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In a Court of Law

Published September 18, 2013 by blacknright
Royce Hall, main building of University of Cal...

Royce Hall, main building of University of California, Los Angeles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

September has been an a month full of laws for me. Whether it is appearing in Man’s court on the ongoing battle to keep my son or learning about God’s law as Judaism will once again be at the forefront of my education at UCLA, I have been steeped in the study and practice of law.

 

Today I am in a court of law to make a dream of mine come true. My sister has had co guardianship pretty much since he was three. Today we are here to terminate it. I keep looking down the hall for my sister. My case is at 10:30, it is 10:09. Time is passing slowly. Is she in the right department? It is in Department 5 which happens to be on the second floor, room 236. I guess putting it on the fifth floor would make too much sense. It is 10:13, she is still not here. There are five cases before ours.

 

My heart is beating fast,which for a normal person is bad enough. However, when you add mechanical heart valves to the mix, it becomes more frightening, more nerve- wracking. I do not know why I am nervous. Maybe it is the intended thought of doing this alone.

 

It is ten thirty, we are inside the court, she has arrived and we are sixth in line. I have signed the paper work. Now I wait for what I have been waiting for forever, for my son to be mine.

 

Shamsathon Setback

Published September 12, 2013 by blacknright

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medications   So here I am in Olympia Hospital…again. I woke up with a sharp pain shooting up my left arm and being that I have heart problems such a sign of cardiac arrest cannot be taken lightly. So here I am being observed. In the meantime, I have gained about 10-15 pounds in the last four days. My INR was 1.5. INR is the measurement they use to see if my blood is too thin or too thick. If it is too thick I can have a stroke. If it is too thin I can bleed  out. My INR is supposed to be between 2.5 to 3.5, so 1.5 Is extremely low.

Once the weight wasn’t coming off anymore and my INR dipped I was feeling like “Oh screw it! I can’t do this!” This is not an easy road for me to walk and I have come to the conclusion I cannot do it alone. I need help. This whole trial and error approach is not working for me and it just might kill me.

So I am now on the hunt for a nutritionist that can help me lose weight while taking into account my whole INR precautions. Right now I just want to scream, cry or crawl into a hole and never come out. But I also know I can’t do that. I have to go on, giving up is not an option. There is too much at stake, most importantly the life of my son. He needs his mother.

So while it will not be smooth sailing, I have accomplished the impossible before. This will be no different.

The Road to the Shamsathon

Published August 24, 2013 by blacknright

Drake Stadium 2008

The Shamsathon is what I have taken to calling the race between my cardiologist, Dr. Shamsa and I. Our race is to take place at Drake Stadium at UCLA. What started out as an off hand joke has become a serious mission for me. He has laid down some rules for the race to take place.

1. I must lose forty pounds
2. I must be able to run 4 times around Drake Stadium, which is FOUR MILES!!!!

To go from zero to four miles seems like a total impossibility and the man must be insane, but somehow I will run around that stadium four times!!

The race is set to take place January 25, 2014. So I have five months to get myself in shape. I have been trying to watch what I eat but the last few days I have been a bit depressed and so I have not been on it as I should. And while I am allowed to have two free days on the diet that I am on, I have noticed the minute I start eating carbs, the weight comes ballooning back.  It is really pissing me off, if you want to know the truth. Carbs are not my friend, apparently.  Giving up bread and starch is like giving up air.  I like sweets but that is a little easier for me to forgo, but forgoing carbs is worse than the triple bypass and the two valves I had replaced.

Oh I should tell you the history of all this shouldn’t I?

