Expert Voices

10 Ways Trump Is Inadvertently Making America Be Best

By JEANETTE LENOIR

It’s true; America can’t escape the shame of Donald J. Trump. Like an unruly toddler, the 45th president of the United States is marking up the entire planet with a sharpie, as mother nature and most of her inhabitants tightly cross their fingers hoping he’s not using the permanent kind. Nonetheless, it befits us to see the silver lining in our current affairs at the mercy of our Emperor. So, here are ten ways Trump has inadvertently made us a better country:

  1. A Collective Rejection. Even before taking office, Trump forced Americans from all walks of life to reject him and his brand of politics. His birtherism rhetoric targeting former President Barack Obama, his unapologetic prejudice during his testimony in congress concerning Native Americans and his casinos, accusing a Judge for being unable to be impartial because he’s “Mexican,” discriminating against black renters, the Central Park Five case, mocking people with disabilities, boasting of getting away with murder on 5th Ave and grabbing women by the genitals will forever stain the path toward our nations ideals. Nonetheless, Trump forced Americans to stop and look in the mirror to bear witness to what he inadvertently exposed of us. And that is: our freedom is an allusion, economic and otherwise, and racism is still an institutionalized and structural anomaly.The Klu Klux Klan, today with gnashed gums, have risen from our cultural graveyard where they’ve existed as our haunting ghosts, and exposed their secret operation within our entire system of governance and social structure. Nazi’s and emboldened white supremacists, and other hate groups have taken comfort among us. And Russia’s involvement in our political system was not just telling of our vulnerabilities, but also the problem with career politicians and the pay to play operation of congress. The silver lining, you ask. Thanks to Trump being “Trumpy,” he unintentionally helped usher in movements like The Resistance, Women’s March, March For Our Lives, No Muslim Ban Ever, Stop Trump Movement, Need To Impeach, Impeach Donald Trump Now, Organize Against Trump, Indivisible, The New Civil Rights Movement … the list goes on and on. Trump has galvanized and empowered average Americans to rise in defense of the ideals and promise of this country. And that makes America better. 
  2. Exposing Democratic Vulnerabilities. Another important change 45 ushered in takes direct aim at the Democratic Party. Trump exposed a painful truth about the Party, and that is its ineffectiveness, and disregard of the overall sentiments on issues concerning immigration, healthcare and education. Also, the DNC’s lack of accountability for a flawed system fashioned by Clinton Democrats that created the effect that led to Trump. And taking African Americans and other people of color for granted through their use of transactional politics verses relationship politics. The lack of investment in organizing and investing in communities across the country, and not building on the success of Obama’s presidency after more than twenty years of a Republican majority in congress is evident in the ROI outcome; President Trump. Trump, riding his horse to the old white house, weakened the Democratic Party on the way and forced liberal and middle of the road Americans, high on Obama’s legacy, to see our democracy as it really was; flawed and ill-prepared to stop Trump, the GOP and Russia. The three allies are still swinging to the tune of Old Town Road, as they ride to systematically dismantle Obama’s legacy. Trump killed our Barry buzz, man! But he also woke the Democratic Party up, galvanizing leadership to refocus, listen to and invest in the American people and work to resuscitate our collective humanity. After all, raising our collective conscientiousness and civility can only make America better. 
  3. The Era of Social Media Governing. It’s no secret that our president is always plugged in, leading our nation with tweets, hashtags and emoji’s, and even using his social media platform to antagonize everyone he disagrees with. This includes his flippant involvement in highly sensitive foreign relations matters. The world is changing at a rapid pace thanks to the internet and technology. And Trump has jumped on this band wagon, disregarding long standing practices by applying his own brand of boorish engagement. Trump uses social media to mock and threaten hostile nations like North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran, while FLOTUS Melania Trump struggles to make sense of her Be Best campaign to stop cyber bullying. There’s no telling if Trump will abuse the FCC emergency alert system to mass text the U.S. like an unwanted booty call. And it’s arguably only a matter of time before he starts using AI to project himself across our skies in hologram form as Trumpzilla to boost his bloated ego. The silver lining here is a folklore befitting of an Anansi tale. If one is unwise, they will use social media like Trump does, if one is wise, they will not. Thus, canceling Trump makes America better. 
  4. A Renewed Civil Rights Movement. Despite the many movements that have brought us out of our shameful past into the 21st century, Trump, in his relatively short time as President Twitter Fingers, has forced us to take a harder look at the progress of human rights in America. As a nation, Trump reminds us of how comfortable we’ve become at accepting bits of progress to pull African Americans out of the pit they were shoved in after emancipation and expected to climb out of by sheer will and some magical bootstraps. Even though they were dumped into this metaphorical pit without boots after creating massive wealth for a country that enjoys world superpower status today. Trump’s brand of politics has forced our nation’s leaders to seriously address, not only the current state of racism and discrimination in America, but its influence embedded in workplaces, schools, our government, law enforcement, the justice system and other institutions in the country. Indifference of racism was becoming the norm, especially after the election of Obama. In some circles, the mere mention of racism, pointing it out or boldly expecting equality, was met with flippancy and an attitude of disdain and even disgust. Those who turned a blind eye to the reality of racism in America readily used phrases like, “pulling the race card” or “race baiting” to delegitimize or downplay the truth of discrimination and racism. This moment is a significant turning point in the struggle for equality and justice. The deep pain of racism is being acknowledged by more people because of Trump’s character. It is steadily paving a way for a renewed and emboldened civil rights movement in the country. And for that, Trump is making America better. 
  5. Women and Minority Office Holders. Katie Hill may be exiting stage left after a sex scandal, but there are more women office holders in America today, especially in congress. Women make up 24.16 percent of the 116th Congress, an increase of 2.36 percent since the election of Donald Trump, and there’s also been an increase in racial and ethnic diversity among elected officials. It’s safe to say many ran for office to protect the country from Trump and his ilk; out of touch elites, and the heartless Grand Old Party, better known as RxNRA, I mean, the GOP. Gil Cisneros, a proud Latino and new Congressman from California was galvanized to serve in congress after his predecessor voted against Obamacare. Cisneros ran for office even after winning a $266 million lottery jackpot that could have easily afforded him anonymity. And for that, the country is better off. And not just at being more inclusive of the people that make up our identity, but to regard the lessons from our past. Never forget, ignoring red flags is what led to Bush ’41 being asleep at the wheel. 
  6. Noticing The Red Flags. Trump could easily be our second 9/11 moment if we don’t heed the deafening warning signs and see the man in the mirror for what he is; a bona fide threat. It’s hard to admit that the orange fat man is us, but he is. And Trump has no interest in learning how to land either. The president of the United States cancelled a meeting with the Taliban at Camp David three days before the anniversary of 9/11. Reread the last sentence. Welcome to the Twilight Zone. He’s using military dollars to build the wall he shamefully boasted Mexico would pay for and making appearances at rally’s threatening to stay in office longer than the Constitution allows. It’s simply unreal this is our current trajectory as a country. If the 45th G7 summit held in France didn’t give you a clue about our global economic standing, you’re either Diamond or Silk planning to attend the next G7 summit at Doral. Trump appointed all his key players, I mean his best people, to hold high office in his Administration; a handful of individuals worth billions in a country where over half the population is experiences some level of poverty. He’s leapfrogging us into the greedy hands of corporations only interested in their bottom line. The wheels are hard turning toward an inhumane direction the country hasn’t seen since the first American slave ship, the Desire, set sail from Marblehead. Trump gets credit for driving us into a ditch. Will it make America better? Yes. If we fire him, get out of the ditch and work toward a more just Republic. 
  7. The NFL Culture. Trump brought to the surface the ugly truth about the NFL and its longstanding colonial system, including its ever-successful divide and conquer strategy that snagged the voracious snakehead, Jay-Z. Hook, line and sinker. How many black NFL team owners do you know of? Me either. And, it wasn’t that long ago when the president was disparaging NFL athletes, calling a league of mostly black athletes “bastards” and condemning the peaceful and just police brutality protest started by Colin Kaepernick. The president and his supporters’ efforts to turn the aim of the protest into an attack on the flag and law enforcement is disturbingly telling of the harsh truth many don’t want to accept; America is overwhelmingly controlled by a government deeply invested in solidifying and advancing white dominance and white prosperity. The NFL is symbolic of this truth like Obama and Trump are symbolic of the reality of being black or white in America. But change is inevitable, and although the entire Trump family are representative of the sickness infecting our collective humanity, they’re also a reason to hope, because it’s not despair that make successful revolutions as the anti-Trump one seems to prove.  Hope makes America better. 
  8. The Chest Game. The NRA and wealthy corporations’ choke hold on congress is maddening to comprehend in a “Woke” world. Tragedy after tragedy and congress still can’t pry the tight grip of the gun lobby from its neck. It’s no secret they have a running tab that pays for numerous elected officials like Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn to occupy powerful Senate seats. In turn, those feeding at the trough are helping the powerful gun group maintain the status quo on gun laws, blaming the mentally ill for mass shootings all while making money selling their precious guns under the guise of shielding The Second Amendment. The winning move on the board should be sensible and modern gun laws that won’t infringe on a person’s right to bear arms. Trump’s lust for a more white dominant country, a romantic and nostalgic throwback of the past when elites lived comfortably above the laws they wrote, is perhaps why the president and the GOP have shamefully put Party over country by co-signing his behavior and the complete debauchery that his administration represents. Trump ushered in this unfortunate truth and for that, we’re certainly better off knowing the real devil this country is up against is structural racism and a corporate run government. 
  9. The Big Money Grab. Yes, it’s still shamelessly underway since this administration took root. From Ivanka’s Chinese trademarks, billionaire Betsy Devos’s disregard for realistic education standards and needs, to Mnuchin and his wife sycophantic gripping of an enlarged image of the all mighty dollar. This white house loves capitalism and wealth so much, they’ve become experts at spending our tax dollars to enrich themselves. During his last visit to congress Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, was grilled on his knowledge of some backroom dealings involving Senator Mitch McConnell and the second largest aluminum company in the world, RUSAL, owned by Russian tycoon, Oleg Deripaska. Mnuchin denied giving preferential treatment to the company after lifting sanctions 8 months after they were imposed. Coincidentally, and shortly after, RUSAL announced it was investing $200 million into a project in Kentucky. Deripaska is detailed in the Mueller report to have dealings with Paul Manafort who is now in jail. Shirley Graham Du Bois once said that if a country’s economy is controlled by outsiders, it cannot claim to be an independent state, no matter how many national anthems and flags it has. Trump exposed our delusion of economic freedom. From the threat of a recession to our trade war with China, the aftermath of which is still building up like a tsunami for American farmers, we can congratulate Trump’s recklessness for bringing attention to his Administrations’ handling of international trade, and their collusion with Putin to advance his interests in the U.S. Nonetheless, evidence of Trump’s crimes and collusion is half the battle, and impeachment makes clear that America is better than Trump. 
  10. Risking the Intelligence Community. Exposing our intelligence community’s paranoia and dysfunction, even amongst themselves, has dampened the mood in the country like a heavy, rain soaked medieval cloak. From the Clinton email scandal to the Mueller investigation, we’ve uncovered a trove of misconducts, overlooked outrageous and predatory practices from Trump, his brand, his family and now, his Administration. The president and his Attorney General, William Barr, are working to overturn Mueller’s investigation findings. Evidently, they’ve been on a world tour asking foreign governments for help investigating the FBI and CIA. Our intelligence service is under scrutiny from within, showcasing deep divisions and distrust amongst our highest ranked. These are ever changing times, indeed. Today, the world belongs to those who stand to lose it tomorrow. And like Jim Thorpe, we have to do something about it now, regardless of what stands in the way. Thorpe, the first Native American to win a U.S. gold medal despite the obstacles he faced, embodied the spirit of what truly makes America great. And although Trump is the antithesis of this holy Sa ki wa ki man, he serves as a reminder of what America can’t afford to see; a hateful orange fat man in the mirror. And that makes America … Be Best? Don’t try to blame that on the young. It’s time for all of us to be better and the Trump clan is mnemonic of that.  

