The #WomensMarch

An idea started by just a handful of women after the election of Donald Trump turned into something far greater than anyone could have imagined.

Citizens across the country marched yesterday in defiance of Donald Trump. It was an unprecedented moment in American history. One I’m glad I was here to see. There’s never been this level of opposition to an incoming President in history.

One of my favorite moments of the day came when Senator Kamala Harris made it very clear that women’s issues are the same issues we discuss and debate all the time. The most incredible thing I saw yesterday was in LA. Organizers there expected 80k people to take part in their march. 750k people showed up!

Some try to deligitimize the concerns of women, but yesterday showed me what can happen when people don’t just talk about coming together but actually do it. I’m immensely proud to be American, yesterday was no exception.

I chose not to pick and choose which images of marches around the world to show you because my guess is you’ve seen them. A simple search on Twitter or Google will show you all you need to see.

I’ll get back to talking about books tomorrow. I could not pass up the opportunity to discuss the events of yesterday.

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Saturday Selects: Where I Stand

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write that fall outside the general bookish theme of the blog.

Have you ever heard the expression that someone was just raised that way? Or that another person was raised a strong Christian? Things like that. We all know humans are complex, critically-thinking beings, but sometimes we just make assumptions and base those assumptions on next to nothing at all. So that’s what today’s post is about. Me simply telling you how I came to believe in some of the things I do. This isn’t meant to be exhaustive and no one has asked me to reveal this information. But I’ve been posting on this blog for nearly four years now. If I’m afraid or unwilling to post something personal then what am I really doing here?

Faith

My family is Catholic. My HUGE Mexican family. Which if you know anything about demographics, then that surely doesn’t surprise you. I was “raised” a Catholic. The quotation marks are there because I grew up in a Catholic household. But never once did my parents force me to do something relative to the church I didn’t want to do. I was never forced to attend Sunday school. I was never forced to pray every night before bed. I was never expressly told to believe that Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I remember the last time I prayed, though that’s probably a stretch to even call it as such. It was after a Little League game in 2004. It was soon after my grandpa died. I remember praying, but I don’t have any idea what I was asking for. I also remember crying my eyes out for the one and only time over his death. I was 12.

But as I became older I soon realized that I didn’t believe in the same things my family did. There was a conversation between one of my brothers, my dad, and me when I was a teen about evolution and god. I was stunned that members of my own family rejected science in the name of faith. I was asked if I believed in god and I said I guess not. I walked into a high school classroom my senior year and asked how many people believed in evolution. Again, I was shocked that only one or two hands shot up. I couldn’t believe it. This is no different from when people say they don’t “believe” in climate change. But that’s another story. I’ve proudly been an atheist since I was in college, though that topic just doesn’t come up anymore.

Marriage

This is one of those things you constantly hear that “young people” almost universally agree on. I’m the same. You’ve heard of politicians “evolving” on the issue of what does and does not represent a lawful and acceptable marriage, probably most notably President Obama. But I’ve never once thought marriage could only be between a man and a woman. Not once in my life has that ever crossed my mind. Just like I’ve never thought it odd or different if two people in a couple were from different racial or ethnic backgrounds. It just doesn’t make sense to me to question who someone loves. No one is telling me who I’m allowed to love. What right does any person have to tell another who they can or cannot love? No right. No right at all.

Capital Punishment

Remember that my degree is in Criminal Justice, so I’m no expert but I have quite a bit of knowledge that most people don’t. Since I was old enough to reach my own conclusion on capital punishment, I was steadfastly in favor it. When I was in college I actually wanted to expand it to include cases of aggravated rape. I participated in a debate on capital punishment in a class during my final year in school. I once had to argue against an entire classroom full of students because no one else was willing to make the case for the continued use of the death penalty. But I know the stats. I know that the possibility of executing an innocent person exists. I know that the death penalty does not act as a crime deterrent. I know that the costs of carrying out the death penalty far outweigh the costs of life in prison. I know that the death penalty is state sponsored murder. I know that just about every Western country in the world has abolished the death penalty. And I know that it is very quickly falling out of favor in the United States. With all that being said, I decided fairly recently that I simply cannot support an institution of murder carried out as unfairly as death sentences are in this country. It took me much too long to come to this realization, but I firmly believe I’m on the right side of the issue and history.

