Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself 

Disclaimer: The following series is best viewed on a desktop or laptop.

There are people  that talk about the American Dream all the time, as a story of increased prosperity generation after generation. A way of hope and for a better future.  But the original dream, the initial dream of the first generation, is often an escape from the past into a country addicted to the future. Most nations are defined by their history, saturated in its remnants, places where one is never far from the echoes of those who have come before.   As a kid that was born and raised here, I saw everywhere a restlessness for what the future could bring, a jumble of crowded, jostling aspirants for a dream directed aggressively forward. And it was infectious.

When you come here from elsewhere, you are not, of course, immune to all the isms oppression can impose. You encounter prejudice, as you do in all human society. But your difficulties can be powerfully eclipsed, especially in the first generation, by the psychic thrill of the freshness of a new nation, especially one as diverse as America. My latest series, Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself, brings a diverse group together to discuss the hardships and controversial events that are currently taking the nation by storm. I chose these individuals for whom they are in the local scene including musicians, writers, filmmakers, models and more. I wanted everyday people you'd see on the streets and for their answers to be compared to someone that is completely different from them. I asked each of them a question that included: The Trump Administration, the NFL and the kneeling of the National Anthem, Women's Rights, School Shootings and more.  My art has always been a vehicle for self expression; where words fail, it does the speaking for me. If you know me personally, you know how I am rather particular with whom I work with. If i do something, it has to be either 200% perfect, or I will not do it at all. Our society is so quick to slap a bandaid and to move on without reflecting on things that transpire to us daily. It is my hope with this series that this will get everyone talking; and to remember that at the end of the day, time comes for all of us. Love will always win. Without any further ado, I present you my latest series. Cheers. 

Said Abusaud

Owner of Afterglow Gallery

 

Question 1: 

Women are almost half of the workforce. They are the sole or co- breadwinner in half of American families with children. They receive more college and graduate degrees than man. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. Do you think we’re making any progress in an exponential pace? Will wage gap be equal soon? 

Sudie Abernathy 

Where we are now is such an interesting time to be a woman in the creative workforce, especially in Dallas. The Me Too movement has proven to be very powerful in that more women feel comfortable calling out their attackers, which in turn is a wake up call to men everywhere. I believe this new awareness about how unfairly women are treated, period, in all aspects, is helping make progress in the workforce, but I don't see it coming at a so-called "exponential pace". I absolutely doubt wage gap will be equal soon. There are too many issues with unequal pay that aren't being addressed as much as they should be, including awareness that not only women are being paid less than men, but women of color are paid even less than white women in the workforce. According to a recent study, in 2013 to every white man's 100 dollars, white women made 78, black women made 64, and hispanic women made 54. We have a lot of tearing down what has been built into this country regarding race, gender and sexuality before we can start laying the groundwork for a new way of enforcing equal pay. 

Bio: 

Sudie Abernathy is a creative with her work rooted in music; Singer/Songwriter, Producer, Performer, Director, Writer, etc.

 

 

 

Ekaterina Kouznetsova

I can speak concerning female entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to tech-focused startups and venture capital. In 2017, female-founded companies got 2% of the total venture capital dollars, in 2016, it was 1.9%, so while it is improving, the rate of increase is dismally low. There are many factors in play here, two being the lack of gender diversity at venture capital firms and amount of women versus men starting tech companies. In the end, it’s a series of problems throughout the entire pipeline that contribute to these low numbers. In the past several years, several female-focused venture capital firms have surfaced, such as True Wealth Ventures and Female Founders Fund, which are led, invest, and funded by women. Research has shown that woman-led companies tend to have higher returns and higher revenue despite having less capital and fewer resources, and female-inclusive venture capital firms are spearheading an inclusive movement for the entire ecosystem.

 

Bio:

Ekaterina is the Co-Founder and CEO of Vidisse, the world’s first artificial intelligence interior decorator and designer. Born and raised in Moscow, and now located in Dallas, her mission is to democratize interior design, and empower everyone to create their perfect space.

 


Question 1 Continued: 

Women are almost half of the workforce. They are the sole or co- breadwinner in half of American families with children. They receive more college and graduate degrees than man. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. Do you think we’re making any progress in an exponential pace? Will wage gap be equal soon? 

