Opportunity

Truth - The American Dream is not attainable for everyone. It is an outdated, and unrealistic expectation for the majority of people. What do we mean when we use the phrase? It seems to be a nod to a time where a specific facet of society was able to be socially, fiscally, and psychologically sound due to their access to resources, education, and income. The American dream was not meant for all. More and more it has become out of reach to even those it was designed to be obtained by. What is our new American dream, who does it include, and what does freedom mean in our reimaged land of opportunity?

"We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others." Will Rogers

Ask people what they want for this world and they'll spout off a few meaningless ideals. Peace on Earth, ending hunger, human trafficking, eradicating disease, global literacy, etc. Rephrase the question and ask what they want for their world. Bring it down to Earth. Add gravitas to it. Minimize it to their sphere of influence and ask what tangible change they want to bring about in their lifetime. Equality - in short, the great equalizer. Everybody is the same or at least is treated the same. In theory it's what would be ideal, in practice it just does not make sense. We all talk about level playing fields but we know all to well that some start out on cracking, dry dirt fields while others frolic on lush grass and even others still on perfectly manicured synthetic turf. Equality is giving all the same thing. There is nothing wrong with that except it lacks context and background. Take the shoe analogy. If we're all barefoot and need shoes, we give everyone the same pair of shoes. Let's call it men's size 8 in White Vans. Great everyone now as shoes and can go about their business but it's not actually that helpful for all. What about those who larger or smaller feet, flat feet, or may not be able to wear those shoes. What about women or children? One size does not fit all. Equity is giving people what they need. In reality, not everyone would even need shoes, why would you give shoes to someone who already has them? If I have two pairs, and everyone gets a pair then I will have two. Why not give both pairs of shoes to someone who does not have any so we can then be equal? What we really have to strive for is equity as least at this point. Things are not equal to begin with. If we're playing a board game and you start for steps ahead then pull a card that all players move forward one space, we have all moved equally, which has done little. Yes, we moved, but you will still beat me. It's time to play a new game and talk about equality and opportunity.

It all comes down to education. Without it our opportunities are severely limited, and take it a step further to note that the quality of education definitively matters. It's the reason why saying you went to Harvard or Yale is taken differently than *insert community college here. Ideally, the fact that you have a bachelor's degree should be enough but we'll get to that later. If we really want equality, then we would start through our K-12 schooling systems. It's not enough that every child gets to go to school but they should go to a school with resources (enough to adequately pay teachers - who deserve exponentially more than they get), small class sizes, and amiable facilities. It depends on where you live right, and that depends on how much money your family makes. There is a reason public schools are levied by local taxes. It keeps those with money distinct from those without. Why do certain people get ahead and go to Ivy League schools, not only because of their elite schooling, but even more importantly because there is little to no competition from others. We know the suburbs are white and discriminatory housing practices lead to their creation. Read up on white flight, redlining, and the projects (they are called projects for a reason; aka human social experiment to see what people would do when disenfranchised and cramped together) at your leisure. It's not just a racial issue, it's a socioeconomic issue. If we really wanted equality, then we equalize our school systems. That does not mean denigrate the great schools, but rather bring up the schools that are failing. What sense does it make to cut funding from schools whose students do poorly on standardized tests? Shouldn't they be getting more help. How can someone be expected to learn in classes of 30+ kids, sharing sparse tattered textbooks, with paint peeling off the walls, and a teacher who is overworked and underpaid? We don't want equality, we want opportunity for no one but ourselves. But we have to know that inherently our success is directly linked to someone else's failure - are we okay to live with that?

In the grand scheme of things everyone getting a quality education would only lead to the betterment of our society overall. Those who are more educated are more engaged civically, contribute fiscally to the economy, and are more positive members of their communities. We need more educated people, badly in fact. There is a serious deficit for technical and apprenticeship type jobs but they require a basic education before pursing further training. Somebody has to be the electrician, plumber, welder, etc. Why take away an opportunity for someone else if we have no intention of filling those voids ourselves? This notion of jobs being beneath us is absolutely toxic. If we a find a job too demeaning then why do we expect others to do it? Servers, custodial staff, factory workers, etc. are so necessary. If we want to level the playing field we have to start with education. Beyond that, our youth should/would be able to make informed decisions, be financially responsible, media literate, and exposed to/gain an appreciation for diversity. College is not a right, but rather a privilege. Not everyone needs it but no matter what people should keep learning past high school. If college will not be free then it should be more accessible, or at the least information about the options for post-secondary education must be. We need to provide opportunities for people to move forward, what they do with the chance is their choice.

