The Power of Economics & Society’s Corruption

•03/20/2010 • Leave a Comment

By Ji Young Min, co-host of Inside the Ladies Locker Room

Our last episode we had two wonderful guests, an award winning film director Jesse Epstein and a model. Despite a little bit of a mishap with one of our guests, the show carried on. As I thought about a theme for this blog, once again it occurred to me who controls America. It is the rich. Money buys friends, influence; finances projects, employs people, commands attention, gives you a roof over your head, a set of wheels, and they say money doesn’t buy everything. Uncontrolled, money whets appetites, purchases child prostitutes, cons families into giving up their children in the name of money to pedophilia in places like Thailand.  Money in the wrong hands colors justice, affects the outcome of events, skewing justice, tainting police officers and government officials whose job it is to patrol sex trafficking.

In America, we have corruption. But it is regulated by whistleblowers who are rewarded. The government in some instances awards whistleblowers millions of dollars to reward their coming forward to report an injustice. We even read of cases of sexual harassment with major award pay outs. Juries that award a woman for example who has been wronged in the workplace  also sets a message that this type of sexual justice is not to be tolerated. The idea is that by rewarding someone by coming forward who rights a wrong or by condemning a workplace for creating a hostile work environment –we are somehow righting wrongs and setting an example for future generations and, perhaps, the world as many of these big million dollar pay out are publicized in the media (for example, a whistleblower who exposed a multi billion dollar fraud in the medicare ranks was awarded at least 10 million dollars which was  covered on 60 minutes. Or what about the female broker who sued UBS and was awarded 30 million dollars and was covered on the front page of the financial times). Now – with the advent of 2007 and the real estate bubble, Ponzi schemes proliferated as the regulatory agency the SEC did little to police the likes of the Bernie Madoff’s. Now it seems that, with the uncovering of the one big Huckster Bernie Madoff in the ensuing meltdown of America and the bailing out of banks and the angry reactions from regular Americans, the SEC is finally unburing its head from the dirt and uncovering lots of Ponzi schemers.

So this brings me back to the original point of this blog…that money controls everything. Now those who lost everything with Madoff that have been forced onto welfare or to pick up entry level jobs which has been covered in the media—those who were once rich no longer exude the power nor the esteem they once had. When interviewed, those who lost everything or most in the stock fall show that they have lost their self esteem. They are exhibiting how money controls so much of our society. Money controls how we are perceived. If you try to convince me otherwise, nice try. I grew up seeing this.

This image certainly counter acts any good the other media images we publicize of rewarding whistleblowers or juries awarding harmed employees. Can you imagine what these disjointed images , can you imagine the kind of message this sends to our children? Money even controls churches. They are one of the richest institutuions in America. Point in fact: the Catholic Charities of America.

If I had to name one thing which rivals money: it would be the media and its images of beautiful women. That will be continued in the next blog as I explore how intoxicating images of thin, plastic surgeried women seeps into our souls and psyches and controls us as much if not more than money….

National Eating Disorder Awarness Week; What SHOULD We Be Aware Of?

•02/25/2010 • Leave a Comment

By Lucia Nazzaro, co-host of Inside the Ladies Locker Room

We’ve all heard the words a million times, EATING DISORDERS.  In health class, in college dorm meetings, at the gym, posters and referral guides tend to line the walls.  With over 24 million Americans suffering from some sort of eating affliction, whether we know it or not, we all probably know someone that has or has had an eating disorder in the past.  So if we have heard about them a million times, and we know they exist, it seems like awareness isn’t always the biggest issue.  The real issue to me seems to be fixing the problem and coming up with solutions to heal this epidemic.  Becoming more aware of the “WHY,” instead of the “WHAT,” is the first step in conquering this enormous problem our world is facing.

