Costa Rica 2.2018



THE COSTA RICAN ADVENTURE with 18 fellow travelers:   We landed  in San Jose and stayed in the adjacent town of Alajuela. The next day we travelled  to the village of La Fortuna with stops at Baldi Hot Springs,  a hike at Volcan Arenal with a nest of baby hummingbirds, a view of Lake Arenal and a gorgeous sunset.  Day 3 river rafting with alligators, iguanas and an old homestead, 500 steps down (and up) to Fortuna Falls, and sunset on Volcan Arenal from the plaza in La Fortuna.  Then a Boat Trip across lake Arenal to the village of Monteverde and the Monteverde Inn with a 2+ mile hiking trail, waterfalls, a slot canyon, a shy aguti and a night hike with an enthusiastic, knowledgable guide where we saw lots of animals, tangled with some poison ivy but only got a  photo of an ugly scorpion.  A hike into Monteverde and a tour of an Orchid Garden with a knowledgable young woman.  Next day to Selvatura Park where we saw coatamundi, hummingbirds, butterflies and gorgeous rainforest plants and flowers and hiked the sky bridges high above the rainforest floor.

Then we took Ted’s Wild Ride over the mountains and across a river of crocodiles to the town of Manuel Antonio at the Pacific Coast.  We went snorkeling and I saw a few starfish I had never seen.  The following day we hiked right from our hotel, Manuel Antonio, and into the  Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio.    Marvin Parra was our amazing guide.  He was enthusiastic and took some great photos through his scope!  He is credited with the close ups of the hanging bats (look at those eyes), the land crab, the Howler monkey, the iguana, the dragonfly, another type of bat and the sloth.   I found a capuchin monkey that was fun to follow on the hike down to the first and second beaches, then on to Gamelas (the Twins) Beach.

The last day in  Manuel Antonio we went past the town of Quepos and the old Port area, to the mangroves and took a boat ride with another wonderful naturalist.  We saw a pygmy owl,  4 kinds of herons (blue heron, spoon bill rosetta heron, bitterns, bare-throated tiger heron), lots of birds, a boa constrictor in a tree, an iguana and the oddest Capuchin monkey who’s expressions were so human!  He went from grumpy, to worried to pissed off to rebellious.

Most notable on this trip?   The happy Costa Rican people!  They have no military, but spend their money on health care and education.  Their major income producing industry is tourism and they are very environmentally conscious.  They use fast growing trees as fence post, have small cars, recycle and seem to have a lot of fun with their friends and family in their beautiful country.   I loved speaking Spanish.  PURA VIDA!

NOTE:  This was a grand experiment to minimize photographic equipment, so All PHOTOS were TAKEN WITH AN I phone.   PLEASE DO NOT USE PHOTOS WITHOUT PERMISSION OR GIVING CREDIT.


I'm human

“You’re really pretty for a black girl.”

“ You look just like a china doll.”

“Don’t sit next to her, she probably smells like rice.”

“Don’t try to Jew me down on the price.”

In the 60s my friend’s mother took us both to the opening of McDonald’s.   My mother said, “Oh will she pick you up in the Jew canoe (a Cadillac)?”

If someone said this to you, how would you feel?  We all make jokes at the expense of others. Sarcasm is especially harmful because it puts someone down for a laugh. These statements hurt, degrade and belittle people and attempt to reduce their importance in the world.  This is “othering”. I believe that we must start to identify and exorcise our unconscious privilege, which presents as racial slurs and microagressions.  Imagine if we were curious about other people, their families, values, thoughts, feelings and cultures and religions. Imagine what we would learn about the cultures within our society if we celebrated differences and practiced inclusiveness. THE GREAT CHALLENGE IS HOW TO HEAL THE RACIAL DIVIDE IN OUR COUNTRY.

A racial slur is also called a microagression, which is a statement, action, or incident  of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.  Research shows that we all inherit and learn the racial, gender, and sexual orientation biases of our homes and cultures.  Racist, sexist and heterosexist attitudes, beliefs and behaviors have indoctrinated us. Most of these behaviors are unconscious. We must all take responsibility for what we say and the affect it has on other human beings.

As I read the statements by minority students below, I felt gut punched.  I found myself cringing.  I felt ashamed as I recognized things I had said. These are examples of the unconsciousness of our society and the unconsciousness of privilege. If you heard these comments on a daily basis, you would start to view yourself as a second-class person, someone who is not “good enough”, who doesn’t measure up? These are examples of “othering” and marginalizing of our fellow human beings.

Statements to Black Students:

  • When people think it’s weird that I listen to Carrie Underwood.
  • So what does your hair look like today? She said as she pulled off my hat without my permission.
  • You don’t act like a normal black person ya know?
  • Courtney I never see you as a black girl. Answer: You don’t act like a normal black person ya know?
  • The limited representation of my race in your classroom does not make me the voice of all Black People.
  • When standing next to my Mom: Why is your daughter so white?
  • You’re really pretty for a dark skin girl.
  • Why do you sound white?

Statements to Asian students:

  • So. you’re Chinese right?
  • You’re not really Asian.
  • So, what do you guys speak in Japan? Asian?
  • Not your fucking china doll.
  • Statement overheard by an Asian student: This girl sitting next to me move, to sit closer to someone she’s talking to, and the white guy whispers loudly that she moved because she smells like rice.
  • Can you read this? He showed me a Japanese character on his phone.
  • Can you see as much as white people? You know, because of your eyes?

Statements to mixed race students:

  • Question: What are you? Answer: HUMAN. Being bi-racial doesn’t make me a “what’.
  • So, like, what are you?
  • You don’t speak Spanish?
  • Statement to student of mixed race who looks white: No, you’re white.

Statements by a  Hispanic student:

  • Just because I’m Mexican I shouldn’t be the 1st choice for the role of Dora the Explorer in a high school skit.
  • When I gave a speech about racism, the emcee introduced me as Jaime Garcia. My name is Jaime Rodriguez. Not all Latinos have the last name Garcia.

Look at pictures of the students holding placards quoting microagressions. Notice how their expressions increase the impact of the microagression:  From Kiyun Kim, Racial Microaggressions, December 2103

RACIAL SLURS AS ACTIONS: Actions  can marginalize, degrade and belittle people. Microagressions can be racial, gender, religion and sexual orientation  actions.   Many of these comments or actions appear to be innocent, but taken as everyday occurrence they can impact marginalized groups and  affect their standard of living by creating inequities in health care, police treatment, aspirations for young adults, education, housing and employment opportunities.

Racial Microaggression:
• A White man or woman clutches their purse or checks their wallet as a Black or Latino man approaches or passes them. (Hidden message: You and your group are criminals.).
• An Asian American, born and raised in the United States, is complimented for speaking “good English.” (Hidden message: You are not a true American. You are a perpetual foreigner in your own country.)
• A Black couple is seated at a table in the restaurant next to the kitchen despite there being other empty and more desirable tables located at the front. (Hidden message: You are a second-class citizen and undeserving of first-class treatment.)

Gender Microaggressions:
• an assertive female manager is labeled as a “bitch,” while her male counterpart is described as “a forceful leader.” (Hidden message: Women should be passive and allow men to be the decision makers.)
• A female physician wearing a stethoscope is mistaken as a nurse. (Hidden message: Women should occupy nurturing and not decision-making roles. Women are less capable than men).
• Whistles or catcalls are heard from men as a woman walks down the street. (Hidden message: Your body/appearance is for the enjoyment of men. You are a sex object.)

Sexual Orientation Microaggressions:
• A Young person uses the term “gay” to describe a movie that she didn’t like. (Hidden message: Being gay is associated with negative and undesirable characteristics.)
• A lesbian client in therapy reluctantly discloses her sexual orientation to a straight therapist by stating she is “into women.” The therapist indicates he is not shocked by the disclosure because he once had a client who was “into dogs.” (Hidden message: Same-sex attraction is abnormal and deviant.)
• Two gay men hold hands in public and are told not to flaunt their sexuality. (Hidden message: Same-sex displays of affection are abnormal and offensive. Keep it private and to yourselves.)

Religion, disability, and social class may also be reflected as behavioral microagressions:

  • When bargaining over the price of an item, a storeowner says to a customer, “Don’t try to Jew me down.” (Hidden message: Jews are stingy and money-grubbing.)
    • A blind man reports that people often raise their voices when speaking to him. He responds by saying, “Please don’t raise your voice; I can hear you perfectly well.” (Hidden message: A person with a disability is defined as lesser in all aspects of physical and mental functioning).
    • The outfit worn by a TV reality-show mom is described as “classless and trashy.” (Hidden message: Lower-class people are tasteless and unsophisticated.)

What can you do?  Don’t expect this to be comfortable.  It’s important work!  Growth seldom is comfortable and this is a growing process. Notice your microagressions. Read people’s faces when you are speaking in order to gauge their reactions. Speak up and ask for clarification about what they think or feel. Reach for understanding and empathy. Challenge the hurtful statements of others and start the difficult conversations to heal the racial divide. It’s up to each of us to create a more civil society with social justice for everyone.

  1. “Othering 101” 
  2. The Problem of Othering: Towards Inclusiveness and Belonging
  3. KIYUN KIM Racial Microaggressions, December 2013.
  4. 21 Racial Microaggressions You Hear on a Daily Basis:
  5. From Microaggressions: More Than Just Race from Psychology Today.

NOTE:  Picture at top of story is taken from KIYUN KIM                                                             Racial Microaggressions, December 2013.

