Proposition 65

California Love • Proposition 65

California’s Proposition 65 is just the tip of the iceberg.  Kudos California. For the other 49 States and the District, who is looking out for you?

Here it is Proposition 65:

In 1986, California voters approved Proposition 65, an initiative to address their growing concerns about exposure to toxic chemicals. That initiative is officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. The law requires California to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity, and for businesses with 10 or more employees to provide warnings when they knowingly and intentionally cause significant exposures to listed chemicals.

This list currently includes more than 850 chemicals. Proposition 65 does not ban or restrict the sale of chemicals on the list. The warnings are intended to help Californians make informed decisions about their exposure to these chemicals from the products they use and the places they go.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) administers the Proposition 65 program.

That is all of the toxic, manufactured, manmade products that we love for their affordable prices, but rarely calculate the true cost and toll they will have on our body and the environment. Well, California is standing up for you. In a nutshell, virtually no establishment or any of our homes would meet Proposition 65’s certification requirements. No one can state that nothing inside their home is toxic.

What the Proposition does is it forces us to be mindful and aware.  It motivates businesses and individuals to calculate toxicity into their equations.  In most fires, it’s toxic smoke from plastics and synthetics that kill long before the flames.  It has started a movement where there are a few establishments working to certify they are a toxin-free zone—a place where your biochemical self will smile even if you are oblivious. Homeostasis is the state of perfect health. It’s an almost impossible state to maintain in modern society.  All of the “stuff” that we love that loves to kill. Violent crime gets all the coverage, but in actuality, during our commutes and evening dinners we’ve welcomed into our worlds the real robbers of life: automobiles accidents, gasoline, oil, beauty and cleaning products, paint, furniture, microwaves, appliances, WiFi signals, Bluetooth, EMF (electromagnetic frequencies and emissions) sodium, artificial sweeteners, genetically modified food, hormone and antibiotic-filled meat—a cancer-causing bonanza, all while safely locked in our warm home sweet home 🏠. California has got your back for something most could care less about.

California has been the tip of the spear for quality of life issues for generations. A major catalyst was California’s own toxic smog endemic.  Nothing like the lack of clean air to motivate and legislate.  California has dramatically changed and impacted nationwide worker compensation laws.  Professional athletes who can show they were ever injured in a game that was played in the state have a multitude of options and access to resources that no other state affords. Cell phone manufacturers were sued for selling a product that was not safe to use while driving which is why all phones now come with an earpiece.  Currently, there are pending lawsuits against the many manufacturers of laptop computers. They sell a product that cannot be operated in an ergonomically correct manner. As a result, within the next year, we will see all laptops come with a peripheral keyboard and mouse.  Although most won’t use them, manufacturers can at least say they gave you a safe option.  To many, I am sure this seems heavy handed. But rest assured, your body’s cells are loving it and I am loving California for it.

No Country for Old Legends

An opinion by Christian Gregory

For the past 20 years, I have been Dick Gregory’s protector and am now working diligently to protect his legacy. Sometimes a community can love you to life or love you to death. I sat out this year’s Super Bowl. I am not over the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick.

I saw the reviews and as with most reviews, it is typically the negative ones that get heard and covered. From Justin Timberlake’s halftime show, the tribute to Prince and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commercial, I keep getting messages in my inbox about all three. I haven’t seen a clip of Timberlake’s performance, however, I did catch a video of the Prince tribute. I thought it was magical, tasteful and beautifully done. Downtown Minneapolis awash in purple light was truly special. Tributes are for the folks’ legends and loved ones leave behind. If I was a member of Prince’s family, I would have been extremely moved by that tribute. The sail-like screen was far from a hologram, yet it reminded us of the talent we lost far too soon. I have heard and read interviews since with people discussing Prince’s feelings towards technology and postmortem musical collaborations. The truth is, entertainers don’t always say what is factual when asked questions. Oftentimes, it is show business. The same manic-like drive that thrusts many megastars into greatness, doesn’t typically allow for true public analysis about their art after death. I thought the tribute was befitting the icon. It potentially shared Prince’s talent and gift to a budding generation who may now be interested to learn more about the man and be exposed to his beautiful mind and his affinity for truth and knowledge.

