Celebrate YOU!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Apartheid in the Caribbean ~ BOYCOTT DOMINICAN REPUBLIC!!!‏

Dominicans of Haitian descent protesting the ruling that has stripped them of their rights and made them stateless. Photo credit: Reconoci.do

This is so despicable!!!  Dominican Republic is denying and/or revoking citizenship to Dominicans of Haitian descent dating back to 1929, in other words Black folks!!!  

" In September 2013, the Dominican Republic’s constitutional court passed a judgment revoking the citizenship of Dominicans of Haitian parentage born after 1929. People who had known no other home were suddenly stripped of their rights and made officially stateless."

While Dominicans of illegal status are joining in the demand for citizenship in the US, their country has deemed persons born and raised in DR and who have worked, achieved and contributed to the building of the country, as persons of no longer worthy of citizen status.  

“Many Dominicans of Haitian descent are finding it impossible to access even the most basic of services such as health and education. They can’t send their children to school as they are unable to register them as Dominican citizens. They can’t work, vote or live a respectable and dignified existence. They are trapped in legal limbo, a form of ‘social suicide’ that is keeping them as second-class non-citizens. On a day-to-day basis even the most basic of tasks become insurmountable hurdles.

A few years ago while celebrating my 50th birthday in DR, I was appalled to see that Haitians were virtually treated like Slaves. Of course the Dominicans denied this. It did not occur to me at that time that some of those persons being treated so cruelly were Dominicans of Haitian descent. It did not occur to me that they would treat their own people so horribly! This government action confirms my observation. 

One image that has haunted me is that captured on the attached photos. My heart stopped as I observed what looked like a scene straight out of American slavery; June 2010!!! It was shocking and appalling to see. While there I was highly critical of how Haitians were treated. These photos definitively illustrate my point. And now this..  

"Yet Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian ancestry, who make up some 12% of the population (same as Blacks in the US), have often been said to be the drivers of the Dominican economy, providing cheap labour in droves. The Dominican Republic’s GDP in 2013 was almost eight times Haiti’s. The economic growth that the Dominican Republic has enjoyed has been built on the back of what was already an underclass. A poor, often black underclass denied most of the rights of lighter-skinned citizens. Toiling on building sites or on farms with little bargaining power or recognition. Sound familiar? South Africa?"

I will not visit Dominican Republic again until and unless they reverse this blatantly racist and inhumane decision. I hope that others will follow suit. Hit them where it hurts. Their economy depends on tourism. Make a statement. BOYCOTT DOMINICAN REPUBLIC!!!

June 2010; Dominican Republic

Pass it on...

Friday, October 31, 2014

Affordable Healthcare, Not Part of the American Dream...

What is wrong in America that anything remotely related to medical care is so damn expensive and why are we as consumers buying into the nonsense that somehow it is because what we get is "superior"?
I am in Panama. A few days ago I saw an Internal Medicine doctor without an appointment, no long wait and he was not rushing to get me out of his office. He took his time and answered every question I had and charged me a whopping $15 for the office visit!!! I needed lab work, which was done on site, for another $106; FOUR tests!!! I had the results by end of day... The medicine he prescribed cost $3.83!!!
Yesterday I went for a mammogram. It did not require a prescription, I had no appointment and it included an ultrasound, a much more thorough exam which I have never had done in the states! It cost me a whopping $40!!! It was so reasonable, I paid for my Friend's exam as well as a belated birthday gift! We barely waited, the staff was nice and only because there is a holiday upon us, Panama's Independence, we will wait one week for our results. INcredible!!!
We left from the radiologists, had a hearty lunch for two for less than $6.00 and then off I went to the dentist. Again, I paid a whopping $44 for a cleaning which was done by the DENTIST not a hygienist and had x-rays, a basic initial visit in the states for $44! I will return to have major work done that will cost me $6,000 in the states but will cost less than $2,200 here! Seems a no brainer!!!
Something is very wrong with the U.S. Medical system. It has become a racket. That explains why there is a huge fight against President Obama's push for affordable and accessible health care. Can't have that, too many people and industries stand to lose money. To hell with healthy American citizens!
What other explanation is available to make sense of why the same services we receive in the states for HIGH dollar are so affordable, accessible, simplistic and encouraged in Panama and other places? NOTHING about the medical industry in the states is any of those things where we pay $1,000 for an aspirin in the hospital, $4,000 for an ambulance ride around the corner, and a host of inflated charges for medicine and nonsense "medical" procedures.
I met a Canadian man the other day who could very well go home and get free treatment for his wife who needs a serious heart operation. In the states there are only 3 hospitals that perform the type of operation she needs. The cheapest of the three will charge $183,000. They opted to have the surgery here in Panama for $40,000. The Family has no insurance here in Panama. If he did, if I did, if we were residents or citizens, our minuscule bills would be even less. There was another American at the doctors office while I was there. He paid a whopping $7.00 for his visit. My dentist told me a mammogram for her would cost only $28!
Something is very wrong in America. I will get as much done as I can while I am here. ENT, GYN and Colonoscopy. TMI, I know but I want to impress upon you that there is another way. Open your mind to understand that America is not always the best! The pharmaceutical companies that rip us off in the states, sell the same damn medication in other countries at affordable prices. It is horrible!!! I will return to the states with a clear mind medically and still have a few bucks in my pocket. Works for me and it is money and time well spent!!!
Take care of yourself folks and/or do your homework, choose a place to visit that has good and affordable medical services (Cuba is a good choice!) get on an airplane, enjoy your vacation and get your doctors appointments out of the way at the same time! Not a bad deal. Kill two very important birds with one stone. IJS...  the medical industry in the United States? 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola and Good Timing!

