Cousins Hue and Cindy Vo, co-valedictorians at Ellender High School, apparently gave a part of their graduation speeches in Vietnamese. Now the school district is considering whether all commencement speeches should be in English only.
Instead of being proud that their students know another language, they want to put a stop to this? Aren’t there other things they should be worried about?
Here’s what one school board member told the Associated Press: ”’I don’t like them addressing in a foreign language. They should be in English.”’
According to the article, it sounds like Cindy, 18, said a sentence or so in Vietnamese–and then translated it for the wider audience. [...]
‘Ms. Vo said her statement in Vietnamese was aimed at her parents, who do not speak fluent English. “Out of the whole speech, it’s one sentence dedicated to them to give thanks,” she said. “Mine was personal and general for the entire Vietnamese community and something I wanted to share with graduates.”’
She made it very clear–her parents do not speak fluent English, and this was in a way, a tribute to her parents.
There was Heather Locklear in all her blonde and blue eyed thinness, slight smile, like any other photo shoot with the words, “INSIDE HEATHER’S BREAKDOWN” in big yellow block letters. The article goes on to detail Heather Locklear’s battles with anxiety and depression, her struggle to regulate her medication, the friends and family and lovers (past and present) who offered their support and well wishes while she healed. Because her breakdown was more private than say, Britney’s ostentatious displays and the events that lead to her mental health revelation. But eventually, once it became a mental illness and not just random “crackhead acting out”, there was a slow sympathy that drifted in. I was moved by both Britney and now Heather, as I’m moved by tales of folks living with or battling against or trying to understand the way their minds tick and the way emotions are understood and interpreted. There is a kinship there. I’ll get to it.
After I read the article, I started thinking about celebrities of color and what they must battle. Wondering if there would be a publicist encouraging a black starlet to tell her story on the cover of People or Ebony or Essence. Wondering if there would be a loving and respectful cover. Remembering Lisa Nicole Carson and the rumors that forced/encouraged/nudged her out of the limelight and away from Hollywood. Would Hollywood ever welcome her back. Despite the fact that people of color suffer/live with many mental issues, it’s often encouraged that you don’t talk about it. And if you do talk about it, be prepared to have it thrown back at you in anger or misunderstood so any cross word or justifiable display of anger is patronized or even feared. The labels. The whisper about. This need to feel like “we don’t get that”. That there’s a luxury or pride that comes with ignoring what’s real. I’m not going to attempt to explain or turn this into some psychobabble study of what is and why… it’s just a thing I’ve observed.
I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder about 4 years ago. I was on tour with Def Poetry and touring and I crashed. I’ll spare you the details but I left the tour in Chicago and Alice, our amazing stage manager, encouraged me and told me that there was no shame in healing, made calls for me and forced me to see someone. told me that it was possible to NOT feel this broken. To get to a place where sleep and food and dry face were possible. And after doctor after doctor trying to convince them and myself that I was okay, I found Dr. Tiago and Dr. Goodman who made me make sense after who knows how long of not feeling like I made sense. Wondering when “normal” would be part of my definition. It was freeing and confining all at once. Freeing because it ‘made’ sense. Confining because who wants to be labeled as anything, even if the labels were necessary for healing. I was scared to tell my friends and my family but knew I had to. There was no shame in it really… but there was an apprehension. I wasn’t sure what was going to be said. I didn’t know who would label me as “unstable” or “crazy”. My friends were amazing. My family needed to be educated but they were relieved. I’ll spare you the details. The story is on my website and archived.
I’m bringing it up now because in the beginning there was a bravery and an honest that I owned. I felt alone and like the only black person in the world with this “bipolar II” . Bipolar I made sense. It was full of rages and out of control and these outward displays. BPI was kinda sexy. BP II was internal, an implosion. Fucking emo bullshit. But I wanted to talk about it so that if there was another “somebody” out there who was being treated or needed treatment at least there would be two of us. The outpouring was overwhelming and beautiful and healing and wonderful. And when I started working again, I made sure I mentioned it and encouraged people to go to my website for information about seeking treatment. I was a one person mental wellness machine. I was candid and open in my blog. My battles with finding the right medication. The side effects. The moments I was like, ‘fuck all of this. I will be normal”. My hospitalization for depression. I was open. Held all the nicks to the light, hoping, as I do all my writing, for the subtle chorus of “me too” that allowed me to feel if not “normal” then not alone. If it was going to be said, I wanted to say it. Fuck a stigma.
Tomorrow, July 8th, could mark the beginning of official condoning of warrantless surveillance of law-abiding citizens in the US, not to mention foreign nationals. I am not an alarmist and believe in qualified surveillance with process — this is different. I’ve done the homework.
The above is an 18-minute interview that I just finished with Daniel Ellsberg, famous for releasing the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971. His action are often credited with helping end not only the Nixon presidency but also the Vietnam War. He consulted for the Kennedy Administration after receiving a PhD. from Harvard in Economics and served in the Pentagon under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. [...]
Daniel explains below several important reasons to act in the next few hours (much more in the video), but for those who are prepared to spend 60 seconds to help protect their liberties and prevent warrantless wiretapping from becoming a new standard in the US, here are two options:
1. ALL AMERICANS: Go to the EFF website here and put in your zipcode to find your Senator’s phone number. Call them and read the short script on the same page. If no answer, click the link at the bottom of the page to e-mail them.
(Tell others verbally to go to “www.eff.org” and click “take action”)
2. OBAMA SUPPORTERS: Go to My.BarackObama.com here and join the group requesting he oppose (as he did earlier) the amendment. This takes about 30 seconds. I suggest changing “ListServ” in the bottom right to “Do not receive e-mails.”
(Tell others verbally to search “obama please vote no” on Google and My.BarackObama.com will be in the top 3 results, currently #1)
5. Why would the current administration want this amendment to pass, if not for safety of citizens and prevention of attacks?
Using NSA to spy without judicial oversight or constraint on American citizens provides the infrastructure for dictatorship. George W. Bush has frequently said what other presidents may only have thought: “It would be a heck of a lot easier in a dictatorship, if only I were the dictator.”
Other presidents have violated the law and the Constitution in much the same way as Bush, so long as they could do it secretly, but they haven’t proclaimed that as a right of their office as Bush, Cheney and their legal advisors have done.
The oath of office they took, along with all members of Congress, was to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic. I believe that, in the matters we’ve been discussing, the Founders had it right, not only for their time but for ours.