Retard?

Retard?

Honestly? Out of all of the words you could have used, you chose retard? What were you actually trying to say? Do you even care that you just took a shot at an entire group of people as a way to get a retweet?

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A while back, when I was working on a club proposal idea for a public speaking course, I stumbled on a website called R-Word.org. The site belongs to a “Spread the Word to End the Word” cause, which partners with the Special Olympics, Best Buddies, and a couple hundred other organizations, with the mission of ending the use of the word “retard.”

This isn’t a post from some entitled cry-baby, demanding you to stop using a derogatory term like the r-word. This isn’t meant to shame you into believing you’re a horrible person because you’ve used the term out of its original definition, or with the intent to bash someone. This is a post from a terrified uncle who hopes to see his nephew grow up, without extra labels, in a world that is harsh enough without the help of uneducated slurs.

The word retard was once used in the context of clinical “mental retardation.” This was how people of yesteryear would describe a person who is intellectually different. To no surprise, and like many other words, this term has been tweaked to denote something entirely different. Now the word is often used to identify something as bad, stupid, or crazy. Or, often times, to insult a person or hate on yourself. This is just a reminder that the word isn’t cool and it definitely isn’t constructive.

Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time as an observer. I’ve heard people use the r-word in everyday conversation, making known the poor decision they made to do so. I’ve seen the word posted on social media; hours before typing this, I performed a Twitter search to see how it was being used online. I’ve even heard the word tossed around on television shows.


Each time I hear or see the word, it’s like a punch to the gut. I can remember when I didn’t think before I spoke. I can remember when I was younger and I used the word in a joking manner with my friends, or in an angry manner when talking about someone who had been bullying me. So, I guess that punch in the gut is from the little kid I used to be, the kid who didn’t educate himself enough to choose a better word.

As I grew older, and understood what I was saying, it was easy for me to cut the word from my vocabulary. As I met new and different people, I opened my eyes and heart enough to know that I had been wrong in the past. I have worked with people who are intellectually different. I am now the proud uncle of a perfect little guy who happens to have Down syndrome.

I use “intellectually different” instead of “intellectually disabled,” because I don’t believe that someone who has Down syndrome, autism, or some other cognitive difference is disabled. If you want to see someone who is disabled, look at the kid I used to be; the kid who didn’t know enough about the word he was using to decide on a better one.

I now look forward to spreading the word to end the word. I can’t promise that holding an event near my campus will change the way people think. I can, however, promise to use it to offer information and encouragement to those people who haven’t stopped to think about the word they’re using.

More than 657,000 people have signed the pledge to end the use of the r-word. People are coming together to stand up for those who are so much more than just a word. One man, John Franklin Stevens, who just so happens to have Down syndrome, prepared a poem for Huffington Post about the use of the r-word. It was inspired by his favorite Robert Frost poem.

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So, this isn’t a post that shames you for the decision you’ve made to use the word “retard.” It’s a post that encourages you to leave your own disability at the door and move forward with a pledge to spread the word. You can learn more about the r-word movement and check out some stories from others here. If you want to be a part of the change, sign the pledge here.

Don’t stop with the pledge. Plan an event, or search for events in your area on Spread the Word Day (March 1, 2017). Look into some of the events sponsored by the Special Olympics, Best Buddies, Tim Tebow Foundation, etc. We have work to do! #SpreadTheWord.

To steal some words from Stephens- and from Frost:

The word, still dark; the wound, still deep.
So, we “have promises to keep
And miles to go before we sleep
And miles to go before we sleep.”

Traditionalist Worker Party: Take a SEAT

Traditionalist Worker Party: Take a SEAT

I discovered today that an organization called the “Traditionalist Worker Party” is holding an event in my city. The event is a sort of “ONLY White Lives Matter” movement which promotes the idea that the country would be in better shape if the whites who are now being “oppressed” could reign once again.

The organizers of the event shared this flyer on Facebook Tuesday afternoon:
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The flyer accompanied this message:

“Dear Comrades,

The Traditionalist Worker Party, along with the other member organizations of the Nationalist Front, are going to be holding a conference and event at the end of April in Pikeville Kentucky.

The event will be the evening of April 28th and the day of the 29th.

Pike County is 98.35% European and went over 80% for Trump in the recent elections. It is an area that is in need of advocacy and organization, with almost a third of the children living under the poverty line and 1 in 5 elderly people.

Due to the loss of mining jobs and the shutdown of other industries, Pike County has steadily lost population for the last two and a half decades. Many people, who have had their families living in the region for hundreds of years, are being forced out of their community due to the joys of globalism and the capitalist system.

