Archive for voice

If you think speaking out is pointless, think again.

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think before speaking out did I just say that

Speaking out is the one thing we can still do of effect change. We are still able to use our voices in print, in letters to the editor, in blogs, on the Tee Vee, Radio, and Internet Machines, and most importantly, at the ballot box. Speaking out is our strength, our peaceful show of force, our (non-lethal) weapon against discrimination, inequality, and oppression.

Yes, it can be frustrating, ineffective, an exercise in futility, and drive us nearly insane when we are ignored. However, occasionally, speaking out leads to victories, big and small. Here is one of the smaller ones that could morph into something huge. Via the Los Angeles Times:

Responding to a sharp public backlash, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler revised his proposed Internet traffic rules as he tries to secure support for the agency to start formally considering them this week. [...]

In a nod to criticism from many Democrats, Internet companies and public interest groups, Wheeler tried to soften the most controversial part of his proposal by allowing broadband providers to charge higher fees for faster delivery of content as long as consumers and competition are not harmed, an agency official said.

We may have a long way to go in this area and so many others, but as I have said repeatedly (scroll), our voices matter.

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Seventh grade student spoke out, got kicked out. "My school is run by fear."

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Maia Wu student speaks out, kicked out of school

Having taught all grade levels in a couple of school districts, and having been a huge student advocate at those schools, when I hear about a story that starts out with this, I listen:

"My name is Maia Wu. I am 13 years old, in the 8th grade and I'm student body president of my school carrying a 4.0 GPA.... As a 7th grade student, I couldn't understand what there was to fear. ... I stood up for I believed was right... I decided to step up and help students shake off their fear and find their voices. The administration didn't seem to like this too much. I guess you could say this is where things fell apart."

That sure got my attention.

Now it's time for you to give Maia Wu some attention. (Added: She was "too outspoken" about a decision to build a fence around the school without parents and students being told first. The video explains everything, please watch, you won't be sorry.)

What happened here is an outrage and it's time to publicize her story as widely as possible. The district is all that really mattered to the district, certainly not the students, not the parents, not fairness, not open, honest, civil discourse.

Please share this post.

Via Maia Wu:

On January 17, 2014, my mom received a letter informing her that our permit to attend school has been revoked. My brother, sister, and I were kicked out of school. This is my open letter in response to the letter we received.

I was kicked out because my mom asked questions that needed to be asked.

I was kicked out because I am a free-thinker and can think for myself.

I was kicked out because I am not afraid to be heard.

I have a vision of a school that will embrace student voice and student participation in civic matters. I want to learn in an environment that welcomes free-thinkers and welcomes opposing view points as a positive means to perpetuate the democratic process.

If this is the current environment, we will produce children who live in fear of authority and not have the ability to think for themselves and will only use ideals given by higher authorities rather than trying to formalize their own.

This is the number one threat to democracy in our country. I am 13 years old, not afraid to let my voice be heard and all I wish is to return back to my school.

Wow.

But come on, Maia, protest? Peacefully? Moms attempting to communicate? Kids "think for themselves"? Don't you realize this is today's America? We are no longer encouraged to do those things here. Oh, but I kid. Sort of.

Here are a few excerpts. Transcript via EdWeek.org:

I decided to step up and help students shake off their fear and find their voices. The administration didn't seem to like this too much. I guess you could say this is where things fell apart....

Based on these flimsy, weak and ridiculous points, my brother, sister and I had our permits revoked, which essentially meant we were kicked out of our school. When we first found out, we had an overwhelming amount of support from teachers, students, friends, and family. We also immediately set up a meeting in order to organize our appeal. We were told to wait five days. The fifth day rolled along and there was no letter. My mother called the district at 4:00pm but was told the specific person we were looking for was in a meeting. She then called again at 4:40, that person was still in the meeting. Finally, at 4: 58 she called, and was told that that person had gone home. On Chinese New Year's Eve, we finally received the letter denying our permit, and our last day being the following day, Chinese New Year's. Not only had we been strung along until the last minute, but kicked out on Chinese New Year Day. That's comparable to kicking a child out on Christmas.

The letter they wrote and their revocation can easily be seen as childish retaliation to a parent standing up for her first amendment rights. My mother is a responsible, caring responsible adult who the principal and the school district is trying to paint as a deranged woman who doesn't seem to have a clue about anything. If my mother and I are guilty of fighting for our rights as American citizens and guilty of wanting America to be America, so be it. Monterey Highlands and Alhambra Unified School District are obsessed with control and are no longer thinking about students when they make choices such as revoking permits from children like my siblings and I.

I have a vision of a school that will embrace student voice and student participation in civic matters.  I want to learn in an environment that welcomes free-thinkers and welcomes opposing view points as a positive means to perpetuate the democratic process.  If this is the current environment, we will produce children who live in fear of authority and not have the ability to think for themselves and will only use ideals given by higher authorities rather than trying to formalize their own. This is the number one threat to democracy in our country. I am 13 years old, not afraid to let my voice be heard and wish to return back to my school.

These words were spoken by one remarkable seventh grader. Maia is clearly brilliant, reasonable, and rational, certainly more reasonable and rational than the "adults" in charge. You'd think any school would be honored to support and encourage Maia, her voice, and her family.

Those so-called educators could learn a lot from that 13-year-old.

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VIDEO-- BLUNT: I love #Obamacare because...

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CA Calls

Blunt is a lot like letters to the editor. YOUR take, short, to the point.

You have a voice, now use it.

Please share this one. You'll recognize a face or two, but IMHO, the most memorable, poignant, and meaningful segment belongs to @RachelPoPachel (third segment in), who I've known on Twitter for years. We became online friends, and when she emailed me about her heartbreaking situation, it came as a complete shock to me.

