“Back in St. Olaf…”

Today should be a national holiday. It is the birthday of one of my favorite (Golden) Girls… None other than my imaginary grandma Betty White. Today she is 97 years young, the only living Golden Girl.

I love her!

Now as I settle down for the night I have to make an almost impossible choice… With which Golden Girls DVD will I laugh myself to sleep?

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Can we stop with this wall nonsense?

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I hate the risk of alienating people, but I need for people to stop acting like they are allergic to facts.

EASILY VERIFIABLE FACTS.

In this Information Age where a simple Google search can tell you just about anything you would ever want to know, a disappointing population of Americans prefers to remain ignorant. On behalf of my cousin who works for Border Patrol, has a wife and three kids and a mortgage and car payments and is not getting paid, here are the following easily verifiable facts as it relates to this stupid discussion about this stupid wall:

1. If there was a “crisis at the border”, did it suddenly happen? Because the government was controlled by Republicans for two years. Now that the scales are tipping, all of a sudden there is a “crisis”? I think not.

2. Border crossings have decreased consistently for years and are currently at an almost fifty -year low. This information is from our very own Department of Homeland Security from December 5, 2017.

3. Per the CATO Institute, legal immigrants, who do not even qualify for welfare benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps for their first five years in this country, use almost forty percent fewer welfare and entitlement benefits than natural-born Americans. Illegal immigrants cannot collect those benefits. They CANNOT VOTE. You really think someone without the proper documentation is going to risk showing up to cast an illegal vote??????

4. Immigrants who arrive at ports of entry legally seeking asylum are breaking no laws. Do people really think they are trekking across miles of desert with backpacks full of drugs strapped to their backs, or do they think these are people desperate to leave poor economic and social conditions in their home countries? The asylum process can take years to conclude, and there is currently a major backlog in our immigration courts. For asylum-seekers who arrive at the border, they may be allowed to stay in the US pending their application or they may be detained the entire time. To spell that out, that could mean detention for YEARS before an outcome is even determined.

5. Most illegal immigrants come over here legally and overstay their visas. The stupid wall would not keep the ones who choose to come that way from tunneling under it. And it also will not stop drugs from coming through our ports.

6. Immigrants are not a drain on our economy. When they work and pay income taxes, contribute to our Social Security and Medicare funds, and buy items at the stores they are paying sales taxes. A study found that they pay $162 billion each year in taxes. And remember the above statistic that they receive forty percent fewer benefits than natural-born Americans? So yeah. Fail.

7. Becoming a legal citizen is not easy or timely.

8. Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than natural-born Americans. After finally getting here and getting in, you think they’re hurrying to sign up to get sent right back? Do people think?

9. The most awful argument I have seen against strengthening our current immigration system (no problem with increased Border Patrol, updating technology, installing more immigration legal professionals, setting up committees to determine how to streamline the process, etc.) is that illegal immigrants “do not assimilate with American culture”.

Of which American culture do you speak, do tell?

When people make that comment, it tells me a lot about them, because I am pretty positive they are not referring to MY Black American culture. These are the people who get threatened when someone speaks Spanish around them when they have no business even listening to someone else’s conversation in the first place. These are the people who feel they have the right to appreciate Latin culture on their own terms. I imagine while they are believing all of the worst things about Mexicans they are the first people in line when their employer offers Taco Tuesday at the workplace cafeteria.

What I am NOT allowing is for anyone to question my patriotism because I do not support this stupid wall. America is BETTER than this. Personally, I like FACTS. Not alternative facts, not propaganda, not rhetoric. FACTS. Years worth of facts from reputable think tanks and research organizations, as well as information from the government’s own websites, supports the overall benefits of immigration. America, a nation of immigrants, less the Native Americans who are STILL struggling for their right to shine here and my ancestors who were brought here forcibly, has the audacity to claim to be a “Christian” nation as if Christianity does not COMMAND us to love everybody–brown or NOT–and to love TRUTH. I tell you, with each passing day I get SO disappointed with my fellow citizenry for not being able to see through political spin. The nation does not need a ridiculous wall that will impede upon protected environmental areas and the personal property of numerous Americans. Nor do we need politicians who fabricate and fearmonger. I am tired of this entire mess. In the midst of it all, almost a million Americans are going without paychecks. Who in the WORLD decided that was okay to do?? My cousin provides an invaluable service to this country working Border Patrol. Yet he is not getting paid for that service because of a political ploy?

