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In Blame It on Obama News: Cory Remsburg and His Standing Ovation at the State of the Union Address

January 31, 2014 Leave a comment

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U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg received a standing ovation that lasted 99 seconds at Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address. Yes, I counted. Image via. The Atlantic.                                                  

For many Americans, Tuesday night’s State of the Union address had its most powerful moment of unification when the President used one attendee, U.S Army Ranger Cory Remsburg, as the symbol of American heroism and strength. Remsburg, a ranger who was partially paralyzed and blinded in one eye after falling victim to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, received a long, well-deserved standing ovation by those in attendance, including the President. The commander-in-chief compared Remsburg to the country: a man that “never gives up, and he does not quit.”      

But just a day later, writer Nick Gillespie claimed that the heart-tugging scene on Capitol Hill was “the most despicable… and…morally dubious,” moment of the President’s speech” Oh? According to Gillespie, Remsburg was merely part of Obama’s political tactics, which used Remsburg as prop  to ‘elide any responsibility, for placing,’ the young soldier in danger in the first place.

The writer pointed to the continuing war in Afghanistan as reason enough to overlook Remsburg’s heroism. Never mind the young solider was in a coma for three months and received a Purple Heart for this service,  “What exactly was Remsburg – or any of his fellow soldiers – fighting for in Afghanistan?” Gillespie wrote. “The president didn’t offer any explanation in his State of the Union address…”

Did the writer forget that the war didn’t start with Obama, or that the President told his listeners Tuesday night it will end this year? Somehow, this too, is Obama’s fault.

The recognition of brave Americans in State of the Union addresses is a trend that goes back three decades. In 1982, Ronald Reagan pointed out Lenny Skutnik, a U.S government employee who dove into the Potomac River to save a victim of the Air Florida Flight 90 crash.  In 1994, Bill Clinton recognized Jim Brady, former press secretary of Ronald Reagan who previously suffered a bullet wound to the head. In 1999, Clinton singled out activist Rosa Parks for her leading role in the civil rights movement saying so eloquently, “This journey began 43 years ago when a woman named Rosa Parks sat down on a bus in Alabama and wouldn’t get up. She’s sitting down with the first lady tonight, and she may get up or not, as she chooses.

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The recognition of brave Americans in State of the Union addresses is a trend that goes back three decades. Rosa Parks was pointed out in Bill Clinton’s 1999 State of the Union Address. Image via Google.

Gillespie has his reasons to be against the Afghan War. A recent USA Today research poll concludes that 52% of Americans believe that the U.S did not reach its goals, despite many of them believing we made the right decision to invade Afghanistan. Since its start in 2001, more than 20,000 U.S casualties have occurred.

But with more than 60,000 troops already home, we must ensure the President keeps his word, that more troops will come home this year, and no more American lives are affected by the war.

Nonetheless, the writer shamelessly shifted his attention to policy-making during what was supposed to be a celebratory moment of one our nation’s heroes.

That deep scar on the side of Resmburg’s head is not a prop. His arm brace is not a prop. The cane he used at the hospital to help him stand and do a salute is not a prop.

No matter what your position on the Afghan and Iraq War, You not as an American, but as a Human Being, have a duty to show respect, appreciation and gratitude to the men and women who are putting their lives on the line for your freedom.

Remsburg deserved all 99 seconds of that standing ovation. Perhaps the writer wanted the opportunity to troll.

Whims of a Novice Gym Bunny

January 19, 2014 Leave a comment

A free week at the local gym seemed like a good idea. I learned the difference between a sit-up and a push-up and worked out for six days straight. Here are my journal entries.

ImageDay One:

I was early. This meant an awkward three minutes inside the woman’s locker room where I checked my phone and fiddled with my shoelaces. At one minute to 6pm, I grabbed a towel (extra heavy, 725 grams of cotton if I had to guess) and found an inconspicuous spot in the back of my first Urban Sculpt class. My instructor, Mike Gilberts waltzes in with a huge grin on his face as he surveys the room.

