Category Archives: My Blog

Will Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Do Anything About School Shootings?

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden used Saugus High School’s recent shooting to promote activism against gun lobbyists and congressional Republicans who seem content doing nothing to stop the violence. But for all his words, it’s difficult to take Biden seriously — because at the end of the day, he’s a career politician who knows what happens to people who take the restriction of second amendment rights too far.

But he still manages to say the right things on occasion. At a recent rally in Santa Clarita, he said, “You parents and grandparents, you send off children … and the first thing they learn is how to duck and cover.”

He was describing the basic lockdown drills that most students will learn when they begin school. He went on to comment on specific safe spaces being designed in new schools and campuses across the country.”

“We’re now making sure that we provide children the ability to avoid being shot in school,” he continued. “What does that say about our soul? … I’m so tired about people talking about your prayers. Damn it, we have to protect these kids. We have to do it now.”

The shooting at Saugus resulted in three deaths, including the shooter, who carried out the attack on his birthday. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head the following day.

Biden says that he’s the only one who’s ever done anything important against the gun lobby.

Although Biden is campaigning in California, he’s skipping out on some of the bigger events that his political opponents are attending — an absence that some state Democrats are annoyed by. They believe his attendance and participation in these events is important, especially since California is holding its presidential primary on March 3, much earlier than usual. 

Usually, voting in California occurs after the outcome of the presidential primaries is already cut in stone. State officials moved it up so they could gain more political attention ahead of the election.

Both Biden and Elizabeth Warren, another top contender for the Democratic nom, were lambasted by State party Chairman Rusty Hicks for skipping a recent convention. He commented on Facebook: “I respect your work/candidacy, BUT…you should reconsider your misguided decision to publicly snub California’s Democrats & Latino Voters across the nation.”

Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Pete Kavanaugh, took offense to the post. “It’s just a question of how we’re able to spend our time. He has spent a lot of time in the first four states, and obviously he got into race later and was trying to catch up. It hasn’t been an avoidance; it’s simply a matter of trying to find hours in the schedule and trying to find days and weeks that work.”

Comments Off on Will Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Do Anything About School Shootings?

Filed under My Blog

What Can We Do To Avert A Man-Made Climate Change Disaster?

With so many people turning a blind eye to the man-made climate change emergency on our doorstep, a lot of others are asking if there’s really anything we can do — if there’s any hope to change our climate in time — short of turning off the electricity around the globe and waiting a century to see who’s left alive to turn the lights back on. Environmental activism is getting bigger and louder over time, but is it enough to turn the tide?

Probably not.

One of the biggest problems we face is our own system of democratic capitalism, a system many have come to realize is broken — and has always been broken. Under the current status quo, the ones with the most money have the biggest voice, and the government will always cater to them first. Since the fossil fuel companies are rich, who does the government listen to? Even if we install a president who wants to implement a big change without relying on big money (like an Elizabeth Warren or a Bernie Sanders), there are far too many in the opposition to ever make anything happen to substantial effect. 

So what can we do?

Those who understand the grave consequences of doing nothing will always try to do something. That’s why we all have that vegan friend, or the friend with a die-hard recycling habit, or a friend who bikes to work instead of relying on transportation that pumps more greenhouse gases in the air. But those individual contributions mean almost nothing. Most of these people pick and choose what they give up, and too many people choose to give up nothing. In order to make a difference that matters, we need to do something as a collective.

Perhaps the best thing we can do is educate those who are taken in by all the lies strewn about day by day. Climate activist Greta Thunberg decided she would give up flying to help fight climate change. While her individual contribution means as little as anyone else’s, it’s more of a publicity stunt — and she’s using the publicity to make more people aware of what will happen if we don’t do anything to avert a disaster that could result in the extinction of our own race.

New York recently passed a “Climate Emergency” declaration. While this may be a victory for activists everywhere, we have to wonder what it will really accomplish.

Right now, Joe Biden is perhaps the most likely candidate to receive the Democratic nomination for president — and that’s to say nothing of his relatively minute chance of becoming our next president because of a political landscape that many in the older generations fail to understand. He presented a plan to eliminate reliance on fossil fuels by 2050. Good job, old guy: you’ve presented a plan to do nothing at all. Organically, even if that were soon enough to make a difference (it’s not), we’ll already have turned to other more sustainable resources by 2050. 

We really need a new government to have a chance. We’re not likely to get one.

Comments Off on What Can We Do To Avert A Man-Made Climate Change Disaster?

Filed under My Blog

The Outlook For LGBTQ Rights After Two Years Of Trump

Pride Month is drawing to a close in cities around the world and most of us are asking ourselves the same question: have we gained any ground after two years of a Trump Administration? The answer is a pretty hard “no,” unfortunately. Trump certainly pretended to be a friend to the LGBTQ community when he ran for office in 2016, but his actions have proved to be anything but friendly to our cause. 

