For The Love Of Pod(casts)

 

Media is ever-changing, overwhelming, and always questionable. Major news outlets and leading headlines tend to do nothing but trigger and divide, and even an accidental glimpse at the comment section can make you wish the world were flat so you could find an easy way off! (that’s a joke, please don’t debate with me in the comment section about a flat earth ).

As someone who got their professional start in media, I get it, but I just don’t enjoy that method of gathering information and gaining knowledge. Instead, I have used other far less stressful, far more entertaining, and far more informative ways to understand the goings-on of the world. Research articles, documentaries, google scholar, TED talks, and a few websites like The Guardian, Medium, Gapminder, and YouTube, are where I get a lot of my information. But my absolute favorite go-to, of course, are podcasts!

So without further ado, here are five of my favorites. If you have any you regularly listen to or recommend drop a comment in the comment section and I’ll be sure to check it out!

The Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain’s host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.” (description from the Hidden Brain website)

“Professor Elizabeth Joh teaches Intro to Constitutional Law and most of the time this is a pretty straight forward job. But with Trump in office, everything has changed. Five minutes before class Professor Joh checks Twitter to find out what the 45th President has said and how it jibes with 200 years of the judicial branch interpreting and ruling on the Constitution.Hosted by acclaimed podcaster Roman Mars (99% Invisible, co-founder Radiotopia), this show is a weekly, fun, casual Con Law 101 class that uses the tumultuous and erratic activities of the executive branch under Trump to teach us all about the US Constitution.” (description from What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law website)

State of the Human, the radio show of the Stanford Storytelling Project, shares stories that deepen our understanding of single, common human experiences—belonging, giving, lying, forgiveness—all drawn from the experiences and research of the Stanford community.” (description from the State of the Human website)

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but, for a show about knowing stuff, the Stuff You Should Know website sure is lacking on a description to help you know how their stuff works. There are actually several podcasts from the stuff network including another favorite of mine, Stuff Your Mom Never Told You.

Just when I thought one talk was amazing, they went and combined them by topics and included extra interviews! “TED Radio Hour hosted by Guy Raz is a journey through fascinating ideas: astonishing inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, new ways to think and create. Based on Talks given by riveting speakers on the world-renowned TED stage, each show is centered on a common theme – such as the source of happiness, crowd-sourcing innovation, power shifts, or inexplicable connections – and injects soundscapes and conversations that bring these ideas to life.” (description from TED Radio Hour website)

Your turn! Share your favorites! 

Louisiana: Home Sweet Home 

If you read only one thing today, let this be it.

Today, let’s look beyond a life in Louisiana filtered through the rose colored glasses of traditions marked by food, family, and fun. Let’s ask ourselves what life in Louisiana is all about on a day to day basis. Because life in Louisiana is not all crawfish boils, football games, and Mardi Gras.

At a time when environmental regulations and healthcare are simultaneously being taken away, what does that truly mean for those of us living in Louisiana? After all, we are more than “Sportsman’s Paradise”, we are Cancer Alley. The following article describes what life is like in places like Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Bossier City, Colfax, Reserve, New Roads, Mossville, St James Parish, Belle River, Diamond, and others. From one side of the state to the other, we are all effected by this.

Reality in Louisiana looks like this: Schools built on toxic dump sites. Water worse than Flint. Our air and streets being filled with dioxins (used in making chemical weapons), creosote, arsenic, lead, radioactive strontium, chloroprene, and too many others to name (and some we probably aren’t even aware of yet.) Cities where cancer rates are 40x that than the rest of the nation. Birth defects, miscarriages, stillbirths, and infertility. People unable to leave their homes for fear of exposure. An impact on our fishing industry and the health of the animals we are hunting and consuming.

We are consistently unknowingly being poisoned by exposure to carcinogens, neurotoxins, endocrine disrupters, teratogens, and mutagens. It’s easy to look at those words and gloss over the impact of what those words mean, so please let those words sink in. Our swamps have been injected with industrial waste since the mid-80’s and our plants release chemicals and toxins at hundreds of times the regulated rates. Our life here is “a toxic open-air chemistry experiment next to human beings, and their backyards and schools and churches.”