“That’s right, it’s a new year,” He says observing the full class.

The music starts and he immediately begins what feels more like a training session for “Dancing with the Stars,” than a workout. But I guess in aerobics, it’s like the same thing.

“Five, six, seven, eight, and lift, punch kick, hold and twirl.” To stay on beat I watch Mike very closely.  It seems easy enough until my knees stiffen and my heart beats faster than the hip-hop, techno mash up. Never the dramatic one, I ignore the urge to make myself faint just to leave class early and instead, remember how much I hate one-pieces. 

“Let’s go! Heel out, salsa, twist and repeat!”

As the dance moves become complicated, I start to lose my rhythm.

Wait, heel, then kick, or kick then heel?

So many questions but they all sound stupid. So I just improvise. “Heel, kick, salsa, okay, wrong way, reverse, shit.” I mumble. Lucky for me, nobody seems to notice or care that I was dancing to my own, rhymesless beat.

After the unforgiving one-hour session, with sweat covering my body, I left Mike Gilbert’s aerobics class to grab a burger. 

Day Two:

What’s up with the mirrors? I think as I begin my session on the treadmill. I understand why they exist in the weight room and fitness classrooms but how are they effective for people using an exercise bike? Its awkward enough that people don’t make eye contact with one another. So why be forced to stare at their reflection?

Anyway, the treadmill is simple enough. I pick the one closet to the water fountain. Choose a playlist (reggae) and start walking. Simple enough until I notice how gym rats can make it complicated. The person to my right had an IPAD and magazine strategically placed on his exercise mount. He flips and scrolls without losing a step. I was amazed and weirded out at the same time.

Day Three:

Television makes kickboxing look so easy. Stand in place, flair your arms around and breath like you’re going in combat. My instructor, who helped me wrap my hands in boxing cloth, fooled me too with his seemingly sweet demeanor.

First ten minutes we did jumping jacks and it wasn’t nearly as fun as when I was a kid.

“To the floor! Twenty push-ups!”

I still had difficulty bringing my body all the way down to the ground for a push-up.  Josh, my instructor, noticed of course. “You call that a push-up sweetie!”

Eh?

Josh’s incessant yelling throughout the entire class brought me back to my childhood so I left 5 minutes early. Now every time we pass each other, I huddle in a corner and pretend to retie my shoes.

Day Four

It’s raining today and I’m up an hour later than planned. I have just enough time to make some juice (a blend of carrots, apples and pineapples) and read the day’s class description:

Amazing abs with James Point is a high intensity workout that uses a mix of exercises to strengthen, tone, and stretch the abdomen muscles.  Participants may use equipment such as stability balls, weights, and resistance bands. I don’t have time to Google the big words so I make sure to arrive early.

Amazing abs turns out to be the easiest class yet. Most of it involves lying on a mat to do a series of stretches that focuses on the abdominal. I was sore afterwards, but not in that “I need alcohol, lots of alcohol,” kind of sore.

Day four ended with steamed fish and a bowl of quinoa.

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Day Five:

The gym is packed. Gym rats and bunnies are everywhere and for the first time, I feel out of place. I check my hair in the full-length locker room mirror and smile as a girl standing adjacent to me compliments my sneakers. I look up, forcing myself to remain cool, as she casually drops her towel to apply lotion on her fully naked body.

“Oh, um, thanks.” I mumble.

I’m not shy about nudity. But it’s still week one.

Day Six

I take another Urban Sculpt class and this time stay on beat. Mike, the instructor, smiles approvingly. “So you’re a gym bunny now, huh?”

“Yeah, maybe.” I reply.

I fill out a membership the next day. The mirrors aren’t so scary anymore. But I refuse to bring my Ipad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: NEWS Tags: , , , ,

Dear Millenials, Welcome to the Other Club: Unpaid and Unfazed.

