My Life After Graduation

I’ve always felt that society makes it feel like being vulnerable is a huge vulnerability. To me being vulnerable is being human. And I’ve been vulnerable since one of the greatest days of my life so far, May 4, 2018.
My last semester at East Carolina University (ECU) was a life-changing semester for me. A speech I made at the NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet changed the trajectory of my life forever. I went from an unknown to someone that was being compared to Barack Obama and being told I was destined for greatness by people that were already great. I never let their words get to me. I kept my humility and focused all my attention on graduating, but I can’t deny that it had me looking forward to my future after graduation.
However, I don’t think I was mentally prepared for life after graduation. I absolutely wasn’t ready to fight some inner demons. Firstly, even though I kept a level head from all the accolades and words of praise I was receiving towards the tail end of my collegiate days at ECU, I can’t help but admit that I really thought life after graduation was going to come easy for me. I was wrong. I’m going to be honest with you. Finding employment is a struggle. I really thought that my stellar resume and who I was told I was was going to get me a 40k job in 2-3 weeks.
I had applied to a couple of highly competitive job positions in some important research companies weeks prior to graduation. I really wanted those positions and felt that I had checked all the boxes they were looking for. It was not until around the middle of May that I started getting rejection emails about the positions I was so sure of. Every rejection email I got (about 16 of them) humbled me. To make matters worse a couple of my friends were getting hired by these same companies. Don’t get me wrong I was sincerely happy for them but it’s only human nature to wonder what you’re doing wrong.
So now it’s June and I’m still unemployed. I have a LinkedIn account and sometimes it gives you notifications when one of your connections has a new job, got promoted, or just did something great for their own professional career. I hated that notification after graduation. A lot of my connections on the app are my friends or acquaintances and to Image result for linkedin notifications congratulateme, it felt like every single one of them was getting hired left and right. Now, this is when my mental state started to go downhill. I became hateful but not of others but of myself. I started to doubt myself. I began to really believe that I was a failure that was going to end up working meaningless job after the next. That I was going to fail so many people that believed in me. I started to be so envious to the point that when I saw tweets like “Two Interviews soon. Wish me luck” from people I went to ECU with I’d begin to say things to myself like, “How’d they get a job interview already…They just tweeting this for clout, forget them…You deserve a job interview more than them”.
Hate, envy, and the fear of failure had taken control of me. I did not envision myself to be still unemployed towards the end of June.
I began to ask myself if my true colors were just revealing themselves to me. Was I really this guy who was all about the progress of others? Did I really care about people progressing in life if only I was doing it too? Was I was sanctified as how I claimed to be in my speeches?
See my issue was that I had engulfed myself in the irresponsible culture of instant gratification. I forgot that everything in life is a process. I now have a great government job lined up for me. I don’t want to speak too much about it but there is another story to be had about this job that will be told soon.
The culture of instant gratification made me forgot that you need to trust God’s timing. Not your timing, nor social media’s timing but God’s. Your waiting period is God’s preparation time. During that time, He may be building your character or trying to get you closer to Him. Instead of me to fill my spirit with bad thoughts, I should have used it as a time to cleanse it. Rejection will come.
This experience really showed me that what was for others wasn’t for me. One thing to never do is compare your life with others because you just going to end up killing yourself over every little flaw in your life. I forgot that the greatest people always had the greatest struggles. When you give up you lose but if you keep working hard you’ll always move forward. And see the problem is that for too many of us moving forward is taking one big giant leap when one small step is the beginning of the run-up to the giant leap coming to you later in life. Two steps forward are just as great as ten steps forward. You’re moving.

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The Immigration Cri$i$- How Money Is Being Made

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Always remember this …when there is a crisis, be it programmed or inadvertent, someone is making money off it. The prison system has been the most popular example of this, but many overlook the money the prison system is making in these immigration detention centers, well “daycares” if you’re Laura Ingraham. Much like the general prison system, ICE’s detention system is dominated by privatization.