THE HISTORY OF THE SHAMSATHON

Well I describe how my illness came to be in I Heart UCLA on this site so read that story for the background on my illness and the whole bypass thing. However, during one of my visits to Dr. Shamsa, he asked  me, “You know Drake Stadium.”  I told him I didn’t. He was like it is at UCLA, how can you not know Drake Stadium. “Anyway, ” he continued, “when you are better we are going to go running at Drake Stadium, just me and  you.” I laughed and told him, “Okay deal.”  I don’t think either of us took it very seriously that day.  Then I got to thinking, “Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.” But still again I didn’t consider it a true “thing.” It wasn’t something I was actually going to do.  But then one day  I decided, “Oh no, this is going to happen.”  It was at that point that I decided to get serious about it. So I sat down and wrote him and told him, that we were going to run Drake Stadium and I gave him the date. At that point  he laid out his rules. So now it is on.

Daily Stats

The last recorded weight was  219.2 (okay I am trying not cringe here.)

Today I had a bagel, eggs and bacon.

 

 

 

Mormonizing Welfare

Published October 10, 2012 by blacknright

The welfare system in this country has become an albatross.  Like feminism, and other such ideologies before it, it started out as a very noble attempt to correct a societal wrong. However, when the government becomes the parent no one is happy.  However, the Mormon welfare system is something that could be emulated, however it could not be done by the federal government. When  you think of the Mormon welfare system, two words come to mind: Privatize and localize.  In February of this  year, the Wall Street Journal did a piece on my church’s welfare system and states: “She accurately and precisely outlines the history, purposes and practices of the LDS Church welfare system, indicating that the charitable donations of Romney and other Latter-day Saints “are supporting the kind of safety net that government can never hope to create.” This is true because of the two words mentioned above: privatize and localize. The Mormon welfare system is based on the person becoming self-sufficient and helping out when things get rough. It is not meant to be ongoing and indefinite, like the government’s counterpart. Also everyone works in the church. We have our official callings. [A calling is a specific job you are responsible for within the church and is meant to help your spiritual progression. You are “called” by the Bishop and you can either accept or refuse the calling. If  you accept, you are “set apart” by the Bishop and given a special blessing to help you accomplish your goals within that calling.]In fact, starting this weekend, my ward is responsible for cleaning the entire church on Saturdays throughout the month. Everyone pitches in and everyone helps. Mark A. Bragg, the Los Angeles Stake President, once said in a Ward Conference for the Wilshire Ward, “If you are looking for a church you can be anonymous in, this is not it.” No one is paid for the work they do for the church, not even the Bishop. All of it is done in order to become more Christ-like.

So the welfare system in my church is not seem “freebie” or a “handout.”  There is a requirement that you should be an upstanding member of the church. While the church certainly does help those who are not of our faith, it is done through recognized charities that we participate in. So how would you go about “privatizing” welfare? You would first start with the churches. The more churches that are able to help the better that would be for everyone.  It would be better, 1) Because the person would be learning morals they may or may not currently possess. So even if they don’t convert, they couldn’t help to improve their lives by having more stable and honorable people in it. 2) It would relieve the burden from the state, freeing up funds that now can be spent on education and other services. 3) It allows the person to give back for the help they are receiving and not just feel “entitled.”

The next step in privatizing welfare would be to get other more secular charities involved, NGO’s and other non-profits to pick the slack. By having the private sector involved, we can use more creative ideas that the federal cannot or will not use.  For instance, there are charities that allow you to buy a cow for a needy family in some third world country, so that they can make a living selling milk or they might give them chickens to start an egg business. These kind of things are best handled by the private sector. http://www.heifer.org/ourwork/mission. In fact this come from Heifer International website:

By giving families a hand-up, not just a handout, we empower them to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity, but our approach is more than that. By bringing communities together and linking them with markets in their area, we help bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty

These kind of charities make a lot more sense than just giving corrupt governments money. It helps the individual  and creates an ongoing stream of revenue for the participants in the program.

Lastly, you would look to the individual to help. For instance, individuals already get tax breaks for donating to charity, this I think is the best way for government to be involved while leaving the running of the welfare system up to individuals and private organizations. Overall, individuals, on a whole, are far more generous than governments anyway. Not only that they are more willing to give of their time and efforts when they feel the cause is just. Individuals can do far more than the most benevolent governments.

