In a League Where there is a Person Being Held In Prison on Murder Charges; Why Is Michael Sam’s Sexuality Being Called A ‘Distraction’?

Ever since 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam came out as gay[1] it seems like all I’ve been hearing on TV and radio from the sports pundits and NFL insiders, including former players is on ESPN and other sports networks, is “will the others in the locker room be ready to accept Sam and be comfortable around him?” and “is the NFL ready to have an openly gay player?”

In order to try and answer these questions as fully as possible one must try to look at statistics and facts to get a clearer picture. Let’s begin by trying to answer the first question.

“Will The Others In The Locker Room Be Ready To Accept Sam and Be Comfortable Around Him”?

According to the Pew Research Center[2], in an article dated June 6, 2013, 51% of Americans are in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to marry. In the same research it shows that 87% or nearly 9 in 10 Americans personally know someone who is gay or lesbian, which is up from 61% in 1993. When it came to people under 30 years of age 65% of them supported gay marriage.

I bring up these statistics only to show that the views on this issue are changing. Older NFL players will retire and younger players will replace them. That younger generation, if we are to believe these statistics, will be more accepting of their gay teammates.

Taking Michael Sam’s teammates at The University of Missouri as an example they can illustrate what can happen when it is not made an issue as well as how views are shifting. When he told his teammates and his coaches that he was gay no one protested and said they wouldn’t play, no one made him feel uncomfortable, it didn’t affect his game on the field, and most importantly no one ‘outed’ him. He told the world who he was because he wanted to. In fact, after he told his truth to the world his teammates tweeted their support[3] for him.

Now let’s try and answer the second question.

“Is the NFL Ready to Have An Openly Gay NFL Player?”

According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law[4], a think tank that deals in sexual orientation law and public policy, wrote in 2011 that ‘an estimated 9 million (about 3.8%) of Americans identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Within those numbers 1.8% identified as bisexual, 1.7% as gay or lesbian and 0.3% as transgender. However, it must be stated that those numbers may be misleading because many people may not admit to being LGBT do to the stigma from others around them. The report states that men tended to under-report more than women. There are other statistics[5] that claim that at least 1 out of 10 people are gay while others say it may be 1 out of 20.

Now, try to remember those numbers because now it’s time to do some NFL math.

The NFL is a league which is compromised of 32 teams. Every team is composed of a 53 man roster. Now if you do the math that means that there are a total of 1,696 players on NFL rosters (53 x 32). Going back to the statistic of 1 out of 10 people being gay that would mean that 5 men in any given locker room may be gay. (53/10 = 5.3). On a larger scale that comes out to at least 160 men around the league (5 x 32). I know that only 46 men can dress up for a game, but the numbers were similar I didn’t want to bore you with the same math. Also, if you are familiar with the rules of the NFL[6] each team has to have 11 players on the field. That would mean that both teams had at least one gay player on the field.

So whether players and coaches want to admit it or not they are already probably playing and showering alongside a gay player.

The key term for many people reading this article will be ‘openly.’ To that I would say again to look at Michael Sam’s teammates at University of Missouri. Hopefully, the NFL and its current players can handle it as well as college football players can.

Those questions within themselves bring up other questions; questions like ‘why does a person who wants to peruse their dream in the NFL have to do it at the cost of denying who they are if they happen to be gay? Why does it have to be an either/or situation? Do I play in the NFL at the expense of my true self or do I live my true self and not play in the NFL? Another important question raised is ‘Why does a person have to wait to the NFL is ready?  Shouldn’t the NFL make itself, as a league, ready to make these players feel welcome? For a league that has a revenue around 9 Billion dollars[7] shouldn’t it be on them to make not only the gay players, but the LGBT merchandise, ticket buying public comfortable as well? Or did they think only straight people buy their product?

If Michael Sam is drafted by an NFL team – which looking at his college stats[8] seems likely- then he will become the NFL’s first openly gay player; and if the NFL doesn’t allow this to become a distraction then it won’t. Through a series of tweets[9] former NFL wide receiver Donté Stallworth took down the argument on Sam being a possible distraction.

With everyone’s take on the whole situation about the possibility of the NFL having an openly gay player, including mine, Jon Stewart’s take in a segment called ‘Friday Night Rights’[10] summed it up perfectly.

 

Works Cited 


[1] “Missouri DE Michael Sam Says He’s Gay.” Outside the Lines. ESPN. 9 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=10429238&gt;.

