ISSUE 06 DEDICATED TO THE LATE JOHN LEWIS
T H E AWA R E N E S S T I E S ™ O F F I C I A L M A G A Z I N E F O R C A U S E S THAVIUS BECK ‘TO MAKE MANIFEST’
(ON THE COVER)
DR. DELA TAGHIPOUR
‘THE STATE OF THE PANDEMIC’
‘KNOCKING DOWN THE FENCES’
‘MAKING HISTORY (AGAIN)’
‘PRINCIPLES OF WINNING’
DR. JENNY MARTIN ‘MY FELLOW WHITE PEOPLE’
‘BLACK LIVES MATTER VS. ALL LIVES MATTER’
‘COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE’
‘THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A SYSTEM IS DESIGNED TO FAIL’
‘THE INTERSECTION OF DISABILITY, PEOPLE OF COLOR & THE POLICE’
THE AMERICA EDITION
CONVERSATIONS TO INSPIRE A NEW NARRATIVE FOR OUR NATION
The America Edition of AwareNow Magazine is dedicated to the late John Lewis who dared to inspire a new narrative for our nation.
"Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant. Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates... Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don't be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice. And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a beloved community that is finally at peace with itself.â€? - John Lewis
THE AMERICA EDITION
This edition is dedicated to the late John Lewis. It is a collection of conversations to inspire further conversations that will shape our nation’s narrative with equality and inclusion. AwareNow™ is a monthly publication produced by Awareness Ties™ in partnership with Issuu™. Awareness Ties as the ‘Official Symbol of Support for Causes’, is changing the way causes are supported with a tie that raises both awareness and funds. We raise awareness with national campaigns and funds with local events and online fundraisers. 06 BLACK LIVES MATTER VS. ALL LIVES MATTER CHRIS THOMAS
08 MY FELLOW WHITE PEOPLE DR. JENNY MARTIN
10 TO MAKE MAINFEST THAVIUS BECK
14 COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE LISA BOWMAN
18 PRINCIPLES OF WINNING DESMOND CLARK
20 HASHTAG AMERICA ALEX SPARKS
24 HAUNTED 4TH OF JULY PROVIDENCE BOWMAN/BRIANNA BROWN
26 THE INTERSECTION OF DISABILITY, PEOPLE OF COLOR AND THE POLICE JOEL CARTNER
30 A FUTURE HISTORY
36 THIS IS AMERICA: FOUND IN TRANSLATION CHILDISH GAMBINO
38 A WORK OF PROGRESS, A WORK OF ART PROVIDENCE BOWMAN
48 MAKING HISTORY (AGAIN) SANTIA DECK
50 THE STATE OF THE PANDEMIC DR. DELA TAGHIPOUR
52 ESCAPE 2020 DOM CZEPIGA
54 KNOCKING DOWN THE FENCES A.J. ANDREWS
62 ONE MILLION LEADERS SEBASTIAN HOFBAUER
66 SUSTAINABLE STEM ANDREW GAO
70 COOKING ITALIAN WHILE FEEDING AMERICA BRUNO SERATO
32 INTERNAL ERROR CHRISTIAN JOHNSON
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United we stand. Together we rise. JACK & ALLIÈ McGUIRE AWARENESS TIES™ C0-FOUNDERS 4
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On July 4, 1776, we formed the United States. We called it our Independence Day. On July 4, 2020, we are still fighting to form a more perfect union. We are fighting for equal rights. We are standing up to discrimination. We are learning how systemic racism has played a major role in our Nation’s history. In this edition of AwareNow, we explore independent thoughts and curate conversations from leaders of the new narrative in America. Awareness Ties™ stands beside our allies on the frontlines of the Black Lives Matter movement, the LGBTQ community and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as every man women and child. We stand for equality, unity and inclusivity. Right now, history is being written. We are changing the narrative. While we can't change the past, we can change the future. ALLIÉ McGUIRE Editor In Chief & Co-Founder of Awareness Ties Allié is a Taurus. She started her career in performance poetry, then switched gears to wine where she made a name for herself as an online wine personality and content producer. She then focused on original content production under her own label The Allié Way™ before marrying the love of her life (Jack) and switching gears yet again to a pursue a higher calling to raise awareness and funds for causes with Awareness Ties™. Connect with Allié on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/alliemerrick JACK McGUIRE Production Manager & Co-Founder of Awareness Ties Jack is a Gemini. He got his start in the Navy before his acting and modeling career. Jack then got into hospitality, focusing on excellence in service and efficiency in operations and management. After establishing himself with years of experience in the F&B industry, he sought to establish something different… something that would allow him to serve others in a greater way. With his wife (Allié), Awareness Ties™ was born. Connect with Jack on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jack-mcguire-609339186 PROVIDENCE BOWMAN Awareness Ties Cause Columnist Providence is a Gemini as well. She is a college student at Grand Valley State University, studying International Relations. She is passionate about using her words for good and is currently piecing stories together in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She loves to spend her free time traveling, with her head in a book, and by the water. She lives everyday by her mantra that we are here to pursue opportunities and “go be awesome”. Connect with Providence on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/providence-bowman-b3a07b179 5
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My goal was to share my own personal story as a way of shedding light on the gap between aspiration and reality. CHRIS THOMAS NEWS ANCHOR/REPORTER, ABC10 6
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BLACK LIVES MATTER VS. ALL LIVES MATTER? CLARIFICATION ON THE MESSAGE AND THE MOVEMENT Black Lives Matter is a statement and a movement. It’s a phrase that’s been met both with strength and pride, along with hurt and anger. So, why do we say ‘Black Lives Matter’ as opposed to ‘All Lives Matter’? The answer to this must be given within the context of our times. Such an answer was provided by Anchor Chris Thomas with ABC10 News. In 2 minutes and 40 seconds, he explains why we use one of these statements, as opposed to the other. - Allié M. ALLIÉ: Your story is so personal and very so powerful. Thank you so much for sharing, Chris. How has your story been received? CHRIS: I have been overwhelmed by the international response to sharing my truth when it comes to saying #blacklivesmatter vs. #alllivesmatter. My goal was to share my own personal story as a way of shedding light on the gap between aspiration and reality. People from across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and beyond have reached out to me. Many of them expressed their appreciation for sparking an open and honest conversation as the world community continues the march toward a more just and equal society. I'm honored to be part of this important conversation. Explore and follow the source: www.abc10.com Follow Chris: www.facebook.com/ChrisThomasNews
WHAT’S WRONG WITH SAYING “ALL LIVES MATTER” ABC10 ANCHOR CHRIS THOMAS EXPLAINS
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It is a beginningâ€Ś It is many things, but it is not an arrival. DR. JENNY MARTIN Dr. Jenny Martin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Chicago, IL. Her private practice, Gemstone Wellness, specializes in working with adolescents and adults touched by depression, anxiety, trauma, loss, purposelessness, and issues related to race, sexuality and gender expression. Jenny possesses an extensive background in the arts, specifically in music, and she enjoys incorporating creative mediums to facilitate emotional expression. Jenny received both her Masters Degree and her Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She completed her Bachelor's Degree in Music and Songwriting at Berklee College of Music. Visit Gemstone Wellness (www.gemstonewellness.com) and follow on Instagram @gemstonewellnessinc 8
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MY FELLOW WHITE PEOPLE CORRESPONDENCE TO COURSE CORRECT BY DR. JENNY MARTIN
This is an open letter to my fellow white people. As part of my continuing education and re-education as a white American, I have vowed to have difficult conversations when I see or hear racially insensitive content in the virtual and/or real world. This is just one of the ways I am working to do my part to dismantle racism and continue my own journey towards the eradication of white supremacy. - Dr. Jenny M. This week, I came across a theme. I learned that there are many white folks who feel viscerally offended when lumped into racially insensitive, harmfully white categories. These white people feel angered and incensed, as they feel that they, personally, have not contributed to the racist past and present of our country. In contrast, they feel that they have worked to intentionally treat everyone with respect and dignity. They believe that this is enough. I have noticed that this group tends to feel passionately upset when their missteps are pointed out, or when their lack of awareness is called into question. I notice that they often respond defensively and act out of a sense of woundedness. I find myself responding this way, too, at times. So, I say what I am about to say to myself, as well as to those who may be ready to hear it:
You are part of the problem. I am part of the problem. We spin the wheel of racial injustice. Yes, even the "nice white people.” The blatant, obvious forms of racism, that this group I’m speaking of abhors and rejects, make up just the tip of the evil iceberg. You and I keep it afloat. I know that this truth is painful, and I know it may make no sense. I remember feeling that way when my eyes were pried open to the impact of my whiteness. It is, however, no less true. There are reasons that academia exists to the highest degree on the oppression of people of color. Unless you are a white person with a PhD in Africana Studies, African American Studies, or something very related, your job is nearly entirely to listen. (And even if you do hold one of these titles, it's still your job to listen and confront the ways your whiteness contributes to problematic systems). You and I do not get to state, “I am not a racist.” That is a goal we must fight for, but it is not a title we can casually claim. It is a beginning, it is a starting point. It is a lifelong process. It is many things, but it is not an arrival. If a piece of you feels curious reading this, I encourage you to research, ask, and listen. If you aren't ready for taking those steps, I challenge you to reflect non-defensively when feedback is aimed your way. Even - especially- when it comes in the form of anger. You may not see it at this moment, but I promise you, it IS yours to absorb. It IS mine to absorb. If nothing else, try to take a pause the next time your hackles rise. After all, we tend to get most angered when a mirror reflects what we most dislike within.
To the black community and to people of color, I vow to take ownership for any blind spots or approaches that do more harm than good. I vow to keep accepting feedback and I promise to keep learning.
