Blog Posts Life

October Surprise

The first thing we need to discuss is the elephant in the room: what is an October Surprise? An October Surprise is defined by Wikipedia as, “in US political jargon… a news event that may influence the outcome of an election (particularly one for US presidency) whether deliberately planned or spontaneously occurring.” This year’s surprise is one that has definitely thrown itself into our faces with impeccable timing.

On Sept. 29, the first presidential debate for the 2020 campaign period was held in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a disaster, to say the very least. According to a report by CBS News, Donald Trump interrupted Joe Biden around 73 times during the nasty squabble. Another report by the Slate, estimates that Trump interrupted both Biden and the moderator of the debate at least 178 times. The debate turned for the worse after the moderator asked a question to Trump about if he would condemn white supremacists and tell them to stand down at protests. After being told that he was being expected to condemn the ‘Proud Boys’, 45 said in response, “Proud Boys – stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what… somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”

After being nationally and globally criticized for his role in the debates and the news of changes coming to debate rules, Trump issued his familiar sort of apology, saying he didn’t even know who or what he was really talking about. Of course, it seems like 45 has a history of news coming forth more shocking than the previous day’s headlines. Only two days after the debate, on October 1, the surprises began to roll in. News broke that Trump’s close aide, Hope Hicks, tested positive for coronavirus. The ball only sped up from there. The morning of October 2, we found out that Trump and his wife also tested positive. By the fifth of October, there were a confirmed 14 members of government, white house staff, and Trump family with positive Covid-19 tests.

As much information as this seems to be, the last October surprise, in 2016, involved much more dramatic information being released over the course of a single weekend. In the weekend of October 7-9 of 2016, we learned of Russia meddling in elections, Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” interview, Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails, the dis-invitation of Trump to a rally with House speaker Paul Ryan, a classic Trump “apology”, the second presidential debate, Trump’s impromptu press conference right before the debate that included 4 women (three of whom were accusing Bill Clinton of sexual harassment, and the forth whose rapist was represented in court by Hillary Clinton in her attorney days), and an attempt by Trump of ultimate intimidation by trying to have the 4 women sit in the family section of the debate audience.

We have endured these foolish antics for too long. The president has endorsed white supremacists, police and government agencies are preparing for mass turmoil on election day, we are one of the most affected/infected countries in the world in terms of coronavirus, we are the laughing stalk of democracy around the world. Now is seriously the time to get out and vote. It’s time to get rid of this kind of clownery.

We already experienced one jam packed weekend last election cycle and here we are at the start of a week that has already seemed to put the icing on the cake this year. The thing is we still have two presidential debates, a vice presidential debate, and 25 days left until this month is over; the real question on everybody’s mind now is what else is in store?

Blog Posts Life

20 Things I Learned Before 21

Well today is my favorite day of the year, it’s my birthday! I finally made it to 21, whew! I know Tuesdays are usually political, but this week I’m going to switch things up in light of the Facebook live broadcast I have scheduled for this Thursday, October 1st at 7:30 pm, regarding the case of Breonna Taylor. Make sure to check out the post that I wrote last Thursday, to be engaged in the conversation this week.

Today I just want to share with everyone twenty things that I learned while I was 20. There definitely were more than twenty lessons this past year, but these are the top of the list, so without further ado, here’s twenty thing I learned in year 20.

  1. Every problem you have, no matter the cause or who else is involved, is YOUR problem to work through.
  2. Credit is a game, but we all need to be on the winning side. Build your credit by making purchases and make sure to always pay AT LEAST your minimum balance when things are due.
  3. You will find peace nowhere if you don’t have it on your own
  4. Mental health issues are real and it’s okay to not be okay sometimes
  5. It’s okay to get/want/need help
  6. Everything in life is a game of balance, keep your scales even
  7. Love alone is not enough to fix things with people
  8. When you invest in yourself, you are not missing out on anything
  9. Live life in terms of sufficiency instead of scarcity; if you’re always worried about what you don’t have, or running out of what you do have, you’ll never be able to truly enjoy anything
  10. Don’t kill yourself for a job; they don’t give a damn about you
  11. Invest time in things that make you happy, regardless of the stigmas that they may have.
  12. It’s okay to be passionate, loud and outgoing, but it’s also okay to be shy, quiet, and reserved; be you at all times
  13. Speak up for what you believe in
  14. Make boundaries EVERYWHERE and stand on them; if you know you do/don’t want to do something, say it and mean it
  15. If you want to smoke weed, grow your own because this stuff out here now is getting crazy
  16. Move at your pace, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re moving too fast/slow
  17. You don’t have to be 100% sure of every decision you make; trial and error is a great teacher
  18. Keep all receipts and important documents stored in a single, organized location
  19. Save money; trust me, that food at home still tastes just as good today as it did yesterday
  20. Live in love, passion, and understanding for others

I am so grateful, so blessed to have made it this far. I am constantly learning and growing and I accept all the things that life has for me. Thank you to everyone for all the birthday wishes, for all the love and continued support. I hope this day is as great for everyone as it has been for me.

