A Limbo of Oddities

There is a way this world is built

That exits in a limbo of oddities.

Mud and sand changed into mortar and bricks

And the people thought it was a revolution,

Never realizing it did not change who they were.

So they can unravel DNA and fly to the moon,

But not understand the human soul.

For the soul has been forgotten,

Replaced with the glittery gems of yonder.

We build our foundations on quicksand

If we do not understand ourselves.

We call this the civilized world

Because we don’t execute in the streets,

But we do far worse by sweeping

Our problems under the rug.

Pretending they do not exist if we can’t see.

And yet, they fester as wounds always do.

And we wonder why we cannot progress faster

When we can’t even help ourselves.

The Other Woman

In many relationships, we find ourselves at stagnant points and we secretly dream about what it would be like to be with an ex or another person whom we could’ve been with.  I recently read something that if you have had many partners, this may hinder your ability to be happy with your current relationship.  This came as a shock to me because I’ve always felt that it helps to have multiple partners, for it can show you what you really want in a mate and help you appreciate what you do have.  However, there are many who do not feel this way.  Those who think often about ‘the other woman’ do so because of inadequacies in their personal lives, their relationship, or themselves.  When this happens, they tend to dream about a different life and a different path that may have played out.

What this does is that it causes a larger rift in your current relationship.  You will slowly disengage from your partner because you feel as if you are missing out.  You will constantly think about this other person and build them into someone they never really were in real life.  They are but a shadow of someone you knew, and yet, the dream is ever so enticing.  It’s easy to blame your current situation and romanticize the past as a form of escapism, but it does not help anyone.  The truth is, there is no knowing what would’ve happened if you had actually continued on in that path, but the fact that you keep obsessing over it prevents you from enjoying and appreciating what you currently have.  If you don’t let these obsessions go, they will consume you and your future.  You will always feel cheated and angry that life did not deliver what you thought it promised.

The truth is: life has never promised you anything.  It never promised you a soul mate.  If you keep holding on to the idea that you are owed these things, you will always feel resentful towards yourself, your life, and your current partner. If you are able to accept life for what it is, you will be able to enjoy it for what it is. Oftentimes, we are secretive people who live in our own thoughts, rarely sharing them with our partner.  We dream of another time and place where our life could be instead of admitting that we are not happy with where we are.  If you are not happy with your partner, confront those feelings.  If you are not happy with your life, ask why.  If you are not happy with yourself, change how you view yourself.  Change what you can, and what you can’t change, change how you view it.  Oftentimes, that is the only change we really need.

The Year of Sexual Misconduct

person-of-year-2017-time-magazine-cover1

It has been quite the year for highlighting the issues of sexual misconduct in the workplace and how we as a society have dealt with it.  As quickly as empires are built, we have found they can crumble just as fast.  Many powerful men have lost their positions as society is no longer accepting the behavior of those who abuse.  The balance of power is shifting and there will be those who will be uncomfortable with it.  As with change, it is either swift or slow, and in this case, it has been a swift blow to many industries, especially the movie industry.  It is a great feat for us to see that change is possible simply by changing attitudes and mindsets and not through the imagined upheaval of the earth. We sometimes do not court change because we have seen no change in so long, but change is here.  However, it is also disheartening to know that it has taken this long for the shoe to drop.  Sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse by any other name has existed for this long because we have let it exist.

Why is it that attitudes are now changing this year when more than 40 women came out to identify Cosby as a rapist just a few years ago?  These were the same allegations we are hearing now, but these women’s stories were dissected and belittled everywhere until a veritable voice spoke up and enabled their right to fight for their cases to come to light.  And still, the shoe didn’t drop.  Sexual abuse was business as usual even in light of this high-profile case.  Women have faced sexual abuse for centuries, but why was it finally important now?  One of the reasons, unfortunately, is that the women’s voices were corroborated.  As with Cosby, Hannibal Burress cemented Cosby’s fate with a joke on stage when many people in the industry already knew about what was happening.  With Weinstein, his downfall came in the form of a New York Times article.  It is not enough that women speak up, but they must also be corroborated to be believed.  It is disturbing that it takes this level to bring to light the atrocities that these women have endured when their own voices meant nothing.  All of a sudden, sexual misconduct was legitimatized and people were allowed to speak about it.  It was no longer a secret shame they were forced to carry.