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Make what you want. THAVIUS BECK Thavius Beck, an Ableton-certified trainer, electronic musician, producer and performer has worked with artists including Nine Inch Nails, Skylar Grey, Saul Williams, The Mars Volta and many more. Heâ€™s taught at Dubspot in NY and LA, and currently teaches at Electronic Music Collective and Noiselab. Follow Thavius on Instagram: @thaviusbeck Photo Credit: Azul Amaral (@azul213) 10 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
TO MAKE MANIFEST
THE MUSIC AND THE MANTRA OF A MOVEMENT It is amazing how some music has a way of being timeless and impactful during different points in time, transcending the moment it was created and landing directly on the pulse of the current movement. ‘To Make Manifest’ is one of these songs, powerful in 2004 when it was released and now 16 years later it serves as a mantra for a nation in flux and in dire need of action. We spoke with Thavius on how his song has endured with relevance for so many years. What come from it was enlightenment on so many levels. - Jack M. ALLIÉ: I was so excited when Jack introduced me to your music, specifically ‘To Make Manifest’. What inspired this? THAVIUS: I mean, I guess it’s like a mantra… On the most basic level we create whatever reality we want. You think about things. It makes you start to act on certain things… Just on a basic ‘cause and effect’ level, your thoughts dictate your actions. Your actions dictate your reality. And you dictate all of that. So you are able to make manifest whatever you want. Going a bit beyond that, we’re creators ultimately. No matter what sort of religion you do or don’t believe in, we can make things out of nothing. You can make a song out of nothing. You can make a painting that didn’t exist and create a new visual thing that no one has seen before. In that sense, it’s the same kind of thing. We can dream these things, and make it real. We can make it tangible, but it’s all about putting actions behind your thoughts. Video Director: Ben Barnes (@benwmbarnes)
TO MAKE MANIFEST A SONG WITH AN INVITATION TO MANIFEST YOUR OWN REALITY
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In the act of making and creating, you won’t be absorbing and consuming all the b.s. that might lead you down a path that’s not naturally yours. 12 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
There's just too much division and and there are too many efforts made to split and divide people along imaginary lines that don't really exist. JACK: A lot of people believe they are not racist. A lot of people believe racism doesn’t exist any more. What are your thoughts? THAVIUS: That's the thing. You know, my true thoughts on all this go so far beyond this because ultimately the reason there's racism is because race exists. And race is made up. There’s no such thing as race, right, so all this division is based on something that’s been made up and that we've chosen to accept and just roll with and then deal with all the consequences of this made up concept. That's the root of the issue. We’re living in this made-up fantasy and we've all agreed to just go along with these arbitrary rules that don't mean anything. What is race? I'm not ‘black’. My skin's not black. I have black shirts and clothes over here. But I’ve taken on that label because why? Because someone put it on me. I never woke up and said, “Call me black.” But it's one of those things where if you say that in the wrong context to the wrong person at the wrong time it's like, “Oh you're not down with the cause.” Or you're not this and you're not that. I’ve experienced things on both sides, where it’s either you’re not black enough or you're whatever… It's a weird thing where I think the main issue is that there's just too much division and and there are too many efforts made to split and divide people along imaginary lines that don't really exist.
A CONVERSATION WITH THAVIUS JACK AND ALLIÉ SPEAK WITH THAVIUS BECK ABOUT HIS SONG ‘TO MAKE MANIFEST’
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Having tough conversations and communicating openly and honestly is more important than ever in our current environment. LISA BOWMAN Lisa Bowman is the founder and Chief Mojo Officer (CMO) of Marketing Mojo, an agency that lives at the intersection of Purpose and Profit. She is the former CMO of the United Way and serves as an Official Advisor for Awareness Tiesâ„˘. 14 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE
COMMUNICATING IN AN UNCOMFORTABLE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL CLIMATE Silence is complicity, but speaking out can be scary in these days and times. For this reason, Awareness Ties reached out to Lisa Bowman, a communications expert and our Official Advisor, to teach us all about how to ‘be comfortable with being uncomfortable. - Jack & Allié M. Both personally and professionally, it's getting more uncomfortable to speak. It's hard to know just what to say and what not to say without offending. We’re living in a time when a question that yesterday was so simple, so rote, “How are you?” is today potentially loaded with booby traps. There’s the unloading of vexation with the political landscape, the stress of perhaps a loss of a job or sheer frustration quarantine and COVID are resulting in, then there’s the anger. The anger about what’s happening socially. We know the names that sparked the movement. At least the most recent ones: George, Breonna, Armaud. Like Kanye, Cher and Madonna, no last name is needed. The plethora of issues facing us have sparked conversations about race, justice, policing and politics in the workplace and at home. But these conversations, on topics we’ve historically NOT brought into the workplace, or maybe even our homes are happening. And they’re not easy. So how do we do this, and how do we do it right? Is there even a “right” way to do it? Often for fear of doing it wrong, we do nothing at all. We stay silent. And silence is complicity.
The reason why these conversations are so difficult is because they are deeply emotional. Inside everybody, there’s an internal scale of justice. Everybody has a profound internal belief of what’s right and wrong. When that’s out of balance, it hurts us deeply. Fear of saying the wrong thing often keeps us from wanting to engage in a discussion about race and inequality, or even politics in the first place. That’s often because while the payoff of such conversations can be unclear (dismantling systemic racism ), the risk (rejection of your own beliefs) is much clearer. When you’re having these conversations, it might seem like we’re discussing specific issues, but what we’re really talking about is who we are and our perspective on what the world should be; then we’re comparing what the world should be and what it is. Thoughtful dialogue can, and should acknowledge difference of perspectives while inviting empathy, stoking questions that lead to conversation and a resolve to jointly solve a problem. It likely won’t conclude with finding resolution to a really large complex issue, like fixing systemic racism, but the starting point is to achieve validation that people’s concerns are not only heard but also understood.
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Think about this; If you are feeling it, likely others are feeling it too, so why not talk about it in the spirt of facilitating understanding, seeing other perspectives and potentially defining solutions? The fear of what could go wrong in that conversation should be minuscule compared to what may happen if people hold it in.
In order to thoughtfully engage in these discussions, do your own work to understand what shapes your perspective and world view, and educate yourself on the things you may need to either learn or unlearn in order to see the other party’s perspective. Be prepared to understand how your own experience, because of your race, political beliefs and background, will shape what you bring to and take from the conversation. Before diving in, hit “pause” and engage in some self-reflection before engaging in these conversations. Establish a realistic goal for the outcome of this conversation. If it’s just for you to be heard, great, that in and of itself is an outcome that can be easily achieved. A good entry point with starting a difficult conversation is to candidly acknowledge its difficulty and validate the other person’s feelings, whether it’s shock, sadness, anger, confusion or shared discomfort. Next, exercise curiosity by asking open ended questions to gain insight into the other person’s perspective. Make sure to qualify this is a “safe space” where the other party can speak freely and openly without fear of judgment. By showing that respect, they will hopefully extend the same courtesy to you. Using phrases like “can you help me understand why you feel/see things that way” or “thank you for raising that point, I have a few questions about that” can help break down the emotional barriers that emerge when discussing uncomfortable topics, ensuring the other person doesn’t feel they have to be defensive in explaining their point of view. Having tough conversations and communicating openly and honestly is more important than ever in our current environment. There’s often no single “right” answer to the situations we’re facing and people aren’t always going to agree, but it’s better to hear someone out and perhaps “agree to disagree” vs. deferring the conversation which may lead to larger issues down the road. Lisa Bowman is the founder and Chief Mojo Officer (CMO) of Marketing Mojo, an agency that lives at the intersection of Purpose and Profit. She most recently served as United Way Worldwide’s Chief Marketing Officer leading the organization’s global marketing team with the objective of highlighting the organization’s image and 130 -year history of galvanizing donors, advocates, volunteers and workplace partners to fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. She joined United Way Worldwide from a 15- year career at UPS. Lisa began her career with UPS in 2000 as Vice President of Market Development for UPS e-Ventures, the company’s dot-com incubator. In subsequent senior level marketing roles with the logistics company, she led several high-profile marketing initiatives designed to transform UPS from its historical position as a business -to -business entity into a business-to- business- to -consumer entity. Following UPS’ 2001 acquisition of the former Mail Boxes, Etc. network of nearly 4,000 franchised locations, Lisa led the integration and re-branding to The UPS Store™. In 2009, she developed and launched UPS Direct-to Door, a co-op media product intended to compete with direct mail. She then took as role in The UPS Foundation, where as part of her $80 million social investment portfolio she also oversaw the transportation company’s United Way campaign. Lisa was Target Marketing Magazine’s “Marketer of the Year” (December 2019) and was also recognized by the American Marketing Association as the 2017 Non-Profit Marketer of the Year. Her work has received numerous awards inclusive of the Harvey Communications Awards, multiple Gold Stevie® Awards, multiple PRNews Awards, and multiple Gold MarComm awards. The PSA campaign she launched on behalf of United Way in her inaugural year was recognized as PSA of the Year by PRNews. Under her leadership, United Way’s research team also received a DigitalEdge 50 Award for PerformanceLink; the organization’s first Business Intelligence tool. Lisa holds a B.A. in Marketing from Columbia and has completed executive education at Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business. Lisa also holds a seat on the National Board of the American Marketing Association. Find Lisa: email@example.com or www.linkedin.com/in/lisalynnprofile 16 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
AWARENESS TIES SUPPORTS
21 CAUSES SUPPORT YOURS AT WWW.AWARENESSTIES.US FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
All you have is your name and your word. DESMOND CLARK FORMER NFL PLAYER, AUTHOR, SPEAKER, & AWARENESS TIESâ„¢ OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR CANCER AWARENESS Desmond Clark is a former star NFL Tight End, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Author, Speaker, and Inspirational Business Coach. He has appeared on ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC, WGN, ESPN, Comcast News Makers and other network TV and radio stations as a thought leader, author, speaker, and life coach. Desmond is the author of Before and Beyond the Game and his second book Principles of Winning. Learn more about Desmond and his story at Awareness Ties (www.awarenessties.us/desmondclark). Learn about his book here: www.beawarebehere.com/principles 18 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
PRINCIPLES OF WINNING YOUR NAME & YOUR WORD FOR THE WIN
We started speaking about principles, then we found ourselves discussing denominators (the common ones). Conversations with Desmond always result in key insights - profound and powerful in their simplest terms. As an Official Ambassador for Awareness Ties, he is also a friend and family to Jack and myself. - Allié M. ALLIÉ: You wrote this book, Principles of Winning, where you define 5 keys for creating a standard of excellence. My question for you, Desmond, is of these 5 what 2 are most important for getting a win right now in America? DESMOND: It’s the first two I mention in the book. 1) All you have is your name and your word. 2) The power of relationships and how to establish those relationships. I believe there are so many relationships that are broken her in the United States. Social or political we need to mend them and make them better. All you have is your name and your word. I look at the United States and I say, “You know, what is your name and your word all about? You haven’t necessarily lived up to what you said.” In this time in our history, I personally don’t feel like the name and the word (of the United States) has been honored. I believe that there are a lot of relationships that need to be mended and fixed.
