Social Issues

Where Is Your American Pride?

Where Is Your American Pride?Is America great again yet? It's only been two months but is it safe to ask this question?  I've been reading a lot about the rise of Nationalism in Europe since November, it's no coincidence.  Many say it started with Brexit vote last Summer. The latest is an article from The New York Times, How a Sleepy German Suburb Explains Europe's Rising Far-Right Movements.  This resonated with me because it kind of reminded me of where I live now, not my town specifically but in the mid-Hudson Valley.  

Growing up in New York City and then moving to a suburb is quite a change and has broaden my perspective.  The Hudson Valley has a history of artsy, liberal-minded "River Towns" with lots of older hippies who want to protect the Hudson River, the environment, shutting down Indian Point, and are down to protest just about anything related to the environment.  I get it. But there's another history not talked about much that involves the KKK....but they're gone now, I think??  I had no idea until I moved to Dutchess County that there was a thing going on in Putnam County up until the 80s with the KKK, whoa.

So, come 2016 and I was surprised at how many Trump bumper stickers and lawn signs I would see.  Where the hell am I?? I had a discussion with a friend who moved out of NYC a few years ago and is now living some place that is less liberal-minded, not a total shift, but it gives you perspective, a broader perspective.  When people think of "New York", they think of this: 

New York City Skyline

This is just a very, very small (although heavily populated) snippet of New York state. New York has 62 counties, NYC is only 5 of them.  New York is also suburbs, picturesque small towns, mountains, rural farmlands, blue-collar towns, college towns, and straight up "Country."   It is so easy to live in a big city and think that since you are exposed to so much diversity, this is something that the rest of the country will welcome and is okay with.  Nope.  There is so much to New York that is not "Blue."  Our State Senate isn't even Blue, it may be on paper, but there is a thing called the Independent Democratic Conference kind of throwing a monkey wrench in things.  There are a few New Yorkers who want to set this country back 50 years and they're not even old enough to remember how it was the first time!

To bring this back around, I started writing this with the idea of Nationalism in this country. 45 was really pushing that message that we need to make America a country to be proud of again.  This is happening in other countries but it's being depicted as a bad thing. It's being seen as anti-Muslim, anti-foreigners.  Are Europeans talking about the rise of Nationalism in the United States and saying the same?   You are less likely to see USA pride in NYC.  You'll see Puerto Rican pride, Italian pride, Irish pride, Ethiopian pride, you get my drift.  You'll see more American flags displayed outside of houses the more outside the city you go.  

This country is not perfect, it's got a lot of messed up history it may not want to acknowledge and it still has problems with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and a bunch of isms and phobias. This country also has a serious problem keeping religion and state separate (someone forgot to tell them about that.) I would still rather live here than anywhere else.  I can write this blog, criticize the President, and not have to worry about someone knocking on my door (yet..maybe.). I can go out by myself where other countries require a man to be with you, I can drive a car by myself, I can wear whatever I want.  I'm fortunate to live here but I'm still aware enough to know that there are others, who live in the same country, that may not feel as comfortable, and that sucks. I'm not proud of that.  The last administration tried very hard to get us all past that and I'd hate to see all of that get erased.  I don't have a problem with national pride as long as it includes everyone who chooses to live there, even if they came from somewhere else. 

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Know Your History, Don't be a Tree Without Roots

Roots

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
Marcus Garvey

I came across this quote and it stuck with me. There is so much concern of history repeating itself with this current administration.  While there is more information available for everyone, there seems to be less education.  All this nonsense about "fake news" and "alternative facts."  Can history be made up? No, it happened, look it up!  Deny history as much as you want, it will bite you in the ass sooner or later.  The Holocaust happened!  Protesting can change things! Slaves were not immigrants who came here by choice!  

There's so much spinning, it's hard not to get dizzy.  I've been revisiting U.S and Global History.   I grew up in the New York public school system in the 80s and early 90s and honestly, I didn't learn much about our history (cue What a Wonderful World).  It was very safe - Lincoln freed the slaves, the US freed the Jews from Germany and got us out of the Depression, Blacks had to drink from different water fountains in the South until Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came along, uh...there was a war Vietnam. It's embarrassing now that I look back.  I don't entirely blame my schools, I'm pretty sure I spaced out a lot during history. I remember taking a history class in high school which was all about Europe from like the 1500-1600s, I don't remember shit.

