Thursday, September 17, 2009

Find Out About P.A.V.E

The mission of PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment) is refreshingly simple: “Shatter the silence of sexual violence through social, educational, and legislative tactics.”  As a society, we can talk about all kinds of crimes, including murders, gangs, and domestic violence, with no problem. We don't think twice about preparing kids about what to do in a fire, earthquake, or tornado. We observe and discuss how the media over-sexualizes teenagers. We go to the movies and laugh at slapstick or dark, inappropriate humor; we even watch horror movies with a sense of enjoyment.

As to “CSI,” “Law and Order”--piece of cake! And we barely flinch at “Dr. 90210” as he works away at the human body in search of perfection.

Yet despite all this, people are incredibly uncomfortable when the subject is abuse—particularly sexual abuse. Well, it's time. Just as it was time about 10 years ago to make breast cancer a focus of national concern, it is time for us to feel just as comfortable discussing how to keep our bodies safe.  And the best way to do it is to hear from those  who have experienced abuse so we can listen to their stories and learn. 

As the world has been mesmerized over the dramatic return of Jaycee Dugard, we all need to be reminded that sexual assault happens every day. Maybe there aren’t the dramatic abductions or climatic returns, but every day women, men, boys and girls are abused. They’re joined by the young, the old, the white, black, brown, the religious and the non-religious. 

And while many people think only those who have been assaulted care about this issue, I am here to tell you that is not so.  Each of us, whether abused or not, personally affected by sexual assault or not, can help shatter the silence by being involved, being active, and supporting amazing organizations like

“How?” you may ask. Well, you can begin by commenting on articles that are outrageous, sending cases that need to be publicized to Justice Interrupted (a radio show that brings media attention to the crimes where justice has been interrupted), supporting organizations, and spreading the word and news about such cases. 

This week, you can help protest sexual assault by helping
PAVE…. Join me at an event TONIGHT: Thursday, September 17. PAVE will be holding an benefit event of art, empowerment, and star power.  “Removing the Mask: Art and Soul to Shatter the Silence of Sexual Violence” from 7:00-10:00pm at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 Grand Ave, Los Angeles. This year’s event promises to be a highlight of the season with celebrities, elected officials, and performance art! Learn More Here
If you can’t make it, you can still send a donation or show your support by passing the information on to others. Make this your day to do something to help shatter the silence…..and give your support to your friends at PAVE (

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The “My Education, My Future” Speech

Last week I couldn’t wrap my brain around all the hoopla that surrounded President Obama’s speech to students. According to the White House, the stated goal of the President’s remarks (Titled “My Education, My Future”) was to inspire students to get engaged “on the importance of taking responsibility for their education, and to challenge them to set goals and do everything they can to succeed.”

HELLO, am I missing something!? What was the big deal…!

Now that it’s behind us, I still don’t understand why pundits were berating the President, parents were blasting emails, and bloggers were getting their panties in a bunch over this speech.

Seriously, what was the fuss was about? I want to understand why it is really such a bad thing to urge our children to go to school, to use government as a means to inspire our young ones, and to then have follow-up lessons that relate to the concepts the President laid out in his speech?  I keep searching for the rationale as to why parents would keep their children home in efforts to protect them from the “outrageous” themes of the power of education and the benefits to being involved in a government effort.

President Obama urged students to consider this year their opportunity to succeed,  regardless of the past. Why was this a bad thing?

A suggested lesson plan that called on school kids to write letters to themselves about how they can help achieve what President Obama suggested (remember, it was that they take their education seriously) -- this was “troubling” to some education experts! Why? Because they claimed it “establishes the president as a ‘superintendent-in- chief’ and may indoctrinate children to support him politically.”

Are you people serious???

If one speech by the President is now considered indoctrination, we are in real trouble here in the United States. The speech should be an opportunity to open-up some good old-fashioned discussion. Come on -- kids K-6 aren’t going to be discussing politics in the classroom! For those middle school and high school students – it should bring up a healthy debate (about education).

But is anyone really debating that education is important? Focusing on doing well in school is a positive value that should be bi-partisan!

Aren’t there things that are so much more worthy of angry blogging and our society’s collective energy?  I mean, the President was just trying to encourage our kids to go back to school. Can’t we set aside our political bickering to focus on our kids for one day? To really focus on the idea that our kids deserve inspiration and that our President was trying to provide some?

Couldn’t we use the energy everyone expelled to blast the President to do good things, to invoke change, to be involved – rather than just expressing venomous criticism?

If you are a parent out there who is really convinced that Obama’s speech indoctrinated your child… go ahead and correct the President’s message: tell your kids that focusing on education is not important, that being a serious student will not actually pay off, and that engaging in your studies is futile – that should help to combat Obama’s “offensive” words!!

Usually, I’m really not that politically oriented, as most of you know! I’m just trying to point out that if all those trigger-happy adults put down their cell phones, got up from their computers, and looked over at their children (who just heard our President’s speech) – they might see something rare these days—the glow of an inspired child who “got it”-- even though some  so-called “adults” didn’t.