The 4th of July, like any national holiday, had been something of little significance in my household growing up. Which struck me as odd considering my father served as a soldier in the army. As I got older I understood why my parents had a love-hate relationship with the U.S.

As minorities both my mother and my father have experienced horrific displays of racism. Racially profiled, experience in “separate–but-equal” schools and general denial of services have made America’s race issue quite tangible for my father. My mother has also faced the racist monster from both blacks and whites, and now, in the blooming culture of Miami, hispanics.

Native Americans were killed off, Blacks were enslaved, Asians used and when doubted put into holding camps, and Hispanics, Jews, Italians, ┬áIrish and people from the Middle East have all endured the ugliness of America. But there is beauty, isn’t there?

In Miami alone we are blessed with seeing the beauty of Jewish families walking to Temple on Saturdays. Our friends discuss what they give up for Lint and Ramadan. Calle Ocho and Carnival bring us color and culture from the Caribbean. We are lucky, luckier than we realize for the diversity of our great nation. We have had some troubled times. Our history is full of blood and hate. But there is also love, the everlasting hunger for freedom, justice and equality. That is what makes America. And although we’ve endured near hell, we’re a family and those wounds are tended to with love. No, we are not perfect. We eat junk, stress out, and too often lose track of what’s important. But we also forgive, fight, and forge.

I like to think that we are in this together. Farmers and soldiers, artists and scientists. All sexes, races, religions. And we all came here – one way or another- for a purpose. Nobody’s born perfect, not even a country. We’re still young and have a lifetime ahead of us. Where we are now is not the promised land, but we came together, we taught each other right from wrong and we are learning, everyday we are learning to be better for ourselves and each other.


Happy Birthday America !!!!!





our first priority

Last night, like most good young Americans I spent my night volleying between the MTV Video Music Awards and the Democratic National Convention. Needless to say thirty minutes into the travesty they call an awards show, it was a no-brainer to leave the television on the convention. And though I am a gung ho Democrat. Though I think Joe Biden is quite a guy and is – what we call in the urban industry – slept on. I did not agree with some of the things he said, and in turn some of the messages he and the Democratic party spread last night.

Also like most Americans, I know exactly where I was when the towers fell. Sitting in Mr. Christi’s AP American History class was the best place a young mind could have been at the time. The most lively, intense, passionate and wise teacher of history predicted something like the attack on the two towers not weeks before. But rather than donning an “I told you so attitude” he explained to us exactly what it meant, had us going through our notes discussing how we could have foreseen this. And he cried. Well, got teary eyed, but for a man made of steel – which he told s he was – it was as good as. At 17, I watched the images with horror. Heard peoples personal accounts,and later sat and listened to every name called at Ground Zero.

BUT, parading around with Osama’s head on a platter was a larger part of the convention that it ought to have been, in my opinion. A clean statement by the president acknowledging that he’d killed Osama was acceptable and understandable. But during Biden’s speech, I was struck with images from dystopian novels such as Brave New World, 1984, and even Lord of the Flies. That KILL! KILL! KILL! went beyond, as Biden called it, healing a wound. There was hunger in the eyes of both Biden and the audience. My bringing up taught me that no matter how you are wronged, the best reaction is to better yourself. Though I understand and sympathize with the American need for vengeance, we were, plain and simple, celebrating the death of a man. No matter how evil, no matter how corrupt, I could never join in on that sentiment. I am not pointing a finger at those of you who do agree and celebrate, am just noting that it was a scary thing to watch.

And to top it all off, Biden said our biggest priority as a nation was to prepare our soldiers for war and tend to them when they returned.


I … I could not have possibly heard that correctly.

I come from a military family. The majority of my family members have served in the military. Black, Asian, Hispanic,they all served America. And I am thankful for every young person out there risking everything in a way I could only imagine for the protection of our daily lives. But isn’t our priority a safe and prosperous future? Some may say that we can only be safe if we are well protected, but what of diplomacy? What of education? That is what is going to prevent the need for War, the need for soldiers. Our priority is to our children.