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Category Archives: Florida

Knowing the Klan

Ku_Klux_Klan_Virgina_1922_Parade
Three Ku Klux Klan members standing at a 1922 parade.
Picture credit: Public Domain, Library of Congress

 

Yesterday on our news was the story of a person who had been run out of office in one small town near us, only to show up in another.

He left and moved to a place just down the road a bit.

The causation for this furor was over his association and/or membership in the Ku Klux Klan.

This same group has made the news here repeatedly in the past few years.

We came here in 2004 and had a friend who unknown at first to us, was the son of a former Grand  Dragon of the Florida Klan.

This man was gentle, kind and sweet and had many friends.

It was hard to learn about his father.

We both have very strong feelings about the Klan, who even today still throw flyers into yard’s in mostly Black neighborhoods here in Central Florida, encouraging people to join them.

The papers are put into plastic bags with rocks in them.

Years ago in a College class about silent films, my instructor showed a film, The Birth of a Nation and implied that the Klan was, in the beginning, not just about hate, murders and hangings.

It was more about doing good for those in the South who had been ravaged by the Civil War.

As I read about it now, I can see that this is not the case, at all.

When it began in the 1860’s, it may indeed  have had more altruistic ideas, but as the years went on, these quickly faded and were replaced with those closer to what we now know as the Klan today.

On another personal note, years ago my best friend in California moved to Mississippi.

We were both pretty unhappy about this.

It was not her choice, her husband was from there and wanted to go back home.

To say that she was upset about the radical cultural changes in her life, was an understatement.

She was from California and the difference between the two states in so far as racism and race relations was/is huge, actually, it was more like a chasm.

On my first trip there to see her years later, I was shocked, dismayed and appalled at what I saw.

It was like the Civil War had never happened.

Too many of the local people looked as if all of their hope had been taken away and they were simply trying to just get through life, day by day.

There is one film that for me, best defines what it is like for many African-Americans living there,  or what the state has been like for entirely too many years: Mississippi Burning.

Think you know the Klan?

Think it is gone?

Think again.

As long as there is hate and fear of the differences between color and race, they will always be here, in fact they will flourish.

Those who belong to the Klan are cowards and their hate is what binds them together.

Only education, understanding and acceptance can change this.

These are the things that the Klan are most afraid of, and it is how we can change and defeat them forever.

 

Places to learn more:

Ku Klux Klan

Former Florida cop fired for KKK ties got a new job working in a Florida elementary school

Police in Fla.’s “Friendly City” were KKK members

The Legacy of Harry T. Moore

Ku Klux Klan in Florida

 

 

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Vivir es Increible

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Triqui/Trique Indian boys basketball team
Picture credit:  Unknown

Orlando was blessed to have many fine young athletes in town this week for a Basketball event, and one of the teams that made the news this morning on our local station, WESH TV was from Mexico.
Nothing new here, or was there?
This team of fairly small boys, as far as basketball players go, played without shoes.
But, this is not unusual for them, as they nearly always do so.

These boys come from one of Mexico’s poorest regions, a tiny place in the mountains of Oaxaca, that range from 4,000 to nearly 10,000 feet and the inhabitants are called the Trique/Triqui people, a blended group of Mixtec,   (place of cloud-people), who are known for their beautiful weavings.

This area and these people, are not new to me, as one of my favorite Anthropology Professors at CSUN, had related his summers there, for the past 20 plus years.
Every year, he would travel down to Oaxaca to spend a month with the people, then wrote and brought back what he learned about them to his students.

Years later, when I traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, I felt that there were strong similarities between it and many places in Oaxaca.
They were both poverty stricken areas, that few outsiders came to and even fewer cared much about.

This young team makes news every time they play, mostly for their lack of shoes, but what people don’t understand is that their lack of shoes, are the least of their worries.
So many where they come from, are desperately poor, with food, shelter and personal safety at the top of their daily wants/needs list, and going without shoes, much lower on it.

Native or Indigenous Mexicans, are at a poverty level of about 80%, compared to the National level in the upper 20’s.

Many of these young players must walk two hours or more, on rough mountain roads just to get to their practices, and Basketball is about the only sport that can be played in such a difficult terrain.