A CONVERSATION WITH DESMOND AN INTERVIEW EXPLORING BEST PRACTICES AND PRINCIPLES FOR WINNING IN LIFE
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Thereâ€™s something so beautiful about the way poems can mean totally different things to different people at different times. ALEX SPARKS SPOKEN WORD POET & ENTREPRENEUR Follow Alex on Instagram @alexsparks 20 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
PATRIOTISM VIA POETRY NEVER SOUNDED SO HONEST Let me begin by stating that THIS poem, ‘Hashtag America’ is one of my favorite poems of all time. There are people, places and poems that you come across in life that are unforgettable. This is one of those. It was a personal honor and pleasure to speak with Alex about his work. - Allié M. ALLIÉ: Some people write for themselves, and some people write for others. Then there are those who write for both. When you wrote ‘Hashtag America’ in 2013, a poem that is just as relevant today as it was then, was this for Alex or was this for others? ALEX: I think that when i wrote ‘Hashtag America’, in 2013, I was writing for myself. I think I was writing from myself, to myself… but to myself as a part of a collective - to the millennial generation. I think I was just trying to say something that I needed to hear as someone who was kind of like a cog in the big machine of being in your 20s in the 2010s. It was me trying to say what I wish someone had been saying already. Sometimes putting feelings and emotions into words is such a task and an undertaking. Then sometimes I just hear a sentence, a phrase, a line or a word, and it just feels like what I’ve been trying to get out of my forever. That’s how I felt writing this poem. I feel that way every day.
HASHTAG AMERICA A POEM ABOUT GROWING UP IN AMERICA
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HASHTAG AMERICA By: Alex Sparks
When your school friends start having kids of their own they're too grown for sleepovers. Smoking cigarettes like red vines, drinking red wine out of sippy cups. We are all growing up in different directions. Got facial hair and dreadlocks, nose rings and pregnancy scares. We just can't seem to keep our hands off of each other's business. So we grab fistfuls of tantrum and throw them into the sun, hoping these back-lit highways help us forget where we came from. I've seen good friends fall for bad women. The closest excuse I've ever heard of for drinking sounds an awful lot like burying love, like marrying for love sounds an awful lot like too much responsibility. So keep you keepsakes to yourself there's no secrets here. You want it? Take it. There's nothing sacred. Hungry? Eat it. No need for permission. We're all just broken people trying to keep from getting forgotten about. So we spend our youth chasing foxtails and pretty skirts. Lighting fires to blow up dresses, we've burnt down more princesses than a boy scout with a nicotine problem but we get burned, lesson learned. So we burn our first names into palms of past lovers. Write poems on the mile markers of highways and toss our high school diplomas into the ocean, because we all know what it feels like to come from privilege. Welcome to America. Where we bleed in red, white, and blue vintage and rugged individualism. We love factory workers and "We Can Do It," M-16s and the 4th of July. So we try to hide behind the lies of Peter Pan but we can't grow out of our hand guns, so we hand them to our fathers and swear, "American youth don't pull triggers no more." Pretending we are worth our weight in adventure, that we are both World War II survivors and Vietnam protestors. We hate our government, but love our country, so we burn our flag to hide our Bibles in its smoke rings. And we've been blowing halos of discontent down Route 66 and badmouthing every town we rub our lips against. We are not some retro, makeshift, bohemian kissing booth for the upper middle class to write home about, not a dialogue box to be exaggerated over cocktails. We do not own bodies without holes in them. We all have different reasons for the holes in our knees. Some of us from writing prayers, and others of us from answering them. We cannot make up our mind about an era we were not born into. So we Photoshop our photos to look older and vintage. 22 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
Weathered and worn from make believe years in shoeboxes, top dresser drawers and tucked into wartime helmets. Keepsakes from a time before we had lived lives worth the photographs. We are nothing but fake patriots and hippies without Hendrix. We like the good ol' days and Levi's denim Old vinyl and Bob Dylan. We're making villains out of growing up, so we're throwing up peace signs, and smoking peace pipes like the Native Americans. For some stupid reason, I am so proud to be part Native American. Even though my skin tone reads like plagiarism, I still cite it in my bone structure. Know nothing of their struggle and everything of their feathers. We love to pick pocket from cultures we are fond of, but there are some nights, I want to wrap my last name in smallpox just to remind myself I am a part of something bigger than this nation's youth. Tragedy or movement. As long as the earth is willing to straighten out her spine we will dance with her. Even if the sparks are self made righteous, we will write to it. Spread your holy skeleton across the teeth of God. Dare him to whisper, "Shadow chaser, you are worth more than where you came from." You are not your grandfather's shotgun nor your grandmother's garden. You are a house fire without a name, a freedom fighter's wet dream. He knows you closest when he cleans himself. A cold shower has a way of reminding you of who you have been and of the bodies you have made caskets out of. I can no longer lie in your bed without checking for a pulse. Six weeks sober is just long enough to get thirsty again. Please do not get thirsty again. We are all both a first born and a biggest regret. We make all of our own mistakes. I would not ask you to bury your nation's dead, only your own. We have forgotten how to live without pictures to prove it. Life only happens when it gets tweeted. People are dying 140 characters at a time. We filter everything like it's 1975. Tag me "Patriotic" #America @afraidtoactyourage sounds a lot like growing up.
ALLIÉ: I have many favorite parts of this poem, one of them is “I’m so proud to be part Native American. Even though my skin tone reads like plagiarism, I still cite it in my bone structure. Know nothing of their struggle and everything of their feathers.” I’d love to hear about your experience growing up part Native American. Such a powerful statement to claim a heritage that you partially exhibit and partially understand. Was it hard as a kid? ALEX: In those lines, I feel like you can hear me wrestling with it. I feel like in the turn of the phrase you can hear that I’m almost uncomfortable saying this because it's a heritage that as a kid it was just kind of ‘there’. It was like this like ethereal background noise that ‘we are Native American’. I grew up in small town in Oklahoma, and so everyone kind of is in some degree, or at least we were raised to believe we were. It wasn't a day-to-day part of our lives, but it was one of those things that felt like something I could latch onto like some type of stability that meant family. It meant something. It meant roots. It meant a foundation. So, I think because of that what I started wrestling with as i grew older was the longing for that connection. Later on in the poem I talk about not just not wanting to be a part of only ‘this nation's youth’, and I think that is me calling back to those native american roots wanting to be not just written off as a young kid, not wanting to just be seen as what's wrong with the new kind of internet generation. I think that there's always been that tension that wrestling. Then just this year, I took a DNA test, and it turned out that I’m barely Native American. So it’s kind of like a weird reset for me of just trying to understand what does it mean and what did it ever mean to me to be part Native American. What does it mean now? In the video, I was still wrestling feeling like I can't say that because I knew how little I knew of that culture. I knew that I was kind of still just like grabbing for the feathers. I was still just trying to attach myself to the beauty and the romance and the sexiness of that culture and that history and kind of like pardoning myself from the majority white side of me.
A CONVERSATION WITH ALEX AN EXCHANGE OF WORDS ABOUT THE BRILLIANT WORDS OF POET ALEX SPARKS
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Donâ€™t be sorry. Be better. BRIANNA BROWN NBC SCREENWRITER 24 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
HAUNTED 4TH OF JULY A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON A DAY OF PATRIOTISM
This year the Fourth of July was a bit different than normal. Instead of the large firework displays and parades flooded with candy and floats, we had time to spend with family and think about what this holiday really means to us as a society and what it means to each individual within our society. This piece is intended to be thought provoking on how we celebrate, why we celebrate, and the things we should celebrate moving forward. - Providence B. Happy Fourth of July? Not for some. Right now in America we see our streets laden with protests, stories, and individuals with powerful and passionate messages for us to absorb. In America we have the First Amendment umbrella to protect our right to free speech, something that we should never take for granted; an Amendment that brings out the best of our country and highlights the pockets of society we need to work on the most. June and July brought on a conglomerate of events that have underlined the Black Lives Matter movement and the need to re-evaluate the state of our country in a powerful light. In July, Americans gathered and celebrated the Fourth of July, the commemoration of the Declaration of Independence in America. This holiday does not have the same meaning for each and every American. It is not a Hallmark holiday that has an exclusive meaning with fireworks and family barbecues. Behind the barbecues and bright lights in the sky, there are people who do not feel celebrated in their country. There are many that are crumbling under the foundation that this country has built. Brianna Brown, a screenwriter for NBC states, “the Fourth of July represents ignorance and unguided faith; that Americans suppress what is going on in the current times and substitute feelings like sensation, celebration, and the awe of fireworks”. Although the effects of the fireworks may be beautiful and radiant, the works and actions that some take in our country create an effect that is “far from pretty and riddled with tragedy” states Brown . We associate our freedom with three simple colors; red, white and blue. Those colors do not emulate freedom for all; for some they “are plagued with tragedy, oppression and white supremacy”. No member of the community should feel a need to put their guard up when they see the flag of their country, or a bumper sticker on a car, that is not what freedom and unity looks like. We are a unique nation, a nation that is home to many, a nation where many have a hard time adjusting too. Brown states “I can't cultivate pride of patriotism for a country that was built on the backs of slaves and has not adequately worked towards righting the wrongs that they have made, but instead has systematically labored to keep black and brown people at constant disadvantage”. As a country we need to keep learning and growing; educating and nurturing; righting our wrongs. We need to continue to encourage the people around us to educate themselves and participate in dialogue, we need to continue to cultivate an environment for learning and growing. We need to continue to cultivate an environment where these things are the norm, and not occurring in isolated, privileged pockets of the public. It is important to listen, read and learn to those who do not have the same experiences as you and do not travel in your shoes. “Don't give up when you mess up, do not waste time beating yourself up for your moments of ignorance, don't be sorry, be better” states Brown. It is important to pursue self improvement and be deliberately and thoughtfully outspoken, even when in the company of those who hold different beliefs than you; do not be afraid to hold that place in the current conversation. In twenty years our country could look very different, tomorrow our country could hold a different conversation, it all depends on how we choose as a nation to take action. The United States Census Bureau states that by 2044 more than half of all Americans are projected to be minorities, compared to now where the minority rate is 40%. The time to learn and take action is now, the future needs us. 25 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
The systemic issues that affect us all are deep, varied, and broad. Continue to demand justice. JOEL CARTNER Joel Cartner is a lawyer and public policy professional with Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia and Retinopathy of Prematurity. Cartner has a background in public health, disability, and education law and policy. He received his J.D. from Quinnipiac University School of Law and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Cartner currently lives in Washington D.C. where he works as a Document Review Attorney while seeking legislative employment. Connect with Joel on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/joel-cartner-j-d-esq-34396b94 26 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
THE INTERSECTION OF DISABILITY, PEOPLE OF COLOR AND THE POLICE A PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE, A UNIFIED OBJECTIVE
