Hate on display in Charlottesville


There’s no moral equivalence between the anti-fascists and the alt-right. There are people who saw this event for what it was, and there are people who want to lie to themselves.

What happen in Charlottesville, Virginia last week is not so farfetched in today’s political reality, seeing as how 45 has opened the door for white nationalists, the alt-right and other racists who support him. These groups are inside a warm pot, and at some point it was going to boil over. Days after, it was comforting to see the backlash they received, not only from activists who were present in their opposition, but also with the tearing down of confederate statues that followed, and the business community not playing along with 45’s moral equivalence between anti-fascists and the alt-right.

It was shocking to watch these hate groups in full display, not afraid of any repercussions for their actions. On Friday night, they went out with tiki torches chanting awful slogans. I checked twitter in the early hours of Saturday morning, and I was met with an onslaught of images: white men marching with torches, like it was the 1800s, except some were wearing white polo shirts and khaki pants. This was a poor attempt at conveying a clean, new look for the alt-right, neo-nazis of America, but they were clearly not fooling anyone with “their toned down” approach of “we’re fighting for our heritage.” The day brought out other hate groups that carried with them confederate and nazi flags, some sporting military outfits and guns. They went so far as to run over a group of protesters on the anti-fascist side, injuring many and killing a lady, who was white herself.

For anyone who was waiting for 45 to do the honorable thing and fully condemn these hate groups, has obviously not been awake for the last couples of months, or for the duration of the media’s obsession with 45. Stop waiting for a pivot. Sure, he can read teleprompters and pretend to be civil and cognizant of the facts, but those are not his words, as we saw the day he went off-script, and said there were some good people in the alt-right, neo-nazi side, and that they were there to oppose the removal of confederate statues. 45 has always been a racist; his actions and words reveal that. He’s too old and senile to change, so stop waiting.

The conversation needs to move to why young white men are adopting this radical ideology, some who are college-educated and seemingly well-off. People can try to use the economic argument, but there is a new crop of racists pretending they are fighting for white america and their “heritage,” since they believe they’re being replaced by minorities, but this stems from a belief that the white race is a superior one. I imagine these young men (I noticed from the photos many of them appeared to be in their 20s to 30s) gather in clandestine forums, posting hate speech and fake news, instilling a twisted reality on their consciousness. One that politicians are glad to use to their advantage, and ironically for the ruin of white-america. They are trying to take back America. I’m not sure from who? Since they have ancestors who immigrated to this country. They don’t own America. If anyone should claim ownership, it’s the Native Americans.

The online world has become the place for ego-driven fake news. hate speech, bots and trolls. For anyone willing to suspend their rationality to adopt a supremacist ideology, it’s not difficult to find people who will agree with you. Before fake news, there was, and still is, Fox news, which 45 watches religiously and often repeats verbatim. It’s like a cycle that keeps repeating itself. When your “president” is relaying back conspiracy filled statements, it’s no surprise people don’t believe trusted news sources.  He doesn’t hide his favoritism for these alt-right groups, since they’re part of his base. They want nothing more than to see him deport immigrants and undermine our civil rights.

Another point of confusion for me, is why anyone would want to claim the confederacy as part of their heritage, and defend it as if it was righteous and moral? Anyone espousing these beliefs clearly doesn’t have qualms about the fact that the confederates were fighting to keep slavery; they were willing to split up the country because they wanted an entire race to be enslaved.  Some of the descendants of confederate generals themselves have called for the statues to be taken down. The great-great grandson of Stonewall Jackson ( a man who believed god wanted slavery to continue) expressed their moral dilemma when it came to their heritage, as something that has evolved.  They acknowledge their ancestor and the history, knowing that his statues no longer have a place in today’s society.The great-great grandson called the statues “overt symbols of racism and white supremacy.” Many of the confederate statues were installed during reconstruction, as if to remind African-Americans, who were living in the south, of those who were against abolishing slavery. These symbols call out to an ideology that is offensive specially for black communities.

