Civil Liberties At Risk


images-2During the first 9 days of the 45th U.S. President’s Administration the White House website indicates 5 Executive Orders and 10 Memorandums but there are many more that are not yet posted on the site.  The most recent and controversial Executive Order is titled “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States.”  The primary purpose of the Executive Order, is to bar all people from “terror-prone” countries from entering the United States for 90 days and it also suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until it is reinstated “only for nationals of countries for whom” members of Trump’s Cabinet deem can be properly vetted.

A Muslim based ban which I believe to be a ban based on religion is unconstitutional and should be questioned. Families and individuals who have legally lived in the United States with green cards are being detained for 90 days if currently traveling outside the U.S. People who have jobs or are attending school cannot gain entry back into the country where they give back to society. Mind you these are people who don’t necessarily identify as Muslim but can be Christians or of other faiths. They are impacted merely because of their native country. This is authoritarian behavior by the current Presidential Administration.

Upon signing of this order chaos ensued around the world.  This impacted not merely the nations listed in the order, which are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, but individuals who may be traveling from other countries.  In order to put in place campaign promises this current Presidential Administration is becoming more authoritative and less democratic with the signing of the numerous Executive Orders and Memorandums.  With the chaos ensuing at airports it is obvious that this very controversial order restricting entry of people from countries deemed as Muslim was not properly vetted.

As a U.S. Citizen it greatly concerns me to have restrictions based on religion.  I do not believe this to be within the guidelines of the U.S. Constitution.  America is a nation of immigrants and on their backs a great nation has been formed.  A nation with a President who is pushing the boundary of civil liberties requires all those that believe in the democratic process to speak up!  In the nation where democracy was born it is imperative that we the American people give our voice.  If you like me are opposed to this controversial Executive Order it is important to contact your representatives in Congress and the Senate regardless of the their political party. Yes it matters and now is the time to call or write members of Congress go to house.gov or senate.gov to find contact information. I have contacted Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan; Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi; Congressman James Clyburn; Senator Lindsey Graham; and Senator Tim Scott just as a start.

Finally, we also must keep an eye on legislation being drafted within Congress. While many of the Executive Orders signed by the 45th President are detrimental, what a Republican Congress is doing may be just as restrictive. Find sources like C-Span and other sites to watch &  understand the legislation being drafted and give your input.  Those of us with a conscious must speak up and push back when civil liberty of others and not only ourselves are at risk. Staying silent is not an option. We see what only one week of the 45th President’s Administration has brought.  I’m greatly concerned about the destruction of democracy and I hope you are as well.  Remember democracy includes the voice of citizens and not merely political leaders, give your voice to the process.

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Democracy Is Delicate


Tomorrow, January 20, 2017 a transition of power will take place in the nation’s capital of Washington, DC.  The 58th Presidential Inauguration will take place when the President-Elect will take the oath of office to become the 45th President of the United States.  It is this peaceful transition of power that has occurred for centuries that identifies the United States as the birthplace of democracy.

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Meeting of U.S. President-Elect Trump with U.S. President Obama

Democracy is how Donald J. Trump a businessman was elected.  In simplest form democracy is when the citizens or group of a nation or organization seek to elect the people who represent them.  However, even within a democracy things can go wrong and the foundation can shift.  It is of my concern that the President-Elect will cause cracks within the foundation of democracy.  Due to lack of any governmental experience by Trump and those of his Senior Staff selections, I am greatly concerned.

Private and public sectors are unique and managed differently for various reasons.  The idea that the soon to be 45th President’s sons can run his businesses and there not be a conflict of interest is ludicrous.  His behavior during the Presidential election cycle and past behavior is deplorable.  And most recently the continuous juvenile tweets sent in response to anyone who disagrees with him are pitiful.  I often wonder if at his advanced age of 70 might there be some mental issue?  However, not releasing his medical records details cannot be known.

On Saturday, I with women from around the state of South Carolina will meet for a Women’s Rally at the State House.  This corresponds with the Women’s March on Washington that will bring women from around the United States to the nation’s capital to in part show their displeasure with Trump.  Upon completion of the rally in South Carolina there will be a summit to discuss how to be active during a Trump Administration.

The four key elements of democracy can survive but only with citizens staying aware.  These elements are 1) political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections, 2) active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life, 3) protection of the human rights of all citizens, and 4) rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.  If any of these components are threatened then the democratic structure can form cracks.