Joel reached out to Awareness Ties, with a perspective piece to share. Upon reading it, we saw things we were previously blind to. See what we mean and hear what needs to be heard in this powerful piece by Joel Cartner that inspires us all to demand justice. - Jack M. Before I get into the why and the how of what I’m posting, I want to make one thing very clear. I am not saying that the Black Lives Matter Movement should take up any less space in the public consciousness to accommodate space for disabled lives. I’m a twenty-fiveyear-old white guy with two disabilities. I can only empathize with the experience of a Person of Color. People of Color and people with disabilities face many similar systemic issues. What I am trying to do is show a largely, as yet unseen facet of the systemic issues and murders that disabled people, of yes all races, but particularly People of Color, are facing. And it just so happens that I have the lived experience to put those issues into context. So with that said, buckle up and remember BLM! A very brief description of myself and a non-medical description of my disabilities for context: As I said, I am a White, twenty-five-yearold male with two disabilities. I live in D.C., where I am trying to break into the public policy space. I have Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia. Basically, my muscles are constantly being told to contract by my brain. I walk with a little bit of a limp, pain is my constant companion, standing for long periods is hard, I have difficulty with balance, and I have a lot of muscle spasms all over my body. I also have Retinopathy of Prematurity, which means I don’t have peripheral vision. I’ve stayed fairly quiet with regard to the murder of Gorge Floyd, Breona Taylor, and the Black Lives Matter movement in general because I felt it wasn’t my time to speak. I thought it best to quietly support the movement as best I could while staying out of the way and allowing People of Color to speak for themselves. Increasingly, however, I have seen people posting the statistic that half the people killed by police have a disability. (1) There’s actually a really good White Paper on the subject in the Wall Street Journal linked in the Vox article, but if you need to avoid a paywall, Vox does a good (and verifiable) job on its own. There isn’t a lot of solid data on the exact crosstabs between people that are both of color and disabled that are killed by the police, but factoring in the sheer number of People of Color killed by the police and some ancillary data see (2) the assumption that People of Color make up a higher percentage within the disabled percentage is not much of a leap. It is within the context of disability that I feel more comfortable taking some space. I have been followed by police and made to feel uncomfortable both by police and civilians (see below), but perhaps because I am White and was raised in North Carolina, no one felt the necessity to sit me down and talk to me about how to handle an interaction with the police should they approach me. I have felt the need to be twice as good (see below) and prove my worth on a daily basis particularly in a professional context, I have felt the disgust, horror, and shame as I realize someone equates my physical disabilities with a reduced mental capacity. But again, the issue is not so visibly systemic that anyone felt the need to do anything more than remind me that “some people are just ignorant,” the ADA and IDEA exist and remind me to use my rights. While writing this, I toyed with the idea of shouting about why it is just now that we are turning our attention to the pure density of murders of people with disabilities by the police. In very brief, because my neuroses won’t let me ignore the discussion, that people with disabilities are, to the eyes of most of the world, difficult to look at, and therefore often overlooked in terms of justice (ADA, etc. notwithstanding) and social issues. (3) Here’s the thing though, 1) I’m tired. There’s a world-ending virus that seems specifically designed to kill me and people like me, which the general public can’t seem to internalize, see the public’s lack of willingness to wear a mask (the medical realities surrounding this are a whole other rant). My understanding of the data aside, there’s something uniquely terrifying about 27 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
seeing a group of people have to fight for their fundamental right to exist and know that, to some extent, you’re in that bucket. 2) I have to have this discussion in full view of family and friends that I already know worry about me, and that in turn makes me supremely uncomfortable, and 3) Most importantly: Not everyone that is part of a minority group wants to lead the charge on change. My life is hard. I do not want to spend yet more energy shouting into the void, trying to get the world to change around me to be fair. I have enough trouble navigating it as is. I want to work in public policy on many issues, not just social justice, and there I can, safely ensconced in the wings, work with people better suited and more comfortable with center stage to move the needle. But, it is not mine nor anyone else’s responsibility to lead the charge just because we happen to meet specific criteria. However, as it has been pointed out to me, much to the frustration of my friends and family, a person (me in this case) can take a stand on civil rights without offering themselves up as a leader for a cause. So, here’s me standing not as a professional, but as just me lending my voice to the cause.
First and foremost. I have been made to feel at best uncomfortable and, at worst, threatened by both the police and “civilians.” It’s not fun. I’ve been walking around a grocery store, and I’ve needed to make several passes down an aisle. I don’t have peripheral vision. I literally can’t see both sides of the aisle at the same time. I do, generally, have to take a minute to find what I need. Combine that with the fact that I’m trying to navigate a cart, and not hit anyone that I haven’t seen, and keep my balance, and stop and stand and stop and stand over and over (which is tiring) and look for what I need. My shopping can look really weird. The number of times I’ve noticed an employee and then a security employee subtly trailing me is unsettling, if not entirely surprising. Now let’s suppose it’s dark out and I have to get these groceries home. I’m a guy that walks with a limp, can’t see well at night, can’t balance, and can’t walk in a straight line. Then consider that at times, if I’m tired or in a particular amount of pain, I can have a tendency to mumble. In those instances, it requires much more energy to control my voice, so if I’m not careful, that control slips, and I start to mumble. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been walking somewhere and thought, “is that person[read civilian, or police officer] following me?” “Am I going to have to explain myself??” “Do I look like I belong here (usually in some degree of covered in sweat)?” Then the conversation starts, if they come over here you have to focus, you have to speak clearly, everything else be damned. Because I probably don’t look like I belong, but if I’m stopped and I can’t control my voice as well as I should, or if I don’t comply quickly enough or in the way someone expects, that interaction could turn violent see (4). In talking about disabled interactions with the police, it is also necessary to talk about the systemic disparities which lead to greater interactions with the police. Namely, employment, housing, and access to public transit. (5) People with disabilities are roughly 50% less likely to be employed than their non-disabled counterparts. (6) Yes, some of that is a circumstance of medical reality, but that does not make up for anything like the full picture. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been second-guessed, ignored, and laughed out of rooms because of what I am. I have to be twice as good. The minute I walk into a room, I have to start proving people wrong. Then there’s the issue of disability disclosure. When do you do it? How do you do it? Do you do it at all? Say I’m applying for a position in a Congressmember’s office with a health care portfolio. I’m not an unqualified person for this sort of thing (I have a J.D., a publication, and five years of experience), and on top of that, I have spent my entire life navigating the American health care system. I have a deeply personal understanding of how it works, how it can be bettered, and how we can field the concerns of your constituents. There are any number of reasons that I haven’t been hired for that sort of position, but there is part of me that has to do the calculus of whether or not a disclosure, whether it makes me uniquely qualified or not, will help me or hurt any time I apply for anything. I can imagine someone who is Black or Hispanic, or Transgender feels roughly the same way. Do I check this box or talk about this thing? Despite whatever qualifications our backgrounds may bring, we live in a system that does not necessarily value that. Quite apart from the fact that no one wants to be an “Affirmative Action” hire or whatever coded messaging is getting thrown around these days. Everyone wants to be considered competent and hired on the merits, it’s just a matter of whether they’re given the chance to prove it. 28 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
Tied to the issue of employment is the issue of housing and transportation. To be fair, with regard to public transit I’m mostly speaking from anecdotal personal experience as a person that cannot drive and therefore needs public transit to get around. This discussion also sets aside the reality of someone living outside a metropolitan area. Having grown up in a rural area and knowing the data on just how different the realities between the two are, I feel that warrants a discussion all its own not well suited to this piece. (7) You can Google to your heart’s content to find top ten lists of the cities with the worst and best public transit, but there isn’t a lot of practical data out there. In reality, there are only a handful of cities in the U.S. that I could live in and have similar autonomy to someone that can drive. Of those cities, still fewer have transportation systems not led by buses. While, as this article points out, (8) a bus system can make for good public transit. A bus system that runs ineffectively is next to useless and unfortunately, ineffective bus systems are still far more common. Yet, for both disabled people and people with lower incomes, public transit is often our only option. Uber has been a godsend, but imagine having to pay $15 every time you turn on your car to go anywhere. It’s not feasible. Of course to effectively use public transit you need to live near(ish) to it, especially if you have ambulatory issues, and housing gets more expensive living nearer to public transit. (9) Nevermind the potential for a person to need specific things in their housing which makes finding everything someone needs even more difficult. Now consider that there is an incredibly well-documented housing inequity among People of Color (10). What job opportunities might a person miss, or not even look for, because they either can’t afford housing, can’t work there, or can’t live there with any sense of autonomy? Imagine asking yourself, as I have, “I want to go see this movie. Can I afford/is it worth the $30 just to go?” Or “Do I want to commute to work an hour a day by bus?” (For general information on the history of public transit, see (11). Apart from not looking as though “we” belong somewhere whether that is because of disability, skin tone, or both, the factors above also contribute to increased interactions with the police. Either because of where someone lives, their socio-economic circumstance, or what their circumstance does to them on a physical, mental, and/or emotional level. These social and societal realities need to be dismantled: • • • • •
People of Color face greater housing disparities. (10) People of Color face greater educational disparities. (12) People of Color face greater employment disparities. (13) People with disabilities face all of these things too. (ed. (14) Emp. (6) see also, (6). H.(15) Disabled People of Color face all these things at the same time. (16)
I’d like to leave you with this: I get followed around the store because I walk funny and it takes me too long to find the garlic. A Person of Color will get followed around the store because they walked into the store in the first place. That’s it in a microcosm. I face many similar systemic issues that People of Color face, but they will have it worse than I will and Disabled People of Color will have it even worse because they are in the crossfire of two systemic forces. So yes, please help, protect, and support us because yes 30–50% of police killings are of people with Disabilities, but be aware that this is just one facet of larger systemic issues. The systemic issues that affect us all are deep, varied, and broad. Continue to demand justice. 1. https://www.vox.com/2016/10/4/13161396/disability-police-officer-shooting 2. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database 3. Web player: https://podplayer.net/?id=100209244 see also, https://themighty.com/2017/01/when-being-in-a-wheelchair-made-me-feel-invisible/ 4. https://time.com/5857438/police-violence-black-disabled/ 5. https://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2019/01/29/law-enforcement-violence 6. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm see also, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2018/07/25/only-four-out-of-ten-working-age-adults-with-disabilities-are-employed/ 7. Take as a very small microcosm for the differences in social determinants in rural vs. urban areas, this article on health care: https://hpi.georgetown.edu/rural/ 8. https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/12/7/18131132/public-transportation-bus-subway-america-us 9. http://www.reconnectingamerica.org/assets/Uploads/TransitImpactonHsgCostsfinal-Aug1020111.pdf 10. https://www.brookings.edu/research/time-for-justice-tackling-race-inequalities-in-health-and-housing/ 11. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-08-31/why-is-american-mass-transit-so-bad-it-s-a-long-story 12. https://uncf.org/pages/k-12-disparity-facts-and-stats 13. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/reports/2019/08/07/472910/systematic-inequality-economic-opportunity/ specifically referencing Black employment 14. https://ncd.gov/rawmedia_repository/f4a8d429_aff8_4d8a_90bb_a178a4b23222.pdf 15. https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/restricted-options-evidence-housing-discrimination-against-people-disabilities 16. https://nisonger.osu.edu/sites/default/files/u4/the_double_burden_health_disparities_among_people_of_color_living_with_disabilities.pdf
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Each generation is formative in its own ways. PROVIDENCE BOWMAN AWARENESS TIESâ„¢ CAUSE COLUMNIST 30 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
A FUTURE HISTORY A HISTORY BEING WRITTEN AS WE SPEAK
Sometimes you know the very moment you’ve made the right choice. One such moment is when we brought on Providence as our very first intern. She quickly earned the title ‘Cause Columnist’. In this issue, she contributed 3 pieces. This is one of them. Welcome to the Awareness Ties family, Providence. Happy to have you here. - Jack & Allié M. When you look at a world map and see America you cannot see the differences, fine lines, and culture that all the fifty states embody. You see a mass of land with no divisions between the states, and no barriers between the neighborhoods, all you see is the United States. We are a group of people that come from various parts of the world, a nation that does not have one particular official language; as there are over 350 languages spoken. The United States is a nation of people that have repeatedly seen a series of changes and waves of diversity. We vary in age, size, color and passion. Unique, driven, diverse, and one.
