The Reality of Being Paralyzed: Dedicated to Jacob Blake

Dear readers,

This post is a follow up to what I stated in my podcast. If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast via Spotify, Apple Music, etc., please go to http://thethroneroom.denverqueen.com and subscribe to the podcast so you can listen to the points I make on the whole Jacob Blake situation. The shooting he endured at the hands of the Kenosha police department has left him a member of the paralyzed disabled community, so here’s a reality check so that the officers understand what care this man will need in the immediate future.

1. Architectural barriers could become a reality for Mr. Blake. Depending on what wheelchair and equipment he gets to move with, Jacob Blake could face buildings without ramps, churches that won’t accommodate him in an elevator, and buildings without grab bars in their toilet stalls. There are a variety of architectural barriers he could face as a disabled man.

2. Careers could be lost. Jacob Blake could lose his job for being in a wheelchair and not walking or dancing could mean that his boss and coworkers would look down on him. Even finding a new job could be horrendously hard for him, just ask activist Clayton Jacobs how many applications he can fill out in a year, and still not get callbacks and interviews. Even I had to fill out applications and no callbacks or interviews. So many blind people are feared, and because of the barriers we face, we don’t get jobs. But paralyzed people could be in greater more dire circumstances. Because of Blake’s high profile shooting and paralysis, nobody will feel in the least sympathetic towards him if they are white, so he’ll need to work in a place that is black friendly. How’s that for hard to find because nobody is safe, even in my Denver metro area backyard.

3. Family barriers. Who knows if Mr. Blake will ever be able to engage in intimacy with his future wife or wives? Who knows if his children will ever have the same dad they saw getting into the car after the dreadful shooting. Will Mr. Blake go to rehab and discover that the family is faithful and will stay by his side? Will his fiance who saw the shooting happen still want to marry him? Even if he can’t dance with his wife? Will she leave him and call off the wedding? I hope not, because it would be a sign of weakness and unfaithfulness and for her, maybe she should get some educational materials about paralysis and wheelchair use.

The reality is that the Kenosha police department will undoubtedly be sued by the family and forced to pay up. Here’s a shopping list of things they will pay for, god willing the lawsuit goes through.

A power wheelchair and charger,

Care and rehabilitative services so he can use the wheelchair and stuff,

A reacher device that lets you reach for something on the floor, and if he can’t bend, he could use the reacher to pick items up,

A service dog trained especially for the purpose of helping paralyzed people,

A specially made car and/or a van that would allow him to get in and out, screw paratransit because he can see to drive, but moreover, he needs his wheels too,

and finally, a barrier free house. the house will need to include ramps, rails, grab bars in the bathing areas, and all kinds of setups that would allow him to cook, sit at table, and perform the tasks he used to do while upright. Now, he’ll have to learn to cook while sitting down.

If anyone thinks they don’t want this reality check, take a look at those who are sufferers of CP, cerebral palsy, and those who go paralyzed as a result of accidents, and so on.Paralysis and CP require almost the same services and so on, but Mr. Blake is going to need extra care and safety because his own town’s police department messed his life up forever.