June 28, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the epic Stonewall riots, perhaps one of the most important events in our community’s history. The LGBTQ community has certainly grown much stronger in the decades since then, but moving forward has been difficult these last few years.

Let’s look at what recent presidents accomplished for the community:

  • Clinton implemented the controversial “don’t ask don’t tell” policy that technically allowed LGBTQ individuals to serve in the military as long as they were quiet about it.
  • Clinton implemented legislation to bar discrimination for sexual orientation in the government. 
  • George W. Bush basically did nothing, but he was somewhat vocal in his opposition to gay marriage.
  • Obama was president when gay marriage was legalized.
  • Obama repealed “don’t ask don’t tell,” allowing LGBTQ individuals to serve in the military openly.

Now let’s look at what Trump has accomplished for the community:

  • He ignored Pride Month.
  • He barred the flying of pride flags at U.S. embassies worldwide (although many chose to ignore his order).
  • He barred transgendered individuals from serving in the United States military.
  • He endorses politicians who hold anti-LGBTQ views.
  • He’s edited legal documents to “redact” LGBTQ rights.
  • He makes it difficult for members of our community to afford health care.
  • He ended a Bureau of Prisons law that allowed transgender individuals to serve time with those who share the identified gender. Now transgender individuals are housed dependent on biological gender, putting them in significant danger.
  • He has strengthened discriminatory “religious freedom” laws.

More importantly, his words continually perpetuate hatred across minority communities. Since his 2016 campaign, attacks against practicing Muslims have skyrocketed. Violence against Hispanics has risen. Attacks against transgender women have skyrocketed. Trump is a man who is responsible for the deaths of American citizens, members of our community included. His election was a disaster for LGBTQ individuals, humanitarian efforts around the world, and progress in general.

For all the steps forward we’ve taken over the last two decades, it seems like Trump has tried to take twice as many backward — and he’s proud of it. 

In 2019, LGBTQ individuals are the most likely targets of hate crimes.

Visiting from Houston and looking for support back home? Jose Ceja is an activist! Visit:

Comments Off on The Outlook For LGBTQ Rights After Two Years Of Trump

Filed under My Blog

How You Can Get Involved In Environmental Activism in Los Angeles

The environment is taking point on the world stage as the effects of climate change become better known (and much scarier), but deniers still demand more research be done. Those same people probably don’t realize that the research has been ongoing for over half a century, and the conclusions are the same all across the world. The problem is real. But how do you help? Where should you go, and what should you do to be a part of the needed change?

These are a few resources you can use to plan your efforts!

  1. The website Meetup is a phenomenal resource if you live in a big city like Los Angeles, and it should be the first place you look when trying to make a difference. You’ll find thousands of like-minded people interested in all sorts of activities across a wide range of topics like fossil fuel, clean renewable energy, forest and water conservation, education, veterans benefits, and even veganism.

When using this resource, you can decide what it is you want to do. Would you prefer to volunteer? Perhaps you want to protest. Or maybe you just want to get together with other people who are part of a club. The choice is most definitely yours.

2. If you’re interested in information and causes related to aridity and climate change, then check out the Arid Lands Institute. They offer a wide range of resources for outreach, research, and education.

3. The Burbank Green Alliance takes aim at unsustainable practices in the surrounding areas. They offer lectures, workshops, networking, newsletters, and resources for people who want more information. If sustainability is your thing, this is a good place to make a stop.

4. The Burbank Recycle Center is a good spot if you’re having trouble finding a way to recycle certain types of goods. They’ll take everything you would typically leave at the side of the street or bring to the grocery store, in addition to harder-to-recycle goods like scrap metal, antifreeze and oil filtration devices, and more. It’s also a good place to get involved in a workshop, or take a tour.

Or, if you live in the neighborhood and just want a recycling bin, you can drop by and pick one up.

5. The California Coastkeeper Alliance aims to coordinate programs that help to safeguard all relevant waterways in the state of California.

There are literally hundreds of resources, so look around to find the right one for you!

Comments Off on How You Can Get Involved In Environmental Activism in Los Angeles

Filed under My Blog

Who Was Cesar Chavez?

Cesar Chavez, 1927-1933, was a Mexican-American famous for his role as a union leader, labor organizer and Latin-American civil rights activist. In 1962, he found the National Farm Worker Association. After a successful strike with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee against California grape growers, the two unions merged to form the United Farm Workers. Chavez believed in peaceful protests and nonviolent methods to influence change such as boycotts, marches, and hunger strikes. Through his efforts, he was able to improve conditions for farm workers in California, Texas, Arizona and Florida (despite friction with the famous Teamster union).