What this speaks to is a system that is failing these women.  We live in a society that does not speak about sexual assault.  We talk about the prevention of it, but nothing about what to do in the aftermath.  It is an unsavory subject, and as such, we sweep it under the rug in hopes that it will not come up again.  What this does is creates an air of secrecy around sexual assault, causing the victims to be shamed because they are breaking the unspoken rules of society.  Sexual assault is the odd cousin we never talk about at family gatherings because we don’t want to think about it.  When we don’t think about it, we have no idea how to manage it when it dos happens.  The ideas we are living with are arcane and out of date, for they are not helping us in the current climate that we live in.  If we can change how sexual assault is viewed, we can change how we deal with those who serve up these charges.  Instead of dismissing them, we can learn to listen to them and not be ashamed of what has happened.  There is no shame in being raped.  The only shame that exists is when the society that you live in decides that you should not talk about being raped.

The balance of power is shifting and those who are losing power are those who have held it for a very long time. People like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly were relieved of their jobs, but with great payouts.  They felt no shame in their dismissals and didn’t even acknowledge their sexual misconduct in the workplace.  To them, it was business as usual and they didn’t understand why they were forced to leave.  When Fox gave them a hefty severance package, Fox was also saying that the sexual misconduct meant very little to them. Sheryl Sandberg warned of a blowback about the #MeToo campaign, and it may not be as pervasive as you’d think it would be, but it will come  For those losing power, they may try to regain it by reasserting themselves in other ways.  Power is a very powerful motivation and when someone tries to take it away, there will be unintended consequences.  As when the government enacted new laws to protect Black Americans, some White Americans saw this as a blow to their power.  What happened was the White protest in America that protested Black children attending their schools, Black college kids sitting at their counters, and marrying into their race, with miscegenation laws still on the books into the late 60’s.

Power is a tricky thing to deal with, but more tricky is how systematic race, sex, and sexual-orientation issues are in our society.  As with race, we ask if there is still racism if we elect a Black president?  Then with sex, do we then equate the same thing; that there is no more sexual abuse of power if we hire more women into higher positions?  The answer to all of these is no.  Abuse of power does not stop simply because we hire people of color or women.  The problem is the entire system.  If you do not overhaul the system, the abuse will still occur.  Yet, even more problematic is how we view the problem.  We view the problems as someone else’s problem: an issue that is touchy and not to bring up.  Sexual abuse if everyone’s problem and not to be hidden away.  When you can talk about it casually, when you can see bold demonstrations of protecting victims in your workplace, and when you can feel confident in opening up about your sexual abuse, then  you will know the issues are being dealt with.  Sexual abuse, racism, xenophobia, and hate crimes will always happen.  The more we are on board with the idea that these things are here to stay, the more we will know that we must develop effective ways to deal with these issues rather than denying their existence.

 

 

The Gilmore Girls Effect

Netflix-promo-Gilmore-Girls

What does minority representation mean in the media?  I was reading through the very scientific comments of Buzzfeed about the revival episodes of Gilmore Girls and someone had asked why there were never any minority characters on the show, and someone else responded that there had in deed been minorities portrayed on the show.  The show itself exists in a vacuum of a Mayberry-esque world, where nothing from the real world affects it, and that is part of the show’s charm, but the idea that it accurately represented minorities is a farce just because they showed minorities.  When you show minorities without any true dialogue about who they are, they just became a stand-in for a white character.  In that sense, you lose who they are as a person.  Not every moment is a teachable moment and not every moment is infused with the minority plight, but if you strip the vernacular, the culture, religion, and habits of a people from a single character, you lose sight of the bigger picture.