ABC: Meghan McCain, John McCain’s Daughter, Has A License To Shrill And Flaunt Her Bratty White Privilege

 

By JEANETTE LENOIR

 

“I love Meghan McCain on The View,” said no one ever. McCain, who somehow climbed her way to a seat on the set of The View while most Americans were distracted by the antics of our naked Emperor and his ilk, is wreaking havoc on the daytime talk show. And clearly, ABC has given her a license to shrill, throw tantrums and expose herself as the god awful specimen raised by the late Senator John McCain, something she will never let anyone forget. Little does McCain know she’s telling stories of her family and her upbringing that’s reflective of an ugly truth; obnoxious white privilege. Can you imagine how she treated the hired help her wealthy family undoubtedly had throughout her life? I can, and that image is vomit inducing. Lorraine Hansberry depicted her life in A Raisin in the Sun as the white community; keepers of their white traditions and all white neighborhood. Today, and in this case, McCain, you know, John McCain’s daughter, wants to keep her grip on guns despite their disproportionate impact on minorities and large support for more sensible gun laws. This angry blowhard and female counterpart to Alex Jones is beyond the pale. Can you envision Whoopi Goldberg or any of her other co-hosts emulating her appalling behavior? I doubt the same angry, insufferable bratty behavior would be tolerated by ABC executives or viewers. And yet, her behavior is. Why? A combination of white and rich privilege, oh and she’s John McCain’s daughter.