Beth

Deny Him Martyrdom

Dear readers,

While Jokhar Tsnarnaev has had his death sentence overturned, I have a reason to agree with this. What the Boston Marathon bombing survivors do not understand is that guy has been waging Jihad, or holy war, against America and those who don’t believe in his extreme religion. He got the inspiration from the Qur’an, where it describes where all the martyrs go in Heaven, so here’s the deal: Tsarnaev’s death sentence should not have been considered, just life in prison without the possibility of parole because of one thing: if he died by lethal injection or even a gunshot with a firing squad, he’d achieve martyrdom and get the so called 72 virgin wives for himself. The thing that bothers me about his death sentence is that death doesn’t teach. It only liberates the soul, degrades punishment altogether, and does not truly deter murderers. Tsarnaev’s death sentence could have meant that he would go to Heaven, while the poor person who can’t fight, who can’t achieve what’s called “shahidala” goes to Hell. There are too many people who go to Hell in Islam, including women. The Prophet himself even said it, and in one haddith, it says there are many many inhabitants in Heaven, the poor people, but then the last quote. “I saw Hell, and many of its inhabitants were women.” So when Tsarnaev dies in prison, I think he’ll probably rot in Hell for what he did to the people at the Boston Marathon, that is if we can convince him that what he did was wrong, very wrong. We need to deny him all the things he would normally have in an Islamic household, including the Jihadi verses of the Qur’an. We need to convince him to throw away Jihad beliefs, perhaps do what is necessary to keep. him away from that temptation of 72 virgin maidens in 72 beds in 72 gardens. It makes me sick that a guy like that can have creature comforts even in prison, and here I am living in a slummy little crappy building that doesn’t even allow any number of satellite TV providers and so on. A criminal, a murderer who wants martyrdom, can’t get what he wants. Spoiled much? No, just being honest. The bomb survivors should study the Qur’an just for a brief moment, look at the descriptions of Heaven for martyrs. They’ll understand why I feel the way I do. I say, deny martyrdom to the man who bombed the Boston marathon. And trust me, Jihad and holy war principles litter the book, they litter everything for the extremist Muslim. So what’s the best deterrent for murdering people and hurting others at a marathon in Boston? Life in prison is fine, but no chance at martyrdom or parole.

Beth

Kids Fearful of going Back to School with Corona Virus Pandemic Around

If you have Apple news, this article will help immensely with kids and Covid19, so please read this. Dr. Bracho-Sanchez, if I am doing this right, is someone I know. I might know this woman, but okay, this is what she wrote, and there’s empirical evidence here.

apple.news/A-gBzRJa6Tq2TkFxgRMhcwQ

Remote Learning Versus In Person Learning: My Experiences

Dear readers,

I’m not surprised that there are parents who don’t want to send their student children to school, in person learning being that which the administration wants and believes in all the more even during a deadly pandemic.

The thing is that online learning could be fixed to indoctrinate rather than educate young girls in Conservative communities, and we must stop that at all costs. For one, some girls in the ultraconservative communities like the ones in Utah and some Christian families might opt for a religious brainwashing instead of educating girls. What is the deal? I have had good experiences with both online and in person learning, but I never did online learning until college days.

I started out in kinder through fourth grade in public elementary schools, but in fifth grade, my parents insisted I have a Catholic education. Some of you may know that the Catholic school had no band, no chorus program that sang anything other than religious music, and no string orchestra, and I think the parents wanted to not teach me the violin. Look at how much private religious education actually costs. It costs a lot more than the violin lessons, and it cost more than the piano lesson that eventually I had to give up. My parents could have had me in an orchestra, a meaningful job playing piano at a bar whether they liked it or not, but they chose to spend all that money on religious education which does not do much good for females with disabilities. What they didn’t know was that girls and boys both had to learn about sexuality in a Catholic perspective from a young age. Well, thank God the high school was in Melbourne, too far for transport, so I went to Titusville High School, where there was a band, orchestra, and choir. Thank God the choir and band directors just didn’t get the religious education point, but they never indoctrinated anyone. My band director, of all the people I might have not gotten along with, was not a religious person to the point of imposing things like girl boy separation. He did tell us about songs and their meanings, half of which were nonreligious and had no Catholic perspective. Religions with conservative viewpoints on girls’ choice and body autonomy really should take this into consideration, but online learning could allow the parent to cocoon the student in question and not allow her to see friends, do things, or have any opportunities to learn and grow as a person. For me those opportunities did not come till I was dropped out of college, and twice I had to drop out because of Rehab and accommodations. I will never be able to obtain a Bachelor’s degree, but moreover, I had to catch up because of the conservative patriarchal bullshit I was exposed to in the home. Mom expected a perfect daughter, someone who would cook and clean and take care of the home, unpaid of course. IF I were to go back, I’d have to charge an outrageous rate anyway by now because the parents needed to appreciate what I could do, but they never did. My dad wanted a perfect virgin of a daughter, but sorry, that didn’t happen because in high school, a guardianship was planted in the legal books against me and I couldn’t marry or date without a guardian’s permission, which I balked at. I left in 2010 because of the way I was being treated, and I won’t allow this to happen again, not even to my own potential daughters. While I was at home, I still had online college, and I took a survey and did chats online with Blackboard. The thing to remember is that online learning should be accessible too, so a blind student might not be able to participate with other kids online, so do your research.

