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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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Lost Among Us~

Mentalillness
Mental Illness
Picture credit: Chitrapa

 

Once again, splashed repeatedly all over every News Channel, is a story about a person with a mental illness, who has attacked innocent strangers in a public place and then lost their own life.

This latest tragedy was done by a homeless person who has been in and out of places where he should have been kept, safe.

Safe for him, safe for the rest of us.

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and should never have been released into an unsuspecting community, who could neither help, nor understand his pain and anguish, nor his propensity for uncontrollable or violent outbursts.

The last two places that I have lived, California and Connecticut, have for all intents and purposes, shut down and/or closed nearly all of their outpatient, or public mental facilities.

Access to good Psychiatric treatment has been greatly reduced around the Country, but for the indigent, it basically no longer exists.

Persons who are unable to cope, or deal with the everyday challenges of life outside of a safe facility, are now being put out onto the streets, where they have no clue as to what to do.

These mentally ill people are admitted, kept for a short time and then because of budget cuts across the United States, released back out onto the streets to fend for themselves.

This is difficult enough to do with normal brain function, but for one that is nearly incapacitated, or badly impaired, as well as homeless, they are left to just wander around among us, lost and not understanding what is happening to them, or why.

We have endless money to send a huge military force all over this planet and spend billions on War, and all that is connected to it, but when it comes to those who are poor or afflicted, we often show little compassion or concern.

We must take care of our sick and desperate people, or there will continue to be tragedies in Theatres and Schools and the Workplace.

These wretched souls quite often cannot ask for help, as many of them do not understand that they are ill.

What they need is care, medications, kindness and a safe place to live in.

At any given moment, ” There but for the Grace of God, go you or I.”

Any one of us could be just one devastating accident, illness or mugging away from an impaired mental state, or permanently diminished capacity.

We should know better and do better, for them, for us.

No one should be alone and lost among us.

 

Places to learn more:

 
Schizophrenia

Police: Assailant in latest movie theater attack was homeless, had psychological issues

Police Kill Suspect in Theater Attack in Nashville

Antioch Movie Theater Shooting in Nashville a ‘Suicide by Police’?

911 call describes Tennessee theater attack: ‘He pulled out a gun and we all ran’

 

 

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Vivir es Increible

team1
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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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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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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It Must Be Our Choice!

brittany
Brittany Maynard, an end-of-life choice advocate.
Picture credit: The Maynard family

 

On our news this morning was a story that needed to be shared.

As many of you by now know,  I am dealing with Cancer.

Mine is,  as far as I can see, likely under control.

The story this morning was about a very young girl,  whose was not.

She had stage four Brain Cancer and had been told by her doctor that she had six months to live.

This is news that no one her age should ever have to hear.

What she did after that point,  is why you must know about her.

Brittany Maynard lived in California and made the long trip to the state of Oregon to do, once again, what  no one her age should ever have to do, die.

California does not have the law that Oregon does called,  “Death with Dignity.”

In the interview this morning, Brittany expressed her feelings with enormous grace and courage.

Her strength in making this decision was way beyond her tender age.

I am not sure that in her position, I could have done it.

As a former Nurse in California,  I have cared for many Cancer patients and know the excruciating pain that they endure until they either recover,  or succumb to this ravaging disease.

My own mother in law passed away with the same disease, Brain Cancer.

She also did not live in a state with the law that Brittany used to choose her own path to dying.

My mother in law suffered terribly, had great pain and finally went into a coma from which she never recovered.

She lingered for a brief time and then she was gone.

Would she have, if allowed, have made the same choice that Brittany did?

We will never know.

When ever I spent time on the Oncology Ward, the sounds of pain were so very hard to hear.

Imagine how it must have been for those with the disease?

Someone who should know better,  this week told me that Cancer does not hurt.

I beg to differ with this person.

If it didn’t hurt,  why do nearly all of the patients in Oncology have Morphine drips?

But back to Brittany and her decision.

I may be in a minority here, what’s new, but my personal belief is that dying is each persons decision and no one should have the power to prevent,  or alter it.

Reaching the end of your life, whether as in Brittany’s case, or an elderly person who has had a long and full life, the decision as to when it should end,  should be theirs and theirs alone.

Anyone who disagrees with this,  needs to talk to those suffering with a terminal illness, or better yet, spend an hour or a day in an Oncology wing.