Welfare is woefully misunderstood. This myth of black welfare queens pumping out children to play the government is a bold-face life. White women in fact both benefit most from not only federal welfare but affirmative action as well (#staymadabby #beckywiththebadgrades). Welfare, like so many other programs in our country, needs to be brought up to date. Why do we demonize people who end up in tough situations instead of helping them get the opportunity to get out them? Again, maybe we don't actually want equality for everyone, just advancement for ourselves. Take a teen pregnancy - having a child is ridiculously expensive, and so is daycare. Instead of allowing a child to drop out of school we should doing whatever we can to help them make it through. No school = no job; no job = no income; no income = burden to society ... right? Why not pay have a corporation pay for daycare, and let the child choose a tangible career path at a technical school, graduate, and start a guaranteed job at said sponsoring corporation that they need filled. It's a short time the person is on welfare, as it should be. They get back on their feet and keep moving instead of staying stuck and out of opportunities. We should be grateful that we most do not need government assistance, but know that people are doing their best ... most of the time.

I could write for days on institutional disenfranchisement, economic shut out, and the societal pariah branding of people of color, people with disabilities, queer folk, etc. but I'll save it for another day or you can do the research on your own. We know race, class, gender, religion, etc. are social constructs and yet they have very real implications to how treat one another. This is not the land of opportunity. We are too individualistic. We care about ourselves and few others. We want to progress but how can we thrive if others are suffering. I need us to know that the way to move forward is together. We all have to go. We are judged by the weakest and most vulnerable of us. It's by strengthening them that we strengthen ourselves. We have to provide opportunity. We need to give the benefit of the doubt. We have to believe in the humanity of all people, especially in times of disagreement
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Again we find ourselves in the midst of another deceased hashtag trending because police shot a *plot twist - unarmed, black man with a concealed weapon ... in an open carry state (*wait what?). Let me break down my feelings on this. I am so tired of this nonsense happening. It is murder, point blank, period, full stop. I refuse to watch the graphic video of this preventable violence. I will not sit through another interview where a black woman is made to perform a public mourning for the entertainment of apathetic audiences. I will not listen to the gut-wrenching sobs and wails of a child without a father. I am done. It is desensitizing. It has lost its value. It messes with your head. It is too damn real, because it is real. I will not entertain the media as they post mug shots and drag this dead man to filth discrediting his character while he lays dead unable to defend himself. I will not stand for the police officers being put on leave only to return to work without an indictment for excessive force. I have already seen this episode and I'm changing the freaking channel.

I will not endure the rhetoric of "but what about ..." or all lives matter or not all cops. Listen here, yes not all cops are excessively violent and not all black people are criminals, but until that narrative is changed we are at an impasse. Your job is to serve and protect, all people, not just white, middle class, heterosexual, able-bodied, Christian neighborhoods. If you are unable to do so, you chose the wrong job. I don't even blame these officers in these heinous executions. They do not have the proper training to go out into these communities and help. Their exposure to diversity, cultures, and peoples different from them is limited or provided through stereotypical caricatures as depicted in the media. They do not see people of color as human. They think themselves licensed to kill as the judge and the jury in the moment. People of color, especially we the barbaric gargantuan black men are inherently dangerous (because negro slave narratives still prevail today), no matter we are doing. But if you cannot see someone as human, remove your bias, taze them, or incapacitate them without killing them, we have a problem. The problem even more so is a broken corrupt system that conveys these notions and protects them even when they have taken a life. I do not blame you. I blame the institution that awards your badges and tells you that your life is more important than those you are supposed to give your life to protect. There are good cops, they are bad cops, and there are even mediocre half-assed regular cops - all I ask for is an equal opportunity to judged in a court of law by a jury of my peers instead of by the barrel of your gun because you are afraid of me and my blackness. The benefit you give straight white men who go on mass murdering shooting sprees, brandish their weapons at you, and still are taken alive - pass some of that shit over here, sprinkle that benefit of the doubt, everywhere. Be kind, be better, or be done.

Let me finish today with speaking on my disillusionment with the blacklivesmatter movement. It's guerrilla tactics and lack of direction have been so misconstrued. The founders had clearly attainable systematic and institutional changes. Nowadays nonsense goes down and people are quick to use it without purpose. It has lost it's meaning. I am over it. It has no gumption and stands for nothing. I want realistic change like the aforementioned things above. I want our textbooks diversified, syllabi queered, and leadership rethought. I want pathways open for undocumented students, resources offered to students living in poverty, and better hiring/sustaining practices for faculty/students with marginalized identities. I want opportunity through and through. We can only make it if we first have the opportunity to get there. X 

*Will link sources and facts for this post soon!

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