GUN VIOLENCE PROTECTION Take Action, Issues, Polls & Statistics 5.2018

Guns have changed shouldn't our laws_

The Second Amendment of the Constitution was written in 1791. These are the guns that were used: Brown Bess Musket,Charleville Musket, American-made Muskets, Long Rifles, Pattern 1776 Infantry Rifle and the Ferguson Rifle.  The 2nd Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

TAKE ACTION! Ask Congressmen and Senators to introduce and support GUN VIOLENCE PROTECTION LEGISLATION and GET PLEDGES FROM CANDIDATES for their support: 

  1. Background checks on all firearm purchases (guns and ammunition) in gun stores, gun shows and online with a 10 day waiting period.
  2. All new guns must be sold with fingerprint recognition. For a gun to be used, the trigger must recognize the fingerprint of its registered owner, which would eliminate crimes with stolen guns and potentially some suicides.
  3. People on the DO NOT FLY LIST cannot buy guns.
  4. People who have been convicted of domestic violence or have a restraining order by a spouse/ partner could not buy guns.
  5. People who are mentally ill could not buy guns.
  6. Assault weapons should be banned along high capacity magazines and clips andbump stocks and any other equipment, alteration, or modification that would increase a firearm’s capacity for ammunition or rate of fire
  7. Silencers should be illegal. What if the people in Las Vegas couldn’t hear the guns over the music?
  8. To purchase a firearm or ammunition you must be a US citizen, be 21 years of age and take a nationally approved education class and  pass a national licensing  testing of knowledge from the class and proficiency.

Not sure who to contact? Go to and find your state on the interactive map:


The National Rifle Association (NRA) is the strongest lobby in Washington DC. Since the Supreme Court Ruling on Citizen’s United Corportations can now donate to political campaigns. The NRA also donates heavily to the Republican Party and other Political Action Committees (PAC).

HOW MUCH HAS THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION DONATED TO YOUR CONGRESS PEOPLE? CHECK THIS INTERACTIVE CHART. Since 1998, the National Rifle Association has donated $3,533,294 to current members of Congress. Explore below to see how much money has been donated to members of Congress in your state:


  1. Rep. Ken Calvert (R)$42,550
  2. Rep. Darrell Issa (R)$29,900
  3. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R)$24,850
  4. Rep. Devin Nunes (R)$22,950
  5. Rep. David Valadao (R)$19,400
  6. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R)$18,000
  7. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R)$15,450
  8. Rep. Tom McClintock (R)$13,950
  9. Rep. Duncan D Hunter (R)$13,000
  10. Rep. Ed Royce (R)$11,970
  11. Rep. Susan Brooks (R)$6,000
  12. Rep. Paul Cook (R)$6,000
  13. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R)$6,000
  14. Rep. Mike Thompson (D)$4,000
  15. Rep. Mimi Walters (R)$4,000
  16. Rep. Steve Knight (R)$3,000

WHAT/ WHO  FUNDS THE NRA? Prior to the passage of the McClure-Volkmer Act signed by President Reagan 1986, interstate ammunition sales by common carrier to private individuals were banned and records were maintained of ammunition sales. McClure-Volkmer ended these limited controls on interstate — and opened up a new financial funding stream for the NRA.
Today the NRA receives millions of dollars from online sales of ammunition, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and other accessories through the Round-Up Program, created by top NRA benefactor Larry Potterfield. Potterfield is founder and head of MidwayUSA, which claims to stock “[j]ust about everything for shooting, reloading, gunsmithing and hunting,” including ammunition and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The Round-Up Program encourages buyers to “round-up” their purchase to the nearest dollar with the difference going to the NRA.​’   ‘Alleged Aurora mass shooter James Holmes’ ability to reportedly purchase more than six thousand rounds of ammunition online without any record-keeping is the direct result of Congressional passage of the National Rifle Association’s flagship bill of the 1980s: the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act.

HOW THE GUN INDUSTRY FUNNELS TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO THE NRA: “The bulk of the group’s money now comes in the form of contributions, grants, royalty income, and advertising, much of it originating from gun industry sources.
Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to it through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program. Donors include firearm companies like Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA Corporation. Other supporters from the gun industry include Cabala’s, Sturm Rugar & Co, and Smith & Wesson.
The NRA also made $20.9 million — about 10 percent of its revenue — from selling advertising to industry companies marketing products in its many publications in 2010, according to the IRS Form 990.
Additionally, some companies donate portions of sales directly to the NRA. Crimson Trace, which makes laser sights, donates 10 percent of each sale to the NRA. Taurus buys an NRA membership for everyone who buys one of their guns. Sturm Rugar gives $1 to the NRA for each gun sold, which amounts to millions. The NRA’s revenues are intrinsically linked to the success of the gun business.
The NRA Foundation also collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from the industry, which it then gives to local-level organizations for training and equipment purchases.”









AUSTRALIA’S SUCCESSFUL GUN CONTROL–An Australian named Martin Bryant murdered 35 people with a semiautomatic rifle in Port Arthur in 1996, in the deadliest mass shooting in Australian history,


  1. banned automatic and semiautomatic firearms,
  2. adopted new licensing requirements,
  3. established a national firearms registry, and
  4. instituted a 28-day waiting period for gun purchases
  5. bought (at market value) and destroyed more than 600,000 civilian-owned firearms

HOW? in a program that cost half a billion dollars and was funded by raising taxes on healthcare. The entire overhaul took only months to implement.

THE RESULTS: THE US HAS 29.7 GUN DEATHS PER MILLION PEOPLE AUSTRALIA HAS 1.4 GUN DEATHS PER MILLION PEOPLE. The number of mass shootings in Australia—dropped from 13 in the 18-year period before 1996 to zero after the Port Arthur massacre. Between 1995 and 2006, gun-related homicides and suicides in the country dropped by 59 percent and 65 percent, respectively, though these declines appear to have since leveled off. Two academics who have studied the impact of the reform initiative estimate that the gun-buyback program saves at least 200 lives each year, according to The New York Times. In a multinational study for the Small Arms Survey, Marcus Wilson cited the Australian case as an example of the most efficacious type of government effort to control arms and measurably reduce armed violence, in which weapons-collection programs are combined with legislative reform, campaigns to shift public opinion, and civil-society involvement.

AUSTRALIA HOMICIDE RATE 1 DEATH FOR EVERY 100,000 PEOPLE, THE U.S. IS 10 PER EVERY 100,000: With Australia’s population steadily increasing, the nation’s homicide incident rate has fallen even more than the number of homicides — from 1.6 per 100,000 in 1995-96 to 1 per 100,000 in 2013-2014, according to a government report on crime trends. That was the lowest homicide incident rate at the time in 25 years, as we mentioned earlier.

“In the seven years before the NFA (1989-1995), the average annual firearm suicide death rate per 100,000 was 2.6 (with a yearly range of 2.2 to 2.9); in the seven years after the buyback was fully implemented (1998-2004), the average annual firearm suicide rate was 1.1 (yearly range 0.8 to 1.4).”

“In the seven years before the NFA, the average annual firearm homicide rate per 100,000 was .43 (range .27 to .60) while for the seven years post NFA, the average annual firearm homicide rate was .25 (range .16 to .33).”

“[T]he drop in firearm deaths was largest among the type of firearms most affected by the buyback.”

The authors, however, noted that “no study has explained why gun deaths were falling, or why they might be expected to continue to fall.” That poses difficulty in trying to definitively determine the impact of the law, they write.

“Whether or not one wants to attribute the effects as being due to the law, everyone should be pleased with what happened in Australia after the NFA — the elimination of firearm massacres (at least up to the present) and an immediate, and continuing, reduction in firearm suicide and firearm homicide,” the authors write.


HOW TO PREVENT GUN DEATHS- WHERE THE EXPERTS AND THE PUBLIC AGREE-       A POLL The most popular measures in our survey — policies like universal background checks and keeping guns from convicted stalkers — were supported by more than 85 percent of registered voters. Even the least popular idea, a law that would limit gun sales to people who had to demonstrate a “genuine need” for the weapon, was favored by nearly 50 percent.