Though these statues are symbols of oppression, people should use the proper channels to bring them down. The communities involved should decide what happens to those statues and build consensus. As it occurred in New Orleans when the council members voted to take them down. The pressure should come from grassroots movements that influence elected officials to remove them from the community. It’s important for people to have a conversation as to why it should be removed.  Following those channels of actions will make people more likely to agree with the removal instead of doing it by force.

The hate groups made their presence known in Charlottesville, not just to express their anger over the removal of confederate statues, as 45 will have you know, but also because they wanted to show that all these groups are united. They’re not just some random group of people on reddit or 4chan, ranting about “white heritage” So for anyone saying that anti-fascists or others who are part of the resistance should not show up, in order to prevent a violent interaction, know that they were there to voice their opposition. It sends a message to fascist, racists that we have the numbers to back up the resistance, and that the majority of the country agrees with us when we say we want to protect minorities like Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and Jewish communities.

This is the time to speak out and protest against these hateful groups. But we can’t stoop to their level by committing violent acts ourselves, because then we are no better than they are, if we do not let out words and action come from a place of peace and conviction, and not force.



Opinion: Nola Floods

Luckily, around our way the water didn’t get beyond covering our sidewalks. I peered out outside—and not a soul wandering around. The water covered the streets then the sidewalks. Once the rain calmed down, some cars began passing. Since there was still a large concentration of water the cars pushed the water to the side making it likely to enter someone’s  house. I don’t think the water went into anyone’s house in my block, but it looked like a shallow river out there, as the water moved in waves. I’m not sure if any of these cars actually had a reason to be outside. In other neighborhoods, people complained about the water being knee-deep. Some kayaked and drank whiskey. Luckily, our place was unscathed, but I wonder if next time we’ll be so lucky. Had it kept raining for longer, how high would the water have risen? Several days after the flood, I biked to Circle Foods and saw it was open, but there was yellow tape around the entrance. A lady outside told me it was closed. “We will be open next week, give us some time,” she said. I told her, I was glad they were going to stay open. Inside a group of men dressed in button ups and suits huddle around the now empty produce aisle.

I went to another market on Esplanade where a lady told me that the water didn’t reach her store, but had it kept raining it probably would have. We talked about the drains, commenting how they were filled with garbage. “The government use to clean them before.” She said. I don’t know why they don’t anymore.”

I find it frustrating that the city doesn’t do enough when it comes to the cleaning and upkeep of the drainage system. As I see it, there are two problems here: the drains are filled with garbage so water can’t pass through and the pipe system needs to be updated, so the water can be moved off the streets quickly. Seeing as how the city government doesn’t clean the drains, a while back me and my partner cut the overgrown plants that covered the closest drain to my house. I also removed some of the garbage that was sitting there, mostly plastic bottles or bags. It wasn’t hard removing the garbage from the top, though arduous in the hot sun, but at some point you couldn’t clean anymore because most of the garbage was mixed in with the soil, and it was too deep to retrieve it.

For many people this was close to home. It reminded them of how the streets flooded during Katrina, especially with the photo below of Circle Foods. The pipes should be able to handle this much rain, even if it was concentrated for a span of four hours. Sadly, not enough is being done to secure New Orleans from another major flood event.


[photo credit]

Opinion: Embarrassing moments in U.S history

It’s sufficient to say that we are living in one of the most embarrassing moments in American history. Without explaining much, people will probably know what I’m referring to. They know the moment when the embarrassment began, when it was legitimized and made to feel like the new “normal.” And yet I can point to other embarrassing moments in American history, which are far worse in retrospect, including the enslavement of African Americans and the deaths of Native Americans during the Trail of Tears, to name a few. This new embarrassment comes at the heels of our “progressive ideals,” our upward movement toward “equality.”

The sad truth is that our embarrassment is splattered on T.V. screens for all to witness. It takes the form of an orange man sitting in the highest office in the country to reminds us that we are farther away from our ideals then ever before. We cannot simply wash it away, as it’s displayed in the media in countless reiteration.