The purpose of the event is two-fold; first of all, we will be having a dinner, speeches, live music, and training seminars at nearby Jenny Wiley State Park. Given that the venue is a State Park, they cannot shut down the event, giving us a great and beautiful place to hold a time for fellowship.

The training seminars will be on everything from NS philosophy, to how to march for public events, to activism techniques and how to engage both online and IRL to advance our ideals.

Professionalizing our movement means training both brand new guys and veterans on having the knowledge and the abilities to be the best nationalists they can be.

Friday night will be mostly for socializing and meeting new friends and enjoying home cooked meals and listening to music; but Saturday is right into the trenches for training.

Dress code for men is a black work shirt, black pants, and black boots; with an organizational patch on the left arm. Women are requested to dress modestly and in black as well.


The second portion of the event will be a public event that will be held at the courthouse in Pikeville on the afternoon of the 29th. Those concerned with OPSEC are encouraged to wear a black military style cap and aviator style sunglasses. All attendees should be prepared for possible Leftist attacks, we will not be driven from the streets, under any circumstances.


We will be asking every attendee to either bring half a dozen non-perishable food items, to donate to the local food pantry, or money to donate to a local charity that works in White communities in the region.

Pre-registration details will be available in the next few days. We are looking at a cost of about $30 per attendee, and that is to cover the cost of renting the hall, food both Friday night and Saturday morning, and any and all excess will be added to the charitable donation.

Paddy Tarleton will be performing, and we will have speakers from a variety of organizations, so this should be a great time for fellowship and moving towards a more effective movement in America.

Any and all questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Hail Victory and see y’all in Pikeville.”

Though I didn’t include my break-down commentary of the post, because I think it discredits itself enough without my help.

While many people are seeing this event as a joke, waiting for the punch line to drop at any point, few seem to understand just how terrifying the situation is. This group is a white nationalist group, dedicated to an ideal of racially-pure nations and communities. All of that just means that the group is truly a gaggle of white supremacists who spread hate to everyone around them.

The terrifying thing to me isn’t the group itself. Because, though I think it’s a disgusting group, I am aware that people like this exist. The terrifying thing to me is the idea that this group feels welcome to convene in my city, because a large portion of the voters in this area were Trump supporters.

That’s not to say that Trump supporters will support this group, because I’ve seen many people who voted for Trump and are opposed to this event. (In fact, I haven’t seen one person who openly supports this.) To me, however, the idea that racism and hate would be welcome in our area- just because of the support shown for Donald Trump- says more about the recent campaign and Trump’s policies than it does those who voted for him.

The majority of those who voted for Trump site his coal stance as a reason for their support. In this area, with many coal families, I understand that decision. (My political view and his lack of plan for supporting this stance is not something I’ll debate here.) The group seems to use the idea of working coal families to support their decision to hold conference in our town, as mentioned in the Facebook post above. Yet, the group openly supports renewable energy. (This is an image from their website, in case you were unsure.)

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This is not a slam on renewable resources, because I am (unpopular as it is here) all for renewable energy. It is, however, something that needs to be addressed to the few people who may take this movement in- as they did the Trump agenda- hoping the “Traditionalist Worker Party,” who supports those out-of-work white coal miners, will help in their fight to “bring coal back.” I mean, they used pick-axes on the flyer, they have to be pro-coal.. right? Wrong. That’s not the agenda here.

This group wants to spread its propaganda, promoting that white workers in the area should stand up for the things this world owes them. This group wants to separate the diverse workers in our area, while promoting the idea that white is right. This group would have the town to believe that it has a better plan for our economic ladder and a better vision for the American workers. But this group can only succeed if this town allows it to.

If this event is allowed to spill its hatred in our city, there’s no telling how it will spread. Fighting against this hatred is the only way to stop it. It’s on us to peacefully assemble, to protest this hate, to welcome all races onto our blue grass, to show this group that Pikeville, Kentucky is better than this… that America is better than this.

Boycotting and ignoring an event like this won’t help. It’s not about the number of people who DON’T show up, it’s about those who DO. We have until April 29 to find a way to show that our area is more than the back-road hillbilly town it’s so often portrayed to be. We have until April 29 to make it known that Pikeville, Kentucky doesn’t stand with this group. We have until April 29 to tell racism to take a seat.

If this event upsets you, the time to act is now. Show up, speak up, and stand up for your community.