The “WHAT,”  to me is clear, as a nation we are dying from eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia and the massive killer, binge eating. Now that most of us know these problems exists, the question is why is it happening and how can we fix it.  According to a study done at Yale University, one of the main culprits is the media.  We each see an estimated 400-700 advertisements a day containing mixed messages of anorexic sized models mixed with super sized bags of Doritos’s we are suppose to consume.  The multiple messages are enough to drive a person crazy, and according to the study at Yale cause people who ere exposed to food advertisements while watching TV to eat 45% more than those who don’t see the ads. Whether we want to or not, we absorb everything that is shown by the media.  Teenage girls are killing themselves to look like the girls they see in magazines, that are killing themselves to be in the magazine’s.  Men and women are eating themselves to death, because of promises made by advertisers that if they eat a super sized meal their lives will be filled with super sized amounts of happiness.  Advertisers selling lies and creating wants in our lives that are not real and we as consumers buy those lies.

There are many more “WHYS” when it comes to eating disorder.  Many people have been victims of abuse, some are running from feelings they don’t want to feel or tragic life events they don’t want to face.  Those are more difficult problems to solve, but this problem, the MEDIA and ADVERTISERS, should be easier to stop.  Instead of letting the media dictate what is beautiful, why don’t  WE dictate what is beautiful and let the media work for us, instead of us working for them.  We as consumers need to demand that advertisers be more ethically aware of the problems they are causing in society.  We put restrictions on tobacco companies because of the lies they sold us, why don’t we do the same with fashion and food companies?  This epidemic is taking over the lives and bodies of millions of Americans, but this “WHY,” that is causing part of the problem is something we can help fix.  The only question is “WHEN,” will we start doing it?

A Change In Race Relations Is Coming

•02/10/2010 • Leave a Comment

By Anita M. Bailey, co-host of Inside the Ladies Locker Room


A year ago, I had the honor of serving as a volunteer at the Inauguration of President Obama. I was so proud to be apart of this historical event.  A flood of emotions came over me as I considered the magnitude of what I had just witnessed on January 20, 2009 on Capital Hill- the election of the First African American President of the United States of America.

I thought about how sad it was that the matriarchs and patriarchs of my family were not alive to experience this life changing event with me.  I thought about how I was a Civil Rights baby born in 1966 and how the stories my mother and father told me about growing up during that era now mean so much more to me.  I reflected on how thankful I was for the hardships my ancestors suffered so that I could have a future and live a better life than they did.  I thought about my favorite book report I wrote on Dr. Martin Luther King in elementary and how now for the first time, I am actually seeing his “I Have A Dream” speech become a reality.  It was so surreal.

But then I felt a piercing in my heart, because I realized even with Obama becoming our First African American President, our country’s history of racism and discrimination was not going to change overnight.  Just for a moment I became angry, disillusioned and cynical.  Is having an African American President really going to make a difference, now?  Needless to say, I came to my senses and concluded, YES! Electing Obama as President does mean “Change I Can Believe In”.

I also saw how certain social norms in our society actually fuel discrimination. So I believe in order for race relations to improve in our country, we need to:

1) Stop judging one another based upon race. When people first meet me, they ask me “What Am I?  Or Where Am I From?  as if I am some alien.  Immediately, my guard goes up, because I know in their mind, they are already stereotyping me.  And usually the next comment out of their mouths or mine will determine whether or not our conversation will continue or if it will abruptly come to an end.  And of course, the rules of engagement are in full force. We need to learn to judge and accept a person based upon their character, personality, strength, integrity, goals, attitude and abilities.  These attributes have nothing to do with one’s race and ethnicity.

2) Stop racial profiling.  A person who choices to live a life of crime is a criminal.  The crime itself should be the main criteria to bringing the person to justice. A criminal’s race is irrelevant to that family or individual who has been victimized. Racial profiling only fuels discrimination against certain demographics.

3) Stop collecting racial demographic information on housing, education, and employment applications including other government programs to determine eligibility.  (The 2010 Census is excluded).  The collecting of this demographic information does provide us with interesting statistical and historical information.  But hypothetically speaking, knowing that 50% of all African American live below the poverty level is not going to change their economic condition Knowing that Hispanics are not applying for certain jobs will not make an employer hire them any quicker.

The above suggestions may seem idealistic or even unrealistic to some, but if we don’t make the race of a person such a big deal, then it won’t be.  I am in agreement with Michael Jackson whose song “Black and White” is even more relevant now. I refuse to live my life being a color.