And all of it is done for the profit of companies at our expense. Companies, might I add, that operate under the industrial tax exemption plan and rob our state of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue (but I’ll do that blog post another time). And I get it. My dad, like many others in Louisiana, works in oil and natural gas. Oil and Natural Gas has provided financially for my family. In reality, everything I am sharing is a result of things very personal to me and many others in our state. This is not about attacking big corporations, this is about the reality of the situation and what it means for us. This is about how we move forward from where we are.

Below are some key points to an in depth discussion about the issues listed above. Yes, this is a lengthy and more time consuming read. The information provided so far has given you a small overview, but there is much more to the conversation. The rest of this post includes 8 statements taken from this article. While you may not have time at the moment to read it in its entirety (because it is long), I hope you at least save the original article to come back to later, because this is one of the most important things you will read about life in Louisiana.

Because one woman’s statement sums up our crisis best. “I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve seen die.” And if we’re honest with ourselves, we know our life has been impacted by this. We smell it, we feel it. We all know many diagnosed with cancer and we’ve seen our children get sicker. We all know this exists, we just might not have recognized it fully yet.

So please continue reading below…

“A few blocks past the Superdome—you’ll find a school being constructed on an old waste dump. ‘All the toxins from the landfill are still there,’ says toxicologist Wilma Subra. These toxins include lead, mercury, and arsenic, exposure to which can lead to reproductive damage, and skin and lung cancer. Even more astonishing, Subra says hundreds of schools across Louisiana have been built on waste dumps. Why? Dumps represent cheap land often already owned by a cash-strapped town or city, plus serve as rare high ground in a flood-prone state. And this is just the beginning of Louisiana’s nightmare.”

“If you think the situation in Flint is bad, there are approximately 400 public water systems in Louisiana with lead or other hazardous substances leaching into the drinking water. Meanwhile, hundreds of petrochemical plants peppered across the state’s lush swampy interior freely emit carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and neurotoxins into the air and water, as well as inject them deep into the earth.”

“Activities too toxic for other parts of America are regularly shuttled to Louisiana, often at the eager request of the state’s politicians. ‘Louisiana,’ says the General [Honore], ‘is a dumping ground.'”

“In the 1970s, notoriously corrupt Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards (he spent eight years in federal prison on racketeering charges) invited, ‘all these industries to relocate to Louisiana,’ Subra says. ‘He granted them benefits and permits that weren’t restrictive, the corporations came and these facilities just operated however they wanted.’ When neighboring communities began complaining about bad air and water, the petrochemical companies—as is presently happening in Mossville—began buying them out.”

“With natural gas presently booming in the U.S., Cancer Alley is buzzing with activity. Earlier this year Houston-based Yuhuang Chemical, a subsidiary of China-based Shandong Yuhuang Chemical broke ground on a massive methanol plant in St. James Parish, in the middle of Cancer Alley and right beside the community of St. James. Following the American way, Yuhuang simply bought the town. The plant, to be completed next year, will cook natural gas into methanol, used as the feedstock in many plastics. ‘The process creates so much pollution,’ says Subra, ‘that they can’t even do this in China.'”

“Taylor was born in Reserve and remembers when DuPont began neoprene production in 1969, and the unexplainable wave of sickness and death that followed. Production of neoprene—dive wetsuits, insulated lunch boxes, beer koozies—emits toxic chloroprene, and this is the only plant in America that produces it… One of his main concerns is the Fifth Ward Elementary School, which borders the plant, and where just this past January chloroprene concentrations in the air were recorded at 332 times the federal guidelines. ‘If we can commit an act of war against another country for chemically poisoning their children,’ says Taylor, ‘how can we stand by and do nothing when chemicals are poisoning our own children?… It has a real and immediate effect on you, the kids know to look out for it. They’ll be outside playing basketball and run in with their eyes and throat burning. Your chest starts hurting, you start breathing differently.'”

“The industries in these community (sic) become partners in education and have total control over the topics that are taught. If you have a student who wants to do a project about plant emissions, they get told, ‘No.’ And the school board members need money to run for election, and where do you think their money comes from…? Louisiana is intentionally raising a generation devoid of the knowledge necessary to comprehend their own toxic situation. Not only is the state poisoning its people, but it is taking away their means of being able to understand that they are being poisoned. And it doesn’t stop there. Louisiana State University and many reputable institutions across America receive large sums of money from the petrochemical industry, so who, Subra asks, is going to do the research that actually critiques these corporations?”