Accessibility and viability of the information your child is being taught is very very important. We don’t live in Gilead, wee live in the United States, for those reading who are actually in the United States. But remember, don’t indoctrinate your kids with a book of Genesis reading unless you want them cowering in the corner saying things like, “What the hell is all this?” I did study Genesis, and believe you me, there’s a lot of flaws in it. For one, the thing about women fighting over who gets more kids. Rachel and Leah were the most dynamic duo of sisters, but they were also sister wives, and they had maidservants, handmaids, they gave to their husband to sleep with. This could be the reason why people may groom girls to be handmaids as young as fourteen, or perhaps they would be arranged in marriage, as was biblical custom. Genesis also hurts gays and lesbians, so I won’t go into what it says and why. This is part of the reason I’m not into and all for religious education until a child is old enough to make his or her or their own decisions about what they want in life, where they want to go, and what kinds of things they want to experience such as dating, prom, and the chance to be married to someone they care about. We also have to make sure we speak up and demand change from the government level so that girls are protected from this type of brainwashing, and online learning may fail some people, but it may not others.

As a person who was educated both in private and public schools, I’d prefer that the child either conservative or not be in a public school. They need to learn facts, not myths, but study the myths as they are, mythical things that are not true. For example, don’t teach that God made everything in seven twenty-four- hour rotations of the Earth, which is damn near impossible, but teach evolution and the Big Bang theory, and teach about the way things were thousands and millions of years ago. My science teacher, Patricia Hutniek, was critical but still taught us to think about all the stuff and theories of the past, and we learned about tectonics and plate division in the earth and all kinds of stuff that a true conservative would balk at. Hutniek taught us to think critically about things like cloning and surrogacy for those who can’t carry, but what she failed to do was explain the compensation for those who carry someone’s kids and how it helps those who want a child. Surrogacy is not my idea of having a kid, but paying a surrogate mother is just way too much. I saw an article in the Washington Post or something of that nature about a woman who carried her daughter’s baby because her daughter could honest to God not carry any babies at all. Now the baby is probably born healthy and the daughter will be able to mother that baby, but with the peace of mind that came with the baby’s grandma carrying her.

I also learned a lot of evolutionary biology in college and stuff, but trust me, I’m not all for online science labs, plus a blind person would be excluded wholly for being blind, and the microscope assignments would be completely invalid, not able to be used for a blind student. I had to be exempt from all that stuff, and trust me, it made me a bit less than the rest of the class. While the rest of them got to stare at bacteria all day, if I may exaggerate, I was not able to do so.

So what’s my verdict? While I do believe online learning is a good supplement, it cannot take over in person learning. Also, don’t forget music. Students must be taught music, as I said in the last post. Please note that music is important for all people, and it helps with brain development and test performance, so give them the music. LEt the people sing, as I said in the last piece I wrote.

Beth

The weirdest dreams I’ve had lately, missing something special.

Dear readers,

I woke up twice during the night, slept as much as I possibly could, but there was one weird dream I could not shake off. It had something to do with rehearsals of some Philharmonic orchestra in one of the old concert halls I used to be a frequent visitor to, the Orlando concert arena of all places. I heard what could have been something a bit more original, but turned out to be something quite familiar. As it turned out, might have been the Jurassic Park theme, why? Crazy as it sounds, I played the piano parts to this theme a while ago in high school, alongside a fellow musician who played on the harp parts, but we both used Korg keyboards to make the sounds come alive. So what was this about? I’m not good at interpreting things like this, but it just doesn’t add up. None of the dreams I’ve had lately add up, but still.