The Economics Behind Female Issues of Trafficking, Immigration, and Success

•02/04/2010 • Leave a Comment

By Ji Young Min,  co-host of Inside the Ladies Locker Room

I am reading a wonderful, eye-opening book called, “Rich Woman,” by Kim Kiyosaki, the wife of Richard Kiyosaki,  author of “Rich Dad.”  What strikes me as I read this book is the common thread Kiyosaki says women all over the world share with each other. In her foreword, she states, “Since launching “Rich Woman” last year and traveling to many different countries, it has become clear that the Rich Woman message has been embraced by women from South Africa to Australia to India, Poland, Peru, New Zealand, Mexico, Israel, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Korea and across the US.  There is a strong common bond that unites women worldwide.  The Rich Woman message was designed to be a wake-up call for women….and a call to action-not only for the need for financial education, but to the value of a community of women across the globe who support and encourage one another to realize their financial goals and dreams.”

Kiyosaki’s goals remind me of what we collectively and individually are trying to achieve through the creation of the show “Inside the Ladies Lockerroom.”  The creator and host, Irina Skaya, did not wait for a knock on her door to create a show which addressed global concerns and needs.  She shoots, edits and conceives of the pieces.  For those who do not understand the underpinnings of what goes into a TV show, I can assure you there are many factors, including a shoestring budget.  Seeing this determination inspired me to take action to create action for common good as well.  During the course of the show,  I created and conceived my own non-profit for animals as I continue to donate to various animal shelters in my area and continue to educate those around me about volunteering for the same cause.  In recent weeks, one of the hosts Lucia Nazarro also announced on her Facebook that she has received recognition for her song and has written a book on eating disorders.

Like author Kiyosaki mentioned, it is this network of good and action which tends to incur positive energy more.

Why is this important? Kiyosaki notes several statistics in the book which made me take serious note of a trend:  “47% of women over the age of 50 are single, 50% of marriages end in divorce.  In the first year after divorce, a woman’s standard of living drops an average of 73%; of the elderly living in poverty, 3 out of 4 are women, yet 80% of these women were not poor when their husbands were alive, and 90% of all women will be solely responsible for their financial well-being within their lifetime.”

The topics affecting women on our previous shows, such as immigration, trafficking, and sexual harassment all have an undercurrent of economics to them. If there were no money to be made off of trafficking or by paying off government officials in foreign countries, if more companies were managed by women, if more women started their own businesses instead of relying on a no longer bullet proof economy, if we had savings left for our daughters, then we would make different choices and probably take different paths.

My reading of the book coincides also with helping a woman’s shelter in my neighborhood, a Volunteers of America affiliate.  I remember times when my mother, a cancer patient,  relied on the generosity of the American Cancer Society for help with transportation and with seminars on nutrition.  I never forgot the help of my co-workers at the time who banded together to help pull me through an emotionally difficult time as well as an economically taxing period of my life.  If we had not received that support, it would have been a much more different picture and I would have made more different choices with respect to my goals professionally.  I may never have pursued a journalism route had we not gotten the help of our networks.

So when we talk about the various issues which are occuring in our communities, I note the trend of the lack of economic viability in many of these instances where women are either forced to sell their bodies as goods, or they are exploited by their male counterparts in the work force.  So I just ask that we just lend a helping hand to someone in need, especially a woman in need. And picking up the book Rich Woman by Kim Kiyosaki would definitely help open one’s eyes as to the how’s of becoming empowered.  We shouldn’t wait for an answer but create our own destinies. If reading the book is a start, it would be one in the right direction.

Immigration Divides America

•01/31/2010 • 2 Comments

By Irina Skaya, host of Inside the Ladies Locker Room

Last month, we shot our fourth episode of the “Inside the Ladies Locker Room,” which focused on illegal immigration and the immigration reform. Here is a quick recap:

We took the immigration debate to the streets of New York City to explore how New Yorkers feel about this issue and why feel the way they do.  Although the majority of the people we talked to were pro-illegal immigration, some said that they were concerned about the current economic situation in the U.S., including unemployment and homelessness of our own Americans. Here is an excerpt from this episode that includes woman-on-the-street interviews:

After getting to the truth behind why immigration divides America, we invited film director, Nicholas Bruckman, of “La Americana,” a documentary about one immigrant’s journey to the United States to save her daughter’s life, to talk about the human side of the debate and how the lack of immigration reform affects both illegal immigrants and U.S. legal residents and citizens.  Below is Part I of the “La Americana” interview. Please visit http://www.youtube.com/unlockthesilence for complete footage.

The ladies also discussed the bad and the ugly of the immigration debate amongst themselves, breaking down issues as border security, unemployment, and exploitation of the illegal immigrants by Americans for profit.  In order to bring you a complete 360 degrees look at the immigration debate, we contacted Joan Pinnock, an Immigration Lawyer of Newark, NJ to answer some of the toughest questions and provide advice on how to create a balance in today’s immigration system.

Ladies: Why is the current immigration system broken?

JP: There are two categories of immigrants who contribute to the broken immigration system  1) Those who enter the US with visitor’s visas and remain beyond the time allotted by Immigration. 2) Those who cross the borders illegally and remain here in illegal status. These undocumented aliens live and work in the United States illegally with no obvious solutions regarding their status. Until the government implements a legalization program or another solution to the Immigration dilemma the system will continue to be broken.

Ladies: What changes need to be made so that government agencies, private and public sector follow the same guidelines in enforcing immigration polices?

JP: If Congress were to pass legislation legalizing many of the undocumented aliens currently residing and contributing to growth of the US, this would inevitably address the illegal immigration problem in the US. This legislation would not only provide clear cut guidelines for agencies to follow but would make enforcement a lot easier.

Ladies: Is there any recourse for illegal immigrants once they are in US, especially if they face a life or death situation in their own country?

JP: Aliens who have a reasonable fear of persecution based on race,religion,political or social affiliation and in some cases gender,have the option of applying for political asylum in the US. Solutions are limited for other undocumented aliens especially if they have overstayed their visas. A bona fide marriage to a United States citizen is probably the only option for many undocumented aliens who are not eligible for political asylum.

Ladies: Do you think keeping Latin American immigrants out because they pose a risk to our security is more a racial issue than a safety issue?

JP: Arguably racially motivated! I believe Latin American immigrants have contributed significantly to the infrastructure of our country. Not only have they labored tirelessly to build our country, but have done it for less than minimum wages. I believe any arguments opposing their presence in the United States based on a national security concern is arguably racially motivated.

Ladies: What percentage of illegal immigrants try and enter the country LEGALLY before getting rejected and then entering illegally?

JP: That percentage may be difficult to quantify. The main reason immigrants try to enter the US is for better opportunities. This topic would could result in an interesting debate as to why changes in our immigration policies could allow them to come and go freely with the opportunity for legal employment.

Ladies: In your experience and in your opinion what is the biggest change that needs to be made to immigration legislation?

JP: Ideally an amnesty program would be a perfect solution, where immigrants in the US could be awarded lawful status as long as they have resided in the US for quite some time.  They would then be in a position to continue making their invaluable contribution to the growth of the legitimate economy,while inevitable reducing the risk to national security.

Ladies: How do we create a balance in the immigration system and regulate it better?

JP: By implementing a legalization program, educating immigrants about the penalties of failing to adhere to the regulations. Imposing stricter punishment for violators.

Ladies: What are the social ills caused by the broken immigration system?

JP: They are too many to list all. Some include: Children witnessing their parents being dragged out of their homes by Immigration Custom enforcement officials. Families in hiding unable to feed their children because they earn less than minimum wages. Personal and potential health risk going untreated. Non- criminal detainees being subject to cruel and inhumane treatment in the detention centers.


Are the people of Haiti heading towards hope or more devastation?

•01/19/2010 • Leave a Comment

By Lucia Nazzaro, co-host of Inside the Ladies Locker Room

Natural disasters are devastating for any nation, but for a country often given “Fourth World” poverty status, the earthquake that occurred last week has changed their country forever. The question now remains though, will the tragedies that affected so many lives force change for the better or worse?

A poor structural system and a country that has been in debt since its inception are just a few of the reasons this disaster has affected Haiti more than it would other nations. Due to overwhelming racism and political games, Haiti was cut off and cheated when it came to trade terms and being players in the global economy so many other nations have flourished from over the years. Constantly the underdogs, faced with government corruption, it seems like the average Haitian citizen trying to raise a family, go to church and just live their lives, have found it hard to rise above victim status. The massacre of lives that occurred and continues to occur needlessly is just more evidence of the extreme poverty they are forced to face. People are being saved, and then dying even more horrific deaths of infections slowly taking over their bodies because of lack of medical supplies, or being pulled from rumble after four days of entrapment only to not have enough sutures to stitch up their wounds. The people of Haiti have continued to be victims from the quake and a country filled with problems, except now there is one difference; we all seem to care.

Now don’t get me wrong, many people have cared before this disaster, but the outpouring of global concern for the people of Haiti, and the eye-opening experience of just how poverty-stricken this nation has become may actually be enough this time for things to change. I am hopeful that out of this insanely horrific tragedy there will be a light. This light of hope and a spirit of faith that has been in the Haitian people long before the quake, has now been introduced to the world and we are listening. We are watching their struggle, we are taking action by donating money and resources, as both a nation and individuals, and we are not alone. The global community has all stepped up to help this nation. But will this support continue when it counts most?

Once the dust has settled and the cameras turn their attention to the next disaster, will we still help or will we switch our attention too and forget about the people of Haiti? This is a turning point. It can go two ways now. We can walk with the people of Haiti and be a part of helping them get on their feet and become players in our global economy, or we can send some resources now and then move on. Haiti is at a crossroads and I hope we all can stay on board with their path of change to avoid a future disaster from being turned into a massacre and the needless loss of so many innocent lives. I suppose only time will tell which course we choose, but I am hopeful we will choose the higher road and continue to aid the people of Haiti in finding a new way of life.

My Thoughts on the Immigration Debate

•01/18/2010 • Leave a Comment

By Ji Young Min, co-host of Inside the Ladies Locker Room

On our last show, we debated the pros and cons of illegal vs. legal immigration and immigration in general. Here is a statistic according to the Web site of immigrationpolicy.org:

“Latinos and Asians wield nearly $22.2 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $9.5 billion and employed nearly 70,000 people at last count. As highly-skilled workers, immigrants accounted for more than one quarter of all scientists in the state and more than one fifth of all health care practitioners.  At a time of economic recession, Maryland can ill-afford to alienate such a critical component of its labor force, tax base, and business community.”

As a child of South Korean immigrants, I am for both legal immigration and illegal immigration. This is why: when I see what goes on in other countries such as poverty, political instability, drug wars and religious oppression, I have to espouse immigrants for escaping the hell they experience in their own countries to come to America. Many immigrants risk their own lives when they traverse into America, especially along the border. If someone is going to risk life crossing the border for example then their lives must be that miserable in their own countries. When I see how desperate the Haitian population is for example with all of the video footage coming in from the news  feeds, it is no wonder that people seek refuge for a better life in America.  Americans are really fortunate compared to other countries.

The fact that I espouse illegal immigration does NOT mean that countries from where the immigrants flee from should not be hammering out their own issues. For example, Mexico needs to be working on their issues of drug wars and human trafficking. Mexico’s problem should not become a US problem. As I say this, the US does experience some of the same problems as Mexico, including drug and human trafficking.

Illegal immigration should not be used to punish those escaping horrors in their own countries. As the statistic from ImmigrationPolicy.org’s web site above shows, immigrants bring positive contributions to our country. They can bring positive contributions to their own countires, but they obviously are not compensated properly and feel in danger of their lives so they feel that America is the answer. Isn’t that a wonderful testament to what our country means to others? Why do we have to persecute those who seek solace on our land and water?

As a child of legal immigrants, I know what America has meant to my mother and to me. America gave my mom a place to pursue her dreams of gaining a Master’s degree in library science. She went on to become a librarian. She also had our own business on the side. She would not have been able to do this in Korea. She also instilled in me a love for America. I am so grateful to this country for the opportunities it gave us without which I would be in a much more different place emotionally and physically, as a woman not to mention a human being. America gave us so much and I hope that it can countinue to shelter those who seek refuge, illegally or legally.

Watch a preview of our fourth episode on “Illegal Immigration” which premiers on January 20th on BCAT.

 
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