Category Archives: OP-ED

Trump’s Order To Withhold Sanctuary City Money Blocked By California Judge

A federal judge in San Francisco has blocked a Trump administration order to withhold funding from communities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued the temporary ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit over the executive order targeting so-called sanctuary cities. The decision will stay in place while the lawsuit moves through court.

Read more at Statesman.com

[Photo credit: EPA/TRACIE VAN AUKEN]

No Ban, No Wall Rally at the Texas Capital

This is Who We Are

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This past Saturday, I was very honored to speak at the #NoBanNoWall rally on behalf of those that feel as they have no voice and for those that are currently in fear of the policies enacted by the current administration.

Thousands gathered at the front steps of the Texas capital to protest the current ICE Raids, Trump’s border wall and the refugee ban. U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) and Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) headlined the rally organized by Muslim and immigrant rights groups. Some of the speakers included immigration attorneys and activists, DREAMERS, and refugees from Muslim communities.

To honor my family and to those that have suffered and continue to suffer under the policies of the current administration, I hope that my words spoken at the rally made a difference (if even a small one).

“This Is Who We Are”

“Many if not all of us here today have recited the pledge of allegiance, giving our thanks to a piece of fabric stitched in identity that speaks to many of the slogans that have echoed throughout time: Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness. As a Latina, I have witnessed how those words have turned into something so out of reach for us. But still, we hope and we strive, not only for ourselves but for our families as well. BECAUSE THIS IS WHO WE ARE!

Every success we have achieved and every contribution we’ve made in this America, OUR America, is being overshadowed being by the current policies in place that have made us out to be the enemy.

We are the enemy when we’re condemned to the belief of being rapists and murders. We are the enemy because much like any minority, the actions of a few become representative of a whole. We have become the target of ICE raids because it has been determined that because we are brown, we are committing a crime just by being here. Because we are brown, we are to be feared. But indeed, they should be scared, because we are tired – tired of being ignored, tired of being stereotyped, tired of being marginalized and tired of being treated like second-class citizens. And today, you WILL hear us!

We are not illegal. The Declaration of Independence, the very document that is the foundation for this country determined that all men are created equal. And that includes us Latinos. We’re the fighters, we’re the persecuted, and we’re the survivors who have only wanted one thing – the opportunity for a better quality of life. THIS IS WHO WE ARE!

I am the child of a migrant farm worker. My mother spent the majority of her childhood working the fields from sun up to sun down. Although she did not graduate high school, my mother elevated herself from working for minimum wage cleaning offices at night to the successful career woman she is today – a self-taught, resilient woman.

As a child, my father worked the cotton fields. And throughout his entire adult life, has worked outdoor construction, laying the foundation for the highways and roads we use day in and day out. At the age of 62 he was diagnosed with cancer. At 63, he beat cancer. And at 64, he once again put on those work boots and headed back to work, waking up at 4am to go to a job that no one else wants to work. Why? Because all he wants to do is earn his living, respectfully, and in peace. Because THIS IS WHO WE ARE

I am the mother of two beautiful biracial young men – one of them is gay. And although many out there spew their hate against their race, their nationality, their sexual orientation – they stand strong and I stand with them because THIS IS WHO WE ARE

I have watched as Aleni, a young woman I met 8 years ago while she was in high school endure the struggle of wanting a higher education, wanting to become successful, all while fearing her undocumented status. A high academic achiever, decorated high school soccer player, homecoming queen – all that and she couldn’t qualify for scholarships or financial aid because of her status. Today, because of DACA, she works full time and pays for her college education herself with no assistance. In spite of it all, in spite of EVERY obstacle and set back she’s had to face, her determination has never faltered. THIS IS WHO WE ARE.

You often here from the opposition, those who hate, those who don’t care to understand, “why don’t you get your papers”? They know nothing of the struggle. They know nothing about someone like Aleni enduring a Twenty-year fight just to be a naturalized citizen.

When you see people who look like me in you in the fields, on the construction sites, in restaurants working to provide a better life despite a pitiful wage, we stand strong and proud. Because THIS IS WHO WE ARE. We are not rapists, we are not thieves. And we will NOT be used as talking points for political gain. We Are Providers. We Are Fighters. We Are Survivors.
And that, is who we are.