Thanks for another chance to #TakeALook at things with me this Tuesday!

Blog Posts Life

Sexual Harassment at Work

Sexual harassment: what is it, who is it affecting, how do we deal with it? According to Oxford Languages by way of google search, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social situation.

In 2017, the spark of the “#MeToo” movement brought sexual harassment back to the forefront of media and conversation. Through this hashtag, many people told their stories, shared information, and stood together against sexual harassment in different industries. We were flooded with information in the news and on social media from all walks of life; men, women, gender neutral, musicians, actors and actresses, janitors, CEOs, and various types of professionals were included. I took the liberty of interviewing a few strong and willing people that wanted to share their stories. All names and jobs are changed for the protection of these people, but their stories, just the same, are ones that need to be told and evaluated.

The first interview I conducted was with a gentleman we’ll call Sam. Sam works in the warehouse industry and has for many years. While working as a forklift operator, Sam encountered an older woman that had a sort of leg fetish; the woman said that she “liked calf muscles.” She took it upon herself to comment on and even touch/rub on Sam’s legs whenever she saw them exposed. Sam, wanting to avoid issues and respect his elders, awkwardly laughed and asked, “why are you touching me?” The laugh may have thrown the woman off as she never stopped. Sam said he never reported the incidents because “she’s a lady and I’m a dude; people would call me gay.” While he said this was not his first experience of sexual harassment he said this was the one that made him feel the most uncomfortable. When asked for one suggestion towards reporting, responding to, and/or preventing sexual harassment, Sam suggested “keep pepper spray” as a deterrent and mechanism for defense if necessary.

The next interview I conducted was with a young woman we’ll call Susan. Susan worked in child care as a daycare teacher. Through the day, she was surrounded by other women at work, but her issues came when it was time for the children to be picked up. There were always comments made by some of the fathers that made her feel uncomfortable, but no one had the persistent or gall of one father in particular, let’s call him Will.

Will, a married man with a daughter attending the daycare that Susan worked at, would hassle Susan with inappropriate comments. He engaged in slightly touching her saying things like, “you can watch my daughter at my house” and “I’d love to see you outside of here.” Susan initially just ignored her harasser As she was not his daughter’s teacher, she would try her hardest to avoid him altogether during pick-up. This didn’t help though. Will would ask the other teachers where Susan could be found, and although they knew that she was essentially hiding from the man, they would still point him in her direction.

Susan eventually addressed the man and his wife. His wife defended his actions by saying that he was just joking and being nice. After being blown off by them, Susan took her complaints to the director of the daycare looking for some sort of solace and solution. This also got her nowhere. Despite the strict rule against teacher-parent relations, the director of the daycare told Susan to “be lucky; you get all the compliments.” To make matters worse, Will eventually found Susan’s social media accounts and attempted to engage with her via personal messages. All these things combined lead Susan to finding another place of employment; she decided to completely change industries to avoid any possibility of running into another father like Will. When asked for suggestions on reporting, responding to, and preventing sexual harassment, Susan said, “every time an employee seems or reports being uncomfortable, coworkers and employers should take the situation as seriously as possible; regardless of opinions on the situation.”

The last interview I conducted was with a woman we’ll call Sally. She works in the automotive industry. Sally commented by first saying that her job depends mostly on group work and being able to be reached for communications. Although she did have a company email address, she was not provided a laptop or cell phone, so all her communications were done through her personal phone number. She describes her most uncomfortable sexual harassment experience as one that started at work and tended to follow her home. After giving out her phone number to a group of colleagues, one of the women in the group started to make advances. It started as slight comments and sort of “class clown” notions while at work to get Sally’s attention. Once when shaking hands at the end of the day, the woman, who we’ll call Kate, kissed Sally on the hand. Kate’s actions only escalated from here. She began to text Sally everyday. She sent good morning texts and instead of acting out in front of the group, Kate would send text messages complimenting or even complaining to Sally. Eventually, the two stopped working together, but they were still at the same job. Kate’s text messages became more and more personal. Text messages included Kate saying things such as “we were meant to be together,” and expressing anger when she felt that Sally was being too personal with other coworkers.

In this time, Sally expressed on multiple occasions that she had no sexual intentions when agreeing to work with Kate or giving out her phone number. Despite this, Kate persisted for months, essentially having full daily conversations with herself as Sally did not respond. After Kate transferred to another location, the comments went from sexual and possibly inviting, to threatening and more stalker like. Kate would call and text from different numbers and email addresses to try to get a response. She would send Sally text messages whenever they were on the same property. Comments would include, “I saw you today, and there were two seconds that you looked at me and I knew you’d eventually be mine forever.” Sally says she never saw Kate on the days when Kate remarked seeing her.

