’d know how to pull the trigger and shoot.

The bottom line is that people like me want all the guns to magically disappear because we’d feel safer sending our kids to school for 7 hours a day, out from our watchful eye learning to live in the world, like normal people. People who place a higher value on keeping their guns can’t seem to reconcile how to protect our children and keep their right to bear arms. So, they deflect; mental illness, a rogue gunman, anomaly, and my favorite, “the bad guys will still find a way to get guns! I need to be able to protect myself!”

The response is that maybe we should arm our teachers. What? We don’t pay teachers enough money for all the work they do, as is. We entrust our children’s education and safety to them for pennies. It’s insulting really. Teachers should be paid like doctors because as far as I am concerned they are doing something just as important, every single day. Why would we add to their responsibility and give them guns? They are trained to expand our children’s minds not take down an active shooter. They are not trained officers of the law. This is ridiculous.

I would never expect a teacher to be the marksman who has to stand between my child and an active shooter. Have you met a teacher? They are, generally, wonderful, good people who genuinely care about children and want to help them learn and grow in the world. In the moment of truth, I think most teachers would throw themselves in harm’s way to protect their students but they shouldn’t have to.  This isn’t the world we should accept. We need to protect both the teachers and the students.

A school shouldn’t be a dangerous place to go. Going to see a movie shouldn’t be risky. Shopping at the mall with your tweens shouldn’t be potentially life-threatening. I, you, we shouldn’t have to hold our breath and pray every single time our children walk out the door that someone doesn’t murder them simply because they can and they have access to guns.

Today, I was scanning my Facebook feed and a video was shared of a thing called “Shelter in Place” which is basically, a bulletproof room built into the classroom equipped with cameras on the outside so that the classroom after loaded into the makeshift panic room can see when it’s clear. They say takes a few days to install and about 30 seconds to load the entire classroom of children and teacher into the “shelter”. I’m wondering what your thoughts are about this?

Here are mine, do I love that it can potentially save my children from a gone wielding maniac? YES! Do I want to live in a world where my children have to live every minute of every single day on the defensive just in case a lunatic with a gun decides he’s having a bad day and wants to shoot them because our government won’t impose common-sense gun control because their egos are more important to them than my child’s life? No!

People have told me that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. This is true but if there were no guns, people couldn’t use guns to kill people. They’ve told me that no matter what.. the “bad people” will always find a way to get guns. And I ask them, is there a secret “bad guy” arms dealer that passes out cards and everyone knows how to find because I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of lazy people out there and if it were harder to get guns, they’d give up trying. Maybe they’d use knives or fists like a real man, give a victim a chance to retaliate.

I’m pretty positive that not every thug on the street or mentally unstable person with an ax to grind would find a gun but when you can walk into any gun store and get one, that makes a difference.

I won’t lie, if it were up to me, no one would have guns but the police and the military because they are trained to use their weapons and that is their job. I get that people don’t like to be stripped of their rights but people also need to realize that the constitution was written at a time when the right to bear arms was necessary. We didn’t have a competent military yet and the people needed to be ready to form a militia and fight if need be. They needed to have their own arms. It was like a BYOB party but the second B was actually a gun and the party was a war. Make sense now?

What I’m saying is that your right to bear arms argument doesn’t hold water these days. Just be honest, you “want” to own firearms because it makes you feel powerful in a world where most of us are powerless. It makes you feel strong in a world where we are vulnerable. But it’s false bravery. A gun is only as effective as the gun owner who is holding it. If you are not properly trained, just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you can actually protect yourself. In fact, you’ll probably just piss off an attacker and he’ll shoot you in the face.

That’s the thing, the bad guys aren’t announcing their attack. They are getting you when you are vulnerable; when you’re sleeping, watching a movie with your kid or your kid is at school trying to figure out that damn common core math or taking the iStep tests. My point is that if the guns were not available, a lot less innocent people would be getting murdered. Statistics don’t lie and as much as you want to argue with me and call me names, you know that is true.

I don’t want to take your guns away from you. I want to keep all of our kids safe. This isn’t about you or making you feel weak; it’s about protecting our children. It’s about not living in a world where our children don’t even scoff or think anything is scary about being taught to run, hide and fight. They just do it. It’s about not having to teach my girls to bob and weave if they escape. It’s about not having to have secret words and panic rooms in classrooms. It’s about not having to worry if your child’s teacher is the sort who would through himself between a bullet and your child. It’s about all of us feeling a little safer, a little braver and a little kinder. It’s about polar bears not being a threat in the hallway, a movie theater, a concert or a mall ever again.

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Have you ever heard the names, Elle Darby or Paul Stenson? Me neither until today. Talk about an influencer’s nightmare, I’m not sure it gets too much worse than this. A British Youtuber, Elle Darby, had the “audacity” to privately email a hotel, the Charleville Lodge Hotel, and ask for accommodations in exchange for “exposure” of their property. The property owner, Paul Stenson, clapped back by not only refusing and ostracizing her but doing it publicly on the establishment’s social media channels.  Therein lies the snafu and now, in response to Influencer backlash, he has banned all influencers from his establishment.

Obviously, I am being facetious. If you have worked in this space for any amount of time, at least in the United States, you know this is a common practice. Not necessarily that all influencers cold pitch businesses to ask for product in exchange for promotion. That’s a bold move and to do that, you need to have some serious confidence and influence to back it up. Seasoned influencers know this. We also know if you don’t ask, it’s always a no but there is always a chance of a no and it does not feel good, even in private.

Just to put this in perspective, brands and PR firms have absolutely no qualms about reaching out to influencers on a daily basis and asking us to work for free, for “exposure” (I keep putting this in quotes because I find it simultaneously hilarious and insulting because I can’t feed my children “exposure” and if I am spending my time away from my family working on promoting a brand, I need to be compensated) or for product. I prefer cash because that’s how I pay my bills but if the product/event is something that I am interested in and the value is equivalent to what I charge for work, then I definitely do consider it. Everything is negotiable except for my opinion, which is honest and if not positive, I always give the brand the option to opt out of the post going live. You know, the whole if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all thing.

I’ve been pitched, in the early days, to write positive reviews on products without even being provided the product. Obviously, I didn’t do that because I can’t tell you about or promise a positive review on a product that I’ve never tried. Also, crafting a well-written post, editing photos, creating video and promoting on social media all takes time and effort. No one would expect a marketing executive or an advertising firm to work for free, why would you expect an influencer to work for free?

First, I think a couple things need to be defined in this space. Why does anyone care if I (an influencer) promote a brand? How do I influence anyone? Why does my opinion matter? For any of this to make sense, you have to understand what being an influencer means.

What is an influencer?

A Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.

Why does this matter?

Using social media influencers in your marketing is the practice of building relationships with the people who can build relationships for you. Whether an influencer’s audience is small or large, an influencer can reach consumers via their blogs and social networks that your brand may not be able to.

You see while some influencers may have little influence, some have a huge influence. It’s about more than numbers, it’s about engagement, credibility and connecting with your audience. If an influencer has developed a following over time and that audience has become invested in that influencer’s life, they do care what that influencer has to say, in the same way they might value a friend’s opinion over a brand’s commercial. Of course, there has to be taken into consideration the influencer’s integrity. Are they going to give an unbiased review? That really depends on the influencer.

After years of influencers being approached by brands to work in exchange for hosting, attending events and product we know that this is common practice. It is not unreasonable or even rare for an influencer to make this ask in return. In fact, many venues/events have media inquiry pages with forms just for this sort of ask.