I am overall an optimist but I am also a realist and I believe the next four years will be rocky for the United States.  However, I do know that I will be active within my local Democratic Party and community ensuring I do all necessary to be sure hard fought freedoms are kept intact.  I must be honest I do not trust that the 45th President will be able to keep the many false promises that he has made on the campaign trail.  I believe time will prove all those who do not have faith in his ability will be proven right.

The division of three main parts of the federal government executive, legislative, and judicial will in part help to possible refrain the overreach of the next President.  But only if the legislative and judicial branches are firm and ethical in their decisions.  Many believed that President Obama over reached with his authority via Executive Orders, however, this was by a man who was a U.S. Constitutional Law professor.  With legal experience and prior legislative experience Obama was able to give insight into the office and understand the impact of laws of society.  We can all agree that the Affordable Care Act had issues that needed adjustment but for it to be fully repealed is not best for U.S. citizens.

Finally, I want end on a positive note listing some of the accomplishments made by the 44th President.  I will miss President Obama because I believe that he cared about the duties of the office of President much more than he cared about self.  Here are some of the many things that were done over the last eight years.  Note that on Friday, January 20th the new twitter handles for the Obamas will be @BarackObama and @MichelleObama; in addition, ObamaWhiteHouse.gov will contain the information that is now found on the WhiteHouse.gov specific to the Obama’s.  Now for the list:

Economic Depression Averted

Longest Streak of Job Growth on Record

11 Million New Jobs Created

20 Million More Americans Insured

Deficit Cut by Over $800 Billion

Exports Up by 28 Percent

Corporate Profits Up by 144 Percent

Stock Market Nearly Tripled

Middle Class Tax Cuts Preserved

American Auto Industry Saved

Wall Street Reform Enacted

Oil & Natural Gas Production at All Time High

Solar & Wind Power at All Time High

Reliance on Foreign Oil at 40 Year Low

Graduation Rates at All Time High

No Child Left Behind Replaced

Pell Grants Doubled

New Federal Student Loan Payment Plan

New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

New Mortgage Refinance Program

New Patient’s Bill of Rights

Newly Protected Lands & Waters

New Limits on Carbon Pollution

New Arms Control in Russia & Syria

Iranian Nuclear Program Curtailed

U.S. Cuba Diplomacy Restored

Torture Banned

Osama bin Laden Taken Down

U.S. Boots in Iraq & Afghanistan Reduced

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repealed

Education & Job Opportunities for Veterans

Healthcare for 9/11 Heroes

Equal Benefits for Married Gay Couples

Deferred Action for DREAMers

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act

21st Century Cures Act

Veteran Homelessness Down

Abortion Down

Illegal Immigration Down

Violent Crime Down

Net Neutrality Protected

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Why I Love The Obamas


There have been 43 White men as U.S. President.  President Obama finally broke up the club of whiteness and added some diversity.  He is truly in all aspects of the term African-American; since he was born to a White mother from the Midwest and an African father from Kenya.  When running for office there was a dichotomy of opinion whether he was Black enough or if he was too Black.  Some wondered would the White House now become the Black House?  During all the negative rhetoric I watched not with despair but with pride to see a Black man take the oath of office to become the 44th U.S. President.  Wait, let me correct, I listened while on Pennsylvania Avenue standing in Freedom Plaza along the Inauguration Parade route just around the corner from the White House on January 20, 2009.

My journey began way back with the Obamas in 1996, when as a Clinton-Gore volunteer, I was tasked with phone banking and making down ticket calls for Barack Obama.  I didn’t know much about him except he had done organizing within his community.  He was a lawyer at that point having graduated from Harvard Law School.  He also taught constitutional law these were snippets of information provided over the course of the ’96 campaign.  It was a joyous time when on November 5, 1996, President Clinton and Vice President Gore were re-elected and Barack Obama won his first election for the Illinois State Senate.  During the Victory Party at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, getting my first hugs from Senator-elect Obama and his wife Michelle was heart-warming, yes they’ve always been huggers.

I relocated in 1997 to South Carolina, so Barack Obama was my Senator only for a short while.  However, I watched with pride when he was introduced to the world at the 2004 Democratic National Convention during the speech heard around the globe.  The most recognized part of the speech is:

“There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”

However, one of my favorite parts of the speech is:

“If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.  If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent.  If there’s an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.  It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: “E pluribus unum,” out of many, one.”

After hearing this phenomenal speech everyone wanted to know who is this State Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate?  I already knew and watched from that point waiting for the moment for when he would run for U.S. President.  It wasn’t a question of if but when.

