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I was struck with the closed-minded vitriol of Van Jones in his heated exchange with Jeffrey Lord on CNN on March 1, 2016. My impression of the exchange is that Mr. Jones is offended by the reaction of a certain candidate who was endorsed by a certain group.

“I can affect change by transforming the only thing I ever have control over in the first place, and that is myself.” ~ Deepak Chopra

 

First of all, the Ku Klux Klan is as offensive to most black people as the swastika is to Jewish people, especially when the last documented lynching of 19-year old Michael A. Donald occurred in 1981. Racial resentment has been an infected wound which refuses to heal, in part, because those who carry the torch of resentment keep digging at the wound instead of allowing it to heal and develop scar tissue, which is far tougher and stronger than the broken skin.

Before you make a snap judgement about me, know that I am a woman of color. My mother is Korean. I can only trace back my Korean heritage as far as my great-grandparents, partly because of the language barrier and partly because with the onset of the Korean War, where I’m fairly certain a good portion of my family was stuck in the north. And my father’s side is Irish, where the aggrandized “indentured servant” really means slavery; where King James VI made the Proclamation of 1625 to sell Irish prisoners to English settlers in the new world.

Here’s my question: How many generations of separation does it take to look at one’s heritage before you can say, “Oh, well, that sucked. Moving forward”?

Listen, I’ve been called “chink” and “gook” and told to go back to my country up until I was about 22-years old…by black people, of all beings. And yet, I do not hold all black people accountable for the bad behavior of a few. I don’t hate England because of Irish slavery. And, well, even if Kim Jong-un is a creepy, narcissistic dictator, I don’t hold him personally responsible for the separation of 60,000+ families during the Korean War.

As the first-generation born on American soil from my mother’s side, and third-generation born on American soil from my father’s side, I have an emotional disconnect from the grave injustices experienced by my ancestors. And it does suck what happened – but I don’t live in that reality. I choose not to be held in a catatonic state of perpetual outrage. It’s in my history – but not my story.

So, going back to Van Jones’ censure of Donald Trump… The condemnation would be deserved if Trump actually wore the hood. Can we simply agree that his disavowal of the KKK is appropriate enough? Trump cannot possibly have the same emotional or visceral response of a black person because of an imposed endorsement. It would be ridiculous to expect him to have any level of righteous indignation on that subject matter. To demand an intrinsic response is just as prejudiced.

That being said: I have no historical ties to the KKK and I have absolutely no reason to disavow them – but do not mistake that for condoning them either. There is a huge difference and I think we need to recognize the distinction.

 

Citations

CNNs Van Jones, Jeffrey Lord launch into fiery debate. http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/01/politics/jeffrey-lord-van-jones-cnn-debate/index.html

Divided Koreans prepare to meet after lifetime of separation http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/19/korean-family-reunions-separation

In the Bad Old Days, Not So Long Ago http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/13/arts/television/13lynch.html?_r=0

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As an Independent Undecided in the forthcoming presidential elections, I felt compelled to voice an opinion that I feel very strongly about: Why I will never endorse Hillary Clinton. Why, in fact, I would vote for anyone but her. Abuse of power.

According to BusinessDictionary.com, abuse of power is defined as “The act of using one’s position of power in an abusive way. This can take many forms, such as taking advantage of someone, gaining access to information that shouldn’t be accessible to the public, or just manipulating someone with the ability to punish them if they don’t comply.

Notably, my issue really stems from the allegations of sexual misconduct by former President Bill Clinton. Well! You may argue, what does that have to do with HRC?

It has everything to do with Hillary, dear reader. In an interview on the Today show, January 1998, Mrs. Clinton vehemently defended her husband saying: “the President has denied these allegations on all counts, unequivocally… The real story here, for anybody willing to tell it and write about it, and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband … Some folks are going to have a lot to answer for.”  (G. Sheehy, 1999)

And then there’s this 60 Minutes interview where they both lied to Steve Kroft and the world about the affair with Gennifer Flowers.

 

Then there was Monica Lewinsky.  He pledged he “did not have sexual relations with that woman.” That woman.  Prior to that, back in 1978, there was a woman by the name of Juanita Broaddrick, a nurse who was campaigning for Bill Clinton in his bid to be governor, who claimed he raped her. And where was Hillary? She was standing by her man.