“If you want to tell us that to have plastics in hospitals and gas in your Subaru and neoprene scuba suits poor people in Louisiana will need to get cancer and lose their lungs and raise sick children, then fine, give us an honest calculation, tell us how many people will be killed, how many years shaved off these children’s lives. But don’t tell us there is no other way, don’t darken our horizons from the start and try to convince us that a society that rocketed human beings through the black hell of space and landed them on the moon cannot run its vehicles on a new fuel and make materials without chemicals whose production maims and kills people.”

Click here to read the full article these statements were taken from 

Click here to see the photo gallery from the 2017 Baton Rouge Science March

Lies they tell: lazy leeches and welfare queens

 

When the media tells your story, you have to be prepared for the negative responses… 

You have to be prepared for the backlash…

for the targeting…

for the trolls…

for the downright hatred.

You have to be prepared for the hurt…  

for it to get personal (really, really personal).

You have to be prepared for it to go the exact opposite way you desire it to.

But most of all, you have to be prepared to take control of the narrative and to continue to shape it and speak it.

Here was my go-to response to negative comments (as you can see the beginning in most of these screenshots). I find it very necessary to make sure that I am in control of what is being said about me. I knew today was coming, I knew the comments that would be made, I knew how my story could have been spun, so I was ready to take the time to try to have conversations about it. This is what I want everyone to know that the video didn’t speak on when it comes to my life…

“Everyone commenting will be happy to know that I do, in fact, have a job and am a contributing member to society as well as a tax payer. When I first qualified for Medicaid expansion, I was doing marketing for Chick fil A and was a freelance writer who focused on the important issues in south Louisiana like government and non-profit partnerships, education, disability rights, and religion (one of my articles was even given to the Pope himself and many of the conservative leaders, including Bill Cassidy since I wrote about his wife’s charter school, have praised my work).

Now, I own a community advocacy organization that pours every cent into community development. During the flood here in BR last summer I helped over 1,000 families get OTC medication, first aid treatment, prescriptions from an RN, food, hygiene supplies, bedding, clothing, cleaning supplies, school supplies, etc. I also supplied many of the distribution centers with the items they handed out to their communities. I also worked in the shelters, bringing awareness to policies that were not providing for those who had been displaced that were struggling in shelter environments due to autism and those who were deaf or hard of hearing who needed services like interpreters, as well as bringing awareness to issues for pet owners and the treatment of pets in the shelters.

I’ve worked closely in the community regarding police reform starting with human trafficking several years ago (with specific training regarding human trafficking now being required for every officer and Louisiana leading the country in new policies in that regard), and now currently with issues of race and the shooting of Alton Sterling and now the shooting of DeJuan Guillory. In fact, when it actually flooded in my home city, I was in NYC doing a 4 day police ride-along to understand some of the policies they have in place regarding protest and community outreach.

I keep the public aware of bills that are going up for the current legislative sessions and what that means for our citizens, families, and children. And I attend as many school board meetings, metro council meetings, legislative sessions, and community outreach meetings as possible, as well as organize for others to be involved. I also help register people to vote, make them aware of who their representatives are, and help them learn their rights as citizens.

I am in the process of raising funds to open a community outreach center focusing on emotional support, family development, and community involvement. Providing nearly free groups and services when these areas are not being addressed in our community as a whole on a regular basis. And the five year goal is to also open an alternative education center and affordable housing complex for single mothers.

Medicaid has allowed me the opportunity to do the things I do because I am not dependent on receiving healthcare benefits from an employer that pays minimum and eats up 100% of my time. I also am able to take the money I save for my healthcare and my children’s healthcare each month and put that directly back into products and services for the community.

I was raised conservative republican and understand 100% the talking points and the fears. One of the clips is from a meeting with healthcare leaders, representatives from the Dept of Health and Hospitals, and community advocates. I’ve also attended meetings with the Governor and Mayors from around the state and heard the positive that has come to our state from Medicaid expansion. How it has SAVED our state money, how it has saved LIVES, and how it has helped businesses just like mine.

So, hopefully, that sheds a little light to my story. You can view my company Compassion Louisiana LLC on FB.”

