Sunday, March 25, 2018

Passionate silence turns into ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Isn’t it possible that the youth of today, even the 9-year-old granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr, can speak truth into the lives of adults? I was taken back by the articulate speech of an eleven-year-old at the Washington DC March for Our Lives who definitively made the point contra the conspiracy theorists that she was capable of speaking on an adult level. The real message that came across even in downtown Phoenix with 15,000 marchers is ENOUGH is ENOUGH!

Regardless of the labels that have been placed upon Parkland High Student, Emma Gonzalez, she spoke out LOUDLY and with SILENCE about her passion to see change take place in our country! Her silence, according to David Hogg fellow survivor, made the people in power who are owned by the NRA to take NOTE. We are not going to stop until change comes into our nation when it comes to common sense gun laws, better school protection for us students and then to see the incredible funds given to politicians from the NRA STOP. Imagine what would happen if the funds given even to our local congressmen and senators would have gone to buying books instead of promoting bullets?

How was it possible a month after the school shooting that there could be such a wide movement of young adults standing up and speaking out against gun violence in our nation? I have memories of the Vietnam marches and protests. I know that with the birth of the internet and social media it only takes days not weeks or months to see a movement unfold. I was offended and confused by the comment of one that all of these teens would not be know if there hadn’t been a mass shooting. The reality is that the Emma’s, David’s and Lauren’s were going to speak up soon.

The question left before us is whether our president will continue to cave into the power of the NRA or on a local context that our legislators will see the clear path of common sense gun laws, real background checks, address mental health and the need for resource officers in schools. It’s time to start working together instead of fighting.

How is it possible that we live in the greatest county on the face of Planet Earth and we have the most mass shootings and continued gun violence?  

Passion now turns into action! The massive crowds that appeared across our nation yesterday will soon be of voting age and will become the leaders of change for the near future!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Why am I Black and you’re White? Does that mean we can’t be friends?

I was having fun with giving my sun glasses to my little guys, Zion and Frank. As we were messing around my friend Zion came out with a rather philosophical and ethical question. Why do you have White skin and I have Black skin?  Zion asked this profound question in a rather straight forward manner. Then after asking the obvious question he gives me this look of sadness and says can we still be friends? My response was of course we can be FRIENDS. I said we’ve been friends since you were a little, little kid.

Little Zion is your rather active, nonstop and inquisitive type of kid that will drive you crazy if you don’t keep up with him. As we are driving around he’s belted into the front seat and continues to change the radio station, mess with the various controls for the heater and then moves the vents for the warm air coming out. I wondered what got into him to ask the ‘race’ question and then make an assumption that because I wasn’t Black, or he wasn’t White I didn’t want to be his friend or couldn’t be his friend.

I attempted to explain to him that our skin color or race was something that we had no control over and thus it shouldn’t stop us from hanging out or being friends. The difficulty is that he’s being raised in a world where sadly it does matter what your skin color happens to be and whether someone would allow their kid to play with my little friend. I attempted to explain that what mattered most was that we cared for each other, treated each other fairly and realized that people are people regardless of their race, size, gender and whether they liked to play basketball instead of football.

I know that the release of the ‘Black Panther’ Marvel movie recently has given a new face and sense of hope to many of my ‘Black’ friends. I know even though Zion and Frank are definitely too young they will most likely be taken to the movie by an Uncle or Aunt and will love the action but more so the fact that everyone in the movie looks like them. I know that Martin Luther King’s statement about what’s more important isn’t the color of our skin but the content of our character and how we treat each other.

I’m thrilled to have these little guys be part of my life and jazzed that they have a friend who is different from them that intentionally spends time with them.  I can’t fathom my life without these little high energy friends.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Struggle is real until you get your 1st job!

If you can remember your first job and the excitement, thrill and apprehension of real work then you can relate to my Barrio teen Wu Wu. She recently celebrated her 16th birthday. Remember your 16th celebration?  I know that mine was mostly focused on getting my driver’s license and being able to go out on a date without being driven by parents! What makes my young friend so special is that she chose to apply for a job and actually start working as her b-day gift to herself!

The harsh reality for many that grow up around hardship, poverty and too much drama is that most of your family and too many friends never have consistent employment. I know that I was fortunate to have a dad who always had a job. He was career Air Force and flew B-52s during the Vietnam War and most of my teen years. The struggle today as I helped with a resume for a twentysomething friend is that he didn’t have any real job experience at 25. So, his resume was lacking the most important element for getting your next job; experience and long-term employment. I attempted in a gentle fashion to help my friend get that listing a job that lasted for a month wasn’t going to help him.

Yes, the economy is doing great for many but not for inner city youth that don’t have any genuine support to inspire, motivate and help with connecting the dots for your first job. My encouragement to my teens is the struggle isn’t just about getting your first job but actually keeping it for a year before you search for the supposed high paying position. I sadly have too many examples of teens who get their first, second and third job but only can hack working for a month or so. The reason is that it inhibits their life style and that first check has to spent on their time.

I have another group that knows too well the reality of not having a resume and the struggle of finding a job for someone who is 40 to 50 years old. We live in a very competitive job market where too many companies are always looking for ways to cut costs where the older worker with all of the experience is traded for someone half their age at half the expense. I have watched too many single moms grow weary after looking for a year without a  job and too many unpaid bills.

I also know that it’s too easy in today’s urban centers to foolishly believe that education doesn’t matter when it comes to finding work. I agree that you don’t have to earn a PhD to do construction work and earn a great living. Yet, the reality for most is that without a High School diploma you are doomed to low wage employment or unemployment forever.

My learning curve as I watched Wu get her first job was that the ingredients for successful employment come back to a smile on your face, motivation to apply, timeliness for interviews and a heart to serve and do your best. I know that the daily grind of doing life that includes a job means that you have to get up early often and be willing to stay up late.

The struggle doesn’t have to stop you from making it happen!