Chavez was born in Yuma, Arizona to immigrant parents but moved to California with his family in 1939. With this family, he traveled up and down the coast working in fields under terrible conditions such as delipidates migrant camps, corrupt labor contractors, poor wages for hard labor as well as racism. He became active in other labor organizations but resigned to focus on developing his own labor union for farm workers. In September 1965, when the National Farm Worker Association joined a strike initiated by Filipino farm workers in Delano’s grape fields, Chavez became a household name. He organized a march on Sacremento in 1966 and brought the harsh conditions of the farm worker into the limelight.

He was also noted for his hunger fasts that he used to prove that non-violent protects can be effective. He organized a huge fast in 1988 to protect the suffering for farm workers and their children, ignorance of farm workers rights and the use of pesticides. Chavez fasted for 36 days, Reverend Jesse Jackson started where Chavez left fasting for an additional three days. The fast was passed to other religious and celebrity figures including Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Kennedy, Carly Simon and Danny Glover.

Chavez died in his sleep on April 23, 1993.

Comments Off on Who Was Cesar Chavez?

Filed under My Blog

Celebrity Suicide

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, after the two back to back celebrity suicide deaths this past week, suicide hotline numbers have jumped up a total of 25%. Because celebrities are always in the limelight, people often feel a connection to a celebrity even if they have never met. When a celebrity dies, society as a whole feels a collective loss and the news of a celebrity death prompts people to seek help. Over the past few years there have been a lot of celebrity suicides:

  • L’Wren Scott – On March 17, 2014 the fashion designer and was found dead in her New York apartment.  She committed suicide by hanging her self.
  • Mark Salling – In January 2018, the former Glee star was found dead in a tree in the Angeles Forest area. He died of asphyxia by hanging himself.
  • Robin Williams – On August 11, 2014, the comedian died of asphyxiation by hanging himself from the doorknob in his bedroom.
  • Chris Cornell – In 2017, the rock star was found dead in his hotel room also had hung himself after taking a lethal dose of benzo, barbiturates, and amphetamine.
  • Chester Bennington – Another celebrity who was found hanging in his home in California.
  • Tony Scott – In 2012, this director jumped off a Los Angeles County bridge to his death. Anti-depressants and sleeping aids were found in his body.
  • Jonathan Brandis – In 2003, this up and coming star committed suicide by hanging himself in the hallway of his Los Angeles apartment building.

The list continues on and on. What is interesting is that most celebrities kill themselves by hanging.

If you or someone you know is an emotional distress or suicidal, please call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

Comments Off on Celebrity Suicide

Filed under My Blog

Cuba: Marriage Equality

As the daughter of a communist party chief, not a birth injury attorney, Mariela Castro, whose father is Raul Castro (and the niece of Fidel Castro), is just the advocate the LGBTQ community needs in Cuba. For most of the 20th century, communist parties have been proponents of the LGBTQ community and have been the earliest advocates of their rights. Therefore, it’s about time that Cuba updates their laws to include gay marriage as constitutional. As one of the leading gay rights activist in Cuba, Mariela plans to draft charters and create amendments to Cuba’s 1976 constitution this summer.

Homosexuality was not always celebrated in Cuba especially before their revolution. Many men were targeted with harassment and faced criminal charges for homosexuality. After the revolution, many homosexuals fled to Miami to escape persecution. Some were forced to work in camps during the UMAP program. However, by the late 1980s and the early 90s, the attitude toward homosexuals changed with even the country’s leader Fidel Castro urging Cubans to be more accepting of homosexuals as it was a natural tendency that should be respected.

Mariela has had other successes while being a gay rights activist in Cuba. In 2005, she proposed a law that allowed transgender people to receive sexual reassignment surgery and change their legal gender. This proposal became law three years later in 2008 and now transgender people can become their true gender free of charge. If anyone can get a law to pass to allow same-sex marriage in Cuba, it’s her.


Comments Off on Cuba: Marriage Equality

Filed under My Blog

Hollywood’s Accountability Revolution

For decades, Hollywood has been a place where people go to chase their dreams and make it to the silver screen. Unfortunately, because people are so desperate to make it in Hollywood, there has been a creepy underbelly of Hollywood behavior preying on vulnerable actors, producers, writers, and everyone in between.

Allegations of sexual assault in Hollywood have come up every now and again, but after the stunning (in both number and detail) accusations against Harvey Weinstein, victims of sexual assault throughout Hollywood have been given a platform to speak out against their predators.

It seems like every day we are hearing stories about another powerful person in Hollywood abusing that power – from Kevin Spacey to George Takei to Louis C.K.; celebrities we once viewed as relatable and lovable are now finally showing their true colors. Thanks to the bravery of the people willing to come out, we are getting a better picture as to the huge issues present in Hollywood, and how we might be able to fix them going forward.