The United States has been a land of refuge for those seeking freedom from religious persecution. Now however, we have become a land that sees persecution in new forms everyday. We see it in the media, in the streets, and in our schools. It has seen colonies form and seek new beginnings, something that we should aim to keep as a continuous goal. Our young nation successfully led a revolution and became a completely new and independent country. As we live through 2020 and the obstacles that we experience on a global level, we will hopefully transform the way we conduct ourselves in our new reality. Revolutions show themselves in a variety of facets; whether that be a pandemic or a moment to express the importance of each and every black life that matters. We have been a nation that has been shaped by war and the values that we hold. We have been a divided nation in a Civil War. A nation that has been dissected into North and South. A nation that still experiences the effects of the deep roots that the Civil War had. We have been a nation that has joined hands to fight two World Wars. A nation that stood up for those in the world who were not prepared to fight alone. A hegemony that needs to set an example and lead in the benevolent acts to other countries, as well as the people that reside in their borders .We are a nation that has been at war over the color of our skin, a war that has yet to see a resolution that ends in justice for the oppressed. A nation that has been at war over what it means to be American; what it means to be a citizen, a patriot, a piece of the American dream.
How will we continue to define ourselves? What is next? Our nation is democratic and formative within every election, protest, and movement. We are a nation that will experience change. A nation that needs to continue to experience change. Each generation has brought something new to the culture of the United States. Each generation is formative in its own ways. The question before us all now is, who wins the war currently raging within America in 2020?
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BY CHRISTIAN JOHNSON I am the Co-Founder and CEO of a tech startup that empowers people to invest their social currency in social good. Over the past 15 years, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading brands and nonprofits, using my creative skills to produce digital and tangible products that cause people to speak and to act. I have worked on projects and campaigns that have raised awareness and funds for multiple causes, ranging from ocean conservation, to humanitarian aid, to social justice. I strongly believe that creativity can and will provide answers to many of the world’s leading issues, and I am constantly looking for new creative challenges and collaborations that can lead to positive social change. I recently started writing as a way to reflect on some of the topics that have been weighing on my heart and mind, and I have challenged myself to write at least one article each month. If you enjoy this article, you can follow me on Medium - https://medium.com/@GoCreatively And if you’re interested in collaborating for the greater good, message me on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/gocreatively 32 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A SYSTEM IS DESIGNED TO FAIL The other day, Christian Johnson, a mentor of mine, shared an error code with me. It was a metaphorical code he created on his own accord comparing the errors of a computer system to those of a political system. It was brilliant. I was pleased to hear that he didn’t stop with the code, he went on to create an article to further articulate his position. We are honored to share his insights here in The America Edition of AwareNow. - Allié M. “It’s not a people problem, it’s a systems problem.” These are words that I have heard and spoken multiple times in conversations with friends and colleagues about the challenges we face both in technology and also in society. As a quick intro, I am a Co-Founder of a tech startup that is working to empower people to invest their Social Currency (content) in social good. With all that has been happening, I have found myself thinking more about this statement and how it fits into all that we are experiencing as a nation.
I realized that if recent events are truly the result of a “systems problem” and not just a “people problem,” then maybe we should be taking a good hard look at the ‘people’ who created the ‘system’ in the first place. After all, the unfortunate truth is that most systems are created to protect the actual system and not the users within the system. They are also designed to protect their creators, who often appoint a group of “System Administrators” whose primary job is to ensure that the system is consistently and efficiently performing the functions for which it was designed. Also, strangely enough, with most systems, the term “failure” can often be seen as both relative and subjective. For example, one could easily demonstrate multiple ways that our current system is consistently failing for a specific group of users. However, one could also easily demonstrate how the very same system is consistently succeeding to perform the primary functions for which it was originally designed — to protect and provide benefits for a different group of users. And this is entirely by design, seeing as both groups of users were predesignated by the very people who created the system. Actually, if we were to look closely at the original “source code” that was written (the Constitution), which is what our current Operating System (American democracy) has been running on, we would find a series of algorithms (“codes”) that had been carefully constructed and embedded to ensure that not all users (citizens) would be treated equally. And this should be of no surprise to anyone, especially considering that the Co-Founders of the colonial startup, called America, were a group of all white men who were predominantly wealthy — mainly plantation owners and businessmen. Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at the Preamble to the Constitution. It actually states that the Constitution was written to “promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Okay, let’s break this down… To start, when the Co-Founders wrote “ourselves,” they actually meant just that. It would have been a lot more transparent (and truthful) had they just started the Constitution with “We the White Men of the United States.” Next, whereas it seems pretty obvious what they meant by “Welfare,” what isn’t as obvious is the phrase “Blessings of Liberty.” 33 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
(continued) It turns out that the Constitution doesn’t actually define what makes up the “Blessings of Liberty.” For this we need to visit the Bill of Rights which, for the sake of this article, is kind of like America’s ‘Terms and Conditions.” You know, that legal document that we’re supposed to “agree” to before we are allowed to use the actual system. And let’s be honest, how many people actually read, let alone understand, the ‘Terms and Conditions’ before clicking the little box. Anyway, in the Bill of Rights, the “Blessings of Liberty” are outlined in the First Amendment as freedom of speech, or of the press, the right to vote, the freedom of religion, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, which is just a fancy way of saying you can file a complaint or ask for help from the government without fear of punishment or reprisal. And hey, these all sound great, except for the fact that these “Blessings” were clearly not intended to be granted to all citizens (users). And then comes the part about “Posterity.” What the Co-Founders were really saying is that they were also securing all of these “Blessings” for their future heirs — their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, etc. Wait, did I mention that the Co-Founders were all white? So, here we are, 244 years later, running on much of the same blatantly biased code that was written with ink and quill by a group of wealthy white dudes. Oh, and that bit about promoting Welfare and securing all the good $#!T for their future generations…yeah, that seems to have worked out pretty well for the “Prosperity” of their “Posterity”. I realize that some of you may be thinking to yourself that times have changed and that America has evolved, as have the systems on which we operate. And in some ways, you would be right for thinking that. After all, the original “source code” (the Constitution) has been tweaked (amended) 27 times. The problem is that the “programmers” that made those tweaks, were, you guessed it, more white dudes. Not surprisingly, this is why the current system is still succeeding to perform the primary functions for which it was originally designed, almost a quarter of a millennium ago — to protect and provide benefits for a select group of citizens. Oh yeah, and their posterity too. Wait, did I mention that the Co-Founders were all white? You get the point. I think many would agree that until every system is designed (or redesigned) to provide equal rights and benefits to ALL users, we will continue to be forced to hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete every time we see a system error (failure), whether that be police brutality, voter suppression, or other acts of systemic racism and white supremacy. And just in case you’re wondering, Ctrl+Alt+Delete, also known as the “threefinger salute”, is the key combination used to interrupt or facilitate interrupting a function. Of course if you’re a Mac user (like me), you’d use Command+Option+Esc – but that just doesn’t sound as cool.
So, how many damn times do we have to give the “three-finger salute” before the System Administrators finally wake up and commit to fixing the code that is causing all of these system(ic) failures? Personally, I think that what we are seeing today is just the culmination of a long history of system errors that have identified a Total System Failure. Also, I would argue that the best way to deal with this system failure is to first unplug the system from its “white power” source. Then, while we are running in Protest Mode (we’re in it now), we can band together to hire (elect) a more diverse group of system engineers who are committed to working together to write and install a new batch of impartial and might I even suggest, empathetic source code. That way, when we eventually reboot the system, it will be designed to provide every citizen equal access to the same rights, benefits, protections, and justice. No matter the color of their avatar. Oh, and that goes for their Posterity too.
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THIS IS AMERICA: THE SONG WATCH THIS FIRST.
THIS IS AMERICA: THE TRANSLATION NOW, WATCH THIS.
