From Syria to the U.S.: Fasting, Weeping, and Wailing

I have written and then deleted several thoughts on our country’s response to Syrian refugees. 27 states, and counting, have refused  to accept these people within their borders. While states cannot legally ban refugees, their refusal to cooperate with the … Continue reading

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The Strange Paradox – A Presidential Inauguration

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Setting up chairs in front of the U.S. Capitol Building for the 2013 inauguration (Getty Images)

In the annals of equality and progress there are two momentous dates whose anniversaries we celebrate this year. It is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington when Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his “I have a dream” speech, and the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Today we honor the legacy of one of those men. A man who is arguably one of the greatest civil rights leader in U.S. history. There’s a serendipitous beauty in that today is also the ceremonial inauguration of of our 44th President’s second term in office (official inauguration occurred on Sun. Jan, 20, 2013).

President Barack Obama will be sworn in using two bibles. The first is the Bible used by former President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, when he took the oath of office for the first of his two terms in 1861. The second Bible belonged to Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

President Obama’s legacy has not been cemented yet. Depending on who’s words you lend your ear to you will hear of his supposed  incompetency and arrogance that will surely lead to our economic and moral downfall. Or you will hear of his perceived efforts to secure economic justice as well as equality for women and the LGBTQIA community. Regardless of these perceptions, he is in fact a symbol of the forward motion in the movement for racial equality – a movement that took root in men like Lincoln and MLK Jr. There’s an undeniable beauty in that fact.

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President Barack Obama officially takes the oath of office for a second term on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013

Political leanings aside, there is a potent reminder of the work that is left to be done – particularly in the atrocity that has touched the professional and/or personal lives of each of these men.

Slavery.

150 years after Lincoln’s America and our country (and the world) can not boast of a sweeping movement for equality or the relentless eradication of all forms of slavery. Instead we carry the shame of nearly 21 million slaves worldwide and the culpability in that we permit slaves to fight our wars, grow our food, make our products, provide us with sexual entertainment, and provide us with bodily organs. We are all touched by the modern slave trade and NONE of us are exempt from the call to end it.

Laying aside our politics, that is what today ought to represent. It is a glaring light on the strange paradox of a country that has had such a racial evolution that it can claim a two-term President of African-American descent and yet also can currently claim the presence of thousands upon thousands of slaves within its own borders. How can this be?

How have you and I allowed this to be?

“Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature – opposition to it, is his love of justice.” – President Abraham Lincoln

“Why have you and I allowed this to be? “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. ” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name; modern slavery. It is barbaric and it is evil and it has no place in a civilized world.” – President Barack Obama


MLK, Jr. is also quoted as saying, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

If you have not yet taken your first steps in the fight to end human trafficking, please honor MLK by taking it today…

Sign the “Help make freedom Real” petition asking President Obama  to use his second term to help make freedom real for children and families around the world waiting for rescue. Join me in asking the president to lead on a comprehensive plan to eradicate slavery at home and abroad.

Sign the petition to pass Safe Harbor laws in 2013. As a result of the passing of these laws, children will be recognized, not as criminals, but as victims. These laws define child victims of sexual exploitation as kids, not criminals, and provide funding for the services they so desperately need.

 

Is it Stupidity Or Are You Just Plain Sick?

Certain things just make my blood boil…. racist, dumbass comments from supposedly educated people ranks pretty high up there.

I have no qualms against the freedoms of speech for well-meaning Tea Party members or supporters.  But Freedom of speech is not a license to spew hatred without fear of repercussions.  It’s that guilty party that i’d like five minutes alone with to share a bit of my own freedom of speech.

The Tea Party movement took storm following the 2008 election of Barack Obama.  It’s a large anti-tax movement and it’s members are petitioning for “smaller government, fiscal responsibility, individual freedoms and upholding the constitution”.

Nothing wrong with that.  I may not agree with all their points on a political level but I strongly support their right to express sound argument and exercise political freedoms.

I take issue with the backwards minds that produce something like this–>

There are growing factions of the Tea Party movement that have replaced sound arguments with fear-mongering and racism.

I pray Arkansas has the sense not to empower fools such as their write-in for Governor candidate, Billy Roper.

Roper is a outspoken white supremacist who has been quoted as saying, “I don’t want non-whites in my country in any form or fashion or any status.”

Roper also is a tea party member who says he has been gathering support for his cause by attending tea party rallies.

“We go to these tea parties all over the country,We’re looking for the younger, potentially more radical people.”

Lovely.

According to The The Kansas City Star white nationalist groups are actually encouraging members to attend tea parties and some are going so far as to host the meetings themselves.
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I read an interview which stated,” Brendan Steinhauser, director of campaigns for FreedomWorks, which organizes tea parties, acknowledges that some racist groups may be trying to “glom” onto the movement. But “where we see that behavior, we’re going to call them out,” he said.”
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I sincerely hope that is true because the idea of twisted, political leaders using a well-intentioned movement to solicit membership from “younger radicals” is truly disturbing.  That’s all we need; a new wave of bright-eyed racists.
One of the most disturbing quotes I came across was from Ron Wright, A retired music teacher.  He was at a tea party meeting at J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain in April and was quoted as saying that those who simply complain about President Obama are unfairly accused of racism.
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Then he added: “If I was a black man, I’d get down on my knees and thank God for slavery. Otherwise, I could be dying of AIDS now in Africa.”
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Apparently he didn’t feel that was a racist statement.
Apparently he’s as dumb as a rock.
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Posters like the one above are not a one-time error.
Other, similar posters display statements such as, “What’s the difference between the Cleveland Zoo and the White House? The zoo has an African lion and the White House has a lyin’ African!”
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Sadly, it is not just random attendees who are so disrespectful.  There are those in leadership positions who have paved the way or such outlandishness with their own foolishness.

