Blog - NJ7 Citizens for Change

Colorism - You’re pretty for a dark girl. (Part 2)

[Click here to read Part 1] Messages from Media We cannot underestimate the tremendous power of advertising and media to influence our perceptions and standards of beauty, particularly images in magazines, music videos, TV shows, and movies. Not only is there power in advertising and media, there is also great thought given by people who study how to get consumers to respond to an image. Research has shown over time and from the testimonies of people I’ve worked with, most of the images seen on television hold lighter skinned people in higher esteem than darker skinned people. Because of this messaging, many people hold lighter skinned people in high esteem and aspire to be lighter. This aspiration manifests itself in skin bleaching. Globally, one of the most popular products is skin-bleaching cream. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on skin bleaching products every year all across the world because of the idea that lighter skin is to be preferred over darker skin.
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President’s Day - In the Year of Unprecedented Deception

This week we celebrate President’s Day. Let’s reflect upon how far we have fallen from the ideals of Washington and Lincoln in the person of the present incumbent of the White House.  George Washington famously could not tell a lie. Donald Trump cannot tell the truth.  He is a reflexive liar. In 2018, “a year of unprecedented deception,” Mr. Trump averaged 15 false claims a day. The border imbroglio provides a perfect example.  The President chose El Paso to hold a rally trumpeting the success of a wall in reducing violent crime in that city, an assertion vigorously contradicted by locals, including the Republican mayor, who pointed out that the county's violent crime rate dropped 62 percent from 1993 to 2007, and that a fence wasn't installed until 2008. The Presidential response?  "I don’t care if a mayor is a Republican or a Democrat, they’re full of crap when they say it hasn’t made a big difference."   Which brings us to Abraham Lincoln. He brought into his Cabinet every strain of thought opposed to his own - his Team of Rivals. President Trump cannot even keep together a team of self-serving sycophants. Personal loyalty is valued over loyalty to the Office, dissent is not tolerated, simpering expressions of adulation are expected. Little wonder that the Cabinet and his government are riddled with vacancies. There is no honor to be gained by serving in this administration.  Lincoln was probably the finest writer to ever hold the office of president. The Gettysburg address and his Inaugural addresses contain the highest expressions of American ideals.  But President Trump does not summon “the better angels of our nature”, nor with “malice towards none” seek to “bind the nation’s wounds.”  Those he disagrees with are “full of crap.” His message is one of division, hatred and mistrust.  The greatest service we can do to the legacy of Washington and Lincoln is to work to make sure Trump is a one term President.  In that way, we can help ensure that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
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A Diversity Deficit in New Jersey Schools

PHOTO: Hazel Bryan, one of the nine black students to attend Little Rock, Arkansas' Central High School in 1957 after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that "separate but equal" segregated schools were unconstitutional. Photo by Ira Wilmer Counts, Jr. As public school segregation increases, what are the consequences? According to a study published last year by the UCLA Civil Rights Project, nearly 50 percent of African-American students in New Jersey attend schools where less than 10 percent of the student body is white. And the typical white student attends a public school in which two-thirds of the population is Caucasian. Racial segregation is not a problem that exists only in the past. Despite widely documented progress in U.S. history to limit racism, studies suggest that segregation is still an issue in today’s world. Especially right here in the schools of New Jersey. Yes, it’s true.
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Workers Standing United is What Ended the Shutdown

Within minutes of the longest government shutdown in United States history coming to end on Friday, January 25th, the major media headlines in concert began to read: “Trump lost, Pelosi wins.” Even a hashtag (#PelosiWins) began to trend on Twitter.While we can give credit to the Democrats in Congress for holding out from providing a single penny or capitulating to anything else ‘in the name of bipartisanship’ to appease a Trump-tantrum, the major media narrative misses much of the actual story as well as an opportunity entirely to mobilize citizen activism.
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An Appeal for Law and Order and Common Sense

In 1963, Birmingham, Alabama found itself at the center of the Civil Rights Movement. Local black activists protested against Jim Crow laws and a decade of racially motivated bombings of the houses of black families who moved into new neighborhoods or were activists. Hoping to de-escalate ricing tensions, a group of local religious leaders wrote a public letter, "An Appeal for Law and Order and Common Sense."
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Colorism - You’re pretty for a dark girl.

