This is our shame.

Early this Friday morning in Manhattan, New York, a man and his wife jumped from the ninth floor of an office building near Park Avenue. They each had a suicide note in their pocket. The woman’s note told authorities that their children were inside and to please take care of them. The man’s note held an explanation of the grizzly scene a young woman discoveredd on her way to work.

He told of the wonderful life he and his family had enjoyed, their financial downfall and the medical issues he and his wife could not afford to treat. They could not afford healthcare.

It could be summed up that they could not afford to try to stay alive, so they took their own lives.

Chronic health problems can cause depression, which would not help matters.  And if a person cannot afford the treatment for their illness, they certainly cannot afford treatment for the depression is can cause.

This should not be happening in this country. No one should have to be that distressed over healthcare. EVER. The ACA was better than before, but it is not enough. Too many are still left out, and with Trump’s actions and promises to encourage its failure should Republicans not pass a non-healthcare bill, more and more people are getting caught in the loophole of making too much and not enough at the same time.

We need single payer. Now. Yesterday. Single Payer yesterday would have saved these two lives.

People should never feel they have no options, like their lives are already forfeit because they can’t afford healthcare needs. This is tragic on so many levels because there was no help.

This is our shame. Shame on us for demanding everything they have to just not die. Their children have to live with this all their lives, and the knowledge of why. Because, for all our talk of freedom, for all our boasting of how wonderful and great our nation is, we can’t or won’t provide the most basic human right to our citizens: The right to live. We commercialized illness. We turned relief from suffering and sickness into a commodity. We have an entire industry reveling in profits from the suffering of our own citizens.

Billions of dollars in PROFITS off your diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, COPD, HIV, and cancer, just to name a few. What possible inspiration is there for a cure? And when they do have a cure, what does it cost? Ask someone with Hepatitis C.

We should be ashamed. This is our collective failure. We already have a system that works, that keeps healthcare professionals and faciltiies as private practices and organizations, meaning they would not be governement employees. We already have reimbursement schedules and filing systems. There is no reason we cannot make the transition to Medicare for all, except the wealthiest who won’t be able to profit off of it don’t want this and have convinced foolish people that it is wrong, un-American and socialist.  And we are already paying for it. If insurance companies are raking in billions in profits (and they are), that means we, the people, are already paying billions more than the costs of healthcare in our nation. We are more than paying for it. We are paying enough to ensure every person in our country has access to healthcare, but instead of that money going to the services needed for our people, it is lining the pockets of the rich. They get richer and richer off of our misery, off of our illness, off of our fear to die.

These two people chose death and we pushed them out the window.

This is our fault. This is our shame.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar Truong

Photo Credit : Seth Gottfried


The U.S. Steps Back From Equality

This is the New America we woke up to today. As of 6:08 AM, Eastern Time, on this day, July 26, 2017, the United States of America has forfeited its ongoing advancement towards human equality. The very White House, President of the United States of America, has not just undermined the great leaps forward we have made in our society towards freedom for all people, but demolished what took decades to achieve.

If you think because you are not transgender that this will not affect you, think again. With such brazen discrimination openly endorsed and enforced, it will not stop here. Women have only recently gained the right to hold all positions within the military, with their right and responsibility to become an equal part of the draft still being processed. That could likely be curtailed. Let me explain why, real quick, it is important for women to be a part of the draft. Equality. Women will always be treated as “cared for” so long as they are not given equal responsibility. And, well, ‘cared for’ is just another way of saying subservient, less than, incapable of, etc.. Get it? Attacking transgender is just the first step. Once you start down that xenophobic road, it becomes easier to discriminate openly, and even legally. Once any of our citizens are less than equal, no one is equal.

The excuse here is ridiculous. I am not sure exactly how a transgender individual has, “tremendous medical costs.”

Make no mistake, if we say they are a disruption and somehow unfit to serve, the next step will be Gay Americans, then women, then, perhaps, Muslims, Jews… And no, this is not like the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy. This is much further. Don’t As Don’t Tell, while awful, was a step towards LGBT service. This will make it illegal for transgenders to serve in the military, openly or otherwise. This is yet another ban.

Since Trump can’t seem to get his Muslim Ban off the tarmac, he has decided to start banning citizens instead.