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Trump v. basically every media source

Trump v. basically every media source

When Kellyanne Conway says to CNN, “Your job is not to call things ridiculous that are said by our press secretary and our president. That’s not your job.” It brings up the question: What does the Trump administration actually know about the role of the press?

A journalist’s job is to the public, serving as a watchdog to keep the people informed and safe. A journalist’s job is to call out the insane things that are said, and show the people that one person’s words are not to overpower the voices of the rest. A journalist’s job is to show the people what they aren’t seeing, and allow them to create their own opinion based on the information.

Trump has always been anti-press, unless the press was on his side. In June, 2016, following a court order, Trump University released certain documents to the public. In those documents were some insights into Trump’s business practices. One take-away from the documents: “Reporters are rarely on your side and they are not sympathetic.” The job of the press is not to be “on your side” or “sympathetic.” The press is supposed to be on the side of the people, not the story. The job of the press is to shine a light on the things that serve a public interest.

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The president has secured his place in the oval office. Now, the battle on the media is hitting an all-time high. Of course, if it were up to the new president, all news would be received through his 140 character rants on Twitter. After all, his posts and opinions are the only thing that matter. Right?

Trump has vocalized his stance that CNN is “fake news.” He has gone on record to call reporters from ABC “sleaze.” He has made no secret that he is against the New York Times. He has kicked the press out of his rallies, and he has gone so far as to make fun of a disabled reporter.

With an administration that has recently promoted the idea of “alternative facts,” it’s clear that everything that spills from the camp is going to be doublespeak of some sort. How will this distaste for the news media- and even entertainment media such as SNL– carry forward into the next four years? If only Orwell were alive to tell us more about this future we’re entering.

Race and Equity on the American Back-burner?

Race and Equity on the American Back-burner?

“Divorce yourself. That’s the price of being an American.”

When I heard this statement from Greg Carr, Associate Professor of Afro-American Studies at Howard University, it was shocking to me. Not in the sense that I couldn’t believe what was being said, but because of the sad reality. To become an “American” means to accept things as they are in the U.S. For those of us who were born in a white casing, in one of the states, that’s not always a big deal. To others, it’s everything.

Carr, preceded by Michael Eric Dyson, professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, spoke to a group at The Washington Center on Wednesday morning about race and equity. Though the session was full of great material about race and discrimination, as a straight, white, Christian male, I opt to openly declare my inability to understand oppression. (Here’s a blog post I wrote about that last week, if you feel like reading more about my reasoning.) However, I certainly understand the power behind an identity.

According to Dyson, “identity is at the heart of what it means to be an American.” Though that sounds welcoming, it’s a rather exclusive statement. Dyson, and the actual history of American immigration, indicate that an American isn’t something you ARE, as much as it’s something you BECOME. *Cough*(Unless you’re white. In which case, you earned it?)*

Immigrants are expected to learn American history, laws, customs, and English. From the time they enter our land, they are expected to speak in our tongue and do things the “American way.” Yet, we make no effort to learn things about them. Because… why would we? Why would we ever be curious about a person who is just a visitor? They’re not one of us. Right?

While talking with an international student, I was opened to the true trials that come along with being a citizen. I won’t go into details, because it was just a casual conversation and I wasn’t talking for the record. However, it’s obvious that those of us who did nothing to “earn” our status will never truly understand what it’s like to be on the outside looking in.

This insane idea of becoming an American doesn’t only extend to immigrants. The idea that I was literally born an American, while my black classmates were somehow born “African American” will never make sense to me. Same hospital, same day, same time… different paint job? It’s unreal.

While Dyson and Carr offered many points to support the lack of unity in our country, there weren’t many options offered to help the mending of issues. The battle against discrimination is, and has always been, a difficult battle. However, if we don’t find a way to come together, we’ll never see change.

Lyndon B. Johnson didn’t fix things. Even when he signed the Civil Rights Act. Martin Luther King didn’t end racism. Even when he had a dream. Barack Obama didn’t cure racism. Even when he won the presidency twice. So, where do we go from here? What is the answer to lead us into the future?

It all begins with the realization that America doesn’t mean what a lot of people think it means. America doesn’t mean white entitlement. America doesn’t mean “speak English or go home.” America is so much more. America is unity. America is love. America is a smorgasbord of different, tossed into one big pot. At least it should be.

Where it doesn’t begin? The White House. I mean… Trump? His entire campaign was surrounded by hate and bigotry. What kind of example will that set for the Americans he intends to lead? His personal convictions aside, even if he were to make a point to target racism and hate, Trump will not be able to change the people.