I am fully aware that it sounds sketchy and maybe even entitled when you randomly find out about this practice from a salacious story on the Internet about a ghastly influencer who dared ask for something like this. Pay your own way, you think. But that’s because the general population is not aware of these practices in the digital space. I can tell you, and any brand will agree, it is easier to get paid $20000 in product than it is to get paid $1000 in cash but sometimes you don’t want $20K worth of kidney beans or bras or baby toys. That has everything to do with budgets and write-offs for the companies.

Again, if you work in this space, you already know all of this but the average person does not. My brother still doesn’t understand how “the internet” pays me. I think he thinks checks fall from the sky out of thin air. I tried to explain it once but his eyes glazed over and I could see he was hearing the Charlie Brown “Wah wah wah wah” thing. So I gave up but not today, Satan.

Elle Darby, who I had no prior knowledge of before this story blew up was just trying to “live her best life” (Generation Z you make my chuckle) working with what her mama gave her. We influencers know that if a company isn’t willing or doesn’t have the budget to pay us so we can pay for those things we need to live, it’s perfectly acceptable to (what I call) work for food, or in this case a holiday. The end result is the same.

We promote their brand to our audience (which is usually their target audience because we do our research) and in exchange they provide us with a good or service that we would have bought with the money had they paid us. We’re the new pioneers. It’s called bartering. It was the original form of payment. Google it. I’m kidding…don’t Google it. I’m sure people paid for goods and service with rocks or some shit a long time ago in caveman days

The problem is the person who did the clapping back is a skilled shit stirrer. Elle Darby made one fatal mistake and that was of asking the wrong person, Paul Stenson. The wrong person got her email or rather since he is the owner, she should have googled him before she emailed and then she would have known better.

Don’t get me wrong, full disclosure, I went to his blog and Paul Stenson is funny AF and I quite enjoy the wit and honesty, with which he writes. He gives his truth and doesn’t give a flying flick what anyone else thinks, generally, I admire that quality in a human being. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and I think that may be why he was so annoyed by the Youtuber’s gall to ask for this hosting in exchange for her work. I don’t know for sure but his blog seems like a personal blog and maybe he doesn’t work as an influencer for his own blog. After all, he has owns The White Moose Cafe and Charleville Lodge that I’m assuming his salary is in cash money. Lucky bastard.

Here is where my problem stems from, the message Paul Stenson posted on FB along with his message (both below) were not coming from his personal account but from the business account which was very unprofessional. He could have simply replied with a, “No, thank you.” No harm, no foul.

Had Mr. Stenson did the same thing from his personal account, that would simply be his opinion but as he did it as a representative of the resort and released a private business email then proceeded to chastise Ms. Darby over standard practice on behalf of the establishment, reflects very poorly on his establishment. I don’t think he’s a bad person, I just think he did a social media f*ck up under his business account. He should have hashtagged that shit #hacked.

 

Paul Stenson, Elle Darby, Elly Darby, The White Moose Cafe, Charleville Lodge, Dublin, Ireland, influencer, social media influencer, ban

 

Dear Social Influencer (I know your name but apparently it’s not important to use names),

Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure. It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity. 

If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room? The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in? Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your bed sheets? The water rates? Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?

Lucky for us, we too have a significant social media following. We have 186k followers on our two Facebook pages, an estimated 80k on our Snapchat, 32k on Instagram and a paltry 12k on our Twitter, but Jesus Christ, I would never in a million years ask anyone for anything for free. I also blog a bit which as far as I’m aware is another way of saying “write stuff on the internet”. The above stats do not make me any better than anyone else or afford me the right to not pay for something everyone else has to pay for.

In future, I’d advise you to offer to pay your way like everyone else, and if the hotel in question believes your coverage will help them, maybe they’ll give you a complimentary upgrade to a suite. This would show more self-respect on your part and, let’s face it, it would be less embarrassing for you. Here is a little video I produced which you may learn from. (just Google it)

Best regards, 

Paul Stenson

P.S. The answer is no.

And Paul Stenson isn’t changing his mind anytime soon. Of course, now that I see this tweet, I feel a little skeptical about the entire situation. Was it all a media stunt for publicity? Maybe the two did collaborate, after all?

 

Paul Stenson, Elle Darby, Elly Darby, The White Moose Cafe, Charleville Lodge, Dublin, Ireland, influencer, social media influencer, ban

 

I do have to say, Ms. Darby’s “over 30” reference left a bad taste in my mouth too but let’s chalk it up to youth.

Either way, what are your thoughts on this situation who do you side with the Elle Darby or Paul Stenson?

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President Donald Trump, Trump deosn't want immigrants from shithole countries, Haiti, Africa, El Salvador

On Thursday, it was made pretty clear President Trump doesn’t want poor immigrants from “shithole” countries. His words, not mine. During a meeting in the Oval Office, while discussing with lawmakers the protection of immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, President Donald Trump made some disparaging remarks.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said.

My question is what actually constitutes  “shithole” countries to Donald Trump? How does one qualify as a “shithole”. What is a shithole? Is it the hole in an outhouse? How do you equate humans and countries to a hole in the ground in which people defecate? And just like that Trump doesn’t want poor immigrants from “shithole” countries.

President Trump then suggested immigrants from Norway would be preferable. He also said that he would be “open” to more immigrants from Asian countries because he feels that they could contribute and benefit the United States economically. That felt really old man racist to me but to be fair, he said it was about money.

In addition, president Trump singled out Haiti, telling lawmakers that immigrants from that country must be left out of any deal.

“Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump said, according to people in attendance of the meeting. “Take them out.”

In November, the Trump administration rescinded deportation protection granted to nearly 60,000 Haitians after the 2010 earthquake and told them to return home by July 2019.

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

…but only if they’re from Norway and maybe Asia. We’d prefer you keep your “shithole” people from those “shithole” countries like El Salvador, Haiti and Africa to yourself.

I’d love to say that I’m surprised by these racist remarks President Trump has made but I’d be a liar if I said I was. He’s never pretended to be anything else. He built his campaign on the promise to “Make America Great Again” by building a wall and kicking people out. He’s been openly -ists against many groups of people. The man is not a people person. He is a businessman.

But let’s take a look at this whole “shithole” controversy. Does he mean countries with people of color, third world countries or anyone who is not what he considers good enough; wrong color, race, religion, sex, socio-economic status? He talks about people, human beings, like products; commodities.

In all honesty, I thought it was about race but the more he speaks, I think it may be something bigger. I think he doesn’t like anyone who is not part of elevating him and his agenda. Poor people reflect badly on our country. Why would we want to take in more homeless people who will only contribute to the already astronomical national debt? I think the bottom line is he is all about wealth and excess. I believe if he had his ideal America, it would be a country of beautiful, millionaires who believed the way he does. The working man is the back by which this great country has been built upon but to men like Trump, unfortunately, they are disposable.

There is no room for diversity in Trump’s America and that is what it is, or at least what he is trying to mold it into, “Trump’s America.”

Don’t be surprised that he is being exactly who he promised to be. Some of you voted him into office. Maybe this is your idea of a perfect America. It’s not mine. Maybe you are as disappointed and heartbroken as the rest of us.

In my America, the president is someone to look up to and emulate. He is held to a higher moral standard than the rest of us. He inspires us to be and do better. He is an orator who can move crowds to action of change. He gives us something to believe in. He puts us at ease when we are afraid of outside threats by promising to protect us and taking all the necessary step to ensure our safety. He puts the collective us above himself.