For me personally, the hardest part of relaying this story to all of you, is in knowing that the country where these brave young players live, is in constant turmoil from outside political pressures.

A friend from school traveled down there years ago, quite concerned about the way the people were being treated and was never seen again.

“Accidents” can happen, to those who ask too many questions, or get too curious about local politics.

Just playing their games, must seem like great relief after enduring the conditions that surround them.

Whenever the team travels, they basically have become ambassadors for their people, and the state of Oaxaca, and Global generosity to them and their town, have followed them everywhere.

Their Head Coach Sergio Zuniga, was interviewed by WESH and his pride in their achievements was clearly evident as he spoke.

This week in Orlando, not only was the team gifted with shoes, so was their entire town.

Yes, back home things are very difficult, but as their Team jackets say, ” Vivir es Increible, life is incredible.”

Places to learn more:

Mexican youth basketball team plays shoeless in Orange County tournament

Hoop dreams of Mexico’s indigenous youth provide hope in ‘forgotten’ region

It’s Triqui to play around: Shoeless Mexican team plays exhibition match in LA

Youth Mexican Basketball Team Wins Big Playing Barefoot

Mexican Shoeless Basketball Champions Prove It’s About How You Play, Not What You Have

Trique People – Wikipedia

A History of the Triqui People

 

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Cheering for Brainy Beauties~

Gator_Cheerleaders
UF Cheerleaders     Picture credit: Norwalk James

 

Seeing a story on our news this morning about some pretty cheerleaders who both love and excel at science, made me smile, but it also brought back some not so pleasant childhood memories.

This cheerleading group has a website called,  Science Cheerleaders,  with all of the details of  their individual stories and shows what they are doing both on and off of the football field.

Besides being involved in science at school and in their jobs, this group also makes public appearances in their communities, showing other girls that they can do the exact same thing that they do.

They are beautiful and they are very smart, and this is a positive thing.

As a child and then again as a teenager, I and many others who had the good fortune, or misfortune, of being born blonde, were too often referred to as ” dumb blondes.”

The public and film personifications of Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe only cemented this thinking.

In my entire life, I could never understand how the color of your hair could affect the level of your intelligence.

I learned that I was not dumb quite early in my education, as my IQ was constantly referred to by teachers when they did not believe that I was trying hard enough.

Their remarks were both a source of embarrassment and humiliation.

As for the comments on the color of my hair, sometimes it was whispered, other times it was said as a jeer or a slur, but always it was the same, hurtful and cruel words, dumb blonde.”

My love of science began early in elementary school.

Could it have been the influence of my first science teacher Mr. Monroe, who made the subject both exciting and interesting?

I can still remember a teacher showing my mother the results from my  ” Kuder Preference Test. “

She seemed astonished when she said to her,

” she scored  2% on everything except one subject,  science and her score in it was 98%.”

Seeing these beautiful and brilliant high achievers who will be leading the cheers at today’s Super Bowl, was almost like a sweet vindication for me and all the others long ago, who endured years of insults because we had the misfortune of being pretty and liking science.

I admire and am extremely proud of these young women for the fields that they have chosen and the years of hard work behind them and also ahead of them.

Thankfully, it is a different world today and young girls and women are no longer treated as freaks for loving science, they are now, finally being admired for it.

Yes, I will being watching them with pride today and you can believe that I will be cheering for these brainy beauties~

 

Places to learn more:

Science Cheerleaders

Super Bowl cheerleaders pitch something really sexy: Ph.D.s

Will this cheerleader be the smartest person at the Super Bowl

 

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Keeping Them All Safe

Autism_spectrum_infinity_awareness
The Autism infinity symbol        Picture  credit:  Eric…

 

There have been so many stories on our news recently about people and children wandering away from their families and home, I felt obliged to write about them.

For years after moving here, I often was alarmed by the numbers of elderly persons we saw here in various stages of Dementia or even Alzheimer’s, who are still driving and out on our roads.

What are their families, their doctors and the state of Florida’s DMV thinking?

These people need to be off of the roads, before they kill themselves and/or others.

They are not safe to drive.

They are also not safe to be left alone in their homes without any supervision.

The story today was about an autistic young man who had recently done this and his mother Donna chose to bring his/their story to the press in the hopes that others might be learn from it and also be helped.