What I do miss about the time before the Pandemic struck is the time when you could sing or perform in a group. Now you can’t because health officials deemed it a big risk. But what stupidity these health officials have, for music brings joy to people, and people need music in their lives to heal. I don’t know when my choirs will practice again, but orchestras? Why I hope they will become more important, even though we have at least 3.8 million people infected with Covid 19, but taking away the joy of music is stupid. Now those who need it will fall by the wayside. I can’t imagine my life stripped of music, even writing, because music is important. Music saved what little sanity I could muster four years ago, maybe even three, because all the bad guys wanted me to have nothing at all. And then a pandemic took that away from us, honestly, I don’t know for how long. Health officials should never have deemed choir singing a risk because choirs and singing should be a healing thing, not something that can get you sick. But let me say this for a moment: I’m not for Trump and his mask off policies and his magical thinking. What I am for is bringing people together to get rid of the pandemic in thee best way we can, but not taking away music in a group. Schools opening is a bad idea, and students won’t learn unless music is taught to them. Now, we might have underdeveloped brains because music isn’t there, can’t be taught, or can’t be used as a tool for education all because “it can get you sick.” Ridiculous as it sounds, I find this line of thinking very counter to what studies have shown about music and music education. I was lucky that music was taught for me, and music is an inclusive, or is supposed to be inclusive, art. As a blind person, I connect with musicians more than ordinary people, and taking that away over some deadly health risk is ridiculous because what will happen when this pandemic goes away and the music does too? We need to be assured that we can sing in choirs, in a group, etc. when this Corona virus pandemic goes away. We need a vaccine, something that will immunize us against the virus so we don’t have to wear masks or anything like that. I don’t want to get sick, and I know a bunch of you don’t either. But taking away a treasured gem like music is not the way to go about healing the nation. We could sing solo like in our own bedrooms and bunkers, but that is not the same as singing harmoniously in a group. People need to stop reverting to the dark ages where European music had no polyphonic sound, where it was simply solo music, where there weren’t many musical scores written out. Children aren’t going to like not having music in schools, sickness or not. It is something that, like I said saved my life. If it weren’t for music, I might have told my parents to stop talking to me or perhaps I might have ended my whole life because of how they treated me. Music was a refuge, a shelter from all that. And to dream of a time when a music rehearsal can happen, this is what I don’t get. I dreamt of myself walking through the concert hall, hearing the musicians practicing, and a voice sounded as the Philharmonic orchestra played. Will music be used in movies and documentaries? Will it ever come back? I would hope to God it does, and that choirs are not disbanded or not allowed to practice ever again. Trust me, government is not trustworthy in my humble opinion. They took music education out of schools, replaced it with standardized test scores, and now they want you to believe that music can make you sick. Well, I don’t believe it, and if anyone gets Covid 19 as a result of a choir practice, and some people did, it’s because they weren’t wearing masks that allowed them to sing good. Yes, you can sing with masks on, but still, I don’t know. DWC canceled its fall season, which I’m very upset at that, and they probably won’t have a spring season if the Covid crisis doesn’t get under control, but Trump and his magical thinking should disappear, and not to say the corona virus won’t, but it won’t if he keeps it up.

After I woke up from this dream, I thought a while about what could happen if music was not allowed to be played or practiced in places like this. We’d end up chanting instead, back to the Dark Ages and people would place blame on the Goddess or something. If a Pandemic sweeps the globe, I get it, people want to place blame on something. But the blame is not on a deity or human beings. Science says that viruses mutate, have sex, and sweep the globe for a while. Florida has the worst Covid numbers of any state, and that’s why I’m also not going to my grandmother’s memorial service. My cousin messaged me about this, but I said, no. I’m not putting myself at risk for any reason, whether by covid or a Guardianship trap. Forget it, I’m not trying to let my cousin down, but music should be sung at the memorial, and singing in a group will have to happen, but I don’t want to sing in Florida. I don’t want to sing in a group in a state that let me down, that turned its back on me, that claims I need protection, all that and more. Yes, I was a frequent concertgoer in my teens, in Florida of course, but that’s no more. I left it all behind, and I have a different battle to fight. Students need to learn to sing in a group, whether the risk is there or not. Schools cannot deny students brain development, whether the risk is there or not. Students should be learning to play instruments whether the risk is there or not. Music will shelter students from even the worst of this pandemic. It has already proven a challenge for blind guide dog users, blind cane users, etc. I can’t see the floor markers on stores, so forget the social distancing. Masks are now required on all indoor public spaces. Are we nuts? Yes, I get the covid 19 crisis needs to be put under control, but I’m sick and tired of people getting sick and tired. So here’s a hint when dealing with this, and other issues: let the people sing.

