Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is it the game or the parenting?

                Like most children of the 1980s, I grew up playing video games. We had the Nintendo NES and we played the now classic games: Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, and Duck Hunt just to name of few. With the rise in school shootings, video games have come under fire for their source of violence. Video games have been studied since the 1980s and no concrete evidence has come to light that points directly to video games as the source of the rise in violence. Many lawmakers including Senator Diane Feinstein are pushing for the video game industry to voluntarily avoid glorifying guns and gun violence and if they are unwilling to so do, Congress is ready to take action (Huffington Post 4/4/2013). I don’t advocated banning video games because when you do so, you just create a black market for it and when someone wants the banned item, they will get it. We saw that with the Cold War when East Germany banned Western music, East German still were listening to it. Prohibition is another example of banning an item does not get rid of the desire for the item.
                Unfortunately, the evidence that points to video games as the increase in violence is correlational at best. One study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research stated that when accounting for pre-existing emotional, family and social issues, any aggression-increasing effects of playing violent video games had disappeared. Another study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence stated that current findings did not support the popular belief that violent video games increase aggression in youths. Federal crime statistics actually show that serious violent crimes among youths have decreased since 1996 while video game sales have increased. It would be hard to find a young man who did not play games at all. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) in 2011, the average gamer is 30 years old with 12 years playing experience. 82% of gamers are 18 and older, 42% are women 18 and older and 29% are over 50. The majority of gamers aren’t youths at all, they are adults!

                The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has a rating system similar to the film ratings which notify the consumer of the maturity level based on the content:
·         Early Childhood (EC): young children
·         Everyone (E): minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and or infrequent use of mild language
·         Everyone 10+ (E 10+): same as Everyone rating but more suitable for players 10 and older
·         Teen (T): violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and or infrequent use of strong language, suitable for 13 and older
·         Mature (M): intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and or strong language, suitable for 17 and older)
·         Adults Only (AO): prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content and or gambling with real currency, restricted to those 18 and older.
However, the ratings only work when parents pay attention to or even care about the content. I’ve seen many children who have games that their parents gave them that they probably shouldn’t have. But if the parents allow them to play the game, who am I to tell them that they can’t have it?
                In the book, Everything Bad Is Good for You, Steven Johnson challenges the popular belief that video games are a mind-numbing addiction. According to Johnson, video games demand more from players than most traditional board games. Players have to determine objectives and how to achieve them, learn the controls and navigating and eventually mastering a highly complex system with countless variables. I know personally that many games especially role playing games (RPGs) are very complex. I’ve started many and only finished a few. My brother, who is an avid player, will take months to finish one game because of all the extra side journeys a character can take outside of the main quest. He will often play the game again, changing even one decision will alter the game play and change the course the character will experience. RPGs requires strong analytical ability, strong flexibility and adaptability and strong patience and focus. Johnson also challenges the popular perception that video games give instant gratification when in fact because many RPGs take so long to complete, it may actually delay gratification. Some RPGs I’ve seen are actually designed to never truly be over because of the different quests one can take.

                Bottom line is parents need to be aware of what their children are being exposed to whether it’s video games, television, music, etc. And if they don’t approve or they see the type of effect the exposure has, restrict their access. I know it’s easier said than done but better to attempt to do something than face the questions later. I can think of a few examples where my mom didn’t approve of what was on T.V. and restricted it but we still watched it when she was gone. It is easier today than it was 30 years ago to set parental controls to ensure that children follow their parents’ viewing restrictions. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen where evil will always exists and we need to be diligent. No solution is going to completely solve the problems, Individuals who have predisposition for violence will find other outlets and enact violence on others. Video games have been in American home since 1975 with the popularity of Atari and I think they are here to stay. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Crisis of faith: the storm before the calm


Yesterday, I had what one would call a crisis of faith when life situations and life decisions caused an intense doubt and internal conflict and I often feel there is nowhere to turn. Recently, our landlord sent us a letter stated that they were raising the rent, which we knew they were going to do but it brought a decision that we weren’t expecting. We either have to sign another year lease and our rent raises only $60 or stay month-to-month and our rent raises by $110! We are planning to move after two years but to be tied to another lease is difficult because what if a new home opportunity came before us when our lease wasn’t up yet? Do we break the lease or do we let this home opportunity slip by? That’s the problem with crises of faith, a lot of “what if” scenarios come up that may be impossible but you can’t help but think of them. This led to my husband, Joe, talking about sacrifices in order to move and live where we would like. He talked about giving up things and he gave the examples giving up my cat, Kairi and having another baby. This made me very upset and shocked.

