On August 5-9th, 2021, I found myself on a plane traveling to the heart of Louisiana...New Orleans, the big easy. This city, like most cities, spoke to me and made me feel alive. There was a definite degree of grit in this city that clung to me like the humidity that accompanies a trip to Bayou Country in the dead of summer. The city is riddled with history, intrigue, passion, art, life, destruction and ruin, despair and rebirth. I have figured I will try to put down into words everything that I felt about the city and my experiences in the city.
New Orleans is considered to be one of the gates of slavery in the United States. Many slaves were brought to the USA through the port of New Orleans and it is because of this that New Orleans has a lot of the culture, traditions, and art that exist today. Today you go around and eat at places like Broussards, Brennan's, the Commander's Palace or the Court of Two Sisters and you do it because it is the touristy thing to do, but it was not so long ago that these places were frequented everyday by the aristocracy of New Orleans. Sipping on their fancy sazeracs or being the first to try the new table side dessert of Banana's Foster at Brennan's while slaves worked their buts off to help this aristocratic society line their pockets and celebrate in lavish and lush environments where true decadence was on display. While dining at the Jazz Brunch at the Court of Two Sister's, I looked to my friend and said, this is eerily similar to what life would have been like in New Orleans, mostly white-americas dining in a fancy setting while mostly POC served the food and wore tux's to serve the patrons in the heat of summer. Close to this location is "Congo Square" a part in Louis Armstrong Park where African Slaves were allowed to dance when they were given Sunday's off to go socialize. It is in this location where the dancing (one of the few places dancing was allowed) became infectious, causing the white-women of the time to want to get up and feel the beat of the African music. (This is where a lot of the traditions that African Voodooist's were able to possess white women to shake their hips and dance inappropriately).
Debauchery on Bourbon Street
As if Debauchery wasn't a founding stable in New Orleans history, it certainly is today. Bourbon Street is a non-stop party at all hours of the day and well into the night. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to Bourbon Street to take advantage of the dancing, drinking, eating, and general craziness. The heart of Mardi Gras exists year round as people stand on second story balconies throwing beads down for anyone who flashes their genitals to the rowdy onlookers from above. The street is filled with trash, piss, shit, and vomit, especially by the end of each night that the city public workers have to clean up every night (by street sweeping, emptying all the garbage cans, and then washing the streets down every night). Most major restaurants and shops close down around 5pm leaving the pizza by the slice, frozen daquiri stands, Willie's Famous Chicken Shacks and countless clubs, bars, cabaret clubs, and night clubs serve the population well into the morning. The amount of money that is spent protecting Bourbon street and cleaning it up every night must be astronomical. While I was visiting, a 17 year old entered Bourbon Street and shot 5 random people. This happened the weekend priory as well. Busker's take to the street, peddling their necklaces, dance moves and even their 3 year old children playing the drums on 5-gallon plastic pickle tubs. Homeless people pass out, sound asleep on the sidewalks, as every bar and night club blast their music so loud it could be heard in outer space.
Excess and Exuberance
New Orleans is definitely the definition of excess. The aristocracy of the area always seeking new things, wanting the best. Brennan's hosts a table side dessert of Banana's Foster, founded at this restaurant and now served al over the world. Pat O'Brien's became the founding bar to serve the "Hurricane." The Commander's Palace serves $.25 martini's every day of the week. Broussard's has a menu with the most popular drink of each decade, and the Hotel Monteleone has a bar that is shaped like a Carousel and travels around as patrons sit and drink their sazeracs, another popular New Orleans staple. All these restaurants used to have strict dress codes of suit or coat jackets and ties, and as things are starting to become more laced, the city still maintains a high level of excess. Lots of eating, drinking, dancing and jazz clubs, where you can find a party until 5am in the city that never sleeps, New Orleans knows how to go above and beyond.
In 2005, Category 5 Hurricane Katrina demolished the city of New Orleans. New Orleans is built under sea level (therefore if you dig 2 to 3 feet you will end up hitting water, this is why the cemeteries are all set up where the dead are buried in tombs above ground). Because of this, the city has always been prone to flooding, however the Army Corps of Engineers built a series of levee's and canals to help diminish the effects of flooding on the town. New Orleans is actually pretty far from the ocean, but Lake Pontchartrain is an outlet to the Gulf of Mexico. The way the levees and canals work is that when the waterways and drains fill up, they drain into the levees and canals all along New Orleans. This water is filtered for debris and pollutants and drained into Lake Pontchartrain. During Katrina, the storm surge rose greatly causing Lake Pontchartrain to fill up with more water than it could hold, therefore the levees and canals could not drain properly. All evidence shows that the levees and canals actually held up and were not breeched from above, but that the levee's were built on peat soil and that the water escaped from underneath the concrete causing the flooding. The flooding was damning for the city as water about 20 to 30 feet high sat in the city for 20 - 50 days before it started to recede and be pumped out of the city. 1000's of people lost their lives, and Katrina left $125,000,000,000 in damages. The state of Louisiana offered residents to either purchase their property and tear it down and turn it into green space until it could be redeveloped, or a grant so they could rebuild on the condition they wouldn't sell for 20 years. Many people left New Orleans and green space started to pop up everywhere. Fishing Villages were flooded, mold started to overtake the city, and some places like Charity Hospital, a 10 story teaching hospital, still lays abandoned eerily sitting at the edge of the French Quarter as a reminder to the destruction that was caused from Katrina on August 29th, 2005.