Beth

What to do About Prejudice, Color Based Violence, and Ableism

Dear readers,

I’m first going to talk about WordPress related stuff. My friend Hailey has deleted WordPress for now, but I hope she can get a new PC or laptop she can more easily rely on, so that she can still contribute to the blog. The editor is amazing. However, I think it’s rather trying to try and teach how to use this editor to very wide ranges of people. I feel a bit impatient that people don’t learn as quickly as I do, so if I were a teacher, I would have to do a more advanced class of peoples and other sorts of students that are interested in doing advanced stuff.

As a blind person, I want to point out something very blatant in our society and something that needs to change. But first, let me tell my own story of overcoming misunderstandings about people of color and other people who are considered “black” or “brown.” I’ll start at the beginning. I didn’t know much about my own heritage, but I was nine years old, and my mother later told me stories about how my and her family’s heritage affected job placement for her grandfather at the post service in Texas, but that’s a whole other ballgame. My personal story begins at a dorm in St. Augustine, and unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that my roommate was black. Hell we fought like cats, I don’t want to say cats and dogs. But girls are compared to cats anyway. I think cats fight worse than dogs, but still, I went away feeling guilty that I hadn’t bonded properly with the roomie in a way that was satisfactory. I later joined the girl scouts, and things got really fishy for me because I was learning things in the Girl Scouts of America handbook that school wasn’t exposing me to at all. For one, learning about black people and brown people was a moot point at the private school I attended because all they had were lighter skinned rich folks, including several Puerto Rican children from the same family taht delivered my baby brother, my oldest younger sibling that is. I think he did a fine job, otherwise my brother wouldn’t be here, but Dad said that the doctor responsible for delivering his firstborn son was sending his kids to school with me, and I thought it was strange but didn’t think about race and stuff. The brother of the classmate whose father delivered my brother into the world was a science nerd, a big whiz with weird inventions etc. However, that had nothing to do with being Puerto Rican, not at all. I think the doctor provided a steady mentorship for his own son, daughter, and other kids. I’d like to say that no matter who does what, though, race was not taken into account.

While Cubans and Puerto Ricans populated my private school classes, there was something notably missing. African Americans were noticeably out of the school’s student and teacher rolls. There were several reasons for this: money and perhaps the black potential students weren’t attending Catholic church. This didn’t give me any opportunity to learn about Black and African American cultures, so I relied on books and magazines, but that wasn’t enough. I personally wish there had been a better avenue to a gateway to black culture for me. That gateway came when I was in eighth grade, however, or maybe seventh or sixth, but it was the annual Zora Neale Hurston festival, which takes place in Eatonville, barring any weirdness with viruses and such. Thet Hurston festival opened my eyes to something very special, and the first things I was introduced to were black arts, no not the wickedly evil stuff. I’m talking about the African American heritage of many people who were forcibly brought here as slaves, and believe you me, they developed some amazing resilience despite the great suffering the people bore. The same could be said of the Jewish and Muslim peoples, but let’s focus on the african Americans for this story. I realized that the story, craftsmanship, and culinary delights I was being exposed to was not all of the culture together, but it was surely what some whites might refer to as a gateway drug. I ended up reading Hurston’s literature, and thought, well, black or white, we all experience love. I ended up reading books about interracial dating and marriage, and discovered that even after Loving V. Virginia had been decided, America was still hanging on the threads of segregation. I saw it firsthand, and it was mostly my dad, who grew up in a Bostonian Italian family, completely white, no knowledge of privilege and other things. He even went so far as to declare that I had all my civil rights, which was bullshit, on a bike ride we did one evening. My father is learning, as are countless other Italians, English peoples, and so many others, that white privilege doesn’t mean go out and kill your neighbor who’s black. My dad has come to realize that even though he put a stop to me being with a couple black friends, I think he’s coming around slowly but surely because Trenton does get hellos, even though they seem empty to me. The thing to remember about my overcoming prejudice is that I never thought that someone could just grab a weapon and kill someone they didn’t like, whether it was Cassie Bernall in Columbine, or the Mexicans in El Passo. I personally don’t care, I wouldn’t kill a soul, wouldn’t hurt a fly. Not unless that fly bit me in the ass, and then I’d have to either kill it or maim it because bugs are bad, right?