Image result for immigration detention centerMost people that are in ICE custody are in detention centers that are operated by a private company. Much like the private prison system, there are two corporations- Core Civic and GEO Group, that dominate this immigration detention industry.
However, this wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t until a democratic majority Congress passed a quota bill in 2009 that made governmental funding only available to centers with no less than 33,400 detention beds. However, the impact of that quota wouldn’t be felt till 2015 when Rep. John Culberson (R-Tx) insisted that ICE interpret the quota bill as a mandate to FILL the 33,400 beds on a daily. Then ICE director, Sarah R. Saldana, disavowed the idea that the bed quota requires 34,000 people to be detained per day stating that the quota serves as a way of maintaining 34,000 beds.

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Footnote- Rep. John Culberson (R-Tx) has been given $32,900 by GEO’s Group PAC, in fact, GEO is Culberson largest donor…it’s easy to see why, they were going to make some money off the Rep. interpretation of the quota.
Fast forward to 2016 and guess who gave money to Trump’s inaugural festivities, GEO Group and CoreCivic. $250,000 each to be exact. Obama took extraordinary steps to phase out the government’s contracts with private prison, but Trump has undone most of that by restoring those contracts with a little motivation from “campaign donors”.
Image result for trump immigration moneyNow ICE and the U.S. Marshals service pay GEO $32 million a year for their detention centers which equate to about $159 per day per person. GEO is basically a paid middleman that has been tasked to manage, feed, educate, and in many cruel ways, medicate children. Private prison companies are not the only ones making money off this crisis. Comprehensive Health Services Inc received $65 million in contracts for Image result for trump immigrationproviding workforce medical services to the government. Dynamic Educational Systems is providing educational services for $5.6 million while Southwest Key, a nonprofit apparently, is getting $458 million for running the infamous “Casa Padre” facility housed in a former Walmart near the town of Brownsville, Texas.
The ironic thing about this “crisis” is that the population of undocumented immigrants was in decline for about 8 straight years (2007-2016). But for some odd reason, it seems that in 2016 it became a national issue again. With all the facts presented it is safe to assume that this crisis was manufactured by the Trump administration to put money into the pockets of some of his biggest donors.

The Troubling History of America’s Immigration Policies

 

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The United States of America has always had a troubling history when it comes to immigration. Many look at our current government’s immigration policies in disbelief asking themselves how can a nation that recognizes itself as the beacon of freedom, tolerance, and liberty of the world be running counter to exactly that. The simple answer to that is that it never really has. The current government’s immigration policies are nothing new, in fact, they may be influenced by the country’s past immigration policies.
Lets first begin with Trump’s executive orders that banned travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. Even though his executive order was a lot more restrictive than past others history shows a parallel between his ban and others from the early 20th Century when Congress passed multiple laws constructed to shrink the number of immigrants in the United States.

Image result for Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882In 1917, Congress passed legislation requiring immigrants 16 years and older to pass a literacy test and banned those from what was called the Asiatic Barred Zone. The Asiatic Barred Zone was practically an imaginary region that stretched from Turkey to Papua New Guinea. The focus, however, of that barred zone were Chinese migrants. This was not the first legislation targeted at Chinese immigrants though. The country had adopted a racially-biased law called the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which halted Chinese immigration completely much like Trump’s executive order.

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We also hear ideas from Trump’s administration about some sort of immigration quota or as they like to coin it, “merit-based immigration”. This isn’t some newfound idea either. In 1924 the United States passed the Immigration Act of 1924, which limited the number of immigrants admitted into the United States through a national origins quota. The quota was aimed at Italians, Irish, Germans, and eastern European Jews.

All were considered not “white” enough and were perceived as a threat to the American economy because they would work for wages below those that American workers could command. Basically, they would steal American jobs.

UNDESIRABLE IMMIGRANTS BARRED FROM ENTERING USA,1920S IMMIGRATION LAWS,IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS 1921,IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS 1922,IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS 1920,REDUCED IMMIGRATION LEVELS SOUGHT IN 1920S - Article Preview - Old Magazine Articles

Sound familiar? That’s not it; there were many stereotypes about them. Jewish people were greedy and had poor physiques that would make them a hindrance in America, because how can their poor physiques work in the American economy. The Irish (refugees at the time because of the Potato Famine) and Germans were represented as a cultural threat because they were majority Roman Catholics.