Many shows today are striving to be better without really understanding why.  They want to be more progressive and will introduce minority characters where there are none to be more inclusive, but that creates a strange dynamic, where the viewer sees these minorities portrayed in a way where they never comment about their race because that character was written without a race.  As such, the representation of the minority is skewed so that many think they have the same exact quandary as the white characters, when this is false.  This is not true of all minorities everywhere, but as a whole, it does affect them.  Thus, the representation of the minority character is not true to life.  Simply showing a person of color does not dispel any myths about race.  Yes, it allows actors of color more roles, but the roles don’t necessarily accurately depict their lives.  As such, the viewer wonders why race must be discussed because the worlds they always view never do.

If a character can be swapped out for a white character in a movie or a show, their race is meaningless.  If they are not culturally portrayed accurately, they are merely a stand-in for someone white.  And some ask then, shouldn’t this be what we should strive for?  Shouldn’t we be color-blind and never think of race?  That would be ideal, however, that can only exist in a world such as Mayberry or the Gilmore Girls, because race is ever present in our society.  We are defined by who we are in our sex, religion, sexual-orientation, and race.  Simply showing these characters without showing what they have to go through ignores their plight.  It also gives the viewer the impression that there is no plight.  This is quite dangerous, because it mutes the voice of the people they are showing.  It is unintentional and without malice, but it harms society nevertheless, because it lulls them into a false equivalency.

 

Holidays without her

1723169_817923348234447_1786005248_n.jpg

We’ve gone on without her.  You start to laugh again. You start to plan for events.  You start to live and all the while, in the back of your head, you know that she is still gone.  It’s Thanksgiving and she isn’t here.  I still remember the last time I saw her and think about all the things I could’ve said to her and didn’t because we would see her again.  Except, we didn’t.  Her absence reminds me of how short life is and how trivial my troubles are in comparison to what has occurred.  How does one carry on when something like this has happened?  Life goes on and yet, it seems so strange that it does.

Still, there are no answers.  Nothing to say what happened to her.  I’ve supplied statements to the media, appeared on television, and posted many things about her, and it has been emotionally exhausting to try to continue fighting for her, but fight I will.  The investigation continues and all I can hope for is the truth.  The truth may not be what I want to hear, but it will be found out eventually.  In the end, I hope I have done enough by her to in her death to make up for what I could not do in her life.  There are so many regrets and what ifs and it keeps me up at night thinking about what I could’ve done.  I don’t think about saving her, but I think about how I could’ve gotten to know her better.  In death, regret robs you of all your options, for you can’t take anything back.  She is gone, and so is any future of reconciling my thoughts about her.

And soon, her birthday will pass, as will Christmas and New Years, and she’ll still be gone.  We continue to wait for answers, but I realized we haven’t had a chance to say good-bye.  I’ll be doing that soon privately.  I didn’t get the chance to say that the last time I saw her and no one got the chance to say good-bye.  I want to tell her that we still love and think about her.  I want to tell her that she is not forgotten and that I will continue fighting for her.  I may not have known her as well as I should’ve, but she was my family and I will fight until my last day for my family.  I hope you know that Caitlyn Xiong.  I hope you know.

 

The Logic of Fear

tes310317_38_inline1

Fear is one of those archaic primal instinct that has kept humans alive for over centuries.  Fear is ingrained into our DNA whether we like it our not, and although we like to believe we are move evolved than that, we simply are not.  We seek out fear.  We court fear and we can influence people through fear.  The more we deny this small truth, the more those who understand the power of fear can use it to control us.  What is at the root of fear is the desire to stay alive.  To stay alive, we will do almost anything and everything to assuage our fears, such as lynching black men in the 40’s and 50’s because we fear they are taking over.  Fear is stalking Muslims who are our neighbors after 9/11 because we think they may do us harm.  Fear is closing our borders because we are told that foreigners are meaning to do us harm.

To understand fear, we must understand how the instinct has worked for so long. We as a race have used fear to survive and thrive, and because of it, we seek out fear to keep us alive.  We want to be scared to within an inch of our lives on roller coasters, haunted houses, and paint ball games.  We want to know fear, but a controlled fear because it is exhilarating.  I saw a post on Facebook where someone said a group of men were trying to kidnap children into sex slavery.  There were various comments stating the police had already investigated and saw that it was merely a bible group who was aggressively trying to recruit, but many people did not heed these messages and continued sharing.  We live for fear because it keeps us alive and we excuse those that  rile up the fear in us because we thrive on it.