When I went to high school, I met many a black person, white, Hispanic, etc. No more hanging out with the select private school group, and in the cafeteria, I could try and make friends with the jocks, I didn’t care who it was. I had my band friends, of course, and I had my chorus friends. But there was still something nagging at me. I wondered why de facto segregation still existed. I observed at THS, on no uncertain terms or conditions, that the black students always hung out together. This included a subgroup of the black jocks, the Nazarene folks, and countless others, but I felt out of place and there was no diverse hanging out at THS. I hate and still hate to this day the fact that THS just doesn’t have enough diverse hanging out. If I were the principal, I would have instituted rules to encourage classes in social sciences and any other life skills selection that allow students to talk to one another blindfolded, and I’d have to break down the racial barriers that plague the school, but it’s a statewide problem. Racism is structural, built in to the system sadly. I could do nothing for the students, even though I spent one lunch with Orien, and we shared a bag of funions, oh well. However, Orien and I have since matured and he got a slick job as a flight attendant. He’s also survived cancer, and his family supports his every decision. I’m glad Orien has gotten through life itself, and Ii’ve seen my parents realize that I now love my current, and I didn’t care if Trenton or his family had been black or white or polka dotted or purple or orange. Color means nothing to me now that I see whawt humanity needs to do.

With the recent killings of black men, as recent and as old as 2010 that I’ve observed, I’d like to offer a proposal as to waht to do with all the police officers involved in shootings with minorities, how to prevent such shootings, and what we can do to better humanity all around.