She makes some really important points, especially about the fact that drowning is frequently the primary cause of death in a wandering autistic person.

Donna can also expect to be engaged in a battle,  at least here in Florida, where our politicians are still dragging their feet to allow extremely ill children to have access to the already approved medical marijuana, under the Charlotte’s web provision.

This mother wants to speed up the political process (bill) now being considered for an electronic tracker that will locate him quickly, if and when he does wander away again.

My thinking as a former Rehab and Geriatric Nurse, as well as the mother of a physically challenged son, is that there are others with challenges who should also have access to some sort of tracker, not just autistic children.

Here in our own neighborhood, an elderly man wandered away from his home weeks ago and still has not been found.

Quite often, patients in Nursing and other types of care facilities, walk right out the doors, often, with no one even noticing.

Thankfully, most of them are found before they are harmed.

But if they had a tracker on, this would protect them and save the caregivers at the facilities hours of searching for them.

The tendency to wander away is quite strong in those with Dementia, Alzheimer’s and other affective disorders, especially those with Autism.

So as this bill is being reviewed, in my opinion, it must absolutely cover and include providing tracking devices to all who need and will benefit from them.

Those who care for persons with emotional and/or mental or physical challenges, are often suffering in silence and forgotten about.

This is a terrible tragedy in our society.

Being a caregiver can and does drain these people to the point in some instances, of doing unspeakable things, even murder.

Unless and until you have been in their shoes, you may never understand the despair, the fear, the grief, the hopelessness and the guilt that they deal with on a daily basis.

So, if there is even one thing that we, their families, friends, co-workers, care givers or government representatives can do to alleviate any of it, we should do it without a single moment of hesitation.

Special children and adults are part of our Global family, they belong to all of us.

We need to, we must do, everything that we can, to keep them ALL safe.

 

Places to learn more:

New bill proposes voluntary program to monitor those with autism, other conditions

Senator Calls On Feds To Address Autism Wandering

What’s Different About The Brains Of People With Autism?

Autism

Dementia

Alzheimers

Marijuana stops child’s severe seizures

 

 

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Sí, se puede!

Habana_P3

Beautiful Havana, the capital of Cuba
Picture credit: Vgenecr

 

In a move that I believed would never happen in my lifetime, resuming relations with a tiny country just 90 miles offshore from Florida, the President of this Country, has just changed the political status of our two countries once again.

The Island Nation of Cuba has until today, been rejected, cut off and shunned by us for more than 50 years.

This has always struck me as two-faced, as we have had, although frosty at times, relations with other Communist Countries, like China, Russia and Viet Nam  for many years and this seemed  a pretty cold-hearted way to treat this once much admired and loved Island Nation just to our South.

In our efforts to punish the Castro Regime, we ended up instead, mostly hurting only the people.

Yes, there will still be problems, diplomatic and political issues to be worked out, but with this new thinking, the thousands of Cubans who already live here, may soon be able to finally go home and see family that they had lost all hope of ever seeing again.

The fact that we should be willing to treat Cuba as well as we do the others, was so long in coming for some fairly ugly reasons, they did not, as do the others  we have kept relations with, have anything that we want.

We tend to only ” forgive” those who have a product or “other”  that we can use to our benefit.

As for this day, today people were exchanged, secrets were kept secret and assurances may have been made.

Will this be the first step in Global efforts to embrace our differences with the other smaller nations who like Cuba,  offer us little more than trade benefits?

Hopefully other big Nations will begin to think about the Humanitarian reasons to also engage.

As President Obama said today, none of the reasons for cutting our ties with Cuba have had either much impact, or truly changed the situation.

America’s total and complete embargo of Cuba, failed to achieve the desired results.

So, millions have suffered for more than fifty years, for little more than pride and vanity on both sides.

The Castro Regime and the Americans at the helm here, both dug in their heels and innocent people on both shores have suffered.

Each and every week here in Florida, boats are washed ashore with those who risk all, just for the chance to either be free, or to rejoin other family members here.

Historically, the impact of Cuban people here in America is legendary.

They have representation in every imaginable aspect of our Culture from the arts, in  film, and music, and especially in sports, they are extremely well represented in all professions and every corner of our American society.