There is no legitimate excuse for banning able bodied citizens from serving in our military. This is nothing other than legalizing discrimination and empowering the White Supremacists which he too readily serves.

I had feared I would be writing about the loss of healthcare today. Instead, I am writing about the demise of our freedom. And its announcement over Twitter. It makes me no less sick to my stomach.

Rise up. Resist. An attack on our LGBT community is an attack on us all. An attack on the freedom of our citizens, people who love this country far more than the traitors in the White House, cannot be allowed. Make no mistake, this is an egregious distraction Trump has formulated to deter people from his Russian investigation. But let us prove more than his equal. (not a difficult feat for anyone with a few active brain cells, an ounce of compassion and any sense of patriotic duty whatsoever) We can challenge this hateful action against our LGBT community. We can continue to fight them on healthcare. And we can continue pressuring this administration and demanding justice for their treason. We are the people. We are the mob, the angry masses, who will not accept a ruler in the stead of a leader.

Why is almost every day a call to arms for the American people? We are fighting for our freedom now. We are fighting to preserve what is left of our failing democracy.


We are One Woman, One World

Ann Lavendar Truong

What a week!

Wow. Just…WOW.

Gone is any cloud of uncertainty. Trump’s campaign intentionally and knowingly set a meeting they believed was to acquire intelligence from the Russian government, from someone they believed was representing the Russian government, to be used against a political opponent to undermine a free election. And this is what they have admitted to.

No matter how they try to downplay it, that is corrupt and illegal. Far beyond the kiddy pool of mere collusion, they dove right into the deep end of treason.

Here is the the thing the Trump people don’t seem to understand, intent is everything. It matters not if they actually received the information they were hoping for in that meeting. And we only have the word of those people in that meeting that no information was exchanged. (not even all of them agree) They very well may have just spoken about adoptions, but that doesn’t mean information wasn’t passed between them by nonverbal methods. In fact, today’s latest shoe to drop (and you have to wonder just how many feet these people have, and how many shoes) says there was a file delivered to the Trump campaign in a folder that, according to Rinat Akhmetshin (the former Soviet Counter-Intelligence Officer who has been accused in the past of hacking sensitive information and leaking it and so happened to also be at that meeting), contained sensitive information implicating the Democratic Party in illicit funding. Akhmetshin told the Associated Press (not fake news) that Natalia Veselnitskaya told Trump, Jr. the folder contained information which showed the “flow of illicit funds to the Democratic National Convention.”

So, there is this account by a “former” Soviet agent, which appears to disagree with whether or not information was exchanged.

In the end, even if nothing was received, or if something was received and not used, it does not matter. The whole point here was intent. Intent. Intent. Intent.

If you try to murder someone, but you suck at it and can’t kill them, you still committed a crime. You still had intent.

If the only reason Junior didn’t actually commit treason is because his attempt to do so failed, he is still guilty of conspiring to commit treason. Which is a treasonous act in and of itself.

Don’t be distracted. It does not matter who else  Natalia Veselnitskaya met with while she was in New York, nor what committee she was a guest at. Those things have no bearing on Donny Boy Junior or his cohorts. Why? Because from the onset, he believed he was meeting with a representative of Russia with Russian intelligence to give to him in pursuit of Russian efforts to support Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House. Period. Those are the undeniable facts. It does not matter if he received anything. He intended to receive it. He intended to use it. He did not call the FBI as he is required to do, by law.

And much to the contradiction of President Trumpaloompa, Junior did exactly the opposite of what most Americans would have done when given the choice between treason and being a law abiding, patriotic citizen. Junior gleefully chose treason.

Now, if you think this stops at the son’s doorstep, think again. Initially Trump (the senior) acted surprised and claimed to have no knowledge of that meeting until just a few days ago. He has since walked that back a good bit, stating that the meeting, “may have come up,” at some point, but still denying he knew what it was supposed to be about. What does this shift mean? Well, if Trump’s past behavior is any clue (and it always is) then this means he did, in fact, have knowledge of the meeting. If he knew about the meeting, he would have certainly wanted to know what it would be about. He may have even listened in. His public shift means he is afraid there may be evidence floating around somewhere which will show he did have knowledge, that he was informed, and he is afraid it will surface.