Those who understand what a powerful tool that fear is use it to control the masses and push their agendas.  Some ask how people can be so easily fooled when history has proven these tactics over and over, but these people underestimate the power of fear.  Fear will trump logic and it will continue to happen as we progress as a race.  The answer is not to bring more logic, but to understand how fear really works.  If you know that logic is usually thrown out the window regarding fear, you will see how people will use fear as grounds to do unspeakable things. I don’t know how to counter fear, but I know denying it will not help.  Fear is innate and will always be with us, so we might as well acknowledge it for what it is.

In Search of a Killer

22520079_138957173403736_3967598958272970720_o

I first found out about my cousin’s disappearance from a random post one of my Facebook friends shared.  It was one of those things people like to share without really thinking about who the subject was, and the prettier they were, the more it was likely to to be noticed.  I did a double-take when I really looked at the picture because I realized I knew that missing girl.  That girl was my family.  I had just seen her at another family member’s birthday party last month.  And here was this picture of her saying she was missing.  I was dumbfounded that this was happening.  This happened to other people, but not to us, and we hoped that perhaps it wasn’t true.

When your loved one is missing and you’re faced with the options, you will pick anything over death.  You want them to be missing.  You want them to be stupid and careless like I was once when I was her age, not caring about my parents and making rash decisions because I didn’t know any better.  We thought maybe she was trafficked.  Perhaps she did run away.  Anything other than the idea that she was dead.  It’s hard to imagine a mother hoping that her daughter is trafficked instead of being dead because the first leaves room for her daughter to be alive, and the other doesn’t.  However, when you’re in that situation, you’ll take any  shred of hope that you can hold on to.

As the days slipped away and the circumstances of her disappearance came to light, we realized that things did not add up.  The way she went missing seemed very suspicious as her mother was the last to see her late Wednesday night.  By early Thursday morning, she simply vanished without a trace.  She left behind her phone, her money, and everything else that mattered to her.  It was as if she never existed.  How do you track down a ghost?  Someone who simply isn’t there anymore.  You start to question if you really even knew them.  With each day, we tortured ourselves with the details and re-examined what little we knew over and over until the items themselves didn’t make sense anymore.  How do you make sense out of a life that vanishes into thin air?  What do you have to hold on to except for the memories?

Then we heard the police pulled a body from the Fox River and we waited for what seemed an eternity for the news.  Some of us suspected it was her.  Some of us hoped for the best up until the very moment the words escaped the detective’s lips.  It was her.  There is a strange sense in knowing.  In not knowing, you could imagine she could be out there somewhere, alive. In knowing, we knew that her last moments would’ve been hell.  We knew she suffered.  We knew she was gone.  But we also knew that some families never get their loved ones back, and at least we did.  The investigation is ongoing, but there is a killer out there and we are looking for them.  Who the killer is is anyone’s guess.  It could’ve been herself.  It could’ve been someone she knew and trusted to leave in the dead of the night without her phone.  It could’ve been a stranger that abducted her from her room.

Caitlyn Xiong was a kind and gentle soul who loved children and wanted to be a teacher.  She hated bullies and wanted to fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves.  She was an underdog and rooted for people just like her.  She was also very strong-willed and independent.  Although she and her boyfriend had just broken up a few days prior, her mother said she didn’t think she was suicidal.  She wasn’t planning her departure from this earth.  She was planning for a future.  She had gotten a job so she could save money for a car and attend school.  She was on the verge of becoming an adult and reaching her full potential, but that was all taken away from her.  She will never fulfill those plans and we will never see them come to fruition because she was taken.

We are looking for a killer.  A killer of hopes and dreams. A killer of family relationships and bonds.  A killer of possibilities.  Because when she was taken, all of these things were also taken.  What happens to a life that is unexpectedly stopped?  Do the answers also stop?  In reality, what we really need to come to terms with is that once we do finally get the truth, it may come with justice, but no comfort, for it will not bring her back.

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});