Now I love history, I want to absorb as much as possible - mostly in the form of documentaries.  I love what people like Ken Burns and Tom Hanks are doing to keep history alive and interesting in this world of super short attention spans (guilty). Oliver Stone has a great documentary series on Netflix, The Untold History of the United States, worth checking out.  I can understand why World War II isn't covered much because it was pretty fucking huge.  Vietnam War was a cluster fuck which made the U.S. look really, really bad so let's just gloss over that. I wish they talked more about WWII and Vietnam because I knew (from movies, of course) just how bad and ugly it was and felt it was important to learn more about.   I'm curious about what schools are teaching now about 9/11 and the never ending war in Afghanistan.  

I hope schools are more open and honest about how U.S. History is taught. It's not all great and moral and the bad stuff didn't only happen centuries ago. I know there are concerns about parents getting butt hurt worried about brainwashing their kids. Whatever. Maybe I'll save that for another time.  Is that what college is for?

J_belushi_college

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Isn't Everyday International Women's Day?

IWD

Yesterday was International Women's Day, did you do anything?  I must admit I didn't do much, except work - yes I worked.  Honestly, it was not a date I had engraved in my mind as a plan of action, it never was.  I shared some tweets, that's about it.  It's not that I don't care, of course I do!  There are just SO many calls to action now, my head is spinning.  It's kind of like "Earth Day", I don't need a day to remind me that the planet is changing and we all need to do our part to take care of it, it's a part of who I am.  

I do want to acknowledge those of you who did take a stand, marched, wore red, and made a statement. It's great to see the momentum of the Women's March still going strong.  It's important to keep pushing for equality for women and non-binary people in the workforce, education, and right to life.   I guess my problem is wishing we didn't need annual dates as a reminder to be better people, you know?   But I get it, some people are hard to educate or they'll say something stupid like "When is International Men's Day?"  Ignorant people can try to blow it off as fluff, but they can't ignore the issue forever.

So the answer to my question in this blog post is - no, not every day is International Women's Day. We need dates like International Women's Day as a reminder, a history lesson in progress and a measuring stick of how far we still need to go.

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Small Business: Do you get Political on Social Media?

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When I had my jewelry business, I avoided talking about religion and politics online.  I did not want to have separate accounts for such issues so I left it alone.  Now I'm free to write and say what I want - I kinda love it.  It got me thinking, with this change in political climate, what should a business person do who strongly opposes what is going on in our government and their online presence?  I'm not talking about big businesses like Nordstrom or LL Bean.  I mean small business, mom & pop shops, etc. who can't turn a blind eye - especially if legislation changes may impact their business (ie: who they hire, where they get their materials, obtaining a loan). 

You don't want to scare customers away or turn off new ones because they don't agree with you.  When I had Pulp Sushi, I would not have written An Open Apology or You're Not A Feminist? on that blog.  As a business/brand, you have to think twice before shooting off online.  Ask yourself what you think could happen when you post something?  Let's say you sell knitted kids hats, your customer base is mostly moms.  Are you going to share a link to an article is against increasing paid maternity leave because you believe that maternity leave is generous enough as it is?  What if you share a anti-Hillary Clinton meme?  Do these things reflect what your business is about? Is there a chance that there may be a backlash? I said I wasn't going to talk about big business, but it's okay for Anheuser-Busch to make a political statement about immigration during the Super Bowl.  They have been around since 1852 and made the commitment to use their products to promote a better world.  For the most part, they keep the politics off their Twitter and Facebook.  

Let's flip this around. You're a handmade soap seller who locally sources their ingredients and rely on local farmers who employs immigrants, you announce in your shop that a percentage of all sales goes toward the ACLU and Sierra Club, you market your soap as a way to "Wash off 2016 election FILTH!!" (go ahead soapers, you can use that). How about you make cards that say "Orange you glad I didn't grab your pussy?" It is CLEAR that you promote your activism through your products and you are catering to specific group of people, more power to you, your social media can be a part of that branding for your business easy-peasy.  

Perhaps you're ready to make that change and you want to bring more social awareness in to your business. You can introduce issues into your business slowly, maybe donations for sales of one specific item goes towards a cause, and as you promote that item, you can share additional information on social media about the charity or the general cause.  Raise awareness without coming across as preachy. People don't like to be preached too. Just look at the backlash celebrities get when they get political.   While the "experts" say you may be killing your business, I think there is a way this can be done smart and tactfully. You may lose some followers, but you can gain so many more once you provide more meaning to your business.