[2] “In Gay Marriage Debate, Both Supporters and Opponents See Legal Recognition as ’Inevitable’.” The    Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The Pew Research Center, 6 June 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://www.people-press.org/2013/06/06/in-gay-marriage-debate-both-supporters-and-opponents-see-legal-recognition-as-inevitable/&gt;.

[3] Bradley, Ken. “Missouri teammates show support for Michael Sam.” Sporting News. N.p., 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://www.sportingnews.com/ncaa-football/story/2014-02-10/michael-sam-gay-missouri-teammates-show-support-on-twitter-nfl-draft&gt;.

[4] Gates, Gary J. “How Many People are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender?.” The Williams Institute. UCLA School of Law, Apr. 2011. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/census-lgbt-demographics-studies/how-many-people-are-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender/&gt;.

[5] Johnson, Ramon. “Gay Population Statistics: How Many Gay People Are There?.” About.com: Gay Life. Article.  n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://gaylife.about.com/od/comingout/a/population.htm&gt;.

[6] “Rule 5 Players, Substitutes, Equipment, General Rules.” NFL.com Rulebook. PFD., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://static.nfl.com/static/content/public/image/rulebook/pdfs/8_2013_Players_Subs_Equip_GeneralRules.pdf&gt;

[7] Burke, Monte. “How The National Football League Can Reach $25 Billion In Annual Revenues.” Forbes. N.p., 17 Aug. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/monteburke/2013/08/17/how-the-national-football-league-can-reach-25-billion-in-annual-revenues/&gt;.

[8] “Michael Sam Bio.” mutigers.com. University of Missouri , n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://www.mutigers.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/michael_sam_452639.html&gt;.

[9] Parziale, James. “Ex-NFL WR’s series of tweets about Sam shoot down distraction argument.” FoxSports.com. MSN, 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/ex-nfl-wr-s-series-of-tweets-about-sam-shoot-down-distraction-argument-021114&gt;.

[10] “Friday Night Rights.” The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Comedy Central. 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/welua3/friday-night-rights?xrs=share_copy&gt;.

Four Hofstra University Players Charged With Multiple Counts Of Burglary After Thousands Worth Of Electronics Goes Missing From Dorm Rooms

On Friday it was reported by police that four Hofstra University basketball players were arrested late Thursday on charges of burglary. The players charged are Kentrell Washington, age 18, of Las Vegas, Jimmy Hall, age 18, of Brooklyn, Dallas Anglin, age 18, of Montclair, N.J., and Shaquille Stokes, age 20, of Manhattan.

According to police the thefts happened between the dates of Oct. 4th and Nov. 5th. The players charged are alleged to have targeted six unlocked dorm rooms. However, Nassau County Detective Lt. Raymond Cote believes that there other unreported burglaries that began as far back as the beginning of the semester.

The items that were reported to have been stolen include: several laptops, iPad’s, more than one iPod Touch, headphones, cellphones, and cash. Detective Cote says that since the players’ arrest late Thursday several of the stolen electronics were found for sale on Craigslist. At least $10,000 of electronics has been recovered.

The team’s coach, Mo Cassara, also reported that he had items stolen in May which included cash, credit cards and computer equipment. However, according to Hofsta this was before any of the players were at the school.

Pending the outcome of the case all four players have been suspended from not only the team, but also classes, residence halls and the use of other student facilities.

The Associated Press puts the charges as follows: “Stokes was charged with five counts of second-degree burglary. Washington was charged with two counts of second-degree burglary. Hall was charged with four counts of second degree burglary. Anglin was charged with one count of second-degree burglary and one count of tampering with physical evidence.”

Each player pleaded not guilty at their arraignment Friday at the First District Court in Hempstead, N.Y., and was released after setting bail. None had any prior arrests on their record.

When it comes to how the arrests of these players will impact Hofstra on the court the numbers say that it could have a negative effect.  The Hofstra Basketball team plays in the Colonial Athletic Association and is currently 3-5 after their 73 – 47 blowout loss to Southern Methodist University (8-1), who is coached by Larry Brown, on Saturday.

Hall, a freshman who is 6’7, averaged 12.7 PPG making him the team’s second leading scorer, and led the team with 9.4 rebounds a game.