Not to compare Soledad O’Brien with Meghan Kim Jong-Un McCain, however during her time hosting Starting Point on CNN she was a very tough, even snarky and an in your face kind of host. She lost that gig. The difference is uncomfortably clear: white woman can get away with blatant boorish, bratty and entitled behavior while black woman can’t. Black women are expected to walk on eggshells while white women can proudly and comfortably express themselves—good or bad—in American society. Black women, and men, who show strength and confidence are perceived as aggressive, angry, cocky and not keeping themselves within the boundaries drawn up by American culture. Symbolically, we’re still drinking from separate water fountains, we just can’t speak this ugly truth to power without repercussion.

If moderator Whoopi Goldberg, Sunny Hostin and Joy Behar could speak freely without losing their jobs or face the inevitable backlash that would accompany their truth, McCain would probably feel their wrath like slaves felt their masters whip. And, we see these examples play out all the time these days thanks to technology. McCain, John McCain’s daughter, is no different than Permit Patty, BBQ Becky or Pool Patrol Paula. Sitting high on their entitled white women throne demanding passage of their will simply because they’re white. Thankfully America is also full of white women, and men, who recognize this trait and fight alongside minorities to bring about change. I’m talking about those who continue to benefit from this social disease. Regrettably, McCain has swallowed her entire family’s legacy, diluting all traces of any other McCain that have walked this earth. It’s shameful. But this is the monster they created and that the world—or at least The View audience—must endure.

And, her permanent scowl speaks volumes too, and it’s screaming: I’m better than you. I know more than anyone. I’m the smartest person in the room and no one can tell me anything because I know it all, see it all and have it all. And yet, she remains high on her throne thanks to the network, ABC, who pays her handsomely to project all the seven deadly sins the bible warns of: Lust; her intense desire to be right. Gluttony; one AK 47 just isn’t enough. Greed; for all the attention and air in the room. Laziness; pretends to know so much despite evidence to the contrary. Wrath; her angry scowl says it all. Envy; of her father’s legacy. Pride; her haughtiness is always on display as she occupies the corner of the table opposite Whoopi chomping at the bit to strut like a proud all-knowing naked peacock, unaware that it lost its tail and feathers a long time ago.

The nasty, and I don’t mean the Janet Jackson kind, McCain is a tyrant and ABC is the creator of this white privileged monster we’re seeing on daytime TV. The late Toni Morrison once said, “There is really nothing more to say-except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.” How America will overcome the symbolism of white privilege McCain embodies is a cultural battle still being fought. And although culture is the most difficult thing to change, time never stops, and neither will the fight for a more just and equal world that has no tolerance for the likes of Meghan McCain, better known as John McCain’s daughter. Occupying a powerful seat on The View must come with certain responsibilities external of ratings, especially when it impacts our larger culture.

 

The Trouble With Jay-Z, The NFL And The Larger Struggle For Equality And Justice

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Jay-Z traded his heroes for gold. It’s a strategy that’s worked since white men started dividing the earth for their own gain. And as such, for love of the almighty dollar and power, the former drug dealer turned hip-hop mogul sold his soul to the highest bidder adopting the tried and true approach of divide and conquer as old as mankind’s recorded history. The only difference between him and a slave on an auction block is that he put himself there to gain a bigger room in the master’s house; the NFL.

As America marks the 400th year since the first Africans arrived on her shores in 1619 as slaves, Jay-Z with his NFL money move disregarding the larger struggle for equality and justice, reminds us that the all mighty dollar still turns brother against sister and slave into slave catcher. The adage, money is the root of all evil, applies as it always has, and Jay-Z sits squarely on that throne in the black community. What compounds the hurt of this shameful deal is his relationship with Colin Kaepernick; a bona-fide modern day civil rights icon in the on-going struggle for justice and equality for black and brown people in America. How Jay-Z can sit in a room full of NFL bigwigs who control the big business of sports, teeth grinning and speaking ill of the struggle is an image not easily digested. Kaepernick sacrificed his career, gave millions to victims of police brutality and the less fortunate, took on the Goliath’s in the room Jay-Z just occupied for more gold coins he doesn’t need, and continues to fight to bring about peace and justice for minorities.

I am reminded of Shirley Graham Du Bois’s words when she discussed the plight of black people in Africa and America after the United Nations declared 1960 the year of Africa. Following the independence of Ghana in 1957, the country’s leaders came together to advocate for the independence of other African countries still under the thumb of European colonialism. The All African People’s Conference in 1958 was a movement that directly correlates with Kaepernick’s advocacy for victims of police brutality, while Jay-Z’s money grab represents the imperialists world with an incessant appetite for wealth and power despite how negatively it impacts others, especially black and brown people. In other words, if the money is enough, your injustice doesn’t matter. “We’re passed kneeling,” Jay-Z said ignorantly beaming like “a hateful negro” in a room full of his masters.

You see, it’s clear, Jay-Z forgot about The Reverend Martin Luther King’s words in his letter from Birmingham stating, “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.” He also forgot that MLK taught us that, “justice too long delayed, is justice denied.” Jay-Z, out for self and clouded by greed, forgot that as the world turns wrongs will be righted despite his disregard for others in the larger struggle for humanity, justice and equality. Like Judas, Jay-Z will undoubtedly answer for the betrayal of his people. The ongoing liberation of Africa is similar to the liberation of black and brown people in America but unfortunately, Jay-Z and his ilk will never co-sign to bring about peace and justice for black people unless the loot makes it worthwhile. Even Beyonce turned black when it became lucrative and popular culture. The SNL skit about her being black hit the nail right on the head. And, remember her L’Oreal commercial before she turned black? Back then her “true match” was Native American, French and black. Today, she’s the queen of Africa… Ok?