Dale Robertson is the founder and president of Houston-based TeaParty.org.  He was seen at a 2009 rally carrying a sign that said: “Congress = Slave Owner, Taxpayer = Niggar.”

He claims the word slave was changed to N-word but that that was fine too because he looked it up in Webster and the N-word means politically unrepresented.
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According to Robertson, claims of racism are just part fo the agenda for those who want to slander the tea party movement.  still members of his own party have denounced him.

“We stand firmly against any expression of racism and the kind of language and opinion expressed in his (N-word) sign,” the group said.

That statement brings some comfort by reminding us that though every group may attract the hateful and bigoted it can also be comprised of good people with a real purpose.
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Still, how can this not raise concerns….

note: Thank you to Judy Thomas, The Kansas City Star for her background on this matter.

Yes We Can….

The Yes We Can Songby will.i.am

I was sitting in my recording studio watching the debates…
Torn between the candidates
I was never really big on politics…
and actually I’m still not big on politics…
but 4 years ago, me and the black eyed peas supported Kerry…
And we supported Kerry with all our might…
We performed and performed and performed for the DNC…
doing all we could do to get the youth involved…

The outcome of the last 2 elections has saddened me…
on how unfair, backwards, upside down, unbalanced, untruthful,corrupt, and just simply, how wrong the world and “politics” are…

So this year i wanted to get involved and do all i could early…
And i found myself torn…
because this time it’s not that simple…
our choices aren’t as clear as the last elections …
last time it was so obvious…
Bush and war
vs
no Bush and no war…

But this time it’s not that simple…
and there are a lot of people that are torn just like i am…
So for awhile I put it off and i was going to wait until it was decided for me…

And then came New Hampshire…

And i was captivated…
Inspired…
I reflected on my life…
and the blessings I have…
and the people who fought for me to have these rights and blessings…

and I’m not talking about a “black thing”I’m talking about a “human thing” me as a “person”an American…

That speech made me think of Martin Luther King…
Kennedy…
and Lincoln…

and all the others that have fought for what we have today…

what America is “supposed” to be…
freedom…
equality…
and truth…
and thats not what we have today…

we think we are free…

but in reality terror and fear controls our decisions…

this is not the America that our pioneers and leaders fought and died for…
and then there was New Hampshire it was that speech…
like many great speeches…
that one moved me…
because words and ideas are powerful…
It made me think…
and realize that today we have “very few” leaders…
maybe none…

but that speech…
it inspired me…
it inspired me to look inside myself and outwards towards the world…
it inspired me to want to change myself to better the world…
and take a “leap” towards change…
and hope that others become inspired to do the same…

change themselves..
change their greed…
change their fears…

and if we “change that””then hey”..
we got something right…???…

1 week later after the speech settled in me…
I began making this song…
I came up with the idea to turn his speech into a song…
because that speech effected and touched my inner core like nothing in a very long time…
it spoke to me…
because words and ideas are powerful…
I just wanted to add a melody to those words…
I wanted the inspiration that was bubbling inside me to take over…
so i let it..

I wasn’t afraid to stand for something…
to stand for “change”…
I wasn’t afraid of “fear”…
it was pure inspiration…

so I called my friends…
and they called their friends…
in a matter of 2 days…
We made the song and video…

Usually this process would take months…
a bunch of record company people figuring out strategies and release dates…
interviews…
all that stuff…
but this time i took it in my own hands…

so i called my friends sarah pantera, mike jurkovac, fred goldring, and jesse dylan to help make it happen…a
nd they called their friends..
and we did it together in 48 hours…
and instead of putting it in the hands of profit we put it in the hands of inspiration…
then we put it on the net for the world to feel…

When you are truly inspired..
magic happens…
incredible things happen…
love happens..
(and with that combination)

“love, and inspiration”

change happens…

“change for the better”
Inspiration breeds change…
“Positive change”…
no one on this planet is truly experienced to handle the obstacles we face today…

Terror, fear, lies, agendas, politics, money, all the above…
It’s all scary…

Martin Luther King didn’t have experience to lead…
Kennedy didn’t have experience to lead…
Susan B. Anthony…
Nelson Mandella…
Rosa Parks…
Gandhi…
Anne Frank…
and everyone else who has had a hand in molding the freedoms we have and take for granted today…

no one truly has experience to deal with the world today…

they just need “desire, strength, courage ability, and passion” to change…
and to stand for something even when people say it’s not possible…
America would not be here “today” if we didn’t stand and fight for change “yesterday”…

Everything we have as a “people” is because of the “people” who fought for change…
and whoever is the President has to realize we have a lot of changing to do

I’m not trying to convince people to see things how i do…
I produced this song to share my new found inspiration and how I’ve been moved…

I hope this song will make you feel…
love…
and think…
and be inspired just like the speech inspired me…
that’s all…

Let’s all come together like America is supposed to…
Like Japan did after Hiroshima…
that was less than 65 years ago…
and look at Japan now…
they did it together…
they did it…

“We can’t?…
Are you serious..?

WE CAN!!!

Yes we can…
A United “America”Democrats, Republicans and Independents together…
Building a new America
We can do it…
“TOGETHER”

Thank you for reading and listening…will.i.am

****Regardless of who you are backing in this election you can not deny this country’s need for hope. A hope for change and opportunity. Words are one of the most powerful gifts the Lord has given us and Obama is blessed with this gift in abundance. It’s my desire that when you listen to this and hear the passion and hope this man has for all of us you’ll be inspired to hope.
Without bounds.
Without reservation.
Without ceasing.
-AnaYelsi-