At one point, a famous businessman had sought out a good chunk of Bayou territory called Bayou Savage and wanted to develop it into a destination spot. The politics in New Orleans at the time was very sketchy and the politicians kept raising the price on the land to see if they could get premium value out of the land and they were on the fence about letting this businessman purchase the property and build it out. Eventually, the politicians won and turned the land into a nature preserve and the area did not manage to become Disney World. The reason I write about this is because New Orleans is so rich with history, culture, art, and pride, I wonder what the area would have been like if Walt Disney had settled on the area to build Disney Land. When you think about Orlando, Orlando completely caters to Walt Disney World and competing theme parks, so I wonder what would have come up the area if it had become so commercialized towards Disney over the history of New Orleans and the French Quarter.
On April 1st, 9 days ago I tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, also known as the Novel Corona Virus or Covid-19. This was 7 days before I was scheduled to get my Covid Vaccination.
This is the sickest that I have ever felt in my life from a virus. It was like the flu, but 100 times worse.
The onset of symptoms started with a very obnoxious, consistent, and overwhelming headache, followed by a sore throat, persistent cough, and the loss of taste and smell. I knew when I couldn't smell the Vicks I was using to open up my sinuses, and I couldn't taste the emergenc-e orange gummies I take every day.
On day 5, I started the "fever pitch." I ran a fever of 100+ non stop for for 4 days, even with taking Tylenol every 6 hours. The headache remained consistent as my head was completely packed full of congestion (which caused all other symptoms) sore throat, headache, cough and loss of taste or smell. I have very bad seasonal allergies, and I know that when I get congested it causes me to get really dizzy and that leads to the inability to see, walk straight and get really nauseous.
So Day 6-8 brought severe dizziness, nauseousness, and unbearable headache. And day 7, because I was so congested I could not breath it brought on a shortness of breath and gasping to get air.
Here I am today, Day 9 and I feel completely weak. My sore throat and fever are gone but I still have a persistent cough, a bad headache, and congestion which makes me really dizzy and hurts my eyes.
It is crazy, to spend an entire year of your life doing a ton of new things to ensure you don't get the virus and being afraid of contracting the virus. My life has been drastically different over the past year because of Covid-19...not for fear of me getting the virus, but out of fear of contracting the virus and giving it to others.
I literally spent my entire time in quarantine in bed, behind a closed door because I was 1) extremely sick and 2) afraid of spreading the virus to my family. As I am typing this, my dad has also tested positive and I am fairly certain my mother also has Covid, so I was unsuccessful in stoping the spread to my immediate family.
My 87 year old Grandpa, whom I also live with, seems to be doing okay (Luckily he got his first covid vaccination 2 weeks before I started exhibiting symptoms).
So I guess, with all of this, I am extremely lucky to be where I am today and with my family. We could have had it so much worse. We are not completely out of the woods yet, but so many other people across the United States had it worse...lost a loved one, lost several loved ones because of Covid-19. They say 1 in 3 Covid Survivors suffer from permanent brain damage and 30% of survivors have neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Covid is no joke. Everyone needs to do their part in stopping the spread of this virus. Wearing masks, social distancing, or not going out at all until it is over, getting the vaccination, being in quarantine if you have to, etc.
Advice if you get it: Covid acts differently for everyone, but here is some advice that I can give:
STOP BEING SELFISH. CARE FOR OTHERS. DO YOUR PART.
#Covid19survivor, #Covidisnojoke, #Stopthespread
We still have a very long way to go with our elected officials to more closely represent/reflect the make up of this more perfect union...
^^^ 535 Members of Congress (139 are Women, 396 are Men)^^^
*139 Women (35 Republicans, 104 Democrats)
*US House of Representatives has 117 Women (28R, 89D)
*US Senate has 22 Women (7R, 15D)
*51 of these women are women of color (5R, 46D)
*3 of these women are the 1st Korean Americans elected (2R, 1D)
*MI/WA elected their 1st Black congresswomen (2D)
*WY elected its first woman Senator (1R)
^^^535 Members of Congress (413 are White, 122POC^^^
*43 Hispanic Americans
*16 Asian Americans
*57 Black Americans
*5 American Indians
*1 Native Hawaiian
US Senate has:
* 5 Latinx Senators (2R, 3D)
* 3 Black Americans (1R, 2D)
* 2 Asian Americans (2D)
^^^535 Members of Congress (524 are not LGBTQA, 11 Are)^^^
*11 are members of the LGBTQA Community
*2 are the first openly Black Men in Congress
Joel N. Myers, the founder of Accuweather, states that 99% of all innovation and development has happened in the past 100 years whereas humans have been on the planet for 100,000 years. That means that 99% of all progress has occurred in 1/10th of 1% of human history.
When it comes to technology, Myers states that we are creating 2.5 billion of gb of data every day and of all data that has ever been recorded and entered...95% has been created within the past 2 years.
A company has recently found a way to "encode" data onto DNA strands. One gram of DNA can hold up to 455 exabytes of data.
The company estimates that there is approximately 1.8 zettabyte of data in the world in 2011. That would be the equivalent of about 4 grams (about of teaspoon) of DNA to hold all information from Pluto, to Shakespeare to every video, post, etc on Facebook, instagram, tiktok and snapchat today.
If you unraveled all of the DNA in your body, it would span about 34,000,000 miles reach Pluto and back a total of 13 times. Pluto is 2,660,000,000 miles away.
Encode All Data onto only 4 grams of DNA:
Your DNA Can stretch from Earth to Pluto 13 times:
Was reading an article. It says that 99.99999999% of all ordinary matter is empty space and that if you took out all of that empty space from our atoms, the entire existence of humanity (all 7,000,000,000 people) would fit into the volume of a sugar cube. The article states,
The size of an atom is governed by the average location of its electrons: how much space there is between the nucleus and the atom’s amorphous outer shell.