And I find it very interesting that Americans got really generous with the wall GoFundMe campaign, coming up with $20 million since December. Yet, those same Americans probably bemoan the idea of contributing a few dollars to their local food bank or turn their nose up in disgust at the homeless vet who approaches their car when they are getting off of the expressway. Spending billions on a dumb wall is okay but Americans clutch their collective pearls when someone mentions the idea of pulling the nation into the 21st century along with the likes of other industrialized countries and working on our healthcare and educational institutions and infrastructure. Maybe that $20 million will be diverted to those 800,000 workers that are not getting paid? Doubtful.

I’m so mad I’m tempted to cuss so I think I should stop. But here is easily verifiable fact number 10.

If you could read everything I just wrote, verified it yourself and still think that wall is a good idea, you might want to check your news sources and your racism-o-meter.

I’m tired of using this picture but it is HIGHLY apropos to this MESS.

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I’m sorry I am not done.

What a WASTED opportunity for the nation to TRULY be a Christian nation and serve as a model to the world how to take people in and successfully integrate them (not assimilate them. They are not required to forget their culture to be a good American) into the country. Our “Christian” witness dampens every single day we continue to show this type of intolerance. Such a big chance to be that beacon among the world. We’re failing miserably. And if it’s because of fear, well… Maybe when you read your Bible about how we are supposed to treat foreigners you might want to brush up on that, too. I’m not afraid of people who don’t look like me.

Racism. As American as apple pie and baseball.

SMH.

R. Kelly’s a sicko. Point blank periodt.

Warning: Some of the discussion in this blog post will be sexually suggestive.

Surviving R. Kelly.

I didn’t watch all of it, but what I saw made me ashamed, disgusted and afraid.

Ashamed because I can name ten R. Kelly songs right off the top of my head that have been my jams at the time. I remember when Aaliyah first came out. She was only a couple of years older than me, and even then I was confused at how sultry she was. It never seemed to be an appropriate portrayal of a teen girl. A few days ago I Googled, for the first time ever, the lyrics to “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number”, penned by none other than the self-proclaimed “Pied Piper” of R&B himself for her, and I straight up got a headache. What grown man would write such lyrics for a fifteen-year-old girl?

“Age ain’t nothing but a number, throwing down ain’t nothing but a thang,
This something I have for you, it’ll never change.
Age ain’t nothing but a number, throwing down ain’t nothing but a thang,
This something I have for you, it’ll never change.
Take my hand, and come with me,
Let me show you to ecstasy.
Boy be brave, don’t be afraid,
Cause tonight we’re gonna go all the way…”
I also remember being disturbed by Aaliyah’s vocals on the remix to “Your Body’s Calling”…
“Boy my body’s calling you, so do what you gotta do,
Are you hungry? Do you want to eat?”
EXCUSE ME?
SHE.WAS.FIFTEEN!!!!!!!!
Never mind him gazing at her from a distance on her first album cover… I understand that he wrote the songs and all and produced the album, but WHY did he have to be on the album cover??? Why was he in her videos, doing interviews with her wearing the same outfit? It was odd then, but I obviously didn’t give it as much headspace as I should have.
After awhile shame set in. Shame that I allowed myself to overlook the deplorable actions of a predator because he made some decent music. As many others have pointed out over the last week, dude has basically admitted to such in his lyrics. Seems Like You’re Ready (to go all the way? Doesn’t that sound like a grown man propositioning a young girl?)?
Anger and confusion followed. Anger because I spent several days perusing random social media feeds and comments sections to see how R. Kelly stans would defend someone who probably wouldn’t pee on them if they were on fire (on second thought, he probably would). I was not surprised to see the various victim-blaming comments, but they did tick me off.  Even if a little girl is “fast” (that is a widely-known term applied to Black girls. I’ve never heard a Black boy be referred to as “fast”. I’m not sure if the term is used in other cultures) it is incumbent upon adults to know to back the heck off. Teenagers are hormonal, impulsive, curious, and not always forward-thinking. No adult should willingly prey upon that. As a matter of fact, I don’t even understand the concept of being attracted to someone that young. I am 37. Legally, an 18-year-old boy is fair game to me at this point. But when I see 18-year-olds, I think of them with the affection that I do my son, not a lover. I couldn’t even see myself with a 25-year-old.
People were also asking where these girls’ parents were during this, and I must admit I have the same questions. At the end of the day, the only people to blame is the person who committed the crime (R. Kelly) and his band of enablers. But I tried to imagine if a grown man approached me about possibly helping to mentor me if I was a 15-, 16, or 17-year-old burgeoning singer. Steve Smith would have been all over him like white on rice. No way would he ever have left me alone with R. Kelly, and had R. Kelly put those lyrics in front of my face to sing my dad would have burned the studio down.
Lastly, people were questioning why the surviving women took so long to come forward. To those who asked, my reply is, “because of people like you”. People are willing to overlook a tape, multiple women telling similar stories that show a pattern of behavior, the statements from his own family members (his younger brother and ex-wife appeared on the documentary, and, facing pressure, R. Kelly’s estranged daughter released a brief statement calling her own father a “monster” and reminding people that she grew up in the house with him), the marriage to an underage Aaliyah, and his song lyrics because he can put together catchy hooks. It is absolutely astounding.
Confusion… as to how this did go on for so long. How is it that so many adults in R. Kelly’s employ were willing to not only overlook his behavior but contribute to it, aid and abet it? Going and soliciting underage girls for him? Securing false documents for him to marry Aaliyah when you should have been calling the flipping police? R. Kelly had his handlers so well trained that he didn’t even need to hide his despicable behavior. How do those people sleep at night???
It made me afraid. Money talks. None of those people said no to R. Kelly as long as he was signing their paychecks (the guys that were getting the girls for him, that is). I just wonder how you get to a point where you can turn a blind eye to crime. Trafficking is big here in Michigan. It makes me even more anxious about my children growing up among this mess of a world. Obviously for the right price people will do anything to kids.
At this point R. Kelly has denied all of the allegations, although his denials are not going over well in the court of public opinion. I believe the women, and although I stopped listening to his music awhile ago, will no longer be complicit and support this dude in any way.
mute r kelly.