  1. First, we need to think about the gifts of color and vibrance. How do we use them? I read the Giver more than my share of times, and in the book, spoiler alert, Jonas learns about colors, and learns why his community can’t or won’t see them. In the communities, the sameness applies to everything: clothing, skin tones, hair and face complexion. Jonas has a different appearance but nobody talks about it because it is deemed rude. However, the community does have its flaws. The more important part though on my mind is the use of colors and how we can better ourselves, and how it is dangerous to have sight and see the colors with our eyes. Yes, a rainbow is pretty to look at, but the darker colors are always seen as undesirable, and the eye is taught to see the darker color as “black”, the brain then registers the color as “bad” or negative in some way. There’s also a lot of prejudice because people have the ability to see colors. I can say, if I were a sighted person who could see the color blonde for instance, “I don’t want to associate with blonde haired girls.” What does that statement show? Now I do have smart blonde friends, dumb blonde friends, but do I care? No, but I could care less what blonde hair looks like. Blonde doesn’t mean dumb or smart either, it just has this golden hue in your hair. However, it took me a while to set aside my blonde jokes, and I now ask if it’s okay to even speak them because it brings attention to blondes. Black haired people get the same attention in some other cultures, but color of skin and curl of hair should never be considered in hiring of jobs either. Hijabs, either the ones worn by Muslims or other such cultures, should also never be a kicker when hiring people. If we see that a person in a profile pic is black, however, I think it really needs to be duly noted that it doesn’t mean you should be afraid of them. One way we could stop police brutality against darker skinned blacks might have to involve taking away the colors, going to Sameness like in the Giver, and I wrote about this in a post to a friend whose sister died in such a confrontation. Sadly, the person who died was disabled and multiracial, which really doesn’t help the other side. There are good cops, but that’s hard to find in terms of black people trusting them. I would rather see a community that trusts based on the content of character and not color. Educational curricula should be changed to reflect the pros and cons of taking and using colors. Should we be able to bother learning about and perceiving color? Sure, to a degree. However, I don’t want any child of mine to look at a pale skinned woman and think, why does that lady look like she just came out of the freezer? The other thing I don’t want is that same child looking at someone darker than them and saying, did they put dirt on themselves? I would calmly explain that skin has different hues, and that if your face isn’t dark, it is disrespectful to copy a darker person’s look. For example, when you play Harriet Tubman in a play, it’s fine to wear the shift tunic that slaves wore, give the audience some sort of authenticity. However, black children should be recruited in that effort, not a white child, because it would allow a black family to see their roots in that child’s authentic portrayal of such a wonderful hero. Education and schools must integrate, and for kindergartners, I want to see kids learning songs in different languages like Swahili, Somali, Masai, and other african tribal dialects, and not just English. There’s a very simple Swahili song called Jambo Bwana, which literally means, “welcome”, and my choir director taught this to her students. The youths sang it well, and I must admit it was fun hearing it sung. Jambo was done to the accompaniment of drums. The djembe drum is very important and still plays a very important role in many African tribal ceremonies and dances, and all kids, from two on up, should learn to drum and dance like fools if they so desire. When I say dance like a fool, I mean just go with it. Feel the rhythm, dance like you never danced before. Trenton plays the djembe drum, and I can’t wait to get to my drum so that Trenton and I can one day play in the park. We’d drum all day if we could, but this excitement about drums did not start in music classes till fourth grade. I did learn about Australia, Beethoven, and many other things in Christy Scheiner’s elementary music classes, and I’m glad to say she taught me to be the best pianist I could be … and that was besides my regular piano teacher, who was really excited about me playing Beethoven, and Mrs. Scheiner chose me to play the Beethoven pieces because I exhibited good skill at the piano. I had always wanted that, and I got that. There was a fourth grade program we did that incorporated the life of said composer, and the third grade that year did a story about the Capeti Plane, and it was about an African rainmaking thing of some sort. They learned a simple African folk piece that accompanied the story, and Mrs. Scheiner narrated the rest, which was fun, and it involved a lot of percussive instruments, this befitting an elementary music school class. Why am I talking about this? We’re losing all this to testing demands, and if we talk about it, it might come back. I want to archive my memory of such things in this blog so that people can understand what culture education does. In high school, Professor Husted, the Spanish instructor I was assigned, taught us not only language, but culture. Yes, he threw in a few expletive words, but taught us about Spanish speakers and how they normally use expletives, not so much the words themselves. He also taught us about how to love in Latine cultures, which believe it or not, whawt we say as “I love you” really means, if translated more direct in Spanish, it means, “I want you.” Love is serious in Latine cultures, as I learned later. Te amor is one way to say I love you, but then there’s more precise words for like, love, and want in the romantic sense. All this I wouldn’t have learned if it weren’t for Spanish class, even though I received a B. Spanish has too many verbs, but I’m glad I took the time and effort to learn a bit of that language. I confess my Spanish sucks, and I have since lost some. However, thanks to a Cuban friend of mine, I now understand a bit of reggae tan, what it talks about. Again, a culture lesson was learned. This helped me overcome a lot. Now I could tell my Puerto Rican friends that “Okay, I know you love this kind of music, but it sounds a bit cheap. Let’s try some more formal Spanish ballads if you want a good party.” I’d especially be able to help someone plan a quinceniera for a daughter if I knew anyone currently having one. This is cultural integration our children are not getting. Okay, on to the next item.
  2. Cops are using militarized weaponry. What if we encouraged law enforcement to put down your arms and pick up books and stun batons only? Yes, if a really out of control criminal drives you bonkers, you can stun him with a taser, and I wouldn’t recommend Aunt Lydia’s little electric cattle prod. Those things are dangerous, but tasers or just light stun guns would be okay but not to be used in certain circumstances. If a cop walks into a classroom with black children, he is to calmly escort the recalcitrant person out of the room without handcuffing them as well. Perhaps for a six-year-old, cops should never be used, however I must say that middle schoolers do have raging hormones. There are ways to neutralize kids without violence, however. Instead of cops, why not hire only one school officer to protect the campus from outside weirdos like the guy who shot up Parkland that one year? However, we need more counselors and evaluations so that kids can get help, not be punished for being dark skinned. Let’s incorporate Brian Crosby’s idea of eliminating the Malcoms in the Middle thing. No more middle schools, so we would have the seventh and eighth graders doing things with kindergarten children, and the kindergarten teacher watching over the older kids might encourage them to behave properly. Smaller schools might also be the key to fighting policing of kids’ behavior. For one, if you put too many people in a space, they’re gonna fight, go violent, and perhaps go bonkers on each other. Teenagers are highly sensitive individuals with hormones, brain cortex shrinks and expansions all the damn time, and changing bodies and their changing voices. I couldn’t recognize my seventh and eighth grade boy classmates when their voices changed. It made me nervous, and then my brothers’ voices dropped. Oh no. Teenagers need lots of space, and tracking educational routes might be needed in this case. For example, Trenton would have a huge aptitude for math, science, and computer information tech, so why not throw a guy his type into those classes? Tech classes would involve coding, computer basics to start with, but coding and language and programming and development of apps, something I never saw growing up. Trenton would have benefited from tracking, and staying in one room at a computer station while the teachers moved about the school grounds instead and no bells ringing. All this would then lead to my next proposal.
  3. What if we still have police brutality and officers still kill children, arrest little ones, and shoot black people? If we don’t go with the first two items, the third item I’m about to propose might not work as well, but at least the Minneapolis police force is four officers down, and they had been fired after killing the latest victim of the brutality pandemic in the United States. Don’t blame the Corona virus, it’s worse than that. My own partner is afraid of being shot by the cops, and it’s obvious in some of his demeanors and speech when I bring it up. Here’s another idea.
  4. If we train our children to respect different cultures, colors, hues, etc., and demilitarize the police, and then go as far as changing the structure of education, we might be able to do about 75% good on this promise. However, we also need to be mindful of laws and law school. Black lawyers are in short supply, and I want to see more of those people in law. When someone is brutalized by the police, the officers should indeed be fired and then charged with murder, prosecuted by an impartial jury of their peers, and sent to jail if found guilty, which should be the case anyway because the evidence is not something that would lie as easily.