So when you think about how significant we are to the planet, the large cities that we have built, the inventions we have created and made possible, the life-altering technology that has been developed, happened by something so tiny to comprehend. We appear large, massive entities, some occupying more of that realm of "substance" than others, but still in the grand scheme of things...very tiny indeed.
For more information about this concept, check out the article here: https://www.sciencealert.com/99-9999999-of-your-body-is-empty-space?fbclid=IwAR2UtvR3EzDQvEkvzbHDl32QgEeG4UL4lhGC12PC8uKXGmhWqCBncH-RjDA
Earth has been around for 3,800,000,000 years. If the entire history of the Earth was condensed into a 24 hour period,, humanity would have existed with only 1 minute and 17 seconds before midnight. In the grand scheme of things humans have done more damage to the earth and changed the entire trajectory of the planet in a very short amount of time.
So when you think about time on earth, some things take a very long time while other things can literally change in a matter of seconds and minutes, like the existence of humanity. Pretty cool when you think about how "insignificant" we our in the amount of time we have existed but how much significance we have played on planet earth.
For more information from the video above, go to the following link:
Today is a somber day in America. 11 months after the pandemic ravaged the world and the United States had its first case of Covid-19, there have now officially been 332,000 deaths in the United States related to Covid-19.
The current US Census estimates that there are about 330,000,000 people living in the United States, which means that the death rate has now reached 1 in 1000 Americans dying by Covid-19. This is a grim reality, especially as numbers continue to climb across the country.
The country has also implemented a plan to get out the vaccine for Covid-19. As of today, over 1,000,000 people in the United States of America have received the vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna).
So a friend posted this on her Facebook (Thanks Karith Foster) and I thought it was exceptionally poignant. Think about all of the vibrations in the world that affect us...sounds, music, yelling, fighting, rude comments, positive interactions, and the sounds of nature, etc.
I have always believed in the notion of the Presidency. I always believed that if you could actually make it to the Oval Office, it obviously meant you were smart enough, able enough and cared enough about the American People and the American Idea to be in the office, regardless of if I agreed with your policies or not.
After having 45 people serve in the role over the past 244 years of our country, I have never been more disgusted by what I have seen happen from the Presidency as I have with this President and this administration. 2020 has been a wild year with a lot of tragedy and heartbreak in the United States and around the World. We are currently in the middle of one of the largest pandemics we have ever seen in the modern era and as I write this post today, 210,000 Americans have passed away from the Covid-19 virus that has plagued the world since the beginning of 2020.
This administration has consistently downplayed the virus, downplayed the affects of the virus on the country and its people, and downplayed their role in helping spread the virus. Because of continued reckless behavior, ignoring science and top health officials in the field, and not taking the role of President seriously, this administration is dialect of their responsibility to the American people. Asking the entire country to wear masks, practice social distancing, stay at home and stay out of work, and make serious life changes to "Flatten the Curve" to ensure that virus can be contained but not taking those guidelines seriously yourself or practicing those guidelines is a truly poor show of leadership.
Because of this poor show of leadership, this President tried to push through a Supreme Court Justice Nomination, bringing together a large majority of Republican lawmakers to the Rose Garden to announce the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in a non-socially distanced event where most people weren't wearing masks, were hugging and interacting with each other and socializing.
Because of this event that took place on September 26th, 14 people have tested positive for Covid-19 including President Donald J. Trump, First Lady Melanie Trump, Hope Hicks, Kayleigh McEnany, Nichoasl Una, Mike Lee, Whom Tillis, Ron Johnson, Kellyanne Conway, Chad Gilmartin, Karoline Leavitt, Stephen Miller, Bill Stephen, Ronna McDanile and Chris Christie. All of these people have had direct contact with President Trump from the Rose Garden Ceremony to Debate Preparation for the 1st Presidential Debate.
After finding out that there was a high chance of exposure to the virus, this President decided to, again buck orders and advice of health experts, and instead of self-quarantining...to travel to a fundraiser in New Jersey to mingle with supporters (again, with no social distancing and no mask wearing) putting countless American's lives at risk. After returning home, it was announced that Trump had tested Positive for Covid and would be self-quarantining.
Suffering from complications from the virus, Donald Trump was rushed to Walter Reed Hospital where he underwent extremely rare medical therapies that chances are, NO ONE IN THIS COUNTRY WOULD EVER BE ABLE TO GET, administered by Top Health Officials in State of the Art quarters with round the clock coverage. After applying for a compassionate plea (that would take most Americans a year or longer) Trump was approved and within less than 1 day started receiving a group of therapies to treat the virus.
After being treated for 3 days and getting angry with the negative media coverage of how Trump was handling the virus, he decided to get into an SUV to do a drive-by around Walter Reed so that his Supporters and fans could see he was alive and well. Putting more people's lives at risk and then pushing to return to the White House, again putting more lives at risk for the countless secret service, maids, cooks, house staff, advisors, etc that have to tend to such a whining baby's every need.
And if this was not all that bad, it gets worse. The President had the audacity to tweet the following:
Regardless of what side of the political spectrum that you are on, progress has always found a way and social movements always seem to end up pushing through, because the reality is when we are all working together...we are stronger together. When we promote love of each other, we all Win. Hate is vial, Hate is contagious, but the Right Path always wins. So regardless of who wins this Presidency, Regardless of what happens in November...Women's Rights are Human Rights, LGBTQA Rights are Human Rights, African American Rights are Human Rights, Indigenous People's Rights are Human Rights. We all must stand together...to help America realize its more perfect Union.