 

Amanda Archey

Saying that we aren't making progress in the wage gap is ignoring the strides women have taken to get to where we are today. Fifty years ago we couldn't say that women account for almost half the workforce, and you definitely couldn't say they earned more college degrees than men. Women will do what we've always done—move forward. We have equal pay on our to-do list. We can't say if it'll happen soon, but it's something we will check off eventually because we get shit done.

Bio: 

Amanda Archey has always been the play-it-safe type, that is until she discovered design. Her natural desire to be creative, along with problem solving merged together to form the art director she is today. 

 


Question 2:

As of the beginning of 2018, there have already been 23 school shootings where someone was hurt or killed. That averages out to more than 1 shooting a week. What do you think is the biggest contribution to these shootings? What do you think draws someone to want to do this? 

Desi Moody

I’ve gone back and forth on “what draws someone to want to do such a terrible terroristic act?” and “what can we do to prevent it?” I’ve prayed about it, researched it, and come up blank every time. And the best answer I come up with is “we might not be able to fix this, but we can try. The fact that I can go out and order military artillery guns is just absurd and sickening. Do people realize those guns are literally made for war? They aren’t “safety hand guns”, they are government provided weapons for WAR. No one knows the mindset between two eyes; NO ONE. This world is so chaotic, harsh and so unfair. At the end of the day, if someone wants to harm someone, they’re going too; but why are we contributing to it and making it so easy for them to carry out with their plans? I can’t sleep over it; and it leaves my heart heavy every time. How do you sleep? 

Bio

Desi Moody is a paralegal at a law firm here in Dallas. She loves literature and writes when her heart is heavy or achy. She loves music and the simple things. It makes her realize that if she didn’t have the bad, she would never appreciate the good. Perspective. 

Carine Rice

Gun culture is tricky, especially when our founding fathers gave us the right to bare arms. But I don’t think our founding fathers could have imagined the type of arms that would come to be. Kids walking into school with automatics and military grade weapons? This is unacceptable. These are killing machines that are landing in the hands of children. Our laws are so flex that these weapons are being circulated through the general public when they are intended for military use. You can only blame the shooters for so long before you have to turn and look at Congress.

So now, we live in 2018: depression and anxiety are running rampant, guns are up for grabs, and school shootings are glamorous with press. It’s the perfect recipe for disaster. How do we fix it? I have no idea. All I know is guns are getting stronger, so our laws need to be stronger as well. Because I’ll be damned if my sons ever have to fight for their life while fighting for their education.

Bio:

Carine Rice is an actress represented by the Kim Dawson Agency and Action Talent Agency. She is a married mother of two who has her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Dallas.

 


 

Question 2 Continued:

As of the beginning of 2018, there have already been 23 school shootings where someone was hurt or killed. That averages out to more than 1 shooting a week. What do you think is the biggest contribution to these shootings? What do you think draws someone to want to do this? 

                      Kyle & Myles Mendes                                      

Kyle and I have spent almost a decade working with teens in high schools and school shootings. It is a common fear for students and teacher’s alike. We see that a lot of the violence that happens within high schools, for the most part, stem from the struggles unseen. The mental illnesses or the abuse of a troubled teen is a large and underestimated reason why a shooting might occur in the first place. The root of the problem is the lack of love, attention, and sound parental guidance. What we can do in the world as it stands in this moment...don’t be silent when you see bullying of any kind. Don’t be silent when you see your neighbor struggle. Choose to be a light in this world and reach out to the people who struggle around you.

Bio

NITE are Canadian-born twin brothers, Kyle and Myles Mendes, based in Dallas, TX. The duo create a unique hybrid of electronic-tinged rock with a nod to 80’s-influenced dream-pop. Kyle and Myles’ powerful dueling vocals might remind oneself of Tears for Fears' Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, with a delivery of tasteful guitar hooks amidst bright synthesizers and throbbing drum machines.

 


Question 3: 

The United States has witnessed an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as President. Why do you think people are now more comfortable letting others know they are not afraid to tell you that they don’t like you for the color of your skin?