One thing that I fully wanted to get across with my healthcare message is that it truly is hardworking citizens who use these benefits, and that we need to shift our mindset as a whole to recognizing the ways that government programs can help create a stronger community. When you’re working 3 jobs and still rely on benefits like a lot of the single moms in my community, only to consistently hear the rhetoric that you are lazy, a mooch, unworthy, a welfare queen, etc. it doesn’t create a sense of hopefulness for your future. However, when you receive benefits and are being uplifted and told that you can accomplish that vision you have in your head of your ideal career, it makes you do and be better.

I included the FB comments that I did because these are not just rogue, random trolls. This is the mindset that revolves around the discussion. I included them because when you know my story, when you know my family, when you know the work I do in the community, you know that those simply do not apply in any way. Like I said in the video, this is not a religious or political ideology. This is about humanity and compassion. In a meeting I sat through earlier this week, we discussed how the ITEP (industrial tax exemption plan) has robbed Louisiana of $842.6 million in revenue since 2000 (imagine if the study had gone all the way back to 1936 when this plan began), with $28.8 million being robbed from our school system and $71 million being robbed from our public entities as a whole last year alone, it hurts that I as an individual, as a business owner, as a tax payer, and as an advocate for our community am vilified as the epitome of what is wrong with our country and why our state is in the position it is in.

My story doesn’t have the tear-jerking, heart-tugging narrative that the families who have had their children’s lives saved because of Medicaid expansion and the ACA. My story doesn’t seem as urgent as the individual who needs the ACA for treatment of a deadly disease. In fact, at one press conference regarding health care reform I sat at a table with those who had these stories, and I actually caught a woman as she collapsed from her illness in the middle of the interview. Some may wonder why I believe my story should even be told in comparison. I believe my story is important because my story speaks to healthcare for society as a whole beyond just the medical aspect. I believe my story speaks to the revolutionary power of an affordable, accessible, universal program. 

When I say that I will fight for equality in our healthcare system, I don’t simply mean for low income individuals, single parent homes, small business owners, or special needs families. I don’t mean I will fight specifically for any “label” that could apply to myself personally. I mean that I will fight for us as a nation to reform our system to benefit the citizens rather than the large corporations. I mean that I will fight for all of us. I will fight for it so that my children don’t have to. I will fight for it so that the basic needs of future generations can be taken care of and our system can move on to other issues.

We are truly standing in a moment of History where future generations will look back on us. I know where I stand. I stand on a side that I was not originally on, but have moved to as I have had to experience this first hand. It is truly disheartening that as a nation we can’t understand until something happens to us. I share my story in hopes that some may begin to understand without having to live the experience. I will continue to stand strongly, and I ask that you stand with me.

 

Disability Rights: What today’s protest teaches us

We always say we are only as strong as our weakest link, if I were to apply that to American society and disabilities “weakest” would simply mean most physically vulnerable. It would certainly not mean lacking in strength or force or influence, because if there is anything I have learned from persons with disabilities it is how to fight. In fact, they’re literally the ones who taught me how to fight. Like most, I didn’t realize the issues surrounding special needs and disabilities until it became my own reality with the diagnosis of my oldest child with autism. That was what truly spurred my activist heart into motion. And my training came from online forums where I was introduced to real life warriors.

One thing that certainly didn’t shock me by this protest was the fierceness of the protestors. Make no mistake, their bodies may seem fragile, but their spirits and voices soar. While many watching may have been caught off guard that such a physically vulnerable group would put themselves at risk, I was not. This is the way it works in activism. Those privileged enough to not have to fight frequently don’t, leaving the vulnerable exposed as they fight for their very lives. And, with a sense of pride, I cheered them on as they were dragged from their chairs and continued to shout. “SHOW THEM HOW STRONG YOU REALLY ARE!” I hope and pray that their fight did not go in vain as too many fights do.


(This certainly was not the first time there have been protests and arrests of persons with disabilities. This story is from March.)

Today, as I watched footage of protestors with disabilities being removed from Mitch McConnell’s office my heart broke. Not because I felt any more emotion for persons of disabilities than I do for other protestors, but because the way they were handled showed a complete and utter lack of respect for personhood and a complete lack, yet again, of respect for protest. A few points may have been lost and may seem like sympathy for “weaker” persons. Make no mistake this is not what this is. Just because a person has a wheelchair or an oxygen mask makes them no less able to utilize their rights of free speech and protest. This is not about sympathy, this is about the overarching treatment of all protestors.