The first item on my list might sound a bit darn radical, but let’s face it. We have a problem with ableism of all kinds for disabled people. We need to have disability studies courses available to children as young as sixth grade, and then maybe as young as kinder, put the children together with special needs/disabled kids in the same room. While developmentally disabled children need an extra boost in learning basics, there are many blind people who run the gamut of geniuses to the dumb as a fence post types. I have many friends who run the gamut of easy to explain things to to harder to teach things to, and I confess I’m nuts about some things and many others about blind people, but they are a microcosm of the sighted universe, and that’s a fact. There are radicals, apologists, and weirdos of every kind in every community. Oh well, I confess I am weird in some ways, but weirdness should be the law to me at least. The thing I hate about the community of blindness is the inability to work together. To stop police brutality, we all, disabled or nondisabled, black, brown, and white need to work together. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you are, where the hell you come from. We need to put privileges in check, work with people we don’t necessarily like or respect, and furthermore, we need to overcome the prejudices. We need to separate the words “liar and cheater” from the word Italian, for example, and other such associations with black people. Try this exercise as I close this entry.

There was a list of ethnic groups in social work class, and our task was to associate words with those groups, and it didn’t stop there. We talked about disabled, religion groups, and other such subgroups of human beings. So think about every manner of human being and classify some things in your head that come first when you think of words like black, Africans, Asians, white, Italian, Irish, etc. What word comes up in your head at first? It might be a sign of bias, and if you are struggling to overcome such bias, that’s okay. You have a lifetime to do something about it, so why not research the groups you’re concerned about: Somalis, Native First Nations/Americans, Spanish, Mexicans, and other things you could associate with words depicting bias. Thank you all for reading this post, and I hope to start a good discussion, albeit a good one, in the Facebook or Twitter threads.

One final note: I can’t forget to mention that disabled people come in all shapes and colors, but if only one word comes up for disabled people in your association evaluation exercise, you might want to spend time with disabled people. Same applies with black, gay, and other minority groups. Get involved with GALA choruses, pride orgs, and disability related volunteer or paid work.

Thanks again, and have a great rest of the time I haven’t written much. I might write some more depending on the news.

Beth