Milan Merlo

As an adult we’ve grown into our habits and behaviors and have been tainted by the world around us; no longer grasping onto the complete innocence we once knew. As we’ve been molded and formed into who we are, we slowly find ourselves in one of two categories: socially aware and unaware. Or for lack of better terms; woke and unwoke. There are so many factors that go into who we become as adults. What we’re exposed to, what we’re surrounded by and what our scope of the world truly is. As a child it’s beyond our control. We’re destined to become mini versions of whoever raises us or the version they choose for us to be. When we’re born into this world we are innocent. Were born unknowing to race, sexuality and religion. We learn about these things and learn to form opinions; typically adopting those opinions were surrounded by. What we don’t just pick up along the way are our instincts. Our natural responses; one of which includes our defense mechanisms. When you look up defense mechanisms the following definition comes up: “We use defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from feelings of anxiety or guilt, which arise because we feel threatened, or superego becomes too demanding. They are not under our conscious control, and are non-voluntaristic. Ego-defense mechanisms are natural and normal.” Our president is supposed to be our backbone and his beliefs are represented as our beliefs. You take who we have now and what he stands for and he justifies all these thoughts people repressed with guilt naturally. Then he gives them opportunity to blindly bring them to light without remorse. He has given people the reason to believe that what they once thought was wrong is now okay. He has given these ideas support and gives fuel to the fire. He keeps the conversation going in each speech, interview and tweet. He keeps it fresh on our minds so these opinions are constantly being thrown around. He has created a safe place for hurtful words. With a position of power, which we have learned at a young age to look up to and follow, he has given our country the power to unite in their primitive instinctive behavior instead of thinking beyond the unconscious mind. As a part of human growth, we must learn how to step outside of our instinct. To let our human qualities of listening, understanding and empathizing play a larger role than our instinctive behavior we were simply born with. But we’ve failed to do that in unity. Instead we’ve waged war on each other to simply defend ourselves, our beliefs, and what we know instead of truly understanding and taking the time to learn other perspectives. 

Bio:

Milan Merlo is a Dallas based writer who wants to use her platform to bring the community together. She writes everything from self-expression poem pieces to motivational articles. She thrives through connection and creativity. 

Gezebel Alicea

Unfortunately this is simple; people feel comfortable with their racism because they saw a bigot running for president. As soon as Trump began his campaign for presidency, I believe something shifted in this country. He was a man with some already deep rooted racism even before his campaign, who was openly calling Mexican immigrants “criminals and “rapists.” A man who called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” A man with friendly ties to known white nationalists and supremacists, going as far to hire Steve Bannon onto his cabinet was running for the presidency, and won. I very distinctly remember watching election night as soon as it was announced Trump had won. Van Jones, a pretty well known news commentator and ally of the Black Lives Matter movement, said something that really stuck with me. He said, “This is white supremacy absolute last stand.” I hope for the sake of not just Muslims but all minorities affected by Trump, that he’s right.

Bio: 

Gezebel Alice is a model, but her first love has always been music. She sings, writes and creates content with like minded artists 

 

 


Question 4: 

On August 26th 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. Since that time, many other professional football players, high school athletes, and professional athletes in other sports have refused to stand for the national anthem. These protests have generated controversy and sparked a public conversation about the protesters messages and how they’ve chosen to deliver them. Is this an appropriate and effective method of peaceful protest? Please explain. 

Kali Ah Yuen

This is a very tricky question, no matter how you look at it. Personally, I think it is a peaceful protest, however, I can understand how it comes off as offensive to those that put their lives on the line for our country every day. There's a lot of racial injustice that has become more apparent since Trump became our President, but what else is to expect from someone who based their campaign on racial issues. Around this time when police brutality was a hot topic, Kaepernick felt some type of way, which he has every right to and the racist in many didn't like it. Football is a very nondiscriminatory sport and by that, I mean the diversity of players is very apparent. However, when you take a step back and analyze the type of people who run the NFL, this includes coaches, board of members, investors, and owners, you start to see a trend. It's a lot of Caucasian men, who are most likely right winged and when you have a group of such like-minded individuals, there's bound to be disagreements. Many spoke openly about how disrespectful kneeling is and even more tried to create rules that prevented players from doing so. It obviously didn't stop them and it never will, in my opinion. In America, protesting is a given right. Now, what kind of manner it's executed in is a different story. Kneeling shouldn't be perceived as hostile. It's a bold statement for sure, but when it comes down to it the players are making an effective statement and even though it doesn't seem appropriate, I can bet anything that if you go up to them and ask how they feel about our soldiers at war, I'm more than sure they have the utmost respect. It's the way that people and some media outlets twist the story to make it seem like an insidious act of protesting to miscue the perceptions of viewers and basically brainwash them into thinking negatively about the situation. In reality, the players aren't kneeling as in to somehow subliminally curse the nation and every racist in it. They are using their platform to speak up about the apparent social injustices that have occurred. People have to keep in mind that these players put everything on the line when they decide to put one knee to the ground. I've seen photos on social media of two political individuals who knelled at the White House, but are their bosses threatening to fine them each time they choose to do so? I'll wait for an update on that one. At the end of the day, these players are standing up for what they believe in and if we never had people who disagreed, there wouldn't be such a significant movement for change. The kneeling is peaceful and effective. Unless they one day choose to bring out picket signs and torches, my stance rests assured. In fact, when I was going to school at The University of North Texas, I felt more attacked by the man who stood in front of my business class building dehumanizing every student that was apparently going to hell for having sex before marriage. But that was a protest. And this is America, right?

Bio:

Kali Kameaiomakamae Ah Yuen is a creative and public relations specialist in Dallas. She is originally an island girl from Oahu, Hawaii and has been living in the Big D for a while now. Not only is she an aspiring singer-songwriter, but she also helps other creatives in any way that she can from consulting to social media to public relations.

Zach Bush

I’d say yes, unequivocally this was an appropriate and effective method of a peaceful protest. It was effective because it got the nation talking about the issues at hand. We clearly have problems with excessive force, police brutality and lives being unnecessarily ended. And because of the players’ protests, we are now at least working on laws, policies, and bills to correct these issues instead of sweeping everything under the rug. Some measures have already been implemented in certain states, such as the addition of body cameras on officers. There are other proposed bills in the pipeline as we speak. We still have a lot of work to do, but hopefully we will continue to proceed in the right direction to prevent more unnecessary lives being lost. At this point, any step in the right direction is a plus. To simply remain where we were would have been irresponsible and inhumane. One of the wonderful aspects of our society is that we have the right to protest if we believe something to be unfair. And from those protests, you hope people will take note and inflict real, positive change.

I believe it was an appropriate method of a peaceful protest as well. Colin Kaepernick had a platform and he used it to voice an injustice. This is something athletes have done in the past with figures like Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, and the Olympic athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos who protested at the 1968 summer games. We need courageous people like Colin who are willing to brave the unfortunate backlash and take steps to right social injustices. 

Bio:

Zach Bush is a film and commercial producer. He has also acted in various films, music videos, and comedy sketches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Question 5: 

The Trump Administration has vowed to one way or another, build a wall that will separate us from our friends in Mexico. They believe this will stop “dangerous drugs and criminals from pouring in to our country” and is adamant that Mexico will pay for it. It is the Trump administrations own policy to refer every person caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution, with the result that children are separated from their parents because they cannot legally follow them into the federal prison system. Why do you think someone gets to the point where they do something drastic like this to other human beings?

Addison Miller

The Trump Administration is something very difficult to talk about, only because there is really no right or wrong answer to this question. With a wall being built,  the concept of “separation” is not what they are going for; what the Trump Administration wants to give us is the people the satisfaction of safety we believe a wall can do. It has been proven there is a lot of bad that is coming from Mexico, but in the end bad is everywhere! You cannot have something good without evil. When it comes down to “every person caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution, with the result that children are separated from their parents” we have laws and with those laws we must follow them. If you break the law there will be consequences. That is how it goes, and these parents that are crossing illegally know what they are getting themselves into. 

Bio:

Addison Reece Miller entertains people 35,000 feet in the air as a flight attendant. This is what makes him an artist.