Hillary Clinton said it best,
"At three o’clock in the morning on Dec. 10, 1948, after nearly two years of drafting and one last long night of debate, the president of the U.N. General Assembly called for a vote on the final text. Forty-eight nations voted in favor; eight abstained; none dissented. And the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. It proclaims a simple, powerful idea: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people.
It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them. In the 63 years since the declaration was adopted, many nations have made great progress in making human rights a human reality. Step by step, barriers that once prevented people from enjoying the full measure of liberty, the full experience of dignity, and the full benefits of humanity have fallen away. In many places, racist laws have been repealed, legal and social practices that relegated women to second-class status have been abolished, the ability of religious minorities to practice their faith freely has been secured.
In most cases, this progress was not easily won. People fought and organized and campaigned in public squares and private spaces to change not only laws, but hearts and minds. And thanks to that work of generations, for millions of individuals whose lives were once narrowed by injustice, they are now able to live more freely and to participate more fully in the political, economic, and social lives of their communities."
#PROGRESS, #ONWARD, #HUMANRIGHTSAREFOREVERYONE
Slavery -> Civil War, 13th Amendment, 14th Amendment, 15th Amendment, Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Bus De-segregation, Brown v. Board of Education, Freedom Riders, Greensboro 4, 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, March on Washington, BLM.
Women's Rights -> Seneca Falls Convention, Women's Suffrage, Women's Right to Vote, Roe v. Wade, Equal Pay Act, (Paid Family Leave), Title IX, Violence Against Women Act.
LGBQTA -> Stonewall Riots, Matt Shepard, Gay Pride Parades, Repeal of DADT, Lawrence v. Texas, Obergefell v. Hodges.
This picture speaks 1000 words. This picture is the picture of John Lewis' casket traveling over the Edmund Pettus Bridge one last time in his "Final Crossing" of this bridge on July 27th, 2020, as he journeys to the US Capitol Building to lay in state as the first African American law-maker to lay in state.
But why is this picture so powerful? In 1963, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) made it their mission to register African American voters in order to promote the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The county seat of Selma only had about 1 to 2% of eligible black voters registered to vote. It was nearly impossible for African American voters to vote because of arbitrary literary tests, lots of paperwork, limited times the registration office was open, etc (voter suppression at its finest). The goal of the Voting Rights act was to ensure that it was much easier for all registered Americans to vote regardless of the color of their skin.
As the SNCC pushed for more African American voters to register to vote, they reached out to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) for help. The leader of the SCLC, Martin Luther King Jr. came to Selma to help.
The Mayor of Selma, Joseph Smitherman, encouraged law enforcement to use non-violent means to interact with protestors and demonstrators because Smitherman feared that bad publicity would encourage people not to invest and bring in new industry in Selma. One segregationist Sheriff, Jim Clark did not listen to Smitherman's directive and started jailing demonstrators and protestors making for a volatile environment.
The area was a hotbed of discontent. African Americans were fighting for their rights that were granted under The Civil Rights Act of 1964, promoting anti-segregation legislation and wanting a Voting Rights Act that would eliminate the barriers for African Americans getting to the polling booth and voicing their right.
On February 18th, 1965, in Marion the county seat of Perry County, near Selma, Activist Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot during a nighttime protest by a state trooper and taken to Selma where he died a few days later. Finding this unacceptable, the SCLC and the SNCC decided to march from Selma to Montgomery, the state's capital, to protest the injustice of Jackson's murder and to highlight the barriers to African American rights.
On March 6th, Governor George C. Wallace forbade the march and told state troopers to "Take whatever means necessary" to prevent the march from Selma to Montgomery.
On March 7th, 1965, SNCC Chairman John Lewis and SCLC Lieutenant Hosea Williams talked to marchers and reminded them of non-violent tactics while marching, including sitting and praying if they were halted by law enforcement and to wait until they were tear gassed or arrested but not to fight back.
Lewis and Williams led 600 marchers two by two, the six blocks from from Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church to the Edmund Pettus Bridge that crossed the Alabama River and led out of Selma. When the demonstrators made it to the bridge, state troopers and sheriffs deputies informed the marchers that they had two minutes to disperse. Williams asked to speak to the officer in charge and was told that there was nothing to talk about. The state troopers advanced upon the demonstrators using tear gas and attacked the marchers with billy clubs and bullwhips. 50 marchers were hospitalized including John Lewis.
Broadcasting companies were present for the march and caught the melee on camera, broadcasting the violence on national television and the day became known as Bloody Sunday. Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged people to go to Selma to join in the protest and restart the march.
On March 9th, known as Turnaround Tuesday, King led more than 2,000 individuals to the bridge to finish the march. Because a US District Court Judge, Frank Johnson Jr. had issued a restraining order to stop all demonstrations in the interim while he examined the evidence on whether the protests were allowed, King called off the march when State Troopers ordered the march to stop.
On March 15th, President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced voting rights legislation to a joint session of congress and made the following statement:
"What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and State of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome."
On March 17th, US District Judge Frank Johnson ruled that the protestors had a right to march from Selma to Montgomery by saying:
The law is clear that the right to petition one’s government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups…and these rights may be exercised by marching, even along public highways."
On March 20th, President LBJ federalized command of the Alabama National Guard and dispatched the US Army and the FBI to Selma to provide protection to the marchers. On March 21st, 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. led 3,000-8,000 marchers out of Selma, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on onto the road to Montgomery. The protestors grew to more than 25,000 along the 50 mile walk, arriving in the capital of Montgomery on March 25th. At the capital, Martin Luther King Jr gave the following speech:
I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?…How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?”