This is about the fact that a wheelchair (or a cane or any other type of medical equipment) is an extension of a person. Remember the story of this school that tried to take away the cane of a blind student as punishment? They, essentially, removed his eyes. His cane was not just an accessory, it was how he was able to see. Equally, the officers removing persons from wheelchairs and carrying them off is akin to cutting off the legs of an able-bodied protestor so they will be easier to handle. It is unacceptable. Yes, even able-bodied protestors are carried out, and that is a dehumanizing enough act, but what did they do with these persons once they were removed into police custody and were robbed of their ability to sit or stand?


Were these protestors simply lined up on the ground with no caregivers and no ability to move themselves? Were their vitals monitored? Did they receive proper services like interpreters for the deaf or hard of hearing? Were they immediately given access to lawyers (knowing many may have had mental disabilities) or were they questioned and left to legally hang themselves? We know that the most vulnerable among us is rarely cared for properly, we know that even able-bodied protestors are frequently treated worst of all (being locked in dog cages, being denied feminine hygiene products, etc.) so none of these questions fall beyond the scope of reason. Were they handled properly by the police?

But the most disturbing thing of all was that they were treated in such a way over speaking out about healthcare. How is it that when they were there to have their voices heard over being treated fairly in regards to their health, to remain protected and safe, that they were removed in such a manner? Is there something so threatening about a group of people in a hallway holding signs and chanting? This was an order that the Senate Majority Leader made in response to his constituents. Is there a way for us to really have our voices heard or will we consistently be dragged (literally) for trying? It truly makes no sense that those obviously in need of healthcare and most impacted would be shut down by those making the decision.


I mean, call me an idealist, but wouldn’t they be invited in to the table of those supposedly representing them?

But so far we haven’t been able to address education (in Louisiana, Cassidy specifically ignored letters, petitions, phone calls, and those gathering in his office) and people were even villainized for using their voices at townhalls after being ignored for so long. So far, gatherings about the Bayou Bridge pipeline (including our crawfishing industry, homeowners, scientists, and flood victims) have been ignored in all decisions regarding the project. And we all know that there has yet to be a true space devoted to the community speaking out about Alton Sterling or desires for police reform. When do we say enough is enough and community participation MUST be protected? Are we going to let them arrest everyone?

It’s easy to look at a group of protestors with disabilities and feel a lot of shock and sympathy and rage and fear over their treatment. But let’s not forget that this is how protestors (and citizens simply using their rights to assembly and free speech) are treated in America. This is how Native Americans are treated when their lands are targeted for unwanted pipelines. This is how African Americans are treated when they stand up for justice for the dead men and women in their community. This is how the LGBTQ community is treated when they stand up and speak for marriage and bathroom rights. This is how the Muslim community is treated when they want to travel. It is always the vulnerable among us treated in such a way.

Rain, Rain, Go Away: Trauma of raindrops on a tin roof

For most, the sound of rain is sought after.

Every sound machine I have ever owned included the sound of “rain”. In fact, it included the sound of rain on many settings varying in intensity from “light rain” to even “thunderstorm”.  Many friends who have custom built homes even wanted a tin roof just for the sound. FB statuses used to be filled with statements like “Relaxing on this rainy day” or “Falling asleep to the sound of the storm”… but no more.

The sound of rain has become like a gunshot, triggering anxiety, fear, and a sense of danger. How does one sleep wondering if the water will again rise? How can one relax when your body is reliving the trauma of packing up what little you could and walking back into a muck covered, completely destroyed home a few days later? How can one read a book when you feel you need to grab your children and run?

PTSD. If you are struggling with your emotions since the flood, if the sound of the rain makes your chest tighten, you are not alone. Our city experienced major trauma. Reports of mental health crisis since the flood have doubled (that is not counting those who have no sought help), and it will take years for our emotional health as a city to level out again. If you are struggling, your feelings are real, valid, and completely understandable.

Depression, anxiety, nightmares, those are what we would automatically think of when facing stress reactions to trauma, but there are many more common reactions that you can see here. As we are in the midst of hurricane season, and with the threat of storms approaching, do not ignore your feelings of stress, fear, exhaustion, hopelessness, or anger. Know that there are many in our city who understand, and many who can help.