Stokes’, a sophomore, who transferred from the University of Hawaii to Hofstra in June in order to be closer to his grandmother, who was ill, was averaging 10 points in six starts this season which ranked him forth on the team. The N.C.A.A. granted his hardship waiver in November. According to ESPN.com a hardship waiver is “for student-athletes who are compelled to transfer because of financial hardship, or an injury or illness to the student-athlete or a member of their family.”

Washington and Anglin, both freshmen, have seen regular playing time off the bench.

This is not the first time the Hofstra basketball team has had to deal with player issues. The Associated Press reports that “last month, Hofstra suspended two other players, Taran Buie and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, for violating team rules. The suspensions were for two preseason events and two regular-season games.” Those players should be back on the court soon.

The lawyers for each player have not commented on this matter.

When asked about this after his team’s win Larry Brown was quoted as saying “You hate to see kids have to go through something like this… A lot of us have made mistakes in our lives, but I don’t think at the time you realize the impact it has not only on your life but all the people around you that care about you.”

Asked about the impact on the court Brown said: “You can’t lose four quality players in one day and expect to have success.”

Hofstra’s coach Cassara said “[t]here’s nobody that feels worse about it than me. There’s nobody more disappointed—almost heartbroken, in many ways.”

All four players are on athletic scholarships. It has not yet been determined what will happen to their scholarships.

Information from ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan , The Associated Press’ Frank Eltman, Zagsblog.com, and New York Times writer Zach Schonbrun were used in this article

The End of ‘Macho Time’: Boxer Hector “Macho” Camacho Dies at 50

Boxer Hector “Macho” Camacho died Saturday after being taken off life support at the request of his family. He was 50. On Tuesday he was shot in the face and was declared brain dead on Thursday. He was shot while sitting in a car with a friend in Bayamón, Puerto Rico where he was born. The friend, Adrian Mojica Moreno, died instantly. Police have not released much about the crime other than to say that cocaine was found in the car. The Associated Press reports that the bullet fractured his vertebrae and was wedged in his shoulder.

Hector Camacho was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, on May 24, 1962. When he was three years old his mother separated from his father and moved to New York’s Spanish Harlem. Although he began boxing at 11; as a teenager he ended up in jail before turning to boxing as a way to release his aggression.  At the age of 15 he entered a Manhattan high school for troubled youths. As a teenager he won three New York City Golden Gloves titles.

Camacho began his career against David Brown at New York’s Felt Forum in 1980.  During his three decade long career he fought some of boxing’s biggest names: Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Oscar De La Hoya, Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad, and Edwin Rosario.

On August 7, 1983 he would win his first of three world titles by beating Rafael Limon in Puerto Rico. Two years later he moved to lightweight and defeated Jose Luis Ramirez for the title and then defended his title against Edwin Rosario. That fight would bring his record to a sparkling 38 – 0.

After that fight he would go on to lose a split decision to Greg Haugen at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas in 1991. He would go on to win the rematch. After that fight Camacho would go on to lose to Julio Cesar Chavez in a unanimous decision at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. With the win Chavez would retain his lightweight title.

When speaking to ESPN-Radio Formula in Mexico Chavez said: “He was a very fast fighter, he faced everything and it was very hard for me. He revolutionized boxing… It’s a shame he got mixed up in so many problems.”

In 1997 he would go on to beat Sugar Ray Leonard in a knock-out in the fifth round. Also in that year he fought Oscar De La Hoya, the then welterweight champion, and lost by a unanimous decision.

Drug, alcohol, and domestic abuse claims plagued Camacho throughout his boxing career and after. In 2007 he was sentenced to seven years in prison after being involved in a burglary at a store in Mississippi in January 2005. During his arrest police also found him in possession of the drug Ecstasy. However, the judge in the case gave Camacho a suspended sentence on six of the seven years and placed him on probation. He would end up serving two weeks in jail after violating his probation.

In 2012 there was a warrant out for his arrest due to Camacho allegedly beating one of his sons. He turned himself in. A trial was pending at his death.

His last fight was his defeat by Saul Duran in May 2010. He had a career record of 79-6-3.

His over the top attire, as well as his larger than life personality made him standout in the crowd. In a boxing world with names like Sugar Ray Leonard, De La Hoya, Chavez and Trinidad he had to make sure that his legacy would endure. However, it would be a shame if his persona overshadowed his record of a champion.

He won titles as a super featherweight (maximum 130 pounds), a lightweight (135 pounds) and a junior welterweight (140 pounds).