As I was left to those thoughts rolling in my head all day. And the more I thought about it, the more upset I became. How dare he make such suggestions especially this week when we marked my due date and honored the memory of Ziva! The tears came like waterfalls. I sat at the kitchen table, listening to uplifting songs on YouTube trying to feel better when I broke down and cried out to God to help me. Then I reached out to my friends on Facebook. The support I got caused even more tears and I knew that I wouldn’t feel any better until I talked to Joe. After we settled in for the tonight, I opened the conservation. And boy was I wrong! Joe was not asking me to give up my cat or my dream of having another baby. I felt better and after trying to go to sleep, I got up and did my usual midnight Internet search and I found some quotes which helped me.
1.      “Crisis are part of life. Everybody has to face them, and it doesn’t make any difference what the crisis is” –Jack Nicklaus, American golfer
It is so true and I often forget that we are not the only ones who face crises either it be financial, medical or family. Everyone has crises when the bills keep coming and they don’t care if your hours have been cut or you just had to put new tires put on the car. They want their money.
2.      “Come a crisis, we want other people.” –Danny Boyle, British film director
If life is going smoothly, we often think we don’t need other people but when a crisis hits we run for the nearest person. We need the comfort and support. We don’t need answers, at least not right away, we need the human contact and to hear that everything will be alright.
3.      “When some crisis occurs, couples don’t have the resources to deal with it because they’ve been so busy getting on with their lives. They haven’t learned how to sit down and discuss things.” –Janet McTeer, British actress
I learned this lesson the hard way. If you don’t confront someone and talk about what needs to be discussed, you’ll end up being resentful and it will build up until you explode. So if you’re angry with someone, talk to them about it. You’ll often find that the person doesn’t even realize that he or she hurt you.
4.      “Seeds of faith are always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth” –Susan Taylor, American journalist
Our faith grows with each crisis. Each time, I’ve faced a crisis and God has seen me through, my trust in Him grows. I know that God will not abandon me but you can’t stop the human brain from getting on the runaway train of “what ifs” and worst case scenarios.
5.      “God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow or sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it” –unknown
There are countless Bible verses which demonstrate this principle. Here’s a few of my favorites:
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor   forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13
            So if you are in the middle of crisis of faith, don’t hold it in. Reach out and talk to someone who trust. Sometimes just talking about can help relieve the stress. It may not give you a solution but it give you support you’ll need to get this the situation. We can’t do it alone. God designed us to be social people. He gave us a support system to help us. He can even speak through these people. I have often prayed about something and the answer was given to me through a friend. I don’t think she knew she was being used by God to give me my answer but I recognized an answer when I hear it. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

So far yet so close

In loving memory of
Ziva Rae Lara
born October 30, 2013 at 1:10 am
died October 30, 2013 at 1:44 am

I write this post with a heavy heart. Today is my due date. A date when Joe and I should be anticipating the arrival of our new baby girl but instead there is a branch missing from our family tree. I wasn't sure how I would feel but as this day approached I could feel myself flooded with waves of emotions. I know God has a plan. He knew what he was doing when he called Ziva home but my human heart still wants to know why. I was looking forward to having a new baby in our lives and now I have an urn and a pictures of a tiny baby who was just too small to survive.
                Last week, I went to the memorial service of my mom’s dear friend, Mary, who lost her long battle with cancer. At the graveside service, the pastor said something that stuck me. He said, “Death is life’s only guarantee. The years in our lives that is the surprise.” Ziva was in our lives for a brief moment. For Psalm 139:16 says "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." God knew that Ziva would only be with use for a short time. He allowed her to come to us for a reason. A reason we may not understand just yet. Joe seems to think that there may come a day when we can comfort and minister to a couple facing the same situation we are now. If that is true I should hope I'd be up for the challenge. I should know better than anyone that a positive pregnancy test does not lead to a healthy baby. After suffering two miscarriages, Joe and I were able to have our beautiful daughter, Abby, who has been a delight since the day she was born. Each day, I marvel at how much she has grown and how much she is learning. Even today as we took her to the park, she learned how to climb up a slide. A feat I thought was a while away. It hurts to know that Ziva won't be able to play and learn with her big sister. 
                 I know that each anniversary is hard but time does make it easier. Life must go on. Abby needs her mother and father to help her learn and grow as she navigates this crazy world we live in. Ziva may be in heaven now but she remains close in our hearts and our memories. May be in the near future, God will bless us with another child. But for now, I lean on His grace and His unfailing wisdom. And I have one more reason to look forward to heaven. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Political analysis from a non-political person