In fact, if you are struggling, reach out via the contact form to be connected to local resources or to just talk.

 

Flood Relief Photo Gallery

The Flood, The Beginning: August 16, 2016

All of the areas that flooded in August of 2016

While Compassion Louisiana was a dream for several years, the services I was able to provide after the flood was the culmination of everything I had been doing for almost a decade. It was the moment that I realized the community saw me as a resource separate from the organizations I had been working with as donations poured in from around the world. Donations that helped not only with immediate recovery, but have continued to service the community since. And that was how Compassion Louisiana moved from a dream into reality.

The supplies were spread from Port Vincent to Duson and everywhere in between for individuals and their families, but also for donation centers set up in churches and homes and community centers. Individuals received not only the very basics, but supplies that could last their families for several weeks or months. The goal was to provide as many supplies as possible, so that the individuals wouldn’t continually need to return for more of these basic items. Instead of providing one roll of toilet paper, the goal was to provide one pack, instead of a handful of tampons, an entire box. And while this cut down on the number of people that could be helped, it raised the level of help they were able to get.

20 of the 100 individualized crawfish sacks made for the homeless and flood survivors

I also did not turn away those who had not flooded. While many organizations were limited to helping those who could show their FEMA papers, consistent work with the homeless before the flood meant that I was keenly aware of the impact on resources beyond the ones in our community that had flooded. Many shelters had been transformed for flood relief and most of the supplies once going to the consistently homeless were now being diverted from them. No one was turned away, and no one was limited with what they could take. While this is a different practice than most, the major heartbeat of Compassion is catching those falling through the cracks or preventing those who would normally be forgotten.

One of the most heart-wrenching stories from flood relief was getting a phone call one morning from a group in Mississippi that was coming with a group of youth wanting to do demolition work. They specifically listed an area they had heard of, but that area had not even flooded. It was an area that stood dilapidated and riddled with trash even before the flood waters ruined many areas. I also received many calls of “tent villages”, yet I knew only some of them were due to the flood and the others had existed pre-flood (yes, there were areas in our city that people lived in tents before the flood destroyed many homes). If there was one thing the flood revealed to many, it was the level of disparity in certain areas of our city.

Badge for work in the River Center when it became the main shelter

My work during the flood was limited compared to larger organizations since I was only one person, but I certainly wasn’t limited as far as what one person could do. I was able to do shelter work, animal rescue work, demolition and cleanup, deliveries (so. many. deliveries.), as well as attend many townhalls and community development meetings. It was 8 weeks straight of daily hustle, but during that time it proved to me exactly why I love this city. I got to meet even more amazing people in this community, and I heard so many amazing stories. The hugs and tears will fill me forever.

Baton Rouge Science March

On Saturday, April 22, 2017, over 400 people marched to the capitol voicing support for science, science funding, and science based policy. They held teach-ins and several guest speakers shared the importance and necessity of science in our communities. This is what protest looks like.

 

 

Remembering June 12 One Year Later

Today, we remember. We remember the 49 people who lost their lives for simply existing. We remember those who entered into the one place they were allowed to be themselves – with their dress, with their partners, with their bathroom choice – and were betrayed. We remember those whose lives and deaths will continue to be stigmatized.

Today, we take a moment to look at their faces:

Today, we take a moment to say their names:

Today, we recognize that this was one giant incident of hate, but that it is not an isolated one. And today, we acknowledge the things we have done as a society to contribute to the marginalization and oppression of the LGBTQ+ community. Today, we join together to prevent such a massacre in our own cities, to protect our communities, to move towards equality.

We recognize that the last two years have been the deadliest on record for transgender persons. We remember the 4 murders we have had in our own state in the last year – Chyna Gibson, Ciara McElveen, Jaquarrius Holland, and Devin Diamond.

We recognize the anti-LGBTQ legislation that continues to oppress people in our communities. (see the full 2016 report and projections of 2017 here)

We recognize that gay men are prohibited from donating blood – regardless of their status, regardless of testing that makes this requirement obsolete, and regardless of the fact that HIV/AIDS is not limited to gay persons.

We recognize that homophobia is real, that religious oppression of homosexuality exists, and that justice has not been achieved.

We remember the level of stigma that still exists for the body of one of the victims of the Pulse Massacre to go unclaimed by his own father.