Goal-setting for 2019

Life is too short not to live it to the fullest and to fail from embracing and nurturing your passions.

I made a huge mistake by pursuing an education and career in health care. I have always loved kids and thought of getting my degree in elementary education but decided on health care because of how underpaid teachers are.

Add that to my long and ever-growing list of mistakes.

There was a part pf me that thought there is really no point in attempting to get my teaching certificate because I am creeping toward forty. But then I turned it around… That means I have over 20 years of work life left (barring disability of course). Do I really want to limit myself for 20+ years, or do I want to take what I have learned in the meantime and apply it toward the actualization of a lifelong dream?

I know teaching can be thankless. I see it everyday at work. But the idea of nurturing little ones academically, socially and morally appeals to me. The thought of decorating a classroom excites me. It always has in a way that I never got excited about being a nurse, a practice manager or hospital administrator.

Sucks that it took me this long to get it, but at least I did.

My primary goal for 2019 is to become a teacher.

Secondarily, I am going to be a bit more aggressive in terms of finding my diagnosis. A recent x-ray of my lower back showed inflammation. My neck has the same. When the doctor tapped my knees, there was no reflex, and they too have been hurting. My entire body hurts. We recently took a long road trip and I endured pain like never before. Sometimes it is sharp shooting pain; other times a constant ache. It keeps me up at night and makes me stiff in the morning. It affects my daily life and I will not let it continue undiagnosed in 2019.

Third goal is to market Abusing His Grace more aggressively and set and follow a plan to write the sequels.

Fourth goal is easier said than done. I’d like to carve out more time to read. I didn’t get through a single book in 2018. I wanted to read a book a month from self-published authors such as myself and review it and it never happened. I’m happier when I read regularly.

Last but definitely not least, I have to lose 40 pounds at least. Point blank periodt. I am NOT happy with my weight.

I think my goals are reasonable and simply require more discipline, willpower and time management than I showed in 2018.

Have you come up with any goals for the new year???

However you spend this evening, please be safe!!

 

Be blessed, friends!

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I pray that you enjoy this day and be safe. It doesn’t matter if today is truly the day Jesus was born… Tue fact is that He was born and we celebrate His birth today! Let those of us who claim Christianity pledge to do better at representing Him–with the most of it being about showing LOVE.

Uhhhh… Who is that?

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Better question…

Who is that supposed to be,  Time Life Magazine??

I saw this magazine while standing in line impatiently waiting to pay for some last-minute Cgristmas purchases. I didn’t get to give the mag a fair shake, so maybe on the inside they discussed that Jesus did NOT look like the typical Americanized portrayals of Him. However, to put that image on the cover, when so many people like myself only get to get a glimpse of that and not much more, was very irresponsible. It is beyond time to start being honest if people MUST depict Jesus.

One thing I appreciate about the Muslim faith is that they don’t allow for depictions of Muhammad. No one should be worshipping images. And no one should be altering the image of Jesus for the purposes of promoting supremacy either.

Maybe later I’ll pick it up and actually read it but in the meantime you squandered a teachable moment, Time Life.