WE STAND STRONG. THIS IS WHO WE ARE. “

#ObamaFarewell: Farewell Address By The President

It’s good to be home.  My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we’ve received over the past few weeks.  But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks.  Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going.  Every day, I learned from you.  You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.

 

I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life.  It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills.  It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss.  This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.

 

After eight years as your President, I still believe that.  And it’s not just my belief.  It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self-government.

 

It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.

 

This is the great gift our Founders gave us.  The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.

 

For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation.  It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom.  It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize.  It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.

 

So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional.  Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.

 

Yes, our progress has been uneven.  The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody.  For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back.  But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.

 

If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history…if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11…if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.

 

But that’s what we did.  That’s what you did.  You were the change.  You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.

 

In ten days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy:  the peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected president to the next.  I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.  Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.

 

We have what we need to do so.  After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth.  Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours.

 

But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works.  Only if our politics reflects the decency of the our people.  Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.

 

That’s what I want to focus on tonight – the state of our democracy.

 

Understand, democracy does not require uniformity.  Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.

 

There have been moments throughout our history that threatened to rupture that solidarity.  The beginning of this century has been one of those times.  A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well.  And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland.

 

In other words, it will determine our future.

 

Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity.  Today, the economy is growing again; wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are rising again; poverty is falling again.  The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records.  The unemployment rate is near a ten-year low.  The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower.  Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in fifty years.  And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it.

 

That, after all, is why we serve – to make people’s lives better, not worse.

 

But for all the real progress we’ve made, we know it’s not enough.  Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class.  But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles.  While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.

 

There are no quick fixes to this long-term trend.  I agree that our trade should be fair and not just free.  But the next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas.  It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.
And so we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their success possible.  We can argue about how to best achieve these goals.  But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves.  For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.

 

There’s a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself.  After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America.  Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic.  For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society.  I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were ten, or twenty, or thirty years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.

 

But we’re not where we need to be.  All of us have more work to do.  After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.  If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce.  And our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game.  Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.

 

Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system.  That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require.  But laws alone won’t be enough.  Hearts must change.  If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

 

For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.

 

For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ‘60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised.

 

For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians, and Poles.  America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; they embraced this nation’s creed, and it was strengthened.

 

So regardless of the station we occupy; we have to try harder; to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.

 

None of this is easy.  For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions.  The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable.  And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.

 

This trend represents a third threat to our democracy.  Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them.  But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.

 

Isn’t that part of what makes politics so dispiriting?  How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations?  How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing?  It’s not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it’s self-defeating.  Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.

 

Take the challenge of climate change.  In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet.  But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.

 

Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem.  But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders.

 

It’s that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that made us an economic powerhouse – the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral; the spirit that that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket.

 

It’s that spirit – a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but on principles – the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.

 

That order is now being challenged – first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power.  The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile.  It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.

 

Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, and the intelligence officers, law enforcement, and diplomats who support them, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years; and although Boston and Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever.  We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden.  The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory.  ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe.  To all who serve, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief.

 

But protecting our way of life requires more than our military.  Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear.  So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.  That’s why, for the past eight years, I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firm legal footing.  That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, and reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties.  That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans.  That’s why we cannot withdraw from global fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem.  For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression.  If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.

 

So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid.  ISIL will try to kill innocent people.  But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight.  Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.

 

Which brings me to my final point – our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.  All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions.  When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote.  When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service.  When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.

 

And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.

 

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift.  But it’s really just a piece of parchment.  It has no power on its own.  We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make.  Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms.  Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law.  America is no fragile thing.  But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.

 

In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.

 

We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent.  We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.

 

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.  Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title:  Citizen.

 

Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands.  It needs you.  Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.  If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life.  If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing.  If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.  Show up.  Dive in.  Persevere.  Sometimes you’ll win.  Sometimes you’ll lose.  Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you.  But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire.  And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed.

 

Mine sure has been.  Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers.  I’ve mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in Charleston church.  I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again.  I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks.  I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care for refugees, to work in peace, and above all to look out for each other.

 

That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined.  I hope yours has, too.  Some of you here tonight or watching at home were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in 2012 – and maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off.

 

You’re not the only ones.  Michelle – for the past twenty-five years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend.  You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor.  You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody.  And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model.  You’ve made me proud.  You’ve made the country proud.

 

Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion.  You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily.  Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.

