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Day 427 – Letter to the American People: Mama Says Everything’s Going To Be OK.

Day 427 – Letter to the American People: Mama Says Everything’s Going To Be OK.

Art from Mondaes

Dear American People

It has been a difficult year and 59 days.  It has been an exhausting year and 59 days.  It has been a demoralizing year and 59 days. The last thing you want to hear is a pep talk, and I understand that, believe me. When your phone beeps to alert you to porn star scandals, wildfires, 31K taxpayer funded dining sets, white supremacists stepping up their terrorist game, murders of citizens by so-called peace officers, POTUS trash talking world leaders by tweet, and the massacres of children in our schools among other issues, the last thing you’re going to believe is that everything will be all right.  But it will. My mom said so.

My mother is from a time, not so long ago, where she and her sisters played happily with the neighborhood kids under the South Carolina sun, but went to school separated from them, because she is black and they were white. She is from a time, not so long ago, where once in school, she learned from books that were at least 5 to 15 years older than the books her neighbors used.  On Saturdays in her day, she loved to go to the movies, where she was separated from her white neighbors by a cord, although they all had paid the same dime.  She is from a time where after the movies, about once a quarter, the KKK marched down Main St. right in front of the theater, just so she and every other African American who lived in her town understood who they were in this seemingly tight knit community. She might know a thing or two about what we can withstand.

So, if you are upset that gerrymandering is one of the reasons why we keep getting notifications of the latest cabinet firing, or telling us which right we’ve been stripped of with the stroke of a pen or defunding of a department, gain some perspective. My father risked his life, not so long ago, to drive college students in Alabama to the polls.  We don’t have to do that anymore, because regardless of the government supported assaults on the power of our vote, most of us have safe access to our voting places.  Those that don’t have hope because several organizations are suing on their behalf for better access, the restoring of voting rights for felons, the expansion of polling places and hours, and the dismantling of districts drawn to consolidate power.  It’s happening, I assure you. And if you want to help, you can make donations to the ACLU and The Southern Poverty Law Center as easily as you order cat food from Amazon. It will be all right.

Maybe you are despondent because our leaders seem unable to protect our kids as they pursue their education. I get that. My mother managed to finish her secondary school education with top marks and went on to earn her BS in Business Education, when most of her high school classmates did not or could not. She didn’t have to worry about her safety at that time as black schools hadn’t been attacked in a few decades, but still and all, her education was quite an achievement. Yet when she had her own child in the 70s, she saw the reaction of Bostonians to desegregation in their schools and recognized the same violence and hatred she’d seen as a child.  She opted to send that child to private schools and was grateful she had worked to make that possible. Now her daughter teaches all manner of children in public school and those children are forcing these leaders to take actions to protect them.  They will make it all right. You can help them if you want, by creating your own PAC to combat gun violence.  Check your Facebook friend list: I’ll bet at least ten of the people listed would help.

I won’t hold you, people of America; I know you have things to do, but I don’t want you to lose heart, or worse succumb to apathy. It will be all right. People like my mom fought too hard to do things that we take for granted like shopping where we want, living where we’d like, enjoying a movie, meal, carnival ride without regard to our race (sometimes, but that’s another letter), so they won’t be moving to Canada.  This is their home.  It’s yours too, dreamers, women, elders, teenagers, people of color, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Wiccans, Atheists.  We simply have to do our part, big and small, to fight against its destruction.  Get out there!  Mom said it’s going to be just fine.





Day 423 – 423 Days…a Poem.

Day 423 – 423 Days…a Poem.

Image from WordPress

Mr. President,

You delight in baseless attacks and Twitter tirades, you want to show your might with tweets and parades

423 Days, we’ve put up with your crazy in so many ways.

We’ve marched, we’ve walked out, so hear our voices Mr. President as we loudly shout.

We will not go quietly into that night until we change the world and make things right.

We’ll make our voices heard so please listen to our word.

423 Days and we continue to fight because as Americans, that is our right.

We protest you and know that we will until you’re gone and your office we will fill,

With someone who’s worthy and not devil may care, we’ve put up with your recklessness, and of course that hair.

Hear us now, as with one voice we speak, we stand up for the voiceless, the tired and the weak.

423 Days and you’ve showed us your true colors in so many ways.

To the people of this country, I implore you to remember that it’s always darkest before the dawn and we will persevere.  He’ll never forget that we’re not going anywhere, we’re always here.

423 Days, we can make it through but remember America, we’re counting on you.

Don’t stop believing, we can be the change we wish to see in this place so keep keeping on with a smile on your face.

423 Days, we’re counting ‘em down, until we take back the White House and we run you out of town.

423 Days…



Day 420 – A Brief Lesson on Empathy and Respect, Mr. President. Again.

Day 420 – A Brief Lesson on Empathy and Respect, Mr. President. Again.