Guns

Uh oh. Probably not the best topic to discuss at any point in time when you have no idea where others stand, but understanding different perspectives is just as important as understanding the core issue. For me this one is very simple. I think I’ve been heavily criticized on here when I’ve written about gun violence previously. I don’t think citizens should be allowed to have guns at all. Yep. Call me a crazy liberal who doesn’t understand things, but that’s how I feel and I’ll tell you why.

EVERYONE knows that other developed countries simply do not have the gun violence that we have here in the United States. And what I mean is gun violence is virtually nonexistent. Japan. Australia. UK. Canada. Germany. Belgium. The list could go on and on. And the reasons aren’t always because gun ownership has been outlawed. But the countries that have very few deaths attributed to gun violence each year don’t have an obsession with guns like we have in the United States. Which is why I think outlawing gun ownership is the only way to move forward. The problem people have is they’ll see one event in France or in another country with very strict gun laws and then proclaim that the laws simply don’t work. But they fail to recognize that the numbers in the US are simply astronomical when compared to every other country on the planet. EVERY OTHER COUNTRY ON THE PLANET. People hunt because they want to kill animals. People have guns because they want guns. We can rationalize it all we want, but the reasons really don’t change. Donald Trump has vowed to protect the 2nd Amendment, and I have no doubt about he will do so, but over the course of the next four years there is a very chilling certainty. There will be mass shootings. And he will have to speak about them to the American public.

The United States always claims to lead the world in this or that, but when it comes to gun violence not only have we missed the flight, we didn’t even remember to buy the ticket. I simply refuse to accept that gun violence is the way of American life.

Healthcare

This is another big one being heavily debated today. Tell me something. Have you ever had some freak accident that forced you to go to the emergency room? I have. Multiple times. When I was in 3rd grade I made the highly intelligent decision to ride my bike off the edge of a construction ramp 6-8 feet off the ground. My face stuck the landing right there on the concrete. I got stitches that night at my local ER. Three years later I was racing out of the gym to run my warm-up lap around the track before PE class and I ran directly into a locked door. My face again absorbed the impact. I got stitches again about an inch from the first spot on my chin. That same school year during the same Little League season I previously mentioned I decided to test the fielder’s arm at home plate. The throw beat me by a mile. There was an abrupt collision. I broke my wrist right there on the field.

None of my cases were real emergencies. I mean, yes. I needed to see a doctor. But my life was not in any real danger. Now imagine if it were. Imagine if I’d suffered an injury that required extensive surgery, but surgery that wasn’t required. You know, the doctor can tell you what’s wrong and recommend surgery but first he’s going to make sure it’s covered by your insurance. But uh oh, I don’t have insurance. The doctor gives me something for the pain and I’m out the door. I don’t feel too bad until I run out of the pain meds and I realize how bad it really is.

I’m no health professional, and perhaps this isn’t EXACTLY how it plays out in hospitals each and every day. But I can’t wrap my head around the fact that in this country healthcare is viewed as a privilege. The right to life is viewed as something only some can have. We guarantee public education through high school, right? But we can’t guarantee healthcare to every citizen in this country? Again, the United States is well behind much of the world at this point. Someone recently described healthcare in their country to me. You paid a small amount for up to 7 days in the hospital, and after that it’s completely free to you. I acknowledge that there are MANY ways to go about insuring everyone, but we aren’t even trying. And we’re still awaiting the changes that are looming just ahead of us after the election of Donald Trump.

Guys, I absolutely do not expect you to agree with me on any of these things. And that’s the beauty of it. There’s nothing wrong with that. What issues are of particular importance to you? I have several more but WordPress tells me this post has somehow reached 1700 words. Yikes.


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A Reading Day

Today is January 20. Inauguration Day. I’ve watched the Swearing in Ceremony because I recognize that so many people around the world don’t know what this feels like. They don’t know what it’s like to elect their leaders or to witness a peaceful transfer of power between individuals.

But I won’t spend the day glued to the TV watching all of the festivities. I think my time would be better spent reading. So that’s what I’ll do.