Sally ended up reporting these issues to the HR department of her company. Unfortunately, Sally was not at all satisfied with the results of this report. She said although the company addressed Kate and told her to stop, they tried to make a lot of the fault seem like Sally’s. Why had she let it go on for so long, why didn’t she block the numbers or change her own number. They also made the case seem to Sally like it was one of just custom harassment and not sexual harassment because both parties involved were female. While Sally reports the personal messages have stopped, she suspects that Kate has made fake pages on social media to follow her, as names much like Kate’s often show up in her views and messages. When asked for suggestions to aid in reporting, responding to, and preventing sexual harassment, Sally said, “just try to go to work, keep your head down, and go home. Hopefully they won’t notice you then.”

These are only three private instances of sexual harassment at work . All of these in different industries, under different circumstances; yet, we see how each situation is one that can and was severely uncomfortable. In one instance, it lead to the need to seek other employment altogether. While I am not saying that all employers don’t take sexual harassment seriously, I sat through interviews with people that admitted to originally being scared to even say something to their employers. People fear retaliation from their harassers or employers, being blown off, and even their story trying to be turned against them.

Determining what is sexual harassment is a call for employers to make. Although there is legislation about it, legislation states that there has to be a determination of frequency, severity, if the action is threatening/humiliating or just offensive and if it interferes with performance at work. Most of these things are based on perception beyond the victim’s. Despite all this, there are ways to report sexual harassment until it is taken seriously. If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, report it. Even if you only report it to a fellow colleague, sexual harassment claims can be reported by anyone it affects or makes uncomfortable, not just the victim. If things persist, take things up the chain of command. If possible, keep a log of every offense and communication so that people cannot try to contest your claim. There are sexual harassment hotlines that you can find for your state or job based on your location. If all else fails or you feel the need to go straight up the latter, you can file a claim with the EEOC.

I know that all these things seem long and tedious. I know that we all wish there was an easier way to avoiding, reporting, and responding to sexual harassment; but honestly, there just isn’t. The best advice I really have is to start by speaking up for yourself. Whenever you feel uncomfortable, make it clear to the person making you feel that way; don’t laugh or brush it off or take it lightly. I know that we try to be nice and avoid issues at work, but harassers often say that they “didn’t know” their behavior was inappropriate because the victim never spoke up, or laughed/chuckled at the comments.

As we learn to recognize and properly approach sexual harassment at work, let’s be sure to keep ourselves, co-workers, and employers in line and held accountable for all actions and claims of sexual harassment. Let’s remember to look out for each other at work. We all go to work to do our job and make it back home to our families; why not keep an eye out for people feeling uncomfortable in these professional spaces. Lastly, like yesterday’s post said, let’s remember to be kind. It is never easy to speak on being a victim of anything; remember to be kind with yourself and with others, especially as it relates to topics as sensitive as this.

As always, be blessed, be safe, and thanks for tuning in for another #TakeALook Tuesday!

Blog Posts Life

Operation Not Forgotten: Saving Our Children

On August 27, U.S. Marshals director, Donald Washington, held a press conference that told the brief story of what he and his team had been working on; a mission to save and rescue missing and endangered children. When the news broke, we learned that “Operation Not Forgotten” recovered 39 missing and endangered children across metro-Atlanta. Children were recovered from Gwinnett, Forsyth, Clayton, and Fulton counties, just to name a few. There were 9 suspects arrested with charges ranging from parental kidnapping and custodial interference to sex trafficking and weapons violations, according to a Washington Post report. The age ranges of the children rescued varied with the oldest being 17 and the youngest being as young as 3 years old.

According to Crime News, the FBI reported in the US, there are 765,000 children that go missing every year. That is 1 child every 40 seconds. Questions arise every time that news of sex trafficking and pedophilia make headlines. The most important of these questions always becomes, how do we keep our children safe? I’ve been thinking long and hard on this question and the truth is, there is no one answer that will put an end to this issue.

On a day to day basis, we are hassled with news of a rising race war and the newest tweet storm from 45 (Donald Trump), but why is it so often that mainstream media passes over the safety of our children. We’ve witnessed on multiple occasions the way that news and media outlets seem to sweep aside the growing numbers of kidnapping and sex trafficking in our nations. “Roughly 300 young girls in the Atlanta area are lured into trafficking every month,” the words of U.S. Marshals director Donald Washington. It’s not like people are unaware of these horrific numbers, but it does often seem like they don’t much care.

In the first day after we learned of Operation Not Forgotten, I watched a twitter storm of people angry that it didn’t make national headlines. I asked people that live in the metro-Atlanta area if they heard the news segment on the bust; even some of the people that watch the news everyday said that they missed the story. In the press conference, Washington wanted a clear message to be sent to the victims, “we will never stop looking for you,” but too often, it seems that the general public is left out of these efforts unless the victim has some sort of elitism. Are we to blame for our own ignorance? Are we just not interested enough in efforts to find and save our children? Or is there a hand in media that reverts our attention to the same few topics that keep us divided?