Photograph from the Washington Post

Mr. President,

I have a book recommendation for you. Do you read? Please read. And start with this one. It’s called Braving the Wilderness and it’s written by Brené Brown. In her own words, Dr. Brown says:

“I’m a research professor at the University of Houston where I hold the Huffington Endowed Chair. I’ve spent the past sixteen years studying courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame.”

That probably doesn’t sound like a good use of time to you. Perhaps you think you don’t have time for empathy. You haven’t ever displayed vulnerability or shame that I’ve noticed, and it seems you have plenty of courage, however misplaced. Maybe you think this book, and Dr. Brown’s work, are a waste of time. Actually, I can understand that.

I, too, am an overachiever. I’m a competitive, driven, no-time-for-anyone else person. I’ve been accused of being overconfident and cocky, and there’s some truth in that. I’m white and I don’t like to hear about privilege because it makes me uncomfortable. But there’s some advice in this book that helps me to reset and remember a very important truth: humans are humans, and we owe every one of them respect and dignity. Yes, even the ones from your so-called “shithole countries.”

Since you’re probably not going to read the book, let me tell you about the part I think is so important. There’s something called “dehumanizing,” whereby people essentially convince themselves that other individuals or groups are less than human, thereby giving themselves permission to treat them that way. When we call a person a “dog,” or a group of people “savages,” or “deplorables,” or “illegals,” you’re stripping them of their humanity. (See how I used examples from both side of the aisle there? Everyone does this.) Once they’ve been stripped of their humanity, it’s much easier to hurt them: to turn them away, to torture them, to bomb them, to dismiss them.

I’m actually not a particularly liberal person. You and I might agree on some immigration and even healthcare points. I think we’d be even more likely to agree if we could approach the topics with a basic respect for humanity. If we could call people people, and not “illegals,” for example.

I can’t help but wonder how the conversations would change if a conversation about immigration began “All people are people. I can see why many from different backgrounds would want to immigrate to the U.S. Sadly, we have security, economic, and physical limitations that limit whom we can admit, but let’s talk about how to do that fairly. Because people are people.” I can imagine it. Can you?



Day 418 – Yes In This Country, Mr. President.

Day 418 – Yes In This Country, Mr. President.

Image from

Mr. President,

This morning, a member of the Chinese press was caught rolling her eyes in response to the overlong mic domination of her peer. Our own news outlets pounced on the videoed eye-roll, citing it as a rare visual transgression against the carefully-controlled media arm of the state there. Liang Xiangyi, we are told, quickly “became the most-censored term on Weibo,” the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

I fear for Liang.

This, of course, can be of little surprise. Her country, after all, just abolished term limits for its president. China, economic outreach notwithstanding, has, like Russia, begun a sociopolitical swing back toward the totalitarianism it is so fashionable here to declare has always held sway across the sea. To be sure, it has, but, as with Russia, we once had more reason to hope that state-orchestrated disappearances and silences would become the outliers rather than the norm.

All of this is, again, no surprise.

What is surprising is that it feels more disingenuous than ever, now, to mount the high horse and proclaim that one would never have need for such fears, in this country.

Not in this country, you say? What of all the women iced out of their careers, for the crime of speaking up about their harassment? What of all the politicians and political appointees who abruptly found themselves out of a job, for the crime of disagreeing with their president?

What of the growing number of critically injured and dead in Austin, whose only crime was being people of color?

It is easy to sit in our living rooms or out at bars, surrounded by our like-minded friends, and alternately wring our hands and loudly proclaim outrage at the disparities we see arising around us. It is less easy to see the diminishing space between the corrupt and vengeful nepotism of other countries, and our own policy cesspool.

If you, sir, thought you could get away with poisoning dissidents or informants with nerve agents as they sat having brunch with their daughters of a Sunday morning — or if you thought you could get away with hiring your Russian friends to do it for you — do you really expect us to believe you wouldn’t?

And are we really in a position to expect that the safeguards — of decency, or morality, of national disposition; call it whatever fanciful term you like — we take such haughty pride in will remain in place long enough to stop you?




Day 416 – A Found Poem, Mr. President, From 7th Grade Voices On You and How You Are Failing Our Nation.

Day 416 – A Found Poem, Mr. President, From 7th Grade Voices On You and How You Are Failing Our Nation.

Image from the Huffington Post

Mr. President,

Over the past year, I have tried to understand you and your fan base. I force myself to watch Fox News from time to time, I read Hillbilly Elegy, and I frequent The Hill news source often. It perplexes me how hearing different perspectives hasn’t helped a light bulb turn on in my head; I still don’t get it.

So I turned to my 7th grade students to help me. I asked them to share their comments, questions, and suggestions regarding you and your Presidency. I hoped their insights would give me yet another point of view on what you’ve done and/or could be doing for this country. Instead of summarizing their thoughts, I decided that I would use their words and create a found poem from them.



can’t you just accept


race, gender and religion?

You should respect people

that are different than you.