They are also quite well represented in our political forums and as with all who come here, the great joys of political freedom, also comes with tinges of pain, when thinking of those that are left behind.

Now, on this day, President Obama, working with many others including the Government of Cuba, has changed all of this.

For the people from Cuba, more than fifty long and painful years will hopefully soon come to an end and Cubans can rejoice with those of us who have friends and family from the Cuban Nation.

It is looking good just now because starting today, we will renew a friendship that has been painfully put on hold.

Once again America and Cuba can be allies for their people with a potential prospect for Peace.

Let freedom ring.

I for one, am thrilled at the imminent good things yet to come.

Yes, we can,  America and Cuba,  Sí, se puede!

 

Places to learn more:

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba

Cuba releases American Alan Gross, paves way for historic easing of American sanctions

President Obama’s statement on Cuba policy change

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba

 

 

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Caught Up in Charlotte’s Web

Cannabis_sativa_(Köhler)
Medical Marijuana or Cannabis
Picture: Public Domain

 

On our local news today was a story about this controversial treatment for those with severe illnesses.

The term  Charlotte’s Web was named after Charlotte Figi who has long suffered with multiple seizures and has revolutionized the thinking on the drug.

It has been around since 1996 in California and it was nearly passed here a week or so ago, losing by only a very narrow margin, by voters, who likely had little, or perhaps no idea, of the millions who could be helped by it.

Medical Marijuana or Medical Cannabis, as it is called, can give tremendous relief to those suffering from a wide variety of long-term diseases, or illnesses, like epilepsy and its accompanying seizures, all forms of end stage cancers, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and others.

The drug is made from the oil of the plant and will be sold here in Florida, ONLY by legally authorized people.

The use of Medical Marijuana has for years been shown  to give comfort to those suffering with great pain.

The objections to approving this world-wide, as a former treatment Nurse, have always miffed me.

My son is a paraplegic and through out his life had to deal with a great deal of pain,.

Although he never used this, I knew many who did and do, to stop unbearable pain.

Yes, I came of age in L.A. in the late sixties, I was surrounded by all manner of drugs.

I never used them, they did not appeal to me.

But if my son had needed them and he was in extreme pain, I most certainly would have gotten them for him.

In this country, you can legally buy alcohol, get drunk and kill yourself and any number of others.

You can buy cigarettes that after a period of time, can cause cancer, which can also kill you.

You can buy a myriad of legally prescribed drugs which can quickly become addictive and ultimately destroy your life.

Think the TV Series, ” House. ”

The list is long, the point is, why this huge outpouring of fear on Medical Marijuana?

In California where it has been legal for many years, there are many more problems and deaths from all of the other forms of “legal drugs” than there are from this substance.

The situation is extremely sad, because many families and children especially, could be helped tremendously by this, yet those with the legal ability to do so, our Judges, are turning this legal process into a living hell, telling those who needed it,  “yesterday””  that they will have to wait even longer.

No amount of prescription pills can replace the same level of pain alleviation of Medical Marijuana, as children simply cannot take enough of them safely to get relief from their debilitating pain.

Not to mention the potential and possible deadly side effects of these powerful pills for a child.

It is time for the judicial system in this and other states to get on board with the medical community and do what is right for those who are suffering.

Everyone here has seen the pictures and the videos of the people on the Beach at Venice in California and are convinced that the entire state of Florida will become a “weed” version of a tawdry Cheech and Chong movie.

We have so many horrible accidents each year in Florida that are caused by those who drive drunk or the wrong way on our freeways.

It seems that no one was too worried about the dangers of alcohol and driving when they approved it to be sold in every state in the Country, all those years ago.

Apparently, just the name Marijuana makes people absolutely terrified of what might happen if it is allowed to be sold publicly.

Is it just possible that the real or true reason behind this aversion or objection to Medical Marijuana, might be that those who sell it will make money and greedy politicians and others, have not yet found a way to get their share of it?

Better yet, ask the parent of a child who is suffering from debilitating pain what they think.

They don’t care who makes the money, as long as their child is not one of those caught up in Charlotte’s Web.