Once again elections are upon us. The mid-term elections will occur on November 4, 2014. I’ll admit I really dislike elections years. The endless ads, the debates and the petitions being shoved in my face as I enter a store. However, as a responsible citizen, I do participate in the voting process. I vote because I want my voice to be counted even though what I may vote for doesn’t pass. I always say, if you don’t vote, then you can’t complain. With the coming elections, it got me thinking about the comparisons and differences between the Democrats and Republicans, the liberals and the conservatives, especially with the emergence of the Tea Party in the last few years. This post is not to say which party is better or which one you should join. That’s for you to decide. Personally, I don’t belong to any political party and I definitely don’t like to discuss my political views. Political views are too volatile and it’s not worth the argument, if you can’t discuss things civilly.
                The Democratic Party is the older of the two parties with its origins in the anti-federalist factions when this country was founded. The party was organized by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other opponents of the Federalists in 1792 (Encyclopedia Britannica). It is follows the liberal philosophy which based on community and social responsibility. According to their website, the Democratic Party is a political group which focus on fairness. “We’re greater together than we are on own - that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules.” (Democratic Party official website). While the Republican Party was founded on March 20, 1854 as an anti-slavery platform. The party rose to prominence with Abraham Lincoln as the 1st Republican president (History Channel). It is follows the conservative philosophy which based on small government and laws should reflect the best interest of society as a whole.  
                I would like to discuss each of the issues that the parties support. While there are many issues in which the parties support, I would like to focus on the main issues.  First, the economy is important to everyone. It means jobs, income and security. The Democratic Party supports ending tax loopholes for corporations, tax cuts for small businesses, investing in clean energy and creating jobs rebuilding the country’s infrastructure (Democratic Party official website). They also favor minimum wages increases and a progressive tax rate (Diffen.com). A Progressive tax rate simply is the more income you make, the more you pay in taxes. While the Republican Party supports a free market and opposes government intervention in control of industry (Republican Party official website). They also oppose increase in taxes and believe wages should be set by the free market (Diffen.com).
Second, immigration reform is an important topic right now. The Democratic Party supports securing the border, end to employer exploitation of undocumented workers and responsibility from undocumented workers (Democratic Party official website). The party proposes that undocumented residents: 1) be in good standing, 2) must admit they broke the law, 3) pay taxes and penalties, 4) learn English and 5) get right with the law before submitted an application for citizenship (Democratic Party official website). While their official website does not mention immigration reform, according to the Pew Research Center, the Republican Party supports a path to citizenship similar to the Democrats’ plan. They also support a requirement for U.S. employers to conduct immigration status of all new hires as well as tightening the U.S. border security and providing Border Patrol with resources they need to keep the border secure (Pew Research Center).
Third, education is an area of concern. The Democrats supports an educational system which encourages math, science and technology (Democrat Party official website). The party supports a national standards, increased spending particularly teachers’ salaries, reducing the minority achievement gap, government-controlled school options and programs like Head Start, the party believes puts students on the path to college (Joy Pullman).  While the Republican Party supports the math, sciences and technology; however, they would like to see more parent choice in which schools their children attends (Republican Party official website).  The party supports a variety of school options including charter schools, vouchers, and supports the ending of “last in, first out” requirements for teacher hiring and retention (Joy Pullman). The “Last in first out” is seniority based lay-offs.
                If that wasn’t very confusing, enter the Tea Party. The Tea Party is a populist movement which began in 2009 urging political change for the benefit of the people (Tea Party Movement). Their focus is on fiscal conservatism. The Tea Party favors decreased taxes and decreased government spending in order to reduce the federal budget deficit (Tea Party Movement). The Tea Party is mostly associated with the Republican Party and they are not registered as a political party. They have no central leadership which according to some is proof of its grassroots credentials which leaves its goal and beliefs to be highly localized and personalized (Encyclopedia Britannica). Tea Party is basically a label that some politicians have taken up to further demonstrate their ideas of where this country has been and where it needs to go.
                In conclusion, I really dislike politics. While some issues I wholeheartedly disagree with one side with, there are other issues that I think that it makes sense. What I really dislike is that both sides claim that they are for the people and they have our best interest at heart but when they get to Washington, they are out for themselves. Maybe at first, the new idealist politician comes to Washington to help get the country on the right track, but if they aren’t carefully, they will forget why they were elected and by whom. I distrust politicians on both sides of the aisle because I feel that they think they know better than I do what I want in life. I don’t like being dictated to. And I don't think that I'm alone. 