In 2010 Camacho told the Associated Press: “This is something I’ve done all my life, you know?”… A couple years back, when I was doing it, I was still enjoying it. The competition, to see myself perform. I know I’m at the age that some people can’t do this no more.”

Police are looking for two suspects who were seen fleeing from the scene.

He is survived by his mother, his three sisters Raquel, Estrella and Ester, his brother Felix and four sons Hector Camacho Jr., Taylor Camacho, Christian Camacho and Justin Camacho.

Information from ESPN, The Associated Press, and New York Times writer Bruce Weber were used in this article

Miami Marlins Owner Takes Heat Over Blockbuster Trade

The Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a trade that would send shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck and infielder-outfielder Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto.

The Marlins will get shortstop Yunel Escobar, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis and prospects Jake Marisnick (OF), Adeiny Hechavarria (SS), Justin Nicolino (LHP) and Anthony DeSclafani (RHP).

This trade has angered many of the Marlins fans in Florida, and after looking at the numbers associated with the Marlins and their new ballpark how could it not. The total cost of the new home for the Miami Marlins was $ 634 Million dollars. In the deal to get the new stadium Dade County agreed to pay more than $300 million, the city of Miami would pay around $119 million, and the Marlins would pay $100 million and any other cost of the stadium. However, when it comes to the extra cost of the other parts of the building those bills will be paid by Florida taxpayers. According to ESPN’s official reports the entire cost of the stadium would run the taxpayers 2.4 billion dollars over a 40 year span.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today called it “the ultimate Ponzi scheme, getting South Florida taxpayers to pay for a new ballpark to watch a product that simply doesn’t exist.”

After looking at the numbers it is easy to understand the fans frustrations. After spending over 100 million dollars last season to stock up on a-list players it is no surprise why this trade would come to many as a shock. After this trade the Marlins expect to gain around $150 million of salary relief.

When this trade is complete and all the papers are signed the Marlins, according to ESPN, would have traded 12 payers since July.

After finishing in last place last season Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told CBSSports.com “We can’t finish in last place. We finished in last place. That’s unacceptable. We have to take a new course.”

When asked about the trade City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said “The Marlins have lost pretty much all credibility with fans. Even if this trade is a positive move from a baseball standpoint, it won’t be viewed by the general public as a positive move.”

Players Traded Since July

3B           Hanley Ramirez traded to Dodgers

RP           Randy Choate traded to Dodgers

RP           Edward Mujica traded to Cardinals

1B           Gaby Sanchez traded to Pirates

SP           Anibal Sanchez traded to Tigers

2B           Omar Infante traded to Tigers

RP           Heath Bell traded to Diamondbacks

SS           Jose Reyes traded to Blue Jays

SP           Josh Johnson traded to Blue Jays

SP           Mark Buehrle traded to Blue Jays

C             John Buck traded to Blue Jays

CF           Emilio Bonifacio traded to Blue Jays

Information from ESPN, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, CBS Miami’s  Tim Kephart and CBSSports was used in this article

Does A Grading Policy Foster Cheating?

What causes academic cheating? When it comes to academic cheating I don’t do it, I don’t condone it and I detest it, however I am not ignorant to the fact that it does happen. When it comes to cheating in any sense of the word it comes down to the individual %100. However, when it comes to cheating in the academic field the environment itself can create excuses that a student would use in order for them to feel that they have no choice but to cheat.

In outlined the results of a study concerning the frequency of the article titled “Academic Dishonesty of Undergraduates: Methods of Cheating” Michelle Witherspoon, PhD Nancy Maldonado, PhD and Candace H. Lacey, PhD outlined the results of a study concerning the frequency of cheating as well as the methods used to cheat.

In their study they write that “society has communicated the concept that students need to acquire a degree for future employment, financial security, and personal reasons” and that the grades the students receive play a very important role in attainting that degree. The study goes on to say that because grades play an important role students are under pressure and therefore anxious about the grades they receive.

As a student myself I feel the pressures: worrying whether or not I will finish an assignment on time or have enough time to study. Being a college student means you have to setup a schedule, be it in your mind or actually writing out a list. While I do the best I can there are only so many hours in a day that I can give to studying, especially when I take more than one class. There have been times where I have sacrificed sleep in order to get my work done.