Now that we have privatized it, how do we localize it. Well, that would sort of naturally take care of itself. As with above example of Heifer International, we see that they go to where the problem is. That is what I mean by localize. By having churches/organizations in that region handle the bulk of the welfare cases, we could see a lot more people getting genuine help to lift them out of poverty. It is much easier to help Dena Leichnitz than it is to help Case #BX1026.  When you know the person you can tailor the assistance to their particular needs and not just hand them some “resource directory” and hope that it solves the problem.

All of us can agree, we want people who need help to be able to get it, without a lot of red tape and without signing over their dignity and self-respect.  By “Mormonizing” welfare, I think we would be able to achieve those goals and do more to eradicate poverty than we have done under well-meaning but detrimental government programs.

 

Loving Love: Can Mia Love Increase Blacks in the GOP?

Published August 31, 2012 by blacknright

United States political activist and former di...There have been recent attempts to increase the membership of Blacks in the GOP. In 2008, while others were talking about this historical election of Barack Hussein Obama, there was another Black man on the ballot, Alan Keyes. Alan Keyes had also run against Obama in the Illinois senatorial race  in 2006 but unfortunately for Illinois and America, Obama won. Had the GOP chosen to go with Alan Keyes, it would have been a different race entirely. In fact, the whole issue of race, as in the skin color of the candidates, would have been a non-issue since both candidates would have been Black men and therefore, the division that has ensued under Obama might have been at least partially curtailed.

 

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...We also had Herman Cain run this year for the Presidency, again making the issue of race irrelevant had he won the nomination. And though we have far more information about his life than we do about Obama’s he was pushed aside because of a false allegation of sexual misconduct. Something that only works on Republicans, never Democrats because their whole sex life is nothing but sexual misconduct. Herman Cain is a self made man, the founder of Godfather’s Pizza. Despite, the unfounded allegations of a 13 year affair, Herman Cain has been married 44 years to the same woman.  Yet no amount of success in his personal or professional life was able to translate into an increase in Blacks flocking to the GOP.

 

Mia LoveEnter Mia Love. No disrespect to the above men, they are men of integrity and honor, but never send a man to do a woman’s job. If anyone can energize the GOP it is Mia Love.  Just like Palin before her she seems to have burst on the national stage and has given a voice to conservative women once again. However, this time it is a Black Mormon. As someone who joined the church in 1998, I have had experience explaining why I belong to a “racist” church like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is not necessarily easy and more often than not I probably do more to hurt the image of our church than I do to help it. In any case, Mia Love seems able to navigate these waters with a lot more ease than I. Or any of her fellow Black Republican men. Even Allen West, with his vast military and political experience didn’t not seem to rouse the interest that Mia has. Granted, just like Condi Rice before her she has already been labeled a house n***er by those ever so tolerant Leftists.  But that just means the Democrats/Leftists are running scared and cannot deal with a woman who is self-reliant, professional and godly. Since her first allegiance is to Jesus Christ, that disturbs alot of people, especially those who advocate a sin-filled lifestyle in the Democratic Party. They have no understanding that the greatness that once permeated America is due, in fact, to our Founding Fathers following the teachings of Christ…and not all religion in general.

The Mormon aspect of Mitt’s candidacy has sent the bigots running around declaring that Monday evenings will be Family Home Evening henceforth and Monday night football will forever be banned if Mitt gets elected. Will Mia’s Mormonism have the same effect. I am thinking, probably not. Since Mitt is a White Man somehow his Mormonism is more threatening than Mia’s. A petite woman, you might think she is timid and meek but Mia Love proved during the Republican National Convention that underneath her almost deceiving appearance is a heart of a lioness!

The American Dream is our story. It is a story of human struggle, standing up and striving for more. It has been told for over 200 years with small steps and giant leaps; from a woman on a bus to a man with a dream [Someone is a Brad Paisley fan that line is directly from his song  “Welcome to the Future.” Italics mine. Here is the link to video if you want to see it yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Yg9wjctRw] and the bravery of the greatest generation to the entrepreneurs of today.