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This Month In Review - February 2017

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WHOA! This month got away with me as far as blogging goes.  Doesn't help that it's a short month and I had to get a new laptop so that took some time away from here.  I still managed to get some writing in so here's what you might have missed in February:

Last month in my recap, I said let's see what February would bring.  It brought some unseasonably warm weather, more head scratching, and lots of coffee.  I attended my first Town Hall meeting over the weekend with my District Rep Sean Patrick Maloney. It was PACKED!  It was a good meeting, frustrating at times but not because of him but some of the others in attendance. Otherwise, I learned a lot.  Nothing like the screaming you see on TV happening elsewhere but then again, my rep is a Democrat and shares a lot of the same concerns as his constituents.  I'm glad I went and hope to attend more.

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Let's Talk About Snowflakes

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Snowflake.

That word is being used a lot lately.  Not because it's Winter and there's snow.  It is what Trump supporters call people who disagree with him, grouping them in with Liberals. "Snowflakes" are defined as an overly sensitive person, incapable of dealing with any opinions that differ from their own. These people can often be seen congregating in "safe zones" on college campuses.  

That's cute.  

"An overly sensitive person, incapable of dealing with any opinions that differ from their own."  I don't know about you, but this sounds like Donald Trump to me.  He can't be told "no", he has to bitch about SNL every time they make of him, if you disagree with him, you will face his Twitter wrath!  The leader of the free world is the biggest fucking Snowflake there is right? By definition, yes, but honestly he's just an immature, spoiled brat, man-child.

How is being angry at the establishment turn into you an overly sensitive person?  Does this mean members of The Tea Party were Snowflakes too? Seriously, someone please explain that to me.  

It's empowering to find out that you're not alone, that there are millions who support you and share your views.  We're thinkers, we're rationalizers, we look beyond our own needs, and see the bigger picture, the world beyond our problems (if I can quote "The Ref"). 

George Takei shared the following tweet a couple of weeks ago: 

Another thing about Snowflakes, they don't go away so quickly. Some snow can stick around for a long time, it can get dirty, get slushy, but it's still there.  Honestly, it's a stupid name and it's too bad that these folks couldn't come up with a better name to call half the country.

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Change Of Heart and Thoughts on the Women's March

If you actually read this whole thing, THANK YOU!!  I wanted to lay out this transition I have been going through in the last year, it's been awkward and I feel like a hypocrite sometimes.  I'm still trying to finding my place in what I can do.

Heartmarch
At this time, eight years ago, I was not a happy camper.  I thought this country was going to go down the toilet. All the Liberal Hipsters got their way, wouldn't shut up about it, and I wanted to hibernate until it was all over.  People placed the Obamas on a pedestal before doing anything and I was just rolling my eyes the whole time.  I was a big skeptic.   Society became TOO Politically Correct and it bugged me, I blamed Obama. I blamed Obama for a lot of things I didn't like about society, even as I write this, I think I partially blame him for Trump becoming President (there's a bunch of factors there, not just him). 

Anyway, throughout those years I talked my shit, criticized President Obama, and felt like not enough "Change" was happening. Sometimes I came across as a real dick.  In 2012, I was not going to vote for him, I was going to vote for Mitt Romney, even though he was a Mormon and I was concerned about him pushing his Conservative views, he was the Governor of Massachusetts, how bad could he be? I did not feel threatened or disgusted by him.  I changed my mind in the voting booth.  I don't know why I did, maybe I felt like voting for Romney was a waste, that the country wasn't in the position for a shift? I honestly don't know.  Meanwhile, throughout all of this, I remained Pro-Choice and supported Equal Rights. I continue to have both liberal social views and conservative fiscal/foreign views.  This is why I am a registered Independent because I have a hard time following either party to the T.

Once his second term began, Republicans started prepping for 2016 and there were 34,694,842 people running for the Republican ticket, Trump was the joke of the bunch - which isn't easy to pull off because there were a few.  Hillary Clinton was picking up momentum and once again I was thinking "UGGGGGHHHH! Am I even gonna bother voting next time??"  Mitt Romney and John McCain were both weak candidates.  I was hoping for a better Republican candidate because there was no fucking way I was going to vote for Hillary Clinton! bleech! 

Fast forward to the home stretch and it's coming down to Trump & Clinton, this is really happening. Trump doesn't stand a chance, right? I mean the Obamalovers will come out in full force, and then Bernie Sanders happened and threw a monkey wrench in the whole machine (I also blame him but I give him credit for trying to be different).  Early on, I actually agreed with Trump on issues about better border control and the economy and then he started talking about a "wall" and registering Muslims and my gut started to tighten, this ain't right.  And his insults! The childishness!  I watch Clinton take it all and remain professional, I respected that.  I know politics gets ugly and smear campaigns are a regular thing, but Trumps behavior was not what I look for in a President but almost half the country didn't care and elected him anyway.  I sure didn't, I voted for Clinton. Donald Trump made me fucking vote for Hillary Clinton!