In a system that measures a student’s value based on letters and numbers there will always be cheats. Someone will always want to have an A or a %100 on their final paper and will feel that their best isn’t good enough and therefore will cheat to get it.

The grading system, on its face looks like a road map that leads to achievement and success. However, if you look deep enough, it is a system that leads students to compare themselves to others. Students can say “he received a better grade than I so therefore he is smarter than me.” I know that because I have personally said it to myself.

In another article titled “Academic Dishonesty: Cheating Among Community College Students” by Pat Gallagher Moeck he writes “[w]ith the pressure of a bad grade looming, some students will resort to submitting an illegally acquired paper rather than try to author their own work.”

He goes on to say that “[w]ith tremendous pressure and competition for grades, some will cheat or plagiarize to maintain a high GPA.” A higher CPA can please parents, lead to scholarships, and impress potential employers.

According to Moeck’s article he states that the percentage of students who cheat in college can vary from 40 to 90 percent and for those who cheated at least once at 90 percent.

This current system leads people to feel insecure about their abilities. These doubts and insecurities are the factors that make the student feel or believe that cheating is the only option.

Moeck writes that students with lower grades cheat more often than those who do not, men cheat more than women, students with low self-esteem or that are high strung and those who do not manage their time effectively are more prone to cheat.

There are many students who may feel that plagiarizing is cheating but taking medication, such as Adderall is not.

The Baruch College code of academic honesty defines cheating as “the attempted or unauthorized use of materials, information, notes, study aids, devices or communication during an academic exercise.”

If I were judging Adderall by Baruch’s own definition then using the drug is considered a form of cheating.

According to the website, ADHDNews.com, “Adderall is a stimulant drug which contains an amphetamine. It is used to improve attention span and decreases impulsivity.” Because of its effect it has on improving attention span it can be seen as a study aid especially if not prescribed to you.

When it comes to Baruch and cheating I don’t feel that there is more or less than any other college. The only thing that I know is that there is cheating.

However Moeck writes that cheating is more prevalent among business majors, undergraduate students as well as younger students engaged in social activities.

The study of Witherspoon, Maldonado and Lacey also stated that “graduate students in general are cheating at an alarming rate, and business school students are cheating even more than others.” Their study, which comprised of 186 undergraduate students in 11 general education open to all majors in an unnamed urban college, stated that 20.3% of the students said they had never cheated but that 79.7% admitted to cheated at least once.

Once again as I have said before it is %100 the person’s choice whether they choose to cheat, but the environment and the pressures faced within the environment can make students who would normally adhere to the rules feel that cheating is the only option.

 

Life Saving Blood Supply for America Act: My Argument For Congress To Change Or Abolish The 1983 Ban On Homosexual Men Giving Blood, Put In Place By The FDA

If I were elected to the House of Representatives for one day and was given the power to have a bill argued on the floor this would be it: 

H.R.1983
Life Saving Blood Supply for America Act

In this policy I will argue that the 1983 ban on homosexual men giving blood, put in place by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), should be abolished or changed. For my argument I will outline the procedures and improvements that have since been created to insure that blood transfusions of every potential donor, especially those of homosexual men, are as safe as can be for the possible recipients. I will also discuss how the donation of blood by said men can help and improve the situation of the shortage of blood donations and supply currently in the United States. To further illustrate its significance several facts about the importance of blood will be outlined. Because of the current ban put in place by the FDA people who are eligible to donate blood have chosen not to. Furthermore, I will demonstrate, through examples, that these men would happily give blood to help out others who need it. Finally I would discuss how other countries have at least relaxed or done away with the ban concerning homosexual men. My ultimate goal in developing this policy is for the United States to think critically and ultimately relax or abolish their ban on homosexual men and blood donations.