Two People Fell in Love

Two People Fell in Love (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay so despite her lifting of Brad Paisley lyrics, which only goes to show either her or her speechwriter have excellent taste in music, Mia does seem to epitomize the American Dream and while the pundits are waxing on whether the American Dream is indeed dead, Mia has shown it is still alive and well and that hard work and education do pay off. How will that translate to Black voters for the GOP? Well that remains to be seen however, if we look to Palin as a indicator, it is very good chance that she will be able to bring in voters who might have  otherwise stayed at home Election Day. While Palin was not able to propel that into a White House victory, we are hoping that Mia bring the GOP back to its roots. Back to the days of Reconstruction when Black Republicans were the norm for Congress. Sometimes all it takes is a woman’s touch. 

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UCLA: My Past, My Future

Published August 21, 2012 by blacknright
A hoodie with the University of California, Lo...

A hoodie with the University of California, Los Angeles trademark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1983, nearly three decades ago I walked into UCLA for the first time. I was a troubled youth or so they said. I walked in hurt, angry and betrayed. I didn’t belong here, Why was I here?

In 2011,  I sat down in front of a computer filling out my college application for the UC system.  I filled out everything and then it came time to select which campuses I wanted to submit my application. The box for UCLA just stared at me. Could I really mark that box? Did I have what it takes? I had vowed never to return to that place.  Could I forgive UCLA enough to submit my app? I took a deep breath and I clicked on the box for UCLA.  I also choose UCR.  It was done, there was no turning back. Would  UCLA accept me? Could we start a new chapter together? We would just have to see.

UCLA Entrance

In 1983,  I was just one among the lost. We spent our days smoking and going to school.  Yeah we were UCLA students and we could even use the school’s name to score discount movie tickets! We were the UCLA students no one knew about, hidden away from the rest of well respected campus. Occasionally,  we would walk among the Westwood crowd in complete anonymity. The other UCLA students and normal society completely oblivious that they were mixing with the crazy part of UCLA. We were 6 West NPI. There was another unit for crazy adolescents, like me, but their unit number escapes me now. We were the better of the two anyway. We were UCLA, symbolically speaking they were USC.

In 2012, I am waiting for a reply. Maybe they won’t take me. Maybe they found out about my UCLA “alumni” experience. I picture a group of people, exalted professors going over my application and declaring “We cannot accept her! She’s a nut!” During my application process I tried to broach the subject but just could not find a way to do so.  Besides, it is probably better to leave that out. It is taking forever. Why haven’t I heard back?  It is my last semester at LACC. I am ready to leave. No, I want to stay. I am just hitting my stride here. I feel at home but I need to go. I need to move on. Still no word from UCLA.

In 1983,  I had no problem getting in. My therapist, a failure in the psych world, determined that helping me was beyond his capabilities and that I should be locked away. He would see about either placing me in a foster home or sending me to a psych ward at UCLA. Time passed and no word.  About nine days after my 13th birthday a call from him came in-the verdict was in-I was going to UCLA! It had been weeks! I thought I was free and clear (no pun intended). I thought I would be able to stay at home. I didn’t need to be in that place. I wasn’t crazy!

In 2012, I hear back from UCLA. There is a letter from them in my email box. I brace myself for disappointing news. I am terrified but I read the letter-CONGRATULATIONS splashes across the screen! I got in and into Poli Sci, no less. It is an impacted major and I was sure I was not going to get in! It must be a mistake. How is that possible?  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. To receive yet another letter online or maybe in the mail stating, “Sorry Dena, we accepted you by accident.” No such letter ever arrives. I am in! I am an UCLA student! There is pride in saying that now. I don’t have to hang my head in shame.  I am a scholar! I am an Honor student. I still have difficulty wrapping my head around that concept.  They want me! I am going to UCLA! An echo from my past repeats those words again, I am going to UCLA. The first time I heard those words, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was dejected, filled with resentment and anger.  Yet now those very same words filled me with joy and anticipation. I had a sense of accomplishment. I had finally arrived!