He is a human who respects humanity and strives for equality. He is educated and worldly. His job is to make America the greatest country in the world by making us economically strong, politically succinct, diplomatically beloved and our military respected and revered. He is firm but caring.

His character should be as close to beyond reproach as possible. No president is perfect but like a parent puts their child before themselves in an effort to care for them, this is the same duty of the president for his constituents. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling.  He is the surrogate father of a nation. There is no room for selfishness.

I get that president Trump is human and he has made mistakes. Mistakes the whole world is watching. Stumbling is expected but most of his worst moments are of his own doing. He doesn’t’ care what the world thinks about what he does. He holds himself above the rest of us. That is one of his biggest failures.

Belittling others and rejecting humans begging for help because he deems them to be from “shithole” countries speaks volumes about his character. He has no honor and no compassion for the refugees of the world seeking asylum and protection. Somehow, he seems to not care. I don’t know how someone can even make themselves not care when presented with a hungry, sad human being with no safe place to live. Money has more value to him than human life unless it is his own. This is just my humble opinion as I watch this situation unravel.

I don’t know if he is a bad person or if the power of his position has made him feel untouchable and therefore made him lose touch with reality. What I do know is that many of these actions he has taken, the damage is irreparable. America’s promised ascension towards greatness is being actively thwarted by an ego that has outgrown the man. It is up to every one of us to make better choices and work towards making America great again for all Americans. 

Isn’t it our moral obligation as human beings to help those less fortunate than ourselves?

 

 

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Sandy Hook, Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown Connecticut, Adam Lanza, Mass shooting, gun control

I woke up this morning, then, I remembered what today is the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.  It’s 11 days before Christmas. It’s the third day of Hannukah. It’s also the 5-year anniversary of one of the most heinous mass shootings in the history of America. The day 26 innocent children and adults were brutally murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary.

My girls gleefully squeed this morning when reminding us that TODAY is the day that we adopted our puppy, Lola. She was a Christmas surprise for our girls in 2012 after a particularly hard year; we lost a baby, we lost our family dog and we moved away from everyone we ever knew. But, I know today is something else.

Five years ago today, a man murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. On Dec. 14, 2012, a 20-year-old named Adam Lanza fired his Bushmaster rifle through the school’s locked front door and commenced a killing spree. At the time, it was the second deadliest mass shooting in US history. What seemed to shake the nation the most was the age of the victims, children who were just six and seven years old. On December 14, 2012, my daughters were 5 and 7-years-old. The Sandy Hook events shook me to my core.

Sandy Hook, Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown Connecticut, Adam Lanza, Mass shooting, gun control

Today is December 14th. A day that changed the way I parent forever; a day that changed me. Today, on a morning just like this in the small town of Newtown, Connecticut, parents dropped their children off at Sandy Hook Elementary and kissed them goodbye like I did on that same morning in a sleepy town in Indiana.

You drive off, probably listening to Christmas music with your heart all full of that feeling of positivity and cheer we all feel at this time of year because it’s in the air. People are nicer, friendlier and generally, the world is just slightly better.

I remember dropping our girls off and the Big Guy and I took the day off to finish our Christmas shopping. In fact, we spent most of the day playing with a certain puppy and the rest was spent wistfully having lunch and laughing as we ducked in and out of stores thinking of how happy each this or that would make our daughters on Christmas morning. All the while, we counted ourselves lucky that our children were safe at school.

It wasn’t until the pick-up line that afternoon that we actually heard the horrific news of what happened to those 20 beautiful children and the 6 adults who tried to protect them and my heart broke as all of my faith in humanity drained slowly from my body, as I held it all together at pick-up. It wasn’t until after bedtime that night that I could fully digest the scope of what Adam Lanza did that day.

Lanza then entered a first-grade classroom where Lauren Rousseau, a substitute teacher, had herded her first grade students to the back of the room, and was trying to hide them in a bathroom, when Lanza forced his way into the classroom.[44] Rousseau, Rachel D’Avino (a behavioral therapist who had been employed for a week at the school to work with a special needs student), and fifteen students in Rousseau’s class were all killed. Fourteen of the children were dead at the scene; one injured child was taken to a hospital for treatment, but was later declared dead. Most of the teachers and students were found crowded together in the bathroom. A six-year-old girl, the sole survivor, was found by police in the classroom following the shooting.The surviving girl was hidden in one of the corners of the classroom’s bathroom during the shooting. The girl’s family pastor said that she survived the mass shooting by remaining still, and playing dead. When she reached her mother, she said, “Mommy, I’m okay, but all my friends are dead.” The child described the shooter as “a very angry man.A girl hiding in a bathroom with two teachers told police that she heard a boy in the classroom screaming, “Help me! I don’t want to be here!” to which Lanza responded, “Well, you’re here,” followed by more hammering sounds.

Lanza next went to another first-grade classroom nearby; at this point, there are conflicting reports about the order of events. According to some reports, the classroom’s teacher, Victoria Leigh Soto, had concealed some of the students in a closet or bathroom, and some of the other students were hiding under desks. Soto was walking back to the classroom door to lock it when Lanza entered the classroom. Lanza walked to the back of the classroom, saw the children under the desks, and shot them. First grader Jesse Lewis shouted at his classmates to run for safety, and several of them did. Lewis was looking at Lanza when Lanza fatally shot him. Another account, given by a surviving child’s father, said that Soto had moved the children to the back of the classroom, and that they were seated on the floor when Lanza entered. According to this account, neither Lanza nor any of the occupants of the classroom spoke. Lanza stared at the people on the floor, pointed the gun at a boy seated there, but did not fire at the boy, who ultimately survived. The boy got up and ran out of the classroom and was among the survivors.

Hartford Courant report said that six of the children who escaped did so when Lanza stopped shooting, either because his weapon jammed or he erred in reloading it. Earlier reports said that, as Lanza entered her classroom, Soto told him that the children were in the auditorium. When several of the children came out of their hiding places and tried to run for safety, Lanza fatally shot them. Soto put herself between her students and the shooter, who then fatally shot her. Anne Marie Murphy, the teacher’s aide who worked with special-needs students in Soto’s classroom, was found covering six-year-old Dylan Hockley, who also died. Soto and four children were found dead in the classroom, Soto near the north wall of the room with a set of keys nearby. One child was taken to the hospital, but was pronounced dead. Six surviving children from the class and a school bus driver took refuge at a nearby home. According to the official report released by the state’s attorney, nine children ran from Soto’s classroom and survived, while two children were found by police hiding in a class bathroom.[41]:14 In all, 11 children from Soto’s class survived. Five of Soto’s students were killed.[62]

I was mad. I was devastated for those who lost their lives but even more so for the parents and family members who, just like me, dropped their beloved everythings off at school that morning and that very night sat sobbing with empty arms. It was so unfair and so horrific that I almost couldn’t allow myself to believe it.

I’ve never been one to live my life in fear but that day and every single day since I’m afraid every time my children leave my arms. Every morning I send them to school, I pray God sends them back to me. Every time I hear a siren, I hold my breath and hope it’s not a shooting at their school; that a man with a gun having a bad day doesn’t decide to take his hatred for the world out on my children. His collateral damage will be my complete undoing.

I think often, almost daily, about the parents and children of Sandy Hook. I can’t imagine what the world must look like to them. I don’t know how they’ve survived these past 5 years. I’m assuming with a lump in their throat and a fight in their bellies.