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THIS IS AMERICA: FOUND IN TRANSLATION SEEKING AND FINDING TRUTH IN TRANSLATION
Too often the opportunity to learn is lost in our knee-jerk-assumptions where we form an opinion before we have an understanding. Subconsciously we defend our initial interpretation of content before giving ourselves a chance to read between the lines to find truth. - Allié M. Up for a challenge today? Let’s conduct a personal experiment. On the preceding page, you will find TWO videos. The FIRST (on the top) is the official video of Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’. The SECOND (on the bottom) is a ‘translation’ provided by Dr. Lori Brooks. Here is the experiment. Watch the top one (the song) and gather your thoughts. Then watch the bottom one (the translation). Compare your notes with those of Dr. Brooks. What did you catch? What did you miss? What did you assume? What did you learn? Childish Gambino’s provocative video for ‘This Is America’ took the Internet by storm, and had critics scouring every frame for hidden meanings. Dr. Lori Brooks, who teaches in the African-American Studies department at Fordham University, says the video purposefully evokes themes including blackface minstrelsy, Michael Jackson, the KKK, gun violence and cultural appropriation. Dropping amid ongoing political and cultural tumult and turmoil, Childish Gambino’s “This is America” appears to be a commentary on black life in America and American culture as a whole. It contrasts popular culture’s perception of black experience and its often brutal reality by juxtaposing happy, carefree choruses and dark, aggressive verses. This contrast may also allude to the cyclical shifts in mood whenever there is a shooting in America. One second, the entire nation is in an uproar, the next, they are happy and unconcerned, placated by pop culture trends. In the music video, directed by frequent Gambino collaborator Hiro Murai, Gambino portrays this comparison by dancing around gleefully with school-aged children, seemingly unbothered by the chaotic scenes of violence in the background. However, in the short film’s final scene, Gambino is seen running frantically through a darkened warehouse trying to escape the mob that now chases him; a reminder that if America chooses to remain willfully ignorant to its problems, they will inevitably be the country’s downfall. To continue reading about the genius behind these lyrics, visit genius.com for the rest of the story behind the lyrics: www.genius.com/Childish-gambino-this-is-america-lyrics
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A WORK OF PROGRESS, A WORK OF ART After the Black Lives Matter protest in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 30th 2020, artists from across the west side of the state showcased artwork on a myriad of buildings. Art speaks volumes and helps us remember events that have happened throughout time. The art that is showcased on plywood, where windows once were gives a chance to connect and understand what the tragedy of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement means to the people of Grand Rapids. The project that was once a work in progress is now a work of art and an invitation to a new dialogue and a better approach to community and justice.
The following pieces were created on plywood used to board up windows and doors of buildings (including the police station) in the downtown of Grand Rapids, MI. Photo & Commentary Credit: Providence Bowman 39 AWARENOW / THE HERO EDITION
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My shoe company is the start of the legacy I plan to leave for my future kids. SANTIA DECK PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER, CEO OF QUEEN OF ABS & FOUNDER OF TRONUS AWARENESS TIESâ„¢ OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR GENDER EQUALITY 48 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
MAKING HISTORY (AGAIN) A FEMALE PIONEER OF FIRST AFTER FIRST
She was our very first ambassador… I remember the day we first spoke on the phone. ‘She is going to be a force,” Jack said. I agreed. A force on and off the field, Santia is making headlines while making history. - Allié M. ALLIÉ: First female athlete to sign a multi-million dollar contract. First female athlete to own a sneaker company. First official ambassador for Awareness Ties. So curious to know what your next 'first' will be. Any more history making plans on the horizon? SANTIA: I honestly have a lot of things in the world that I hope to make history as, like being the first woman to be able to compete side by side with the men in the combine, first female athlete to own her own CBD manufacturing company, and much more! ALLIÉ: For the first time in human history, every person in the world is affected by the same thing. COVID-19 has forced everyone to change any and all plans they had in 2020. When it comes to you, Santia, and your much anticipated debut on the field with the WFLA, when will your season start? And what are you doing between now and then to stay on top of your game? SANTIA: We are predicted to start May 2021, but we aren’t sure. Right now, I’m training hard and working on all the things I suck at and gaining more knowledge of the game. ALLIÉ: Jack has a history with Converse. His shoe of choice. I prefer flats of any kind, probably because I wore heels for way too many years. You, again making history with your own line of shoes - TRONUS. While most athletes seek to have a shoe named after them, you went a bit further and sought out an entire line of your very own. Tell us what name 'TRONUS' means, specifically what it means to you. SANTIA: So, TRONUS means throne in Greek. We played off of my personal brand, “Queen of Abs”. My shoe company is the start of the legacy I plan to leave for my future kids. It means the world to me because it’s the start of generational wealth.
The Queen Of Abs, Santia Deck is a history-making Professional Female Football Player and Social Media Influencer with over 500,000 loyal and engaged followers. A former track and field collegiate athlete, Santia recently made history by becoming the highest-paid woman to play professional football - signing a multi-million dollar deal with the WFLA. Santia is a published author, a fitness model, TV personality, Social Media Consultant, Public Speaker, and a TV host. She also maintains her fitness trainer certification and offers a variety of services to celebrity clients and her wideranging community of online supporters. Santia Marie Deck was born in Greenville, SC and raised in Houston, TX. She now resides in Atlanta, GA and travels often. Santia has been running full speed after her dream of success since childhood. Now, she works tirelessly to inspire and empower young people, women and others with her determination and passion. To learn more about Santia visit www.awarenessties.us/santia-deck. Also, be sure to follow her on Instagram (@trackbaby001) and check out her shoe company, TRONUS: www.tronusofficial.com 49 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
We need to realize this is a virus, not a political issue. DR. DELA TAGHIPOUR PHYSICIAN, MEDICAL JOURNALIST, ACTIVIST & AWARENESS TIESâ„¢ OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR HEART DISEASE AWARENESS See and hear her story at www.awarenessties.us/delataghipour and follow her on Instagram @VEIN.DOCTOR 50 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
THE STATE OF THE PANDEMIC A CONVERSATION ON COVID-19 WITH DR. DELA TAGHIPOUR
Since the day we met Dr. Dela Taghipour, we were fans, friends and instantly family. A trusted and reliable source, serving as an ABC Medical Correspondent, she is our go-to regarding all things COVID-19. She is also the Awareness Ties Official Ambassador for Heart Disease Awareness. We are thankful for her advice (and for her infectious smile). - Jack & Allié M. ALLIE: Personally, what’s been the most difficult thing for you through all of this? DELA: I think the human contact part has been impossibly hard. We’ve made some accommodations and adjustments for seeing certain family members and not and trying to do it in a socially distanced way and doing it in a yard or a boat... Everyone tries to find their sort of sliver of an excuse of how to get through this, and I am no exception, but it’s really hard not to be able to see your loved ones and be around them. If you're single, it's hard to date. If you're married, it's hard to be quarantined in the same space. There's a challenge no matter what your circumstances are. I wish that wouldn't divide people. I wish that would actually bring people together. We're all going through the same thing at the same time. Yeah, it looks different for everyone. Not everyone's experience is going to be the same, but we are facing the same thing.
A CONVERSATION WITH DR. DELA BEST ADVICE COMES FROM A TRUSTED SOURCE. THIS IS THAT.
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ORIGINAL WORK BY DOM CZEPIGA
Model Credit: Jean Watts (@jean_watts) Photographer Credit: Anthony Evans (@themanuc)
Typography is ambiguous; it is both art and tool. When arranged, it makes up the written language and when combined with imagery it transitions to art. My body of works contains human facial features combined with overlapping typography to convey the issues one would tend to discount; it acts as a journal to what is happening in my psyche and in the world around us. I utilize a range of fonts and images dissected from a myriad of publications that contain vivid hues. Once all the materials are gathered, they are then strategically placed in a way that resembles a kaleidoscope that represents expressions and ideas; ultimately becoming a digital amalgam. The words serve to evoke power while the feminine figures act as a conduit of persuasive conveyance of emotion. As publications are diminishing in the wave of technology, the digital era has become more dynamic than ever. Diverse platforms such as social media being utilized as an outlet to channel neo-political issues, self-imaging, sexuality, and many more controversial topics that tend to be oversaturated. This era has become the “age of spin,” where everyone can upload, download, and bypass any information. This body of work is a call to action to the viewer to slow down and connect with the present, one image at a time. 52 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
ESCAPE 2020 ORIGINAL ARTWORK BY DOM CZEPIGA The title of this piece speaks to what many of us wish we could do. 2020 hasn’t been easy. Considering both the social and political, along with the global pandemic, it’s been uncomfortable to say the least. Luckily, we have art to express and translate what words alone cannot. Thank you, Dom, for sharing your work. - Jack M. DINK aka Dom Czepiga, is a self-taught artist, whose technique and style embodies a new wave of mixed media. Having admiration for the typography of the 80s and 90s, Czepiga’s works are inspired by the diverse advertisements throughout the years. Disregarding the traditional, he pushes the boundaries by juxtaposing words with female imagery through a digital amalgam that delivers a positive statement through calculated chaos. Czepiga’s works have swiftly gained notoriety propelling him into prominent art shows both in South Carolina and South Florida. His works have been established in Les Couleurs Gala in Miami and have been published several times in reputable magazines. As he progresses to cultivate his style, his ingenuity and cleverness of manipulating digital typography with female imagery, help bridge the viewer with his artwork. Visit www.dink-art.com to explore his work.
DINK AKA DOM CZEPIGA 53 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
I will never settle… A.J. ANDREWS PROFESSIONAL SOFTBALL PLAYER & MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER AWARENESS TIES™ OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS 54 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
KNOCKING DOWN THE FENCES A GOLD GLOVE, A FILM AND A PODCAST ARE JUST THE BEGINNING A must see social impact film about rising in the ranks as an elite female athlete, ‘Knocking Down The Fences’ is a short film starring A.J. Andrews. Allié and I had the pleasure of speaking with A.J. the other night, after she finished up on the field. Not only is she our Official Ambassador for Breast Cancer Awareness, she’s officially one of our favorite people to laugh with over video chat. - Jack M. JACK: We all face obstacles in life we need to get around, barriers we have to get over. You don't go around or over... you go through. 'Knocking Down THE Fences' is a powerful short film about you as the first woman to win a Rawlings Gold Glove. From this film, tell us about what you want people to learn 1) about you and 2) about life. A.J.: I want people to know that I am extremely hardworking and I will achieve anything that I set my mind to. I set my mind to being an example of limitless possibilities the day I made history as the first woman to win a Rawlings Gold Glove so that young women all around me know they are limitless as well. I believe that the word impossible is not a declaration but a DARE! Any extremely successful person in this world dared to chase their dreams no matter the circumstances. They dared to achieve the "impossible." Before 2016, the year I won the Gold glove it was "impossible" for a woman to win the award but now young girls can dream bigger and aim higher since that glass ceiling has been broken. The documentary knocking down the fences certainly describes the kind of player I am on the field but it also describes the person I am off. I will never settle and I will keep pushing toward
KNOCKING DOWN THE equality so that every young girl I come acrossFENCES feels as if she is the next girl to break down barriers and achieve the impossible. A MUST-SEE SHORT FILM ABOUT GOING ABOVE & BEYOND
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A.J. (continued): can dream bigger and aim higher since that glass ceiling has been broken. The documentary knocking down the fences certainly describes the kind of player I am on the field but it also describes the person I am off. I will never settle and I will keep pushing toward equality so that every young girl I come across feels as if she is the next girl to break down barriers and achieve the impossible. I want people to truly see the sacrifices that women in sports and particularly softball players make in order to do what we love. We are not paid the way men are and truly play for the love of the game. I hope the world sees just how valuable we are and realize that the gross pay inequity is not justified and to join the fight for equality and equity in women's sports. I think the documentary is an eye-opener for women in sports and sparks urgency to make change.
