Tag Archives: Blog Post 4 – Exercising Public Voice

Don’t Run JOE!

Someone shouted famous slogan “Run, Joe, Run” as Joe Biden was begging to address House Democratic retreat in Feb 2018 hoping to challenge Trump 2020 presidential race. The idea that Joe Biden challenging Trump to restore American dignity in domestic and abroad itself is crazy and wild to me. Joe Biden is the definition of status quo and stands everything that is wrong in this country because of his record in the senate. Biden was opposed federally mandated busing policy designed to end segregation in schools in 1975. His excuse, he was concerned backlash from his white constituency. Imagine if that Biden wants to run as champion for rights of minority in this country.

The same guy who sat silently in Anita Hill hearing as she testified powerful supreme court nominee and recalled horrific memory of assault that haunted her for years. He sat silently acting he cared the victim, but his actions said otherwise. As chairman of judicial committee, he could have called other witnesses to collaborate her story or start investigation to verify her accusation but worried backlash from his committee. The same guy who wrote the crime bill that targeted African American communities and destroyed so many families in 90s for injustice incarceration wants to be our savior for this country. The same guy who touches women without their consent and violates their rights and argues that that is how he connects people, or he is old school. This guy took every short cut in the book to stay in power and refused to do the right. Voting Joe Biden to be president in this country is the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again expecting the same result. There is reason this country did not change for everyone and we are still fighting for same rights as everyone else. This is because the democratic party promises to change every election but never fulfills its promise. They only remember their constituency the election cycle and fail to do their duty. I say enough is enough, we should tell the democratic party to either change or be dumped and for Joe, I say DO NOT RUN JOE!.

Why joe Biden is wrong for democratic party.


Is downloading music illegally really that bad?

Jordan Espinoza, Metro State University, 4/4/2019

If you download music illegally, then the artist doesn’t make all the money that they should have. This is a true fact. Some would argue that downloading music for free, makes it harder for new artists to make money. Some would argue that downloading music for free will destroy the music industry.

If all this is true, how do sites like soundcloud and youtube exist. Until recent years, these sites would not pay artists for their streams. Still, you don’t see major artist asking for their music to be pulled from these sites. Some artist, like Chance The Rapper, make their career capitalizing off of free streaming sites.

I would like to make the argument that downloading music for free does not hurt the artist as much as it hurts the record company. An artist can make only a fraction of a penny on each stream. This can add up over time, but there is not serious cash to made unless you are a very well established artist. Even then, the money you make from streams is not enough to fund a music career. The real money is made from shows. Show money is what artist eat off of.

Downloading music, be it legal or illegal, only is proof of the popularity an artist has. If an artist is in the position where they’re being seriously affected by lost streams, then they have a great problem on their hands. They are popular enough for people to want to listen to their music! If you find yourself in this position, congratulations! This means you have fans. If you have fans then guess what? It is time for a tour, or at the very least a couple club gigs.

To put this in context let’s look at the biggest artist in the world, Drake. From his massive 10 billion spotify streams, he has pulled in an impressive 60 million dollars. In comparison, a 43-date tour run grossed $79 million dollars for the artist. In one tour, Drake generated close to 20 million dollars more than his entire spotify career. Think if he went on a tour every year? His financial career is not dependent on steam, but rather his tour dates. This same idea can be applied to artists at all levels.


I Stop, Won’t You?

Every day, I risk my life. I risk my life….by walking to my bus stop. To get to the bus that takes me to and from work, I must cross a busy road. I wait at an unmarked intersection for cars to either stop, or for traffic to let up completely. Most days I end up running to avoid getting hit since few drivers stop.

Motorist are legally obligated to “stop for crossing pedestrians at every intersection, even those without crosswalks or stop lights”.


In the city of St. Paul, 148 pedestrians were struck by motor vehicles last year. 3 of them died, another 126 were injured, and only 19 walked away, unharmed. As of March 21, 2019, 3 people had already been killed this year, matching last year’s total.

So, for pete’s sake – STOP ALREADY! Keep an eye out for people waiting to cross the street. Even if the intersection does not have painted lines – it still qualifies as a crosswalk, and you are still legally obligated to stop.

Beyond the obligation, let’s stop to be better neighbors, better human beings to one another. We all have some place we’re trying to get to, and are likely in a hurry. So help me out, please. If you see me (or anyone else) waiting to cross the road, please slow down, come to a complete stop, and give me the few precious moments of your day to allow me to cross safely.

Join me by taking the “I stop for pedestrians” pledge now!