I know they will never get justice because they will never get their tiny loved ones back and each passing year is a reminder of what should have been. I imagine this time of year has lost all of its glisten and glean for those families and in its place moroseness and sorrow has settled in. I wish there was a way to bring their children back to them but I know that is impossible. But what we can do is make their deaths not have been in vain.

We must continue to fight for stricter gun control laws. No one’s right to bear arms should outweigh a parent’s right to hold their child in their arms; to watch them grow up and spend a lifetime loving them.

My husband dropped our girls off at school this morning. I kissed and hugged them all just slightly longer than I should have this morning and I began to pray the moment they walked out the door. Please let them return to me. This is my daily prayer that I say with earnest but even more so on this morning, December 14th because I know there are the parents of 20 children whose hearts are being shattered all over again this morning.

So please, whatever you are doing this morning, wherever you are in the world, whoever you may be, stop and pray for those families who lost their children and those children and brave staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary who went to school on a day just like today, five years ago and never got to come home. Pray that those parents have the strength to continue carrying on and they can someday get some peace.

But don’t just pray, do something. Fight for the safety of our children. Stand up for better mental health coverage and stricter gun control. Make good choices and remember that while you are listening to your Christmas music, doing your last minute shopping at Target and drinking your latte, there’s a mother in Newtown sobbing uncontrollably; there’s a father whose loss has turned to bitterness and he doesn’t know how to fix it; there are a brother and sister who will never get to hear the laugh of their little brother again. There are gifts that never got opened and holiday celebrations that had to be repurposed into funerals.

I’m begging you, if you are weary from all of these mass shootings, tired of innocent children being nothing more than collateral damage to a system that continues to value an outdated right to bear arms over its children and tired of being constantly afraid that your children won’t come home because guns are too readily and easily accessible stand up and fight like your life depends on it ( because it might) for stricter gun control and legislation to regulate the purchase of parts to assemble semi-automatic weapons because even though we do have weak gun control laws in place for purchasing guns, there are none for buying the parts and assembling your own at home. Think about that for a moment and do something.

Whatever you do today, never forget the 26 innocent children and adults who went to school on a day like today and never got to come home because a sick man had easy access to guns and rained down devastation on the world. Hug your children tight.

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Me Too, Women's Rights, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Harassment, Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo, Me too

As I raise my hand to claim “me too”,  I’m faced with a society asking who is to blame for the Weinstein situation? Obviously, Harvey Weinstein is a piece of shit and is to blame for his own actions but what about the society we live in that feels it’s okay to objectify little girls and rape women with no ramifications? How do we expect our girls to be safe when we let our boys get away with sexual harassment simply because someone in history said “boys will be boys” and that means girls need to live on the defensive while boys just get to live. When do women get to be people too?  Are you angry and done with this attitude?

Me too!

Last night, there was a call for women to set their statuses to #MeToo if they have ever been sexually assaulted or harassed. I don’t know a single woman who didn’t set her status to Me Too! It made me sad. It made me mad and it made me feel not alone but utterly shattered that I am not the minority because what does that mean for my girls? Who is protecting our girls?

Sexual harassment is a disease and we apparently all have it. It’s like the moment you were born with a vagina, you were assured that you were going to be assaulted. Thankfully, they don’t tell you that or many of us would have looked for a way out a long time ago or our mothers would have mercifully drowned us at birth.

We live in a society that grooms women to be victims. We don’t intentionally let these horrific things happen to us. Women live a society that has completely failed us. We are taught that creepy guys are just misunderstood but harmless. We give them the benefit of the doubt because it was only a dick pic, it wasn’t his actual dick in my face. But wasn’t it? Weren’t you just as violated? The only thing missing was the imminent fear that his dick would be in y our body.

We live in a world where we are taught from a very young age to live on the defensive. It’s our job not to get raped or be abused by a sexual predator. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we keep ourselves hidden away and safe from men and their “natural” urges. We are taught to walk a little faster, cover up, not enjoy sex and steer clear of any situation that might put us in danger which boils down to our sheer existence.

It’s not all men though. My husband was appalled when I talked to him about this situation. But he also has no understanding of what it is like to be a woman. How lucky he is. How nice it is to be able to live a life where you can walk down the streets and never worry about someone attacking you from behind, pulling you behind the bushes and raping you.

What a utopia it must be to live in a world where no one will ever corner you in a room and threaten to have his way with you. No one will ever break into your apartment while you sleep and take what is not his.

The first time I can remember being assaulted, I was 4-years-old, a little boy in my kindergarten class wanted to steal a kiss under the parachute during gym class. It may sound innocent and sweet but I didn’t want it. He took what was mine without asking. I cried. I was mad. I told on him. The gym teacher laughed, “Awww, Debbie he likes you. Boys will be boys.” Nothing was said to him. The onus fell on me. That was it. It was my problem. Get over it. That began a lifetime of knowing that the responsibility fell on me to protect myself and if something bad happened to me, then I must not have done a good enough job.

A few of my Me Too Moments

When I was 7-years-old, a teenaged boy (a family friend) repeatedly groped me at a family party and told me if I ever told anyone they would blame me for being such a “slut”.

In 4th grade, Andre pushed himself against me and kissed me hard, just as everyone was walking into the classroom after recess. Everyone saw, so not only did he take what he wasn’t given permission to take, he embarrassed me in front of the entire class. The teacher and all the students laughed. What could I do?

In 6th school, my art teacher used to come over when I was working on a project and take his hand and massage my neck while telling me how “spectacular” my artwork was. He was a grown man and his hands always found their way to my breast buds. I pulled forward to escape his grip, he grabbed me harder. This was done almost every art class for 3 years.

In 7th grade, walking home through a field, a high school boy exposed himself to my friend and I. We were in shock. We were terrified. He thought it was hilarious. I never wanted to walk home again.

When I was 18, working at a retail chain and the security guys called me back into the security room. I thought they needed a female employee as a witness as they questioned a suspected female shoplifter because that was protocol. Instead, when I got back there at 9 at night, when we were working on a skeleton crew, the two grown men, locked the door and started making comments on how I looked in my uniform. They told me that they liked watching me on the cameras and told me to my face, as they laughed, “You know we could do anything we wanted to you in here and no one would even hear us.” I was trembling I was so terrified.

Once, I was visiting a friend and I’d met a guy who was visiting her boyfriend, after a night of drinking and hanging out, I woke up to feel him pressed up against me and kissing me. I pushed him off but by the time I had woken up, he’d already been touching my body. I don’t know for how long, I was passed out. But I didn’t do anything about it because I felt partially responsible because earlier that night I had smiled when he sang a song to me. Even though there was no consent and no making out before I passed out, I felt responsible for letting myself get into this vulnerable position because that is how this society has conditioned women to believe. If we are assaulted, we must have done something to encourage it.

Or the time I was at a frat party and a group of brothers from another university came to the party. I was a little sister at the fraternity, so I was comfortable and even felt safe at the house. A cute walkout started talking to me and one thing led to another, the flirting was in high gear and then in the middle of a room full of people, he pushed my head into his lap. I was drinking but that sobered me up immediately. I felt vulnerable, threatened (in a room full of guys) and angry. Luckily, the president of the frat (a friend of mine) saw the whole thing happen and literally, kicked the guy out of the house. Of course, then he spent the night “comforting” me. I let him because I felt like I owed him. I didn’t want his advances but it felt safer than some stranger shoving my face in his crotch and becoming an unwilling participant in a gang rape.