This collusion goes all the way to the top. We have finally achieved the worst fears of our forebears and elected a traitor, a puppet, as our leader. And Trump is the worst kind of puppet there is. A volatile one. He is easy to manipulate: Easy to persuade with flattery; Easy to provoke. I fear it is the latter which interests Putin the most.

We are One Woman, One World


Links: More ways to find me or colleagues of mine to check out!   Author Mishka Williams

Hope. Not Hate.

What is terrorism? Well, we will get to that. Why don’t we start with: what first comes to mind when you hear, “Terrorist,” shall we?

Picture a terrorist in your mind. What does he or she look like? How do they speak? What language? What religion do they practice? Where do they come from?

Thanks to a rather opportunistic re-branding strategy by the Alt Right (synonymous for racist, white supremacist bigots),  the first image conjured when thinking of a terrorist is typically that of an adult, male, Middle Eastern decent, Islamic Jihadist. I’m not saying there aren’t Middle Eastern terrorists. Obviously there are.  But they are far from the only terrorist organizations in the world, and certainly not the first of modern times. And, in fact, some of these are only terrorists by perspective. It truly is amazing the difference perspective makes.

We call them terrorists because they attack both military and civilian locations. We call them terrorists because they believe our civilian casualties are acceptable collateral damage to send a message to our leaders. Let’s look at some acceptable collateral damage.

On July 6, 2008, forty-seven people in a wedding party, including thirty-nine women and children, were killed by three bombs. The bride was among the dead. Nine others were wounded.

On May 19, 2004 forty-two civilians were slaughtered by bombs and gunfire at a wedding party. Among the dead were eleven women and thirteen children.

On November 8, 2008 thirty-seven civilians at a wedding party were killed by bombs, twenty-three children, ten women and four men, in a housing complex where they had gathered for the celebration. An additional twenty-seven people were injured, including the bride.

On December 12, 2013 four bombs struck a wedding procession killing ten people, including the groom’s son from a previous marriage, and injuring twenty-four.

These are just Wedding  examples, not even all of them. The list gets really long when you throw in schools, funerals and hospitals.  The truth is, sometimes the idea of who is a terrorist depends on what side of the bomb you are sitting. If someone bombs your entire family to attempt to assassinate one or a handful of individuals they claim may be present, who would you call the terrorist? The person(s) they want to kill or the ones which said your family’s lives are so insignificant that they are disposable? Would it make you hate the target for bringing this on your family or, perhaps sympathize with them? Would you think that maybe they have good reason for attacking the monsters who killed your family?

Fighting terror with terror only incites more hate. It feeds the ‘us versus them’ mentality, a mainstay of xenophobia. It is not, however, reserved for terrorists we don’t understand, who live across oceans. We suffer it right here at home, neighbor to neighbor. Xenophobia is the bedrock of racism. Fear what is other. Anything other. It is contributing to the racism epidemic in our country. Yes, fear of terrorists is playing a part in the very public displays of racism today. Why? Because once the hate starts spilling out, the floodgates are washed away and restraint becomes near impossible.

We are not even a full generation cycle outside of segregation, meaning there are still many people alive today who lived in that reality. Though I am in my mid forties, I can recall attending a predominately white elementary school as a second grader in a small East Texas town and seeing the very uncomfortable black children who were specifically bused in to meet the judicial desegregation orders. When they first arrived, they stood against the wall looking unsure and frightened. We were poor, so that was the only year I lived in a school district like that. Most of my young childhood we lived in predominantly black neighborhoods and school districts. I believe this is why that memory stands out. I had spent most of my time playing with black children and that was the first time I had really cognitively seen or recognized society treating them as different. And sure, racial slurs were common but I was too young to understand their real meaning. I had no outside concept of anything different. However, so you can have an understanding of how embedded racism was in our society, let me give you an example.

In fourth grade we lived in a very black community. As I said before, we were quite poor, so we lived in what was then called HUD Housing. They were apartment projects which scaled the rent based on income. Just cross the street from us was the grocery store; the only grocery store in our tiny town of about 2,000 people. In that grocery store, in the produce department, they sold a variety of nuts and they always had a big pile of Brazil Nuts, except that is not what they called them. In fact I didn’t even know that was what they were until I was in High School in the late 1980’s. No, they sold Ni**ger Toes by the pound. I kid you not. That is what it said on the sign, without the asterisks. I never really thought about it at the time. That was what they were, as far as I knew. I didn’t have perspective to understand how horribly wrong that was. But every single black person in our town had to shop there and they had to see that sign every single time they went through the produce department. They didn’t have other options to buy groceries. I can specifically still remember that sign there as late as 1981, and it was likely there longer, I just don’t have a specific recollection of it.