Shirley Graham Du Bois once said that one can fly a dozen national flags and sing a dozen national anthems but if your money is controlled by outsiders, you’re not free. And, that’s the ultimate truth of Jay-Z’s deal with the NFL and Beyonce’s new black. For the right price both have consistently played into the hands of those whose aim is to stop black progress in any direction. And, it speaks volume that his only supporters are other wealthy, out of touch black people like Sean Combs and Jermaine Dupri. In the meantime, Kaepernick remains resolute in his stance against police brutality and racism in America and for that, hope remains. Lastly, because symbolism matters, Jay-Z did more harm than good with this NFL deal and that symbolizes something far more powerful than all the money he plans on making or distributing when he signed up to be the real life “hateful negro”.

 

El Paso Mall Shooter Demonstrates The Fear Growing Among White Supremacists In America

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

The El Paso Mall shooter’s manifesto is a carbon copy excuse fearful white supremacists use to justify their intolerance of the changes America has been going through since her discovery. From the stories of the Arawaks, Cherokees and Sioux people, slavery, the Civil War, the Mexican war, industrialism, the Gilded Age, Women’s Suffrage and the Civil Rights movement to the abomination that is Donald J. Trump … America has been steadily changing, usually for the better in spite of the Trump family detour. Our Constitution makes it plain too as it states, “All Men are created equal.” And yet here we are facing another senseless attempt to destroy the fabric of our nation by white nationalists who terrorize people they claim for preservation of country and culture. The irony is they’re so-called “defending” a country they hardly know beyond their own neighborhoods. The shooter even resembles the people he supposedly loathes; Hispanics. Apparently the fog between hate-filled ears is very thick.

As the country absorbs this latest homegrown terrorism rooted in racist dirt, I’m reminded of what Medgar Evers once said, “You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea,” and that includes the idea of America. These cowards will never shoot their way into the America they want to create for white people. It’s never going to happen. America has never been a white country. Native Americans still hold the moral deed to these sacred and hard fought for grounds.

What perpetuates this white nationalist ideology is the media business. There’s always a softer spin to the carnage committed by these white supremacists. Not only are they usually apprehended alive and peacefully, some get special treatment like a meal from McDonald’s after brutally gunning down 9 black people worshiping in a church. They’re even referred to as, “good people” by our dear leader who also exhibits racist views and tendencies, promotes violence and intolerance of people of color and those with disabilities during his rallies.

The terrorizing of non-white American citizens is not a phenomenon. Ask any person of color except HUD Secretary Ben Carson, HUD NY/NJ head Lynne Patton and former sheriff David Clarke. They don’t yield for truth and common sense, just squirrels. Politicians from all sides of our government are pressed to speak and answer questions we know the answers to. Their words ring hollow in an era of madness fueled with guns and indiscriminate violence. It’s deplorable that even after the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2013, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shamelessly chooses to protect the NRA and his Party’s throne by denying passage of bipartisan and common sense gun laws like the Background Checks Act, (H.R. 8).

The days of political thoughts and prayers are gone. Our country is facing a pivotal moment in human history and we don’t need politicians to confirm what is clear as day: we have a gun crisis in America and handing out condolences like Halloween candy will no longer suffice. And, we certainly don’t need a reckless president at the helm of this growing chaos among white nationalists, Nazi sympathizers and white supremacists. McConnell tweeting how “the nation is horrified” is just more disingenuous lip service from a man whose state inhabits some of the poorest people in the country according to the U.S. Census. Most of them are white. And yet Kentucky, with a nearly 15-percent poverty rate, continues to send McConnell to Congress where he fights to protect rich corporations instead. And please don’t hold your breath on healthcare Kentuckians because he’s still diligently working to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare … named after a president your senator worked overtime to sabotage.

The Civil War was the answer to those who wanted to protect the institution of slavery and white supremacy. Perhaps the answer to our current turmoil is another revolution. Either way, the average American is paying the ultimate price for the gun crisis in the country, as we mark the 251st mass shooting this year, according to Gun Violence Archive. The most recent massacre just happened in Dayton, Ohio, a state without background check laws. And as expected, when it comes to domestic terrorism to preserve the ideology of white supremacy, Trump needs more time to adequately offer his thoughts and prayers. Evidently he’s too busy crashing wedding parties to be the leader America needs in these crippling moments of senseless gun violence.

If True, Jussie Smollett Only Proves The Thirst Is Real

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

I have to admit, when news broke of the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett, I had to Google the name first. I haven’t seen the popular show Empire; however, I am familiar with the series created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. Mainly because I love reading about Taraji P. Henson and her character Cookie that has taken a life of its own. Now I know Smollett plays Cookie’s middle son Jamal, who is gay.  Here’s my other confession; I was suspicious from the start. Organic skepticism aside, the story just didn’t sound believable to me considering time and setting. It sounded like a lie. Not a white, black, blue or pink lie but a big fat lie like the ones our dear leader Donald Trump buoys on to con the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump sniffed it out of Smollett’s lie hole like a terrier after a rat, automatically prompting him to chime in on the controversy. It’s true folks, the 45th president of the United States is not just the best liar on earth; Smollett proves he’s also the best lie magnet…allegedly.

Each day, following the alleged homophobic and racist attack and the outpouring of support from celebrities and politicians, my skepticism grew, along with many others who voiced their opinions on social media. The incident reported by Smollett even birthed a new media campaign addressing the real issues facing the LGBTQ community. The NowThis video, (It’s been taken down) supporting Jussie and condemning the homophobic attack is unfortunately relevant in today’s society, with or without Smollett making up a hate crime. And, if it’s proven to be a hoax concocted by Smollett to remain relevant as an Empire character or gay black hero among people of color and the gay community, he’s done irreversible harm to the larger struggle for human rights. Smollett, chasing the predictable outcome lure that promises fame, more fortune, more likes and followers, more time under the glare of flashing lights, red carpet events and awards shows, is crashing like a shooting star. And, Smollett is a star, don’t you know. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and now he’s paying a heavy price for his Hollywood moment. It’s hard to comprehend but Smollett should only remind us that Hollywood is a hoax, too.  And, despite how tantalizing it is to use this cheap trick to further or discredit the arguments around the many social movements of our time, Smollett’s alleged behavior has nothing to do with US but everything to do with HIM. He’s the product of our new digital world…the era of social media and a real thirst or desperation for attention; good or bad. They say the thirst is real. Well, Smollett proves he’s not just thirsty; he’s parched. The man needs a Big Gulp and a dose of reality, not our sympathy.