Then there was the time I was at a college bar with my friends and the star basketball player came up behind me and started grinding on me. I gently moved away. He followed in pursuit. Then he came in front of me, grabbed me by my ass and lifted me up around his waist and started trying to kiss me. No one did anything. I was terrified. I didn’t want his advances. I did not invite him to do any of this. I was minding my own business. No one helped me. I wiggled myself out of his grip and ran out of the bar. When a friend found me outside, she did not care if I was alright or if I was shaken. Her question was, “Don’t you know who that was?”

How about the time I was at a cop party with my friend and a married cop tried to make advances towards me and when I said no because he was married (and I wasn’t interested) he told me that I should think twice before driving alone in his city ever again because he could pull me over late at night on a dark road and it wouldn’t matter if I was interested or not.

Or the time I broke up with a boyfriend, I hadn’t had sex with because I was still a virgin. He had spent the entire time we were dating dry humping me, slowly trying to expose himself. I felt like he was a child that I had to keep telling no. He was much bigger than me. I always felt threatened. He saw me out after we broke up and said he wanted to talk to me in private and apologize for being a jerk when we broke up. I was naïve, I went to his car with him. He exposed himself to me and said, “Try it. You’ll like it.” If I wouldn’t have pulled my knee up and hit him in the groin, he would have raped me and he thought he was doing me a favor. As I got out of the car and ran, he screamed after me, “Slut! Cock tease!”

I am sad angry and even in recounting these events (and there are so many more and so many worse that I can’t bring myself to share with you yet) I feel helpless, ashamed and on the verge of having a full out sob fest, right here in fucking Starbucks and that makes me unbelievably mad.

I’m trying to use my words but the problem is that I’m angry and I’m sick of the world giving men hall passes for rape, attempted rape, pressing up against women on the train, grabbing their breasts in a club, forcing themselves in so many ways big and small and society acting like it’s a victimless crime. I could go on for pages listing all the different times I’ve been accosted to one degree or another but I can’t because I’d probably go on forever.

Sometimes were worse than others. Sometimes things went further than I wanted them to go but I never felt like I could do anything about it because the truth is that no matter how good, bad, drunk, sober, promiscuous or frigid you are, if you are a woman, you have been made to feel vulnerable and unsafe in your lifetime. It’s the reality of being born with a vagina.

We don’t have to do anything to precipitate an attack, they just happen and we just have to learn to live with it. But this is bullshit. I don’t want my daughters to feel this shame and vulnerability or fear of living in a world where women are treated like inanimate holes put on this earth solely for men’s pleasure. Why do we have to be cautious and careful before doing everything? Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster.

That’s what society does, it makes men feel like they are entitled to everything and makes women feel like they are of no more value than garbage. I stand with all other women, in saying ME TOO! Over and over again. I knew it was wrong. I said no. I told people but still, the assailant prevailed because he had a penis and I was only armed with a vagina. In society, that makes me the one at fault.

Well, now I’m saying NO MORE! Every woman should say no more. No more fucking excuses. No more touching without asking. No more boys will be boys. No more taking what’s not yours.  And no more looking the other way. If you see something, say something. We have to protect one another because if we don’t we all fall victim. It’s happened to all of us. Do we want it to happen to our daughters?

Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no. Let’s teach that instead of Boys will be boys.

What was your Me Too moment?

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Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

At least 58 people were killed and more than 515 people were injured when a gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday night creating the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. He fired at the crowd from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort. Country singer Jason Aldean was on stage when the shooting began and chaos ensued.

Trigger Warning: Some of the photos included in this post are very graphic.

How do we ever feel safe again with gun legislation that allows gunman like Stephen Paddock to just open his window at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay resort and open fire on a group of music festival goers like they were fish in a barrel? How is this the country we live in? This is the deadliest attack on U.S. soil since the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. of September 11, 2001.

Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

64-year-old, Stephen Paddock fired shots from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and killed at least 58 people (as of now) and injured more than 515 people. It is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Police used an explosive breach to break down the door to his hotel room, and Paddock killed himself. Police said Paddock was found dead with as many as 10 firearms. I’m not sad to say he killed himself but at the same time, I am so sick of these monsters being killed before we get any answers. I know in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter why they did what they did, having that question answered will not change the outcome but at least maybe we could understand. Maybe we could try to make sense of it all.

Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

Another morning, another news story about some crazed lunatic taking his semiautomatic weapon and senselessly killing innocent people. It happens so often that not only are we becoming accustomed to it, we expect it. We fear it but it’s our new reality and we live in a world where we know every single day might be our last.

I don’t accept this. I am angry. I am outraged. I am pissed off. Just last week, we took our daughters to a concert. This can happen anywhere. Do you understand, we.took.our.daughters???

Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

So to break it down for you in parenting today, you can keep your children in a bubble and be labeled a “helicopter mom” with all the negative connotations that come with it. Or you can be cool and just go about life like it’s normal that sometimes people get gunned down at movie theaters, concerts, and school for no good goddamn reason. I can’t take it.

It’s too heavy. This responsibility of raising kids and keeping them alive when so many random acts of violence just keep happening. How are we supposed to do it? How are we unarmed with nothing but our unconditional, never-ending love for our children supposed to protect them from the boogie man that lurks right beneath our noses…the neighbor next door, the kid who delivers your newspaper, the old guy who hands out hard candy for Halloween or the shy, quiet kid who stays to himself at school and even though your kid goes out of their way to be friendly and inclusive, because that’s what we’ve taught our kids to do ( though I’m not even sure anymore if it’s to be kind or just as a defense mechanism, last-ditch effort to stay off the shit list) so maybe when that freak comes to school with his semiautomatic weapon he’ll remember somewhere in his broken brain that YOUR KID didn’t laugh at him.

Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

I can’t take it. Politicians talk about gun control like it’s just another political discussion, like taxes or health care, but it’s life or death. You are deciding that in order to get the votes, it’s ok to let maniacs have semiautomatic weapons…or firearms at all. If you’ve got problems and you hate someone, why can’t we live in a world where you have to get up close and personal and use your hands, face-to-face, not like a coward shooting from atop your tower at unsuspecting people?

I am sick to death of the NRA and all the other groups arguing for their right to bear arms. Read the constitution you morons, it was written in a time when the American people had no strong army and had to be ready to organize into a militia to fight and protect against the British army. We have a full military in place now and the need for Stephen Paddock, Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Omar Mateen, Seung Hui Cho, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and so many more to have ready access to weapons does not exist.

When I think of all the mothers and fathers who grew, raised and loved these children who have been killed (because yes, even adults are someone’s children) I can’t even swallow the lump in my throat is so big.

Marilou Danley,Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

I was talking to someone and they argued, “Well, the problem is that if you take away the right to bear arms the bad guys will still find a way to get them. The gang bangers and deviants will find a way to arm themselves.”

The thing is, while maybe this is true since there are so many guns already floating around the United States, do you really think this weirdo, average white men like Stephen Paddock, Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold would have the wherewithal to be able to find a gun runner? It’s not like that sort is hanging out with or even trusting these oddballs. Nope, these assholes are going to their local gun shows, Walmart or wherever the hell else it is that weird guys go to buy their guns…off the rack, like the rest of us go buy toothpaste.

Maybe new gun legislation wouldn’t stop all the gang violence and drive-bys but I bet it sure would slow down the frequency with which we see mass shootings by lone weirdos. Because yes, if you just hoard semi-automatic weapons and plan to go into a place of business, worship or anywhere people are congregating just to shoot and kill as many people as you can because you are sad or mad or whatever the hell else you are with the world because you’re pathetic, then yes, you are a lone weirdo. This is what you have chosen to be. There is no excuse for this behavior. We all have shit days; we don’t all go on mass shooting sprees.