The Discovery of AIDS and the FDA Ban of 1983

The FDA’s ban on men who have sex with men (MSM) being able to donate blood was put in place in 1983 at the high of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) epidemic. The history of the ban dates back to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)[1] and their finding contained in their weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), a report prepared and released by the CDC that, according to their website is “the agency’s primary vehicle for scientific publication of timely, reliable, authoritative, accurate, objective, and useful public health information and recommendations.”[2] In the weekly report dated June 18, 1982 it stated that between June 1, 1981 and April 12, 1982 the center had received 19 reports of Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) and/or pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). Those cases were confirmed through biopsies. The cases involved previously healthy individuals living in Los Angeles and Orange County, California.  In their investigation they collected the sexual histories of 13 individuals, eight (8) with KS and five (5) with PCP. It goes on to explain further that “Within 5 years of the onset of symptoms, 9 patients (6 with KS and 3 with PCP) had had sexual contact with other patients with KS or PCP. Seven patients from Los Angeles County had had sexual contact with other patients from Los Angeles County, and 2 from Orange County had had sexual contact with 1 patient who was not a resident of California. Four of the 9 patients had been exposed to more than 1 patient who had KS or PCP. Three of the 6 patients with KS developed their symptoms after sexual contact with persons who already had symptoms of KS. One of these 3 patients developed symptoms of KS 9 months after sexual contact, another patient developed symptoms 13 months after contact, and a third patient developed symptoms 22 months after contact.”[3]

In their editorial note within the report they go on to give two hypotheses on the cause of these cases. One hypothesis being that an infection, at that time not yet identified, caused acquired cellular immunodeficiency and that was being transmitted through the sexual contact of homosexual males and thus may be the underlying cause of the KS or PCP. If this is true, according to the report, then the sexual partners of those infected may be at and increased risk of developing KS and/or PCP.[4]

The other hypothesis was that sexual contact with people infected with KS or PCP did not directly lead to acquired cellular immunodeficiency but “simply indicates a certain style of life. The number of homosexually active males who share this lifestyle may be much smaller than the number of homosexual males in the general population.”[5]

They end the report by stating that contact to certain substances, and not the infectious agent, may “eventually lead to immunodeficiency among a subset of the homosexual male population that shares a particular style of life. For example, Marmor et al. recently reported that exposure to amyl nitrite was associated with an increased risk of KS in New York City (7). Exposure to inhalant sexual stimulants, central-nervous-system stimulants, and a variety of other “street” drugs was common among males belonging to the cluster of cases of KS and PCP in Los Angeles and Orange counties.”[6]

According to Scientific American by the summer of 1982 452 cases in 23 states had been reported to the CDC. After a while people who were vulnerable to the disease were part of the   4-H club. This stood for the group considered to be most at risk to be infected: Homosexuals, heroin addicts, hemophiliacs, and Haitians.

By September of that year the CDC officially termed the new disease as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and that December a 20 month old baby, who had received multiple blood transfusions, had died of the new disease.  Further compounding the situation the first cases of mother to child transmission of the disease were also being reported.

On January 4, 1983 the CDC held a meeting in which it was recommended that homosexual men be banned from donating blood.[7]  In 1983 the FDA followed the lead of the CDC and permanently deferred homosexual men from donating blood.[8]

What Exactly Does The FDA Say About The Ban?

The FDA website states that it permanently defers men who have sex with men, at any time since 1977, from donating because they have a higher risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B, and other diseases that can be transmitted through transfusion.

According to the FDA, using statistics from the American Red Cross, MSM since 1977 are “60 times higher than the general population, 800 times higher than first time blood donors and 8,000 times higher than repeat blood donors. Even taking into account that 75% of HIV infected men who have sex with men already know they are HIV positive and would be unlikely to donate blood, the HIV prevalence in potential donors with history of male sex with males is 200 times higher than first time blood donors and 2000 times higher than repeat blood donors.”[9]

MSM donors, as a group, are found to be HIV positive during blood donor testing more frequently than any other group. According to the CDC gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men represent approximately 2% of the US population.

The FDA also states that MSM “also have an increased risk of having other infections that can be transmitted to others by blood transfusion. For example, infection with the Hepatitis B virus is about 5-6 times more common and Hepatitis C virus infections are about 2 times more common in men who have sex with other men than in the general population. Additionally, men who have sex with men have an increased incidence and prevalence of Human Herpes Virus-8 (HHV-8). HHV-8 causes a cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma in immunocompromised individuals.”[10]

Facts are facts and they should not be ignored. It is true, according to the CDC, that in 2007 MSM were 44 to 86 times as likely to be diagnosed with HIV as compared with other men and 40 to 77 times as likely as women.[11] It is still a fact that MSM remain the group with the highest risk for contracting HIV/ AIDS. When it comes to the annual transmission rate of HIV MSM were at 56% in 2006 (27,000), 58% in 2007 (32,300), 56% in 2008 (26,900) and 61% (29,300) in 2009.[12]

HIV Infections 2009

*[13]

While this numbers are grim and unsettling new advancements in the cleaning blood and checking for diseases have been established to make sure everyone’s blood is as safe as it can be for the recipients.