Democratic Party official website www.democratic.org
Diffen.com www.diffen.com/difference/Democrat_vs_Republican
Encyclopedia Britannica www.britannica.com
History Channel www.history.com
Joy Pullman, Heartland Institute www.heartland.org
Republican Party official website www.gop.com

Tea Party Movement www.what-is-the-tea-party.com

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love is...

On this day of St. Valentine’s, many people are out scrambling to find the perfect gift, the perfect bouquet of roses and the perfect card to express how they feel. Love has been lost in this holiday of love. I was inspired to write this article about love when I saw a friend’s post on Facebook. It was simple. She wrote, “love is…a joke.” I was so sad because love isn’t a joke. It is the basis of who we are. We were created in God’s image and God in His nature is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 lists the actions that love is. Love is patient, kind and does not boast or envy. It is not proud or dishonors others. Love is not self-seeking and not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs and does not delight in evil. Love rejoices with the truth. Love protects. Love trusts. Love hopes. Love perseveres and Love never fails. These verses describes God’s love for us. He loves us despite of who we are and what we have done. He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus to die for our sins that we may enjoy eternal life with Him (John 3:16). We don’t have to be perfect because He will change us. He loves us that much that He created us in His image and He wants us to return to that image.
                In the Greek language, which the New Testament is written, has four words for love. Each word is a different type of expression. Love between a husband and a wife has all four types of love. First, Eros is physical love or sexual attraction. It’s the type of love that is expression between lovers. Second, Philia is a mental love. It’s a love between family, friends and lovers. It’s a love that you enjoy spending time with those individuals. Third, Storge is “affection.” Its love that acceptance despite the situation or the flaw of the individual. This love is loving a person despite his or her flaws. Lastly, Agape is a spiritual love. The true unconditional love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. True love has all four types of love.
                One of the reasons that love may be seen as a joke to some is that we have been taught that love is conditional. Love is performance based. “Since he didn’t do X, Y and Z, then he must not love me.” We’ve been taught that love needs to fulfill our needs. Love isn’t there to do a job. It’s there to be there. It just is. We have allowed Love to lose its honor, integrity, and trust. We have learned to substitute fake love because we have lost sight of what true love looks like. But we still search, knowing that true love does exist. This is illustrated in the Foreigner song “I want to know what love is” (1984):
“In my life, there’s been heartache and pain. I don’t know if I can face it again
Can’t stop now, I’ve travelled so far, to change this lonely life
I wanna to know what love is. I want you to show me
I wanna feel what love is. I know you can show me”
We search for examples of love. When love is waiting for us. God is waiting to show us love. God is here to show us a love that is honorable, trustworthy, and has integrity. And when we allow Him to do so, He’ll bring people in our lives who will be the living examples of His Love.
                I know this is possible because God has sent a love in my life that is all that He designed it to be. My husband, Joe, and I have been married for 5 years this July and we are still amazed on how far we’ve come when so many others around us have fallen apart. We know it is simply because we put God first in our relationship. Our unity ceremony in our wedding was the Cord of Three Strands from Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Right from the start, Joe and I made a commitment to put God first in our relationship and He has blessed us as we continue to abide in Him and look to Him for guidance. Because there are times when Joe and I are angry at each other. We get frustrated. We get annoyed. But we always are able to come back together and talk through whatever the situation may be. Joe and I have faced some tough and painful situations in our short marriage. Each trial only brings us closer to God and God brings us closer to each other. We honor each with a deep respect that every decision is discussed and each person’s point of view is heard. We can come to a compromise. We are honest with each other and we trust each other.
                Love is no joke. Love is real when you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable.