Those who wish to see change will be the ones left to fight for it.

 

Discriminated: The Story of a Straight, White, Christian Male

Discriminated: The Story of a Straight, White, Christian Male

When I think about the discrimination prevalent in our society… let me stop there. How blessed am I that I have to THINK about discrimination? How blessed am I that it isn’t something I ALWAYS have on my mind? How blessed am I to wake each day, knowing that there’s nothing about my demographic that will warrant an ignorant reaction from other human beings in my community?

As a straight, white, Christian male, my experience with “discrimination” is almost nonexistent.

Because I’m straight:
Full disclosure: I know what it’s like to be bullied for being “gay.” As a child, I often had to correct the bullies who made fun of my sexual orientation, because they didn’t think I could “act the way I did” and still be straight. I had to switch schools once because being the “fag,” and getting my bike redecorated with my yearbook photo and cartoon penises, wasn’t something I could handle. But I escaped that and I came out the other side. Because I knew they were wrong. I knew I was straight.

Some people aren’t so lucky. Some people- who are truly dealing with everything that comes with being gay- get all of that and much more. Some lose their family, their friends, their home, their life. Some people are killed just because they aren’t straight. Some take their own lives. Because I’m straight, I don’t know discrimination.

Because I’m white:
My race has never been a deciding factor as to wether or not I would get a job. No one has ever glanced at me and wondered out loud if I’m “one of those terrorists.” I don’t get racist slurs yelled to me on the street, and I’ve never had to wonder if the President-elect would try to ship me off.

People often debate if racism exists, in a world where it’s truly prevalent in every possible way. Seeing the viral videos, or seeing the news, can be enough to make me want to tear off my skin and give it to someone else, in hopes that they can live one day without the hatred that comes from those who still see them in screaming color. Because I’m white, I don’t know discrimination.

Because I’m a Christian:
Although certain Christian practices and beliefs have been in the hot seat lately, I’m not shoved in the corner. I don’t wake up each morning afraid that I will be killed for what I believe. I don’t have to worry if I’ll get extra attention in an airport because of my mother/sister/wife’s Hijab.

In fact, I don’t have to worry that wearing any garment to express my faith will be met with hateful screams. I don’t have to hide what I believe, in fears that it will overshadow the fact that I’m a kind human being. Because I’m a Christian, I don’t know discrimination.

Because I’m a male:
I’ve never wondered if a co-worker is making more money than me because of the restroom they use. I’ve never worried that having a child will impact the way my employer views my worth. I’ve never been told to “get back in the kitchen.”

I don’t have to worry that the things I do to my body will be talked about in judgmental circles. I don’t have to pump myself up just to walk by a construction site, repeating a mantra to keep myself calm. Because I’m a male, I don’t know discrimination.

Because I’m all of these things:
I’ve never had to fight for the rights that are extended to me. But if I had, no one would question it. I’ve never had to earn my status in the world. I just get to be me. I’ve never had to march with those like me, or start a peaceful protest. I’ve never had to be completely terrified that my life would change forever as the result of a presidential election.

You see, I don’t KNOW discrimination. But I SEE it. And I FEEL it. And I HATE it.

I don’t HAVE to be afraid of the new “Trump” world order. It doesn’t write me hate mail or force me to hide away. It doesn’t make me wonder where I’ll live next month. But I SEE fear. And I FEEL fear. And I HATE fear.

As an American; as a straight, white, Christian male; as a human being; I know there is a better way. I SEE it. And I FEEL it. And I HATE that it’s not the norm. But, it will always continue to be my norm.

Since I’m straight, I’ll be loving, because even one night club is too many. Since I’m white, I’ll be louder, because apparently Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t loud enough for you. Since I’m a Christian, I’ll be like Christ, because He doesn’t require us to all be the same. Since I’m a male,  I’ll be like my mother, because she taught me how a woman deserves to be treated.

If you can make a similar promise, maybe I’ll be writing a different kind of post next year.

*This post is not a direct letter to President-elect Trump, or his supporters, but is for those who support the idea of “Making America Great Again” by way of hate and discrimination. Also, the MLK Jr. line was not a hit at his wonderful achievements, merely a sarcastic comment to question how racism is still even a thing.*

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Think about something incredible that you have seen as a result of God’s grace. Just any miracle you’ve heard about, or witnessed, in the past month. Did it shake you?

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The Gospels are filled with accounts of Christ Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection. There are many miracles in the Bible that are clearly credited to Jesus Christ and His marvelous works.