 

To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son:  you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best.  Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother.  We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life.

 

To my remarkable staff:  For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism.  I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, and start incredible new journeys of your own.  Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you.  The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’ve done is the thought of all the remarkable things you’ll achieve from here.

 

And to all of you out there – every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change – you are the best supporters and organizers anyone could hope for, and I will forever be grateful.  Because yes, you changed the world.

 

That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started.  Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans – especially so many young people out there – to believe you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves.  This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I’ve seen you in every corner of the country.  You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward.  You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.

 

My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you.  I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain.  For now, whether you’re young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President – the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.

 

I am asking you to believe.  Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.

 

I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:

 

Yes We Can.

 

Yes We Did.

 

Yes We Can.

 

Thank you.  God bless you.  And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

SXSW Cancels Panel Discussion On Gaming Harassment Due To Threats

Last year, The Washington Post published an aritcle online titled ‘Rape and death threats are terrorizing female gamers. Why haven’t men in tech spoken out?’.  I saved that article because not only is the headline such a true statement in itself, but I was glad to see mainstream media covering this topic.

Now for those adults who consider video games ‘childsplay’ – well, I have a few words for you but this is not the time.  I am a 40+ year old woman who happened to grow up in the birth era of video games. Played them with/against my younger brother and did the same many years later when my twin boys were of age to get spanked at Mortle Kombat by their awesome mother.

As technology progressed and the evolution of online gaming came about, unfortunately came along rape and death threats against female gamers. Not to mention the ongoing gay bashing and constant racial slurs being thrown around – but we’ll save that for another time. Yes, this has been happening for quite some years now and nothing much has been done about it.  Not too sure what can be done about it at this point.  I mean, someone did invent a voice altering device so that females can sound like males while online….but really? Yeah, no voice altering mechanism for me, thank you.

So that brings us to today.  While on twitter, I saw a tweet come across my feed from @randlLeeharper stating that SXSW had canceled her panel due to death treats. Of course this peeked my interest so I researched by visiting the SXSW website to find the description on her panel titled ‘Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games.

Official description:

A panel from experts on online harassment in gaming and geek culture, how to combat it, how to design against it, and how to create online communities that are moving away from harassment. The panel will dive into data around abuse in larger gaming communities. One of our panelists will talk about about ways to actually develop the social aspects of games – including UI decisions and how they can influence accuracy and usage of reporting abuse. Another will dive into UX design choices to stymy harassment in social media spaces.

Of course, after that initial tweet, many started to respond. Some upset and others, well let’s just say that the “others” are probably those that are respsonsible for the rape and death threats. So because this tweet gained so much traction in so little time, SWSX officials released this statement:

On Monday, October 26, SXSW Interactive made the call to cancel two sessions for the 2016 event: “SavePoint: A Discussion on the Gaming Community” and “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games.” We had hoped that hosting these two discussions in March 2016 in Austin would lead to a valuable exchange of ideas on this very important topic.
However, in the seven days since announcing these two sessions, SXSW has received numerous threats of on-site violence related to this programming.
SXSW prides itself on being a big tent and a marketplace of diverse people and diverse ideas.
However, preserving the sanctity of the big tent at SXSW Interactive necessitates that we keep the dialogue civil and respectful. If people can not agree, disagree and embrace new ways of thinking in a safe and secure place that is free of online and offline harassment, then this marketplace of ideas is inevitably compromised.
Over the years, we are proud of the healthy community of digital innovators that has formed around SXSW. On occasions such as this one, this community necessitates strong management to survive. Maintaining civil and respectful dialogue within the big tent is more important than any particular session.
— Hugh Forrest
SXSW Interactive Director

I don’t know about you but canceling a panel on death threats because of receiving death threats…..umm, well isn’t this kind of defeating the purpose? A dangerous cycle continued and yet another important topic swept under the rug, just like that…. yet again.

Student Newspaper Posts Vulgar Racist Ferguson Remarks

2014-10-29 21.37.36

 

(Cover of Missouri State University Student Newspaper)

Recently, I had somewhat of a debate on a FaceBook post regarding the media and sensationalized headlines.  My statement was that there needs to be more responsible and professional journalism.  There was a comment made on my post that my statement was an oxymoron because there is no such thing as “professional journalism” anymore. The respondent further explained that media outlets are thriving off of controversy and sensationalized headlines.  My counterreaction to that statement was that these outlets are thriving because society as a whole is giving them the ratings.  After all, ratings are gained by those who watch, right?