On August 6th, 1965 the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed by Congress and suspended the arbitrary literacy tests, directed the attorney general to challenge use of poll taxes for elections and worked to break down barriers to vote. In 1966, Congress created the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail recognizing the importance of peaceful protests and the hard fought battles in the American Civil Rights Movement.
Information taken from: https://www.britannica.com/event/Selma-March
Statues are not history.
Statues are a symbol.
Statues are not history.
Statues honor and glorify a historical figure.
Statues are not history.
When you take down a statue, you do not erase history.
When you take down a statue, you reject what the statue represents in the present day.
In the 1980s, statues of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin came down throughout Eastern Europe with the end of the Cold War. In 2003, statues of Saddam Hussein came down in Iraq. Are you mad about that? Do you think history was erased and that those statues should have been preserved? “Oh no! They were bad guys, they deserved it.” You understand what those statues symbolized and you feel that taking them down was right, due to your worldview.
In this context, think about why your gut reaction is to defend statues of people who wanted to preserve the institution of enslaving and murdering black people at all costs. Why do you say, “you can’t erase history! You can’t erase southern culture!”? What do you really mean?
I saw this posted on Facebook by a young person named Christian Flores. It resonated with me because of the truth behind the words and the picture.
Juneteenth flag designer L.J. Graf packed lots of meaning into her design. The colors red, white, and blue echo the American flag to symbolize that the enslaved people and their descendants were Americans. The star in the middle pays homage to Texas, while the bursting "new star" on the "horizon" of the red and blue fields represents a new freedom and a new people.
On January 1st, 1863, 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, announcing that slavery was abolished in the United States and that all slaves were freed.
Thought this announcement was made, it still took a long time for word to travel around the United States. On June 19th, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and announced that slaves were free.
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.
Since June 19th, 1865, June 19th has been celebrated as the day that slaves won their freedom and were universally free. Juneteenth, not declared a federal holiday, should still be celebrated by the major milestone that this date plays in the civil rights movement in our country.
In my career, I have facilitated this activity several times and it always turns out very similar. It is a powerful representation of privilege, often times, an invisible force that makes such a huge difference in our lives and success.
History of the Confederate Flags
The flags represented above were the official flags adopted by the Confederate States of America. This flag was known as the "Stars and Bars" as a play on the "Stars and Stripes" of the original flag of the United States of America. The first flag was adopted March 4th, 1861 and was designed by Nicola Marschall, a Prussian-American artist, who designed the flag from a picture of the Flag of Austria pictured below.
The first flag represented the original 7 Confederate States that supported secession from the United States. These states were Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. These states seceded from the Union and elected Jefferson Davis as President and Alexander H. Stephens as Vice-President. Later Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina would secede and other stars were added to represent the growing confederacy. This flag flew over the Capital of the Confederate States in Mobile, Alabama from March 4th, 1861 - May 1st, 1963.
Many confederate soldiers and representatives despised the flag because they felt that it was too close to and too similar to the United States Flag, which went against the views they were espousing. The flag, also proved very difficult because when you were on the battlefield fighting, the flag would oftentimes be mistaken for the United States Flag and soldiers did not know which side they were fighting on or which regiment to follow because the Flag, especially when it was folded over a flagpole marching into battle with no wind looked just like the United States flag. Because of this, the Confederate States chose to adopt a new flag, which became known as the second national flag of the Confederate States.
After the first battle of Manassas (First Battle of Bull Run), fought near Manassas, Virginia, it was decided that a new flag was needed that would distinguish the Confederate Soldiers from the United States Army. Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard or P.G.T. Beauregard, the first major general of the confederate army suggested the creation of a 2nd National Flag that would be more distinguishable. Beauregard was vetoed and thus decided to create a "Battle Flag" that could be used to separate both armies. The National Confederate Flag would be used in parades and peacetime and the "battle flag" would be used specifically in times of war and on the battlefield.
P.G.T. Beauregard worked with his assistant William Porter Miles to create and develop the new battle flag. Miles served on the committee that looked at and chose the first National Flag of the Confederate States. There was one flag in particular that Miles liked, which featured a blue St. George's cross on a red field featuring white stars for each of the Confederate States. After talking to many people and receiving criticism it was decided not to use any specific symbol for a national flag that represented a religion. The St. George's Cross was very Christian-Like, so the cross was turned at an angle to use the Saltire or St. Andrew's Cross. It was also suggested that the flag be made square so as to conserve material needed to create the flag. The new battle flag became the most popular flag symbolizing confederate power and the Confederate Army.
Because many people complained about the confusion of the 1st National Confederate Flag and its likeness to the United States Flag, especially in battle, it was decided to create a 2nd National Confederate Flag. The flag was comprised of the iconic St. Andrew's Cross on the Confederate Battle Flag on a white field representing purity. This 2nd National Flag, proposed by William Tappan Thompson and William Ross Postell stated that this flag would be noted as "the white man's flag" because the white background would symbolize the purpose of the battle, "As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause." Thus on May 1st, 1863 the 2nd National Flag of the Confederate States was adopted and would be known as the "Stainless Banner." The first official use of the 2nd National Flag was to drape over the coffin of General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson as it lay in state in the Virginia Capital on May 12, 1863.
The 2nd National Flag of the Confederate States also had many issues. The flag, since it was predominantly white was really hard to keep clean, especially in battle. Also, much like the first Confederate States flag, there was a problem with the flag in battle. When the flag was being flown in battle on the flagpole, the flag would wrap around itself and look only like a white flag of Truce or Surrender. This caused a lot of people from both sides to think that the army was retreating or declaring a truce in battle. It was decided that a 3rd National Flag of the Confederate States would be needed to rectify this problem so it would not be confused as a "Surrender Flag."