 

Places to learn more:

Judge tosses out rules for ‘Charlotte’s Web’ medical pot

More than 3,000 new patients will soon have access to Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web – Wikipedia

Meet The Children Who Rely On Marijuana To Survive

 Charlotte’s Web medical marijuana program delayed 

Charlotte’s Web Of Suffering: Six-Year-Old Colorado Girl With Dravet Syndrome Finds Relief From Marijuana High In CBD

 

 

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Is Helping The Hungry And Homeless A Crime?

Abbott

Arnold Abbott: the Police and the Politics of public feeding.
Picture source: Unknown

 

At first glance this story appears to be just another case of politics bullying charity, but not so fast.

This story should have been written a few days ago, but it was not to be, as I was once again up in Gainesville getting my  melanomas tended to.

Now it’s back to work this morning…

If you have not heard of this man yet, you will.

His name is Arnold Abbott and he is a 90-year-old advocate for the homeless and hungry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Arnold has for many years been feeding the homeless on the beach at Ft Lauderdale.

There are many who support him in his charitable endeavors, but as usual, there are also those who are very much opposed.

There are kind generous souls in many places around Florida and the Country,  who also do this, some make the news, others do not.

When too many complain, laws get passed and ordinances are put into place, to shut those who feed in public down, not just here, but  all over the country.

In the past ten years, the warmer states in America have been inundated with the poor and hungry.

And, as the economy went South, so did the homeless.

When providing food to those with none, there is always a risk of offending those who find it unpleasant, even dangerous to themselves, their families, or their businesses.

In the past in some places throughout the state, there have been reports, or incidents of public displays of indecency, or eliminating in public.

There have also been some petty crimes associated with these public feedings.

The list is long for each side.

The point is, there are simply not enough places to provide either shelter, or food for the current abundance of homeless here in Florida, which now ranks third in America, for numbers of  homeless, after New York and California.

The desperate come from all over the country to find relief here, knowing that for one, they will not freeze to death while being homeless and that there are more than just a few places to go to find protection from the situation they find themselves in.

When the two sides collide, as they are doing right now in Fort Lauderdale, is when the public out cries begin and many outsiders, along with the press, get involved.

Many people want the hungry to be fed inside, not out in the public view.

Does it make them uncomfortable in  this tourist rich state to see the plight of those with nothing?

Florida depends heavily on the lavish spending of rich visitors and if they are appalled or turned off by the sight of the poor and hungry being fed, it may hurt this state’s bottom line.

What is that old saying about  “walking a mile in my shoes?”

It only takes ONE big negative life impact to make any one of us homeless and hungry.

Which brings us to the story of Arnold Abbott and his mission in life and to honor his wife, of feeding the homeless and hungry of Fort Lauderdale.

He also works with and teaches the homeless and tries to help find them work.

Much to the great chagrin of city leaders and some businesses, this stubborn World War II Veteran is not going to back down.

As he said today, ” I have fought in the wars, and I know how to do this, I will not stop…..as long as there is breath in my body”

Arnold and his helpers, have been arrested, cited and fined for  “illegal actions on behalf of the hungry in Fort Lauderdale.

The Mayor of the city, Jack Seler, is in a tough place.

He must uphold the laws, to avoid an outbreak of charity feedings citywide, but he also does not like all of the really negative publicity the city is getting.

Being the focus of this heavy heat and intense scrutiny is not new for Arnold, who has fought against the city for more than twenty years to do what he considers God’s work.

Can anyone of us know with any real certainty, that there but for the Grace of God go we?

We must ask ourselves: Is Helping The Hungry And Homeless A Crime?

 

Places to learn more:

Arnold’s Group: Love thy neighbor

‘Chef Arnold,’ 90, Cited Again For Feeding Homeless In Florida

90-Year-Old Arrested For Feeding Homeless Will Continue ‘As Long As There Is Breath In My Body’

Florida Finds Tricky Balance Over Feeding of the Homeless

Arresting Arnold Abbott unconstitutional. He’s won in court 3 times, won 2 appeals.

Arnold Abbott keeps feeding the homeless: Charity or crime?

Arnold Abbott Re-Arrested 

Russell Brand: $4 Billion Spent on Elections, But Feeding the Homeless is Illegal

National Coalition for the Homeless

 

 

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