What Works and Doesn’t Work in Reducing Gun Deaths

Suggested Policy Effectiveness Public Support
Requiring all sellers to run background checks on anyone who buys a gun. 7.3 86%
Preventing sales of all firearms to people who have been convicted of violent misdemeanors, including domestic assaults. 7.1 83%
Preventing sales of all firearms to people who have been convicted of stalking another person 6.5 85%
Requiring all gun owners to possess a license for their firearm. 6.4 78%
Requiring all sellers to run background checks on anyone who buys ammunition. 6.4 72%
Banning the sale and ownership of all semi-automatic and automatic firearms. 6.1 63%
Preventing sales of all firearms to people who have been reported as dangerous to law enforcement by a mental health provider. 6.0 87%
Requiring all owners to report lost or stolen firearms. 6.0 88%
Banning the sale and ownership of all ammunition magazines with a capacity greater than 10 bullets. 5.8 63%
Requiring that all firearms be recorded in a national registry. 5.7 70%
Expanding screening and treatment for the mentally ill. 5.6 86%
Requiring that all gun buyers demonstrate a a ”genuine need” for a gun, such as a law enforcement job or hunting. 5.6 49%
Requiring all guns to microstamp each bullet with a mark that uniquely matches the gun and bullet. 5.5 65%
Increasing minimum penalties for people found possessing firearms illegally. 5.4 80%
Requiring gun dealers to keep, retain and report all gun records and sales to the Federal government. 5.4 80%
Banning the sale and ownership of assault rifles or similar firearms. 5.0 67%
Requiring all gun owners to register their fingerprints. 5.0 72%
Preventing sales of all firearms and ammunition to anyone considered to be a “known or suspected terrorist” by the F.B.I. 4.9 89%
Requiring a mandatory waiting period of three days after gun is purchased before it can be taken home. 4.8 77%
Limiting the number of guns that can be purchased to one per month. 4.8 67%
Limiting the amount of ammunition you can purchase within a given time period. 4.4 64%
Requiring that all gun owners store their guns in a safe storage unit. 4.4 76%
Banning firearms from all workplace settings nationally. 4.3 60%
Requiring that gun buyers complete safety training and a test for their specific firearm. 4.1 79%
Implementing a national “buy-back” program for all banned firearms and magazines, where the government pays people to turn in illegal guns. 3.9 74%
Banning firearms from schools and college campuses nationally. 3.8 68%
Requiring that all gun owners store their guns with childproof locks. 3.5 82%
Requiring every state to honor out-of-state permits to carry a concealed weapon. 1.7 73%
Authorizing stand-your-ground laws nationally that allow people to defend themselves using lethal force without needing to retreat first. 1.7 71%

How We Made Our Matrix

To build a list of possible policies, we consulted the academic literature on laws from American states and foreign countries and spoke with advocates for gun rights and gun control. Both surveys were conducted in June of last year.

For our measure of popularity, Morning Consult conducted an internet survey of 1,975 voters, who were asked whether they approved of the possible laws.

For our effectiveness survey, we asked experts in gun policy to evaluate each idea on a scale of 1 to 10, according to how effective they thought it would be in reducing fatalities. We asked the experts to ignore considerations of political or legal feasibility.

Our expert panel consisted of 32 current or retired academics in criminology, public health and law, who have published extensively in peer-reviewed academic journals on gun policy. We know our sample is small and may not include every expert that readers would like consulted. But we feel it represents a useful, if imperfect, measure of what people steeped in the research think might save lives.

The panel of academics included: Cathy Barber, Magdalena Cerdá, Jay Corzine, John Donohue, Laura Dugan, Liza H. Gold, David Hemenway, David Kennedy, Louis Klarevas, Gary Kleck, David Kopel, Tomislav Kovandzic, Adam Lankford, John Lott, Jonathan Metzl, Matthew Miller, Carlisle E. Moody, Andrew Papachristos, Charles Ransford, Peter Reuter, Mark Rosenberg, Robert J. Sampson, Michael Siegel, Gary Slutkin, Robert Spitzer, Stephen P. Teret, George E. Tita, Eugene Volokh, Daniel Webster, April Zeoli and others.

Special thanks to the Fraternal Order of Police and the Major Cities Chiefs Association for distributing the survey to their membership.



America is an exceptional country when it comes to guns. It’s one of the few countries in which the right to bear arms is constitutionally protected. But America’s relationship with guns is unique in another crucial way: Among developed nations, the US is far and away the most violent — in large part due to the easy access many Americans have to firearms. These charts and maps show what that violence looks like compared with the rest of the world, why it happens, and why it’s such a tough problem to fix.

1) America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 times as many as Germany

2) America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world

3) There have been more than 1,500 mass shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (December 2012)

4) On average, there is more than one mass shooting for each day in America

5) States with more guns have more gun deaths

6) It’s not just the US: Developed countries with more guns also have more gun deaths

7) States with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun-related deaths

8) Still, gun homicides (like all homicides) have declined over the past couple decades

9) Most gun deaths are suicides

10) The states with the most guns report the most suicides

11) Guns allow people to kill themselves much more easily

12) Programs that limit access to guns have decreased suicides

13) Since the shooting of Michael Brown, police have killed at least 2,902 people (May 2017)

14) In states with more guns, more police officers are also killed on duty

15) Support for gun ownership has sharply increased since the early ’90s

16) High-profile shootings don’t appear to lead to more support for gun control

17) But specific gun control policies are fairly popular




US- 10 deaths per 100,000 people.

Finland- 3.6 deaths per 100,000 people

Austria- 3.2 deaths per 100,000 people from the American Journal of the Medicine chart

“Murder is the second leading cause of death among Americans aged 15 to 24, the study found. The research also showed that murder was the third leading cause of death among those aged 25-34. Compared to those in the same age groups in other wealthy countries, Americans aged 15-24 are 49 times more likely to be the victim of a gun-related murder. For those aged 25-34, that number is 32 times more likely, the research revealed.”



My opinion: Our guns have changed, shouldn’t our laws? These guns were available in 1776:Brown Bess Musket,Charleville Musket, American-made Muskets, Long Rifles, Pattern 1776 Infantry Rifle and the Ferguson Rifle.

 The Second Amendment of the Constitution: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) was adopted, having been ratified by three-fourths of the states.”


The rule, which was finalized in December 2016, added people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs to the national background check database, which would have added about 75,000 names to that database. President Barack Obama recommended the now-nullified regulation in a 2013 memo following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 first graders and six others dead. The measure sought to block some people with severe mental health problems from buying guns. The original rule was hotly contested by gun rights advocates who said it infringed on Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Gun control advocates, however, praised the rule for curbing the availability of firearms to those who may not use them with the right intentions.

HOW STRONG ARE THE GUN LAWS IN YOUR STATE?    Look at the interactive map. They analyzed the following criteria:  We looked at five types of gun control enacted at the state level: assault weapons bans, high-capacity magazine bans, gun possession prohibitions for high-risk individuals, gun possession prohibitions for individuals with domestic violence convictions and mandatory background checks.

Why restrict guns? Listen to Obama’s answer at a townhall meeting.

60% OF GUN DEATHS ARE SUICIDES, which SUPPORTS GUN CONTROL– Not all of those suicides are by gun, but a majority are. And while some people feeling suicidal impulses will choose another method if a gun is not at hand, public health researchers cite two reasons guns are particularly dangerous: 1) Guns are more lethal than most other methods people try, so someone who attempts suicide another way is more likely to survive; 2) Studies suggest that suicide attempts often occur shortly after people decide to kill themselves, so people with deadly means at hand when the impulse strikes are more likely to use them than those who have to wait or plan.THAT MEANS THAT STRATEGIES THAT MAKE SUICIDE MORE INCONVENIENT OR DIFFICULT CAN SAVE LIVES. Guns, when they are in the home, can make self-harm both easy and deadly.

Guns have changed shouldn't our laws_






Healing the Racial Divide Debbie Hecht

white hands black hands

Part 1: White Supremacy and what is Racism?    comments:

I believe that if human beings are willing to see each other in the fullness of their humanity, we can all be friends. What does that mean? it means listening, looking at each other in full acceptance by being vulnerable, empathetic and compassionate. This belief or value does not deny, excuse or devalue the cultural differences between races, religions or classes. I fervently believe that being vulnerable to each other and reaching for a bond of understanding rooted in equality will heal the racial divide. We need to start with this openness of belief. This i believe.  WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?    

The 2016 US election was a wake up call. The Trump rhetoric has unleashed the simmering hatred of racism hiding just below the surface of civility in this country. White Supremacy and white privilege are alive and well in the United States. The shock waves of this election have emboldened White Supremacists and exposed great divides among citizens racially, economically and socially. It has become acceptable to incite violence and spew hatred. In just the 2 years from 2014 to 2016, Hate Groups have increased by 14.5% (from the Southern Poverty Law Centers Hate Map- see Bibliography).

THE POPULATION DEMOGRAPHICS supports WHITE SUPREMACY: According to the 2014 Census projections: Whites are the supreme/ dominant race in the United States, being the largest portion of the population is 76.9%, although some percentage of white is also considered Hispanic which is 15.9%.   Hispanics are the largest minority at 17.8%, African Americans are 13.3%, and Asians are 5.7%, American Indians/ Alaska Native 1.3%, native Hawaiians .2%.

On a personal note, I apologize for the simplistic nature of this essay. I think it’s important to disclose my fundamental beliefs. First I believe that we all have some degree of racism. For most whites it is unconscious white privilege.  For people of color it could be anger at white and generalizing that all white people are bad. My intent is to bring embedded, unconscious racism to the consciousness, so that people can watch and hopefully temper their own racial biases. Hopefully this will open the door to the hard conversations that may stir thinking and problem solving along the road to collaboration and change in how our society treats people of color and different cultures.

Great social change awaits us, but it will only come at a great cost and will require a great effort.  This will mean having uncomfortable, heartfelt conversations to understand the lives of others and the suffering caused by white privilege, racism and “othering”. How is our culture “white skewed” by supporting white supremacy and white privilege? Our society is white skewed because of population demographics, the legal system, our educational institutions and our economic and tax systems, to name a few.