Today, we stand together.

Join the community on Saturday, June 17, 2017, for the 11th annual Pride Festival at the Raising Canes River Center from 1pm – 8pm. Share the love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things you thought you knew, but were probably wrong

A friend’s FB post really kicked my brain into gear first thing this morning. He was watching “Wild Countdown” when they said zebras were black with white stripes. He always believed that zebras were white with black stripes (as was once the general consensus about zebras’ coloring). Now, some may roll their eyes and say, “It’s the same thing, so what really is the revelation here?” “They have white and black stripes, so what does it matter if the actual base color of the stripe is black or white?” “How does one even know and why would someone spend so much time thinking about zebras’ stripes?”

Well, it actually does matter. It matters because there is a true statement. It matters because one of these makes more sense scientifically (how the coloring of stripes form defines which part of the zebra is the base coloring and which is not). It matters because even when it is “just” the coloring of zebras people are going to argue about which one they believe is right and which one they believe is wrong regardless of evidence. Zebras’ stripes pretty much define America in 2017. But beyond that, what these things say to me, personally, is that there are so many things that I once believed to be true, that actually were not. I was wrong.

So, without further ado, here are five of my personal favorite revelations:

There are colors in the world that I didn’t even know existed because my eyes can’t see them.

No, I am not color-blind, and this isn’t about my vision personally. This is because of the way my eyes as a human are formed. In fact, as humans, we see more colors than some animals do, but we also see way less than others as well (and I can’t help but wonder how many colors the animals with even the best color vision can’t see that still exist in the world…) Here is an interesting article about what we would see if we had the vision of an eagle.

We have more than 5 senses. In fact, we have closer to TWENTY.

As a homeschool mom who has used alternative education options to teach my children, I’m constantly floored by the things my children learn that I didn’t. In fact, I’m constantly realizing things that I was taught as fact were, at the very least, major simplifications, and, at worst, flat out lies. Take our senses for example: touch, taste, sight, sound, smell. That was what I was taught composed human senses. But there is so much more to that. I guess this one example can fall under “major simplification”, after all touch does encompass the examples of pain, itch, temperature, and pressure, but what about the sense of balance or hunger/thirst and even the sense of needing to pee? If you’re curious to find out more about this topic, this is a great article.

Many religions share the same stories.

Being raised in a fundamentalist Christian household, I was led to believe that the Bible was the truth and the only one of its kind. Yet, when I began religious studies classes in college, I saw a different side to that narrative. From the creation story, to the flood, to the virgin birth to the death and resurrection, there are many overlapping stories in all religions both ancient and modern. Each culture seems to have their own “version” of an almost identical story-line, yet each religion is seemingly rejected by the next. Here are 10 gods that share stories with JesusHere are 15 stories of the flood that share the story of Noah. Even the two religions that in today’s society we see as “most against each other” share the same story-lines – Christianity and Islam – and here is just the example of the similarities they have with Jesus.

The Republican Party and The Democratic Party have switched sides.

When we hear about the original “parties” of the United States, we always seem to frame it with the beliefs of the parties in existence today (even historians if FB comment sections are any indicator), but the parties have been very fluid throughout history for many reasons. In fact, over time the parties have actually switched sides on the issues. How relevant that actually is to your views of your party is up to you, the facts are simply the facts.

Slavery is not dead, and it never took racism with it.

This could be an entire post in and of itself. Slavery never died. In fact, more people are enslaved today than ever before through human trafficking and the prison system (both are significant problems in Louisiana which has been among the top in the country in cases of human trafficking as well as having the largest prison population in the entire world). Along with the fact that slavery is still alive and well in the United States of America, so is racism. In truth, the government itself systematically segregated the country and we still have the lasting results of that system today. Racial microaggressions exist on a daily basis in all of our interactions and they are very harmful, yet they are often unnoticed by the ones using them and, when pointed out, often defended. Louisiana has long been recognized nationally for not only its history of racism, but its current catering to it. A concept that has become more and more obvious as our current political season wears on.

I could spend all day listing things that over the last decade alone I have had to reexamine (something about moving from your 20’s to your 30’s makes you start to question everything), but I obviously have to draw the line somewhere. So, now it’s your turn.

What are some things that you once believed wholeheartedly to be true, that have turned out to be either major simplifications or flat out falsehoods?