JACK: As a black, female athlete, you fight uphill both ways for equality. What has been more difficult - being black or being a woman? A.J.: Being a woman in America, I feel I am always fighting to be heard. I am fighting for the respect and the recognition that I am owed that is given so freely to men. I believe women empowerment isn't about making women strong, as women are already strong. It is about changing the way the world perceives that strength and never letting the world silence us as women for speaking our truth. It is hard as a woman to fight through the many layers that seek to suppress our abilities and our voices, and because we are fighting through so many layers it can be treacherous. Now add not being seen on top of not being heard and you will get a better sense of what it means to be a black woman in this country and fight for equality.
As a black woman my fight becomes twice as hard as I have to prove my capabilities first as a black american and then again as a woman. I fight through stereotypes, microaggressions, assumptions and racism in order to force the world to just see my capabilities to even allow me in the conversation. Only after I've successfully maneuvered through those barriers and won that fight do I then move to fighting to be heard. It is an uphill fight for equality for women, but it is two uphill fights if you are a black woman. JACK: From the Rawlings Gold Glove to the ESPN Body Edition, you are making headlines left and right. A new league ('Athletes Unlimited'), a new blog ('Hardheaded') and a new program for young girls (Confidence Party with ZGirls). Bring us up to speed with each and then tell us just when exactly it is that you find time to sleep. A.J.: I’m very excited to be playing in Athletes Unlimited this fall. It is a new league that will continue to give softball players an opportunity to play the sport that they love outside of college. It is a brand new model, almost like a fantasy league for the players, ran by the players. There are no coaches and the top 4 performing players each week get to draft their team. It is based on a point system and the highest ranked player at the end of the season gets a significant bonus. I'm very excited to bring another element of excitement to the already exciting game of professional softball. The season will start August 17th and run for 6 weeks so get excited to watch some softball!
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I believe that the word impossible is not a declaration but a dare. A.J. ANDREWS PROFESSIONAL SOFTBALL PLAYER & MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER AWARENESS TIESâ„¢ OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS 57 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
A.J. (continued): I just started a podcast partnered with Athletes Unlimited called ‘Hardheaded’. I began doing Instagram Live Sessions with some of the best softball players in the world during quarantine to uplift the spirits of young athletes whose seasons were cut short and give them an opportunity to learn how to get better mentally from the best in the world if they aren't able to get on the field physically to train. The IG Sessions did so well that I thought I'd love to turn this into something people can listen to all the time and that is how ‘HardHeaded’ the podcast got started. It truly is a space where softball players around the world get to hear the stories of how some of the best in the game reached their success by remaining HardHeaded toward their goals.
There really isn't anything that I love more than helping someone find their confidence. It truly is the most amazing thing to watch someone blossom right before you. Young girls are so impressionable and especially in the age of social media, girls tend to compare themselves to others and don't feel good enough. I want to reverse that and help build some of the most confident and strong women in this world. I met Jilyne, the founder of Zgirls, a few years ago and have loved her passion and everything she does for young girls ever since. I've had a chance to sit on panels for Zgirls and watched the huge impact everything Zgirls does has had on those young women and I joined the Confidence Party because I want to continue uplifting these young women to believe in themselves no matter what!
A.J. Andrews was the first woman to win a Gold Glove, has been featured in ESPN Magazine The Body Issue, and has also been recognized as an on-air talent and motivational speaker. Andrews was selected in the second round as the 7th overall pick in the 2015 NPF draft by the Chicago Bandits. After the 2015 season, she was traded to the Akron Racers. In 2016, Andrews became the first woman to ever win the Rawlings Gold Glove award. That same year, she was a corecipient of the Rally Spike Award, which is given to the league’s stolen base leader. In 2017, she was an at-large selection for the All-NPF team. As the Awareness Ties™ Official Ambassador for Breast Cancer Awareness, A.J. Andrews helps to raise awareness for the cause and support efforts for the cure. To learn more about A.J. visit www.awarenessties.us/aj-andrews. Also, be sure to follow her on Instagram (@aj_andrews_) and catch her podcast, Hardheaded, on Spotify (www.beawarebehere.com/hardheaded). 58 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
I want to continue uplifting these young women to believe in themselves no matter what. A.J. ANDREWS PROFESSIONAL SOFTBALL PLAYER & MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER AWARENESS TIESâ„¢ OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS 59 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
WE’RE ALL TIED TO A CAUSE.
WHAT’S YOURS? SHARE YOUR SELFIE & STORY TO RAISE AWARENESS FOR YOUR CAUSE. WWW.SELFIETOSUPPORT.COM
UNITED WE SHARE EACH WITH A STORY AND A SELFIE TO SUPPORT
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We are building a movement. SEBASTIAN HOFBAUER Mr. Hofbauer is a Fellow at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the former Executive Director of the Global Challenges Forum Foundation, and Co-Founder of the global youth initiative 1M2030. He is a Mechanical Engineer by training (M.Sc., Dipl.Ing.), specialized in energy technologies and business development. With a background in tech and international relations, Sebastian's passion is working to connect global youth, the tech community, and the United Nations. 62 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
ONE MILLION LEADERS
EMPOWERING YOUTH BEYOND BORDERS AND BEYOND 2030 The 1M2030 (One Million Youth Leaders Beyond 2030) Initiative is hosted by the Global Challenges Forum Foundation (GCF) in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). This is an exclusive interview we had with Co-Founder, Sebastian Hofbauer. After traveling to New Delhi, India and a trip to Kathmandu, the course was set for a sustainable initiative to empower and educate youth on a global scale. - Allié M. ALLIÉ: The One Million Youth Leaders Beyond 2030 (1M2030) Initiative is a global movement, seeking to mobilize one million global youth leaders for sustainable development. This is an ambitious goal. As the Co-Founder of 1M2030, where do you start and how do you scale? SEBASTIAN: I’d like to emphasize something that is perhaps not always very visible from the outside. We started really small, and it is largely due to the following reasons that we are where we are today. First, the support of great mentors, second, institutional support from an agency that values and enables entrepreneurial spirit, and lastly, countless hours of work from our contributors around the world. Allow me to expand on all three… Firstly, I remember very well how the idea first emerged. I travelled to New Delhi, India for a conference co-organized by UNITAR and GFC, on the occasion of the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. The conference mandated the creation of a new youth initiative. But it was during a personal trip to Kathmandu with my mentor and friend, Dr. Walter Christman, where the concrete idea of mobilising one million youth leaders for sustainable development originated. We jokingly call it the "Kathmandu Vision", because we really fleshed out the idea of what 1M2030 would become, while strolling through this city and taking in its unique atmosphere. Secondly, I am a great believer in the United Nations, its mandate, and its goals. Everyone loves to speak about weaknesses of the UN. But if there's one thing the UN is not known for, it is its entrepreneurial spirit. I sometimes ask myself if it is possible to work for the UN without becoming a bureaucrat? UNITAR, where I work, is actually different. The Institute operates a little bit more like a business – we constantly need to re-invent what we are doing and how we are delivering on our mandate. Indeed, how does that mandate translate into the world of today, 50 years after UNITAR was created? This spirit, and great support by my Director, Alex Mejia, make it possible to even think about creating an initiative such as 1M2030. And thirdly, scaling ultimately requires more than a good idea, concept, and platform to build on. Ask anyone who builds a new project, initiative, or business. Certainly, they will tell you about nights and weekends spent working. We are no different, and I am very grateful for the amazing volunteers that have supported 1M2030 and its vision along the way. They are the ones shaping this initiative.