All verses are from the New International Version (NIV)
Special thanks to Pastor Joel Pagett of Reliance Community Church for his moving sermon

“God is Love” February 9, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Elijah McCoy and Dr. Percy Julian


Elijah McCoy was born on May 2, 1844 in Colchester, Ontario, Canada. His parents were fugitive slaves who escaped in Canada from Kentucky via the Underground Railroad. When he was three years, his family would return to the United States and settle in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He would begin his career as a fireman and oiler at the Michigan Central Railroad. In his home-based machine shop, he would invent an automatic lubricator for oiling a steam engines of locomotives and ships. The lubricator would have trains and ships run moved effectively and efficiently. He would continue to refine his design as well as design new devices. He was recognized by Booker T. Washington’s Story of a Negro (1909) as having the most patents than any other black inventor at the time. Many of his inventions dealt with lubrication but few did not. For instance, the folding ironing board and the lawn sprinkler. He died on October 10, 1929 at the age of 86. He left a legacy of great inventions in which we still use today. The phrase “The Real McCoy” has been attributed to him. The story is that some train engineers would refer to his invention of the oil-drip cup as the Real McCoy System, not wanting to waste time with inferior devices. Although there are other possibilities to the origins of this phrase, I think I like the Elijah McCoy story better.

                Dr. Percy Lavon Julian was a U.S. research chemist and pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. He was also a pioneer in the industrial large-scale chemical synthesis of human hormones, such as steroids, progesterone and testosterone. His work laid the foundation for cortisone, other corticosteroids and birth control pills. He would receive more than 130 chemical patents and he was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry and the first African-American chemist to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences.

                Percy Julian was born in Montgomery, Alabama on April 11, 1899 and grew up during the racist times of the Jim Crow laws. His parents would encourage him and his siblings to pursue an education higher than an 8th grade which was uncommon during this time. He would attend DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana where he would graduate in 1920 Phi Beta Kappa and valedictorian. He would earn his Ph.D. in 1931 at the University of Vienna. In Europe, he would enjoy freedom from the racial prejudices so common in the United States.  When he returned to the United States, most of this work would be done with Glidden. He died on April 19, 1975 at the age of 76 from liver cancer. 

all information was received from www.biography.com

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Valentine series by Adriana Trigiani

             I recent read the Valentine trilogy by Adriana Trigiani. Ms. Trigiani is an award winning playwright and television writer for The Cosby Show and its spinoff A Different World. She has several bestsellers including Lucia, Lucia, The Queen of the Big Time, and the Big Stone Gap series. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter. I was introduced to Ms. Trigiani’s Valentine series by my aunt and while I heard that her books were filled with a detailed family story and humor, I found this series to be bogged down with too many details and very unlikable characters including the main character, Valentine.