Let’s be honest for a second, America has always had a large gap between its idealistic notions about itself and the reality on the ground. We have been at constant war in the Middle East since George W. Bush’s presidency. We have dropped bombs on civilians in these countries and left young “democracies” on a silver platter for ISIS, and yet we continue to insist on a Muslim ban.

The other day, while discussing with a friend, the most embarrassing moments in American history, we proved that our lists ran long, from the most obvious to the less documented atrocities this country has committed, and many with the approval of the government. From the Japanese interment camps, to Vietnam, to Jim Crow laws, to modern day America where ICE agents continue to arrest immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for years, deporting them and separating them from their families. ICE agents use the excuse that they are going after criminals, when in fact they are arresting mothers, fathers, and young people who are here to study and work.

It’s possible history works in cycles. There are moments of great progress and understanding among individuals of diverse backgrounds. We may be at a time where moderate ideals and facts are colliding with forces that mean to take us back to a time before the social movements of the sixties. Even with the spiteful policy directions from this fake white house, I keep telling myself it’s impossible to turn back. This pendulum will keep swinging as long as people make their voices heard, and do not shy away from making demands that will benefit everyone down the road. This moment in history will show how well our democratic institutions can uphold the law and counteract these fascist tendencies. I don’t doubt that there will always be people who try to bridge the gap between our idealistic notions and reality.

I bet many are wondering why he hasn’t been impeached yet. With these leaks clearly showing obstruction of justice and collusion we should already be at the point of criminal prosecution. I fear that with all these scandals people will eventually stop paying attention, and disregard the leaks as false assumptions simply because, they’re from anonymous sources. The real question is at what point does the FBI accumulate all the info they need to present a credible case against the fake president? At what point does the FBI catch up to the countless reports that have been released? It must be frustrating that the media is releasing more information then the FBI. I fear at the critical time that awaits us, public demand for impeachment will have lessened by the time FBI starts the impeachment process. You can’t have an impeachment without public demand, seeing as how most republicans are willing to turn verifiable facts into nothing more than democratic partisanship.

Krewe of Concerned Citizens

In true New Orleans style.

Another one reverberated, “We are one nation, no mass deportation!”

It felt like a hot summer day when I went to Metairie for a town hall, hosted by Bill Cassidy, U.S. senator of Louisiana. Around the country some elected officials chose to attend town halls during the President’s Day congressional recess, and some chose to ignore their constituents for fear of being screamed at. At least Cassidy didn’t cower at the idea of having angry citizens express their concerns about the new White House Administration and its orange warlord. I’m sure he knew what he was in for, because he strategically chose to have the event in a small venue that fit about 200 people, and it was scheduled to last only one hour. Try fitting policy concerns from hundreds of constituents into one hour, and you will fail.

A friend and I expected to at least make it to the back of the venue. But by the time I arrived at the library, I saw crowds of people walking from the entrance  towards the parking lot.“They closed the doors. We’re going to see if he’ll come out from the back,” they told us.

Some people had been there since noon, hours before the start to get a spot inside. I assumed it would take place in a large auditorium, and most of us would be able to get in. Over by the entrance, there were hundreds of people holding up signs. One read, “Keep the EPA. No Pipeline.” Another, “Investigate Trump ties with Russia,” and “Healthcare is a human right.”

Over by the entrance, people standing wishing they could have a chance to ask Cassidy some questions.

The best signs were close to the barricades that security guards had set up near the entrance. There was a small group of people using a microphone. One lady was recounting her experience with Affordable Care Act and how it allowed her to get coverage for her illness. There was also a guy that talked about listening to who have different ideologies. “Don’t let them tell you should hate them. They voted for someone else but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore them…,” his voice trailed off as I kept walking.

I thought about the sentiment of putting yourself in another person’s shoes, and listening to their point of view before relying on severe judgment and ridicule. If anything has come out of this election, it’s that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk to people outside our circle. Fear doesn’t allow for the exchange of ideas; it only further divides us.