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ALLIÉ: You mention institutional support. Are there other forms of partnership you are counting on? SEBASTIAN: Working on 1M2030 has helped me to understand what partnership really means. For an initiative like ours, they are such a powerful tool. We are only learning how to fully leverage that. Anything we are doing, we are doing it in partnership with others. From bringing 9 young leaders to speak at the UN in Geneva, to hosting online meetings with over 600 participants – all of this would be impossible without strong partnerships. The most important premise, perhaps, is that we see our youth - our 1 million, if you will - not as “beneficiaries” but as “partners”. We want to add value to what they are doing, and we want them to add value to what we are doing. Ultimately, this approach helps us to move away from terms such as “we” and “they” and to create a bigger pie for all involved. ALLIÉ: Today, so many of our global issues stem from a lack of sustainability. Sebastian, how will 1M2030 as a platform serve as a sustainable resource for the youth leaders you support? SEBASTIAN:
In 2015, the governments of this world decided on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Most of what we are doing at the UN is linked in some way to the SDGs. 1M2030 is no different, and indeed, “2030” is prominently part of our name. The SDGs are a very useful framework. Just to give you a very concrete example, they make it much easier for us to communicate what our vision is. However, often times I ask myself… Are the SDGs themselves sustainable? And what is next? What comes after the SDGs? What do they leave behind? In short, what is the legacy of the SDGs? The name of our initiative is ‘One Million Youth Leaders Beyond 2030’ and not ‘By’ 2030. From the very beginning, while walking through the streets of Kathmandu, we realized that we wanted to take ownership of what comes next. We want the youth to be changemakers of the present, and not just symbols of futuristic hope. At the same time, we are building a movement that carries the SDGs beyond 2030. One million youth, from all corners of the world, from the biggest cities to the smallest villages. Whatever the legacy of the SDGs will be, they will stand ready to move beyond. ALLIÉ: Building a foundation for this next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs with support both behind the curtain and in front of it at centerstage is an honorable endeavor. How can the general public get involved? SEBASTIAN: I invite all readers to visit our website (www.1m2030.org) and have a look at what we are doing, and what we are aiming to do. We are really just at the beginning, and have been growing organically since the official launch at the European UN Headquarters in September 2019. I invite you to visit the website, to follow us on social media, and if you like what we are doing, consider buying us a coffee (i.e. donating) or contacting us for a corporate sponsorship. There are many ways, for all generations, to make 1M2030 yours. We regularly reach out through our mailing list and social media with concrete opportunities to get involved. Just this month, we offered a chance for youth to be interviewed by Emmy Award winning journalist Barbara Harrison. We are also creating a new UN Podcast entitled ‘Coming Up Next’ and issued a call for youth to be featured in the opening theme. We also just launched ‘1M2030 Stories’ – a weekly featured article written by a young leader, and anyone can apply for that. Those are just some of the things you can do to get involved. 64 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
Capture your world in IRL-resolution High-powered pro lenses in your pocket mean beautiful portraits, stunning landscapes and crisp super close-ups in any light. SUBMIT YOUR SELFIE TO SUPPORT YOUR CAUSE
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As Executive Director, I work to create free STEM education and research opportunities for students. ANDREW GAO FOUNDER OF THE HELYX INITIATIVE 66 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
SUSTAINABLE STEM SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING & MATH EDUCATION FOR ALL STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education has a new champion. He is 17-yearsold. He lives in San Diego, CA. His name is Andrew Gao, and his mission is to provide free STEM education to youth around the world. Very proud to share Andrewsâ€™s work in words of his own. - AlliĂŠ M. Hi, I'm Andrew Gao, and I'm the founder of The Helyx Initiative, a STEM research education organization with more than 2,000 teen members worldwide. Currently, a high school junior in San Diego, I was born in Boston and moved around to several states before settling in California. I've always been interested in science and have participated in science fairs since 1st grade. Growing up experiencing a variety of school systems and science curricula, I have seen firsthand the lack of adequate STEM research opportunities for many students in middle and high school. Additionally, despite the relative popularity of science fairs in the United States, there's a noticeable lack of a cohesive online community for students to discuss research and their experiences. Having settled in a wealthier area in San Diego, I also saw that the STEM research opportunities available to me were much better than those at the schools where I used to live, for example, on the outskirts of Baltimore. While it's great that students in my community have access to STEM research, the fact remains that most students lack the resources, connections, and money to be able to participate in STEM research opportunities. For example, many excellent biology research camps are prohibitively expensive. Additionally, there is a stark difference between the quality of schools in wealthy and low-income neighborhoods, something I have personally witnessed. For example, my school has a dedicated class to train students to compete in the local science fair, which most other schools probably do not have. We even have a lab with research equipment like an incubator, thermocycler, and more. Last year, my class was even able to perform CRISPR-Cas9 experiments in school (genetic engineering). Good luck finding that privilege in inner-city schools. This STEM access inequality is problematic for the future. Why? In the status quo, it's been established that, for the most part, STEM jobs are the most lucrative, especially when computer scienceintegrated. However, this also means the job market is becoming increasingly competitive. While wealthy youth have the luxury of getting headstarts in STEM, attending supportive schools, and being able to afford pricey programs, low-income students do not have the same privileges. This will only result in further socioeconomic inequality in the United States, as more affluent youth will secure well-paying jobs. At the same time, the less privileged will have a harder time doing so and competing for those jobs. Together, these issues inspired me to found The Helyx Initiative last year. The mission is to provide free STEM education classes to provide those without in-school opportunities a chance to learn and deliver accessible research opportunities. As Executive Director, I work to create free STEM education and research opportunities for students, specifically with life sciences and bioinformatics. I've always been fascinated with entrepreneurship, and Helyx was the perfect creative outlet for blending my love of science with entrepreneurship. 67 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
So far, The Helyx Initiative is making great strides to bridge STEM education gaps. For example, I'm particularly proud of our successful tutoring program. In response to COVID-19, I mobilized a team of tutors to open free online STEM classes. More than 300 students have attended, learning about topics from biology to AI. We've also been operating a free group research program that has over 100 students participating. Students worked together to research topics from DNA methylation to cancer diagnosis, thanks to our amazing mentors. The program culminated with the International Youth Research Summit, a 2-day online science conference with merit prizes awarded. We're currently gearing up for our 2nd biology-inspired hackathon, which has over $120,000 in prizes for attendees. The hackathon is beginner-friendly, and we're offering free software and tools for everyone and free coding classes. We are projecting event attendance of 500 students. Besides free STEM events, we are also active on social media to promote STEM. Our Instagram @thehelyxinitiative has nearly 1,500 followers and is filled with educational content. We utilized our platform to spread crucial COVID-19 information that was seen by over 60,000 people. We also have hundreds of hours of educational materials on Youtube, TikTok, and Spotify. I plan to continue with Helyx into the future and am very excited to see where it will go. This year, we seek to support 5,000 students through our programs. Learn more about Helyx: http://helyx.science Join the Discord community: http://helyxscience.org
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Because of you, the show will go on. Thank you healthcare heroes.
No child should go to bed hungry. SIR BRUNO SERATO CELEBRITY CHEF & PHILANTHROPIST AWARENESS TIESâ„¢ OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR FOR HUNGER AWARENESS 70 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
COOKING ITALIAN WHILE FEEDING AMERICA
SERATO FEEDS OVER 1,000,000 MEALS TO HUNGRY DURING PANDEMIC Sir Bruno Serato is an iconic chef and humanitarian who serves those in need with what he knows best pasta. We were honored to welcome him into the Awareness Ties family as our Official Ambassador for Hunger Awareness. Recently, he and his nonprofit, Caterina’s Club, along with his team at the Anaheim White House surpassed their 1 millionth meal served during the COVID-19 pandemic. -Allié M. Sir Bruno Serato arrived in the U.S. from his native Italy speaking no English with only $200 in his pocket. Through hard work and determination, he worked his way up from busboy to owner of the critically acclaimed Anaheim White House restaurant, whose patrons include U.S. Presidents, sports stars and celebrities. But it’s his work with children that has earned him an international reputation. Serato launched the nonprofit in 2005 after he and his mother, Caterina, visited a local Boys and Girls Club. There, they saw a 7-year-old boy eating a bag of potato chips and when she learned that the snack was all he had for dinner, she instructed her son to head back to the restaurant and feed the children pasta. What started with 1 meal has turned into now feeding some 5,000 children daily, more than 3M million meals have been served, and the need keeps growing. Caterina’s Club (www.caterinasclub.org) is currently serving 90 sites in 30 cities. He has extended his mission by moving “motel families” into permanent housing. While many of the families are working and able to pay the monthly rent for their own apartments, they cannot afford the first, last and security deposit required at the onset. He has already helped over 220 families escape motel living by finding them apartments of their own and their lives have improved considerably. His newest endeavor is working with the Anaheim Union High School District to establish the Hospitality Program, which seeks to divert high school students from gangs and other bad influences by teaching them about the food, hospitality and service industries. The students receive hands-on experience and even paid internships in these areas so that they can explore careers in the field following graduation. Over 250 students have participated in Chef Bruno’s Hospitality Academy. For his humanitarian work, Serato has earned local, national, and international publicity including profiles in People Magazine, CBS, NBC, CNN, AF Press, Asia, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and for the first time ever all over the Middle East, as well as newspapers and magazines all over the world. Among his many honors: CNN Hero, knighted by the Italian government, knighted by the Royal House of Savoy, Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipient, papal blessing from Pope Francis, humanitarian award on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, Anaheim Key to the City, and has received hundreds of proclamations and awards all over the world. Press and speeches have been done in all of Europe, South America, and Dubai — all of which he conducts to generate public awareness of the needs of our most vulnerable population – our children. His book, The Power of Pasta (www.chefbrunoserato.com/book), is part memoir, part cookbook, and, above all, a work of advocacy on behalf of children and families facing poverty and homelessness as the founder of Caterina’s Club that feeds thousands of hungry children every day in Orange County. We thank him for sharing two of his recipes with us this month in AwareNow. 71 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
POACHED SALMON AU CHOCOLAT Photo & Recipe Credit: Chef Bruno Serato, The Power of Pasta
72 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
POACHED SALMON AU CHOCOLAT I invented white chocolate mashed potatoes by mistake. While working in the kitchen, I had a piece of white chocolate in my hand. On the line was freshly made, hot mashed potatoes. I used the piece of white chocolate as a spoon to try the quality of the mashed potatoes. It melted in my mouth, and I realized something amazing could be created. After trying this out with a few dishes, I realized the perfect combination was pairing these potatoes with salmon. - Chef Bruno Serato SALMON: 1/2 gallon water 1 small carrot, chopped 1/2 onion, chopped 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons salt 16 ounces (1 pound) fresh salmon WHITE CHOCOLATE MASHED POTATOES: 1 pound russet potatoes, cleaned and peeled 4 ounces white chocolate 4 tablespoons unsalted butter Pinch of salt CITRUS SAUCE: 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 1 shallot, diced 1/2 cup orange liqueur 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 1 1/2 cups orange juice 1. Combine water, carrot, onion, lemon juice, and salt in a large pan and bring to a simmer. Add salmon and simmer for 12 minutes. 2. Boil potatoes until soft, and then drain. Using a double boiler, melt the white chocolate. Add the melted chocolate to the potatoes and mash. Add butter and salt, and continue to mash until the texture is consistent. 3. For the sauce, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a sautĂŠ pan, add the shallots, and cook for 2 minutes. Add orange liqueur and reduce by half. Add orange juice and reduce by half again. Add remaining butter and cream and cook until butter is melted. 4. Remove the salmon from the pan, serve atop the mashed potatoes, and top with citrus sauce. (This recipe serves 2.) 73 AWARENOW / THE HERO EDITION
Photo & Recipe Credit: Chef Bruno Serato, The Power of Pasta
74 AWARENOW / THE AMERICA EDITION
RIGATONI CARBONARA This dish was created in the middle of the twentieth century. I personally prepared this dish often at the age of sixteen for our Italian customers late in the evening, almost like a midnight snack. Still today, Rigatoni Carbonara is one of the most famous dishes of Rome. - Chef Bruno Serato 2 tablespoons salt 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 pound dry rigatoni pasta 7 large egg yolks 1 large egg 8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/3-inch cubes 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese plus additional for topping 2 teaspoons ground black pepper 1. Bring 1 gallon of water with salt and olive oil to a boil. Add pasta and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked to preferred tenderness. Remove from heat and strain. Reserve some pasta water for the sauce. 2. Whisk eggs together and set aside. 3. For the sauce, cook pancetta in a large skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until fat renders but pancetta is not brown (about 5 minutes). Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and reserve drippings. 4. Place rigatoni pasta into skillet and immediately add whisked eggs, 2 tablespoons of the drippings, and 1 tablespoon pancetta. Toss to coat, working in three batches. Gradually add 1/3 of the cheese at a time, stirring and tossing to melt between the batches. Add black pepper and toss until sauce thickens, adding reserved pasta cooking water in tablespoon increments if needed. 5. Divide pasta among dishes and add black pepper and cheese to taste, then serve. (This recipe serves 4.)
75 AWARENOW / THE HERO EDITION
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