Wake up to your degree of Privilege:  -SCORE YOURSELF:                                               Add a POINT for each POINT of PRIVILEGE:

  • If your ancestors were forced to come to the USA not by choice, take one step back.
  • If your primary ethnic identity is “American,” take one step forward.
  • If you were ever called names because of your race, class, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If there were people who worked for your family as servants, gardeners, nannies, etc. take one step forward.
  • If you were ever ashamed or embarrassed of your clothes, house, car, etc. take one step back.
  • If one or both of your parents were “white collar” professionals:  doctors, lawyers, etc. take one step forward.
  • If you were raised in an area where there was prostitution, drug activity, etc., take one step back.
  • If you ever tried to change your appearance, mannerisms, or behavior to avoid being judged or ridiculed, take one step back.
  • If you studied the culture of your ancestors in elementary school, take one step forward.
  • If you went to school speaking a language other than English, take one step back.
  • If there were more than 50 books in your house when you grew up, take one step forward.
  • If you ever had to skip a meal or were hungry because there was not enough money to buy food when you were growing up, take one step back.
  • If you were taken to art galleries or plays by your parents, take one step forward.
  • If one of your parents was unemployed or laid off, not by choice, take one step back.
  • If you have health insurance take one step forward.
  • If you attended private school or summer camp, take one step forward.
  • If your family ever had to move because they could not afford the rent, take one step back.
  • If you were told that you were beautiful, smart and capable by your parents, take one step forward.
  • If you were ever discouraged from academics or jobs because of race, class, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If you were encouraged to attend college by your parents, take one step forward.
  • If you have a disability take one step backward.
  • If you were raised in a single parent household, take one step back.
  • If your family owned the house where you grew up, take one step forward.
  • If you saw members of your race, ethnic group, gender or sexual orientation portrayed on television in degrading roles, take one step back.
  • If you own a car take one step forward.
  • If you were ever offered a good job because of your association with a friend or family member, take one step forward.
  • If you were ever denied employment because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If you were paid less, treated less fairly because of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If you were ever accused of cheating or lying because of your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If you ever inherited money or property, take one step forward.
  • If you had to rely primarily on public transportation, take one step back.
  • If you attended private school at any point in your life take one step forward.
  • If you were ever stopped or questioned by the police because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If you were ever afraid of violence because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • If your parents own their own business take one step forward.
  • If you were generally able to avoid places that were dangerous, take one step forward.
  • If you were ever uncomfortable about a joke related to your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation but felt unsafe to confront the situation, take one step back.
  • If you use a TDD Phone system take one step backward.
  • If you were ever the victim of violence related to your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  • Imagine you are in a relationship, if you can get married in the State of ___ take one step forward
  • If your parents did not grow up in the United States, take one step back.
  • If your parents attended college take one step forward.
  • If your parents told you that you could be anything you wanted to be, take one step forward.
  • If you are able to take a step forward or backward take two steps forward.

(Adapted from the Penn State classroom version cited below)


The basis of our legal system is the Constitution that was written by white slave owners. The Constitution and our first laws were written to uphold the plantation system, which was dependent upon slave labor. In 1865, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and ended the Plantation way of life in the south. It states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” 152 years after the passage of the 13th Amendment, the United States still supports an unconscious social and cultural system called racism.

SLAVERY IN THE PRISONS: Slavery is still allowed in prisons and benefits corporations.  “At least thirty-seven states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more…. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum. And in privately run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month… Ninety-seven percent of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. It is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. Sixteen percent of the country’s 2 million prisoners suffer from mental illness.”   We are perpetuating a whole new sub-class of working poor who cannot support their families and are not learning valuable skills for when they return to society.

Slavery is the worst form of “othering”. In order to buy/sell, beat, kill, breed human beings, slaves had to be dehumanized. Slave owners needed slaves to work the southern plantations. Somewhat the same happened with indentured servitude in Hawaii with the sugar plantations, but under the guise of corporate domination, where the sugar plantation owners paid wages, but deducted money for housing, things bought at the country store etc. “Othering” means that they are not one of us, they are not like us.

OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM: Education is one route out of from poverty. As the Brooking Institute study states: “The color line divides us still. In recent years, the most visible evidence of this in the public policy arena has been the persistent attack on affirmative action in higher education and employment. From the perspective of many Americans who believe that the vestiges of discrimination have disappeared, affirmative action now provides an unfair advantage to minorities. From the perspective of others who daily experience the consequences of ongoing discrimination, affirmative action is needed to protect opportunities likely to evaporate if an affirmative obligation to act fairly does not exist. And for Americans of all backgrounds, the allocation of opportunity in a society that is becoming ever more dependent on knowledge and education is a source of great anxiety and concern.”


  • Upper class white children frequently attend private school, which leads to less integration in public schools and less understanding of racial differences.
  • Affirmative Action allows people of color more opportunities  for college admission.  There has been mixed support in the courts for affirmative action at state universities.
    • Affirmative Action has been voted out in the state of Michigan in 2014. This was affirmed by the US Supreme Court. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer wrote a 75- page dissenting opinion: “This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination,” she said, “As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society,” she added.
    • In Fisher v. the University of Texas in April of 2016- The Supreme Courtrejected a challenge to a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, said courts must give universities substantial but not total leeway in designing their admissions programs. “A university is in large part defined by those intangible ‘qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness,’” Justice Kennedy wrote, quoting from a landmark case re: desegregation. “Considerable deference is owed to a university in defining those intangible characteristics, like student body diversity, that are central to its identity and educational mission.”“But still,” Justice Kennedy added, “it remains an enduring challenge to our nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity.”
  • The current Secretary of Education, Betsey de Vos is focused on establishing a voucher system for schools that will further dismantle funding for public schools.
  • Less money for schools means fewer and lower-quality books, less labs, fewer computers, larger classes, less qualified and less experienced teachers can be hired and less new and innovative teaching systems. Few science courses and art courses are available.
  • Student engagement and achievement suffer in over crowded classrooms with lower quality teachers and less enriching materials. Computers are especially important in lower-income areas because families may not have them at home.
  • Nutritional school lunches are important to boost students learning: From a study of all California public schools over a five-year period by the National Bureau of Economic Research: “Students at schools that contract with a healthy school lunch vendor score higher on CA state achievement tests, with larger test score increases for students who are eligible for reduced price or free school lunches.”
  • Applying for admissions to our colleges and universities is daunting for bilingual or poorly educated people. On the positive side many community colleges require remedial classes to raise students knowledge to levels that can help them to be more successful in college. The question is “Why weren’t core competencies stressed in high school?” I think if you look at funding issues, you will see the disparity.


There are frequent legislative battles at the state level over paying a living wage. Currently, 29 states and D.C. have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Low paid workers can barely make ends meet. They see no path to the “American Dream” and they see nothing changing soon. This leads to hopelessness, frustration and anger. Many people are one paycheck from homelessness.

Paying a living wage is better for our country because:

  • Fewer people would be on welfare.
  • Fewer people would need food stamps.
  • Better nutrition means better health and lower health care costs.
  • Fewer people would need assistance with health insurance, care costs and drugs.
  • Higher wages means more people would be contributing to Social Security.
  • More people would be paying income taxes, increasing l federal and state revenues.
  • More money in the national budget would mean more money for other things like infrastructure and education.
  • More people could afford to buy big-ticket items: appliances, cars and homes to stimulate the economy.
  • Since more people would have more buying power there would be more sales taxes paid for local governments.

What is the downside of having a living wage? A Big Mac or a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts might cost more?  The federal minimum wage in the United States is currently $7.25 an hour (before taxes). Which is  about $6.26 after taxes.

Australia has the highest minimum wage with $9.54 after taxes, then Luxemburg with $9.25 after taxes, then Belgium with $8.57 after taxes.

IRS AND THE TAX SYSTEM: The tax breaks in the current tax system are not understandable to most Americans without hiring a tax professional. Only people who are in the middle to upper classes can afford to hire Certified Public Accountants to navigate the tax system, so they can benefit from tax shelters.  The middle class and lower class may miss out on tax breaks without expert advice.

THE STOCK MARKET: The stock market is confusing to even the most educated people. This avenue of investment is not open to most people. As of April 2016, stock ownership has fallen to 52% of Americans from a high of 60% in 1998.

INEQUALITY IN REAL ESTATE: Owning your own home is one of the best ways for anyone to build wealth. All white people have an experience or know of a friend or relative who has greatly profited by real estate investment. People of Color were omitted from this path to wealth by Redlining and also Deed Restrictions.

REDLINING OF NEIGHBORHOODS: Redlining is defined in Merriam Webster Law Dictionary as: the illegal practice of refusing to offer credit or insurance in a particular community on a discriminatory basis (as because of the race or ethnicity of its residents). Which means that families of color could not get mortgages. This was done by the US Government assisted by real estate agents and appraisers. Ta-Nehisi Coates talked about redlining in his “Case for Reparations” in The Atlantic.Neighborhoods where black people lived were rated “D” and were usually considered ineligible for FHA backing,” he wrote. “Black people were viewed as a contagion. Redlining went beyond FHA-backed loans and spread to the entire mortgage industry, which was already rife with racism, excluding black people from most legitimate means of obtaining a mortgage.” Without access to FHA-insured mortgages, he writes, black families who sought homeownership were forced to turn to predatory and abusive lenders.”

DEED RESTRICTIONS were very common in the 1920s to the 1940s. These restrictions that “ run with the land” and are recorded with the Deed, govern who can own the property. They were known to say “Whites Only” or Negroes not allowed. “Racial restrictive covenants became common practice in cities across the county, dozens of cities in the North, the South, the West,” Seattle Historian Gregory says. “For, you know, a quarter of a century, this was the thing to do.” Sometimes the deeds read “whites only.” In Seattle, Gregory says Asian restrictions were common, while Hispanics were the target in Los Angeles. In 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not enforce the racial restrictions. In 1968, Congress outlawed them altogether. But Gregory says their impact endures.”  from NPR: Hidden in Old Home Deeds.