It's been said that if President Barack Obama were a dark-skinned black man, he would not have been elected president. This is debatable to some while others believe it wholeheartedly. In comedy circles, President Obama is referred to as someone who had the complexion for the protection and the connection. The idea that there is prejudice or discrimination, often among same-race people based solely on skin tone is called colorism. Essentially, it means that the lighter your skin tone, the prettier you are seen to be, the more value you are attributed, and the better you have it in life. It stems from the belief that beauty and desirability increase with the proximity to whiteness.
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The Bonfire of Our Values

 The Trump administration is a dumpster fire in which the primary victims of the conflagration are American values – the values that did indeed make America great. Without our vocal respect for the rule of law, for democratic institutions, for a free and open press, what distinguishes us from the oligarchs and despots large and small with whom our President feels most at ease? Without a clear distinction between the public interest and the profit motive, what distinguishes the U.S. from just another multinational corporation?  Trump sees the judiciary as a fiefdom, meant to do his bidding.  He has no qualms about asking the head of the FBI to lay off his friends; or to request the prosecution and persecution of political foes; or to criticize judges with whose decisions he disagrees; or to appoint a lickspittle lackey as interim AG to oversee the Mueller investigation.  Trump’s assaults on the press, and his use of the "fake news" mantra whenever it's convenient or politically expedient, are both used routinely by autocratic regimes to justify suppressing speech they don’t like. MBS could lay plans to murder and dismember a dissenting journalist with few qualms about the response from his most important ally, a calculation amply justified by Trump’s equivocation.  Trump has never made the slightest distinction between his political ambitions and the enrichment of both himself and his family. His long standing reliance on cash from both the Russians and the Saudis have clearly influenced his foreign policy outlook. Now we know that while making secret effortsfor the removal of sanctions on the Russians, he was simultaneously negotiating for Trump Tower Moscow, with Russian financing and a $50 million penthouse as a sweetener for Putin.  The public interest in our environment has been suborned to Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry, from slicing up the Bear Ears Monument, to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to offshore drilling, to dissing a 1600 page environmental assessment that highlights the catastrophic coming impact of climate change.  Think about this as we prepare to lay to rest #41,  former Republican President G.H.W. Bush. How far have the Presidency and the Republican party Fallen?  
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Sign Up for Healthcare- Know the Facts On Healthcare Insurance

  Open enrollment is underway. Here are important things to know: Open enrollment for all those covered by Individual Plans (non-employer) is Nov. 1st - Dec 15th. This is your opportunity to change your plan. All plans renew on January 1st. After December 15th there is no opportunity to buy or change your plan unless you experience a qualifying event (i.e. getting married, having a baby, or losing health coverage). Subsidized Plans – If, based on your income, you qualify for a subsidy through the ACA please visit the exchange website to renew or purchase a plan. Open enrollment dates and restrictions apply. Visit www.healthcare.gov NJ Individual Mandate - NJ passed legislation that requires all NJ residents to have health insurance in 2019 and beyond. The NJ mandate replaces the Federal mandate that was repealed by Congress in 2018 (for 2019). The NJ penalty applies to 2019. The Penalty – If you reside in NJ and do not have health insurance in place for 2019 the penalty is 2.5% of household income with a minimum of $695.00/adult and $347.50/child. Some good news! – Because of actions taken by NJ, most individual premiums are lower in 2019. Thank you NJ!
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NJ7 Youth Series : Your Future is on the Ballot