Following many rumors in February 2007, in Springfield, Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Obama announced his run for U.S. President.  Among other U.S. Senators running were Joe Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton.  In May 2007, I stopped by the South Carolina Obama Campaign Headquarters in Columbia, SC located on the corner of Calhoun and Assembly streets and began my volunteer efforts.  Starting off doing phone banking I knew my talent was better used in other capacities.  And over time soon became what I am known best as Data Goddess.  The Obama Campaign recreated how data as well as digital media was used during a campaign.  He created via his experience of community organizing a new mold for how to run a Presidential campaign.  With the blowout win of the South Carolina Presidential Democratic Primary, Obama and not Clinton became the candidate to beat.

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Taken by Staff Photographer in Manning, SC – November 2007

Upon becoming elected as the 44th President even during a campaign where rocks and stones were thrown his way, he pushed for an agenda passionate to him.  Unlike any other President before him his cabinet was filled with powerful and capable women.  Showing the importance of women, the first piece of legislation he signed was the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act Bill.”  Over the last 8 years, President Obama has signed approximately 1,350 pieces of legislation into law.  His most famous and the piece of legislation marked for repeal by the 115th U.S. Congress is The Affordable Care Act.  Coming into the White House with a dysfunctional banking system and an auto industry near bankruptcy he made tough decisions in bailing both out with federal assistance.  Even when detractors thought this was not the better solution but time has shown it was the best solution.

There are far too many things to list regarding why I have such admiration for the Obama Administration.  However, I most respect the humanness of the President.  During addresses after shootings at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT and last year at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida we saw a very human and compassionate President.  We also saw this when speaking about the killing of Trayvon Martin and during the numerous addresses made upon unjustified shooting of Black men and women by law enforcement across the nation.  It is the humanness, dignity, and intelligence that I most admire about President Obama.

With the incoming 45th President, I am greatly concerned about the openness and dignity that President Obama brought to the White House.  I do not have confidence in the leadership to come this is based on the vitriol hate displayed during the 2016 Presidential campaign by the Republican Presidential nominee.  I admit I am a staunch liberal and a leader within the South Carolina Democratic Party, so to many of course I admire and support President Obama.  However, I am fair and try not to pre-judge but what I have seen thus far from the U.S. President-Elect does not give me great confidence in the next four years.  I do not see an inclusive or diverse White House or one open to the public in the way the Obama Administration engaged the public.

I admit as a Black woman I have watched with pride the initiatives put in place by First Lady Michelle Obama.  She has worked for military families to getting young people moving and eating healthy to fighting for girls right to education around the globe.  Being a part of history also puts a smile in my heart.  On June 1, 2016, on behalf of the Columbia Museum of Art as their Community Member, I attended the ceremony and reception for 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.  It was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama in the East Room of the White House.  And to the surprise of us all while in the Blue Room we saw Marine One land and take off on the White House lawn!  This opportunity seemed to be a full circle moment from when I first met the Obama’s in Chicago, Illinois.

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2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service Program

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Karen Brosius, Michelle Obama, Joyce Rose-Harris – White House East Room           June 2016

Finally, I say thank you President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for your leadership and dedication to the American people.  Seeing a Black couple occupy the White House makes me proud not merely because they are Black but because they worked hard to get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  There was no silver spoon for them during their childhoods but there was the knowledge of how important it is to get an education and then to uplift their communities.  I will miss the weekly addresses by President Obama and the many initiatives of First Lady Obama but I know now they will take their work to Chicago, Illinois in a year or so, putting their knowledge and activism in the Obama Presidential Library and Center.  I know there is much more awesome things to come for the Obama family.  Thank you President and First Lady Obama for showing citizens of the United States and the world how to rise higher.

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Trump Not Fit For Presidency


Donald J Trump is not fit to be President of the United States.  A few days ago a video of the Republican Presidential candidate was released where he was overheard making lewd comments regarding women.  Even with the video being from 11 years ago, it adds to numerous prior reasons including his lack of experience in the public sector to why Trump should not be allowed near the Oval Office.  When asked about his comments, he merely made a lack luster attempt at apologizing to anyone he offended.  We humans make mistakes, however, learning from them and owning up to them is a necessary trait of a great leader. Trump seems to lack this trait.

When Trump initially ran for President during the Republican primary, he was in the running with a variety of other candidates.  They included business people as well as elected officials.  However, due to the number being 16 other candidates his earning an average 40% of votes was enough to continually provide him wins.  Due to the inability of the Republican Party leadership to come together and have a maximum of five diverse candidates we now have Trump as a Presidential candidate.