In 1983, I spent time in the seclusion room. One time was for beating up a boy who called me a nigger, the other times-well, who remembers? The seclusion room was a rubber room where no one could hear you scream. I had also been restrained, taken down by grown men, given a PRN (that is a sedative for you laymen) and strapped to a bed with leather restraints. I had lost control when my therapist at UCLA told me that I would be going to a foster home after leaving UCLA instead of going home! What? That was the whole point of coming to this loony bin-so I wouldn’t be sent to a foster home! How could they now change the rules and send me to one anyway? I was livid. I tipped over a table and sent my therapist running out of the room for help. I had been lied to! I wasn’t going to let them get away with that!

The days in 6 West blend into one another. One day was no different than the next.  We would watch tv, play cards and dominoes and chain smoke. We were underage and were not supposed to be smoking but it was allowed anyway. I take up smoking as well, but only for a little bit. My brand was Marlboro Red. I do it to fit in. Smoking does not stick though. I give it up as easily as I started. The very last episode of M*A*S*H is coming on. I have to see that.

Janss_Steps,_UCLA

Janss_Steps,_UCLA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2012, it is my orientation. I am nervous and excited. While still at LACC, a friend of mine and I strike  a deal. If we both get into UCLA, he will be my ride. On the day of the orientation, he gives me my first ride to UCLA.  I sat there in the auditorium going over the orientation.  A nagging voice keeps saying, “You don’t belong here.” I try to silence it. Another echo from my past surges forth and repeats those long forgotten words, “You don’t belong here.”  Back then the context was one of defiance and anger. It carried with it an aura of superiority. I was better than these other kids, druggies and crazies. I wasn’t like them. I didn’t belong here. The words were a reflection of my wounded pride.

Today the words had a much more sinister context, it was one of fear and inferiority. Was I really good enough to walk among these scholars? I was consumed with doubt. “You don’t belong here. You are going to fail. You will be found out! You are a fraud!” My thoughts are liars! They want to hold me back but I won’t let them. i will prove them wrong!

In 1983, I missed the last episode of M*A*S*H. I am disappointed but figure I would catch it on the re-run. What I did not know was that they would not re-run it for years. I had missed it.  M*A*S*H was not just a show. It was a connection to my mother. We would sit down every night and watch it together. No one else really watched it with us, it was our time. I would rub her feet and we would laugh. By missing the last episode, it was a like a premonition of things to come. It was like UCLA had taken away that connection to my mother, just as they taken her away physically from me. It was easier to blame UCLA and be angry at UCLA for another perceived sin than to admit my own choice of entertainment had caused me to miss it. The connection was broken because of me, but who needs the truth? I will just hate UCLA

In 2012, twenty nine years later I love UCLA.  In 1983, I was there because of someone else’s choice. Today, I am there because of my own. In 1983, UCLA took a part of my life.  In 2012, they are giving it back and then some.  They are taking that broken girl and restoring her, refining her, making her into a gem to be admired and respected. The Dena Leichnitz they knew as “troubled” is now a woman they have accepted as their own. Someone who will go out and a make a difference.

In 1983, I walked into UCLA for the first time. In 2012, I walk down UCLA’s halls of academia for the first time. Two worlds apart, two lifetimes apart but one school.  What a difference 29 years makes!

If there has been one bone of contention lately in my life, it is the Bill of Rights that I have compiled for Los Angeles City College. It has been at least  six months of research. It has been like pulling teeth trying to get input from students in regards to what they want to see in their own Bill of Rights.  I wanted it to be more of a collaborative effort but most of the time, it was just me and my computer.

During this time, I have asked myself “WWPHD? or What would Patrick Henry Do? He has been my inspiration as he gave us the most important Bill of Rights ever authored-the one that calls home the U.S. Constitution. After all, when he was writing his there was a lot more at stake. We were a brand new country. The Articles of Confederation had been an unmitigated disaster.  Farmers were being thrown in jail for not paying their taxes because they had been too busy fighting the Revolutionary War over taxes without representation. Only to have the government stick it to them upon their return. That was followed by Shay’s Rebellion and the Constitutional Convention. These were the conditions that Patrick Henry found himself in.