Timing is everything. It seems had I stayed in Ghana another week or so, it might not have been so easy getting back in the US. As Ghana so far, is not one of the affected countries, no one asked me a thing coming through Customs. Nothing. Although I had expected at least a question about how I was feeling or where I might have traveled while there... Honestly, I had considered visiting a few African countries while on the continent before coming home but decided against it. I felt it wiser not to complicate the matter. Ghana was on the safe list and I decided not to roll the dice. Good decision...
Since coming home I have had two experiences where medical professionals were leery of being in my presence. One was a doctor who literally tried to diagnose me for bronchitis or pneumonia from across the room. I said to her, so the nurse has obviously told you that I was in Africa so now you think you can diagnose me from across the room? She turned beet red and then gave me a BS exam. I reported her and was asked to return to see a real doctor who examined me to see why in fact my chest was feeling so heavy. He did not guess. He listened to me breathe and took an x-ray!!
I have been home for 18 days. I have absolutely NONE of the symptoms of Ebola and the incubation period is 21 days. I am no more in the woods than are those who are reading this post. I complained that it was her type of "medical" response that allowed the situation in Texas to escalate. The deceased went to the hospital as soon as he felt the symptoms, fully disclosed his circumstances and was sent home in a highly contagious state. Who knows why the nurse turned him away but if it was due to fear and a desire to just get him out of the hospital, that has proven to have been a HUGE mistake. Granted I understand the need for precaution but if our medical professionals are afraid, we all need to be damn worried!
I compare Ebola to HIV & AIDS in that as long as it was restricted to Africa, as was HIV & AIDS to the gay community, it was not "our" (mainstream America) problem. The lesson is that we live in a global society without borders. Nothing is restricted to any one class or place. We ARE our Brother's Keepers.
Be Well Everyone and live wisely. Wash your hands regularly, don't shake hands with others and think as well as behave with good hygiene sense where ever possible. Wipe down gym equipment BEFORE & AFTER use. While we can control with whom we swap saliva, blood, urine, feces, vomit, semen and some other body fluids, swapping sweat with strangers can pose a very real, unknown risk. This thing is getting crazier by the day...
Glad to be home albeit only briefly. Panama & South America this time... Looking forward to it!
¡Ten Cuidado Mis Amigos!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Black, White & Blue...

Over the past few days, I have watched this video several times as it makes its way around the internet. It captured a White woman preventing the arrest of an innocent Black man in her neighborhood. I admire and applaud this woman for her courage and that she cared enough to intervene and come to the aid of another less capable of defending himself.

I am struck however by two things;

(1) Black officers, in the nation's capital no less, harassing an innocent Black victim for simply being present in the "wrong" neighborhood, an indication of their distorted view of themselves and that blue blood runs DEEP! and 

(2) I wonder if me, as a Black female attorney, could so forcibly assert myself by intervening in police activity and achieve the same result. Would I warrant the same level of respect or would I be sitting on the curb next to the accused under arrest for obstruction of justice? Did this woman even have to indicate that she was an attorney or was being White enough to command total compliance and damn near an apology from these Black officers? What would have been the response, to her much less to me, if the officers were White? Acquiescence? Hmmm, Just Wondering...