A lot of people are disappointed and point to Black History Month as a symbol of the alleged incident being a deeper pain, like a gut punch to the black community. Others have maintained their support for the actor and raise the other real issue of a fractured relationship between Chicago police and the community they serve.  All of these are valid points and worthy of deeper analysis. However, in legal terms and in the court of public opinion; it’s like coming to court with dirty hands or committing a wrong to shine light on what’s right. It doesn’t work. It’s clear; Smollett’s alleged hoax carries real consequences. And if his aim was to sip from the “Thirst Cup,” he’s finding out the hard way that bad behavior still comes with punishment, despite what Trump is doing. We’ve been here before with the likes of Smollett. Milli Vanilli blamed it on the rain. What will Smollett blame this nonsense on? Although dated, the wisdom here is still to Be Like Mike … not like Trump.

U.S. Resistance Returning Nazi Looted Art Resurrects Old Wounds

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

In a crowded media world the topic of Nazi looted art has taken comfort on the back burner of the national debate circuit. But things are changing and the push to return art plundered by the Nazis is gaining momentum and more of the world’s attention.

A ruling in July by U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC sided with Jewish heirs of the Welfenschatz art collection looted by Nazis in 1935. The ruling follows Germany’s attempts to dismiss the case claiming, among other things, immunity from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, (FSIA). Nonetheless, the district court rejected Germany’s arguments and denied their motion to dismiss the case.

And, hard to believe, Donald J. Trump played a small role in the push to bring justice to remaining Holocaust survivors. In the gloom of his support for American Nazis who marched in the Charlottesville rally, the president signed the Just Act into law in May of this year; about nine months after calling anti-Semitic, white separatists chanting “Jews will not replace us,” very fine people.The Just Act is another statute requiring the State Department to report on the progress of European efforts to return artworks stolen nearly 70 years ago.

Still, this question lingers: is the U.S. doing enough to return its own Nazi-looted art kept in high brow institutions like The Metropolitan Museum of Art? No, says Raymond J. Dowd, who serves on the Board of Governors of the National Arts Club and the Board of Directors of the Federal Bar Association. Sighting a 2014 report by the World’s Jewish Restitution Organization, (WJRO) Dowd says, “The United States is not in the group of countries that are doing the right thing.” He says despite established laws laying out the process and groundwork of returning art forcibly taken from Jews, even deeming the taking a form of genocide, only a small fraction of stolen art has been returned to its rightful owners.

Dowd, who lectures on legal and ethical matters related to Nazi art looting, represented the heirs of Fritz Grumbaum, a renowned art collector who died at the Dachau concentration camp in 1941.

“It’s still our public policy in the United States that this property should go back to the people from whom it was stolen. The Holocaust Victims Redress Act of 1998, Congress reaffirmed that.” So why did the U.S. end up with so much Nazi looted art in our museums? Dowd says, “We have to take a hard look at American museums and our cultural traditions to understand why.” He says it started with J.P. Morgan who, for tax purposes, refused to move his large European art collection to put in U.S. museums. Being one of the wealthiest men in America, Congress obliged and enacted the Payne-Aldrich Tarrif Act of 1909. “And that Act added imports of original artworks from Europe that were more than 20 years old to the duty free list. So, that paved the way for the creation of some of our greatest museums.” Dowd says even Andrew Mellon legally challenged his tax bill by pointing to the vast art collection he donated to the National Gallery as reason to reduce his tax obligation.

“Mr. Mellon’s victory is enshrined in today’s tax code that says you get a fair market value deduction for a work of art regardless of what you paid for it. The significance over most of the 20th century is that if you’re wealthy you could avoid capital gains tax by donating to a museum and thus shelter all of your income from taxation.”

Dowd says it’s an ethical and social choice being made to help rich Americans shelter their incomes in museums. And although it led to America acquiring extraordinary art collections, it’s an unjust system. “When we think about tax fairness, people who give to museums are not giving to others in our community; they’re not paying for schools or housing or roads and most of the things that other people in the middle class are paying for.”

The tax loophole may be legal but it becomes problematic when stolen art, which doesn’t get properly scrutinized, is donated. “Particularly when we see that today in America there are more museums than there are Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.” Despite early declarations of nations not taking part in stolen art transactions, Holocaust survivors and their heirs are still searching for their plundered art, many of which are hanging in American museums.

According to Art Law Gallery an estimated 300,000 Nazi looted artworks are still missing today.

 

Dear White House “Resister”: A Response To The Anonymous NYT Op-Ed Writer

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Here’s a perspective. Like Drake, I’m upset. The timing of this letter is suspect.

Never in the history of modern day America has a White House administration exhibited such disarray and dysfunction endangering the country and the world. The Trump administration isn’t just dysfunctional; it is downright dangerous.

And this anonymous “resister” wants it all; to not only eat the cake, but to throw it in the faces of the American people by way of being part of forcing one-sided legislation down our throats and help do the bidding for the most prosperous among us who don’t need more wealth in a country losing its middle class to poverty.

Pointing out the president’s “amorality” as the root of America’s problem is equivalent to telling us that water is wet. Was “grab them by the pussy” not enough to “resist” or help thwart his political advances? What about his long documented business practices of cheating hard-working people? Why speak out now when the world is watching us crumble within, fighting amongst ourselves, and showing us to be the fools destined to perish by not coming together like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned during the civil rights movement.

“I would know. I am one of them,” the anonymous “resister” boosts about the sabotaging of an American president as if he or she is a Marvel character in a super hero movie. Unfortunately, this is real life and the attempts to take away healthcare from the common man has real life consequences; giving “historic” tax cuts to the rich by taking more from the poor is the opposite of what a super hero would do; being silent when the president attacks minorities and shows support for racists is complicity in its true form; not writing sooner, you know, like when the president banned Muslims from entering the country, ripping Mexican and Latin American children from their desperate parents’ arms at our southern borders, calling Mexicans rapists, disrespecting the needs of those affected by Hurricane Maria, suggesting that black immigrants are less desirable in America because they come from “shit hole countries,” … I can go on but I think you get why I’m upset.

Your “dear America” letter is disrespect.