If the basis of Christianity is reliant on the fact that we serve a living God, I think it’s safe to conclude that these miracles which were taking place in the New Testament days are still possible and present in today’s time.

Upon a recent study of Matthew and Mark, a few things struck me. While the powerful healing and miraculous works of Jesus have always been incredible to me, something different began making itself clear.

Every time Jesus performed a miracle, there was a similar reaction. Astonishment.

 

Throughout the accounts of Jesus’ miracles, the believers who witnessed the works of Christ were said to have been “astonished,” “amazed,” and to have “marveled.”
(Matthew 8:27, Matthew 9:33, Matthew 12:23, Matthew 13:54, Mark 1:22, Mark 1:27, Mark 2:12, Mark 5:42)

If we stand on the fact that Christ is still in the miracle business, why are we not reacting accordingly?

When did we become so lax in all things concerning the Lord? We sing Amazing Grace. We say Amen. But how often do we mean it?

Have we become so numb to the miracles of God that we write them off? Do we consider certain things to be coincidence? Are we crediting science for the miracles of God? Have we decided that our own efforts have supplied more help than those of Christ?

It’s time for a wakeup call. It’s time for a revival. We need to get ON FIRE for the Lord! Lukewarm Christianity is not something we should offer God.

(Revelation 3:16- So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.)

We need to be astonished. We need to be amazed. We need to marvel in His wonderful works.

Allow yourself to be astonished by His works today. If you can’t think of a specific “personal” miracle, or act, don’t take Calvary for granted. He did His most miraculous work on the cross. And He did it for you. How much more personal can you get? If that doesn’t astonish you, nothing will.

We Hear You, But What Are You Saying?

We Hear You, But What Are You Saying?

The U.S. is a country that allows freedom of speech; a nation that supports the right to peaceful assembly. As Americans, we’re nourished to believe that our voices matter. We’re also told from a young age that we have the right to speak up. So, what do we do with all of that?

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After the recent election, there has been a large turnout for anti-Trump protests. These protests are “organized” to express the disapproval of the decision to choose Trump as the nation’s President-elect. After a hard-fought battle between Trump and Clinton, America’s choice has been under scrutiny. So, with their right to use their voice, many of those who are unwilling to “accept” the decision have decided to make a scene.

Let’s discuss why this isn’t working…

Regardless of the candidate you voted for, according to the election results, Donald Trump is our President-elect. Yes, that could be sad for you. Yes, you may be terrified of the future. Yes, you have a right to feel those things. Still, you have to know that there is a correct way to be heard.

One problem that truly comes into play is the failure to recognize the meaning of “peaceful assembly.”

Rioting the streets and making a mess of things is an effective way to be seen. It is not, however, the best way to be heard. If you’re screaming “Love Trumps Hate,” while storming the streets and burning a flag, you need to re-consider your message.

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You have the right to be heard. People have died for your right. People have suffered for your right. You should treat that right with the respect and attention it deserves.

A riot and a protest are two different things. If you feel led to use your voice, it’s important to use it in the correct way. Maybe you intended for this to happen? Perhaps you feel that a riot is just what you need. If so, call it what it is. Don’t scream and call it a conversation. Keep in mind; a loud voice isn’t better than a loud message.

When one person is screaming so loudly to speak over the other, it’s not about being heard- it’s about being loud. When one person feels that their opinion is more important than every other opinion, it’s about entitlement.

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Which brings us to the next problem. Just because you feel that something is wrong, doesn’t mean everyone should, or will, agree. 

Even through the correct form of protest, there are some things that aren’t your decision. Protests are great for stopping animal testing and changing high school rules. However, when more than half of the country votes for a candidate, that candidate is considered the winner; that’s democracy. You can’t decide that that part of America isn’t working for you.

Saying that it’s your right to protest, while attempting to infringe on the right to vote, is counter-productive. If you truly believe in the system in place, which gives you the voice you’re using, you have to trust that it will work the way it’s meant to.

Stop blaming Trump’s supporters. They did the same thing you did: they voted for their choice candidate.

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Though he didn’t win the popular vote, Trump was voted in by bagging more electoral votes than needed. If you truly want someone to blame for the election, perhaps you should speak with the more than 40% of Americans who didn’t vote in the election.

If you truly feel the need to try to change this, check out the possible loophole that’s bombarding the Internet.

I have never supported Donald Trump. Throughout the election, I was terrified of the idea that he would one day be in office. However, America has decided that it’s time for him to show us what he can do. As an American citizen, I stand by in prayer. I can only hope that, whatever happens, we can make the transition an easy one.

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