Happy for the outcome but the background music is not so melodic to my ears. Conversely, it is deeply disturbing no matter the radio station. Officers are in such denial of their inherent bias, which is so ingrained in rank and file from top to bottom, that it renders them incapable of being objective and therefore incapable of doing their job effectively. I am pessimistic that their prejudice can ever be fixed or reversed. So now what?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lights Out in Ghana!

Ghana still has issues with its infrastructure. Supplying electricity is a huge problem. Roving outages are scheduled, usually for 12 hour periods in various parts of town. While one area is out, some other area is going full blast. If you don't have a generator and lots of people don't, you endure the outage in pure darkness. And let me tell you some areas are pitch black! They manage. Guess they are just used to it. Like that bucket, you had better have some alternative light source if you are planning to live in Ghana! Keep the cell phone charged, save all data when working on the computer and keep a modem (air card) because with the electricity goes your internet router! You must live to plan for outages... Crazy in 2014. I know...

Well, this a first. Our lights went out somewhere around 6am yesterday morning. It is almost 6am again, still no lights... Thankfully we have a generator but it runs on diesel fuel and as you can imagine, pumping it for 24 hours can get quite pricey. We turned it off for some portion of the day and overnight. I thought for sure when I returned last night, certainly when I awoke this morning, that the lights would be back on. Not! Oh Ghana...

Be thankful for the little things folks! We take so much for granted.

This is one Ghana-Ism that I will not miss...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ghana-Ism: Ghanaian Meets "Bronie"


Today I travel to the Ashanti region, to Kumasi. I purposely travel by bus to see the country side, just as I did when in South Africa, from Jo'Burg to Durban. This ride however is much shorter, four hours as compared to seven or eight... Although I am thinking that I probably should have made arrangements to fly back. No need to see the country side coming and going. Oh Well...

When I called the bus company to inquire about price and scheduling, the agent was overly friendly and seemed impressed that I am a tourist scheduling a trip with his company. He very proudly told me how nice the buses are, how efficient the company is and that when I was ready to travel I should ask for him. Not a problem...

Shortly after speaking with him I get a call from an unknown number. I answer and he lets me know that it is him. This was a call from his personal number. Soon after again, I get a text message from the same number...  He texts "Hi Hellen its me again, Ive really not had any white frnd b4 and I would want us to be frnds if u ok with it" and then he signs his name...  Poor Thing!!!

I text back; Sorry to inform you but you still don't. Not that we are friends, but I am FAR from White. Helen from NJ (as I had referred to myself when he asked what state I was from) is a PROUD Black American woman! Burst his little bubble. He apologized profusely. I think he was terribly embarrassed and thought that he had hurt my feelings. He called and texted me back to make sure I knew how sorry he was. Told him not to sweat it. Sure he will never verbalize that assumption again...

Although I have been told that in some respects the Ghanaians consider Blacks [Americans] as they do Whites...  I am told it is because we "talk like them"...  They call us all "Bronies" (or something to that effect). I thought it was a derogatory term reserved for Whites but no, they call us (Black folks) Bronies too...  Conversely, I have been corrected more times than I can count when my response to what part of Africa I am from is that I am American. They smile and say yes but you are African and welcome me "home"! So there are mixed views regarding Black folks I suppose...

I am off to meet my "new best Friend" and travel to see the Ashanti region where I will stay for at least one night, if not two. Enjoy Your Day. I will report back in...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

When Two Black Women Gather In Ghana...

Today I will have lunch with Dr. Esi Sutherland-Addy. She is the daughter of the late Efua Sutherland, noted poet, writer and author here in Ghana also the woman who most befriended and inspired Maya Angelou during her time in Ghana. She writes about their relationship in her book that I just finished reading, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes
I feel honored that Professor Sutherland, who teaches at the Institute for African Studies at University of Ghana, agreed to give little ole' me some of her time. I met with her briefly in her office on Thursday. I stopped by her office expecting only to make an appointment to see her but she received me without an appointment. Ghanaians are such gracious people.
We chatted a bit. My interest in meeting with her is to share and get feedback and another perspective on what have been my experiences, observations and concerns while in Ghana. When it became evident that we will likely engage in spirited and insightful discussion, she suggested that we meet for lunch today.
Nothing by chance. It is no coincidence that Maya passed while I am here in Ghana thereby prompting me to read the book she wrote about her time in Ghana. I had no idea when I picked up the book that it had anything to do with Ghana. It is no coincidence that I will have lunch with the daughter of the woman who was such a tremendous influence for Maya during her journey in Ghana. Nothing by chance.
I look forward to being amazed following my Gathering with a Black Woman in Ghana...