If your first duty is to this country, as you put it, why would you want Donald Trump to succeed in his efforts to “Make America Great Again” when all this campaign slogan embodies is a call to revive the atrocious history of a country still working to overcome it; a past that had black people in bondage and living as second class citizens in a country they built through slave labor. The extreme ideological platform you and your fellow “secret resisters” chose to build upon is exactly why America is in the pickle jar. From selecting Sen. Jeff Sessions to lead the Department of Justice despite the warnings of Coretta Scott King, putting Scott Pruitt in charge of protecting the environment when he’s only shown that it’s for sale to the highest polluter, looking to Betsy Devos to lead our nations education system despite her lack of experience or ability to even identity with people who attend public schools or live below the billion dollar income line; blatantly disrespecting long standing federal bidding practices by grossly handing out FEMA contracts to well connected friends with no business managing natural disasters, and handing out pardons like Mardi Gras beads…Thank God Joe Arpaio didn’t have to show us his man boobs.

The list of corrupt behavior is long. How many times has Jared Kushner changed his answers on his security clearance form? Against federal rules, Ivanka Trump’s clothing and jewelry line is being pimped out on television by top advisors like Kelly Anne Conway, and Fox News has turned into a propaganda machine for hate and intolerance, something the president and his enablers feed and supports. The entire family is benefitting financially from the blatant nepotism taking place and costing Americans millions in tax dollars. Let’s not forget, you “top advisors” blessed Kushner, a wealthy out of touch and inexperienced realtor, to be the savior of the Middle East while birthing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

I’m upset; despite your letter full of regret.

You say the president shows no affinity for conservative ideas as if he hasn’t switched political parties before or shown the world his true colors. Just because you’ve enabled and made excuses for Trump along the way to this pile we’re now sitting on doesn’t mean majority Americans, decent and good hearted people, don’t see him exactly for who and what he is; a pathological liar and an all around terrible human being. Your house of cards is crumbling and like a rat you’re trying to jump a sinking ship. You may have changed your cloth but you’re still the being behind this new resister frock.

The same people that saw fit for then press secretary Sean Spicer demand the American people accept that their eyes were lying to them when he said Trump’s inauguration crowd was the biggest ever. Video and photographic evidence wasn’t enough to stop this perpetual lie; another attempt to cloud truth and blur the boundaries of right and wrong to appease Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States. And let’s not forget, Chief of Staff John Kelly has yet to apologize for lying about statements Rep. Frederica Wilson made about the president’s disastrous phone call with the wife of a fallen soldier and for insulting her using racially insensitive language.

Nonetheless, you want the American people to believe you all are the Space Force Avengers.

The disbelief of senior officials at the president’s words and actions is laughable considering Trump hasn’t changed since becoming president. He’s simply more powerful. And this is exactly what Trump’s base loves about him. “He’s not your typical politician” and “He speaks his mind” they excused no matter what Trump did or said. Even evangelicals found loopholes in their bibles to justify every sin Trump committed and turned a blind eye to every one of his hypocritical moves or ungodly behavior.

The adults in the room colluded with Russia to win an election and made Trump their messiah despite all the warnings and push back from the American people. And now, seeing a steady drop in his approval numbers, they want him returned to sender before the blue wave hits.  Ironically, the adults who stood silent while the president attacked the media as the “enemy of the American people” now turn to it for salvation.

 

 

Thanks Trump! The Global Shaming Of America

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

America is being shamed by the world. And it’s all thanks to President Donald J. Trump and his clan. It’s clear, we have an unusual leader at the helm. Unfortunately, the helm is leader of the free world and that’s terrifying af. It’s rare when the world speaks with one voice. And right now it’s chanting loud and clear across Europe, “We hate you Donald Trump, Go Away!” Even the State Department is cautioning Americans abroad to keep a low profile. And, believe it or not, the word Trump actually means Big Fat Problem Baby in Na’vi! That’s why they made a huge baby Trump float to “welcome” him. It’s true.

But, in all seriousness, the take away from this stance is positive and negative. It’s uplifting to know that most people, world-wide, don’t want to blur the lines that separate right and wrong for greed’s sake. This collective stance against Trump and all he represents—arguably, the worst of mankind—makes the negative response to his visit even more poignant, especially on the heels of countless terror attacks in the region and a wave of anti-immigration moves from the top down. I mean for God’s sake, Brexit happened!

On the other hand, it’s deeply disappointing to see the man who represents us as Americans not only behave badly in all social situations but is pushing to advance policies that divide and weaken us here and abroad. Rather than move us forward as a world that stands as one and beholden to goals rooted in humanity and prosperity, Trump is trashing his opportunity to make the world a better place for all of us. And that includes taking care of planet earth, allowing future generations to experience the miracle of life, nature and the universe.

With a decreased status as the world’s super power, thanks to China’s hot dragon breath behind our neck, America is perceptibly floating on “the Nile” River tap dancing away like Fred Astaire because the show must go on despite what’s at stake; nuclear war. President Trump’s performance at the G7 Summit in Europe didn’t go any better than his current visit across the pond. Remember the iconic photo of the G7 leaders looking down at the petulant child-man with all the power? I’m still embarrassed.

But seriously, is he that clueless and unprofessional?! Leaving the queen waiting? … Walking in front of her and just embarrassing himself and by default, the rest of us decent and good Americans? The. Queen. Of. England. Had. To. Stop. And. Go. Around. Him. While. He. Was. Puffing. His. Chest. And. Chin. Out. I cringed watching him walk with his chest inflated, chin up in the air and that ever present stupid, and spoiled, jerky brat look on his face. Keep in mind, Trump goes out of his way to treat women poorly. His lack of respect of the queen is right in line with what he embodies; misogyny. From refusing to shake hands with Angela Merkel, throwing skittles at her, insulting and rating women’s looks and boasting that he can get away with sexual assault. When it comes to modern social norms, Trump is revealing that manners and respect for others didn’t matter in his household when he was growing up. Only he did; shame on his parents.

And considering his hostile policies targeting immigration, you’d think his family never migrated here from one of the countries protesting his European visit; Scotland. His mother migrated to the U.S. from Scotland, paving the way for the life he now lives. Nevertheless, the hypocrisy that keeps him afloat is astounding. His current and third wife, First Lady Melania Trump is accused of lying on her own visa application… It’s hard to think back to her appearance on Larry King Live to support the birther movement to discredit Obama’s birth certificate. She clearly hiked Mount Audacity in Pandora…

The blatant racism, bad behavior, hypocrisy, bold-faced lying and shameful unprofessionalism from this family and the entire administration is astounding and dangerous because it sets the tone of normalcy and precedent for our nation, the world and future leaders.