So, do we blame the wife for the sins of the husband? In this case, my answer is a resounding YES. Listen. I was once married to a cheater. I divorced him because it was a serial problem that I would not accept in my life anymore. I never blamed the slew of women. But Hillary has. Herein lies my argument.

Abuse of power. Inappropriate fraternization.

Example 1: Correctional Officers & Prisoners

A C.O. may be immediately terminated and face charges of sexual assault if found having sexual relations with prisoners. But if they are both consenting adults, why is that wrong? Because the correctional officer has a position of power. They have the ability to exact harsher punishment or show favoritism.

Example 2: Civilian Managers & Employees

Check the HR manual for just about any company and there will be fraternization policies that are often strictly enforced for fear of nepotism, which may lead to huge lawsuits.

Example 3: POTUS & Subordinates

From the U.S. Army Command Policy on fraternization: Commanders should seek to prevent inappropriate or unprofessional relationships through proper training and personal leadership. Commanders have a wide range of responses available should inappropriate relationships occur. These responses may include counseling, reprimand, order to cease, reassignment, or adverse action. Potential adverse action may include official reprimand, adverse evaluation report(s), nonjudicial punishment, separation, bar to reenlistment, promotion denial, demotion, and courts martial. Commanders must carefully consider all of the facts and circumstances in reaching a disposition that is warranted, appropriate, and fair.  (cited from http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r600_20.pdf )

As the Commander-In-Chief, the president must be held to a greater moral standard. He is the leader of the free world and head of our military men and women. Bill Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives for perjury and obstruction of justice. Hillary is no innocent. She most certainly was aware of his affairs. She vehemently deposed his victims. She remained at his side…as was her choice. But what was the punishment for her lies and deflections?

This tells me three things about Mrs. Clinton:

  1. She is no friend to women.
  2. She will dance around issues without facing them.
  3. She will lie to your face to protect her own interests.

Now, I’m no prude, but I do have a moral compass. Sadly, Hillary Rodham Clinton is nowhere on my radar. In fact, the only thing we have in common is being born a woman.

And finally, to respond to her quote a la Benghazi, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

 

It makes all the difference in the world to me. My vote is: Anyone But Hillary.

 

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I will never forget the day my father fell from the daddy pedestal I built up for him. It was not drastic nor painful but more like comic relief.

I was in the 7th grade and had learned how to make pickles in my home economics class. I brought home my jar of pickles and couldn’t wait until dad got home to try them.

“Hey dad, do you know how to make pickles?” I asked.

“Sure!” he replied, “You just pick the pickles off the plant, boil ’em and throw a little spice into it.”

“Uh, you mean cucumbers, right?” I know I didn’t hear him right.

“No. PICKLES.” “But dad – you make pickles out of cucumbers.”

Now I think he’s pulling my leg. “No you don’t. Pickles are pickles. You pick them.”

All right. I think he’s serious.

“Dad,” I said, holding up my jar of fresh-made pickles, “what do these look like?”

“Uh…  Cucumbers?”

Boy did we laugh! But that was the first time I realized dad didn’t know everything.

Photo courtesy of Stephan Jarl @plotting for independence

Originally posted January 25, 2014

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Since I’m currently working from home, I thought it might be a great idea to buy a bicycle and get some exercise (you know, ’cause hiking around the lake might get you et by an alligator or chased by a black racer)Blackracer111805

And then I recalled that the biggest news stories around here are how many hit and runs there are. Being a witness to the insane driving in town, I have to apologize to the state of New Jersey… You guys got NOTHIN’ on the non-driving folk in Florida!

Seriously, I don’t think they even install blinker controls on cars down here ’cause no one uses them – and it seems many drive with their eyes closed like they’re living in La-La Bubbleland.

So curiosity got the best of me and I did a little digging.

Here are a few hit and run facts taken from the Florida Highway Safety Department:

Hit & Run crashes leading to fatalities rose by 23% between 2013 to 2014, increasing the state average by 7%.