With that being said (and as a proponent of free speech), where do we as bloggers, writers, journalists and so on – where and when do we draw the line?

I could actually sit here and dissect the headline, the article, the writer, the university and write a dissertation but frankly, I’m just too darn tired and disappointed.

I advise you to read the full article before stating your opinion.  That article can be viewed here 

Houston Latino Elected Officials & Community Leaders to Formally Endorse Davis, Van de Putte

Houston Latino elected officials and community leaders held a press conference at to formally endorse Senators Wendy Davis and Leticia Van dePutte and highlight the contrasts in this race. Houston Latino leaders will work to make sure that their communities know the clear difference between Davis and Van de Putte’s commitment to all Texas families by investing more in our schools to ensure that children are better prepared for the future, and Abbott and Patrick who will allow standardized tests on four year-olds and jeopardize the Texas Dream Act.

Domestic Violence – The Blame Game

By now, everyone has seen the Ray Rice ‘elevator video’.  If you haven’t, click here. I warn you, it is quite disturbing. Of course, as I caught wind of the video early this morning, I had a couple of initial reactions – Sickened, disgusted, and pretty much all the same feelings that almost everyone had once the video was viewed.  My thoughts? Wow, he just stood there after he hit her with such force – no remorse. NONE.  I studied Twitter for awhile to read the reactions of others and to check out what others had to say. I ran across the following tweets and honestly, they bothered me quite a bit. She married him after that? Women shouldn’t put their hands on men and not expect the same in return.  If it happens again, oh well – she knew what she was getting into.  But here is the one that got to me – Why didn’t she leave him?  I pondered on that one for awhile and I am not sure as to why.  After all, in domestic violence incidences, whether it involves celebrities or perhaps someone we know personally – the question we continue to repeatedly ask is ” Why didn’t/doesn’t she just leave him”? Well, I am pretty much fed up with that question or better yet the assumption and audacity of us to assume that it’s the woman’s place to leave the man.  How about this people – how about if a man knows that he is with a woman that can escalate him to a point of violence or with a woman that puts her hands on him that in return will possibly force him to put his hands on her – WHY DOESN’T HE WALK AWAY? WHY DOESN’T HE LEAVE HER BEFORE ANY VIOLENCE OCCURS? I wasn’t there so I do not know every detail but if Rice was upset (which is obvious), he did not have to get in that elevator with her.  He didn’t have to marry her.  He could have come to the conclusion that – hey, this relationship is not healthy for me, for her, for the both of us. What I did was wrong and she shouldn’t marry someone like me. But of course, we have become programmed to believe that although a man should not hit a woman – the responsibility still lies on the HER because SHE did not walk away.

Cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz hits Houston to Kick Off the Border Convo Tour

This week, Alcaraz will be in Houston, speaking on college campuses and also to the general public. At 6 p.m.Tuesday, he’ll appear on KPFT‘s radio show “Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Our Say.” (You can subscribe to its podcast here.) Then at 7:30, he’ll meet and greet the public at a $25-a-head fundraiser for Nuestra Palabra.

LALO_VIP_flyer

When bridge-blogging is the height of discussion about the border, but only because of its elevation over a highway-then discourse has hit a new low.

That’s the position America is in right now.

Most folks prefer to yell at the border than have a deep discussion about it.

Celebrities voice their xenophobia about Ebola and the border and that gets more attention than science or statistics. Politicians tell Americans that ninja warriors will sneak across the border, or that Isis might sneak through one side or Shazam through the other.

We’re seeing White Flight from intelligent conversation.

That means now we can move in, so we will.

We’re kicking off the Border Convo Tour by bringing BORDERTOWN to the border state. Translation: cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz is coming to Texas!

Alcaraz descends on Houston September 9th before heading to San Antonio and other stops in the Lone Star state. His insights are timely and once his new cartoon series BORDERTOWN is released on Fox TV, he’ll be broadening the American Imagination across many topics, as he was born to do.

“I grew up very poor on the U.S.-Mexico Border, on both sides,” he said during aTEDx SoCal talk. “I watched my Mexican immigrant parents struggle on this side of the fence, mainly.”