We ventured to the parking lot where people were waiting for Cassidy to come out. The number of people on this side was also significant and kept increasing as the hour approached when Cassidy would exit. A couple of people were following the meeting through live feeds. From the videos, it sounded like there was plenty of yelling. Someone said Cassidy had a power point presentation for the audience on how the senate and congress function. People were also told to leave their signs outsides— nothing bigger than 8×11 could be brought in. “He had everyone write their questions on an index card, and now he’s only talking about health care,” one lady said. “But he’s also answering other stuff now,” but this was only after people started demanding it. Cassidy had everyone write their questions in an index card, and read them as he saw fit. It would have been better to have people line up to ask their questions.

One guy outside got a little rowdy when the security officer told him not to pass further into the driveway. There were signs that recalled Cassidy being paid off by Betsy Betsy Devos, who donated $70,000 to his campaign. Many called him to oppose her confirmation vote, and expressed frustration on his Facebook account. “Oh that’s not necessary, were fine just standing here,” said a lady behind the guy who was yelling about Cassidy’s record.

We sat down for a while and my friend asked if I thought aggression was sometimes necessary? It’s a double edge sword. Even when protestors are marching peaceful—take the case of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation— they are painted by the mainstream media as criminals, instigators and rioters who are acting violent, which could not be further from the truth. There’s a danger that while our intentions may be noble, there are individuals that use this opportunity to rage, loot and set things on fire, but by in large most protests are peaceful except for minor rioters who in no way represent the whole message. That’s also not to say you shouldn’t express your anger over real issues, but there are definitely strategic ways, and yelling a few facts into the air and chanting vigorously is not criminal. Sometimes the only way to get heard is to be in the face of powerful people, who refuse to hear facts and rational arguments. I keep asking: Is our anger not justified? At what point does it become justified?

I talked to one lady, who had come down to protest because she was worried about the Devos confirmation, ACA and the investigation on cheetolini’s campaign connection to Russia. Some medical students who wore white lab coats were hoping to ask questions about ACA. They were worried about coverage and preconditions. They told me that one of their friends luckily made it inside the venue.

The crowd kept chanting while the town hall took place inside.
The crowd kept chanting while the town hall took place inside.

Chants from the crowds rose: “Refugees are welcome here.” “Say it loud, say it clear.” Another one reverberated, “We are one nation, no mass deportation!”

Someone standing near us asked, “Where are they being sent?” It was reported that immigrants are being sent to Mexico, regardless of the fact that they are not from there. I remember reading an article about the backlog of detainees stemming from the Obama Administration, and with the new ICE raids it will only exasperate the problem, since immigrants without criminal backgrounds are not being exempt.

There was no sign of Cassidy yet, and it was well after the end of the event. Some suspected he left through a different door, but a lady, assured us that, “No, that’s his car, parked right over there.” On the live feed, Cassidy was taped leaving the town hall abruptly to the shout of audience members who complained that he had arrived late and left quickly.

For those who want to discredit the resistance, none of the people rallying against this administration are paid protesters.

The sun was drying us out, so we decided to leave. My friend said she wanted to ask him about the Bayou Pipeline. “Maybe he’ll answer your question as he’s leaving,” someone said, to which I laughed imagining the two seconds the question would get, and sadly it was a low-level priority for his administration, because a healthy clean, environment isn’t that important.

Driving away from the library, and watching as some protesters stayed behind, chanting and waiting. I thought about the guy on the microphone, saying to talk to people who have different ideologies and not to simply ignore them. I thought about whether these types of rallies were effective, and my friend pointed out that it allows people to learn and become politically aware. It also means that Cassidy could witness the opposition in numbers. This was not a random occurrence, not some little fuss, but a serious concern with how this administration is being run.


Where are we on climate action?

The topic of climate change didn’t make the cut during the presidential debates, despite the recent news regarding the Great Barrier Reef’s continued demise (50% of it is already dead or dying). But that’s not the only story that affirms our belief that climate change was unjustly ignored this election. Recent developments beg our attention towards climate action even more.