The sense of dread I felt Election night was just too overwhelming, I hated it. I never felt this way over a new President before, not for Obama, not even for George W. Bush!  My heart was changing. I'm older, I see things differently.   Are my rights threatened? Personally?  I don't think so but I can see how they are for others, and that's not cool. 

I did not attend any of the Women's Marches that happened on January 21st but I followed closely the news coverage on TV and online, mostly through Facebook Live.  I was so happy to see so many of my friends filling my feed who did march in various places, or from others who also could not attend but still shared their support.  Overall, I am lucky to know such great people. While I bitch about how annoying Facebook can get, my feed was full of a lot positivity over the weekend and I felt hopeful.   That march was HUGE! Or as Trump says, "YUGE!"  I felt it was a little unfair that Pro-Life Feminists were not allowed to march (yes I really said that).  This march should have been as inclusive as possible.  But the images don't lie Press Secretary Spicer, the people came out!  Maybe even more people came out after hearing that horrible Inauguration speech? 

Just because you didn't march does not mean you care less. There is still much that can be done.  One step is to check out 10 Actions for the first 100 Days, which is a new campaign hosted by Women's March. It includes prompts of what you can do now that the work begins now in your communities.

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Shut up Facebook, everything is fine!

Fucking Facebook!! I hate to start a blog post with the "F" word but you know how maddening Facebook can get, especially when politics are involved. I've had to block and mute people because they don't know how to debate and discuss issues like an adult.  You don't have to agree with me, just be respectful, and maybe grow up while you're at it.  I'm not a complete Facebook hater. I'll be writing another post painting Facebook in a positive light soon. I just need to get this off my chest.

Fb

A friend posted an update about something they saw on TV regarding the incoming administration that upset her. A comment was left to just not watch tv, change the channel.  This set me off.  Does saying something like this really fix anything? Comments like this are not helpful or useful, it's just more internet junk.  Ignorance comes in many shapes and forms. I know people who have narrow minded views when it comes to social issues, religion, and politics.  People who would just change channel, cover their ears and go "Lalalalalalalalalala!"

I am trying really, really hard to not avoid these people, because avoidance and burying your head in the sand solves nothing.  I'm not going to change the channel, live in a religious bubble, and avoid politicians I don't like no matter how hard they are to look at, seriously, looking at Donald Trump makes my skin hurt.  I also want to understand why people, especially why women voted for Trump. It would be easy to just call them all racist, misogynist, and ignorant but there's more to it. 

It's almost a knee-jerk reaction to just cut someone off when they tell you to just change the channel, or (my favorite) say your views are wrong because "the church says..." or "the bible says...." GTFO with that, that is not a valid argument for me. I've been getting this argument on Facebook more when it comes to issues with LGBT.   I'll talk about where I stand with religion in another post because it's just too much. 

I can't just say that Trump is going to be a horrible president because I think he literally looks like a bleached out ass hole.  I can say he's inexperienced in politics, point out his flip-flopping, his bullshit and pandering about how things are going to be "really, really great" and it's all "very, very complicated stuff", he's a walking contradiction - you don't know which Trump you're gonna get,  his hot-headedness, he's made many global leaders uncomfortable (especially our allies), he never apologizes for what he says no matter how inappropriate, his unbelievable ability to deflect serious issues......I can go on.  

Don't shy away from those with opposing views but you also do not have to deal with abuse from trolls.  Facebook is FULL of trolls. I was watching live coverage of the march on Facebook and there were trolls leaving comments about women going back to the kitchen, the snowflakes need to shut up, and a bunch of other nonsense which, again, is just more internet junk contributing to nothing.  What I'm saying is, don't change the channel, stay informed and let others know.  If there is an issue you feel strongly about, it is just as important to understand the opposing view which will validate your argument even more.   

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Protecting Planned Parenthood

I love Planned Parenthood and support them 1000%. I am so fortunate to live in a state like New York and not Texas where I can easily access their services if needed.  It is so frustrating when Conservatives and ignorant, religious folks try to box Planned Parenthood in as a one-stop abortion drive-thru. They share pictures of aborted fetuses for shock value without regard for how many lives Planned Parenthood saves.  With Congress returning to work this week, I have some concerns.

