Awareness · Rant

Where are the Black Voices?

Warning: White people might be offended at this blog post. I don’t care. Either read this and be offended or don’t read this blog post. I’m not holding a gun against your head to force you to read this.

We all know what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. We see firsthand what happens when white supremacists use their power to make it dangerous for me, a black person, to live in America. The white supremacists aren’t even hiding anymore. I can no longer travel south of Maryland due to fear of being attacked because the color of my skin is wrong. Another white supremacy rally was allowed in Boston. Fuck Boston. I heard the sports fans are racist there too.

On Sunday, August 13th, there were rallies around the country. There was even one in my county! I wanted to go, but I didn’t want to bring my white friend with me due to my fear that he’d be harassed. That wouldn’t have happened, and it was a good thing I didn’t go anyways. The next day, mom saw images of the rallies around the country. There were mostly white people in attendance.

Tonight, I saw news reports of confederate statues being taken down. Guess what race did all the talking about racism? White people. Whites will NEVER be the targets of racism!

In these two cases, there was a strong lack of black people, the race that is the most affected by these scary spikes in racism that started occurring with Ferguson. Where are the black voices, the voices that matter the most? Yes, I know that white people marched with black people during the civil rights era, but these marches and protests didn’t consist almost entirely of white people. Black people have the power to change the world they live in, but they can’t do that when white people once again try to take the spotlight and silence us. Enough is enough.

White people, please do not speak on my behalf. I am alive. I am the oppressed one. I can speak for myself.

Awareness

I Want to Be An Organ Donor. Now What?

Today is the last day of ECHO. Thanks for reading along! This blog post is good for any time of the year.

You decide to be an organ donor. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It doesn’t matter what your motivation is to become an organ donor, but you’re doing something great for your community! You’re probably wondering how you can register as an organ donor. Actually, there are multiple ways to do it!

  1. Register when you take your learner’s permit knowledge test, when you get your new license, or when you renew your license. This is how I registered to be an organ donor. When I was giving my information before taking my permit test, I was asked if I wanted to be an organ donor. When I said yes, the woman behind the counter asked my dad if it was okay (when you’re under 18 and want to be an organ donor, you must get consent from your parents). Even when you say yes, they will ask you every time you go to your DMV for license-related stuff.
  2. Register online with your state’s organ donor registry. Just find your state’s registry and register there!
  3. Sign a donor card. Some places have donor cards which will say that you want to donate your organs and you can specify which organs you want to donate if you can’t donate all possible organs that can be donated. I know if you live in the UK, NHS has donor cards.

After you register to be an organ donor, let your loved ones know of your wishes. This is suggested in case they need to provide consent after death.

Thank you for joining me for ECHO these past few weeks! I hope I have raised awareness about how everyone has the power to make a difference in this world.

Awareness

Donate Life ECHO Post 4: Hear My Uncles’ Donation Stories

Both of my mom’s brothers were organ donors. They’re the reason why I registered to be an organ donor when I went to take my test to get my learner’s permit. I’d like to tell you about their lives while they were alive.

Let’s first talk about one of my uncles. He was an athlete, with his preferred sport being baseball. He was the youngest of three siblings. He was a graduate of Coppin State University and was one of the best freshmen baseball player to ever exist at his university. In early 2003, he found out he was going to be a father. He was very excited. A few days after the baby shower, in October 2003, he died from a severe asthma attack. His organs and corneas were donated. Thanks to him, someone has the ability to see.

My mom’s other brother, the middle child, had hydrocephalus and was autistic (mostly non-verbal, but knew some words). He loved to dance and his siblings were rightfully very protective of him. My grandparents refused to institutionalize him, which was a typical fate for people with cognitive disabilities back in the 1970s. He had a tooth pulled at the dentist office, and that’s when health problems started. He died of pneumonia in January 2007, a week after his birthday. I don’t know what organs were donated, but due to his pneumonia, his lungs could not be donated (what organs can be donated depends on cause of death).

Although my uncles walked two different paths of life, they still helped to save and enhance lives. You don’t have to be a celebrity or a well-known activist to make a difference in the world.

Awareness

Donate Life ECHO Post 3: What Percentage of People Need A Transplant?

In a previous blog post, I mentioned that 58% of people waiting for a new organ are people of color (a broad term for people who are not white). How did I get this percentage? Did I pull it out of my butt? No. The following image is based on statistics from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network as of April 14, 2017.

A doughnut chart with different sections in green and blue with the percentages of people waiting for a transplant based on ethnicity.
Image description: A doughnut chart with different sections broken down to represent what percentage of people from the transplant waiting list are of a specific ethnicity.

100 minus 42 equals 58. 42% of people on the transplant list are white. 30% are African-American/Black. 19% are Hispanic/Latinx (Latinx is an inclusive term for Latino/Latina and is used to be inclusive of people who identify as gender non-binary). 8% are Asian or Pacific Islander. 1% of waiting recipients are Native American or Alaska Native. Finally, less than 1% of people waiting for a new organ belong to two or more races.