Reconsider How To Fight Poverty in Developing Countries

In today’s digital social media world, it’s very easy to contribute to a whole lot of causes that are claiming to fight poverty. Everywhere there are non-profits and organizations that claim to help people in developing nations – the Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, Feed My Starving Children and more. It’s so easy to contribute without thinking critically about where the money is going and if it’s actually making an impact. 
As a native Haitian who spent a year working at an innovative non-profit fighting poverty in Haiti, I believe we need to seriously reevaluate how we contribute to eradicating poverty. 
First off, we can’t assume that non-profits, even the biggest ones in the world, are using donations properly. Two years ago, NPR found that $500 million in donated funds for Haiti earthquake relief were missing. This is not an isolated incident. Non-government organizations aren’t often transparent about where donated funds go to, partially because we as the donors aren’t that interested. We just want to feel like we’ve done something good. 
Our desire to feel good about our contributions goes so far that we sometimes inadvertently hurt the very people we’re supposedly trying to help. This excellent New York Times article shows how volunteer missions trips to do stuff like build homes puts local construction workers out of business and strains the local resources.
Volunteering seems like an admirable way to spend a vacation. Many of us donate money to foreign charities with the hope of making the world a better place. Why not use our skills as well as our wallets? And yet, watching those missionaries make concrete blocks that day in Port-au-Prince, I couldn’t help wondering if their good intentions were misplaced. These people knew nothing about how to construct a building. Collectively they had spent thousands of dollars to fly here to do a job that Haitian bricklayers could have done far more quickly. Imagine how many classrooms might have been built if they had donated that money rather than spending it to fly down themselves. Perhaps those Haitian masons could have found weeks of employment with a decent wage. Instead, at least for several days, they were out of a job.
This type of short-term, self-gratifying contribution is so common that we’ve become immune to it and have lost the ability to see that it’s happening. Instead, we need to partner with local communities to determine their needs, their desires and gauge the resources they already have at their disposal. As the incredible documentary “Poverty, Inc.” demonstrates, the work Westerners often engage in rarely involves the locals in terms of vision-casting, planning and execution. We assume these people are unable to do it themselves, so we must do it for them. It’s demeaning and it perpetuates the cycle of poverty.
What must we do instead? Work with organizations that express an interest in long-term change that involves the local communities and allows them to set the priorities and direction. Consider if the way we’re each contributing is actually helping people, or just making ourselves feel good while furthering their poverty.
That is how to be an enlightened partner to these people.

Enough Already; NOW is THE Time

Once again.

Sadly, once again, the hearts of the nation and many around the world are broken for loss of life and injury and fear wrought upon everyday citizens of the United States like you and I. 

I’m speaking, of course, of the senseless acts of violence committed against folks just out to have a good time in Orlando early this past Sunday morning.   I know of no other legitimate way to describe this act.  I know many are saying “Hate Crime,” and yes it certainly appears that the individual responsible was filled with that.  Many are saying “home grown terrorist” and blaming a faith for the acts of one of their members.  Many are crying foul as the shooter apparently was in the throes of a mental crisis, and I’m sure we’ll hear more on that as well as all the other possible reasons he did what he did.  I frankly don’t care.  I don’t care what label we put on this, or what name or association the press shares with us.  I simply call him what he is: a murderer.  He will go down in the current history books as the perpetrator of the largest act of gun violence in U.S. history for his actions. 

Continue reading Enough Already; NOW is THE Time

Marijuana legality

View this post on Instagram

Just an idea.

A post shared by Mark Rangen (@super.important) on

Marijuana is something I was told growing up was a dangerous drug that people should stay away from. It’s been illegal my entire life but slowly more and more states are opening it up for medical use and in some states for personal use as well.

How did it go from being a dangerous illegal drug to one that doctors are prescribing? Well for starters its actually not that dangerous. According to one study,marijuana doesn’t. It can lead to bad decisions but you can’t overdose on it. on the flip side I know many people who have had their lives torn apart by alcohol. Some people by drunk drivers others by addiction.

View this post on Instagram

Not your grandmas medicine

A post shared by Mark Rangen (@super.important) on

There are benefits to legalization too. Marijuana provides a good amount of pain relief and relaxation. In many patients it inspires an appetite. Another big benefit is the amount of tax dollars it brings in. According to reason.com,  in 2015 marijuana taxes raised $1 billion. Thats a lot of money.

I’m not a marijuana smoker, I’ve tried it a few time but its not for me and frankly I think a lot of the culture surrounding it is stupid. But I think the logic in legalizing it is sound.

Well? What are you wearing?

Every week, it seems, I see headlines about something awful on the news. TV headlines are outrageous, Reddit headlines are outrageous… heck, even Facebook headlines are outrageous! It leaves me with a sense of helplessness. What can I, personally, do against kidnappings, murder, violence, and terrorist attacks? Whenever I see these headlines, I’m filled with a sense of unsettled silence. A heavy sadness. A ruined peace that leaves me crushed for the rest of the day.

But there are certain headlines, and certain comments on the internet, that just make me mad. And violations of women’s rights, especially when it comes to the way she looks or dresses, fit that bill.

Continue reading Well? What are you wearing?

Students: Avoid the Cost of College

Student loan debt

So college is the great equalizer, right? It’s the vehicle that hypothetically will bring opportunity to the disadvantaged. It’s the catalyst for the modern American dream, or at least that’s the narrative that has been told to America’s youth.