Those who support Trump are frustrated with the current system of government; and many of his supporters are not traditional Republicans.  This frustration has led to supporting a candidate that is the furthest from any standard elected official.  Many have said that Trump is honest about what is on his mind, however, I don’t believe that is necessarily a positive.  Saying what is on your mind without a filter is actually a sign of narcissistic and ignorant behavior…it doesn’t do anyone any good.  Honesty can be done without blurting out derogatory  comments.

In addition to his mouth and lack of respect for women there is his lack of respect for practically everyone else.  His disrespect has included African Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, Gold Star Families, Veterans dealing with PTSD, the obese, the disabled and the list goes on.  He doesn’t show any real understanding of foreign policy or domestic issues for that matter.  Nor does he understand or have any experience within the public sector.  Even if you desire to reform government you need to understand how it works.

Truth has come out regarding millions of dollars in cede money, which was the primary way that he is in real estate is via the deep pockets of his late father.  The so called Trump empire he built is somewhat of a mirage.  Left to do it on his own accord, I doubt we would even know him.  With numerous bankruptcy filings and not releasing his tax records that every Presidential candidate has done over the last 40 years, we cannot trust him to run the United States.

Finally, it is time for Trump supporters to re-evaluate and understand that he just is not the person to run this nation.  During this campaign in addition to disparaging comments, he has alluded to a foreign government hacking into another candidate’s computer system.  And he has encouraged potential violence against his opponent, which he brushed off as a joke.  We are just 30 days from the General Election and many states are open for early and absentee voting.  It is no joking matter Donald J Trump just is not fit to be President of the United States.

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Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling


Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropThe 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution passed in the Senate on June 4, 1919, this was 97 years ago.  The amendment reads “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.  Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”  Specifically, this amendment allowed women the right to vote.  This June history occurred, when Hillary Clinton became the first woman named as the presumptive Presidential nominee for a major political party.

Previously the closest a woman has come to being anywhere near the Presidency was when Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.  The invisible glass ceiling referring to women seeking to move up in business, government, or other leadership roles has been shattered.  I am happy, truly and honestly happy about a woman being a major party’s nominee but I wonder if the ceiling is self-healing?  Will the pieces come together again like in a sci-fi movie?  Or will there remain a clear opening for other women to rise through?

For females young and older around the U.S. I do believe that Clinton is a beacon of hope.  She has shown that even when mud and something else is slung her way she can take it.  This was shown back in October 2015 during an 11-hour hearing on Benghazi, like a true leader Hillary responded to the pounding of questions from the House Committee lead by Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  Most recently Clinton showed Presidential poise when she gave her speech on foreign policy.  In response to her speech and the comments around the instability of Donald Trump the presumptive republican nominee, Trump came back with random comments none of which related to his foreign policy plan.

Under constant investigation from when she was First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator, and most recently Secretary of State, her record has and continues to be picked apart.  Just as President Obama faces obvious racism as the first African American President, Clinton will continue to face scrutiny if elected as the first woman President.  Sadly, the U.S. has issue with what is different and out of the norm and the norm are white males in leadership.  I would like to note that while giving her speech the night of major wins on June 7th she complemented her opponent Bernie Sanders.  Upon her comments there was respectful clapping of her supporters.  Yet when he complemented Clinton during his speech there were boos from the crowd.  Sanders did not even blink nor did he admonish the negative response.

Finally, I want there to be a day when we don’t have to focus on the fact a woman is in a position of power.  Whether it is the CEO of a major corporation or the nominee of a major political party.  The U.S. is merely catching up with other countries who have had female leaders for decades now.  Great Britain, Germany, Norway, India as well as many more nations have and have had female leaders in the highest offices or within the monarchy.  Now that this history has been made let’s move forward to the issues.

Content originally published by The MinorityEye on June 9, 2016

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Rule Number One, From My Mom


My mother’s number one rule was always treat people with respect.  Her advice is reflective of the golden rule that can be found in many cultures and religions.  Treating others as you wish to be treated is something said by mothers in all parts of the planet.  China, India, Africa, England, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and in other nations children are taught this simple but powerful message.

be-kind-blogSpecifically, my mother would say that individuals in the service industry can be your greatest allies.  Food service, custodial, and administrative workers were whom my mother referred to often as people who can help you.  I learned the truth in her lessons during my undergraduate college years.  While attending college many times when money was tight a food service employee named Teresa ensured I did not go hungry.  Custodial staff allowed friends and I to study while they cleaned up as long as we didn’t “mess up”.  I now better understand that the “messing up” they referred to was not always literal.  What it meant was for me and my fellow African American classmates to study hard and earn our degrees.  My numerous trips to the financial aide office and other university offices also showed how patience and respect for clerks helped me get assistance quickly…often before those who’d been waiting for hours.