Major Arthur L. Rogers argued that in order to ensure that the flag was not viewed as a "truce" or "surrender" flag, that a red bar should be added to the outside edge of the flag so that if it was folded up in battle, it would still show some color and not appear all white. On March 4th, 1865 the 3rd National Flag of the Confederate States of America was adopted and would eventually be known as the "blood stained banner."
Many states supported the use of the battle flag of the Confederate Army and adopted the iconic St. Andrews Cross, including the state of Tennessee. The Tennessee Battle Flag, which is most commonly used today as a representation of the "confederate flag" was made fully rectangular instead of the original square shaped flag that was originally proposed as the Confederate Battle Flag.
The Civil War
Now that we have covered the history of the Confederate Battle Flag, let's talk the Civil War. The Civil War, regardless of how you slice it, was fought in order to protect the notion of SLAVERY. You can try to sugar coat it and say that the Civil War was fought because of State's rights, the Civil War was fought because of a disagreement between the power and control of the Federal Government, high taxes and tariffs etc, but at the end of the day, the battle was fought because southern states wanted to be able to veto Federal Laws that would hinder the continuance of slavery and their ability to own/sell/trade slaves.
The Federal Laws that were being imposed limited the rights of slave owners. Southern States wanted to continue to own, trade, buy and sell slaves and they wanted to expand that right into the Western territories. The economy, at the time, depended heavily on slavery (cheap labor, bartering, etc) and southern state owners felt that that had every right to own and use slaves however they wanted and to take them wherever they wanted. The Confederate States constitution even states,
In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.
In declaring the need for secession from the United States of America, Mississippi stated,
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world...Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth.”
And of course Texas made pretty certain that their need to secede focused on slavery as well,
We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.
It is quite clear that the motivation for southern states to secede from the United States of America was because of slavery and the United States move to abolish slavery. Southern States economy depended on the institution of slavery because the south's economy was largely agricultural and slaves were needed to provide cheap labor to harvest and produce the various agricultural riches of the south.
The election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States sparked fear into the hearts of the south because of his desire to free slaves. Ultimately the Southern States felt the only thing they could do to protect their privileges was to secede from the union. This led to the Civil War, which saw 650,000 men die on American Soil.
The Flag is literally a Symbol for Slavery
The "battle flag" was used as a symbol, literally a representation of the war as the confederate soldiers marched into battle. It was flown on the field and brought into the war to protect the values of the confederacy...mainly the institution of slavery. In fact, the flag was directly created as a "battle flag" because the original confederate flag was too commonly confused with the United States of America Flag.
Because of all of this, using the battle flag today as a symbol brings up the dark and racist history of the United States, and support of the institution of slavery that existed during the the antebellum south. Many people who support the use of the confederate flag say they are supporting it because of various other connections that the symbol represents such as Southern Pride, Family, Loyalty, Honor, Sacrifice, State's Rights, Heroism, etc.
But let's face it...If you are not Racist and you do not support slavery, why continue to support a symbol that largely represented and was created specifically as a battle cry for upholding the institution of slavery. TO remove slavery from the confederate flag (which you cannot due because it is basically dripping with the blood of 650,000 people who fought for or against the institution of slavery), basically leaves a broken symbol that is not worth flying.
When a system is built to consistently hold a people down, it is not built equally, fairly, or right. America was founded during a time when civil unrest led to one of the bloodiest battles in history, the American Civil War, where over 650,000 people shed their blood in defense for or against the institution of slavery. Today, it is 155 years since the Civil War, and we still have a system that is built to keep a people down. Lives have been lost on both sides, protests have been staged, riots have been had, and people have marched and stood up for their rights and the movement still has not been won.
Progress can only be made when we all stand up, United, to speak about the unethical behavior of people.
Here we are, yet again, watching the appalling video of a POC being murdered ruthlessly for no reason, and by law enforcement. May 2020 has been an ugly month for POC, but let's face it...every day is hard for POC in America. And it is impossible to continue to sit by and watch without saying anything.
America has a war on its hands, and it is time that our Government do something about it by enacting real change that will truly make a difference. If I were the President of the United States of America, I would do the following:
1) Criminal Justice System Reform and Policing - I would implement reform of the whole system and encourage the Attorney General to create a plan to fix the broken system on all levels to address incarceration rates, recidivism, programs to rebuild the lives of people convicted of crimes, police interactions and community policing models to offer better programs and opportunities for communities and police to work together, implement tougher screening processes of police officers and implement 0-tolerance policies for incidents regarding inappropriate policing behavior. I would also establish an ethical council to look at and evaluate previous police-related brutality situations and to investigate whether the situations were handled correctly and appropriately. We can ensure that those lost will always be remembered and that their loss, though tragic and unjust, can serve as an opportunity to bring about real change to policing methods and investigations into these matters
2) Education - I would invest more money into areas of lower-income and urban environments. Ensuring that schools are giving people in these communities the best possible chance for success. Implementing honors and AP classes, installing trained teachers and counselors into the school to establish opportunities to talk about college, the future and success. Giving hope is extremely important in sparking fire for the future. I would also establish stronger curriculums in schools to talk about diversity, embracing diversity and being aware of all people different from you. We have a captive audience and it is time we really focus on what our schools are teaching people in relationship to difference.