Today, I use that memory as a reference point. It really explains the out-lashing of public racism and xenophobia we see today. We had a period of relative public calm, where people were careful not to say racist things so publicly, but the racism didn’t just go away. Those people who perpetuated this ‘us and them’ mentality to feel superior, they didn’t just disappear or even have a great and sudden change of heart. No. Their fear did not abate. Their desire to be superior did not vanish. They just became quiet and built up more and more hatred, festering in their resentment of a world demanding they change. They infected society in quieter ways to subvert the people they saw as lesser beings. They clung to their skin color like it was a badge and wrapped it around religion, distorting the value of self worth and the integrity of faith with their obsessive bigotry.  They found ways to quietly demean minority groups. They created and cultivated a culture of fear and distrust among minority communities and built policing systems which targeted them and evolved prisons into new slave labor camps. They were quiet terrorists, right here at home. But not free to espouse their hatred. Not free to publicly define superiority on their own terms.

Foreign terrorists provided an avenue to release that frustration. Not by becoming terrorists (indeed, why the KKK wasn’t deemed an illegal terrorist organization and threat to public safety suggests the government had already crossed that line domestically), but by hating them, painting them as evil and, in so doing, also labeling anyone who resembled them the same way. Finally, a socially acceptable venue to vocalize their hatred of others. They were able to call upon ancient religious conflicts and reignite them (Christianity vs. Islam of the Crusade periods). However, these radicalized Islamic terrorist groups are relatively new. They spawned after the unsuccessful war against the new nation of Israel, believing an urban terrorism tactic would prove more successful. The general idea being that if they made it miserable for Israelis to live there, they would eventually leave.

While this may sound like a terrible thing, a little perspective gives a lot of illumination. This was really not just about hating Jewish people and, truly, no one can condone terrorist acts, but understanding both sides in this conflict is the only way to ever resolve it. I am also willing to wager many of us would feel the same way in their shoes and may even resort to the same tactics.

Imagine, please, that the world came together and just decided, yes, the Palestinian people deserve a homeland, so they just took the United States and said, “That is no longer your country. It belongs to these people now. They are going to make the rules and laws and you will have to abide by them. They may or may not allow you citizenship and equal rights. Many of you will be required to relocate.” So what would we do? Well, probably say, “Like hell!,” and declare war, but with the backing of the entire world behind them, we would be alone and not likely win. We may be tough but we are not take on the entire world by ourselves kind of tough. Then what? When our war doesn’t work, what do we do? Would we just be content? Where would we go if most nations closed their doors to the mass of our refugees? While this is greatly simplified, it conveys the basis for the position in the Middle East that began this specific terrorism threat which has spread across the world, lashing out at not only Israeli interests, but those who support the Jewish nation. From there, the radicalization morphed into a jihad, seeking to not only subvert Israel, but also competing Islamic factions. The  perpetuating civil unrest is largely fueled by stagnation in their economies, with only one export sector of substance: oil and natural gas and foreign interference in regional affairs.

Please note, I am not taking sides in the Israel/Palestinian conflict. I am not blaming the Israelis or Israel for terrorism. This is just history and it is served without blame. It just is what it is. Israel is a fact. It is there and has been for almost 70 years. I like dealing with reality and feel the region needs to adjust.  But if we want everyone to eventually get along, we do need to understand and accept all the motivations which have caused the conflict to begin with. Understanding without prejudice. We can have empathy for both sides in this equation. In fact, we must.