For the longest time, people in power were able to leverage situations like auditions and closed-door meetings to assault aspiring actors, models, and other Hollywood employees. Even prominent actors, and strong male actors like Terry Crews, were not immune to the receiving end of inappropriate actions from Hollywood executives.

Now that everyone’s story is public, we can create safer situations for people in Hollywood who are just trying to do their jobs. If we are able to get the offenders out of positions of power (and hopefully out of Hollywood altogether), and change the system so that offenders are penalized instead of protected, we can make Hollywood the dream work location that we currently envision it as.

As activists in Los Angeles, it is our job to help the rights of all of Los Angeles’ oppressed. Even if they work in the film industry, and even if they are rich and famous, we owe it to all victims of sexual harassment in Hollywood to change the industry in every way possible to keep more people safe. Let’s keep those in power accountable for their actions.

Comments Off on Hollywood’s Accountability Revolution

Filed under My Blog

The Biggest Civil Rights Cases In The United States

Many of the rights that we have today were won through the courts. A number of major civil rights gains happened because of court decisions. Below, you’ll find information on some of the biggest civil rights cases in the United States, which have had a lasting influence on every city in the country, from Palm Beach to Seattle.

Brown vs. The Board of Education

In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation was legal in the controversial Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling. That ruling was overturned in 1954. The Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal to segregate public schools.

At the time, many schools in the United States were heavily segregated. Because of this decision, many students had to change schools. It was difficult for many students to attend the schools they were assigned to; in spite of the court’s decision, protestors fought back against black students attending traditionally white schools. However, civil rights workers worked to ensure that students were able to get the education that they were entitled to.

Shelley vs. Kraemer

In the 1940s, it was difficult for many minorities to purchase or rent property. Many people were turned down when they put in an offer on a home or applied to rent an apartment. In 1948, the Shelley vs. Kraemer case declared that it was illegal to enforce covenants that kept people of a certain race from renting or owning property.

This effects of this decision were limited; the Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. vs. The United States case in 1964 argued that hotel owners should be able to choose their tenants. However, the court determined that hotels did not have the right to restrict guests based on race.

Loving vs. Virginia

Interracial marriage was legal in parts of the United States for a long time. While interracial relationships still existed, a number of these relationships were conducted in secrecy.

After the Supreme Court heard the Loving vs. Virginia case in 1967, prohibitions against interracial marriage were declared to be unconstitutional. At the time, there were still 16 states that had laws against interracial marriage on the books, including Virginia. Thanks to this decision, those states had to revise their laws.

Many people fought hard for the rights that we have today. Civil rights are something that a number of people take for granted. It’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the biggest civil rights cases in United States history. Looking at the decisions of the past can help us to fight for a better future.

Comments Off on The Biggest Civil Rights Cases In The United States

Filed under Civil Rights Activists, My Blog

Civil Rights Activism In Los Angeles

Los Angeles has always been a center of civil rights activism. From the Watts riots, to Rodney King, to Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles is a great place to be if you are interested in civil rights. Lost Angeles has a large black population and many black residents feel left out of the prosperity that they see all around them.

This feeling of being left out leads to many sorts of social problems and the pockets of lower income black neighborhoods have often fallen into disrepair and the unemployment rate is often high in these neighborhoods as well. There is often a lot of unrest and unhappiness in these neighborhoods.

There is institutional racism as well. The police are often antagonistic towards members of the black community and members of the community feel oppressed. Civil rights leaders in Los Angeles are helping to right the wrongs in the black community and hold police and government accountable to the problems that are happening in Los Angeles.

People are dying and they don’t need to be. The Watts riots started to bring the nation’s attention to the problems that were happening in the black community. The issue really exploded during the Rodney King riots. The Rodney King riots showed how deeply divided the police and the black community were. The entire nation could see it.

The Rodney King riots caused over a billion dollars worth of property damage and over 60 people were killed during the riots. The riots brought lots of positive changes to Los Angeles Police Department and the police made lots of reforms to the department. Civil rights leaders are working hard to bring change to Los Angeles and help people in disadvantaged communities rise up so they can move up the economic ladder.

Civil rights leaders in Los Angeles are constantly lobbying for change and coming up with innovative programs to help the black community in many ways. Leaders are coming up with educational programs, outreach programs that connect people in the black community to medical and legal help, and programs to help members of the black community own their own homes.

There are plenty of legal programs that are designed to help incarcerated black youth challenge their legal issues and help them with rehabilitation when they get out of prison. Los Angeles has plenty of civil rights leaders that are helping their community in many ways.

Comments Off on Civil Rights Activism In Los Angeles

Filed under Civil Rights Activists, My Blog