Remember way back when, Sanders was the only candidate to vehemently discuss climate change during initial debates. Now the presidential debate moderators are more concerned with topics such as dumpy’s offensive remarks and Hill’s emails than addressing the topic of global warming or science-related issues that puts the public’s health in jeopardy. Some republican officials continue to avoid using the words climate change, or they simply say it’s a hoax. Seeing how funds from the fossil fuel industry have been funneled into campaign donations on both sides of the aisle is hardly a surprise. It’s estimated that $29.6m in campaign contributions came from fossil fuel companies in the 2016 election cycle, according to ClimateTruth.org.

Several weeks ago I was listening to the radio as Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, spoke about his upcoming plans for Louisiana. One caller addressed climate change, and asked, how the governor plans to alter the course of human impact on climate, but the caller was interrupted by the host and not allowed to finish her question. Edwards avoided answering and instead, said I’m not ready to say climate change is caused by humans, as if saying it’s still up for debate, without even mentioning the possibility of alternative energy.

With numerous protests against offshore drilling, it’s shocking that the Governor doesn’t have a lengthier grasp. For years numerous communities in Louisiana have been devastated by oil drilling and chemical factories. One example among many, is Mossville, a small African-American community near Lake Charles damaged by nearby polyvinyl chloride factories for years to the point of making the area uninhabitable to live. Most recently in August, Plaquemines Parish was hit with an oil spill , adding to a long list of parishes who have filed lawsuits against the oil and gas companies, damaging Louisiana’s coast.

In past years the consensus was to accept climate change as a real issues or at least that science-based facts could improve our daily lives, and surprisingly it included some republicans who recognized that these problems were real. This video shows how far republicans have ventured to deny global warming over the years.


Protect our climate, water, & health.

The water protectors 

For several months now, the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation has tried to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline from being built along their reservation borders. They seek to protect the Missouri River from pipeline eruptions, which is all too common with these pipelines (Alabama’s recent pipeline eruption). It’s a movement that has shown resiliency when confronted with militarized law enforcement, but it’s also a historical moment that has brought together Native American tribes to defend their rights, as the New Yorker explains. Native Americans have always had to defend themselves from the intrusion of industry on their lands. Social media has allowed the movement to spread out more effectively than before, reaching many environmental groups and allies who are traveling and protesting alongside, or donating to the cause from home. Obviously this makes local authorities nervous, since they are siding with the Dakota Access oil pipeline owners. For months peaceful marches were held in Standing Rock’s encampment with prayers and singing to bring attention to their plight. Their peaceful acts have been meant with vicious dogs, military tanks, guns and unjust imprisonment. Nothing warrants these abuses on peaceful marchers or any group asking for what is owed to them after years of being colonized and oppressed.


Presidential candidates on science

During the presidential debates these last weeks, you hardly heard a word on topics related to science. If it wasn’t controversial or involved a scandal, it wasn’t covered. Our candidates on the local or national level don’t pay enough attention to the issues that affect daily life; issues that are integral to our health and well-being, instead they are discussing repealing the Affordable Care act, Roe vs. Wade, hill’s email scandal or dumpy’s sexual assaults. Scientific American graded the presidential candidates based on their understanding of science, and how it can influence policy. They answered questions on climate, technology, agriculture, mental heath, education, among others. One central theme: how science would inform their administration to protect Americans who are vulnerable to public health and environmental threats? Not enough is being done to protect the public. For example in Flint, Michigan, officials switched the water source in April 2014 to the Flint River, with little oversight on quality, which led to residents drinking lead-contaminated water. The local government failed to quickly resolve the issue after residents expressed their concerns about the water’s discoloration, and only took the matter seriously a year later. It’s estimated between 6,000 to 12,000 children were exposed to high levels of lead.

