Be Yourself

imagine the future

Hi there.

So, work things. Some kind of light switch turned on in my brain this summer and I realized I’m dying to make a big change and enhance my career skills. It became obvious that the natural progression for me was to learn how to code. So, I’m in the process of applying to some front end web development programs, which is super exciting and expensive. I can’t afford to dive headfirst into an intensive boot camp, so this is something that’s going to take a lot of discipline and time management and dedication and coffee and mixtapes. Some programs have lengthy application processes that include essays and Python tests and interviews. I’ve been accepted to one program so far, and am waiting to hear back from a couple more.  

For one essay, I got to choose between “Where do you see yourself in five years?” (Ugh, boring, I don’t know, hopefully hiking in a forest in Japan because I can work anywhere now because you made me an internet genius?) or “What is an important truth that you believe that very few people agree with you on?” I chose the latter. 

I’ll preface this by saying that I’ve been stewing about the obscene Planned Parenthood situation, and the guns, and the Texas elected officials who keep getting arrested, and the environmental doom, and it’s over 100 in August in Central Texas. I’m mad as hell, so this turned into a bit of a political rant. I think it’s good though, so hopefully they will too.  

***
Most of our political, economic, and social constructs are built
on the false idea that hard work will reap justified and earned benefits.
People believe that if they make sacrifices and follow the rules, they will be
rewarded with prosperity. They choose to function as if things like race,
immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic
status, disabilities, and other factors have no effect on one’s ability to achieve
a modicum of mainstream success. The idea that an impoverished, first
generation American has the same opportunities to access education, employment,
and upward social mobility as a rich, white male born into a family of
affluence is preposterous. Unfortunately, this perpetual fantasy is an illusion
to keep us fighting amongst ourselves for who has the biggest pile of crumbs.
The “American Dream” of the 20th century no longer
exists, not for the majority of the quickly disappearing middle and working
classes. Our cultural and religious conflicts are a distraction from the real
problem, which is that we’ve built a society in which a very small, massively
wealthy minority wields all the political and economic power. Not in an Alex
Jones/”Illuminati” or impending globalization sense, because you
certainly don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to see the influence corporate
greed has on our governments, our social welfare, our economies, and the
welfare of our planet. 
In our death throes, we focus on warring with our political
rivals over how the country and the world should be run, who should be allowed
to marry, what autonomy women have over their own bodies, and which Kardashian
has the best selfies of the week. Progressives are particularly great at this,
choosing to debate the political correctness and racial politics of liberalism within
our own ranks, further dividing already marginalized and oppressed groups based
on who faces the most discrimination. White liberals consistently,
disappointingly, fail to admit our own fragility around racism and sexism, our
own complicity, and our own privilege in a racist system rigged in our favor. It’s
one of the biggest obstacles in creating a united, progressive, populist
movement that could wield an immense power in creating real social and
political change.
It’s obvious on every front that money and corporate influence rule
our planet, and particularly our governments. And yet, a belief persists that
there’s a class of people – the poor, the addicted, immigrants, minorities, and
women, and particularly single mothers – who are somehow riding the handout
train to a giant party where everything is free. Not content that God will sort
it out for them, the extremists from the far right believe they have the
mandate to legislate their skewed, fanatical morality onto women and the LGBTQIA
community, pretending to care about health, but really wanting to make sure that sluts are punished for being sluts.  Their media outlet, Fox News, is nothing more
than a corporate mouthpiece spewing lies and stoking the flames of hatred that
encourage and create domestic terrorists, hate groups, and fueling the
abhorrent culture of online abuse directed at women, people of color, and
LGBTQIA individuals.
People who receive social assistance are not the ones taking
advantage of the system. Corporate welfare and greed is the reason that as the richest
country in the world, the United States has the most expensive healthcare
system, the most expensive and least effective education system, and why things
like racism, sexism, homophobia, and discrimination against immigrants are not
only not dead, but on the rise.
Many Americans are looking for someone to blame for their lack
of ability to achieve this false American Dream. When they do everything right
and it doesn’t pan out, they lash out at the “moral decay” caused by
LGBTQIA and reproductive rights, and blame minorities and immigrants for their
lack of economic opportunity. But these same people are happy to ignore the
corporate tax subsidies and loopholes that are the real reason they can’t get
ahead. They continue to vote for politicians who turn around and hand money and
power over to massive companies who have zero interest in social
responsibility, environmental protection, or economic equity. They vote to
undermine collective bargaining, strip workers of their rights, defund
education, and privatize everything. Let the market sort it out, because the
market knows best. Capitalism is our real god, and until we decide that human
life and dignity is worth more than corporate profit, we will suffer the
consequences of a nation in decline.
  
It is not too late to turn it all around.
When we break down differences in beliefs about civil liberties
and remove religious dogma, people really all want the same things. We want to
be healthy and happy. We want opportunities for meaningful work, education, and
healthcare. We want freedom to make decisions for ourselves and our families
that align with our values and morals. Most of us have a base level of compassion
for our fellow humans. We don’t want people to suffer. We are more alike than
we are different. We just can’t see that.
We have reached critical mass in this country, and in the world,
in a battle for the future of our species and the future of our planet. People
are waking up to the fact that through technology, we do have a voice. We have
the power to connect, to communicate, and to share solutions toward creating a
sustainable, achievable, peaceful future. We have the tools and the skills to
create open political systems that benefit the many, not just the few. The New
American Dream is open source and built by hackers and makers and visionaries
who want to make this world a better place through the power of ideas. There
are no wealth requirements to join in, just a desire to solve problems and an
openness for learning and collaboration.
We are realizing collectively that things do not equal
happiness. We cannot sedate ourselves and buy our way out of this. The cavalry
is not coming. We have to fix this mess ourselves. We are the cavalry. We want
to commune with nature, slow down, to purge our lives and ourselves of the
excess and materialism and destruction that capitalism has left for us. We want
something simpler, something with greater meaning, something bigger, and we
want to build it ourselves.
Technology is the great equalizer, and coding is its native
language. This is why I want to learn to code. As a woman with many years of
experience in social services, logistics, and technology, the gap between men
and women in tech is deep and wide and real. For years, I told myself I didn’t
have the ability or talent to do what the boys were doing, internalizing the
dialogue that women don’t belong in the tech world. I’ve been written off as irrelevant
because I am female, so I couldn’t possibly understand the technical aspects of
my job. I’ve been passed over for training and professional development because
women are deemed too emotional for the rational world of technical responsibility. 

For me, breaking into an industry that is dominated by men is a revolutionary
act of defiance against a system which is designed to exclude me. Technology
empowers me, not only to improve my own skills and increase my understanding of
the greatest tools of human existence, but to be a builder and creator. I am
dedicated to creating opportunity for myself for meaningful, inspiring work,
and to become an example that smart, determined women can and must seek to be a
part of the collective technological solution.

Change yourself, change the world. 

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