December 13, 2013 1 comment
There are roughly 80 million Millennials in the United States alone, and each year they spend approximately $600 billion. -Accenture.com

There are roughly 80 million Millennials in the United States alone, and each year they spend approximately $600 billion. -Accenture.com

You got it all wrong. We’re not doing all the drugs, and having all the sex while Instagramming our sushi dinners. It just looks that way with the right filter. We’re not content with being baristas and cocktail waitresses. But Sallie Mae always calls from a different number.

We’re Generation Y, aka Generation Broke, Frustrated, Lazy and Entitled, depending on which article you read. But nevermind what the Internet says.

Drum roll please. Millenials are the tech-savvy, creative class that has companies copying their style and cities gentrifying their blocks. Millenials have the 55-64 age group secretly using Facebook just as much as them, and colleges offering courses in topics like “Social Media and Virtual Communities.” Yes, millennial culture is adopted by those outside of the club, especially big companies , so why can’t they seem to get hired? And get paid?

 The poor job market and depreciating value of a college degree is bad enough. But when millenials find themselves in between a growing number of for-profit companies that are “hiring,” for unpaid job positions masked as “volunteer,” or “internship,” positions, long after the average post-grad tossed their hat and tassel in the air, its even more problematic.  Generation Y’ers who work for free. Its become the latest fad that have many young people either scoffing at the idea or jumping at any available opportunity. And according to some companies, it’s a surefire way to attain a paid position in the future or at the very least, acquire experience.

True, it is arguably illegal for a business to solicit your services without paying you, but that has not stopped companies from soliciting offers.  Or millenials from applying for such positions. (Guilty). But even Forbes doesn’t think it’s a good idea. A recent article that listed the 20 Reasons Gen-Y Should Not Work Free, included “If you’re working for free, you’re likely [making those who make] a living doing [the same] work [unable to] find jobs because – among other things – recent grads are doing their work for free.”  But for many, the thought that an unpaid position could jump start their career is not stopping some of the 16.3% of unemployed millennials that owe over a trillion dollars in student loans, to accept such offers.

According to Forbes, companies that hire milleanials to work for free are only hurting the job mark

According to Forbes, companies that hire milleanials to work for free are only hurting the job market

Just to be clear, this is not a pity piece. Us millenials are doing the best we can to be self-sufficient. Even if it means creating our own apps or developing our own national competitions. (Yes, shameless plug, so click the link!) We are the new sub-group, or rather the growing “other” that the dominant culture continues to d-list.

Black educator and founder of the Tuskegee Institute, Booker T. Washington once told newly freed enslaved people to “pull themselves up from their bootstraps,” which was rather paradoxical considered 400 years of legalized slavery and systematic racism couldn’t always afford one with boots to begin with. Now I’m certainly not arguing that the plight of millenials comes close to the Black Holocaust but I do believe those of a privileged society (or generation) may unfairly force those of a disadvantage, to achieve what they did, at the same rate, despite disproportions-  in government, society and/or economics.

And yes, millenials are reshaping the way businesses operate. The 18-24 age group have the highest purchasing power at some $2 trillion worldwide. That means companies are following everything they do from how they incorporate hashtags into tweets to adopting their communal lingo. #YOLO.

Big companies are watching millenials. Last year, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s developed a report entitled: The Millennial Generation Research Review.

Big companies are watching millenials. Last year, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s developed a report entitled: The Millennial Generation Research Review.

But the question remains:  If companies are so plugged into all things hip and milleanial than why don’t they attach real value to the maniac that is driving the machine?

Welcome to The Other Club.

 
 

News Whim- Week of September 18

November 23, 2013 Leave a comment

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Recent study acknowledges that married drunks are good for each other

Daily Show’s Jessica Williams does hilarious skit about racial profiling. Tears!

I’m no longer a hipster so I approve this article on how they ruined Paris

 

Shopping While Black, Money Shaming and Everyone’s Right to Spend

November 1, 2013 1 comment

Recently, two African-American teens walked into Barney’s, the high-end luxury store located in Manhattan, NYC, to purchase goods only to be racially profiled by store employees after they say plainclothes police officers followed them shortly after they left the store.