THE UNCONSCIOUSNESS OF “OTHERING” or MARGINALIZING: Whites are somewhat unconscious of this “othering”. We need to understand how this works to. Most people had the experience of “othering” during middle school or high school when there were cliques or the in-crowd, trying to fit in. It might have happened because you are female, when your mother said, “Boys don’t like girls who are too smart”, or possibly your father said, “ You don’t need an education, you’re just going to get married and have kids.”

From Othering 101: “By “othering”, we mean any action by which an individual or group becomes mentally classified in somebody’s mind as “not one of us. Rather than always remembering that every person is a complex bundle of emotions, ideas, motivations, reflexes, priorities, and many other subtle aspects, it’s sometimes easier to dismiss them as being in some way less human, and less worthy of respect and dignity, than we are.”   Human beings are a tribe. There are many human tribes. Race and culture divide people into tribes. It is necessary for survival and emotional thriving to belong.

“White privilege is the right of whites, and only whites, to be judged as individuals, to be treated as a unique self, possessed of all the rights and protections of citizenship. I am not a race, I am the unmarked subject. I am simply man, whereas you might be a black man, an Asian woman, a disabled native man, a homosexual Latina woman, and on and on the qualifiers of identification go. With each keyword added, so too does the burden of representation grow…But white men are just people. Normal. Basic Humanity. We carry the absent mark, which grants us the invisible power of white privilege. Everyone else gets some form of discrimination.” (From the Problem of Othering or Belonging).   White people rarely discuss race. My black friends told me they discuss race everyday. They are discussing the “othering” that occurs in our “white skewed” society. They were shocked that whites don’t discuss race. Whites are the baseline, the standard.

Let’s apply this to racism. I’m ashamed to admit that I used to say, “I’m colorblind” and “I have black friends” which means, I’m not a racist. I would say, “ All lives matter.” This is “othering”, not honoring. This perpetuates the “not seeing” of others that live differently and have different circumstances. It denies and dismisses the existence and problems of privilege. That is why the “Black Lives Matter” Movement is so important, it honors the differences and problems of the culture.

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, black poet Claudia Rankin, sums it up very well:

Oprah: Why whiteness? 
Claudia Rankine: Every sphere of life—housing, healthcare, education, the justice system—is in part defined along racial lines. White-dominated institutions draw those lines, so if you’re white, they’re probably invisible to you. You’re not thinking, my child’s school has a library because of my skin color. The idea of whiteness as the standard runs so deep. Just do a Google image search for “boys being boys” or “beautiful women,” and see how many white people come up versus people of color. We can’t talk about race without talking about what our culture privileges.
O: Does the term whiteness make white people defensive?
CR: They’ll anxiously insist, “I’m not racist.” Well, yes, you are. We all have biases—only I don’t have power behind mine. If we can understand that racism is an active force, we can figure out how we got here. Think about sexism. Until some men could admit that it existed, men and women couldn’t have a dialogue about it.”


From White People Explain why they feel oppressed by Toure on Vice:  What is Racism? “Erikka Knuti, a political strategist, said, “Part of white privilege has been the ability to not know that your privilege exists. If you benefit from racism, do you really want to know that?” I can see where it would be uncomfortable for people to admit that their lives are shaped by unearned advantages, especially in an environment where those advantages may be beginning to slip away, but the blindness itself is a part of the problem. White people have duties as part of the American community. They must be honest with themselves and their co-citizens and admit that white privilege shapes a lot of life in this country. They must understand that the truly pernicious, life-defining sort of racism is not interpersonal, it’s institutional. The systems that shape who lives where, who gets educated, who gets jobs, who gets arrested, and so on, these things shape lives, and they are all heavily weighted in white people’s favor. To ignore all of that is to misunderstand America. If white people admit those things, it will be plain that they are not, in any way, victims”

In the midst of a national policing crisis, the Black Lives Matter movement is trying to will into existence a sense of value for black bodies and some white people respond, “Why are they so anti-white?” That’s dumbfounding to me. I wonder, how could they be so clueless? When white people question why blacks get to say certain words or make certain jokes that whites can’t or when white people ask where is White History Month or when white people question why they have to pay for the racism of their ancestors, it’s offensive and infuriating and it’s also confounding.

In Ta-Nehisi Coates’s astounding new book, Between the World and Me, he refers to white people, as “dreamers” to evoke the sense of them being not fully awake, like sleepwalkers. I’m not sure if white people are like sleepwalkers, or more like ostriches, consciously burying their heads in the sand, hiding from reality. And that’s exactly what vexes me the most about white people: their reluctance, or unwillingness, to recognize the vast impact their race has on their lives and on the lives of all those around them

Modern white Americans are one of the most powerful groups of people to ever exist on this planet and yet those very people—or, if you’re white, you people—staunchly believe that the primary victims of modern racism are whites. We see this in poll after poll. A recent one by the Public Religion Research Institute found 52 percent of whites agreed, “Today discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.” A 2011 study led by a Harvard Business School professor went deeper to find that “whites see race as a zero sum game they are losing.” That was even the name of the study. It showed that over the last five decades both blacks and whites think racism against Blacks has been slowly declining, but white people think racism against whites is growing at a fast rate. White people are increasingly certain that they’re being persecuted. The study also notes, “by any metric—employment, police treatment, loan rates, education—stats indicate drastically poorer outcomes for black than white Americans.” White perception and the reality are completely at odds

Tim Wise, anti-racist educator says, “When you’ve had the luxury of presuming yourself to be the norm, the prototype of an American, any change in the demographic and cultural realities in your society will strike you as outsized attacks on your status. You’ve been the king of the hill and never had to share shit with anyone, what is really just an adjustment to a more representative, pluralistic, shared society seems like discrimination. When you’re used to 90 percent or more of the pie, having to settle for only 75 or 70 percent? Oh my God, it’s like the end of the world.”

EXAMPLES OF RACISM: Here’s what I learned: When I lived in Hawaii I was meeting with community groups all over the Big Island to increase support for a 2% Land Fund ballot measure that would purchase and preserve open space and parklands in perpetuity.  I often met with mixed race groups where I was the minority if not the only white person. Remember that the Hawaiian Islands were taken over in the late 1800s by the US Marines to secure (take) the land for the sugar plantations. Their Queen was imprisoned. They call white people haoles, which is a derogatory term for white foreigner. They want their land returned. At one meeting a Native Hawaiian man stood up and shouted at me, “Who you think you are f*^cking haole, trying to buy our land?” I had never encountered that vehemence against the Land Fund; at first I had no idea of what to say. We talked for a while and they ended up supporting it because we all realized the County needed to buy the land so it would be kept the land in it’s natural state. Think about this chart as you read: Here’s my challenge to you. As you read the examples of Racism below, think about your habits and your assumptions. The experiences can be subtle if not passive aggressive or they can be obvious. If you are white, I hope you will see examples that you never even thought about. This is embedded, unconscious racism. I also hope that you will be much more aware of how you look at how we treat others in our society. Think about this chart as you read, closely watch your reactions and see what you need to learn. I hope this will open the door to a new awareness and appreciation of other races and cultures. I challenge you to be curious like you would if you were visiting another country. Think of the inequalities in this country and what you can do to make it better!

What are you experiences? See RACISM SCALE ON THE NEXT PAGE

Part 2 of this Essay will be EXAMPLES OF RACISM

Racism Scale



Information for this essay was taken from the following articles:

  1. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Map of 917 Hate Groups in the US as of 2017 and increase from 457 in 1999.
  2. “Othering 101” .
  3. The Privilege Walk (Adapted from the Penn State classroom version cited below)
  4. US Census Bureau Population statistics 2016:
  5. The Prison System in the US: Big Business or a new form of Slavery?
  6. The Problem of Othering: Towards Inclusiveness and Belonging
  7. Brookings institute: Linda Darling- Hammond: Unequal Opportunity: Race and Education
  8. Supreme Court Upholds Michigan’s Ban on Affirmative Action:
  9. Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action Program at University of Texas President Obama hailed the decision. “I’m pleased that the Supreme Court upheld the basic notion that diversity is an important value in our society,” he told reporters at the White House. “We are not a country that guarantees equal outcomes, but we do strive to provide an equal shot to everybody.”
  10. How the Quality of School lunch affects student’s academic performance:
  11. National Bureau of Economic Research: School Lunch Quality and Academic Research:
  12. Minimum Wage Around the World:
  13. National Conference of State Legislatures: State Minimum Wages 2017
  14. Gallup Poll: Just over half of Americans Own Stock: 

  15. Interactive Redlining Map Zooms In On America’s History Of Discrimination 

  16. The Case for Reparations by Coates in the Atlantic Magazine:

  17. Hidden in Old Deeds: A Segregationist Past:

  18.  There are no others: Othering 101:

  19. The Problem of Othering and Belonging: Towards Inclusiveness and Belonging
  20. What one Poet is Doing to be Seen: Claudia Rankine from Oprah Magazine
  21. White People Explain Why They Feel Oppressed by Toure on Vice:
  22. Brene Brown: We need to keep talking about Charolottesville.
  23. Racism Scale:  
  24. Waking Up White by Debbie Irving
  25. Sermon at the Unitarian Universalist Church of San Dieguito by Reverend Meghan Cefalu and A.L.G. McLeod:


2% Land Fund Report 7.2017


QUICK HISTORY OF THE LEGISLATION FROM 2005 to 2016:  Debbie Hecht, Campaign Coordinator since 2005 of the Save Our Lands Citizens’ Committee

  1. The Save Our Lands Citizen’s Committee collected almost 10,000 signatures from April to July of 2006. The County Clerk-Connie Kiriu and County Counsel- Lincoln Ashida disqualified almost 6,000 signatures for leaving off the year (signatures were collected from April to July) and leaving off Pl., St. or Rd.
  2. The County Council decided to place the ballot measure on the ballot for 2006. Despite the County Counsel submitted ballot language with confusing verbiage containing double negatives, the amendment to the Code passed by 56% of voters who voted on the issue as part of the Hawaii County Code.
  3. 2008- Mayor Kenoi suspended deposits to the Fund for two years as the first piece of legislation submitted after he took office. We pointed out that there were more than 260 funded but unfilled job in his budget, but he failed to reinstate payments to the 2% Land Fund.
  4. 2010- Charter Commission put on the ballot as the 1% Land Fund- again passed by 56% of voters. We urged supporters to vote for this, so that money will still get deposited to the fund.
  5. 2012- In order to honor all the people who signed the petitions and helped with this effort over the years we had it back on the ballot as a Charter amendment and passed by 56% of voters along with a 1/4% Maintenance Fund.
  6. The Maintenance Fund was modified in 2016 to allow the Open Space Commission to review Stewardship Grants and to recommend what grants to approve to the Director of Finance.