My mother died five years ago but all the lessons she taught me over the years have served me well.  Recently there have been legislation put in place in North Carolina called the transgender bathroom bill.  The law states that the gender on your birth certificate should correlate with the bathroom you use.  However, transgender individuals who have not yet had full transformation can be put in an awkward and possibly dangerous situation.  The idea is supposedly to reduce the chance of lewd behavior or sexual assault specifically against women.

The same insensitive bill was presented in South Carolina, where I reside.  Within a week LGBTQ activist came together to organize a protest.  They attended legislative hearings and gave testimony on why the bill is a bad idea.  One of these people is a poet and friend.  I shared her post on Facebook and stated the following:

“This is my friend she is transgender.  She’s a poet and I use to be afraid to speak to her.  She may not know it but I was.  It wasn’t because of anything she did but my own isms and what I thought others would say.  I admit I still am wrapping my head around the idea of someone being physically born one gender and seeking to change it.  However, I do empathize with those of the transgender community.  They like others of the LGBTQ community have no physical interest in those outside of their community.  They aren’t trying to get you, your man, or your woman for that matter.  I’m still learning but one thing I believe is the bathroom bill is a bad idea.  The SC General Assembly needs to focus on infrastructure for the remainder of this session.  This is what matters most to me.”

When I wrote the message, I felt a little nervous.  But then I remembered my mother saying to always be kind.  I heard my father say speak your truth and don’t be afraid to say what is right.  The idea behind any bathroom bill is reminiscent of the Jim Crow laws in the early and mid 20th century.  The reality is that many individual/single bathrooms are used by both genders.  Without being able to indicate exactly how many instances have occurred where a person not of the gender or even transgender have attempted to use a restroom opposite their gender is not quantitative.  Sadly, criminals and those meaning others harm will get around any bathroom law.

I have always chosen to work toward the betterment of society through activism for art, political, and women’s issues as well as human rights issues.  It is disappointing to know that there are elected officials seeking to hold back any gender or race.  Here in South Carolina crumbling roads, education, and jobs are what I believe to be most important.  I strive each day to be my mom’s legacy and to be kind to everyone.  I think my mom would agree.

This video illustrates that the message of kindness transcends language barriers.  Grab your tissue and give it a watch.  Kindness begets…kindness.

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Voting Matters


I am the product of generations of activists. African American along with Native American ancestors who consistently fought for their civic, civil, and human rights. It is in my blood to be active and present in my own existence. I first became aware of the political process in the third grade, while attending William H. Brown Elementary School in Chicago. A huge red voting machine was brought to my school. Levers and buttons were used to vote for the candidates of your choice. The machine was intimidating but it helped me to understand that my civic duty of voting might not be easy.

20140610-105237-39157510.jpgMy next experience with politics occurred the summer I turned 10 years old. I learned about a candidate for President of the United States that hailed from the state of Georgia. James (Jimmy) Carter seemed to just be a peanut farmer but digging deeper he was a man with clear political goals. A former State Senator and Governor the political arena was very familiar to him. I did not know much of about Jimmy Carter when I was a child but his daughter was my age and my parents liked him. So I decided that he was the candidate, I wanted to win.

I was a freshman in college during the historic 1984 Presidential Election. Where on the Democratic ticket the first female Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro was alongside Walter Mondale. Sadly they lost terribly to Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush but I was still proud to have cast my first vote. I knew at that point that I would always vote for the persons I thought best to hold the office.

As I stated earlier voting is not easy. It takes effort not merely at the polling place but before you enter the building to vote. Some things that are a must prior to reaching Election Day is to ensure that you are registered to vote. In some states there are voter identification laws that require approved identification to be presented upon voting. In many states this Saturday, October 4th will be the last day to register before the Tuesday, November 4th elections.

Many people do not think their vote matters but it does. It not only matters, it is your civic duty. Elected officials write legislation and regulations that impact you every day. From teacher salaries to whether Medicaid is accepted in your state to other impacts to your community, the individuals who win elections have your life and future in their hands. Voting is a right that other nations are fighting to obtain. Finally if you fall into the category of minority or are a female this right came with a struggle, fight and bloodshed. Don’t take your right for granted; remember your vote is your voice, don’t remain silent.

First published on PaisleyPerspective.com on October 1, 2014

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