 Trayon Christian, 19, said police detained him after leaving the luxury boutique with a $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt which he purchased with his debit card. But even after displaying a receipt, Christian was taken to a nearby police station. Christian says the officers asked him how he was able to afford the belt and despite showing them his receipt, debit card, and I.D, they still ran a background check. Did I mention he was taken to the police station? For Kayla Phillips, it was a $2500 Celine bag that made store employees suspicious. Police stopped the Harlem teen at the train station where she says, took her by surprise:

“I was, like, panicking,” Phillips says. “I thought something happened, that they would attack me like that. I said, ‘What’s going on?’ She (the female cop) said, ‘Let me see what card you used. What are you doing in Manhattan? Where do you live?’ ”

“And she asked me how did I purchase this expensive bag? I said, ‘How did you know I bought an expensive bag?’ She grabbed my bag from me, and I gave her my receipt and my card. They started bending it, to see if it was authentic.

Kayla Phillips says NYC police officers stopped her on the way home after purchasing a luxury bag from Barney's. They bended her debit card to ensure it was real.

Kayla Phillips says NYC police officers stopped her on the way home after purchasing a luxury bag from Barney’s. They bended her debit card to ensure it was real.

According to the Justice Department, a 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistic reported that racial profiling is widespread and occurs at an alarming rate against black and Hispanic people. Unfortunately, consumer racial profiling or “consumer racism,” is a tool used in many retail giants to target African-American shoppers who they believe shoplift the most but no credible statistics verify their claims.  In a 2003 report, criminologist Shaun L. Gabbidon found that the majority of false arrest complaints in retail stores are filed by African-Americans while a Harvard study found that 35% of those interviewed said that they received negative treatment while shopping in white neighborhoods.

This is all nothing new. Shopping while black occurs to the best of us, even media-mogul Oprah Winfrey who has opened up on three different occasions about being racially profiled in retail stores. The latest being in Zurich, Switzerland this past August when the store clerk rejected the billionaire’s request to see a $38000 bag and instead opted for her to look at the cheaper version that was in her hand.

“No, it’s too expensive,” Ms. Winfrey, said the shopkeeper told her.

“One more time, I tried, ‘But I really do just want to see that one,’ and she said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to hurt your feelings,’ and I said: ‘O.K., thank you so much. You’re probably right, I can’t afford it.’ And I walked out of the store. Now why did she do that?”

“It still exists,” said Nancy O’Dell, the interviewer, speaking about racism.

“Of course it does,” Ms. Winfrey replied.

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Store manager Trudie Goetz says her sales employee was not racist towards Oprah Winfrey by refusing to show her this $38000 Tom Ford bag. “Its a misunderstanding,” she says. via dailymail

But its not the issue of racial profiling that disgusts me the most about these incidents but the scoffs and judgmental commentators, both black and white, who find it more pressing to focus their attention on the victim’s choice of goods than on the racist perpetrators.

Even Melissa-Harris Perry of MSNBC decided to jump on the “I can’t believe you spent your own money how you please,” bandwagon in a segment that left me reaching for the mute button.  The newscaster who is usually on point when discussing issues affecting the black community, fell short when she went on a cheeky tirade using her “Nerdland Guide to Other Things Oprah Could Buy for $38,000,” which included a “3-bedroom, 2-bath, 1700 square foot apartment in Buffalo, NY, or to “cover a year of tuition for our intern Sarah.”

 Nevermind, Winfrey’s contributions to non-profit organizations and foundations around the world or her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, a billionaire simply doesn’t get empathy for spending what is probably considered $38.00 to the 99 percent. That’s right. I know it hurts and makes us all slightly jelly but it’s probably not a stretch to say that $38,000 is not a lot of money for someone with over $2.7 billion in the bank so why doesn’t Perry turn her nose down and refocus her energy on the more important issue at hand. For her to mitigate racism because Winfrey is of the one percent is ridiculous. It doesn’t matter if it occurred at Target.