(Sidenote: the Klu Klux Klan at the time was exclusively Protestant).

Americans perceived their allegiance to the Pope as a threat to the American law because how could they obey the word of the Pope and American law at the same time. Sounds like how some view Islam and Sharia Law. Italians were labeled as violent Image result for trump hispanics racist tweetsbecause of their supposed close relationship with the mafias and many were wrongly arrested for being presumed to be part of the mafia simply because they were Italian. Sounds just like the Trump’s administrations obsession with the MS-13 gang where many innocent Hispanics have been detained by ICE based on the assumption that they were part of MS-13.
The immigration laws at the time were praised by the Klu Klux Klan, Adolf Hitler, and Image result for hitler american modelthe Nazis. In fact, America’s racial oppression inspired the Nazis, so much so that you can even find in Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf,  his staunch admiration for America’s race laws. The Nuremberg Laws- the focal point of anti-Jewish legislation- were crafted with considerable attention to American immigration and race laws. So its safe to assume that the current immigration policies of today would be praised by them. So when you hear Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a 2015 radio interview with Breitbart, saying things like this: “In seven years we’ll have the highest percentage of Americans, non-native born, since the founding of the Republic,” he said. “When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy, and it slowed down immigration significantly.”

It should shock us all.

Image result for tomi lahren immigrationThe past is replaying itself, the only difference is who the target is. Hispanics, Muslims, and Africans are now the target. The irony in all this is that the people that were once targets of racially-based immigration laws are now the ones trying to enact them. Many go on stations like Fox News (Tomi Lahren) talk ignorantly about their Irish or Italian ancestors as a model of great immigration without knowing their own history. Our immigration laws were once openly racist, and it now seems like we are going down that path again with a twist.

The NFL’s Globalization Problem

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When it comes to the perceived decline of the National Football League (NFL) most look at the declining television ratings and player safety concerns. Although those are some pressing concerns, one factor that is being overlooked is globalization. And for the NFL to thrive in the distant future it can’t just be an American sport.

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And the NFL knows this very well. Why do you think there are more international games in London, Mexico City, and future plans for games in China? And compared to other Americans leagues like the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) the NFL is lacking in international recognition.
Although the NFL has made a concentrated effort in trying to go global its strategy is insufficient. The NFL is doing the right thing in hosting more international games to give itself more recognition, but the NFL is missing one vital aspect; culture.
Cultural expansion is just as important an expansion team. Take the NBA for example, the culture of basketball has become global with fans in every country taking in everything basketball. The NBA has taken advantage of social media in its effort to be more global. They encourage players and teams to interact with each other on twitter and sometimes their interactions go viral. Something the NFL has been slow to embrace.
In addition, the NFL needs international players on its rosters. Having just American stars on your rosters will not translate to international success. Representation is Image result for greek freakimportant. Again, look at the NBA. They have rosters full of international players and now some international stars. From Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia) to Giannis Antetokounmpo aka “The Greek Freak” (Greece/Nigeria) to Joel Embiid (Cameroon), the NBA has international representation. The NFL, on the other hand, has the lowest percentage of foreign-born players of all the American sporting leagues and no international stars.
The NFL has many challenges when it comes to its future in a growing global market. One of the challenges will be trying to break off the notion that it is just a sport played in America. Increasing international recognition of the sport is important but it will not mean anything if the NFL does not add more international representation.

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If the NFL is not careful it may very well end up like the sport of cricket. Cricket was an immensely popular sport in the 18th century. However, cricket was predominantly an English sport and only grew fame across the British empire. Even today most of the major cricket playing countries are past British colonies. The sport did not spread past the boundaries of the British Empire (India, Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies, and more) and now the International Cricket Council (ICC) is paying for it as they have faced challenges in promoting cricket across the world. The sport is thriving regionally but obsolete globally. A situation the NFL may very well be in if its strategy is too focused on finance and not culture.