But Lalo just plain wants to visit us, too. At least that’s what he told us, “I want to tour Texas because I feel I have underserved the Raza de Houston since they yanked my comic there, but I’M NOT BITTER. Also, I hear Rick Perry is a huge fan of my comics, pero pobrecito can only look at the pictures. Tejaztlan is great and the Raza is boisterous and love to argue about barbecue, but I still love it there.” He also just created a cover for HUIZACHE, the magazine of Latino literature, published in Texas, edited by writer Dagoberto Gilb-a Texan who is banned in Arizona. Guilt by Tejano association.

For the Border Convo Tour, Texas colleges, community groups, nonprofits, and businesses will team up to host some of the leading thinkers of our time to discuss the nuances of the border issue, the complexities, and solutions.

Of course, this issue is nothing new. You only have to look at the names of streets in any major city like Houston to see that we have had wave, after wave, after wave of immigration, and Texas has benefited from it.

In fact, in order for the economic and intellectual prosperity of Texas to continue, we must not get swept up by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer-style anti-immigrant hysteria.

We know Texas can make immigration work.

 

More at HuffingtonPost.com

#PerryGate and What It’s Costing the TaxPayer

[Update Aug 18, 2014]

Perry’s legal defense team was announced today during press conference.  Leading the team is Houston attorney Tony Buzbee.

During conference Buzbee made the following statements:

“…charges are outrageous and in the end Perry will prevail”

“This is nothing more than banana republics politics”

In regard to question of who is paying the bill:  “We haven’t worked out that arrangement.  Obviously, the state will pay a portion”.  Buzbee also generalized that the taxpayer wouldn’t have to worry about paying for Perry’s defense had there never been an indictment. Ummm, really?

I must admit, Slick Perry does have a great defense team.  Too bad I’m paying for it.

 

Last summer, an inquiry began after an ethics complaint alleging that Perry improperly used a veto to deny funding for the state’s public integrity unit.  Today, Perry was indicted on charges of abuse of power and coercion making him the first Texas governor to be indicted in nearly a century.   You can read more about the indictment here.

Of course, Abbott had no comment.  After all, Perry is his buddy and according to Abbott’s office state law gives Perry the right to hire outside counsel on the taxpayer’s dime.  So not only are we paying for his $450/hr lawyer which has already totaled more than $40k in billable  hours but don’t forget folks, Perry also took an early retirement back in 2011, supplementing his income with a $7,698 annuity each month.  Yes, you read that right. And when this happened, I was livid because that same year (summertime), Perry signed a bill that made it difficult for teachers to receive their spouse’s social security benefits while working. More info here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Senseless Police Shooting? #MikeBrown

[Updated Aug 10:]

Watched live stream of press conference this morning.  Here are some details:

Officer (name not released) that shot Mike Brown has been in department for 6 years.  Officer will be thoroughly interviewed today.

Confirmed – Mike Brown was unarmed.

Statement made at press conference that apparently there was an altercation and Brown attempted to get officer’s weapon while in car.

Here are my thoughts and questions:

First of all, there was no mention/confirmation of Brown stealing from a store as earlier news headlines/stories suggested.

Second, IF there was indeed an altercation, was there video or any witness to this alleged altercation?

Most importantly – WHY was Brown apprehended/detained in a police vehicle in the first place?

I need answers!

[Original post]

Please stay tunes for updates as more details are available

FERGUSON, MO (KTVI) – A shooting in Ferguson has tensions riding high between residents and police in north St. Louis County.

Saturday afternoon a police involved shooting occurred at the Cansfield Green apartment complex in the 2900 block of Canfield.

Police say an officer from the Ferguson Police Department was involved in shooting at the apartment complex that left a teenager dead.

At the request of the Ferguson Police Department the St. Louis County Crimes Against Person Unit is taking over the investigation of the shooting.

Witnesses to the shooting say the person shot was a 17-year-old teenager who was walking in the middle of a street with a friend.

The police officer involved in the shooting has been put on paid administrative leave.

A spokesperson for St. Louis County Police says a perimeter was set-up around the apartment complex after gun fire was heard in the area.

In response to Saturday’s shooting the St. Louis County NAACP has launched an investigation into the events surrounding the death of a man in a police involved shooting in Ferguson. The NAACP has also asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to intervene in the investigation.

more at fox2now.com