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:

Trump’s Playground: Jan 20-Feb 20

If you follow the news you know it’s been a hectic month in the United States. Trump’s presidency has been riddled with protests, controversies, and a cascade of executive orders. I’ll be writing one of these posts every month with links to the “news highlights” of that month that relate to the President, his cabinet, and his orders.

Executive Orders

Total of 11 executive orders (if you don’t count the Muslim ban since federal courts ruled against it).

Big Stories

Silencing the EPA

Sean Spicer scolds the media during his first press conference

Kellyanne Conway coins the term “alternative facts”

Federal appeals court rules against the Muslim Ban 

Kellyanne Conway cites Bowling Green Massacre that never happened

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigns over conversations with Russian ambassador 

Trump advisor Stephen Miller turns hype-man

Trump tells Netanyahu to “hold off on settlements for a bit”  Trump says he can live with a one-state or two-state solution in Israeli-Palestinian deal

Trump scolds reporter for asking about claims that his campaign spurred anti-Semitism

Trump makes Sweden terror comment

Illegal Immigration into the U.S.

People don’t come here illegally because they want to break the law, they come here illegally because it’s the only way they can in their desperate situation (meaning waiting X amount of years isn’t an option). Illegal immigrants pay thousands of dollars to get here (that they would contribute to the U.S. if there was an avenue for that)…they don’t just walk in here…there are people along the way who they have to pay and there are risks to their lives that they take just to be here. Instead of building a wall on taxpayer dollars (especially given that the majority of taxpayers did not vote for President Trump), build an immigration system that works (immigrants made, and continue to make, this country great). To those criminalizing immigrants, how do you think America was made? You think they asked the Native Americans for permission? You want to criminalize immigrants in search for a better life, start with the ones in your U.S. history book.

How I Dealt With A Boss From Hell

In January of last year, I took a job that taught me a lot about interpersonal relationships, office politics, and how to deal with an alcoholic for a boss.

Within the first week at this company, my boss was already bad-mouthing employees in front of me, asking me (at noon) if I wanted to join him for a shot of whiskey, and speaking disparaging things about women, arabs, and black people in casual conversation (he believes racial/ethnic slurs are only politically incorrect). Within a couple of months, he was bad-mouthing me to the CEO’s daughter, inviting my interns to the bar after work, and aggressively endorsing Trump at company events. I’d had other bosses before so I knew what it meant to be professional. This guy was a real piece of work.

Luckily, this person was only the boss I directly reported to, so there was a hierarchy above him that I could approach concerning his behavior. Here are some tips on how to deal with a boss like this.

  1. Take them to lunch. Why would you want to take someone like this out to lunch? If they’re behaving this way, it could just be that there’s something going on in their personal lives. Try to create a respectful work relationship (since they couldn’t) and show them that you’re on their side. This may not work but it’s worth a try.
  2. Keep record. If your boss tells you to change something on an assignment or do something other than what you should be working on, ask them to send you an email request. If they deny the email request, notify your boss, your team, and relevant higher ups via email that you’ll momentarily be working on a different assignment or changing the project at hand. If your boss’s decision ends up being questioned by their boss, they won’t be able to blame it on you (I learned this the hard way).
  3. Set boundaries. If they start talking about subjects that are unprofessional or make you uncomfortable, politely redirect the conversation. If they continue circling back to these topics, tell them you don’t like discussing those topics at work.
  4. Don’t drink with them. It took me a month to figure out my boss was an alcoholic. Before this, I’d joined him and the team out for drinks after work a few times to get to know them. While it’s definitely okay to grab drinks with coworkers every once in a while, my boss did this at least twice a week in addition to his showing up to work hungover and drinking on the job. If you notice that your boss is a alcoholic, don’t participate in drinking behaviors with them. If they ask you to go for drinks, ask them for coffee or tea instead.
  5. Address the problem. Chances are, the both of you know there’s tension between you. Schedule a meeting with your boss and HR to talk about it. If things don’t improve or if they worsen (as it worsened in my case), schedule a meeting with your boss’s boss (or a relevant authority to whom you both report to/hold meetings with). Do not invite the boss who is giving you trouble to this meeting. I had this meeting with my boss’s boss (he was always in our team meetings and we already had a professional and friendly relationship). While the meeting didn’t help to improve my direct boss’s behavior, it did change who my direct boss was. I no longer had to report to the disrespectful boss because his boss changed the office hierarchy so that we both had to report to him.

As you can imagine, this change really bothered my now former boss. He became more erratic and drank even more. The situation at the company wasn’t really changing so I began looking for a job that allowed me to work remotely until I started medical/law school (I had taken this managing position after graduating university and was using it to fill time while I decided between medical school and law school). I’ll be starting law school in the fall and am very grateful for the time I spent at that company. I learned a lot about how to deal with people (terrible bosses in particular) and I know that it will be invaluable to me in the future.

Petty Politics

My dad is an old school Cuban; born right before the Cuban Revolution of 1959, he witnessed enough crimes committed by the Castro Regime to despise anything that resembles communism. My great grandfather immigrated to Cuba from Catalonia, Spain in the late 1800s, my grandfather built on the work of his father, and my father was destined to do the same. But as a child, my dad had to watch as the Castro Regime took his family’s businesses, lands, and any surplus my grandparents and great grandparents had ever worked for and distributed it to people who hadn’t earned it. My dad had to watch as the Castro militia murdered by firing squad anyone who opposed the revolutionaries. As a result, my dad had nothing but grit to his name when he left Cuba in the early eighties (grit that you can still see today). When he arrived to America he saw the land of opportunity and the chance to rebuild a legacy the way my great grandfather did when he had arrived in Cuba from Spain. My dad, by all accounts, achieved the American Dream and he is the perfect example of what it means to be a hard-worker and to put family first.

Back when my dad emigrated from Cuba to the U.S., the U.S. president was Ronald Reagan. Reagan was an anti-communist roast master and a champion for amnesty and immigration; that combination was all it took to make my dad a loyal Republican for decades to come. In 2007, my dad voted for John McCain (in spite of his VP pick) who is one of the most stand-up, honorable republicans I’ve had the pleasure to watch; I’m a registered Independent, and while I don’t agree with everything the republicans (or democrats) believe, I know a decent human being when I see one.

John McCain was the last presidential nominee my dad voted for who was a republican.

If you ask my dad why he doesn’t vote republican anymore he’ll tell you it’s because there aren’t any decent republicans running against the democrats for the oval. My dad has an immeasurable amount of respect for the office of the president and he finds it impossible to stand behind any person or party that doesn’t hold the office of the president to the same high standard. While both parties can be “petty,” one party outdoes the other in pettiness (the republicans were staunch against helping the Obama administration make changes, and are now staunchly silent at the Trump administration’s serious faults).

I want to see a lot of changes in Washington, and if the next four years serve only to make the condition of Washington worse, then I have hope that within the next ten years we can see it get that much better. I know that our government can work, but we need to elect people who will fight for everyone and do so with integrity. And that starts with us, the voters. That means hearing each other out, that means compromise, that means meeting somewhere in the middle, that means respect, that means no name-calling. I really can’t wait to see a Reagan or McCain type of Republican run for president. Those are the kind of republicans who respect the oval and respect the American people. Until then, my dad and I are voting blue.

On The Muslim Ban

“I am in love with every church
And mosque
And temple
And any kind of shrine
Because I know it is there
That people say the different names
Of the One God.”
— Hafiz
We are a nation founded on religious freedom. We are a nation of immigrants. The Muslim ban is not only morally wrong, it is unconstitutional, illegal, and un-American.