Starting in 2020 I plan on visiting DC during every Inauguration for the rest of my life. My hope is to witness a Latino sworn in as President. That may or may not happen, but I’m confident this country will always continue moving forward. Even if it may not always appear so. 🇺🇸

When Reading Becomes Presidential

We’re in the midst of a presidential transition. If recent history holds, we’ll soon be getting books from both the outgoing and incoming presidents.

The Office of the President of the United States is respected by every nation on earth. Respected doesn’t mean friendly. Only 44 men (I know we’ll elect a woman soon!) have held the highest office in the nation. The US is currently a country with a population nearing 350 million. Still, only 44.

So one could say there’s an exclusive book club that you can’t just join. You have to be voted in by tens of millions of people. I’ve still never read a book written by a president, but that changes this year. It’s a requirement for my reading challenge!

What’s the best book written by a president you’ve read?

A Letter to America

Dear America,

America is me. When people hear me identify as “Mexican-American” most think nothing of it. But some think of me as being a part of “other”, as being different from them. I’m not. Both of my parents were born in Texas. My grandparents were born in Texas. My great grandparents were not. Which means I’m exactly the same as nearly every other American in that I’m a descendant of immigrants.

I point this out because I must. The next president of the United States has said things and proposed actions that make me as a Mexican-American feel disrespected, hated, and alarmed. He’s done the same to women, African-Americans, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, and just about every group of people that looks differently than he does.

Donald Trump is not my president. He doesn’t represent or stand for anything I do. I know I’m not the only one acknowledging this. But something we must understand is that now is not the time to sit down in shock at what has transpired. Now is more important than ever to stand up for what we believe in, to make sure our voices are louder than ever. Yes, Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States of America. But don’t believe for one second that hate, racism, homophobia, or xenophobia won last night. Those things will never truly win as long as we, the people continue to stand up and speak out about the things we hold dear.

I’m shocked just as millions of others are, but this is not the end. We’re headed toward a better, more tolerant future. Even if we face a minor setback along the way.

A college educated, Mexican-American millennial,

John Guillen

Today is the Day!

Today is the day that only comes around once every four years. A day anticipated by millions of people and thousands of athletes. It’s the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympics!

I know there has been tons of negative publicity surrounding the city’s preparation for the Games. And it’s mostly warranted, but sport is more important to me than any person I know who isn’t paid to know sports. And that’s no different today.

I remember the absolute elation that I experienced when I saw this relay. In my opinion, the greatest call in Olympic history. Even greater than the miracle on ice. 


I remember the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Games in Beijing. I remember Gabby Douglas making history in 2012. And Usain Bolt dominating every Olympic track he’s stepped foot on. There’s so much I love about the Olympic Games I simply don’t have enough room to put it all here.

The thing is that it’s the one chance I get as a sports fan to root for these elite athletes in sports I may not get to see on a regular basis. And it isn’t because they’re playing for my hometown team, it’s because they share something with me that goes far beyond that. We’re American.

I mentioned in one of my DC videos that I got emotional when I saw the flag that inspired our national anthem. I’ll get emotional again over the next two weeks every time I see one of our athletes standing atop the podium with a gold medal around their neck and our national anthem playing. It is our chance to realize how important it is to them to get to represent this country. They may have money or fame or fancy cars or none of that, but in that single moment none of it matters. It’s about their journey to become the absolute best at their craft, and the people who helped get them there.

Happy Olympics!

What’s your favorite Olympic memory? Mine is the race in the video above. Jason Lezak doing the impossible.

This Memorial Day

This Memorial Day and every one in the future will mean more to me than ever before. Now I’ve visited the monuments and memorials erected in honor of the men and women who have died defending the interests and freedoms of our country and our allies.

I’ve been very clear in my constant support of our military, and only now has that support intesified after my trip to Washington DC last week. You may not know a veteran or anyone who’s died serving in our military, but none of the men and women who died knew you. And they were willing to give their life, in part, to protect you and your way of life.

Every fallen soldier deserves the gratitude of every American.

I actually won’t say Happy Memorial Day. Because I’m not happy that so many of our young men and women have had to die to protect our country. But I will say today is Memorial Day, and we should all take time to remember what today is really about. It isn’t about being off from work, it isn’t about BBQ on the porch, or about taking a short trip for the long weekend. Today is about the fallen heroes of our military.

Also, I’ll have my DC video up tomorrow.