A Parent's Love

I want to dedicate this blog post to my parents. In retrospect, I think I’ve taken for granted having two loving parents. As I’m growing up and learning more about myself, I’m starting to appreciate the lessons and values my parents instilled in me at such an early age.

As a teenager (which wasn’t that long ago) I always saw my parents as these two vindictive villains that barred me from ever having fun. I swore they were purposefully trying to ruin my life.

I’ll never forget when my dad would barge in my room like SWAT every Saturday morning at 8AM—if he’s super energized —7:30AM. I can hear it now—”Get up Trey! We’re going to do some spring cleaning!” (Now mind you, it would be like October or something).

And since my dad was a Marine, there were days when he’ll barge in my room and say “GET UP! GET UP! GET OUT OF THE RACKS NOW!” I can’t emphasize enough...how much I hated when he said that particular line.

I couldn’t be a typical lazy teenager on a Saturday or Sunday morning. It seemed as if sleep was a privilege in the Young household. Sleep was something you had to earn. Sleep was the light at the end of the tunnel.

My dad would make me clean the pool, sweep the walkway, clean the ceiling fans, mow the lawn, *occasionally* clean the attic, and/or clean the baseboards in the house...I didn’t even know that was a thing.

There were many times where I’d rush and do everything so I could go back to bed. But my dad wasn’t having any of it. He would yell my name and ask “Did you finish out front?” I would simply say “Yessir.” Now noticed I italicized the word “Yessir.” If I even dared to simply say “yes” or choose to say something even more heinous and vile--like the word “yeah”....I think I would’ve met my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ a lot earlier than I originally anticipated. But addressing someone as “Sir” or “Ma’am” was a way of showing respect and deference to others.

However, my dad was no fool. He knew I couldn’t pick up sticks, pine cones, sweep the walkway, and rake the whole yard in 4 minutes and 12 seconds flat.

He would just look at me and assign me to do another ridiculous task that no functioning or sane human being does...like clean the baseboards in the house.

And on top of that he would make me go back out front and clean the front the way it should.

When it came to behavior, I my dad disciplined me like no other.

I used to always get into trouble at school (some of the stuff I did were honest mistakes...like how I burnt my 4th grade teacher’s biscuit in the microwave). But there was a point in my life where I would get a spanking daily—or at least it seemed to be daily...Let’s just say if I went a day without getting in trouble it was a moment for rejoice and celebration.

I remember in 7th grade, my dad yanked me off the C-Team because my grades just weren’t cutting it...and he was the coach. He didn’t care “how it would look.” And I really thought he was trying to embarrass me at the time. But in retrospect, I’m glad he did that. He made sure I knew that school was the priority and everything else was secondary. He kept me focused and disciplined.

Now my mom took a different approach. While my dad was forceful and demanding, my mom guilted me into doing things for her. I can hear it all over again, “You know Trey, it’s sad that I don’t have anyone to help me with my garden or someone to wash my car…”

Yeah. I fell for it.

It was hard to say no to her because she is the kind of person that will do anything to help anyone.

My mom showed me what it means to be compassionate and empathetic. As recently as this past Christmas, my mom called me after work and asked, “Trey what are you doing after work? I want you to come with me to deliver gifts at the personal care home.”

Honestly, I didn’t want to go. After work all I want to do is go home, eat, and sleep (remember-sleep is the light at the end of the tunnel.) But my mom resorted to her effective tactics once again by saying, “It’s sad that I don’t have anyone to go with Trey...”

I decided to go with her.

We went to the personal care home and when the patients saw us walk in and carrying gifts, their faces lit up. The joy on their face was indescribable.  

I asked my mom, “How often do you do this?” She gleefully said, “Every year!” And I could tell by helping and serving others brought genuine happiness to my mom.

When my mom used to drop me and my twin sister off at school, her last words were never “goodbye.” Her last words were always, “Trey and Tarah, say something nice to someone today.”

But that’s just who she is. She taught all of us the idea of “making someone else smile can change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world.”

Thanks Mom. Thanks for teaching me empathy and compassion. Compassion and empathy is a gift that everyone can afford to give. You showed me that the greatest asset a person can have is not the wallet in his pocket, but his heart that can be used to spread love and kindness throughout the world.

Thanks Dad. Thanks for teaching me the value of hard work, discipline, and respect. Without hard work and discipline, it’s impossible to do anything. And without respect, it’s impossible to be anything.

I love you both.

Your Son,

Trey







I Surrender

This is easily the most important blog post I’ll ever write. I know that to be a fact because my heart was pounding as I was writing this in my journal. Initially, I was hesitant to speak on this because it’s so personal. But I truly believe that someone will read this and it’ll help them with whatever they’re going through. I want to talk about how I got out of depression by surrendering my life to Jesus Christ.

Now some of you may be shocked to hear that I was depressed. I’ve actually battled with it since my sophomore year in high school. I just learned to hide it whenever I had to interact with others. For about 5 years there was always a darkness that felt like it was consuming me.

If you’ve never experienced depression...I’ll explain it (the best I can.) Depression is when you feel alone even when you’re in a room crowded with people. Depression takes away the joy you experience from doing things you once loved doing. For me, that joy was basketball and exercising. But that quickly transformed to an undesirable task that I withdrew from.

Depression tricks and controls you. It makes you believe that no one cares despite being surrounded by people who love you. You don’t want to live, but you don’t want to die either. So it leaves you in this constant state of misery of not knowing what to do or what’s to come. You want to get out, but it keeps you shackled. You just feel hopeless.

There were so many days where I didn’t want to get out of my bed. Sleeping became my favorite activity and my only escape. It was the only way to make time pass without feeling any pain inside. But when it was time to wake up, I was forced to go in my closet a pick out a new face that I had to present to the world.

But putting on a mask only gets you so far. I began to intentionally destroy friendships and relationships with people. I wasn’t someone people wanted to be around. I lashed out to people who didn’t deserve it. And I became destructive and toxic.

Last October, I remember telling myself that I will get out of this. So I began to shift my focus on my goals and success. I figured that I can experience happiness and joy again if I achieve my goals...right?

When I found out that I was going to Washington DC to do an internship on Capitol Hill...I remember jumping in my room and screaming, “Finally! This is what’s going to bring me happiness that I've been searching for!” And don’t get me wrong—it did bring me happiness...but it was short-lived. That happiness slowly deteriorated as the days went by. And that’s not to say I wouldn’t do the internship again. It was a great experience. But that joy just didn’t last.

So in my mind, I thought I needed to achieve another goal. I wanted to have that same burst of joy again. I said, “Okay obviously I need to do something else. What’s the next thing I can do?” After I left the Hill, David Litt—President Obama’s former speech writer—offered me an internship over the summer. And again, I jumped up and said “YES! Finally! This is what’s going to bring me happiness!” And it did. But once again, it was short-lived. And it’s not to say that I didn’t love working with David—I did. But it didn’t bring that lasting happiness I was still searching for.

So yet again...I asked myself, “Okay what’s the next goal? What do I need to do next?” By the way, Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I decided to apply for a scholarship in DC. When I found out I won, I had the same joyful episode. The scholarship awards dinner was held at the Embassy of France. I had fun. But I’ll never forget this...The very second I left the Embassy, I felt this intense, overwhelming sadness.

When I got to my apartment, I became so angry. But my anger quickly turned into this uncontrollable emotional breakdown. To me—nothing I did mattered. My internships that once brought me happiness didn’t matter. And nor did I care about the scholarship dinner anymore. It all seemed so shallow and superficial to what I was striving for—internal joy and happiness.

One early Sunday morning, I laid in my bed in complete darkness. It was about 3:00AM and I began to uncontrollably cry. I felt like I was at my lowest point. And honestly...I just wanted out of this world. But suddenly I remembered my mom. My mom always told me that her faith helped her get through rough times. That same morning around 10:00AM, I got dressed and I decided to go to church.

It changed my life.

By the end of the service that morning, I was on my knees begging and pleading for God to save me. I didn’t want to feel alone anymore. I wanted Him to fill the emptiness in my heart with his love and grace. I didn’t want to be depressed anymore. I wanted Him to be the light in my darkness. I wanted to feel worthy. I wanted to be happy. I knew I couldn’t do life without Christ.

I surrendered.

Not to my depression or negative thoughts, but to my Lord and and Savior Jesus Christ. I surrendered my pride. I surrendered my ego. I surrendered my pain. And I surrendered my depression. I started to learn how to trust God.

Ever since then, things began to change for me. Because I shifted my focus again. Instead of focusing on my circumstances, I focused on Christ. What we choose to focus on determines our attitude. And how can we not just feel grateful when we have a God that loves us so much?

But don’t get it confused. It’s not to say that my life is all sunshine and rainbows now. I don’t live in this fantasy utopia where Christmas music is playing on repeat as I’m eating Lucky Charms with Oprah. No...None of that has happened (although I am praying for it.) There are still hard moments and bad times. But the difference is--because of God--now the bad times are short-lived and the good times are everlasting.

I now experience this inexplicable inner peace that I never had before. I feel worthy because I know that I am a child of God. His love is the very thing I was looking for this whole time. I’ve come to realize that God’s love was the only thing that could save me.

I’m writing this because maybe you’re reading this and going through a rough time yourself. Maybe you feel like you can never catch a break...Or maybe you just want to end it all.

Don’t give up!

God did not and will not give up on us. He will not leave us. He will not forsake us. But we must trust Him. He is greater than any circumstance we go through. He is taller than any mountain we may climb. God will never put you through anything you can’t handle. You can. But not because of our own doing, but who Christ is within us. He is our strength when we feel weak. And he is the crutch when we can’t stand.

Trust me…I know. I wasn’t always a believer and follower of Christ. But I now know that I cannot live without Him. Surrender your life to Him. He’s waiting for you. Let Go and Let God.


“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

-Philippians 4:13


UnFiltered

 

Privilege is a great thing to have.

And use,

But far too often,

It isn’t recognized and abused.

 

We all have privilege in one form or another,

Let’s understand that privilege and bias exist,

So that we can make this world a better place for each other.

 

As a man,

I don’t have to worry walking on the street at night,

Worrying if some crazed, lustful man

Catches me in sight.

 

Only to be blamed of my victimhood

Not believed or heard,

And somehow being shamed into thinking that this was something,

That I deserved.

 

Give women the power to believe,

Give women the power to succeed,

And finally move away from this idea that she must be subservient to a man,

In order to accomplish her dreams.

 

But dreams can become an everlasting nightmare.

If you’re a black man walking on street,

You can be perceived as an immediate threat,

That needs to be deceased.

All because of the color of my skin,

All the countless of police recordings and still no justice for our young kin.

 

Because of my dark skin,

I am marginalized,

Criminalized,

And ultimately dehumanized in the eyes of many

It feels like my life means nothing anymore to the man behind the badge and gun.

 

Black families have to have “The Talk”

Not about the birds and the bees,

But rather how people will react to your blackness

And understand what it could mean.

Because once you’re seen as a threat,

Be careful.

I dare not make the slightest wrong move that I’ll regret.

 

We’re in a constant struggle for equality and justice for all

And when athletes use their platform to raise awareness,

They are told to shut up and dribble a ball.

 

They’re told that their protest is disrespecting our troops and veterans.

Instead of listening to the message,

People pay attention to the method,

They bring up the vets,

Because it gives them the luxury to disregard the unarmed black men that lay dead.

 

I mean no disrespect,

But let me be honest and ask,

About how our society operates,

That seems to be full of crass.

 

How often have you seen a homeless vet and gave them a dollar?

Yeah, some may act strange and holler

But that’s just the PTSD that we forget to recognize and acknowledge.

How many times do you walk by

And not crack a smile?

How often do you pretend you don’t see them on the street?

As you casually step over them beneath your feet,

While they’re begging because they have no money to eat

Don’t tell me,

Show me what you truly believe.

 

Do we really care about veterans?

We say one thing and do another,

As crowds chant U-S-A in pure rapture

But support a president that says,

“I don't think John McCain was a war hero because he was captured.”

 

I’ll never understand it.

Like white privilege,

If you don’t believe it exist,

Just look at our politics.

What if Barack Obama had an affair with a porn star and lied about it?

 

The president acts in a way no parent would ever want their child to

Name calling, online bullying,

Or making fun of a handicap reporter,

Maybe he’s right when he said,

“I can shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose a single supporter.”

 

We are supposed to be The Land of the Free

And Home of the Brave

But when it comes to immigrants,

We become afraid.

 

Of the “other”

Of what we don’t know,

Of what’s different,

When I hear “Make America Great Again”

I can’t help but to think going back to our original sin.

 

I think about my mom--an immigrant.

Who came to this country for a better life

Pays her taxes and works hard everyday

Just so she can put clothes on my back,

Food on my plate,

And a smile on my face.

 

A Better life for their families,

That's really all immigrants want

But is met with hostility

From a man that says,

"Build A Wall and I'll drain the swamp!"

 

They say, "If you don't like it--leave!"

Forgetting that they brought my ancestors here,

Forced them to work like sheep,

This country had become a part of them and me.

True patriotism isn't about agreeing with everything you see.

True patriotism is wanting to change the country for the better,

So that everyone can be free.

 

#Peace&Love

 

Reject

I held this story in for so long. But I decided to let it all out. So here it goes. I remembered when I was a senior in high school...and wasn’t able to get in college.

I was always petrified at the thought of “going off to college.” First of all, what does that even mean? It sounded like I was going to be shipped off to some weird, obscure, foreign wasteland where I would have to survive all on my own. Well…I guess I wasn’t exactly too far off.

In high school I always hated talking about college. When someone asked me where I wanted to go to school, I freaked out. What was I going to say? Then once I said some random school that I pulled from (you know where) then they would follow up by asking, “So what are you going to major in? What do you want to do?” What?? Me lying to you on where I wanted to go to school wasn’t enough for you? This is too much pressure. I can’t even decide what I want to eat for lunch...how am I supposed to tell you what I want to do for the rest of my life? So I always made something up in order to sound like I had my life somewhat together. Fake it, til you make it.

But why did I fear college so much? It took me a while to finally admit this to myself...I never thought I was good enough. Or smart enough. I didn’t think college was somewhere I could thrive. And because there is a strong emphasis in society on getting a college degree, it only intensified my fears.

Because of my fear of college and not being “good enough”, I avoided it all together (as long as I could at least.) I didn’t really start applying until second semester of my senior year...around February or March (late, yes I know.)

I remembered looking at my phone at a track meet. I checked my email and there it was! An acceptance email from Georgia College! I was so excited! I jumped up and screamed. I remembered telling my dad, my mom, and my siblings. I told my cousins, friends, teachers, coaches, Mrs. Willcox (my college counselor), and my most importantly, my dog. The whole world knew that Trey Christopher Young was going to be a college man! Everyone was so proud of me. But for once, I was proud of myself. It gave me validation. 

About a week or so later I was still in wonderland. The excitement was still fresh. I started trying to figure out where on campus I was going to live, roommates, summer classes, etc. I checked my email. I saw I had another email form Georgia College. Man I could definitely get used to this! I opened it up and it was from an administrator. She told me that my acceptance email I received was a mistake and that I was really not accepted into Georgia College. She told me that “I did not meet their standards.”

My world came crashing down. I read it about twenty times...hoping my eyes were just lying to me. Each time my vision became more and more blurry as tears overwhelmed my eyes. I didn’t want to believe what I was reading. This can’t be happening. My fear of not being good enough--was becoming all too real.

The hardest part about about it wasn’t necessarily that I got reject. Yes, that was extremely painful, but it wasn’t the hardest part to deal with. The hardest part was going home that day...I had to face my parents and tell them that I really wasn’t accepted into college.

The shame...the embarrassment…and the complete and utter humiliation—is something I struggle putting into words. I felt like I disappointed my parents. All I ever wanted was them to be proud of me...and yet again, I let them down.

Telling my parents, friends, coaches, and teachers that I really got rejected made me want to go in hiding forever. How can I even show my face at school anymore? At Deerfield we have a hallway by the senior lockers and above is a small flag of colleges around the country. Our names were placed next to the college that we were accepted to. My name still excluded. It never made it on the wall.

My pride and any strand of confidence that I had was ripped from me. This experience put me in pretty deep depression and caused a lot of anxiety that I somehow managed hide from the outside world. I had to act as if everything was okay...that nothing phased me. Letting people see me visibly vulnerable was not an option. Remember, “Fake it, till you make it Trey.”

What made things worse was that when I found out that wasn’t accepted, it was mid to late April. Not much time to form a backup plan. As I was walking to receive my diploma at graduation, I still was completely lost. All of my amazing and incredibly smart* peers were ready to start a new chapter in their lives. But me—I still wasn’t accepted in a college. I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was just an overall train wreck.

Luckily, North Georgia decided to accept me at the 11th hour—in mid June. After they accepted me, I decided to keep the email that I got from Georgia College. I looked at it almost daily. I used it as motivation to thrive. I wanted to prove to them (and myself) that I am worthy.

In a weird, and almost inexplicable way, looking at that rejection email became therapeutic. Yes—I know—weird. But it made me want to prove myself so much that it pushed me everyday from that point on. It became more beneficial than anything.

So much so that it made me crazy enough to think I could get an internship position on Capitol Hill. Although, I did fear of getting rejected from that too, I tried to think more about “Forget about them saying no...what if they say yes.” And sure enough, they said yes.

And currently I am fortunate enough to be a summer intern for President Obama’s former speechwriter and New York Times best selling author, David Litt (Don’t worry, I’m heading back to school in August.)

At the time, I thought my world was over when I got accepted then rejected from Georgia College—particularly a college that I was more than interested in attending. I vividly remember the pain, sadness, and the humiliation that came with it. But in retrospect, it actually helped me in many ways. It taught me how to overcome adversity. It helped me grow. I started reading more. It made me try harder. To do better. To be better.

Les Brown once said, “Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” I believe that now. So what if a school or someone doesn't think I meet "their standards." Fine, I can be great somewhere else. The only thing that matters is how you see yourself.

 

P.S. I did not write this to smear or defame Georgia College and State University. I’m sure that Georgia College is a great school to attend that offer great opportunities and a quality learning environment. I wrote this piece to simply to reflect on how I overcame rejection and failure.

Keep Your Coins, I Want Change

Mother Teresa once said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

I went to Walmart not too long ago. I was doing my regular grocery shopping while I was talking to my mom on the phone. Then I noticed a woman and a young girl approach me from the corner of my eye. She said, “Can you please help me and my daughter. We are going through some hard times right now and I just need some help feeding her. Can you please spare anything you have?”

I remember the look on her pale, but flushed face. She looked defeated. Embarrassed. And ashamed...ashamed because she was begging for help from some stranger in front of her young daughter. 

I also remember the look on her daughter’s face. She had rosey cheeks, light brown hair, and she stared at me with her big brown eyes...as if I was a giant. She couldn’t have been over four or five years old.

I ended the call with my mom and after weighing a couple of options I suddenly decided to go the ATM in the Walmart. And to be honest...as I was withdrawing $20 from the machine, I couldn’t help but to think, “I hope I’m not getting scammed. Am I just being naive here?” 

I still gave her the money...hoping and praying she was going to really use that money for the right reason. She said “God Bless You” and the little girl softly said “Thank You.” We both went our separate ways in the store.

I called my mom back to tell her about what happened as I was finishing up my grocery shopping. About 10 minutes later, I saw the woman and her child from a short distance. They didn’t see me, but I saw them. I saw the woman getting bread, a ham, and some water. I also noticed that the woman was wiping her eyes as she was getting her things. She was crying. 

When I got home, that experience made me think about poverty on a deeper level. Often times, people will tell me, “Don’t give cash to poor people. You may be feeding whatever addiction they may have.” As I initially get that sentiment...but what if you’re actually feeding them with food and not some kind of “addiction”? 

I remember when I was walking with a friend one day and they told me, “I never give poor people money. They’ll just spend it on alcohol.” I said, “Well that’s what you’re going to spend your money on later on tonight...so why judge the homeless man?”

Again, I completely understand that sentiment. I get it. And if you still don’t feel comfortable giving people money, I get that too. But I’m willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Is that naive of me...yeah, maybe. But it doesn’t always have to be so black and white. Poverty isn’t so simplistic as people try to make it out to be. It’s not like all poor people are in the position they’re in because they’re some kind of “addict” or simply “lazy.” So before we simply be dismissive to the idea of giving poor people money...just maybe reconsider it.

People can be poor and homeless for a variety of reasons...whether it be because lack of affordable housing, mental illness, lost their job, born into poverty, (which one has absolutely no control over) or lack of a living wage.

Speaking of lack of a living wage...let’s address how we spit in the faces of our teachers. You know, the same people who take care of our kids for about 7 hours a day...the same ones who are obligated to be role models and mentors, provide necessary discipline but balance that with motivation to do better, offer support and encouragement, help mold and shape our minds, educate kids for their future—and oh yeah—another requirement recently was added to the job description—be ready to “take out” a gunman who enters the school seeking to carry out a massacre (Whew...that’s a lot for one person.)

But yet we pay those same people nickels and dimes as they buy their own school supplies and then expect them to be okay with it. It’s sad how it’s gotten to the point where strikes have taken place in states like Oklahoma, Arizona, West Virginia, Colorado, and many other places. 

By asking for the best resources for our schools can afford, up to date school equipment/textbooks, better funded schools, with a decent living wage for our teachers—somehow makes you “entitled.”

Now I’m sure that teachers don’t sign up for the job thinking “oh I’m going to be a millionaire.” But at the same time I’m sure they don’t expect to struggle as much as they are either.

Why do I bring up teachers? Because the woman was one.

Before I left the store, as I was about to cross the street to head home, she caught up with me. As tears streamed down her eyes, she thanked me again and told me that she was a public school teacher at a failing public elementary school. When the school closed down she said she took a leap of faith, by taking a 5 hour bus ride to DC, staying at a shelter, but hoping for another teaching opportunity in the area.

This is another form of injustice. Poverty itself is a form of injustice. The way we treat our teachers is a form of injustice.

“Sometimes I want to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it...but I am afraid He might just ask me the same question.” 

 

We Have 99 Problems...Mass Shootings Are Definitely One.

Let’s be honest...are we really surprised? Are we really surprised that a madman was able to get his hands on an AR-15 and slaughter over a dozen kids in a school? If you are surprised, you simply have not been paying attention. As I sit here watching family members literally cry out for help is heartbreaking. One of the victim’s mother said on CNN, “I just spent the last two hours arranging my 14 year old daughter’s funeral.” This quote sent chills through my body…but my sadness quickly turned to frustration. Because there’s a pattern to this. We send thoughts and prayers, have our gun control debates on social media, and forget within two weeks.

I just have to ask you a question. Do we REALLY believe that mental health is the problem? Because almost exactly a year ago, President Trump rolled back former President Obama’s executive order that made it harder for people with a history of mental illness to purchase a gun. I don’t care if you’re an extreme liberal or a die hard Trump supporter...that action to roll back that executive order was monumentally stupid. And last time I checked, people who maintain the “mental illness” talking point remained silent when this action was taken.

Saying the shooting was a result of “mental illness” is cowardice. That’s not to say that mental illness isn’t a legitimate issue...because it is. But it’s starting to be used as an excuse for inaction. It’s another way of saying, “There nothing we could’ve done. The shooter was mentally ill.” I agree he was a mentally ill...But there’s NOTHING we could do? Hmmm...because what if the shooter was Mexican? Wouldn’t people be chanting “Build that Wall”? And God forbid he was a Muslim...the president would be working on banning them from the country. But since he was a white male, we kindly send our thoughts and prayers and go about our lives with this disingenuous attitude as if we can’t do something about it.

I’m in a state of confusion...especially those who pride themselves on being “pro-life.” My question is...where is your “pro-life” agenda now? How is that you’re so concerned with a fetus’s life but not the lives of kids in a school? Where’s the outrage? Where’s the concern of life? Because the only concern I see is about protecting the same guns that are capable of creating a massacre like the one we saw this past week.

Now the problem with the whole gun debate is that people tend to be simple-minded...on purpose. I’ve heard arguments like, “so let’s just ban knives and trucks because they can kill people too.” As I shake my head in frustration, I always find myself explaining why that doesn’t make any sense. First of all, unlike guns, trucks aren’t made to kill. Trucks are made to get you from point A to point B...to assist with transportation. Can they kill people? Of course. But I think it’s safe to say that a car or a truck’s primary purpose isn’t to mow over a crowd of people. And a knife is made for cutting food and other things. Can knives kill people? Again, of course. But a knife also can’t kill at the rate of an AR-15.

Speaking of, why do citizens need a military style weapons on the street anyway? I'm 20 years old. Let this idea simmer for a couple of seconds then please continue reading...I legally cannot buy a beer from the store down the street, but I can buy a weapon that can cause a massacre...there’s something off with that picture.

I’ve heard of solutions like, “let’s arm our teachers with guns.” I chuckle at the absurdity of that statement. Our teachers aren’t even given enough funding for paper and pencils...who’s going to arm all of them with a gun? Who knows, maybe the NRA? *knee slapper*

Over time, I’ve become somewhat of a cynic...specifically regarding guns. Think about it...we saw 20 first graders mercilessly gunned down at an elementary school...and even THAT wasn’t enough to do anything. Oh and not to mention, the 3 of the top 10 largest mass shooting in modern American history all happened within the past 4 months (let that simmer as well.) But because we have this thing called the National Rifle Association, that pay our elected politicians thousands and sometimes even millions of dollars, Congress remains paralyzed on this issue.

It’s easy to give up. In times like this, it's easy to be hopeless. But what gives me hope is that people who never spoke up are now speaking out. The tide is turning. People have had enough. We have to at least try to do something about this epidemic. This shouldn’t be the norm. It can't just start and end with condolences. And don’t get me wrong...as a Christian, sending thoughts and prayers to those in a state of mourning and grief is imperative. But it must be followed by action

#NEVERAGAIN

Confederate Statues

Thanks to Charlottesville, recently there has been a huge debate on whether we should or shouldn't remove Confederate statues. Honestly, I personally didn't care too much about Confederate statues. I just don't really think too much about them...until now. After studying on the issue for a while, I understand why people would want to take them down. We have to understand that these Confederate monuments were placed during the Jim Crow Era. They weren't placed to "preserve" American history, but rather to preserve the idea of white supremacy. The monuments were placed during the 1880s and 1890s in order to perpetuate intimidation toward newly freed slaves in the South.

But one might ask me, "Why do you want to erase history?" I thought a long time about that. But to me, it's not about erasing history...it's about not glorifying it. Just think about it...when you see a public monument, you're lead to believe that "I should be praising this historic figure." I mean they have a statue in a public area... they must've done something praiseworthy, right? (Although in modern America we do tend to reward bad behavior but that's another topic for another day) But context matters. What are we glorifying when we have Confederate monuments? Again it's not about erasing history.

Adolf Hitler was considered as one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. But we wouldn't think it would be acceptable to have a statue of someone who was willing to execute millions of people. So why do we find it acceptable having a statue of someone willing to kill thousands in order to preserve slavery? Denying the basic humanity of millions of people. Yes, I understand that we have monuments to help explain history. It also provides us actual visualization. But we don't keep segregated water fountains in public areas to "preserve history." Just because it's not physically there doesn't mean we're rewriting history.

But then one might say, "But when is it going to stop? Are we going to take down Jefferson and Washington statues down too?" First of all, taking down monuments is a slippery slope...but that's why try to we find and establish a moral footing so that we won't stumble and fall over.  It's important to have a conversation on what we honor in American society. Yes, Jefferson and Washington owned slaves...but their generative principles and ideas of what America should stand for were utilized by different minority groups for equal and civil rights.

On the other hand, people like Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis fought in order to undermine and destroy those same principles. I'm all for museums. We have a 9/11 museum (which is amazing by the way) because it was significant to our nation, to our history, and to our culture. Here's an analogy...just pretend 9/11 represented slavery and Osama bin Laden represented a Confederate General. Yeah, we all can acknowledge that bin Laden was on the wrong side of history...but would you want a public statue of him because you feared of "erasing" history?

An Open Letter To Donald Trump

Charlottesville

      Dear Mr. President,

Martin Luther King once said, ”The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.” But you sir, didn’t remain neutral...but rather went a step further in order to defend and side with the face of evil. What you said in your press conference was a middle finger to the face of every American. It looked like it was painful for you to read your initial, scripted statements. It almost seemed as if someone held a gun to your head and threatened to kill your presidency unless you officially came out and denounce bigotry. You immediately said that "many sides" were to blame for the tragedy that took place in Charlottesville. Correction: There was only ONE side to blame. That side were the white supremacists. What other side was there? Jews? Hispanics? Heather Heyer? Me? What I witnessed this past weekend was an attack on everything what our country is suppose to stand for...freedom, justice, and equality. I was watching armed Neo-Nazis and KKK members parading on the streets with torches while chanting hateful slogans. How can you possibly put Nazis and people who were protesting against Nazism on the same moral plane? The people that came out to protest against these white nationalists are the true patriots of this country. As civil Americans, we may not always like how groups like ANTIFA or BLM go about promoting their message with occasional violence. But seeing that as a 19 year old black male gave me some encouragement, or at least a piece of mind to know that there are still people out there that are willing to stand up and fight for me and other minorities in this country. The fact that you can say that there were “good people” on both sides is disgusting and repulsive to American values that we hold dear.  You said that “all of them weren’t white supremacist.” But how can one genuinely call himself a decent, moral person if they choose to march the streets with Neo-Nazis and KKK members? This constant wink, nods, and dog whistles ultimately emboldened the worst kind of people in America. By not expressing clear criticism, you enable the actions of hatred and bigotry. There has been a resurgence of overt racism not just in Charlottesville, but in America. After your initial statements, these white nationalist were praising your words. The Daily Stormer (a Neo-Nazi website) stated, “Trump’s comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. He said he loves us all. Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalist supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God Bless him.” This writer from the Daily Stormer was right...no condemnation or specificity. Evidently, there was something wrong with your statements...and the fact that you didn’t feel compelled to correct this obvious misstep makes you complicit. At your press conference on Tuesday you were asked more questions about the matter. When asked why you waited so long you said, “I wanted to wait for the facts.” To quote OutKast, “Me and you and your momma and your cousin too” all know that's a blatant lie. You’ve never waited or had any regard for facts before jumping to your own conclusions. You stated former President Barack Obama wasn’t born in this country. You claimed that Barack Obama “wiretapped” you. You said three million people voted illegally. Just a quick question...if this was a Muslim that drove his car in a crowd full of people, would you have waited for the facts? Would you have said, “We condemn hatred on many sides”? Or would you be strongly denouncing radical Islamic terrorists? You’ve never been shy when it comes to denouncing someone. You’ve denounced actors like Meryl Streep, news host like Mika Brzezinski, your own attorney general, and we’re constantly reminded of your disapproval of the media on a daily basis. So how are you uncharacteristically silent...or at the very least hesitant, to denounce white supremacists? It seems that you don’t understand  the gravitas of this situation. The office of the presidency is also supposed to serve as the moral authority of this country. You’re suppose to represent all Americans. It’s a shame that I have to look to Heather Heyer’s mother for words of healing at her own daughter’s memorial service. You love golf...condemning Neo-Nazis and white supremacists should have been an easy birdie putt, but somehow you find yourself finishing with a triple bogey. Sir, you failed. During the campaign, you asked me, “What do you have to lose?” My answer...everything.