  • We collected almost 10,000 signatures; there were over 100 people that collected signatures of more than 50 signatures each.
  • Money spent-  for 3 ballot campaigns, under $6,000.   We had home made signs and did little advertising.
  • We have a 3,000 personal email list which we used to inform our supporters if we needed emails, people showing up for public meetings or lobbying their Council members.   These 3,000 people were asked to contact their email list. They represent about 10% of the voting public on the island. (There have been approximately 100,000 voters registered for the County of Hawaii, usually about 33,000 of these registered voters actually vote. 3,000 supporters are 10% of the vote island-wide.)




LAND ACQUIRED: 4,428 acres of land acquired that was suggested by members of the community.

MONEY SPENT: County of Hawaii 2% Land Fund         $27,389,268.

                             Grants from Matching funds*               $8,764,083.

                             Private funds:                                      $2,000,000

*From US Fish and Wildlife to protect lands for Endangered Species, State Legacy Lands $7,434,083 actually received, $1,330,000. Pending from Legacy Lands for Wai’opae, Puna.

To view the Acquisition Status Report go to:

*MATCHING FUNDS- My opinion: The highest and best use of 2% of taxpayer’s funds is to use the 2% Land Fund to get dollar for dollar matching funds, to date the County has only gotten 1 dollar for every 3 dollars spent for taxpayers OR only 32% of the money spent is from grants.   The County could do better at applying for matching funds.

PROPERTIES SUBMITTED TO THE PONC COMMISSION TO BE CONSIDERED FOR ACQUISITION as of December 28, 2016: This information came from the Comprehensive List of Properties

Puna area: 16 properties

South Hilo area: 16 properties

North Hilo: 7 properties

Hamakua: 19 properties

North Kohala: 26 properties

South Kohala: 17 properties

North Kona: 27 properties

South Kona: 13 properties

Ka’u: 25 properties

Total Properties submitted for the entire island: 166


The Community recommends a property to the Public Access and Open Space Commission, here is the process and links to the application:

PONC STEWARDSHIP GRANT: Properties that are acquired with Land Fund monies can apply for maintenance funds. Here a is a link to the application.

THE HAWAII COUNTY CARTER AND THE HAWAII COUNTY CODE: which regulates the 2% Land Fund (PONC) and the PONC Maintenance Fund go to:

Submitted by Debbie Hecht, Campaign Coordinator Save Our Lands Citizen’s Committee



What can you discover from this article?

  1. PARENTING STYLES- what is your style?


SPANKING?  MAYBE THERE ARE BETTER WAYS TO RAISE RESPONSIBLE ADULTS WHO CAN MAKE DECISIONS IN SOCIETY. We all love our children and want the best for them. We all want our children to thrive. Do you want your kids to be obedient soldiers or do you want to help them bring their unique talents to the world, be accepted and to have good relationships? If you are having problems with your child, maybe your style of parenting is not working. Discipline and spanking may not be the problem. Wouldn’t you rather have the cooperation of your children? What are you modeling for your children or grandchildren by your parenting style?

PARENTING STYLES: A guide to figure out your style



  • Authoritarian parenting: These parents have high expectations and often overwhelm their children with strict rules and regulations. These parents rule with an iron fist and often “scare” their children into obedience. Parents who utilize this type of parenting style might be referred to as “bossy,” “high strung,” or controlling and abusive. Fathers who are authoritarian rarely show affection and might even keep a distance from their children emotionally and psychologically, believing that this is a “healthy fear of authority.” I would venture to say that children who come from these households often stray so much that they become substance abusers, lack appropriate boundaries in relationships, and might even resort to suicide if they feel pressured to be perfect for their parent(s).

Children who grow up in these households often rebel and become problematic in families and in society. These kids grow into juvenile delinquents, substance abusers, or complete rebels (getting tattoos, piercings, engaging in multiple short-lived relationships, prostituting, etc.). You might have heard of kids who grow up in very strict political or religious homes who become “wild adults.”

  • Permissive parenting (or indulgent parenting): Parents who exhibit this style of parenting can be mistaken as the child’s sister, aunt, or babysitter. This type of parent makes very few demands and does not have control over their child or children. These parents are often the parents who call “SuperNanny” to come and help them because their child has little to no respect for them. Permissive parents really don’t care about implementing values or rules into the lives of their child or children. They ultimately want to be their child’s friend or would rather be “accepted” by their child rather than respected. There is no “healthy fear” of authority and no respect. In return, the parent just feels like “oh well, what can I do.”  You may have heard some parents say in embarrassment after their child does something wrong “Oh well…that’s Kevin, what can I say?”

Children who grow up in these households lack personal restraint and can pass for children with ADHD. These kids have no boundaries and respect for others personal space. They can be considered “wild” and out of control. Teens who have permissive parents often seek love, affection, and direction from others in the world and may fall into negative relationships as a result. Adults who have been raised by permissive parents may have trouble managing relationships or adult responsibilities.”

  • Authoritative parenting: My mother was authoritative and many of the parents in my family. Authoritative parenting is well-organized and these parents often have a goal of properly raising their children and being balanced. These parents are not overly strict, yet they know how to make their child respect authority and develop appropriate values and boundaries. Authoritative households are often calmer and seem well-adjusted to life. Kids are expected to follow the rules established by the adults in the household, but it is okay if the child makes a mistake or needs to be reminded of their place as the child. These parents are often fair and firm when they need to be.

Children in these households often develop into well-adjusted adults who hold specific values. They are able to pass milestones without extreme setbacks and are often strong mentally and emotionally.

UTUBE: FOUR TYPES OF PARENTING STYLES: This short concise explanation adds the style of Uninvolved Parenting to the 3 styles above.

PARENTING STYLES AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON CHILDREN Comparing parenting styles and their influence on children. Educational Psychology Class Dr. Weller-Clarke

AUTHORITARIAN PARENTING AND IT’S CONSEQUENCES: Watch as Parents Magazine gives advice for parents on the authoritarian parenting style! Authoritarian parents place high demands on their children and believe the parents have the household power. This style of parent involvement tends to use negative forms of discipline, such as taking away privileges or spanking to punish bad behavior. Authoritarian parental guidance does not usually respond to a child’s feelings or opinions. These parents often respond to questioning with “Because I said so,” and they have very firm rules. Parenting in the authoritarian right tends to lead children to rebel later in life. This form of child parenting is not effective at teaching, and it does not usually spur good behavior. As a parent, you want to help your child build a solid foundation of independence, not anger or a bad attitude!

A FUNNY LOOK AT THE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES OF AUTHORITARIAN VS. AUTHORITATIVE PARENTING: From a comedy series: Authoritarian vs. Authoritative Parenting- Hint the Father is the Authoritarian.

From- Parenting: How Your Style Can Negatively Affect Mental Health

By Támara Hill, MS, LPC read the article and watch the Utube


HOW TO BE AN AUTHORITATIVE PARENT: UTUBE PRESENTATION BY CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST NEIL FELLOWES: “This generation does not respond by shouted at, threatening, or smacked. This doesn’t work long term.” 3 minutes

NEIL FELLOWES: Authoritative Parenting: Example and Tip for Mornings:


From the Cosby Show: Authoritative Parent:

HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD APPRECIATE THEIR UNIQUENESS: Kids sometimes feel like an outsider at school and may need help to know that every well adjusted human being feels like this occasionally. Appreciate and celebrate their uniqueness. This approach shows respect for their feelings.


There are many posts on social media about SPANKING. They usually start off, “I was spanked and I turned out ok.” While that may be true, what are you teaching your children by hitting them? Just think of this little person who cannot defend himself or herself or run away and they are being hit by someone they trust. You could well RAISING A BULLY! It’s a crime to hit an adult, why wouldn’t it be a crime to hit a child? Here are tips to figure out your style and how to modify or change what you do if you want to.

Numerous studies say that spanking is bad for your child. The answer is not: “Well my Dad/ Mother beat me and I turned out OK.”

What they learn is that:

1) They cannot be open and honest with Mommy or Daddy anymore- that reinforces lying and hiding things.