So why am I raising awareness for multicultural communities to donate? Here’s an answer from Donate Life’s FAQ page on why it’s important to become a donor.

Although donation and transplantation can take place successfully between individuals from different racial or ethnic groups, transplant success is often better when organs are matched between people of the same racial or ethnic background.

People of African American/Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native and multiracial descent currently make up nearly 58% of individuals on the national organ transplant waiting list. These communities are in great need of more organ and tissue donors.

Awareness

Donate Life ECHO Post 2: Video Contest

Want a way to make a difference? How about posting a video as part of a video contest? Once again, Donate Life is hosting a video contest in regards to spreading awareness of how Every Community Has the Opportunity to make a difference in the world of organ donation. This contest runs from today, July 11th through 5 PM Eastern Time on July 22nd.

This year’s theme is #HearMyStoryOf. Before there was social media, before you could record videos, and even before the existence of written languages, storytelling has existed in all cultures. Use the power of storytelling to share your story of organ donation, spread the message of ECHO, and encourage people to become organ, eye, and tissue donors.

The first place winner gets a $500 Amazon gift card. The second place winner gets a $250 Amazon gift card. The third place winner gets a $100 Amazon gift card. If you post a video to Donate Life’s Facebook page today, you are eligible to win a $100 Amazon gift card for the best Early Bird entry.

So what do you need to do in order to be eligible for a prize? Full details can be found here, but to keep it brief…

  1. Create an original video. Nothing that is copyright protected can be used in your video. If it is, you will be disqualified.
  2. Your video must be one minute or less in length.
  3. Your video needs to be in .mp4, .m4v, or .mov format.
  4. Upload your video to Donate Life’s Facebook page by 5 PM Eastern time on July 22nd. If you upload the video late, you will not be eligible to win.
Awareness

Donate Life ECHO: Every Community Has Opportunity

On the second and third full weeks of July, Donate Life holds a national two-week event called ECHO. ECHO stands for Every Community Has Opportunity and focuses on organ and tissue donation within multicultural communities. Donate Life ECHO was started in 2015 when Donate Life partnered with Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation (AMAT) (Source)

This year, ECHO will be celebrated from July 9th through July 22nd. This means that I will be making blog posts throughout  these two weeks related to ECHO. Any unrelated blog posts will be scheduled to be released after July 22nd. For those two weeks, this blog will be dedicated to raising awareness in hopes to increase the number of people of color who choose to sign up to be an organ donor.

Why is this cause important to me? I’m a person of color. Not only am I a person of color, I’m someone who wants to help people of color make a positive impact, especially in a presidency where we’re made to seem like we’re less than human. People of color have just as many opportunities to make a positive impact on someone’s life as white people.

If you would like to help raise awareness of ECHO, there are many ideas that are given by Donate Life. For example, there is a video contest from July 11th through July 22nd. The video you upload to YouTube must be one minute or less, an original video, and uploaded to Donate Life’s Facebook page by 5 PM Eastern Time on July 22nd. Contest rules. There are social media images you can use that are found here (scroll down to Social Media Graphics and Phrases) and are  mainly in English and Spanish, although the sample phrases also come in the languages of Korean, Tagalog, and Chinese.

Be on the lookout for my upcoming posts related to ECHO, and I hope I won’t be the only person on WordPress talking about how every community has the opportunity to save a life.

Awareness

June 2nd: Gun Violence Awareness Day

Warning: Mentions of homicide, gun violence, and death. Please don’t read this blog if any of the aforementioned is your trigger.

So I’m late on this, mainly because I didn’t get home that night until after 9:30 PM. June 2nd is Gun Violence Awareness Day. On this day, people wore orange and there were events. I don’t have an orange shirt, so I couldn’t wear an orange shirt. There was a rally in this nearby big city which included sharing stories of those who died from gun violence and a fun parade. I wish I was there too, since I want to become a better advocate by attending actual events.

Why do I care about decreasing the number of gun violence incidents? My friend from middle school died from gun violence in July 2016.

I’ll tell you about my friend. Her name was Jenna and she moved into the house next door to me during the summer of 2003. We started middle school together and we were on the same team (at my middle school, everyone was in a team, and each team had a set of teachers. Your team started with a number, which is the grade you are in. My friend and I were on team 6-south). She played soccer and I played tennis. In the middle of seventh grade, she moved away and she lived with her grandmother. We would e-mail and write letters to each other, but that stopped when she gave birth to her son during high school.

I only found out about her being killed because I looked her up in January and the first results on Google were about her death. She was sitting in her car when she was shot, and she drove herself to the hospital. She was 24, and what made her death sadder was that she had given birth to her third child a few weeks before she was killed. She was not being targeted for any reason, but she was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I’m not the only one with a story like this, where someone you once knew was killed due to gun violence. Let’s work together to decrease gun violence.