Hillary Clinton Endorsement

April 19, 2016 (West Hollywood, CA)

By: Christopher Nikhil Bowen

Via westhollywoodguardian.

The political revolution Bernie Sanders began (or more accurately, uncovered) is not over.  However, his campaign as a true contender to be our party’s nominee, is.  It is for that reason why I, without hesitation or mental reservation, unequivocally endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton for President of the United States.

In 1999 I watched nervously as my little state became the focus of the nation.  Our Vermont legislature was debating the merits of the rights’ of same-sex couples after the Baker v. Vermont decision in December 1999. Their findings stated same-sex couples should not be denied marriage benefits. In the spring of 2000 Governor Howard Dean signed into law the bill proposed by the legislature instituting Civil Unions. Then-U.S. House Representative Bernie Sanders supported this legislation.

Take Back VermontThe 2000 state elections (held in November) became a vicious referendum on those that supported equality. The culture war battle lines could not have been drawn any more clearly. Conservatives felt the state was being overrun by “white plater” values (a derogatory term used in Vermont against those who had previously lived in New York or Massachusetts and held liberal values). I saw signs spring up along the rural countryside and even some of my neighbors’ lawns, they read “Take Back Vermont”. They were angry. I, like many LGBT members, were scared. I didn’t know what to think.  I knew I wasn’t a white-plater, and I loved Vermont; therefore, I should be against Civil Unions. I was preconditioned by my culture to reject the leftist homosexual “agenda”. I also knew even then that I wasn’t like most of the other boys in my class, but I wasn’t brave enough to come out — especially under such a tumultuous time for the gay rights movement in Vermont and the country.  I was born in India and was adopted nearly at birth. My parents are white but all four of my siblings and I are minorities. Vermont is the second whitest state in the union, we were different enough as it was, coming out just seemed like I was being selfish.

In 2001 I went on to serve as a Vermont Legislative Page in Montpelier.  I listened intently from the House and Senate floor as my friend and state Representative Gaye Symington defended herself against the ravenous right and even moderate Democrats on her vote in favor of civil unions. Gaye Symington watched in dismay as dozens of her allies in the fight for same-sex rights fell victim to hate in the 2000 elections. The “Take Back Vermont” movement claimed many more seats that year. The Democrats were weakened, but undeterred in their quest for equality.

Gaye SymingtonIt gave me pause when I saw Mrs. Symington supporting Civil Unions.  She was a great mother to my friend Sam, and I spent many days at their house playing baseball in the backyard or traveling to Montreal in their funky VW van to watch the Expos take on the Red Sox.  She represented my small town of Jericho, Vermont in the legislature and she was a well-respected mother and figure in our community.  Even though at the time I felt the left was too extreme, I didn’t feel that way about Gaye Symington.  That is what leadership looks like.[1]

In 2002 I was a freshman at Mount Mansfield Union High School, and I decided to write a term paper on Civil Unions.  My mentor Dot Kurth ran a “learning lab” at the High School designed for students who needed extra help on their studies. I often went to her for support and advice. She offered to help with my term paper and even invited me to visit her same-sex  female neighbors to conduct an interview.  I went to their home and they expressed to me their exasperation with the Republican Party.  They said, “[w]e just had a baby, we are the embodiment of family values!  How can the Republican Party tell us we can’t visit each other in the hospital when the other gets sick? What happens to our finances if one of us dies? How can we make sure our child is taken care of?  The system is rigged against us.”  I found myself nodding in agreement time and again, almost in tears at times. I could sense their feelings of anguish and pain.  It was there where I changed my mind, gay rights ARE human rights!

I attended undergraduate university at a southern catholic university, and I tried to slowly come out of the closet. Firstly I unveiled my secret to the closest of friends. The university and the students were not known for their support of the LGBT community, but it was something I felt I needed to do.  The arduous task of coming out became easier with time. It helped that I was in Arlington, Virginia, over 500 miles away from home, and moved to Paris for 6 months to study and “discover myself.” My family finally made me come out to them when I was in grad school.  It was a long process and it was not easy.

As a college senior, I became a legislative intern for United States Senator Bernie Sanders.  I could not have been more proud.  I was working on behalf of the great people of Vermont on Capitol Hill.  We were not treated well though, as many on the Hill thought that Sanders was not “going-along-to-get-along.” Staffers of Democratic Party Senators mixed together at lunch and after work. We were oftentimes not extended the same treatment as our boss was an Independent socialist.  I resented their cliquish ways and wore my Sanders employment badge as a true badge of honor.Bernie Sanders

After my post-baccalaureate study at Oxford, I moved to Los Angeles for graduate school and fell in love.  My Panamanian fiancé and I know we are going to live the American dream. I also know we need to fight to keep that dream alive.