3) Fear and Communities - studies prove that people who live in violent neighborhoods and communities have a higher chance of being killed but also have a higher chance of being a perpetrator of violence later. I would implement opportunities in communities to stop the fear. Why do gangs exist? Gangs exist as a form of protection. I would reach out to gang members and find ways to stop this violence.
4) Gun Reform - I would enact gun reform that would ensure that specific weapons could not be bought or sold and that smart technology would be developed on guns to ensure that guns are not being mis-used. Think about how the automakers created anti-theft technology in cars to solve a problem of automobile theft in the 1990s and 2000s.
5) Drugs - We have a problem in this country with drugs and it is time we address it. Drugs have become a major commodity and many acts of violence happen because of drugs. Drugs are an easy way to make lots of money and better one's place in life but it also comes with all the dangers that surround communities that suffer from drug use and transaction.
6) Jobs and the minimum wage - I would find ways to offer better paying job opportunities to people in lower income classes so that they can actually have a fighting chance to get out of where they are and advance. Creating job opportunities that are meaningful, worthwhile, rewarding and pays well is extremely important. I would raise the minimum wage to ensure that people are able to earn a living wage. If prices of rent, utilities, etc are going up every year, wages should go up to accommodate and pay for these increases.
7) Hate and Discrimination have no place in this country. I understand fully that you will never be able to remove racism or intolerance from people, but I would enact new laws and policies that embrace the human dignity and rights of everyone. All humans rights are civil rights and I would make it the Status Quo that violence towards, against or discrimination towards any marginalized group is not acceptable and not tolerable. I would add the appropriate designations and distinctions to the civil rights act and ensure all people are protected under these laws regardless of race, gender, orientation, ethnicity, religious belief, etc. All lives matter when Black Lives Matter...is true...but all lives matter when all lives matter and it is high time that we embrace it. You will never be able to convince everyone that all people's lives have value (sadly, right), but you can enact stronger policies towards discrimination, hate crimes, and intolerance.
8) Healthcare reform - I would create better healthcare for everyone. Sadly healthcare is extremely expensive and not affordable and because of this it creates a major divide in this country between people who can and cannot afford it. Healthcare would no longer be for the rich or privileged, but for everyone.
Please feel free to drop a comment, policy or idea that you would implement to improve the current state of America and what is going on presently around our issue with Racism...
#FreddieGray, #EricGarner, #WalterScott, #AmadouDiallo, #YvonneSmallwood, #RandyEvans, #ClaudeReese, #CliffordGlover, #KeithScott, #TerrenceCrutcher, #JohnCrawford, #CoreyJones, #PhilandoCastile, #SandraBland, #OscarGrant, #SeanBell, #TrayvonMartin, #Charleston9, #TamirRice, #MikeBrown, #AiyanaJones, #AltonSterling, #JordanDavis, #JordanEdwards, StephonClark, #RenishaMcBride, #JonathanFerrell, #BothemSean, #AtatianaJefferson, #AmaudArbery, #GeorgeFloyd
Today (May 27th, 2020) at 4:32pm from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will board the SpaceX's Crew Dragon Spacecraft, lifting off on a Falcon 9 rocket, with a mission to carry the first US Astronauts to the International Space Station since the grounding of the Space craft in 2011. SpaceX has sent 21 uncrewed rockets to the ISS over the past 10 years for supplies, cargo and equipment, but today changes with the first crewed launch.
This mission (Demo-2) will be the final validation test of SpaceX's rocket system, validating all aspects of the SpaceX program including the launch pad, Crew Dragon Spacecraft, Falcon 9 launch capabilities and human/spacecraft operational systems in orbit.
Over the past 9 years, the US has had to purchase seats upon Russian spacecrafts in upwards of millions of dollars to ensure US presence at the International Space Station. Today marks the day that the United States, in collaboration with a public company, returns to the skies with complete control over our involvement in the space race, and the beginning of the Artemis program to land the next man and first woman on the Lunar Surface in 2024 with sights on landing the first man or woman on Mars.
This will also serve as a bittersweet moment as Hurley was a part of the last American Space Flight Crew (mission STS-135) of the spacecraft Atlantis to the ISS before the United States retired its American Space Craft.
**UPDATE** This launch was scrubbed because of weather and is pending a new launch on Saturday May 30th at 3:22pm.
**UPDATE UPDATE** This launch was successful and both astronauts made it to the International Space Station safe and sound.
Not really sure why these "murder hornets" are just now becoming viral because I have been following these Japanese Hornets for over 10 years now as they were found in the United States a while ago.
However, what is uniquely sad about these buggers is that they feed off of many various things but more specifically, they love attacking honey bees. A few years ago, I read a stat that 1 murder hornet could kill 100 honey bees in an hour. Literally 1 or 2 of these hornets could decimate an entire honey bee hive in no time flat. This is all sad when you consider that the honey bee population is drastically on the decline, however there is a silver lining.
Honey bees are way more resilient than they seem and they can truly hold their own against a murder hornet. So the murder hornet can only live at a certain temperature and if their body gets above that temperature it begins to shut down. Honey Bees know this so when they see a murder hornet approaching, these little resilient honey bees swarm around the murder hornet and flap their wings so hard and so fast that it raises the temperature to 116F of the swarm and kills the murder hornet. Below is a video of this happening:
So I guess this video proves several things:
1) There sometimes really is power in numbers. Remember your voice/your participation really does matter and can make all the difference.
2) Even in the worst of times, resiliency is extremely important and being able to adapt, develop new techniques and manage new challenges can be extremely important
3) Sometimes even the biggest of obstacles can be defeated if you work hard and flap your wings fast enough.