Why not

just make it mandatory

for women and men

to be paid equally?

Women deserve

to have a voice,

they are not just for looking at —

they make a difference

and are very powerful people.

You should be more respectful

to everyone

including women.


Why not

Increase national parks


of Decreasing them?



build a WALL

when you have the chance

to build a BRIDGE?

America is a nation built on immigrants,

you should make it easier

to get citizenship for immigrants

because they

are the future of our nation,

whether you want to accept it

or not.


You should help out communities,

for the sake

of the people,

and help us

build our country

and make it a wonderful place

to live in

and experience.

People choose to come


because they have

a voice.



You need to stop

spending money on vacations

and put it to better use.

For example

feeding the hungry.


— from the words of Aiyana, Evie, Maisie, Kevin, and Sydney

The poem reminds me that many people in this country (of all ages) don’t understand your thinking as well as your decision-making. We are disappointed that your presidency is more about tearing people apart than bringing communities together. The legacy you are leaving is sad and disturbing.

Also…my 7th graders recently researched and wrote biographies of famous people. They could choose anyone that they looked up to and that had overcome adversity. Students chose President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Muhammad Ali, Jane Goodall, Winston Churchill, Bill Murray, Missy Franklin, J.K. Rowling, Malala, Jackie Robinson, and many more famous citizens of the world. Their choices remind me that students are keen judges of character and are still able to find hope and encouragement from many adults in this world. (Btw, nobody chose you.)




Day 415 – Letter to the President and His Parade of Yes-Men: There are Consequences For Your Actions. Shkreli Wasn’t Really Ready For Them. Are You?

Day 415 – Letter to the President and His Parade of Yes-Men: There are Consequences For Your Actions. Shkreli Wasn’t Really Ready For Them. Are You?

Photograph from The Hill

Dear Mr. President and the rubber-stamping-yes-men that collude with you,

You’d better steel yourselves. The American people are not letting white collar criminals off the hook anymore. And judges are no longer allowing grown men to behave like adolescents, or toddlers throwing a temper tantrum, without consequence.

Martin Shkreli was found guilty of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud by a jury in August.  Yesterday, he was sentenced to seven years in prison by Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto, who cited his “egregious multitude of lies” and the fact that “he ‘repeatedly minimized’ his conduct, including in statements and emails after his conviction.” Moreover, Shkreli was fined $75,000 and must forfeit $7.36 million of his net worth.

Now, I know you’ve previously called Shkreli a “spoiled brat” and seemed to be “particularly perturbed by [his] inclination to dig in … [because he] came off like he thought ‘he was hot stuff.'”

First of all, this is a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black, Mr. “I need more ice cream than everyone else” and “watch me double down on uninformed, racist comments about Charlottesville.”

But more importantly, Shkreli is a man in his mid-30s. In other words, he’s an adult who should know better than to lie, cheat and steal, and who deserves to be punished for doing it. Seven years is a long time, longer than a presidential term of office. And, like you, Shkreli isn’t known for his good judgment or self-control. Less than a month after his guilty verdict, he offered a $5,000 bounty for one of Hillary Clinton’s hairs, spurring Judge Matsumoto to revoke his bail and plop him in jail where he stayed until his sentencing.

This should give you pause, Mr. President, because the two of you have so much in common. Like you, Shkreli made his fortune profiting off the backs of regular, working Americans. You routinely “renege on contracts, refuse to pay, or consistently attempt to change payment terms after the work is complete,” ultimately “wag[ing] Goliath vs David legal battles over small amounts of money that are negligible to [a] billionaire and his executives – but devastating to his much smaller foes.” Similarly, Shkreli is “best known for raising the price of a drug … by 5,000 percent.” Yet like you, Shkreli “wants everyone to believe that he is a genius….He can’t just be an average person who fails, like the rest of us.”  Like you, he is enamored with social media, even “live-streaming and tweeting throughout his five-week trial.” Like you, he disrespects and casts aspersions on those brave enough to speak truth to power. For instance, Shkreli was caught “making faces during testimony [and] calling the prosecution junior varsity.”  And, very much like you, he likes to play the victim. Shkreli claimed his prosecution “was a witch hunt of epic proportions.”

And watch out, you rubber-stamping yes-men, because it’s not just Trump who should be worried. Shkreli’s former lawyer, Evan Greebel, was also caught up in his scheme and convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud. Like you, Greebel committed his crimes in the process of standing by his man (boss). But according to the prosecutor, “By helping … Shkreli steal millions of dollars and cover up Shkreli’s fraud, the defendant Evan Greebel betrayed the trust placed in him … to represent the company’s best interests.”  Likewise, toeing the presidential line betrays the trust the American people have placed in you.

The prosecutor believes “the verdict sent a message to lawyers that they would be held accountable when they ‘use their legal expertise to facilitate the commission of a crime.'”

Trump Cronies, are you getting the message yet?




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