            The first book in the series is Very Valentine which opens at the wedding reception of her baby sister, Jaclyn. Valentine is the last daughter to be unmarried in a very Italian family in New York City. The story really begins as she discovers that the shoe company that her great-grandfather had started when he came to America is failing and she scrambles to save the family business from ruin. The story takes the reader from Greenwich Village to beautiful Tuscany and to the island of Capri. While I found the descriptions of the locations helpful and I could almost see the tall buildings of New York City, the rolling hills of Tuscany and the crystal blue waters of Capri. I found the constant description of their clothes, their hairstyles, make-up, of the food and the deep family secret to be tiresome and boring. I’m not a fashionista by any means and I found the constant descriptions of the fabrics and designs for the shoes to be drawn out. I didn’t particularly find anything in this book to be overly humorous. I continued with the series hoping for a better story.
            The second book in the series is Brava, Valentine which picks up where the first book leaves off. Valentine’s beloved grandmother remarries in beautiful Tuscany. Valentine and her brother are made partners in the shoe company as their grandmother retires. They must find a way to mass-produce their shoes to stay competitive in the falling U.S. economy. They clash at first but I find their reconciliation a little too easy after the years of resentment described in the first book. Valentine’s research to find a shoe factory leads her to Argentina and another family secret. This secret seemingly tears the family apart and reveals the family’s intolerance. I won’t reveal the secret but when I read it I was expecting a much larger scandal than what was revealed. I thought “okay so what?” But I suppose that this secret would matter to an Italian New Yorker and not to a French-Irish-English Californian. There was a few humorous lines in this book but they don’t occur until the near end and its one particular scene. Again, I continue to the third book just to finish the series and see how Ms. Trigiani ends it.
            The third and final book in the series is The Supreme Macaroni Company. The book opens at Christmas time and another dramatic scene of family anger bubbling over again and again. Location after location. I know the stereotype is family holiday get-togethers are often filled with drama and old grudges but come on!!! From the beginning, there is a sense of a pending tragedy coming and Ms. Trigiani makes it fairly whose death is coming. She alludes to it several times and when it happens, there is no surprise. No shock. No “oh no!” moment. There is also a great deal of reconciliation that seems too easy given the history of resentment that the author talks about at great length since the beginning of the series. It seems that all the family problems get resolved and every one’s happy in a nice package. It was a disappointing end to a disappointing series.

            Valentine was a very unlikable character. She had more wild mood swings than a bipolar person. She would be fiery angry one minute and it wouldn’t take much to cool her down and everything is right with the world. I found her commitment issues an “ok, I get it” series of moments rather than a reason to sympathize with her. Valentine just a stereotypical woman whom I had no interest if she found whatever she was looking for. If I would rate this series, I would give it 3 out of 5. It was an okay story but the characters left it wanting. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Black History Month: Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington was an important educator and driving force behind the growth of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School which is now the Tuskegee University (www.nps.gov). He was also a man who has a few beliefs and views that angered the black activist of his day. Despite his controversial views, he became an icon for the black community.  He is described as a man who “lifted the veil of ignorance” (www.nps.gov).
Booker Taliaferro Washington was born April 5, 1856 on a small farm plantation in Piedmont Franklin County, Virginia. In his autobiography, Up from Slavery, he would describe his birthplace as a typical log cabin measuring 14’ by 16’. His mother was the plantation cook (www.nps.gov). After the Civil War, his family moved to Malden, West Virginia where he found jobs working in the salt mines as well as a houseboy for Mrs. Viola Ruffner, the wife of a local salt mine owner. She took an interest in Booker and his desire for an education. He would attend classes at a local school for an hour a day (www.biography.com).
His formal education would begin at the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia where he worked as a janitor in order to pay for his room and board and the director Samuel Armstrong found a white benefactor to pay for his tuition (www.tuskegee.edu). He would graduate with honors in 1875 and return to Malden to teach. He soon would be approached to develop the Tuskegee Institute. He would become its first principal and where he would teach economic success and working hard in order to obtain “financial independence and cultural advancement” which would lead to eventually acceptance and respect from the white community (www.biography.com). He believed that the educational system should emphasizes practical skills and self-help (www.tuskegee.edu). He believed that subordination to whites was a necessary until African Americans could prove worthy of full economic and political rights (www.biography.com). This belief would anger his critics especially W.E.B. DuBois.
In 1895, Washington would give a speech in which he would explain his beliefs which is known as the “Atlanta Compromise.” In this speech, he stated that the African American communities should accepted “disenfranchisement and social segregation” as long as they would allowed economic progress, educational opportunities and judicial justice (www.biography.com). His statements would create a firestorm of criticism especially from DuBois who would criticize Washington for advocating white superiority and not demanding equality. Washington’s statement surprised me as I researched his life. His statements came at a time when there was severe segregation in the country especially the South. The African Americans would being systematically excluded from the political process through black codes and the Jim Crow laws.
In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt would invite Washington to the White House. The first African American to be honored with an invite. Roosevelt and later President Taft would ask for his advisement on racial matters. Quite possibly because Washington accepted racial subservience (www.biography.com). Although he openly supported racial subservience, he would secretly finance court cases challenging segregation. By 1913, he lost much of his influence especially in Washington as the Wilson Administration had no interest in racial integration and African American equality. He would remain as the head of the Tuskegee Institute until his death on November 14, 1915 at the age of 59.