This infographic comes from the following link:
A pdf version of the article can be found here
This has been going around a lot and I wanted to share it today because things are starting to open up across the United States. In my blog, Covid-19 Part 1, I mentioned how fragile we are as humans. This virus has been unreal and living through it has been unreal. So I wanted to post this because it sums up a lot of things that have happened in the past month that everyone across the world can relate to:
Today is Monday April 27th, 2020 and as of today, this is where we are:
Why do I post this?
This should always be a reminder that life is precious & that nothing should be taken for granted. We are where we are with what we have. Let's be grateful.
This has been copied from various other versions. If there is anything you think I should add, please feel free to comment below so I can add it to this list.
Today I saw an image that really resonated with me. The image reminds me of the importance to always focus on "humanity." We all have the same thread that binds us all together and we must embrace that, we must respect that and we must rely on that to show us the right way to interact with others. The image is below: (Let me know your thoughts on it or how it made you feel)...
I have always tried over the course of my entire life to be friendly, genuine, compassionate, empathetic, engaged, happy, authentic and positive. But over the years, I have learned that it is extremely important to also be a realist about life and about what is happening in the world. I am human and just like all humans I am imperfect. I make decisions that are detrimental to my future, I don't always live the values I try to promote and sometimes I get angry, upset or disappointed. I think that all of this is part o the human experience that we all share. We all have feelings...we all have emotions and we are all always trying to control those emotions and the role they play on us as we interact with people and the world.
Some of it I think is genetic, other pieces revolve around the environment in which we were raised, and others are learned societal expectations on how we should act or how we should feel about a certain topic...and to some extent...part of it might be a coping mechanism that we develop based upon the culmination of the life experiences we have had that develop us into who we are.
Today, I was told by someone "Why do you always go to the negative." It is the second time in my life that I have been told that I am a negative person, and I am not going to lie...it hurt...just as much the second time as it did the first time. I have always had a philosophy that I have always tried to follow...I never try to criticize someone's physical appearance to the world...and by physical appearance, I refer to anything public with which someone offers to the world as representation of who they are. So when someone says that "you are negative," I am always shocked by such comments because my first thought is...and who are you to come at me and judge me for my flaws." No one truly knows what you have gone through or experienced or felt. You know that saying, Don't judge me until you've walked a mile in my shoes, it is a powerful lesson to always remember the fragility of the human experience and that you really don't know what someone else has gone through or what they are dealing with and that makes it all the more important to be mindful of how we interact with each other.
I know over the years I have been critical, but I always try to focus my criticism on an action (the intent behind a decision and also the consequences of those decisions) and how they lead to the best or worst version of an individual. As I said...I too am not perfect and I am going to do a lot more in the future to always be more mindful of both sides of a situation and where someone is coming from when it comes to a situation. So if I have ever been overly critical, I am sorry. I have spent a lot of time being bitter, being upset, being frustrated...and instead I am going to choose Happiness over these other emotions.
“Every time your brain has a success, you just change the goal post of what success looks like…and if happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there. What we have done is we have pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society and that is because we think that we have to be successful and then we will be happier, but our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present then their brain experiences what we call a happiness advantage.”
The world today is crazy. With everything that is going on with Covid-19 and all the sad and depressing news that is being made in relationship to Covid and being isolated and away from friends and family, it makes sense why people are anxious, are depressed, are afraid. But today, more than ever we need to focus on happiness. We need to utilize positive psychology to help us get through these times so that we can beat the coronavirus and bounce back stronger than before.
Over the next 21 days, I am going to try to find my Happiness Advantage by following the simple tasks below:
1) Everyday I am going to post 3 things I am grateful for
2) Everyday I am going to journal about 1 positive experience
3) Everyday I am going to exercise
4) Everyday I am going to meditate
5) Everyday I am going to do a random act of kindness.
What are you doing to create your Happiness Advantage?
There is one universal experience that we share with the animal kingdom and that is death. Everyone and everything dies at some point. I think what is most interesting is how people and animals alike choose to deal with death. For instance, Elephants are very emotional creatures and they have a large capacity for mourning. The photo above represents this capacity. John Chaney, on safari in Botswana, captured this photograph of a female elphant mourning her lost companion. Chaney says that the guide of Chaney’s safari went to go collect the tusks of this fallen elephant so they don’t fall into the hands of poachers. When the guide got out of the vehicle, this elephant charged upon the group.
The elephant was there keeping a watchful vigil of her fallen friend. Chaney’s said that the elephant would show up and chase off any predators, scavengers and birds that got too close to the body of her dead friend. Chaney said at one point, the elephant went and wrapped her trunk around the fallen elephants tusk. Chaney said that three hours later, the safari passed by the sight again and the mournful elephant was still there holding onto the tusk of her lost comrade.
Oftentimes when an elephant is too old and about to die, the elephant will leave the heard to go die by itself. In this case, the female elephant followed to say goodbye. Today, I lost a member of my family. It was our cat, Priscilla. She was a great cat, lived a relatively long life and brought lots of joy and entertainment to my family. She had to be euthanized because she had lost her battle to cancerous tumors that had taken hold of her body.
I think the picture above is fascinating, but I think what I find much more fascinating is how photography was able to capture this priceless moment and make it a lasting impression. In one of my earlier blogs I posted that we, on average, have 28,835 days on this earth. One of my passions is photography and I think what continues to drive me to photography and enjoying photography is the opportunity to capture those “important” moments in life…those moments that inspire, those moments where we are enjoying the company of friends, those moments where we are traveling, interacting and truly taking advantage of those 28,835 days. Time is precious and so it is important we take advantage of every day we get.