Almost half of those fatalities involved pedestrians.

25% of all crashes recorded between 2013-14 were hit & runs.

Between 2012 and 2014, there were 235,666 hit & runs.

Yeah… I think I might just take my chances being fat.

knockedout

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I am really fed up with neurotypicals, aka NTs, aka “normal people” announcing how they’re working on the cure for autism – how a gluten-free diet will make your symptoms go away – and how traditional therapy actually works.  Really, people.  Really?

Hey, if you’re on board with all that stuff then good for you…  We all like to be in our safe zones even if people think it’s stupid. Image

Listen.  This isn’t to Yuk your Yum but I’m just going to share some of my own thoughts and feelings on the subject so forgive me if this sounds defensive.  I really want to be informative and helpful to someone else, who, like me, is kind of assimilated but definitely not cured.

Society, as a whole, is chock full of lemmings who blindly follow along because they want to fit in and belong to something greater than themselves.  “Society” is defined as an aggregate of people living in a more or less ordered community.  Let’s expand a little more.  Community includes your workplace, home, neighborhood.  Community can also be defined as your social status, your interest groups, your state, and even your country.  Community can even be as broad as “people of the free world” as opposed to “people under the tyrannical rule of a ruthless dictator.”  The idea of community is bringing together people with shared…something. 

THE CURE

Phew!  Okay.  So for me to fit into your community a few things had to happen.  I needed to learn what made you happy enough to include me in your little group.  

  • Thou shalt not throw tantrums in public.  
  • Thou shalt not scratch an itch in mixed company.  
  • Thou shalt stay silent until someone asks your opinion – and then thou shalt not always tell the truth because it might be cruel or insensitive.  
  • Thou shalt dress appropriately for the occasion.
  • Thou cannot be a stinky bastard so washing and grooming is important. 
  • Thou shalt learn social cues (when they smile, you smile – when they frown, you pretend empathy – when they are upset, ask them if they want a hug).

See?  I can play along and I’ve got everybody (except for my friends and family) completely fooled.  Does that mean I’m cured?  Hell, no.  It is completely exhausting venturing out into your world!  

Quick example:  When I worked in retail I had to be pleasant to everyone and smile all the time.  Imagine telling yourself to raise the corners of your mouth, show off your dimple (that took practice in the mirror), show a little teeth (but not too much), and crinkle eyes just enough to make a “genuine” smile.  Sometimes my face would freeze like that because I forgot to tell my face to relax when no one was looking.  My customers have no idea how mechanical I must be to greet them – and sometimes it really is a genuine smile.

Essentially – the CURE is having an autistic person learn behavior, coping mechanisms, and physical and social mannerisms so that you aren’t uncomfortable around the weird kid.

DIETS

Don’t you love marketing?  

EAT GLUTEN-FREE AND YOU WILL BE CURED OF AUTISM!  YAY!  

Except it’s not true!  At least not for me.  I like what I like: tastes and textures.  All in all I consider myself an adventurous eater.  I’ll try anything once.  So unless the food directly affects my neurotransmitters, changes my genetic makeup, or mutates the autism out of me, my diet only nourishes my body and either keeps me healthy or makes me fat.  Let the Celiacs worry about the gluten.  And that’s all I have to say about that!

TRADITIONAL THERAPY

I’ve been to a few therapists – for myself and with my son.  Tell me:  how is a one-on-one 45 minute session in an office going to help a person who has no social skill, doesn’t like to talk to strangers, is uncomfortable expressing themselves, hates talking about their screw ups, and doesn’t want to relive the hows and whys of being teased?  HOW?

Traditional therapy simply does not work.  You want to help your autistic kid?  Get a social advocate and life coach!  Nothing makes me more anxious than the unknown.  I absolutely HATE firsts.  I learn by example, trial and error, and I am perfectly happy to live vicariously through others.  

A life coach can lovingly (and patiently) explain something as simple as how to properly answer the phone, the importance of hygiene, explaining why sweatpants is not appropriate for a job interview.  Take them to the mall and observe people.  Watch the mannerisms and social interactions from a distance.  