Nevada has some of the loosest gun laws in the United States, and has no limitation on the number of guns that can be purchased at one time. It is legal to own, purchase, or sell machine guns there if the weapon was manufactured before 1986. The state has no law regulating large-capacity ammunition magazines, according to the Law Centre to Prevent Gun Violence.

You know, I keep asking myself when will it be enough? Who has to be killed that we collectively say, “Nope, that’s too far!” But I guess in the United States there is no such thing, after all, Adam Lanza killed a bunch of innocent kids and yet, Stephen Paddock was able to get his weapons, get them into the Mandalay Bay resort and go on a shooting spree from the comfort of his room like the coward he was. Once America decided killing children was bearable, the gun control debate was over. It’s like we allowed the most heinous thing in the world to happen and that still wasn’t enough to stop it. We got over it. There apparently is no rock bottom.

Maybe there needs to be a mandatory psych evaluation before anyone can buy a weapon beyond just a background check? I know for a fact that there are people who refuse mental health treatment for fear they will be labeled mentally ill and not be able to buy guns. So to recap, mentally ill people purposely forgo treatment so that they can still have access to weapons. Feel safer now?

How many moms have to bury their babies? How many dads have to get that news in the middle of the night? How many brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters have to go on living with such a giant, senseless hole in their world?

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival and their families, who have been irreparably damaged. I hope you can find some kind of peace again in this world. BUt we need a hell of a lot more than just thoughts and prayers to stop this sort of thing from happening again.

To those who fight so hard for the right to bear arms, your right to carry a weapon is systematically killing our children. Is the price worth the right?

 

Update: 4:07 p.m. More than 19 rifles were found in the hotel room of the gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting, a law enforcement official confirmed, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Among the weapons authorities discovered were two rifles with scopes on tripods positioned in front of the two windows that had been broken out, a law enforcement official said.

 

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Dear America, election, Donald Trump, parenting, politics, racism, misogyny, bigotry, children, America, American values, xenophobia, America is great

This is an open letter to my dear America. I hope someone is reading and sharing and spreading humanity and kindness faster than the cancer of racism that is devouring the insides of our country. It is destroying us.

I just dropped the girls off at their first day of school and as I pulled away, I started crying. I was completely overwhelmed by a horrible feeling I know all too well. There was a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach and it wasn’t the typical first day of school mommy blues that we all get but it was definitely not new.

It’s the same feeling that I’ve felt every day that I’ve sent my husband off to work since 9/11. It’s the same terrible, sick feeling that I’ve felt every morning at drop off since Sandy Hook. It’s the same fear I have every single time I’ve gotten on a plane knowing there’s a risk. Not because of heights or claustrophobia but because I know that we live in a world where extremists armed with hatred who think they are doing what’s best for them, are fearless and willing to die for their hate like the racists who descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend armed with tiki torches and hearts full of hate.

I spent the past weekend camping in Michigan; one last getaway before the craziness of school scoops us all up and we can’t see past the minutia. We’re about to be swallowed up whole so I wanted a few days of unplugged togetherness, with the people who really matter to me in this world, my children.

Unfortunately, I still needed to be tethered to the real world because of work. I didn’t engage because I wanted to focus on what was right in front of me; what truly matters. I am trying to be present but I see it all happening, this train wreck at 100 miles an hour. Our country is careening out of control and our leader doesn’t know how and doesn’t seem willing to get us back on track.

Dear America,

I kept quiet and let my thoughts settle into coherent actions. But I’m tired of the burden of being a person who always does something. I’m exhausted of telling friends what they already know. I am sick to death of listening while the Internet feigns outrage and shock. I can’t keep giving people who believe themselves to be good, decent Americans permission to keep engaging in the same insanity.

See something. Do nothing. See it on the Internet. Feign outrage. Share a petition on social. Talk to your like-minded friends about the horror and pat yourselves on the back for recognizing that this is, in fact, horrible. 2 days later, forget about it. Forgive the aggressor. Accept the unacceptable as status quo. Move on to the next “cause”. Do nothing.

The time for placing blame has passed, it is now time to take accountability. Complacency is not an option. It never should have been, where human beings were involved. Action is the only acceptable reaction.

We shouldn’t be feigning outrage and shock. We should be genuinely outraged, shocked and pissed off. We should be moved to our feet by our hearts and our minds. We can no longer sit down while the aggressors mow through those of us who dare to stand up for the collective us. America, the home of the brave. 

It’s scary standing up. Those who love you most will tell you to sit down because they are afraid of the danger it brings to do the right thing. Standing up begs to be knocked down but we must get back up. We must endure for if we do not take a stand, we will all be mowed down and our land of the free will not be so free.

Dear America,

I am not blaming you for any choice or vote you cast up until this moment. You know what you did. Your choice is only for you to learn to live with. No one dared believe just how much hatred could breed when given the right growing conditions. But we knew. It has spread across this country like a plague and it is killing all of us.

What I am begging you to do today is to forget about who you voted for or party lines and think about your family, your future and the country that you love so much. The time to dig in has passed. We need to work together as Americans to fix what is broken.

I don’t want to weep when I drop my children off at school because I know that we live in a country currently fueled by hatred. I know there are so many good people in this country. Decent human beings who love their families, their neighbors and their country. The bad apples are in the minority. But they are eating at this country like cancer. Their movement is spreading because it is not being treated. Racism is a cancer that needs to be eradicated.

Dear America,

Stand up. Say something. Do something. Be something. Racism, bigotry, and hatred cannot be tolerated. We need a zero tolerance and we can’t forget. Embrace your outrage. Flame it’s embers and let it fuel you to do the right thing; to stand up to those who would tell us that any human is less than another. Forget what is politically correct and do what is right.

What are you doing? How are you stopping the hate? How are you putting love and kindness into the world? How are you standing up for what is right in the face of what is terrifying?

What action are you taking for your dear America?

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LAPD, Christian Dorscht

On Tuesday, an off-duty LAPD officer fired his weapon during a confrontation with a 13-year-old Latino boy, Christian Dorscht, who had allegedly “walked on his lawn”. That was enough to set off a chain of events that could have left one child dead for simply being a teenager. As a parent, what would you do if Christian Dorscht were your child?

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Super Bowl, immigrant, immigration, Mexico, border, the wall, Desierto

Ever wonder why an immigrant, illegal or otherwise, really comes to the United States willing to risk his life? Maybe that question is too big, maybe we narrow it down, ever wonder why my dad came to the United States? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not to take anything from you.It’s more about admiration of the freedoms we have and the will to succeed; to achieve the American dream. The freedom to work hard and get ahead in life.

Then ask yourself, if you were desperate, and your child’s life depended on you doing something dangerous, would you do it? What if it were illegal? What if you needed to fast track things in order to save a life? Would you do it? I think we all know the answer is yes. we’d do anything for our children.

I’ve heard a lot of discussions online about immigrants and why many Americans don’t want immigrants here in the United States. People are talking about immigrants like they are not humans but has anyone ever just asked a real, live immigrant,

Super Bowl, immigrant, immigration, Mexico, border, the wall, Desierto

Hey, immigrant why are you here?

If you are not an immigrant, or the son or daughter of an immigrant, or the friend or loved one of an immigrant, maybe you just don’t know and I’m sure it is different for every single person. But I’m happy to share with you my immigrant story. How this freckled Mexican was born on the right side of the wall.