Once the Constitution was ratified, he was taken aback-where were the rights of the people?  People told him the Constitution was fine and told him to leave well enough alone. The man had to take on Federalists who were telling him that his Bill of Rights were unnecessary. After weren’t 3 enough? I mean we had the right of habeas corpus, no ex post facto laws and no bill attainder. I mean what more did the people want? Wasn’t that good enough? Patrick didn’t think so. So he sat down and put quill to paper and came up with the best ten laws since God himself authored the Ten Commandments.  But I wonder, did he go through the same thing I am going through? Did he at first try to get his fellow countrymen to contribute to the document or did he know such things are usually exercises in futility? Is that whole collaborative thing the more “girly” side of power?

On the 27th, I will stand before the Student Senate of California Community Colleges, which is the equivalent of Patrick Henry’s Congress, and I testify to the necessity and veracity of the Bill of Rights before them. Will Patrick Henry’s spirit infuse with mine on that day and will I be able to speak with as much conviction, honor and respect for liberty that he did on that fateful day in the Virginia Convention where he spoke these words:

 How were the congressional rights defined when the people of America united by a confederacy to defend their liberties and rights against the tyrannical attempts of Great Britain? The states were not then contented with implied reservation. No, Mr. Chairman. It was expressly declared in our Confederation that every right was retained by the states, respectively, which was not given up to the government of the United States. But there is no such thing here. You, therefore, by a natural and unavoidable implication, give up your rights to the general government.

Your own example furnishes an argument against it. If you give up these powers, without a bill of rights, you will exhibit the most absurd thing to mankind that ever the world saw — government that has abandoned all its powers — the powers of direct taxation, the sword, and the purse. You have disposed of them to Congress, without a bill of rights — without check, limitation, or control. And still you have checks and guards; still you keep barriers — pointed where? Pointed against your weakened, prostrated, enervated state government! You have a bill of rights to defend you against the state government, which is bereaved of all power, and yet you have none against Congress, though in full and exclusive possession of all power! You arm yourselves against the weak and defenceless, and expose yourselves naked to the armed and powerful. Is not this a conduct of unexampled absurdity? What barriers have you to oppose to this most strong, energetic government? To that government you have nothing to oppose. All your defence is given up. This is a real, actual defect. It must strike the mind of every gentleman.

He served as a governor, I am just a lowly student. Who am I to call upon his assistance in my endeavor to secure all rights for the students of the 112 community colleges? Of course, we are talking about 1.6 million people. That is a little over half the population of the entire United States when Patrick Henry was alive.  As someone tries to undermine Bill of Rights and strike out the political and religious portion of it that would protect students of varying faiths and ideologies, I wonder will I be the good girl and compromise just so we can all get along. Or will I fight back.  Well technically, I did win my first battle. I had made changes to my Bill of Rights, adding more religious and political protections. It was during this time that I gave it to someone who had been helpful on prior occasions in regards to feedback and what should be added. When I gave this person my updates, they sent me back their revisions. That is when I was told they were going to present this gutted version of it to our Senate, I was ten shades of livid. However, I realized part of this mess was my doing. I should have left well enough alone. Instead, being intoxicated by creating such a document, I wanted to add as many protections as I could. I started to become obsessed with it. Did Patrick have that same obsession? Did it drive him as much as it drove me? So I took steps to squash it completely. An earlier version had already been voted on and approved by our Senate. It had also been voted on and approved by the administration. My suggestion-we sack both updated versions and just keep the original version that had already passed. The Senate agreed that is what we would do. Woo hoo, another victory for me! I had saved my Bill of Rights.

Will I be able to save it at the state level though? We will see, the fight is not over yet. I just hope my Bill of Rights will endure until the end, the way Patrick’s has. Fighting for liberty is never easy but it is one heck of a ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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