A Democrat Won In Alabama?

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Doug Jones is the United States Senator-elect for the state of Alabama. A Democrat won in one of the reddest states in the union. A state that the leader of the Republican party, Trump, won by 25+ points. Many experts called the race a practical toss-up but always felt that this was Trump’s country and Roy Moore would win amid the allegations of sexual harassment and pedophilia. Well like the 2016 presidential debate the experts were wrong.

The last Democrat to win Alabama was Richard Shelby, in 1992. However, he later would switch parties two years into his second term. So, in essence, Doug Jones is the first true modern age democrat Alabama has had. The Democrats of Alabama’s past are inherently different from the Democrats of today.

Image result for The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!
To no one’s surprise, the Republicans tried to negate the severity of their loss by stating Roy Moore was too toxic of a candidate to win anyways. Too much baggage was on him anyways. Well, that is all true, but Trump did win an election last year. Moore and he were very similar candidates except for the pedophilia allegations. Both had sexual harassment allegations. Both had a history of racism. Both were incredibly divisive.

Establishment Republicans are trying to deflect from the reality that this loss is a huge warning sign. A sign that their embrace of Trump and reluctance to speak up against him is going to backfire in 2018. The signs are all in the polling data (CNN exit polls).
Firstly, black voters were incredibly energized. Black turnout eclipsed the 2012 presidential race (28% in 2012; 29% in 2017). You can look at that and dismiss the attention on the 1% uptick as nothing more than Democrats looking too hopeful. However, the fact of the matter is that this was a special election. Special elections usually have low turnout rates across pretty much all demographics so for it to eclipse the 28% from the 2012 Presidental election, which had an African-American presidential candidate,  is impressive. Very impressive. This is very problematic for Republicans in any scenario.

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Republicans will now have to be cautious in the reddest of states, but particularly, states with a lot of minority voters. States like Nevada and Arizona are not as impossible to win anymore if Democrats can galvanize minority voters, such as Hispanics.

 

Trump is also ruining the Republican brand. No Democrat since Richard Shelby has won election to the Senate in 25 years. With that in mind consider the fact that 47% of Alabama voters said they approved of the Democratic Party while 43% said the same of the Republican Party. Democrats are becoming more popular than Republicans in even the reddest of states.
Also, Trump is becoming ever so unpopular. President Trump won Alabama by 25+ points in 2016. Well in 2017 his disapproval rating is 48%. In Alabama! This is a state in where he coasted to an easy victory just a year ago.

 
This all spells doom for Republicans in swing states. Especially if the Democrats use the lessons of the 2016 Presidential Election in the 2018 mid-terms. Alabama was a good catalyst test for their strategy: less talk about Trump, more talk on solutions. Americans are growing ever more tired of the divisiveness of the political climate and are now just looking for people with solutions to our country’s problems. Reasons why Jones may have won moderates by 74% to Moore’s 25%.

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The next few months will be interesting. Will we start to see President Donald Trump’s rhetoric change? Will John Kelly advise him that his tweets are doing him and his party a lot of harm? Who knows honestly. But I would not hold my breath on it. President Trump is not one of change. If there’s one thing we know about Trump is that he can be stubborn in his ways. That stubbornness may cost Republicans the majority in the Senate and House.

 
If the Republicans are hammered in 2018, questions will then be asked if whether Trump should run for re-election in 2020. At the end of the day though, all this as speculation. But if there’s one thing the 2016 election and the 2017 Alamaba Senate election told us is that we are living in an increasingly unpredictable world. 2018 and 2020 will really test America. It is anyone’s guess whether we will fail or pass.