That should do it.

Dear Sweet beautiful Brittany, I did not know you, but I will support to my death,  your right to make that choice and you should not have had to,  in your time of suffering pain and illness,  have had to travel hundreds of miles away to another state,  to complete your final choice.

California and all states,  should recognize this situation and change it, now.

Every state in America needs to have a “Death with Dignity”  law.

I can nearly guarantee that it would happen instantly if and when,  any of those with the power to do it, had a beloved family member who was in Brittany’s  position.

America and  the world must admit that dying is extremely personal and how each of us does it, needs to be the patient’s choice.

We must each have the right to choose our own path to dying.

This is a Human Right and it MUST be our choice!

 

Places to learn more:

Brittany Maynard Could Revive the Stalled ‘Death With Dignity’ Movement

Brittany Maynard, terminally ill, takes own life

Brittany Maynard, 29-year-old right-to-die advocate with brain cancer, ends her life in Oregon

Brittany Maynard, advocate for ‘death with dignity,’ dies

Brittany Maynard – Wikipedia

The Brittany Maynard Fund

 

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Monsters of Marianna

FlaIndusSchBoys
The Florida Dozier School for Boys in Marianna
Dining hall construction with “White House” in background, 1936
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

This story has been percolating in my head and heart since we moved down here nearly ten years ago,

it is not about Florida Wildlife it is about Florida Monsters.

But just like the Wildlife here that I am devoted to writing about, these children also had no voice.

If you blink as you drive West on Interstate 10 near Tallahassee in the Panhandle of Florida, you might miss Marianna.

This is a sleepy little town, that until we moved here and began seeing the News stories, had held only one memory,  it was the town where we always stopped to eat at a place called Po – Folks.

Po – Folks  has  great country-style southern comfort food and a really friendly staff.

Absolutely nothing there, or anything that you see as you drive through, could possibly tell you about the dark, ugly secret this town once had.

Now when I think of Marianna, it will forever be because of the horrible, hideous stories continuously being splashed across our TV News Stations.

You see in  Marianna,  there used to be what is called a Bad Boys, or Reform School and it was said to be the biggest one in the entire United States.

You know, the kind of place where troubled children get sent to because no one can control them, or worse, wants them.

Some of them were orphans, others were just confused and needed guidance and help.

This House of Horrors  is/was called the Dozier Boys School and it was also a  place of torture, abuse and death for many who were sent there.

It is also said that the KKK were very much a part of the crimes here.

The school was opened in 1900 and closed in 2011 amid a flurry of accusations, threats and lawsuits.

Then Governor Crist had it all investigated, but as usual in this place called the racially oppressed and color divided State of Florida, this ugly mess was claimed to not have enough, or sufficient evidence to go further.

Those in control stepped out, hopeful it would all go away.

But not so fast, some survivors started making a lot of noise and some people were listening to their stories, better yet they were believing them.

It has been reported that almost 100 children died while this school was in operation.

Then several years ago a team of Anthropologists from USF in Tampa went to Marianna and began a dig.

The Dig team was led by Associate Professor and Forensic Anthropologist Erin Kimmerle, who had known about the school and wanted to see if something could be found.

Because my field of Education at College was in Anthropology and the majority of my Nursing experience was at a State Rehab Center in California, this story was of great personal interest.

One of the many sad  things about this story,  is the name that was given to the place where so much of the abuse happened, it was called the White House.

So, the survivors of this school nightmare, call themselves the White House Boys and they are determined to not only expose the crimes, but to shine a bring light on what happened there.

This time, they want to see justice for the victims and punishment for the perpetrators, if any are still alive.

These few survivors of unspeakable abuse want, need, to be assured that this can and will never happen again, anywhere.

The White House Boys also want an apology, as well as, who can blame them, compensation from those who kept the secrets of the Monsters of Marianna.

 

Places to learn more:

Read the Full USF PDF  Report here:  Dozier School Report

Florida School for Boys – Wikipedia

THE WHITE HOUSE BOYS SURVIVOR’S ORGANIZATION CORP

Florida to exhume bodies buried at former boys school

Remains of 2 more boys identified at closed Florida boys school

Boy missing since 1940 identified at closed Florida boys school

Florida’s Dozier School For Boys: A True Horror Story

Abuses at infamous Florida boys reform school even more widespread, report says

 

 

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