I have been a proud Vermonter my whole life. Since the beginning of Bernie Sanders campaign for President and well before, I have been an outspoken advocate for him in my community. However, it is clear to me that Bernie Sanders will unfortunately not go on to capture our party’s nomination.

Our country can now go in two opposite directions when it comes to marriage equality and so many other human rights issues.  We can go forward or we can go back.  I am slated to be married to the love of my life next year, and I cannot imagine a world without that legal right. Actually, I can, and that’s why it is so imperative that we coalesce behind our party’s choice, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Clinton 4.19.16Today, I see unprecedented protections bestowed on LGBT peoples.  As a gay rights activist with the Stonewall Democratic Club and the Stonewall Young Democrats I fight every day to ensure that my community is treated with the respect I know we all deserve. On the campaign trail I’ve heard Hillary Clinton affirm the importance of the LGBT community, of women, of minorities, of Spanish-speakers, of civil rights, of her reluctance to use military force aboard, and so many more issues my generation holds dear.  I cannot afford a Republican presidency, we cannot afford to go back.  I refuse to go back. Stand with me friends as we press forward for a better America with Hillary Clinton.  I have endorsed Hillary Clinton for President tonight, and I urge you to do the same!

[1] Gaye Symington went on to become elected Vermont’s Speaker of the House in 2005, and held that position until 2008.  She unsuccessfully sought the governorship in 2008.

 

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I am Not the Average Black Girl, Video

Ernestine Johnson kicks off the show with an amazing and moving performance of “The Average Black Girl.” You will get chills from this performance


Ernestine Johnson is a compelling actress, performance poet and event host. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Ernestine, or  EJ as some call her started acting at ten years old, appearing on shows such as Seventh Heaven, Sabrina The Teenaged Witch, and Parent Hood. In 1998, Ernestine knew she wanted to act after watching Cicely Tyson in the film Mama Flora’s Family. Ernestine was a thespian throughout high school and college. Some of her theater credits include, Local Celebrity, Grease, A Raisin in The Sun and Fools.She trained in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, perfecting her craft.

Ernestine is also known in the spoken word community, infamous for being uncensored and untamed on the microphone, speaking on matters dear to the heart. Ernestine was the Red Carpet host for McKinley Presents Ent. in Las Vegas, conducting interviews with various celebrities which led to her hosting a sports segment on KCEP Power 88.1. Continuing her journey, Ernestine resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She can be seen on GMC’s original stage play Sugar Momma’s and her latest film Reckless.

To Those of You Who Feel the Bern

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To my progressive and liberal friends who support Bernie Sanders: I’m starting to get a little worried. You see, I see some of you spending a lot of time talking about Hillary Clinton as though she is the enemy. And I get why you’re concerned about her in the primary. I really do.

I understand why you prefer Bernie to her as president. In a better world, I would too. His values line up with mine better than Hillary’s do when it comes to economic issues. It should be pretty clear that I’m every bit the Democratic Socialist. We only disagree in how effective someone of Bernie’s temperament and self-identification could be in the job.

What has me worried is that there’s so much on which Bernie and Hillary agree and which I think we agree is important: education, reproductive issues, the Voting Rights Act, immigration, campaign finance reform, gay rights, gun control, equal pay, minimum wage hikes, protecting Social Security and Medicare, strengthening/improving the ACA, Affirmative Action, pursuing hate crimes, medical marijuana, climate change, Keystone, subsidized child care, TPP, NAFTA (yes, they were BOTH against it, check the record), Citizens United, veterans’ issues, the list goes on.

These are all issues on which these two are in agreement, but the gulf between them and the Republicans is vast. Much as the gulf between what you want and what the Republicans say they will do on these issues is vast. And yet, what I am hearing is that Hillary Clinton is the enemy and that she must be stopped at all costs.

Really?

Maybe that’s not what you mean when you talk about her as though she is single-handedly responsible for the abuses of Wall Street. As though she created a complex system of laws which protect the 1 percent and the corporate interests that chew the rest of us up to feed the gaping maw that is rampant capitalism.

As though she alone is responsible for the crimes committed against those who spoke out in the last decade. As though she is the only prop holding up the system of economic oppression that has been grinding away at us since… well, think about it. How far back would you trace it? Because as far as I can tell, its roots are prehistorical.