19.9%. That was the youth turnout rate for 18 to 29 year olds in the 2014 midterms: less than one in five qualified young voters voted.In 2018, we have to change that. Much like 2014, we are entering a midterm election, which receives lower publicity and turnout. However, these elections are incredibly important because they shape what our Congress, our state legislatures, and our governor’s mansion will look like in a few months. This year, 36 governors, 1⁄3 of our senators, all 435 House members, and thousands of local candidates from mayors to Board of Education members are running to represent you. These are the people who will craft policies that will affect our lives, maybe even for decades to come. They will appoint members of the Supreme Court who will be sitting on the bench for decades. They will decide who gets to vote in the future (and whether we repeal voter suppression laws, including Voter ID laws in North Dakota, exact-match laws in Georgia, and felony disenfranchisement in Florida). They will decide whether we’ll still have access to Social Security benefits when we retire. In short, they will decide our futures. That’s why if you’re 18 or above and are eligible to vote, you should vote! You contribute to our democracy and make it stronger. You choose the future that all of us will live in. You give politicians an incentive to listen to our voices, and tailor policies in our interest. If you’re under 18 or ineligible to vote, don’t despair! Sign up to find a proxy and ask them to vote on your behalf. As a young person, your voice still matters, and you still have a stake in our democracy. You can sign up here to increase turnout and make an impact: ​theproxyproject.net​. This election is not just another election. Political candidates are running, but they aren’t the only thing on the ballot. Family separation is on the ballot. Gun control is on the ballot. Gerrymandering and voter suppression are on the ballot. The Supreme Court is on the ballot. Social Security is on the ballot. Criminal justice is on the ballot. Reproductive rights are on the ballot.Our future is on the ballot.When Tuesday comes around, don’t forget the pain of families who were ripped apart at the border. Don’t forget the wildfires in California and the natural disasters spurred on by climate change. Don’t forget the assault on LGBTQ+ rights in America. Don’t forget the Muslim ban, the fear-mongering, the school shootings, the Paris Climate Accords, the “fine people” who chanted “Jews will not replace us,” the murder of Khashoggi, the Conference in Helsinki, the Parkland shooting, the black families who have lost their sons and daughters to police brutality that has been ignored and disregarded, and the millions more who are suffering today because of the policies of this administration. Channel your frustration, your pain, and your anger into action, and please, vote on November 6.   Find polling locations near you:https://www.rockthevote.org/voting-information/find-your-polling-place/ Check if you’re registered: ​https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/ Uber, Lyft, and public transportation agencies are offering free rides to the polls:https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2018/11/05/election-day-freebies-2018-free- rides-polls-and-other-deals/1884354002/   Bio: Ranen is a high school senior at Millburn High School who is passionate about politics, philanthropy, and public policy.
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Leonard the Lionheart Lays Low

  Hate is on the rise in our country. In the past week, we have seen the attempted assassination of 14 critics of the President; the killing of two black Americans by a man who first tried to force his way into an African-American church; and the slaughter by an avowed anti-Semite of 11 Jewish Americans who were praying together in their synagogue. Hate crimes are on the rise.  And the Anti Defamation League reports a 60% increase in anti Semitic incidents.  Is there anyone who does not believe that this rise in intolerance is emboldened by the incendiary comments of our President?  Since the earliest days of his campaign, he has rallied his supporters with divisive color-coded rhetoric, and has told them dissent should not be tolerated. “Knock the crap out of him, would you?  I’ll promise to pay your legal fees.” “I’d like to punch him in the face.” “Maybe he should have been roughed up.” The MAGA bomber went to some of those rallies.  What lesson did he absorb about Trump’s opponents?  When neo-Nazis marched under Nazi flags in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us”, we learned that some of them are “very fine people.” As Trump whips up fear of the raggletaggle band of asylum seekers heading to our borders, he emboldens those who believe Jewish billionaire George Soros is funding the marchers.  This, and the refugee settlement actions of theHebrew Immigrant Aid Society were enough to send a mass murderer to the Tree of Life synagogue.  The President knows what he is doing.  Rule #54 of his acolyte and advisor Roger Stone is that hatred is the most powerful motive incentivizing voters in US elections.  Trump plans to parlay hate into votes, even if the inevitable side effect is violence and an outpouring of anti-Semitism.  In all of this, he is facilitated by Republicans who see fear and hatred as their best hope of retaining their grip on Congress.  It is a dangerous game. They are riding a tiger they dare not dismount.  And the tiger is getting hungry.  And Leonard the Lionheart? Laying low.   #RememberinNovember #NJ07
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