With a national average of $37, 173 for student loan debt, it’s understandable why many Americans have chosen to pursue paths that don’t require a 4-year degree. In addition to rising student loan debt, young Americans are also faced with the increase in cost of living. For many, this modern American dream has become the source of the new American nightmare.


Continue reading Students: Avoid the Cost of College

Electronic Cigarettes are Harmless, You Say?

Remember when the electronic cigarette (e-cig) fad began? I sure do. One of my first exposures to e-cigs was in 2013 on a riverboat cruise in Stillwater for my boyfriend’s high school graduation. One of his acquaintances had an e-cig that he kept puffing on throughout the evening. His fruity emissions filled the air around us. Of course the fad began in America several years before (in 2007), but it wasn’t until 2012 that I began really noticing e-cigs…everywhere.

While strolling around in malls, meandering in grocery stores, and eating out at restaurants, I recall being extremely thrown off when I would see a cloud of smoke exit an individual’s mouth. Maybe my shock was due to the fact that the Freedom to Breathe (FTB) amendments (part of the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act [MCIAA]) became effective in 2007, which meant that we would no longer see any smoking indoors.

What am I saying? This was fine. This was safe. E-cigs aren’t really smoking—they’re just vapor. Wrong. Apparently, some U.S. municipalities are hostile toward e-cigs. Spokane County, in particular, has just recently banned the use of e-cigs in all public places, which means e-cigs and cigarettes are viewed as the same thing (the ban will become effective on July 1, 2016). Many other states and municipalities also regulate e-cig use (ecigslaws).

So, what’s the deal and why are people banning e-cigs? First off, do you really know what an e-cig is? I’m sure you do in theory, right? It’s a battery-operated cigarette that heats up a liquid containing nicotine, fruity flavoring, and other chemicals (link). The concern stems from the “other chemicals” part of e-cigs. Being so new to the U.S., not having FDA regulation or review, and having very little research behind them, e-cigs are an enigma.

The little research that has been done has shown that there are toxic/cancer-causing substances in many popular e-cig “juice” brands (e.g., diethylene glycol, an ingredient found in antifreeze). There is also little information regarding the emissions or secondhand smoke effects of e-cigs. Formaldehyde and benzene, which are both carcinogens, have been found in these emissions and may pose a danger to bystanders (as well as the first-hand individual).

The fact of the matter is that due to the lack of knowledge we have about e-cigs, it would be best to avoid using them until more research is done and the public can make an informed decision about whether or not to use e-cigs.

Child Bride

too young to wed

Last night before bed, I was scrolling through my Facebook and came across an article about a child bride that was oddly written by the child bride herself. Her story captivated me and connected with me on an emotional level.

Read her story here or read my quick recap below:

Yasmine’s story begins as a child. Her two older sisters were married off when they were teenagers, but Yasmine never knew about it until she was forced into marriage too. A year after Yasmine graduated from middle school, her mother and grandma took her to Palestine to find her a mate.

Yasmine  Yasmine’s 8th Grade Graduation Photo

Yasmine was tricked into going to Palestine as she was told it was a vacation to visit her sisters. As much as she wanted to run away, she couldn’t. She didn’t have her passport or any money. So she ended up marrying a man for a few weeks until she could get a hold of her friends via Facebook. It was through her friend that she got the contact information to get help. Since then, she has returned to the United States. She has been in three foster care homes and thought she would be until she turned 18. However, one day she got the news of a lifetime. A foster family wanted her and they wanted her to be a part of their family forever. In her new life, Yasmine graduated high school and received a full ride scholarship to a University.

Yasmine graduates
 Yasmine’s High School Graduation with her new family

There are many details that my summary above didn’t touch on, but I didn’t want to rewrite her story. If you have the time, I would highly suggest reading the article. It is incredibly touching and heartfelt.

Yasmine’s Courage

I applaud Yasmine for her courage to use her mother-in-law’s lab top to contact her friends via Facebook and I am amazed at her bravery to use the mobile phone her husband gave her to call the Embassy for help. It has to be difficult going against everyone in your family, ruining their “reputation”, and knowing that your relationship with your family will be slim to none after an act like that.

yasmine bride Yasmine’s Wedding Day

My Position on Child Brides

The entire concept of child brides is so wrong. How could it be right? Even if the child consents to marrying a man, it’s still wrong. A child is mostly influenced by their family, then teachers or community leaders and then by their society. If a child’s parents are telling her that getting married as a young girl is the right thing to do; then it’s likely that the child is going to think it’s the right thing to do. A child bride isn’t thinking for herself when she consents because she is being highly influenced by her parents, relatives and religious leaders. How can a young girl say no to those people?

I would even go as far as saying that even if the child bride had an option and she chose to marry; it’s still wrong. I think we can all think back to a time when we were younger and made poor choices, but at the time they seemed like they were the right decisions. A child bride simply has not had the time for personal growth and has not had enough life experiences to make that sort of decision.