Climate Change and migration

It’s no surprise that climate change plays a role in the Mexico–US borderlands. Recently we have witnessed record high temperatures, causing farmers to abandon their farms; many have been displaced by earthquakes, landslides and crop failures. To make matter worse rampant militarization and unregulated enforcement has made conditions for migrants more deadly.  No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization in south Arizona, interviewed Todd Miller, a writer on the topic, to discuss the link between climate change and migration. Hurricanes, floods and drought are impacting Central American Countries and the Caribbean. Some are also being impacted by violence and unjust economic policies.  At the moment the U.S. only has a plan to deter unwanted immigrants from entering the country, but has no plans to give asylum to those displaced by climate change, and the issue only seems to worsen with this year’s political rhetoric about deporting immigrants in masses and decreasing refugees.

Environmentalist try to lease lands

What happens when an environmentalist tries to lease public land? As Mother Jones reported, they get turned down by the Bureau of Land Management, which is in charge of leasing land for the purpose of extracting oil. This action was part of the Keep it in the ground movement that wants to stop fossil fuel leases, which allows companies to extract with little oversight on environmental factors, and no regard for global warming. Though the application included all the legal requirements, it was turned down since the applicants made it clear no extraction plans would take place. Oil and gas companies buy leases on speculation; they don’t drill right away and also wait until the market is in their favor. At the moment there are “20 million acres of public land under lease that isn’t being developed for oil and gas.” But you don’t see BLM taking away this land from its renters. There is a clear bias BLM has for the industry, and it’s scary, knowing these public lands are being leased to the fossil fuel industry, and even if not all are used for extraction, they still remain in their hands.

Fall of 2001, the year high school began

Freshman year began a couple of days before that early morning in Astoria, New York. But instead of attending class, I was heading to an immigration office for my appointment. I ate breakfast then put on dark jeans and a soft pink shirt with small sleeves. I packed a backpack in case I got out early and made it to school. I never did much with my hair during that year, mostly because I rushed for fear of being late, an ongoing dilemma at the time.

My dad took off work that day and drove us in his 1998 burgundy Toyota minivan with the heavy door. (Years later he would find that car in Corona after all its interior parts were stolen.) At the immigration office, my fingers were smudged with black ink, pressed onto white cards, and later I was asked to initial my name multiple times. We left, thinking I would be able to go to school, since it was still before 9 a.m.

On the highway heading home, we were listening to music at a low volume, and with my parents talking and my own thoughts, I couldn’t make out the songs or when it switched to chatter. I recognized a radio personality, but her voice was more subdued than usual. She was a popular host on Hot 97. I raised the volume. I heard something about planes and bombs, and I quickly changed the station. I kept changing the radio station, but they were all talking about the same thing. “Escuchen estan diciendo algo.” “Listen, they’re saying something,” my dad said, and told me to stop changing the stations. My mom was also not paying attention, until two radio announcers from a news program began describing a scene.

“They’re saying that it was a plane heading to…”

“The north tower was hit, and we’re seeing a lot of smoke right now…”

“We have confirmed reports that …”

“Witnesses said a second plane…”

“They don’t know if this was the pilot or someone one else…

In that short car ride the bursts of information left us disoriented: the tower, smoke, fire, running. I could envision a dark, sinister future. Their words were turning into fragmented images of what was unfolding. It was too outlandish to be true, too violent to be close to home and be factual at the same time. There was a mood of confusion in their voices, as if they didn’t believe what they were saying.

“Algo paso.” “Un atentado.”

“Something happened. An attack,” my dad said.

In my 15-year-old mind, I didn’t want to comprehend, “Un atendado.” We were no more than 30 minutes from those buildings that we often forgot about in our view of the skyline. “We have to pick up your sister,” my mom said. I held my backpack hoping everything would get solved. Could this be a depiction of a movie? Was this going to turn out like those fake snow days that never amounted to the real thing? “Only a few inches of snow,” and with that school would be back on.