2) That if Mommy or Daddy hit me then hitting people is okay.

3) You are perpetuating this style of parenting.

ANOTHER REASON NOT TO SPANK: RAISING A BULLY A new study continues to add to the pile of research that suggests that parents who spank risk harming not only their child’s bottom, but also their future.

Children who were spanked more than twice a month were 50 percent more likely than those who weren’t spanked to develop aggressive behaviors. These bullying behaviors included things such as getting into fights, exhibiting mean behavior toward others, and destroying toys and property.

The new study comes from researchers at Tulane University, who examined three year-old children whose mothers reported spanking them more than twice a month. The research was correlational in nature, so it could not establish a direct causal relationship with aggression. However, unlike prior research into this behavior, the new study took into account how aggressive kids were to begin with as well as other factors could have biased the results.

“This evidence base suggests that primary prevention of violence can start with efforts to prevent the use of corporal punishment against children,” noted Catherine Taylor, PhD, MSW, MPH, of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, and colleagues. (See the results of a study on Spanking published in Pediatrics Magazine:


 from Adam Keawe Manalo-Camp

Traditional Hawaiian parenting was far different than what it is practiced today. Too often the term “I go lick you!” is used in Hawaiian households. I know of stories from the previous generation where a Hawaiian child would be caned and/or whipped and then salt or vinegar would be thrown on the wound and they called that the “Hawaiian way”. Torturing children in the name of “discipline” was not the Hawaiian way.

Traditionally, Hawaiians kids spent more of their time with their grandparents than their actual parents. This allowed knowledge to be passed down directly. Hawaiian children under the age of 8 were in general taught manners, etiquette, polite behavior, values, and the mo’olelo of their ancestors. Polite behavior and manners was thought of as the first steps towards learning a trade and living within a community–not unlike our Polynesian cousins and the Japanese way of education. That is also a key point–living within a community and how to behave within a community as a part of child development. They were allowed to play around and encouraged to learn by modeling their elders. Discipline normally came in terms of explaining and admonishing behaviors through words. Hawaiians had a process of exclusion (hoʻomū) when it came to children who consistently misbehaved but that was after discussions with a priest and after a change in diet, exercise and massaging. Hawaiians believed that kids could change their behavior if that energy could be discussed with experts, diets changed, that energy could be massaged out and healed. Hitting, spanking, slapping and caning a child were considered kapu because a child especially under 8 years old was considered to still be spiritually directly linked to the deceased ancestors. One can not slap one’s ancestors therefore one can not slap a child. As a child grew older, past 8, other methods were used to “discipline” the child mostly assigning him/her to projects such as building walls or paths. In worst case scenarios, exclusion was used.

Children of the kahuna class in addition to value-formation would be given games to enhance their memories. Practicing oration and memorizing chants would begin around age 6 and continue for the rest of the lives. Some islands had special kahuna schools as well where children between the ages of 8 to 13 could be sent to learn.

Children of the ali’i were normally at some point around age 6 transferred to a pālama, a type of fort like school where they would begin their training in politics, war, history, as well as the martial arts. Sometimes the children of the kahuna would also attend. But before attending the pālama, children of the aliʻi were also “disciplined” in the same ways as the common children.

What radically changed Hawaiian child rearing was the Calvinist missionaries–and their impact still continues. The Calvinist missionaries brought with them ideas that children were “little adults” and introduced corporal punishment. The “I go lick you” or “I go paʻi your mouth” or the notion that physically abusing a child in order to discipline the child has no basis in pre-Contact Hawaiian culture.We also know that Māori ( and Tahitian child rearing and underlining ideas were almost the same as Hawaiian so that confirms that these principles were very ancient and ingrained to our ancestors before the missionaries came with their “spare the rod, spoil the child” and “idle hands are the Devilʻs play things” mentality. That missionary way of thought and that systemic violence that many of our kūpuna faced in their own lives, they brought it into their homes. Thatʻs something we must decolonize ourselves.     I AM INTERESTED IN YOUR FEEDBACK!


Some people are like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of their life’s trials to emerge stronger. What is it about this person that builds their resilience? Is it the ability to find the gold in every black cloud? Is it an unshakeable belief in self? Could it be the ability to shift gears to adapt to the changes in life? Could it be to look towards the future with hope? Maybe it’s all of these. Here’s a wonderful metaphor to keep in mind when life’s obstacles seem insurmountable.

“In Japan there is an art form called kintsukuroi which means, “to repair with gold”.  When a ceramic pot or bowl would break, the artisan would put the pieces together again using gold or silver lacquer to create something stronger, more beautiful, than it was before. The breaking is not something to hide. It does not mean that the work of art is ruined or without value because it is different than what was planned. Kintsukuroi is a way of living that embraces every flaw and imperfection.  Every crack is part of the history of the object and it becomes more beautiful, precisely because it had been broken. People are the same way. Sometimes, when everything we valued and built up and cared for over the years falls to pieces, we are better able to see opportunities and possibilities that would have never presented themselves had life not been torn to rags.  Or standing and staring in the face of broken promises and broken dreams, eye-to-bloodshot-eye with our most assiduous fears, sometimes we discover that we were stronger than we imagined: that we can withstand more and that there is no reason to fear.  Sometimes trauma brings us closer to God, or to our purpose in life, or leaves us more appreciative than we were before: appreciative and even happy.  And when we are betrayed by someone we’ve loved, or taken advantage of, sometimes it is our trust and faith in others that grows stronger.  We look around at all the friends and acquaintances and strangers that come rushing to our aide, and our faith in human goodness is restored.  Cherish your relationships. Nurture them. That people are resilient is neither a stick of admonishment, nor a salve that takes suffering away. What it is, is a marker of hope. People can grow in the face of the horrific. It is evidence of what might be possible, no matter the loss, no matter the pain – kintsukuroi.”

Japanese Bowl by Peter Mayer

I’m like one of those Japanese bowls
That were made long ago
I have some cracks in me
They have been filled with gold

That’s what they used back then
When they had a bowl to mend
It did not hide the cracks
It made them shine instead

So now every old scar shows
From every time I broke
And anyone’s eyes can see
I’m not what I used to be

But in a collector’s mind
All of these jagged lines
Make me more beautiful
And worth a much higher price

I’m like one of those Japanese bowls
I was made long ago
I have some cracks you can see
See how they shine of gold

To Listen to this song:

Socially Responsible Investing: ‘WALK THE TALK’ THROUGH YOUR INVESTMENTS By Debbie Hecht

Earth and hands photo

Armchair Investing  and DIRECTING CHANGE  with a Case Study by Jon Luft                       Imagine if everyone invested in corporations that reflected their values?                        YOU MIGHT BOYCOTT BUYING GOODS FROM COMPANIES WHO DON’T REFLECT YOUR VALUES, BUT HAVE YOU LOOKED AT YOUR PORTFOLIO OF INVESTMENTS?

SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTING is the process of investing money in corporations, infrastructure and community development that are not causing social or environmental harm. The designation is based on scrutinizing business practices: the treatment of employees, customers, communities and the environment and by being respectful of social justice and ethical issues. It is an investment approach that integrates environmental, social and governance values (ESG) into financial analysis and decision-making. Socially responsible investments can be made in individual companies or through a socially conscious mutual funds or an index fund. This article will provide you with a process of how to “Walk the Talk” and invest congruent with your values.


  1. “Over the last two years, SRI investing has grown by more than 22% to $3.74 trillion in total managed assets, suggesting that investors are investing with their heart, as well as their head. In fact, about $1 of every $9 under professional management in the U.S. can be classified as an SRI investment. “ Forbes Magazine April 2013
  2. “One of the myths around socially responsible investing is that aligning investments with ethics means lower returns… Companies that were committed to sustainability outperformed companies that weren’t, they found. A dollar invested in sustainability-minded companies in 1993 would have grown to $22.58 by 2014, but just $15.35 if invested in companies with no such commitments.” George Serafeim, an associate professor at Harvard Business School and colleagues analyzed data going back over 20 years:
  3. In a paper entitled “Socially Responsible Mutual Funds”, published in the May/June 2000 issue of the Financial Analysts Journal, Meir Statman of Santa Clara University reviewed 31 socially screened mutual funds and found that they outperformed their unscreened peers, but not by a statistically significant margin. The bottom line appears to be that SRI funds do not behave all that differently from regular funds and that investing in a SRI fund will not negatively affect your returns compared to choosing a conventional index fund.” From Go Green with Socially Responsible investing (Investopedia)
  4. The Domini 400 Social Index (DSI): Outperforming the S&P 500 Blogs @ The Motley Fool Published June 25, 2013 Can these types of funds perform? Can the DSI perform just as well, if not better than an index that has investments in these lucrative yet controversial markets? The chart below shows the value of $1 invested in the DSI 400 since its inception in 1990 compared to $1 invested in the S&P 500 in 1990:


  1. Hire a professional? Ask your stockbroker for help or for a reference?
  2. Go through your portfolio and decide what to keep and what to sell. You might be amazed at what you have been supporting with your investment dollars! You might have some gains to pay. This does not need to be an “all or nothing” approach. TAKE THE CHALLENGE: Invest some amount in SRI stocks or funds and then compare after 6 months to your other investments.
  3. Decide what screens or filters to use. Screening is the process to decide what companies to include in your investment portfolio and what companies you may want to delete from your portfolio.
    1. Environmental Criteria: Some examples are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards for buildings, recycling programs, alternative energy usage, high mileage or electric vehicles, research on climate change or innovative energy sources are some good examples. Examples for bad stocks to dump would be BP Oil for polluting the Gulf of California because their oilrigs were not serviced regularly, Phillip Morris for tobacco, Raytheon for defense hardware- missiles, nuclear energy or coal utilities.
    2. Business Practice Criteria: Examples could be realistic CEO compensation, diversity and inclusion in hiring, equal pay for women and minorities, companies with family leave for care of children and elderly, onsite day care, work week requirements, the use of underpaid prison labor and use of sweatshops. Have they had any lawsuits for discrimination?
    3. Product criteria:Do their products use less packaging? Are they made in the USA? You might want to exclude companies that make guns, war hardware like missiles or tanks, benefit off of prisons, tobacco, addictive substances, big oil and banks or investment firms that lend money for pipelines and industries that pollute water or air.
    4. Shareholder Activism– a reason to buy shares in a corporation is that by owning just one share you can attend shareholder meetings and introduce new ideas. SRI investors can be a powerful catalyst for change. (Recently 62% of Exxon shareholders required a study to understand the environmental impacts of the company’s practices. 5.2017)


  1. Socially Responsible Investing in Investopedia:
  2. Forbes: Socially Responsible Investing:
  3. Socially Responsible Mutual Funds Chart from Bloomberg:
  4. “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Socially Responsible Investing” by Ken Little.
  5. “Socially Responsible Investing for Dummies” Ann C. Logue
  6. PAX World Investments:
  7. Financial Times:
  9. Get That Oily Mess Out of My Money!
  10. Socially responsible investing report for 2016:

A market cap weighted stock index of 400 publicly traded companies that have met certain standards of social and environmental excellence. Potential candidates for this index will have positive records on issues such as employee and human relations, product safety, environmental safety, and corporate governance. Companies engaged in the business of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, gambling, nuclear power and military weapons are automatically excluded. This relatively new index was designed to help socially conscious investors weigh social and environmental factors in their investment choices.

BREAKING DOWN ‘Domini 400 Social Index’- Socially conscious investing is a growing trend across many demographic and geographic areas, and having a social conscience may become a competitive advantage for corporations through their relationships with shareholders. The index is independently maintained by research firm KLD Research & Analytics, and aims to be comprised of chiefly large cap stocks in the S&P 500; the ranges break down as follows:

  1.  Approximately 250 companies in the S&P 500
  2. 100 companies not in the S&P 500, but providing sector diversification and exceeding pre-determined market cap limitations
  3. 50 companies that have shown excellence in their social and environmental dealings
  4. “The record of the Domini 400 Social Index (DSI) is an indication that socially responsible investors do not have to automatically assume a sacrifice in performance for following their values. Created in 1990, the DSI was the first benchmark for equity portfolios subject to multiple social screens. The DSI is a market capitalization-weighted index modeled on the Standard & Poor\’s 500 and has outperformed that unscreened index on an annualized basis since its inception.

From Michael Kramer, stockbroker and author of the Resilient Investor   can be found at Natural Investments: “A friend of mine who has known me for years asked me today, “So how exactly do you align values with investments?” And so… the aim is to steer clear of products, practices, and industries that are causing social and environmental harm while supporting everything – infrastructure, community development, and companies – that are better for society and trying to treat employees, customers, communities, and the environment with greater respect and principles of justice and sustainability. There’s compromise everywhere you look, of course – as there are many shades of green and no perfect investments – but as we engage the companies we own shares of we have a voice to help them change their ways, to acknowledge and address the real risks of climate change, to foster diversity at every level of their company, to provide living wages and safe working conditions, to be good citizens in the community, and to minimize harm to the environment. And there are some sectors many investors want no part of at all – fossil fuels, toxic chemicals, tobacco, military contractors, nuclear power, to name a few – and these can be excluded. And then there is being proactive in investing in the green economy – organic food, renewable energy, green building, biodegradable and recycled products, clean tech, water and energy efficiency, etc. This can be done through the public stock and bond markets, but some investors also engage in private debt and equity opportunities. Many also support community development financial institutions locally and globally, including international microfinance, to channel capital to low-income and other marginalized groups who need access to capital to start businesses, buy a home, and build community facilities. Investing for good requires clarity about one’s intentions and a willingness to use one’s savings to be part of the solution to the many challenges of these times. As I enter my 27th year of involvement with Natural Investments (including the first 10 years as one of its clients), I am pleased that so many people have discovered that it is possible to align their values with their investments to make a difference. Through our offices nationwide – in California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington – thousands of individuals, families, non-profit organizations, foundations, and businesses entrust us to manage over $330 million. We are honored to have earned this trust over the past 32 years, and regardless of the political environment we will continue to focus on evolving our economic system so it operates for the benefit of all of this planet and us.


We all think about doing the right thing and many of us live and lead by example that reflects who we truly are.   Walking the talk. I aspire to that and wanted to share a recent, transformative experience regarding the landscape of my retirement investment funding.

Through hard work, diligent saving, and a moderately conservative approach to risk/reward, I now have dollar value accruing in my retirement portfolio. More than 20 years ago I associated myself with a qualified financial adviser from a large financial institution to help guide my investment strategies. I have no formal training in economics or finance so I always feel better collaborating with subject matter experts. I’m also averse to anxious waiting or nervous speculation and not one who watches the market every day. I’m a long haul investor. We made initial investment decisions together, watched and adjusted with a cautious but firm hand, and through the ups and downs of the market I’ve experienced reasonable growth in the long run.

My investment portfolio was typified by funds positioned primarily to be moneymakers, without paying much attention to the specific stocks and/or bonds populating them. I left those decisions to the fund managers. There are many examples of mutual fund families available in the marketplace such as American Funds, Vanguard and others. More recently, with an eye to the destruction of our environment, impacts of climate change, increasing social inequity at home and abroad, the recent banking debacle and other issues of corporate governance, I decided to take a much closer look at my specific holdings and decide if they aligned with my values. All of them. What I found was troubling and I decided to take action and make a wholesale transformation. Divest in those sectors and companies I don’t value, and reinvest in those I do. Working closely with my financial advisor I turned to what is known as Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), also known as Impact Investing, to direct the process and meet my goal of aligning my investments with my values.

There were basically three pathways I could take. The first option was to tweak my existing portfolio and select a different fund within the same family. To explore this I did a deep dive into all of the mutual funds within the larger family of funds I was currently invested in, to see if I could find any funds that fully met my selection criteria. Scattered widely among literally all of them were oil and petroleum, big agri-business, tobacco, and big banking among others that I wished to divest from. It became apparent this path was not going to be productive.

The second option was to look at funds that apply Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) filters to identify and compile stocks and bonds into funds based on these criteria. The best resource I could find for this is the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (, where a comprehensive listing of funds using these ESG filters is available. I worked my way through all the funds currently listed, looking closely at the fund manager’s philosophy on ESG filters, the actual stock and bond holdings, risk profile, performance and finally the management fees. Some fund managers apply these ESG filters rigorously (i.e. absolutely no tobacco, or oil), and others are less absolute. Some fund managers for example do not exclude (filter) a company that derives less than 5% of its revenues from a specific sector. I chose to ignore these funds and focus on assembling a more “pure” portfolio. From the expansive list of ESG filtered funds I narrowed to a few dozen that met all my goals and represented enough variety from which I could compile a portfolio and mirror my current mix of asset classes.

The third path was the potential to create a fully custom portfolio through a financial service provider who specializes in stocks and bonds with very specific exclusions or requirements. This allows the investor to build a personalized portfolio that meets very specific filtering criteria. This method is basically assembling a portfolio based on picking individual stocks and bonds that meet whatever criteria the investor choses. My research found fewer financial advisors knowledgeable about SRI or Impact Investing, with higher management fees/commissions, so this was not the best choice for me.

Today my portfolio is primarily a mix of mutual funds that meet all ESG filtering criteria and do not allow any marginal participation in companies, sectors, products or services I find objectionable. My mix is roughly 65% stocks and 35% bonds with a small percentage in cash. These funds include large, mid and small cap equity funds, balanced funds (combination of stocks and bonds), blended funds (combination of value and growth stocks), and bond funds, altogether closely mirroring the asset class mix of my pre-divestment holdings.

As I write this in the spring of 2017, markets have trended upward after having bounced up and down. I am happy to report overall growth of 11.98% in my portfolio since complete re-alignment in mid-August of 2016, indicating SRI has the potential to meet similar expectations of a more traditional portfolio. I am even happier to say I am only invested now in funds with companies whose products, services, community involvement, and corporate behavior align with my values.

Helpful Links:

The basic portal used to identify SRI funds is the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment:


Click on the Mutual Funds tab and there’s a comprehensive list of funds in every asset class that claim SRI in one way or another. These change from time to time so it is wise to check in to see what’s new and if a fund has dropped off.

Select a specific fund and read through the SRI criteria and decide if it aligns with your values

Once I identified a fund I was interested in, I actually looked at the holdings the mutual fund has in it’s portfolio, along with some performance history and load (management fee)

To do this I called up the fund using one of the independent investment research sites like

These are pay to play sites to go deep but the free portion gives a lot of key info about fund holdings, performance, and other details.

Sometimes I looked at the fund managers and scanned their LinkedIn or other public info to sense their politics.
Sometimes I went to a specific company website and looked at the resume of the key leaders there too.   Earth and hands photo