As a child I abhorred going to the mall but it was bearable because my sister and I played games.  Based on what people were wearing we had to make up a story about them; based on their animation (talking with their hands) we made up dialogue.  Doing this took me out of my tunnel vision and forced me to look around and use my imagination.  If I was getting overstimulated I went to the bathroom or the nearest changing room and tried something on.  

FINAL THOUGHTS

Aspies are creatures of habit but we don’t get comfortable until we’ve tackled “the firsts” and realize it didn’t kill us.  With that being said – and it is just my opinion – unless you live it don’t assume we need to be cured.  We want to be accepted but we need to feel safe first – so take your “cures”, diets and traditional therapies; take your condescension and comfortable superiority and kindly SHOVE IT.

 

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I had been on the fence about writing this one for a while because I wasn’t sure how people would take it.  You see, I am an Army brat and my memories don’t go much beyond when I was four years old.  My father was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland and then stationed in Seoul, Korea.  With a Korean mother and living abroad I can safely say I never saw a black person until we were stationed back in the States.

Okay – going on a little tangent here.  Is saying “black person” politically incorrect?  Is saying “colored person” better?  I honestly don’t know!  Technically, I’m a person of color too – if you want to go with Asian people being yellow – you know?

Anyway…Image

So, I’m five years old and now we’re stationed at Stewart AF Base in New York.  I specifically remember living on Y Street where the apartments/townhouses made a big U around a common area and playgrounds were on either end of the long buildings.  While my parents were moving into our new home my sisters, brother and I went outside to play.

In the common area was a little black girl about my age…maybe a little older.  I was fascinated by her skin and hair!  She had beautiful chocolate skin and her hair defied gravity.  It was tied up in those marble ties (does anyone remember those?) in perfectly round pom-poms gracing her head – like tennis ball antennae.  I seriously wanted to do that to my hair.  Honestly I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

She eventually caught me staring at her playing in the dirt.  “What are you looking at?” she asked with a little frown.

“Your skin looks like chocolate!”  Without ceremony I sat down in the dirt with her.  “How does your hair do that?”  My fingers itched to touch and explore her like the alien creature that she was.  

With a shrug she said, “I don’t know.  I wish my hair was straight like yours.  You want to see something funny?”

I’m sure I nodded emphatically.  She removed one of her marble hair bands and…her hair stayed up!  Then she made spikes and they stood straight up too!  We giggled and laughed as I tried to get my hair to stand on end to no avail.

Then I had to know.

“Do you taste like chocolate?”

She clucked her tongue and looked at me like I was a strange alien.  “No.  Do you taste like vanilla?”

“I don’t know,” I answered honestly.  “Wanna taste?”

With childhood innocence and a lot of curiosity we licked each other’s cheek.

Kind of disappointed I said, “You don’t taste like chocolate.”

“Told ya!  And you don’t taste like vanilla.”

“Oh.  So…You wanna play?”

“Sure!”

And hand in hand we skipped to the playground.  Angie was my first, best friend until her family moved away about a month later.

From that point on I never had to ask another person of color if they tasted like food.  I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I had very rigid thinking when I was a kid.  Back then no one knew I had Asperger’s so if I was curious about something I had to find out – or I couldn’t sit still or sleep.  I’m thankful that this experience happened in the midst of innocent youth.  It’s part of the reason why I never understood why culture and color mattered to so many people.

Looking back on that memory I’m nearly embarrassed enough to delete this – but a part of me can’t help laughing at how dopey I was.

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Powerful words in a personal story. More people should be so honest.

Pensive Aspie

I’ve met a lot of different people with Autism and Asperger’s and sometimes I get a little jealous. Maybe I shouldn’t admit it out loud, but I don’t know where else to say this.  I guess I’m jealous.

I go online and talk with other adult Aspies,  Many of them don’t work.  They live at home with their parents. They spend their days focusing on their special interests. They are online as often as they want to be.  They don’t have to get up early. They sleep in. They set their activities to their own circadian rhythm. The collect their shiny things. They flap their hands/stim when they need to. They are basically free. Free to be themselves.

I realize not all Aspies have supportive families, but many of them do.  Their parents are accepting and supportive of their disability. They have been sheltered. Their home is a safe place…

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