The Fall of the Republican Party

 

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The Republican party has failed. They will undoubtedly find it hard to rise from this. There was a time when the Republican party was respectable. Democrats and Republicans had their disagreements but at the same time, there was some type of mutual respect for many members of each party. Now? That mutual respecting is starting to fade away. As many don’t look at Republicans the same way.
Republicans have made their bed with the election of Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a very powerful man now. I mean he is the President of a superpower. Not only that but his base is a lot larger than most would like to admit. They are passionate and unwavering in their support for him.
Trump has used social media to reach his base a lot more quickly. When he tweets his opinions or retweets things it’s all with his base in mind. Never have we lived in a time where we can get the presidents thoughts on things so quickly. His thoughts sometimes supersede what the official White House statement was going to be.

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To me, Trump tweeting at 3 am reminds me of the regular people I see on my timeline who many times share their deepest thoughts at night. Whether it’s their sexual fantasies or what they think about life in general. Their more personal feelings are usually shared late at night.
He has also had FOX, a big opponent of his during the Republican primaries, turn into an important ally. Almost everything on there is an endorsement of Trump. He has both the regular media and social media to further his agendas. The easier it is to reach his base the easier it is to hold on to his power.

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No matter how much he shows he’s not a great leader the Republican party will have to swallow their pride and still show their support for him. They must because it will be a great risk to go against Trump. Just ask those congressmen and women that voted against Trump’s vision of repealing and replacing Obamacare. There were even super PACs running ads against those one member of Congress who had voted against the health care bill.
Now you’d think that Trump’s reaction and comments on Charlottesville would galvanize some more Republicans to realize that enough is enough.

Nope. Not at all.

Many Republican leaders are standing up to Trump over his comments but at the end of the day, they know they will still have to work with him on his policy agenda or face the perils of going against Trump.
The Republicans in Washington D.C. need to wake up and realize that they are surrendering their morality. They know that they should be fighting Trump on some of his policies but that would be political suicide.
And that’s where it all boils down to. The Mid-Term elections in 2018 are more important to them than standing up for what is right.

And they will pay for this for many election cycles.

CHANCE THE RAPPER, KENDRICK, & GOD

Which is He: A God of wrath or of Mercy? Or is it both? Two artists have rekindled this centuries-old conflict between a merciful and gracious God and a wrathful God. Kendrick Lamar and Chance.

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In my opinion, the two most religious rap albums so far this year are Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book and Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. DAMN has been a lot more successful commercially than Coloring Book but that doesn’t take anything away from how similar these two albums are. The albums combined make over 150 references to God and his likeness. The difference? The way they spoke about God.

Chance speaks of a God that is great and always keeps blessing him. A God that has helped him through all his suffering. Chance has even been praised as a pioneer of “gospel rap. There is a lot of optimism on his album.

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Chance, however, isn’t a blind optimist. There are tracks on Coloring Book where he speaks about the hardships of a sinner (“Same Drugs,” “Summer Friends”). But it seems to me that Chance would rather choose to highlight the positive things going on in life.

However, with Kendrick, he speaks of a God that is wrathful. A God that gives dire punishments for not following His teachings. He questions God in his music. He’s focused on the experiences of individuals and how suffering is central to that experience. Kendrick has long questioned humanity and God. The song “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”, off Good Kid Maad City, is about the recognition that there are consequences for sinning.

Our God is a loving God,” Lamar told DJBooth in an email. “Yes. He’s a merciful God. Yes. But he’s even more so a God of DISCIPLE. OBEDIENCE. A JEALOUS God.”

“And for every conscious choice of sin, will be corrected through his discipline,” Lamar continues. “Whether physical or mental. Direct or indirect. Through your sufferings, or someone that’s close to [sic] ken. It will be corrected.”

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Now compare what you read with how you see or hear Chance talk about God and/or religion.

These two are on different sides of the same coin. Both their views on God are necessary. Think about a coin for a minute. Does it matter whether the tail or head is facing you? Does the coin lose any value if one side is showing?

No.

They’re like two halves of one of David’s Psalms.

And that’s the beauty of it all. There is value in both of their approaches.

In conclusion, the main benefit of religion is to induce people to serve themselves and others. Both men talk about that in their music and are big community leaders. One in Compton. Other in Chicago. Neither one will claim to have the answers about faith and God. We need them both in today’s music.