I’ve been quick to judge all of you. I was only seeing things from my perspective, the daughter of an immigrant; a first generation Mexican-American. I never even considered that there are actually people who don’t even personally know any Mexicans. They know of us, apparently our reputation precedes us, but they don’t “know us”; know us.

Super Bowl, immigrant, immigration, Mexico, border, the wall, Desierto

They’ve not grown up with us; eaten dinner at our home, been welcomed by my interracial couple parents and been kissed on the cheek and treated like family. They’ve not had the pleasure of hearing my dad, in his thick Spanish accent, look them in the eye, give them a firm hand shake ( even the most down trodden of our neighbors) and say, “Good to see you, buddy!” Never seen the way family is more than the people you share a last name with; never been willing to risk everything for those people.

They’ve never heard my dad sing Happy Birthday, Las Mananitas and You are my sunshine to my daughters every birthday or seen him grab them and start dancing with them whenever he hears music. They’ve never seen his giant smile and the way he says, “Sonofagun” any time his grandchildren do almost anything because he is so in awe of them.

They don’t know that my dad used to bring homeless people home for dinner that he’d see on his walk home from mass. My mom wasn’t too keen on this practice but that’s the type of guy he is. When he wants to, he’ll give you the jacket off his back if you need it more than he does. He’s the man who wore sunglasses when he walked me down the aisle so no one would see him cry, when he gave me away.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a long time reader of this blog you know that my dad is not perfect. He’s made mistakes but he’s also never been a drug dealer, a rapist or a murderer.

He simply falls into the immigrant category because he was born someplace else.

immigrant, hero

He’s the kind of man who has played the guitar in the church choir since I was a kid. He’s the guy who stopped drinking and now, devotes most of his retirement to not only staying sober but keeping others sober. But he is Mexican. He’s lived in the United States longer than he ever lived there. This is his home but Mexico is where he was born. Mexico is where part of my roots begin.

When all of the political mudslinging started during the campaign, I felt personally attacked because my dad is an immigrant and even though he is not perfect, he has always been a contributing member of society and he raised us to work hard, trust in God and respect our government.

Just because someone is an immigrant, doesn’t mean they are a bad person.

It just means they weren’t born here. They chose to come here. They choose America.

He’s a good man; a good Christian man who reads the bible daily, who has been married to the same woman for 44 years, who has raised 6 children and paid taxes to a country that he loves. The kind of man who plays in the sprinkler with his grandchildren. The kind of man who doesn’t want fame and fortune, he only wanted to be able to give his unborn children a better life than he had; maybe a house without dirt floors, maybe a life where the struggle wasn’t so real.

When people bad mouth immigrants, I take it personally. I feel like the country and the government that my dad loves so much, that we’ve been raised to believe is the best in the world, hated him simply for the color of his skin and by association me, my brothers and sisters and our children; the most precious thing in our lives; family.

The will to succeed is always welcome here.

Those were the words at the end of the Lumber 84, full 6-minute commercial, the one thought to be too controversial for a commercial during the Super Bowl. Those words spoke to me because I was raised by an immigrant who taught me to believe in myself and to know that where there is a will, there is always a way. My father is legal, but is that really relevant to the man he is?

That is all that my immigrant father wanted. The chance to be a member of our society; a chance to give his children a better life. He doesn’t hate Americans. He loves everything about this country. So what are we all so afraid of?

There’s been some confusion about the true meaning behind this commercial. I saw it as a beautiful thing but it seems I didn’t realize that a mother and daughter making their way to a better life is only beautiful if you come through the door. If you can’t find the door, I guess you’re just supposed to give up and live the life you’re doomed to live and I guess, according to Lumber 84, we’re all supposed to be okay with that.

Tomorrow, Desierto is released on DVD, I highly recommend that you watch it then maybe you’ll see why immigrants are more afraid of you than you should be afraid of them.

What’s the difference between the European immigrants that founded this country hundreds of years ago and the Mexican and Muslim immigrants who are trying to make a better life for their children now, besides the color of their skin? Then again, I guess it’s always been hard for immigrants.

What is the difference between an immigrant and you or I, besides a piece of paper?

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NoBanNoWall, resist, Trump, women's rights, censorship, muslim ban, deportation

The only option is to resist.

I have, literally, been trying to write this post since the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump but I can’t form my thoughts into coherent words because every day there is some new mind boggling executive order being passed down. What I do know is that we have to resist. We the people have to resist.We cannot go gently into that good night. The man is on the fast track to being a dictator the likes of Hitler, Pinochet, and Castro.

My mind has been having a hard time keeping up with everything going on during this first week of Trump’s presidency.My heart is heavy but my mind says resist. Resist the urge to lay down and curl up into the fetal position. Resist the natural response to drown in my own tears. Resist the wrong that is being inflicted. Stand up. Fight. Now. Use your voice.

I feel like we are all patiently awaiting the purge. Those who are complacent are part of the problem. Quietly disagreeing is no longer an option. We’ve gone way beyond that point. You must be prepared to stand up and speak out. You must be prepared to fight because your life is at stake. Your basic human rights are in jeopardy. This man is turning the United States into a sinking ship and we are all being held hostage aboard the S.S. Hate.

NoBanNoWall, resist, Trump, women's rights, censorship, muslim ban, deportation

I am a woman. I am a Latina. I am the daughter of an immigrant. I am the mother of a new generation of Latinas. I do not have the option of being quiet and not fighting. I choose action, for my father, for my children, for myself and for you!

Women, United we Stand and Divided we Fall.

Ladies, what are you doing? We’re fighting with each other over who should march and who shouldn’t. And while we’re not paying attention, the government is slowly putting its hands on our uterus while Trump is single-handedly stripping us of our basic human rights. If you are a woman and this doesn’t scare you, you might want to get a dictionary and Google Women’s rights.

NoBanNoWall, resist, Trump, women's rights, censorship, muslim ban, deportation

Resist the urge to turn on one another. This is the time for unification, not separation.

Marching was not just about the right to choose. It’s about the government telling women what to do with their bodies. How we reproduce. When we reproduce. How we feed our babies. How we deal with the loss of our babies. The punishment for not carrying a pregnancy to term for several reasons, including rape, incest, medical reasons and yes, even choice. It’s about men having domain over our bodies when we don’t give consent and even when we say no. It’s about women being treated like livestock and not humans. It’s about every single human being born with a vagina and a uterus.

Ladies, our daughters are watching.

NoBanNoWall, resist, Trump, women's rights, censorship, muslim ban, deportation

Photo via Instagram @LatinasUnited

Last week’s March was an amazing show of solidarity in a time of turmoil. The American women came out in powerhouse droves to stand up for their rights as human beings and their reproductive rights. Women across the world put everyone on notice that we are no longer going to stand silently by as the patriarchy treats us like second class citizens.

I’m still having a hard time understanding why our reproductive rights are a point of discussion at all. Why is it anyone’s business what we do with our bodies? How does my choice to do what I want with my body fall under government jurisdiction?

If men can justify this behavior and the right to have dominion over women’s bodies, why can’t we women make federal law on how men use their reproductive systems? What if we banned all the Viagra, imposed vasectomies on any man we saw unfit to reproduce and, just for shits and giggles, give every man a good lecturing about how he should not be masturbating because it is fornicating and that is a sin under God’s law? What if we made touching your balls without permission a sin punishable by jail time, just because?