PPP

Planned Parenthood is one of the nation's leading providers of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, and the nation's largest provider of sex education. Planned Parenthood also works with partner organizations worldwide to improve the sexual health and well-being of individuals and families everywhere.

The reality is, abortions are just 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides. The bulk of their work is to provide STD & HIV testing, Pap tests, breast Cancer screenings, educational programs to prevent pregnancies, assist with birth control, and so much more.

Why is Planned Parenthood such a threat?!?! The bigger question is, why are women seen as such a threat?  Women are not trying to take over, they just want to be treated equally and live a life of liberty and pursuit of happiness, you know, from the Declaration of Independence.  It is the 21st Century and men are still trying to control what a woman can do with her body, what the fuck?!?

The next administration looks to have a bunch of old, white, men who want to restrict or remove services that could potentially SAVE lives.  In addition to our next Vice President, Mike Pence, the next Secretary of Health & Human Services, Tom Price, wants to end funding for Planned Parenthood.  He's also got some pretty fucked up views about birth control.  He believes life begins at conception (!!!!), so birth control=murder.  While in Congress, he opposed a law that would prevent employers in DC from discriminating against women on birth control or have had an abortion. Face it, the man hates birth control.

From Planned Parenthood's Action Fund blog

Even if you don't need it for yourself, think about your family, friends, and stand up for Women's rights and help Planned Parenthood keep their doors open.

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Don't You Want To Be A Mom??

I recently read an article on viralwomen.com, I Would Rather Travel The World Than EVER Have Kids. Being childfree, I identified with this SO MUCH. Only I wish I got to travel as much as the author does. I don't think I ever wrote about choosing not to have children. Not here or my previous blog.  It wasn't a secret, I'm pretty open about it, everyone that knows me knows that I don't plan on having children. 

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I can't remember when I decided I was not interested in being a mother.  It happened after I started dating Mike but I don't recall a moment or an awakening.  Even before that I was wishy washy about having kids.  I was never good with kids and I have low tolerance for crying and nagging. I would get annoyed hearing a loud kid at the grocery store, restaurant, or just out and about.  Nothing about being a parent ever appealed to me.  I don't have a biological clock and there is not a drop of maternal instinct in me.

When I see a dog, I lose it - Awwww! Look at that dog! He looks soooo sweet!  Oh I want a dog sooooo bad!!!

Some women react this way when they see a baby, not me! Not ever ever ever.  I like babies, babies are cute, but they're not my thing.  Thankfully, my brother has two girls so there goes the pressure of giving my parents grandchildren.  My parents never asked me about having kids and I don't think I've ever actually told them that I am not having kids, but they know.   

Luckily, when I accepted that I will not be a mother, Mike was okay with it and sorta feels the same. He can take it or leave it, but he will never pressure me into changing my mind.  I worry that he will resent me for taking fatherhood away from him, it makes me really sad if I think about it too long.

The truth is, I am selfish, there are things I just want to do for myself.  I want to be able to come and go as I please.  I'm very selfish, and I'm okay with that.  I also believe that not everyone is cut out to be a parent (men and women) and there should be more awareness and talk about this to help them realize that.  It doesn't make us bad people, it doesn't make us less of a person, or some kind of weird social pariah.  

There is a downside to choosing this life.  The older you get, the less friends you have because everyone else is having kids, they don't have time to spend with you, they connect with other moms  to talk about mom-stuff and you're just left on your own.  There's also the issue of who will take care of you when you're old? Well, I plan on staying independent for as long as possible and I don't think having kids just so they can wipe MY ass when I'm old is fair.  These are not good enough reasons to change my mind. 

Traditionally, becoming a Mom is a right of passage, it's part of being a Woman.  If you do not want this, there's something wrong with you!  While there has been a shift of attitude and more couples are choosing to live childfree, the stigma is still there.  Adele said the following about being a mother in the December issue of Vanity Fair

“I think it’s the bravest thing not to have a child; all my friends and I felt pressurized into having kids, because that’s what adults do,” she says. “I love my son more than anything, but on a daily basis, if I have a minute or two, I wish I could do whatever the fuck I wanted, whenever I want. Every single day I feel like that.”

I appreciate her saying this.  This is the part of parenting people don't want to talk about.In "It's a Wonderful Life" one of the lines that makes me laugh is when George Bailey is having his meltdown and he says to his wife "You call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?"  It is not always perfect, no matter how much they try to show it is on Facebook and Instagram.  Parents should be more open about the hardships of being a parent. I know it's not easy.  You're also not a horrible parent if there are some days where you wish you didn't have kids, it's OKAY!!  

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