From Britain to Scotland, people have taken to the streets to voice their disdain for Trump. And yet he doesn’t care that the world hates him and all he represents; American greed and culture. The world can literally see Trump … chosen “democratically”… grabbing America and the rest of the world “by the pussy” and we can’t move his little hand away.

Our democracy is hanging in balance and Trump, propped up by his supporters and enablers couldn’t care less. Why? Because they want to win; even though the prize is debasing American values.

The press plays a crucial role inflating the Trump blimp. Being their bread and butter makes coverage of him and his family increasingly disheartening. And, at times even laughable if there wasn’t so much at stake, making the laughter morph into instant pain and concern. World renowned expert on culture, Edgar H. Schein says culture is very hard if not impossible to change. But in the age of Trump one can argue that American culture is rapidly changing right in front of our eyes. Thanks Trump!

Partisanship is part of the fabric that formed our country. As a nation, we will never see eye-to-eye on how to govern ourselves or lead the world. But that’s what makes us innovative and progressive people. That’s why we have three branches of government, the Constitution and Bill of Rights to ensure our cooperation and coexistence with one another; a diverse people working to overcome a painful past and striving for racial, civil and economic equality. Unfortunately, the hive that accompanies Trump are like biblical locusts dead set on destroying everything in front of them. Who knew Roe v. Wade would be in jeopardy after all this time?! Don’t be surprised when bible thumping conservative lawmakers call for segregation across the land as they work to weaken the working class.

The election of President Obama revealed a dormant racist underbelly anxious to rear its ugly head; an attempt to reverse racial progress. And everything was Obama’s fault. Even rain couldn’t escape being blamed on the man. The trend, “Thanks Obama!” became fodder. Lawmakers at the highest levels of government were more interested in seeing him fail than move the country forward together. It’s those race-obscured blinders that has us waste deep in Russian election meddling today. A serious national security threat. Trump deflecting his involvement with Russia in swaying the election by pointing fingers at Obama is not only par for the course, it’s telling of the continued partisanship that has crippled our democracy.

Trump shames us at home and he shames us abroad. And his party remains silently complicit while feverishly turning the wheel of progress backward to fit a country and world that only values those with golden toilets. The wealthy, the ignorant and the racists among us are the only ones benefiting from Trump. And, the indictment of 12 Russians accused of tampering with the 2016 presidential election won’t phase him or his supporters. This, despite publicly being asked by Trump to hack our security system. Sadly, their “Make America Great Again” slogan touting patriotism as their rationale for standing behind the antithesis of what a great American actually looks like, lives on. Josiah Gilbert Holland once said, “The soul, like the body, lives by what it feeds on.” Perhaps it’s Trump’s glutinous soul diet that needs an overhaul for him to become the human being this world needs. But, I won’t hold my breath while I cringe.  Thanks Trump!

 

Heraldry Blankets The Cradle Of Mankind’s Identity And Culture

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Ceremony, rank, pedigree, membership of a noble family, values and culture are the statements behind family crest’s, tribal totems, coat of arms and all forms of heraldry. Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle and wife of Prince Harry had the distinct privilege to design her own crest or coat of arms when she became a member of the British royal family. This is significant. Here’s why: The practice of this tribal symbolism and identity dates back to the cradle of mankind. A crest is the emblem of a clan or tribe. Although Markle being biracial, a divorcee from America or any other ridiculous disqualifier one may add, shows significant progress as it pertains to tolerance and acceptance at the highest level of society’s totem pole. Creating her own emblem highlights the personal but also our collective legacy as black people. Royalty is not new in African culture but Markle joining the British Royals as a member of their family is progress we can all support, unless you’re a racist witch like Princess Michael of Kent who wore that awful racist brooch to have lunch with Markle. Her statement, using a brooch like First Lady Melania using a jacket, spoke loud and clear.

Although history points us to the medieval times when knights personalized their shields with a  coat of arms, the practice actually goes even further. Europeans aren’t the only ones who personalized their clan, family, unit, position or tribe. These kinds of symbolic statements can be traced back to ancient times before the fall of Rome and the birth of the middle ages. Symbolism has always played a vital role in society. There would be no society without symbolism. Human beings and their respective clans have used flags, totems and other forms of tribal and religious heraldry to distinguish themselves from each other since recorded history.

Markle’s crest had me thinking about my own family’s crest or heraldry. Luckily, after going through some family photos I found one. The image is of my great uncle and Paramount Chief of the Pamaka people of Suriname, Grangmang Forster. Pamaka people live on several islands within the country but our main island is Langetabetje. My grandfather, Nikolaas Forster, served as Captain alongside his older brother Grangmang Forster who is holding our tribes symbol or crest in each hand. In one hand he holds a pineapple and in the other a fire breathing dragon. These two symbols are the Pamaka people’s crest. It essentially says; we can either get along, or we can get it on. It represents who we are as a people just like Markle’s crest identifies her family and what she values.

When explorers were sent out during Europe’s great age of discovery they were slow to understand the customs and institutions of the people they came across, explained author Marvin Harris in his book; Cannibals and Kings. He writes, “Although the Europeans exaggerated their “savagery,” the majority of these village communities collected enemy heads as trophies, roasted their prisoners of war alive, and consumed human flesh in ritual feasts. The fact that the “civilized” Europeans also tortured people—in witchcraft trials, for example—and that they were not against exterminating the populations of whole cities should be kept in mind (even if they were squeamish about eating one another). Harris goes on to write, “Explorers encountered fully developed states and empires, headed by despots and ruling classes, and defended by standing armies. It was these great empires, with their cities, monuments, palaces, temples and treasures that had lured all the Marco Polos and Columbuses across the oceans and deserts in the first place.” It’s not hard to surmise what influenced knights to create their own coat of arms. In our modern times this practice would be called cultural appropriation.

From China to India and South America, explorers found a diverse people with their empires and worlds unto themselves, each with distinctive arts, religions and yes, even heraldry. To believe that heraldry, crests or coat of arms are solely a European invention started during the medieval times, is to deny the mere existence of the people they discovered across the oceans, deserts and jungles of the world. Markle’s crest, in many ways, is the return of the rightful royals of the world. A family crest is more than a pretty design, it’s a deep rooted cultural connection to our past and the cradle of mankind’s identity.

 

Op-Ed: The Reality Of Arming Teachers

 

Editor’s Note: Sandro Sehic, PhD is a Writer and adjunct Professor based in New York. Sehic’s writings cover an array of current events and topics that lead to national debates. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. He can be reached at: sandrosehicphd.com.