When we entered my sister’s school everyone was rushing in the main office — phones were going off and parents were waiting to pick up their children. No one knew anything. While we waited, I asked my mom about what I heard on the radio. “Creo que es algo serio. No se lo que esta pasando.” “I think it’s something serious. I don’t know what’s happening,” she said. They finally dismissed my sister, who was confused and needed time to come up with her own questions. School had suddenly stopped, but teachers didn’t give them any details. “It was sad; kids were happy to go home without knowing why,” my sister said years later. “It was something bad, and we were told to line up in the lobby, so our parents could pick us up.”

When we got home, we turned on the T.V. and those words from this morning were pieced together with images, which flooded my mind, until I chose to stop watching in fear of not being able to see anything but the towers falling, and people sitting by those windows, as billowing clouds of smoke overtook the narrow streets.

Some of my friends who we’re in school, told me they were in the cafeteria having breakfast or in gym class when teachers told them what was happening. Some kids chose to get close to the window, thinking they could see it for themselves. Our school was next to the East River, but you could only see the smoke from far away. One of my friends whose school was in direct view of the towers said, her teacher let them stand by the window and watch across the river where the clouds of smoke expanded and curled up to the sky.

Update: rain, flood, thoughts

That time there was a giant puddle in the park.

The last two weeks have been consumed by rain with intervals of frustrating heat. It was strange for me, especially knowing that a few miles away a flood had devastated parts of Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes (20 Louisiana parishes were designated as federal disaster areas by FEMA), while my house was sitting untouched in New Orleans. There was ongoing rain and large puddles nearby but nothing serious. My parents were worried about me after seeing reports of homes under water and people rowing boats. I had missed their calls during that weekend, making them more worried, but I eventually called them back to tell them I was safe. They were under the impression that New Orleans had also flooded. I would not know what to do if that was the case. I guess my desk would float or we would be evacuated (this is probably the best scenario).

During the week I did have some troubling dreams, including me wandering around with my dad and sister during a flood, wondering why we didn’t have boats when everyone else seemed prepared. We managed to climb our way out of the flood through a solid ladder that later turned into a cloth ladder and almost ripped when I was climbing. We made our way up to the balcony of a marble building. Days later, my sister texted me: you need to get a boat.

The damage in Louisiana wasn’t a result of heavy winds like Hurricane Katrina, but record rainfall. Also outdated infrastructure couldn’t hold the heavy amounts of rain, and failed to drain water out of the streets. The storm brought 7.1 trillion gallons of rain to Louisiana, three times more than during Katrina. Local rivers like Amite and Comite had record water levels causing the biggest flood since Sandy. Some 20,000 people were rescued and about 110,000 homes were damaged. The Advocate investigated the deaths of 13 people who lost their lives; some swept by the storm while in their cars, others swam for safety, but didn’t make it.

I imagine the disarray.
I imagine the disarray.

Days after the flood, everyone was trying to out figure how to respond; whether to donate to bigger non-profits like the Red Cross or to local businesses and residents who could easily navigate the area and get resources to BR and surrounding areas quicker than national organizations. On Facebook and twitter, people posted photos and videos of how they were helping to evacuate folks with their boats. Some had cookouts or donated food. I saw a video on twitter of trucks hurrying along i10 to get to BR. Even a basketball team showed up to help. People are amazing.

Questions arose about what kind of things to donate. What was appropriate during an emergency? Some local bars and art galleries also held fundraisers where they collected a list of goods and money to donate.

Supply vessels that trasport equipment and personnel to offshore oil and gas platforms passing along the Mississippi River.
Supply vessels that transport equipment and personnel to offshore oil and gas platforms passing along the Mississippi River.

By now most of the water has receded, but up until a day or two there were areas still submerged. At this point affected parishes are in recovery mode, as people try to rebuild their homes, try to get back to normalcy which won’t be for a while. If you’re in the area, and want to lend a hand, there are many local organizations setting up volunteers. This is something I want to be doing in the next couple of weeks. Natural disasters get a lot of attention at first then fade from the news cycle, but the people of Louisiana are still in need: check out these organizations accepting donations.