Am I apologizing for her positions on Wall Street? Hell, no. I don’t like them. I don’t support them. And I think having Bernie stand up and articulate in a clear voice what’s wrong with them is doing this country a public service for which I would like to thank him personally. I respect the man greatly for what he is doing and I do not have a single criticism of him. Not one. In fact, I will likely vote for him in the primary.

But he will likely lose that primary. (You may disagree, and that’s fine, that’s a different discussion, as you’ll see in a moment.)

And that’s why I’m worried.

Because throughout this campaign, Bernie and Hillary have been careful not to criticize each other too much, and there’s a reason for that. They understand that, regardless of who wins the primary, a Democrat — someone who will nominate Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Citizens United — must win the White House.

They know that whether it means Bernie’s outright, in-your-face-Democratic Socialism or Hillary’s too-lax oversight of the banks, one of them must be in the White House to stop the systematic disenfranchisement of black, Hispanic, and poor Americans. They get that one area of disagreement does not negate the many, MANY areas in which they have been working together for years and in which they have very similar visions for America — visions similar to your own.

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So when, instead of talking about why you like Bernie, you vilify Hillary and talk about why voting for her is just as bad as voting for Bush or Trump or some other Republican, I’m scared. Because not only do you seem to be misrepresenting both Hillary and the GOP’s very divergent stances, but you’re actually misrepresenting Bernie’s own stance.

He’s not attacking Hillary like that. He’s not saying the things you are about her. Not just because they largely aren’t true — but because he has already said that, if he loses the primary, he will not run as an independent. He will support whoever wins the Democratic nomination, and if it’s not him, it will be Hillary.

And every curse that Bernie’s supporters have hurled at Hillary during the primary will be used by the GOP to try to take her down. She’s weathered a lot. She might weather that.

What she will not survive is the thing that has me so frightened: that Bernie’s supporters — that you — will not follow Bernie’s example, and vote for the Democratic nominee. That you will believe all the rhetoric you have been spinning about how she’s no different than the Republicans. That it doesn’t make a difference if it’s her or another Bush in the White House for the next four or eight years.

Because, while I agree with you that our economic policies are of vital importance, they are not the only issues in this election. They are not the only things that create misery in this country. They are not the only injustices that have gone on too long. They are not the only things that need fixed and need fixed now.

So please, support your candidate. Sing his praises to the sky. Talk about his track record and his vision and what he could do for this country. But remember that the primary is not the whole game.

In fact, remember that this is not a game.

That this is not about your guy winning or taking your ball and going home. This is about making our country — all of it, in a lot of different arenas — a better place. And that either of them will be far better for the majority of this country than the alternative.

HILLARY CLINTON IS RIGHT: Al-Shabaab recruit video with Trump excerpt: U.S. is racist, anti-Muslim

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An al Qaeda affiliate has apparently released a new recruitment video, telling Muslims in America that the country has a long history of racism and discrimination and will turn on its Muslim community.

The video purportedly by Somali terrorist group al-Shabaabuses historic civil rights era footage of firebrand Malcolm X and audio of 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump to label the United States a racist society.

In the wake of the San Bernardino, California, shootingslast month, Trump said he wanted “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

The video runs this line, bleeping out the word “hell.”

Fierce backlash over Trump's plan to ban Muslims

Fierce backlash over Trump’s plan to ban Muslims 02:11

Before that, Trump had called for surveillance of mosques and said he was open to establishing a database for all Muslims living in the country.

The video includes recent footage of police shootings and violence against African Americans in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore — and claims that this is what is in store for American Muslims.

CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the video. Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

Throughout the video, excerpts of previous video messages from the late radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki are played predicting persecution of Muslims in the United States.

Al-Awlaki was U.S.-born and raised and revered as a powerful motivator in terrorist operations for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

He was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011, in Yemen.

Last month, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claimed that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric was providing fodder for Islamist terror group ISIS to use in its propaganda. ISIS and al Qaeda are rivals.

At a December 19 debate with two rivals for the Democratic nomination, she said ISIS is “going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”

However, that claim has never been proven.

Asked about the video on Saturday, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters that “any indication that supports the notion that the U.S. is at war with Islam will be taken advantage of by terrorist organizations.”

“We are at war with terrorists. We are not at war with Islam,” he said, adding that the U.S. needs “to defeat this narrative that allows them to recruit people.”

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