I cannot thank her enough for sharing her story:

And special thanks to all who contributed, especially those who participated for the first time. It's wonderful seeing new faces and hearing new voices.

And to California Calls, I couldn't have had a better partner. You're doing amazing work, never stop.

For more information about how to contribute to a Blunt video, follow this link.

It’s your turn. Go.

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Video Overnight Thread- Epic Movie Trailer Voice Prank

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Via.

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"If I have to endure being followed in a store, racism isn't over."

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Lucia and Kris

Kris Ray and Lucia Fasano

On MSNBC's NewsNation, Tamron Hall just asked, "How do you move past something you haven't dealt with?" What a perfect lead-in to this interview conducted by my former student and dear pal Lucia Fasano. You can also see Lucia in my latest BLUNT VIDEO: Not Guilty– The George Zimmerman Verdict.

This is Lucia's second contribution to TPC. Her first was "Oregon festival empowers girls, promotes Planned Parenthood, anti-domestic & sexual violence groups, more." Please link over and read what she's been up to. This is one amazing twenty-year-old.

Here is her latest. I couldn't be more impressed:

After the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial pronounced him “Not Guilty”, the world around me wept. The music venue in Portland, OR, that I was in made a speech after the show. Rallies were being formed, and my friends around me and on the Internet were angry, sad, some unsurprised. I also read some things that I wish I could forget. Hateful things about Trayvon, hateful things about their fellow humans. The next day, I sat down with my good friend Kris Ray, a local artist and Inclusion Specialist for the disabled, about what this verdict meant to and for her as a person of color.

Interview with Kris Ray, Portland artist and Inclusion Specialist for the Disabled by Lucia Fasano:

Lucia: Hey Kris, would you mind sharing some things about you, how you identify and the privileges you have/are deprived of in America?

Kris: I am a 23 year old student at Portland Community College, an inclusion specialist for adults with disabilities, a musician, a wife, and a Woman of Color. Mexican American and African American to be exact. And in all my 23 years of life I have struggled along side my parents to fit within the mold of our society. Being a Woman of Color has always felt so constricted. As a teenager I couldn't shop at a retail store without being followed by an employee and on the street I never left the house without a pocketknife. At times I thought it was because I looked like a dirty punk kid but as I grew older I learned that it was the color of my skin.

Lucia: So, the verdict came in last night in the Trayvon Martin case, letting George Zimmerman go as a free man. How much of the verdict do you think was based in facts, and how much do you think were based on a racially driven narrative? Do you think this case would’ve gone differently if say, Trayvon was white?

Kris: The facts were there. I know it. You know it. But the racial narrative was the victor. Yes, I think the case would’ve gone differently if Trayvon weren’t black. For instance, back in April 2011, right near Holladay Park in North East Portland, there was a shooting that just happened in the park. Next day I found out that it was a young 14-year old boy who was shot in the head from a suspicious car that happened to drive by. Everyone assumed that it was "the same ol' gang activity nonsense" and just left it at that. Life went on! If this were a white kid you better believe that the story would be blasted all over KGW and other new stations alongside televised press conferences with the loving family, "Search for the killer" headlines, etc. But not for the black boy who's left with gang violence stereotypes.

Lucia: It seems as if the verdict relied heavily on racial stereotypes seeing as how Zimmerman's testimonial relied on people believing that an unarmed 17 year old boy without a violent record walking home holding snacks would antagonize an armed adult man out of nowhere.

Kris: It's the stereotypes that people of color are left with and fighting to abolish. We can't have the justice we deserve if people keep believing the stereotypes. Breaking the mold is key. It doesn't matter how much people of color adapt to white society. We are always for some reason not good enough. Not white enough.

Lucia: When the Supreme Court recently invalidated key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Justice Roberts said, “Our country has changed. While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.” Do you feel that we as a country have changed significantly and are, as many are saying, post-racial?

Kris: We are a country that is making snail's pace progress. Indeed we have changed significantly but some are fighting this change so hard that it feels like we are regressing. We are not post-racial. This is a fact that cannot be overlooked. If I have to endure being followed in a store, racism isn't over. If I have to put up with white people saying that my neighborhood in north Portland is sketchy because there is a predominantly black/Hispanic population, racism isn't over. If I have to put up with people who call me exotic and ask to touch my hair, racism isn't over. This isn't a game. These are the lives of families, the fates of communities, the rights of Women of Color, the lives of my future children. I would love to say that race is not an obstacle anymore, but I'd be lying if I did.

Lucia: Thank you so much for speaking with me today. Do you have any advice to people of color and white allies on what would be a constructive response to the court’s decision?

Kris: Stand in unity and for equality. This is just one of the many bumps in the road and we've got the scars to prove it. White allies should recognize the injustice, strive to understand and self reflect so you can be a better friend and a better ally. Thank you for listening. This verdict was indeed emotional and it has a lot of people in the black community scared but I'm hoping that after these events that people wake up and take a look at the world around them and get involved to make real change happen. We can only stand aside for so long. My heart goes out to Trayvon Martin and his family and all those families who have suffered the same injustice.

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BLUNT VIDEO: Not Guilty-- The George Zimmerman Verdict

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blunt bug for blog posts

Blunt is a lot like letters to the editor. YOUR take, short, to the point.

You have a voice, now use it.

Special thanks to all who contributed, especially those who participated for the first time. It's wonderful seeing new faces and hearing new voices.

For more information about how to contribute to a video Blunt, follow this link.

It’s your turn. Go.

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Mid Day Distraction- 3 y/o deaf boy hears dad’s voice for 1st time

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Something in my eye. Via John.

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