The conversation surrounding the floods has expanded to infrastructure problems. Scientific American explores how BR and other cities need to modernize their drainage system in order to face future storms that will be exasperated by global warming. As the earth heats up, more moisture is produced which increases average rainfall, making future floods more likely. The occurrence of floods also become more likely when coastlines erode and wetlands that normally mitigate floods and soak rainfall disappear. As Louisiana continues to allow offshore oil drilling, these natural buffers zones will disappear making it hard for residents to continue living near the gulf, as the The Times-Picayune reports.


Ariel views of the damage in Louisiana. 



Swallow the pill

Strange days on the American, circus bus. 

I would have preferred to be on this bus.
I would have preferred to be on this bus, heading to the beach.

The power went out, and it’s for the best. I had the Democratic Convention playing in the background, and I had about enough of this circus parade of an election year. I can’t believe we’re at this juncture. People are about to give away this country to a wild-mouthed psycho. I also don’t appreciate how everyone is telling Bernie supporters to get over their candidate and jump on the Hillary wagon. Let people vent their frustrations, let them question the process. I’m a Bernie supporter and I’m disappointed with the voting process— the DNC favored Hill since the beginning of the election, there was voting fraud in many states, and now this grassroots movement and their candidate have to embrace Hill.

I know that not voting for anyone or voting for an Independent candidate (which I’ve done for local elections) as revenge, is a vote for the orange man. I can’t be part of a country who believes this man is fit for president. Everything he stands for is an antithesis to America. (At least I would like to believe so, but maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m not wrong.) He’s an antithesis to who I am as an individual, (an immigrant, a Latin-American, a lover of words), and everyone else I know who values integrity, brotherhood, kindness and humbleness. I also don’t want to vote for Hill. I don’t believe she’ll do anything about climate change or criminal justice reform—and especially not now after hearing about the DNC email leaks, but it’s a pill I have to swallow.

Image: blotted by me.
Image: blotted by me.

It’s unfair that we should be in this position when Bernie had the votes of the people and was robbed by the DNC and the media. His poll numbers are higher than the orange man’s by double digits. He’s the progressive candidate; the only one speaking passionately about climate change, criminal justice reform, and income inequality since the early years of his political career. Under the abrupt lights of the DNC, Bernie was telling us to unite. It didn’t feel genuine. I know Bernie was cringing inside.

The Democrats need  a better way of uniting the party and acknowledging the reservations of Bernie supporters and delegates. I know Hill’s party has adopted some of Bernie’s platforms, but it’s a mere sprinkle on top of the mountain, and I don’t think it will hold past the election if she wins. I was watching the “Bernie or bust” people on CNN, and one of the anchors said, “She will be the nominee,” with an overly emphatic tone.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s speech didn’t speak to me, as much as I had hoped. She kept repeating how Bernie has fought against the “rigged system” with the irony of the DNC email leaks hovering over her. “For the Bernie or Bust people, you’re being ridiculous,” said Sarah Silverman after her speech to the Democratic Convention. I don’t think fighting for the issues is ridiculous. “Let them be frustrated,” said Joe Biden. A democratic process is about having small factions that don’t always agree with one another, but are willing to borrow ideas and unite. The DNC needs to recognize what they did and reform the voting process to better represent its constituents. Our anger is legitimate when faced with an obviously rigged politcal system. Is this a surprise for anyone?

Democrats want to break barriers, but it shouldn’t just represent a label. “Hey, I’m a woman—vote for me.” I’m happy that a woman has a chance to be president, and is almost on her way, but this is no way to push it on us, by committing fraud and telling people to get over it. If orange man was not the other candidate, I wouldn’t vote for Hill. It’s disheartening to think that the DNC thinks its voters are sheep. One of the Bernie supporters said it best: “We’re passionate about the issues.” “It’s because of Bernie that the democratic platform is stronger.” For Bernie supporters, it’s not over. We shouldn’t give up. The Revolution continues.

But Alas, I prefer the blue pill. I say yes to humanity and debating with Hill supporters. At least she’ll make decisions within a rational spectrum, and not from a room filled with false mirrors.