But what I am here for today is the MLK Ram Truck pushback. I have consulted numerous Black Legends and advised many of their Estates. Here is a reality that will make some a little uncomfortable. We do not properly take care of our Legends. We feel entitled to them but rarely support them. I have given counsel and support to Black excellence for decades: true legends, iconic civil rights activists, Academy, Tony and Emmy Award-winning actors and producers, Grammy Award-winning musicians, sports stars, and personalities. Sadly, many of them struggle. They struggle emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually. Father Time has no preferential treatment for legendary human beings. I frequently say this is no country for old legends. Since my father’s transition, I have become immersed in his intellectual property (IP). Too frequently our community claims and considers it ours, when in fact it is their heirs, the Estate they left behind. Our legends’ children, grandchildren, greatgrands etc need healthcare, braces, education just like the rest of us. Their legendary ancestor left them a valuable commodity to support them—their intellectual property. I see countless tribute shows, videos and merchandising in Dick Gregory’s name often done without proper consent. Bootleg t-shirts were being sold outside my father’s funeral services. This is to be expected and on a small scale, I personally view it as a sign of respect. Pop was always about giving tirelessly to his community.

So here is the question: when was the last time you personally donated or purchased something that would benefit the King estate? Or any other legends’ Estate for that matter: Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Dr. Dorothy Height to name a few. There is a thick, bold line between protecting and monetizing a legend’s IP, I agree. I don’t imagine there was a crowd of advertisers clawing their way at Dr. King’s Estate for Super Bowl commercials. There is a long list of companies that I would’ve been angered by their use of Dr. King’s words and voice: cheap food and beverage products targeting and killing our community at staggering rates, companies with deplorable human and civil rights records. That said, I wasn’t offended by Dodge Ram’s commercial. Many folks, Black or white, had never heard that speech by Dr. King. Many hear the ‘I have a Dream’ speech and stop there. Maya Angelou’s Apple ad was moving and tastefully done. I felt inspired and uplifted by it. As status continues to grow and the world becomes increasingly Black and Brown we will see more of this. We should ask ourselves who is supporting the loved ones left behind by those who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice for us. Talk is cheap and nobody wants a handout. We should allow folks to make decisions and moves without being incredibly hypersensitive and many times hypocritical.

Loving and supporting Black excellence doesn’t mean stifling and hoarding it. It is one of the most beautiful gifts to the world. Love and lessons derived out of pain and suffering. #Sayitloud

Airport Royalty

(BWI ➡️ LAX)

My father virtually lived in airports. He flew multiple times per week. He was a platinum level frequent flyer with every airline and my mother could rattle off his frequent flyer numbers as quickly as she could her own social security number. My father was a heavy traveler. He moved with a lot of very heavy bags. He’d always have a hundred dollar bill to hand the skycap along with his ID. Bag fees would disappear and he’d be off.

Well that was my plan, but I am not airport royalty. lol I was met with ‘you should hold onto that because these bags are too heavy.’ Our skycap changed gears though and said, ‘bring them all up.’ He began to unzip my luggage and move and shift things around, weight shifting. I was mortified. This was the very thing I’d normally flip over when it was done with folks ahead of me in line. I was now that person. Well the weight shifting worked, all the bags now under 50 pounds. I tipped the kind and very helpful man generously and thanked him. We were off to the gate with four smaller but insanely heavy carry-ons. The carry-ons were where we put our heaviest of possessions. Melissa and I never travel heavy but we needed to get our things out West. At the gate, we hear the flight is fully booked and passengers in the B or C group were asked to check their carry-ons at the gate for free. We gladly unloaded and checked two more of our bags. Now that’s six heavy ass bags all checked for free. While the gate agent checked the additional bags, I inquired about an upgrade. She said for $50 she could upgrade our seats. I said great and she said, ‘just one or both of you?’ By asking, she confirmed my curiosity and allowed me to feel comfortable to request just one knowing I could easily hold Melissa’s seat. Yes, again, that would make me “that guy” doing all the things that would typically elicit an eye roll. But at 6’3” I needed all of the legroom I could get. On Monday, January 29th, Southwest flight 1591 departed BWI at 8:20am EST and was due to land at Los Angeles’ LAX airport at 11:25am PST. The flight was as smooth as glass. We clearly had a significant tailwind at our backs because the captain announced we’d be landing 35 minutes early. Every minute counts on a cross-country flight. Everyone started preparing for a busy day once we landed 🛬. All of the typical pre-landing procedures took place: trash collection, stowed tables, seat-backs returned to the upright position, the series of beeps directing the flight crew to instruct us to make sure the under seat bags and items were fully under the seats and out of the aisles. For a lifetime, I’ve been an uber relaxed flyer. I knew all the stats and as a scientist, statistics were all that truly mattered to me.