No matter who it happens to and where, racial profiling isa  troubling loss prevention tool that is used in retail stores around the world. While its not uncommon for store clerks and security personnel to profile a would-be shoplifter (two teens at the mall with no adult supervision or a lone shopper pushing an empty cart in scruffy clothes), race has become one of the main detections used to profile shoplifters.

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The NYPD and politicians have repeatedly justified the racial disparity in stop and frisks saying that they cops essentially go where the guns are, i.e. minority neighborhoods. Yet, only 1.9 percent of frisks in 2011 turned up weapons and interestingly, according to the NYCLU, “a weapon was found in only 1.8 percent of blacks and Latinos frisked, as compared to a weapon being found in 3.8 percent of whites frisked.” -Huffington Post, May 15, 2012. Image via behance.net

 And even if you are not of the one percent, who hasn’t splurged on what may be considered a luxury to others? Concert tickets, a cruise package, pair of Ray-Bans, or crab legs two nights in a row (guilty!), everyone has the right to be selfish with their own money as they see fit. Does a billionaire media-mogul darling not get to cry foul? What about two black teens who live outside of Manhattan?

Don Lemon (who just might be the real-life Tom Dubois of The Boondocks) doesn’t think so in his recent piece,  “5 Things Americans Should know about Racial Profiling,” when he ruined it by ending with this:

“to be fair I don’t like to tell anybody how to spend their money…but here’s the truth: you know who buys $300 dollar belts and $3000 purses, people who don’t have real money or wealth.”

Eck. So Lemon insinuates that Trayon Christian, who said he purchased the belt after saving up money from his part-time job,  and Kayla Phillips who may have purchased the purse after receiving her tax refund, or with a shoebox stash, or money from a granny’s will, had no business spending their own money in the first place. Silly me.

It’s not the Kardashians. It’s You

August 3, 2013 2 comments

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 President Obama’s recent comments on media culture and materialism have many believing that he is personally criticizing reality-TV star Kim Kardashian and her baby daddy/boyfriend, rapper Kanye West.

In a recent interview with Amazon.com, the President said,  “The American dream involved some pretty basic stuff — a good job where you felt some security, a good education … People felt if they worked hard they could get there … I don’t think people went around saying to themselves, ‘I need to have a 10,000-square-foot house’ … I think there has also been a shift in culture. We weren’t exposed to the things we didn’t have in the same way that kids these days are. There was not that window into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Kids weren’t monitoring every day what Kim Kardashian was wearing or where Kanye West was going on vacation and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success.”

Before reality-TV, celebrity magazines and the term “pop culture,” the average American did not have a 24-hour view into lifestyles of the rich and famous minus a weekly syndication of Robin Leach’s show.  But with this “shift in media culture,” people are now given open invite into the lives of the very rich- causing many to measure their own happiness through that of celebrities, leading many to live above their means.

The Kardashians- which people now consider an empire, are worth an estimated $80 million which they made starting with their reality TV franchise, Keeping Up with the Kardashians and a slew of endorsement deals, makeup and a clothing line. The show, which is on its 8th season, allows viewers an inside look into their lavish lifestyle, which includes million-dollar mansions, private jets, and day-to-day activities that involve photo shoots, vacations and shopping sprees. Thus, its easy to see why the President is acknowledging this shift in media culture and how it has skewered people’s perception of success and happiness.

It’s not just the Kardashians.  Its the Lindsey Lohans, the Real Housewives and Victoria Beckhams of pop culture, that have created in us, this obsession with things that don’t really matter in life. Media professionals argue that they are simply giving us what we want and the ratings seem to prove them right. If you hate what the Kardashians stand for, stop watching them. If you simply love to hate them, bootleg it. But don’t get defensive because the President called us out on our shifting ideals or simply blame the TV stars for the denigration of American values. We have a part in this too.

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