You know what’s even more disgusting than men having their hands metaphorically in our uteruses, controlling how we use our own bodies? Women who mock the feminists, the marchers and the women fighting for equal rights for women. The ladies who stand on the sidelines and support a man who categorically believes you are a second class citizen.

You ladies are self-loathing pieces of shit and I wish there was a way that you could sign a petition to show your lack of support for women’s rights so that when we do get our rights fully and unequivocally, you can have yours taken away. Your body, your choice. You don’t want them. Hand them over. But, I’m not going to fight against you, my sisters, because I will fight for you and whether you know it or not, you deserve to be treated and paid and recognized as a full human.

I will resist my urge to abandon and mock you.

We have to stop fighting each other because our daughters are not equal to our sons, not in the eyes of the law. Not in pay. We are not the same as men. We are not equal. Sit with that for a moment, we.are.not.equal. Not under our government. We are second class, at best. Is that what you want for your daughters?

NoBanNoWall, resist, Trump, women's rights, censorship, muslim ban, deportation

Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you, It’s not pie.

Censorship of the United States

We are being censored to our death. Since before the election, people who have defended their choice to vote for Trump have always prefaced it with,

“I don’t think he is actually as racist/anti-woman/homophobic/xenophobic/anti-disabled/anti-poor as he pretends to be.”

Apparently, none of these people have ever heard of the saying, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Actions speak louder than words and your vote said everything.

Now, we live in a world of censorship where randomly shutting down U.S. government social media accounts that tell a truth that contradict the alternative facts, ignoring the press when they ask hard questions, shutting the press out and eliminating the transparency of the presidency, “alternative facts” and straight up lies are all acceptable behavior by our leader.

We are beginning to get only the news Trump wants us to have. Where was the coverage of the protests the night before the inauguration? The coverage of the women marchers and the #NoBanNoWall protestors? Trump even brings along his own people to applaud when he gives these unbelievable speeches to fool us into thinking anything he says is worthy of applause. It’s a tactic used to deceive us into believing we are misunderstanding because surely there would not be applauding for something so outlandish as the complete deconstruction of our government.

The man is playing the shell game with the American people, in one hand he is signing outlandish orders and while we are protesting he is quietly slipping Bannon, a known white supremacist, into his cabinet. The man is filling his cabinet, one-by-one, with less and less qualified people.

Trump is turning the United States into a sinking ship that he nor none of his cabinet know how to drive and all the American people are stuck along for the ride. His entire cabinet is made up of billionaires who are not qualified for their positions and who are so out of touch with the average American that it is ridiculous to expect them to be able to relate. Pay attention people, this is your life we are talking about here.

Resist like your life depends on it because it probably does.

We’re not paying for the fucking wall.

A few years ago, when I had my miscarriage, I got a bill for a few thousand dollars to pay for what the hospital referred to as a “Missed abortion.” To say I was insulted and hurt would be the understatement of the year. It’s like someone murdering you and you going to jail. The miscarriage happened to me. It was bad enough that I had to pay for it like it was a new bag or I got new a new nose or something but then to call it a “missed abortion” that cut like a knife. That’s about how the Mexicans feel about paying for a wall to keep them out. Are you kidding me? No, they’re not paying for a wall that so clearly puts them on the receiving end of the biggest insult the U.S. government could issue against an ally.

My dad is an immigrant who has papers to legally be here. He’s lived here for almost 50 years. That’s longer than he lived in his native Mexico. He is now retired and currently in Mexico, as he goes there for the winter months. I don’t even know if he will be able to come back, at the rate Trump is throwing people out. What if his papers get revoked? This is a very real and legitimate concern of mine.

Trump enacted the Muslim ban. If you don’t see the problem with this, then there is something wrong with you. Our government is actively detaining people at the airports and sending people back. People who have lives, families, and jobs here simply because their skin is brown and maybe, they don’t worship like we do. Saying all Muslims are terrorists is the same as saying all Christians are members of the Westboro Baptist.

I’m a Christian. I am Catholic under a pope who does not condone this Muslim ban. You cannot call yourself a Christian and disobey the fundamental teaching of the church to love your brothers and sisters as you love yourself. So to ban Muslims under the guise of Christianity is simply dressing your hate up as religion and it is not possible. The two do not line up.

America is a country born on the back of immigrants. The whole premise of our country is that it is a place where people could come when fleeing religious persecution and unjust, tyrannical governments to pursue a better quality of life. This is why we are known as a melting pot. This is what makes America great but Trump doesn’t agree.

NoBanNoWall, resist, Trump, women's rights, censorship, muslim ban, deportation

photo via Instagram @nicoalexa

Keeping people out of our country, turning children in need away, sending people seeking political amnesty from a tyrannical dictatorship goes against everything this country stands for. It is issuing a death sentence. It’s like locking people in a burning house. We are killing them.

Calling people rapists, drug lords and terrorists are doing nothing but villainizing the victims. Have we all forgotten what happened to the Jews during the Nazi reign? And it wasn’t just the Jews that Hitler destroyed.

Hitler put 6 million Polish people (Jewish and Christian) into his concentration camps, as well as people from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Holland, France and even Germany. There were 11 million victims of the Holocaust. He targeted Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roma Gypsies, Courageous Resisters, Priests and Pastors, Homosexuals, people who were disabled, Black children and anyone in an interracial marriage. Does any of this sound familiar to what we are looking down the barrel at right now?

“First we need to examine Hitler’s egocentric and maniac ideology. Hitler, who was Chancellor of Germany during the Holocaust, came to power in 1933 when Germany was experiencing severe economic hardship. Hitler promised the Germans that he would bring them prosperity and that his military actions would restore Germany to a position of power in Europe.

Hitler had a vision of a Master Race of Aryans that would control Europe. He used very powerful propaganda techniques to convince not only the German people, but countless others, that if they eliminated the people who stood in their way and the degenerates and racially inferior, they – the great Germans would prosper.

Neighboring Poland – The First Target: “All Poles will disappear from the world…. It is essential that the great German people should consider it as its major task to destroy all Poles.”   Heinrich Himmler

Hitler’s first target was Germany’s closest neighbor to the east, Poland. An agricultural country with little military power. Hitler attacked Poland from three directions on September 1, 1939 and in just over one month, Poland surrendered — unable to defend itself against the powerful German prowess.

In Poland, Hitler saw an agricultural land in close proximity to Germany, populated by modest but strong and healthy farmers. Hitler quickly took control of Poland by specifically wiping out the Polish leading class — the Intelligentsia. During the next few years, millions of other Polish citizens were rounded up and either placed in slave labor for German farmers and factories or taken to concentration camps where many were either starved and worked to death or used for scientific experiments.”

Do you see the similarities? To read more similarities, read more from this article about the Non-Jewish victims of the holocaust. Just in case you think you are safe from the New Nationalists because you are white?

Edmund Burke once said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Please know your history or you will fall victim to it. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be a part of a history that destroys our country under a government that cares nothing for us but for what we can do for it.

I will not stand idly by as my rights are stripped away one by one. I am a human being and so are you and we have to stick together to fight against what is sure to be history repeating itself. It’s already begun. It’s been a week. What do you think this will all look like in the history books in after 4 years? Viva La Resistance!

It’s time to mobilize. Get into formation ladies, gentleman, children, homosexuals, Muslims, Latinos, Disabled people and the poor and disenfranchised. Time to protect our freedoms and our human rights and dignity.

Give us your tired, your poor and your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

What are you doing to resist?

 

 

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