We smoothly started our decent. We could clearly hear the mechanical sounds of landing gear compartment doors opening, followed by the drag felt once gear was extended and locked into place. We were very close to the ground when suddenly an odd but forceful sound of thrusting engines could be heard and felt. We were suddenly ascending again, swiftly and uneventfully right back up into the sky. We flew high above the Los Angeles coast. Then we banked sharply to the left, flying out over the Pacific Ocean. I have been on planes many times when, for a multitude of reasons, landings were aborted, immediately realigned and then landed. This was different though. No one was saying anything and we flew for awhile further and further out over the Pacific Ocean. As the need for information was becoming palpable, we suddenly heard from our captain. He seemed relatively calm as he said, ‘we are having a problem with our flaps, they did not fully deploy.’ The flaps are important for slowing the plane during landings. He said we would fly a little longer as they tried to get them to release. He asked us to stand by and if he needed anything for us to do, he would let us know. I was fine until that final comment. Like WTH do you need us to do? This is a modern, massive jetliner. I have traveled all over the world. Occasionally I’ve had the displeasure of being aboard planes that had no business flying. A few times, I had to quickly, along with other passengers, move to shift weight in the plane to the front or back or to a particular side. I am all in when it comes to survival and happy to do my part. But a modern day jetliner would never require such antics. We continued to fly peacefully out over the Pacific Ocean. The topography of California’s coastline was picturesque and beautiful. I took intense interest in its beauty, it was so serene. There is something about having no control in a situation and relaxing and allowing for universal will to run its course. I was fully present yet relaxing while grounding myself to this new Boeing 737. I was also intensely focused on trying to hear any slight sound or feel any movement indicating good or bad news before it was announced.

The captain came over the public announcement speaker again. He indicated they did not have success in correcting the problem with the flaps. He said we would reattempt a landing on the longest runway and we would be coming in faster and harder than usual. He alerted us to the presence of the LAX fire department who would be standing by upon our arrival to make sure our plane’s brakes did not overheat and catch fire. This announcement seemed to get everyone’s attention. Truthfully, I had been fully dialed in from the moment we aborted our initial landing. Melissa and I have the ability to communicate nonverbally. By that point, we had been nonverbally chatty. Check list time: seatbelt low and super tight, cell phones zipped in pockets. I studied the emergency exit door located immediately to my right side. The flight crew did another, intense walk through before locking down themselves. The cabin was silent. No one seemed panicked but most seemed alarmed. We flew east, over Los Angeles and banked sharply to realign with LAX’s longest runway. I thought about all of the activity going on below on the ground. I imagined the pilots going through their own checklist and taking into account all scenarios about to play out. That’s what I’d begun to do. I realized we were landing east to west and if we overshot the runway, we could slide into the ocean. Without saying a word, I took Melissa’s hand and led it to the red strap under her seat 💺 connected to her life preserver. I leaned into her ear and noted, we were right on top of the rear wheels. In the event of a fire we would be getting off super quick. Aviation fire suppression techniques almost always use foam. I was having thoughts of the young woman who tragically lost her life in San Fransisco when, while covered in foam on the runway, she was run over by a fire engine. I told Melissa, if we have to evacuate to hold on to me for dear life and do not let go and I would be doing the same. Minutes seemed incredibly long, but our decent was rapid. I could see the runway but it seemed like we were way too far down it. We finally made contact with the ground. Touchdown felt more fast than hard. The plane slightly pulled to the left as if it was about to spin, then instantly leveled back out. We were still moving super fast, but I was relieved we were on the ground. That alone made the odds feel better. I was not braced, no one was, but I did have my right arm firmly on the seat back in front of me. Out the window and recessed back on the right I could see LAX FD. I counted four fire trucks. They seemed perched and ready to race-in. As we passed them, one by one, they started to trail us. On the runway we were now fully stopped. The whole flight, including Melissa and I, burst into ‘thank you for saving us’ applause. The brakes, while I’m certain were hot as hell, did not ignite. We were cleared to proceed to the gate. One fire truck rode alongside us and remained at the gate while we deplaned. Welcome to Los Angeles! Did I mention how beautiful the coastline is here?