Biography website www.biography.com 
Tuskegee University www.tuskegee.edu 

U.S. National Park Service www.nps.gov 

Thursday, February 6, 2014


                First, I want to apologize for the lateness of this post. I meant to post it a couple of days ago and then I got a cold. A cold so bad that I felt dizzy to sit up. But now, I’m feeling better and on to my post. Thanks again for reading!
                Slang. I really, really dislike slang. Words or phrases that I have always been uncomfortable hearing or using. I never know if I’m using it in the right situations or if I’m a part of the group enough to use the slang. Then again some slang just makes someone sound uneducated. Slang is words or phrase that is very informal. Slang has been around for as long as humans had language. When you’re a teenager and you want to be a part of a group, you will being to use the language that your friends are using. I know that I tried to use slang when I was younger and I felt awkward and foolish. I avoid using slang as much as I can. Many times, especially in high school, by the time I heard of a particular slang, it was already passĂ© to use it.  
I recently discovered a new slang phrase. I was waiting in the cafĂ© for my husband to get off of work when a group of teenagers were sitting next to my table. They were talking and I overheard one young man say “You’re stupid smart if you….” “Stupid smart” got my attention. I thought for a moment that he made a mistake but since his friends weren't making fun of him. When I got home, I looked it up and it means: “someone who tries to sound educated but comes off sounding like they’re trying too hard.” So, it’s someone who is using big words without either knowing the meaning or not truly understanding the meaning and using it in the wrong context. I realize that I find slang useless and annoying.
                The most annoying slang words is “preggers” or “preggo.” It makes me twitch every time I hear it. Apparently, a lot of people find it annoying too. On UrbanDictionary.com, several users comments including descriptions like: “disgustingly annoying” or “should never be used.” I agree. If you are pregnant, just say pregnant. I also find the use of slang for various body parts is equally annoying. Just come out and use the proper term. There is another wrong or embarrassing to use the actual terms. For instance, vagina instead of vajayjay or baby cannon.  I could go on but I think you get the picture.
                Slang has affected our ability to communicate. I know when I was in school, many of classmates were called out by the professors for using slang or Internet jargon in their papers. And I've heard reports of high school English teachers complaining of the same thing. I think if you are going to use slang, please remember your audience. If you are with your friends or online, that’s where it’s appropriate. But on in school work, speaking to your elders, not really appropriate. I know there probably many people who would disagree with me and that’s fine. I dislike slang and I will not teach my daughter to use it. I know that when she becomes a teenager, she will probably use it with her friends but she’ll learn there’s a time and place for slang.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Introducing myself!

My first blog! What to write about?
I’ll introduce myself. My name is Jennifer Lara. I’m happily married to my husband, Joe and we have a beautiful daughter, Abby. I’m a no fuss-no muss type of person. I see myself as a simple person with simple tastes. I enjoy books, movies and TV shows. I enjoy spending time with my family in the simplest ways, like watching football games or even watching games shows.  I love to learn. I’m a college graduate who graduated when the economy went bust and I found myself looking for jobs that I trained for but were no longer available. What to do? I scrambled for any job that was remotely related to my field of study and finding that I had the education but not the experience. I started to feel like a failure that I would never work in the field that I studied, especially when my fellow classmates were getting jobs in their fields.
So, I took a couple of years while I had my daughter and stayed at home with her. One day recently, it clicked! I love to write and write about anything and everything. I’m always writing character sketches, scenes and informative essays like I did in college. So why not post a blog? Then I thought who would read it? Then I remember a famous quote from Thomas Edison who said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”  Why give up before I start? If no one reads this blog at least it’s a great outlet for me to get my thoughts, opinions and observations out in the world. And maybe, just maybe someone will come across my work and like what they read. It takes just one reader to gain a thousand more.
I aim to be fair. I aim to investigate all sides of a topic before voicing an opinion. I intend to write about all topics in current events, entertainment, personal everyday occurrences and any others that might be interesting to write and to read about. My readers, I hope you find my blog informative as well as entertaining. I welcome your comments; however, if you are going to be vulgar, rude or disrespectful, your comments are not welcome.

Thank you for reading!!!