 

 

In response to the recent mass shooting that occurred at a high school in Parkland Florida, numerous ideas about preventing further mass shootings have emerged and came from many different individuals, groups, and organizations. Mass shootings are officially a top political issue. There is not a single day that goes buy without a shooting in America. And they have become very deadly. Sometimes victims are numbered in dozens and unfortunately they include the most innocent members of our society; school children. The members of our society who need to be protected the most are left alone with their teachers at the mercy of well armed mass shooters. This is not acceptable and cannot be tolerated any longer. Parkland, Sandy Hook, Columbine, are some of the bloody places where dozens of young innocent lives were lost. And now we are the ones who should be blamed. We adults have failed to protect our children. A father whose daughter was killed in Parkland, recently stated that we protect embassies, airports, concerts but we don’t protect our schools. He also stated that mass shootings could happen only once and not anymore. One school shooting should change everything. After Columbine we should change the laws that would prevent mass shooters from committing these horrible crimes.

Similar to what we did after the 9/11 terror attacks. After 9/11 we changed the laws, increased security at the airports, created Department of Homeland Security, and destroyed the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and a similar attack has thankfully not happened again. Now we have to do the same thing to prevent further mass shootings especially in our schools attacking our children. Some political figures, including the President of the United States, proposed legislation that would allow teachers to carry guns inside the schools. They claim that teachers would be able to take down mass shooters and defend children. I’m a teacher working in public schools since 2007. I do not have my own children (yet). But I know that many of us have fatherly/motherly feelings towards all children that we work with. Our paychecks are extremely low but we do not hesitate to use our own money to buy lunches and food for those children who cannot afford it, we do not hesitate to use our own money to buy school equipment for those children who cannot afford it. And we can’t even claim those expenses on our taxes and most of us don’t complain about it. And in case of mass shootings, teachers are the ones who use their own bodies to shield students. In the case of fire alarms or lock-downs we’re the last ones who leave the building. Not because we have to but because it’s instinctive. It’s a teacher’s natural reaction to want to help, protect and safe lives. Even so, it seems we are at the cross road where teachers have to choose if they’re willing to secure and protect children with guns. That said, this is what lawmakers will have to know about us teachers and these guns.

  • What type of guns are we going to carry? It seems that mass shooters are using semiautomatic guns such as AR-15s. That’s a very powerful weapon. So, a pistol will most likely not be enough to stop a mass shooter with a semiautomatic gun. Just take a look at the police officers who had to apprehend a mass shooter with a pistol. A pistol against an AR-15 is like a butter knife against a sword. Therefore, you better provide teachers with powerful guns; guns that will make us equal or stronger than the mass shooters. In addition, we’ll need bulletproof equipment.
  • Teachers will need combat training. Yes, that’s right. We’ll need combat training, and not just a regular handgun safety training course. In the case of a mass shooting, teachers will have to take their guns and go out to the hallways and hunt down the shooter or shooters, (Columbine). Schools are like labyrinths full of hallways, rooms, corners, floors, stairs, etc. We’ll be in a similar situation as the NAVY Seals or Green Berates when hunting a terrorist. Also, we’ll have to be able to recognize a shooter and an innocent bystander. This is crucial because the goal is to protect the students that look like the typical school shooter(s). In essence, teachers will have to be trained like Special Forces. And the training has to be extensive because teachers will have to develop their new skills to be warriors with excellent marksmanship skills.
  • SWAT teams will have to be able to recognize the difference between teachers with guns and the mass shooter(s). As a teacher mandated to carry one of these supposed guns, I don’t want to be killed by the SWAT team when they arrive.
  • During a shooting, what happens with the students whose teachers had to pull out their guns and go after the shooter(s)? Are they left alone in the classroom?
  • Most teachers in elementary schools are females and I’ve learned that most of them hate guns and are afraid of them. So, then the question becomes; Do we want a female teacher to go after a mass shooter with an AR-15?
  • As far as the extensive combat training is concerned; will that be something that will be provided by the local school districts, or will that be a requirement of the institutions that educate future teachers?
  • Many times, students have turned against teachers. What are we going to do if the student tries to take the gun away from the teacher?
    These are some of the many important questions on this proposed option. I have personally interviewed 14 teachers from Upstate New York. Interestingly, only one of them said that she would be willing to carry a gun in school. Others seemed to be horrified by the idea. During my student-teaching seminar back in 2007 my mentor told us about political candidates from Wisconsin proposing laws to mandate teachers are armed in their classrooms. We laughed at the idea. But now, it may very well become our new reality. When school districts across the country are consistently complaining about low budgets, where will the money come from for the expensive guns and the expensive combat training? Guns aren’t cheap and neither is the training that will certainly be required for every American teacher. However, one thing that I find interesting is the fact that politicians who make such proposals don’t consult with teachers and educators; those who work in schools and educate children and know the situation first hand.

 

Blackboard and hand making a sign with pointed finger

If they would ask me, this is what I would suggest:

  • I strongly believe that each school needs armed police officers that will protect schools in addition to regular security guards. That’s something that we can have without additional costs. The local government, the state, and even police departments can assign officers to guard their schools.
  • Each school will need “a security room” that will monitor hallways through cameras, answer calls from the teachers who need security assistance, and contact the local law enforcement agencies, ambulance, and fire departments in case of an emergency. This simple security system is used in many supermarkets, malls and other public institutions but not in public schools. The personnel and the equipment necessary for this security strategy/system are already available in most, if not all schools, but we just have to organize it better.
  • Each public school must have designated entrances that will consist of two doors. First door will allow visitors to step into the secured area with a metal detector and the second door will allow visitors to enter the school once they go through the metal detector. These days, people can just simply knock at any door on the school building and someone will open it and let them in. This will have to change in the future. This is something that can easily be done.
  • The first-floor windows will have to be barricaded so that no one can get in, but can get out in the case of fire.
  • Lockdown procedures are available in most schools. Children and staff usually go through those drills at the beginning of each school year. Now, what’s missing in these procedures is parent involvement. In some cases, and this is what I’ve experienced firsthand, is that some children refuse to cooperate in the case of lock-down procedures by purposely making noise and trying to attract the shooter. Yes, some children do not know how serious it is and therefore the parents should instruct their children on how to behave in case of a lock-down.

These are my expert recommendations as a teacher with a PhD in Education. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions.