Books, Trump, and the “inner city”

About three years ago, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenéz was looking to make room in the annual budget by closing down 22 public libraries; next thing you knew, town halls were packed with angry Miamians, the Miami New Times was writing about it, and WLRN (our local NPR station) was reporting on it. The public outrage was so strong that the mayor removed closing any libraries from the budget proposal altogether.

If you don’t go to libraries regularly, it’s easy to forget or be unaware of how imperative they are to the success of a community. Public libraries are known for their impact in improving children’s education, lowering crime rates, and reducing unemployment in their respective areas. The library I grew up going to was (and continues to be) filled with children, teenagers, college students, adults, and retirees. The Miami-Dade public library system has community enrichment classes and activities like resume writing, music lessons, computer and computer software lessons, chess tournaments, and tutoring. Imagine the enormous impact libraries like these could have on a child whose parents can’t afford a book, an instrument, a chess set, or a computer. A library has the potential to totally change the life of someone like that.

Something similar to what happened in Miami-Dade is happening now: President Trump’s federal budget proposal removes federal library funding from the budget. Trump wants to cut all funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services ($231 million), which provides money to the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums, and he wants to cut funding from other sources of library funding like the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. For a President who talks a lot about building up the “inner city,” he’s doing a lot of damage to it. How much harder will this make it for low-income communities to progress without the basic tools a library provides for an individual to succeed?

I’ve been going to the library since I can remember–from the Children’s floor, to the young adult fiction section, to the french audiobooks in the multimedia section, to the Neuroscience atlas on the non-fiction wall– the public library has shaped me in unique ways that the internet alone never could. Walking through rows of books, stumbling upon a title I liked, and flipping through the pages before deciding to check something out–that’s how I learned about myself and the world.

Have you ever been to a public library? How have libraries helped you become who you are today? Tell me about your experience!

Check out these beautiful libraries around the world.

Trump’s Playground: Feb 20-March 20

Executive Orders:

  • Second Muslim Banthis article clearly outlines the big differences between the first and second travel bans
  • Light initiative to improve historically black colleges – seemingly well-intentioned order that could’ve been better if year-round pell grants would’ve been granted for students, critics say. This order is more rhetoric than action.
  • Dismantling of Clean Water Rule – the Clean Water Rule was intended to identify bodies of water that could be drinking water for the people of the United States so that these waters could be protected by the Clean Water Act of 1972.

  • Reorganizing the Executive Branch – this orders cabinet secretaries to present a plan to the president on how to restructure the agency they lead.

In the news:

Quirky finds on Etsy

Hey! I’ve been sick for the last week (still am). Sorry for being absent! I hope you enjoy this simple post.

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Ceramic Cat Planter for $27.25

This cat planter caught my eye. It’s weird and adorable.

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Sloth bowl for $21.80

I want this to put my keys in.

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Sushi earrings for $16.29

These earrings are original and fun. The shop they come from, Shiny Stuff Creations, has other similar food stuff earrings and keychains.

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Avocado Keychain set for $16.29

I want this to share the other half with my sister. We both love avocados and we’re best friends so it’s perfect.

I’m surprisingly into pins lately (I thought I gave this up in 2003).

Four Stars & Up: Monthly Favorites

Book: KAHLO by Andrea Kettenmann

This is a short biographical book that chronicles Frida Kahlo’s life, ideologies, and relationships by describing her paintings. Although she lived a tragic life, she had tremendous Mexican pride and a sweet relationship with her father (who was a great mentor to her as an artist). You can read this book in one sitting or you can you can read 3-4 pages a day for a month to finish it. This is such an enjoyable book that I recommend extending your reading experience of it as much as possible.

My subjects have always been my sensations, my states of mind and the profound reactions that life has been producing in me.
-Frida Kahlo

TV Show: The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, directed by Ryan Murphy, Anthony Hemingway, and John Singleton and based on the non-fiction book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin

This show tells the story of the “trial of the century” and has been praised for the spectacular job the directors, writers, and actors did with conveying the courtroom atmosphere, political climate, and facts surrounding this case. I watched several post-trial interviews about this case after watching this show and I continue to be fascinated with what happened during this trial. I’m thinking about reading Marcia Clark’s book Without a Doubt and If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer by Pablo Fenjves & (purportedly) O.J. Simpson.

Movie: Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele

This movie received a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Jordan Peele has said that Get Out was an idea in the making since Obama was elected President in 2008. This movie is so thought-provoking and debuts with perfect timing as it parallels (sadly) rising racial tensions in the U.S. Get Out is definitely a must-see.

Recipe: Coconut & Lemon Zest Vegan Donuts by ConnoisseurusVeg

Best.donuts.ever.Even my sister’s non-vegan (borderline anti-vegan) fiancé loved these. I had to add about an extra 1.5 cups of powdered sugar to the icing to get it to my desired consistency.

ExperienceRussian National Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake

I saw this at the Parker Playhouse Theatre in Fort Lauderdale. It was such a good time! I hadn’t been to a ballet since I was 14. I’d like to see a flamenco-themed ballet next.

The Environmental Vegan

The world’s leading cause of climate change is animal agriculture, an industry contributing more than 51% of greenhouse gas emissions (a conservative estimate).

Beef is a huge product among consumers, and the love affair Americans have with the industry valued it at $60 billion (in the U.S. alone) in 2015. There is a financial incentive to perpetuate this environmental and health hazardous industry and discredit facts presented by its opposers to maintain the industry’s foothold at the nuclear family’s dinner table. Our consumption of these animals is continuing to enrich this $60 billion industry while we, the consumers, harm our health and our environment.

As you may know, many vegans and vegetarians choose their diets for different reasons, the environment being one of those reasons.  The environmental vegan refuses to accept and contribute to an industry that exists in the environmentally irresponsible way that the animal agriculture industry does. The facts below are some of the environmental reasons vegans and vegetarians choose to refrain from contributing to the animal agriculture industry, thereby “voting with their dollars” against it.

Quick facts about animal agriculture and climate change (Sources: Cowspiracy Documentary, this article):

  • The methane produced by cows in the animal agriculture industry is 86 times more destructive than CO2 in its contribution to climate change
  • Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day
  • Livestock contributes 65% of all nitrous oxide greenhouse gas emissions
  • Nitrous oxide is almost 300 times more destructive than CO2

What if we all changed our diets for the better? (Sources: this research paper, this article)

  • If everyone ate a vegetarian diet, emissions would fall by 44 percent ($973 billion savings in health costs)
  • If everyone ate a vegan diet, emissions would fall by 55 percent ($1 trillion savings in health costs)

So what could it mean for humans if we chose a diet that would be better for our health and our environment? We could live longer, healthier lives and we could have an environment capable of sustaining our extended lifetimes.

Climate change is no longer a problem of the future. The future is here and it’s us– it’s how you and me and everyone else decides to shape it. As soon as 2050, much of our land above sea-level is predicted to be below it. That means that there will be no Miami Beach for me to spend my retirement in (I don’t know about you but I don’t want to lose that view).

Two important documentaries on the subject of climate change and the animal agriculture industry’s contribution to it are Before the Flood and Cowspiracy. I recommend these to anyone who has an interest in knowing the scope of humanity’s impact on the health of the planet.

Informative, easy-to-read articles on this subject from Vegan and Conservation websites:

Can Veganism Save The Planet?

The World’s Leading Driver of Climate Change: Animal Agriculture

What If The Whole World Went Vegan?

 

Living in a bubble

Miami is one of the few cities in the United States where I am not considered a minority. Nearly everyone here is Latino-American or Hispanic-American. There’s a big community of Haitian-Americans, Chinese-Americans, and Arab-Americans on this little corner of the Florida peninsula. People from all over the world live in this city and I can honestly say that I have never once experienced overt racism or racial profiling here. I didn’t even know about ethnic slurs and insults toward latinos until I was in my late teens.

Now, I can’t tell if the incidents of racism that have been increasingly reported on the news speaks of a malignant majority or a vocal minority in the United States (I hope it is the latter), but it is concerning either way. In 2011, I traveled to Paris, Virginia on an animal rights trip. We stayed in a small town that had a confederate cemetery and mostly old people. On our third day there, me and some animal rights activists (sorry for breaking a grammar rule but that’s how I wanted to write it😂 ) were racially profiled– the first time ever for me. We were greeted at 9 in morning by two cops asking us why we were there, if we had any identification on us, and what our social security numbers were. It was a bizarre and uncomfortable experience to be made felt an outsider inside a country I was born in and my parents immigrated legally into, especially since we had done nothing but help animals since we got there.

Surprisingly, I’d never thought about my skin color until that year (and I wasn’t aware that many people view hispanics as a race, not an ethnicity). Sure, I’d thought about racism and xenophobia, but I’d never thought about how I fit into that narrative, and I was naïve in the sense that, until I experienced it myself, I thought about it as a thing of the past. It is an incredible privilege to exist as the majority in any place (unless you lived in the South Africa Apartheid), and that is the bubble I’d lived in my entire life in Miami, as a part of the majority. Here, I can speak Spanish without worrying about comments like “learn English (English and Spanish are my first languages)” or “go back to Mexico (I’m not Mexican).” Here, I’m not subject to racial profiling or racial slurs because I am part of the dominant “race.” Traveling to a place where (for the first time) I was a minority was an eyeopening experience and if it’s something you’ve never done, I think it’s an important experience that you should give yourself.

Have you ever experienced being a minority (maybe you’ve been a part of the minority your entire life)? What was it like? Was your experience negative or positive? I’d like to hear your stories!

Taking you online shopping with me

I love the print and oversized fit of this blouse.

Koi Fish Shirt from Zara for $49.90

I found this in the men’s section but I might just buy it for myself. It reminds me of the Miami Marlins and even though I’m not a baseball fan, I like how it reminds me of home.

Hooded Swordfish Print Jacket from Forever21 for $26.99

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I’ve thrifted for mom jeans and high-waisted shorts before, but they never quite fit the way I want them to. It might be time to buy brand new jeans.

Mom Jeans from Urban Outfitters for $79

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This shirt has a nice bowling-silk pajama-greaser inspired look that I quite enjoy.

Bad Luck Greaser Shirt for Lazy Oaf for $68

I probably won’t buy any of these items. I have a window shopping problem. I’ll fill up my shopping cart with all sorts of things, then close the window and act like none of it ever happened. 😂  I can’t be alone in this. Please comment if you’re a shopping cart deserter like me, or if you like any of the items in this post! Thanks for reading 🙂