Prior to 9/11/01, the US had a few scares dealing with these foreign terrorists, the small trade center bombing in the 1990’s, the hostage crisis during the Carter administration, and various issues at U.S. Embassies, etc. While it did cause immediate concerns, people were overall just far too busy hating the Soviet Union and fearing the cold war would heat up into a nuclear war. In fact, the IRA was a whole lot scarier. Not to mention, we had our own issues with civil rights going on coast to coast to be too bothered for too long. When the Cold War ended, we went along doing our own thing, oblivious to the interference our government played in foreign, regional conflicts in the Middle East, such as Iran/Iraq. But 9/11, and a festering of inability to vocalize hatred and fear of ‘other’ quickly changed the public discourse. Suddenly, people were free to hate again. It was okay to fear someone different. Not only was it okay, it was downright patriotic. We fought an unnecessary war in Iraq based off the spurring of that fear. Finally! Someone to hate right out in the open!

More racism. More xenophobia. It wasn’t gone. But fear begets fear. Before long, people become restless that their hate was socially limited. They felt their rights had been impinged upon by stifling their freedom to hate and belittle others. (they called it “political correctness, though most of us just call it good manners) Once bigotry starts seeping through, it pushes and pushes until it’s an uncontrollable flood. Their right to entitlement felt jeopardized for too long. After all, they never stopped being racists. They never stopped seeing themselves as superior. Their old prejudices didn’t disappear. And that brings us to today. Today we are a nation boiling over with hate, apoplectic, trying to decide who we hate the most:  the blacks, the Mexican immigrants, the Muslims, the Chinese, the poor, the Liberals, the Conservatives, the Religious Right, the non theistic, the corporations, the socialists, the wealthy or the sick?  Can there possibly be enough hate and enough fear for everyone? At the core of it all is the racist generations who imparted their false elitism on to their children. In some homes it was openly hateful, while others passed their bias on in more subtle ways.

True, it fades some with every generation, but don’t forget who our political leaders are and how they have been affected by race and prejudice over these years. Don’t forget how many of these predominantly white men tried to impede social justice and equality. A majority of these older politicians were a part of segregation. They grew up in it or grew up in the desegregation era which harbored a great deal of resentment. I have personally known judges and lawmakers who still refer to black people by the N word behind closed doors.

This is what we are witnessing when we see the calls for Muslim bans, Muslim registries, building walls, publishing crimes committed by immigrants, deporting people who should be given paths to citizenship, deporting military veterans who served under the promise of citizenship, hate crimes against LGBT, legalizing LGBT discrimination in our communities and schools, treating black people as though their skin color is enough to warrant fear of life or personal safety and shooting them for things like faulty tail lights or walking home minding their own business. It is all xenophobia, it is all racism. The fundamental cowardice of our nation is prevalent in our fear.  We fear the terrorists and so we become terrorists ourselves, instead of mantling our courage to face a foe and ask them why; instead of facing those we do not know or do not understand with brave acceptance. We see someone who looks different from ourselves and fear them instead of embracing them as brothers and sisters in humanity. We see the practice of other religions and have so little faith in our own that we must destroy them to feel safe in our eternity.

It takes a great deal more courage to open our arms and minds to change and welcome the unknown than to fling insults and brandish might to drive the unknown away. Racists, bigots, supremacists, xenophobics in all shapes and sizes, they are all cowards.

Now we are faced with a choice as this fear has reached an apex n our society. Who will we be? Will we flex our muscles, shout insults and perpetuate the cowardice by trying to push away all that is other? Or will we have to courage to disband our hate? Even those of us seeking equality and justice for all in the name of humanity? Yeah, our hate, too. Can we let the hate we see and hear from others pass over us and have the strength of will and character to, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,”? We all have our flaws. We are each different and unique. But when we unite under a common cause, in peace and with resolution, we have great power, far more power than hateful cowards brandishing their fists. We have the power to instill hope, justice, equality and undeniable human rights to everyone who calls this nation home. Hope is stronger than hate, for it looks ahead to the future, instead of walking blindly backwards, eyes affixed to the past. We already know what is behind us. let us look with eager eyes to the future and make the choice to peacefully resist those who have mistaken their cowardice for courage. Resist those who would drag us all to repeat the failed past of their tainted memory. The future is forward. Hope. Not hate.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar Truong

Shout out to Anne Coffer, great friend and amazing colleague and author. She has a new book out, just released, that is fantastic, Edge of Ridiculous . I loved it! Get it! Read it! Then tell her how awesome she is! 

Links: More ways to find me or colleagues of mine to check out!   Author Mishka Williams