Another issue which concerns the FDA is the “window period”. The “window period” refers to the amount of time that a person’s tested blood could yield a false negative. The FDA’s website states that its policy regarding MSM and the permanent deferral is important because it “reduces the likelihood that a person would unknowingly donate blood during the “window period” of infection. This is important because the rate of new infections in MSM is higher than in the general population and current blood donors.”[14]

Further on in this policy proposal it will show that improvements , as it deals with the amount of time, have be made due to the advancements in technology to greatly reduce the chances of obtaining a false negative for the “window period.”

An argument that the FDA uses to uphold the ban is saying that the policy “is not unique to the United States. Many European countries have recently reexamined both the science and ethics of the lifetime MSM deferral, and have retained it.”[15] While that was true then, as of November 7, 2011 England, Scotland, and Wales have all done away with the permanent ban.[16]

Procedures and Improvements to Protect Donors and Recipients

When someone donates blood their sample is placed in color coded containers based on the day of the week. Afterwards the bags of those blood samples are placed in to a centrifuge. The centrifuge separates the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. This process is known as differential centrifugation. The red blood cells, being the heaviest, will sink at the bottom, the white blood cells will move to the middle, and the platelets being the lightest will be on top. Once separated, the bag will be placed in an expresser.  This process separates each of the contents (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets) and then they will each be placed in a bag of their own. Afterwards the red blood cells go into a refrigerator, plasma is placed in the freezer, and platelets are kept at room temperature.

A sample of each is then sent to the lab for testing. During the testing they are looking to detect for West Nile Virus, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C, T.Cruzi (Chagas), Human T Cell Lymphotropic Virus 1 and 2, and of course HIV 1 and 2. If any of the samples turn up positive for any of these diseases an alarm will sound and then all samples of that donor are destroyed and the donor is then notified of the positive result.[17]

The blood is also tested for cholesterol levels and for type: AB, B, O, A, RH+ or RH-. Platelets have a lifespan of five (5) days, Plasma can last for one (1) year, and blood can last for 42 days if refrigerated properly.

In reference to the “window period” and the concerns that the FDA had about the issue as discussed earlier in this policy it is important to highlight a new advancement in this testing. In 1999 the Red Cross added another technique to its own screening process called nucleic acid testing, which detects the virus’s own genetic material using the same gene-amplifying techniques used to test for paternity. The test reduces the amount of time that a person’s tested blood could yield a false negative from three to six months with antibody screening alone (because it takes time for the body to produce antibodies to the virus) to about 12 days.[18]

According to America’s Blood Banks the risk of getting HIV through a transfusion is 1.5 million. That is much less than the risk of dying from a lightning strike.[19]

Helping Future Recipients by Improving the Shortage of the Blood Supply

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles found that if the ban were lifted in favor of a 12-month deferral, an additional 219,000 pints of blood would be donated each year. Since one person’s donation can help three people, if you were to multiply 219,000 x 3, those people could potentially help 657,000 other people!

According to Scientific American: “In the United States it has been estimated that a five-year deferral would lead to an increase of 71,400 donors, whereas a one-year deferral would lead to an increase of 139,000 donors.” If you do the math 71,400 x 3 comes to 214,200 and for 139,000 new donors it would come to 417,000!

The World Health Organization estimates that 100 million units (45 million liters) of blood are needed worldwide per year.

The U.S. alone annually uses about 12 million units, and by 2030 it is projected that there will be a shortage of as much as four million units of blood.

Facts on Blood Supply and Needs

According to the American Red Cross[20]:

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98 percent of whom are African American. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • Type O-negative blood (red cells) can be transfused to patients of all blood types. It is always in great demand and often in short supply.
  • Type AB-positive plasma can be transfused to patients of all other blood types. AB plasma is also usually in short supply.

According to The Mayo Clinic[21]:

  • Only 5 percent of eligible donors across the nation donate blood, but the number of transfusions nationwide increases by 9 percent every year.
  • Each whole blood donation can help as many as three people. One unit is divided into three parts: red blood cells, platelets, and plasma.
  • On average, a hip replacement typically uses one unit of blood, a cardiac bypass 2 units, a heart transplant 2 units, and a liver transplant 10 units!
  • About 80,000 units of blood products are transfused at Mayo Clinic annually.
  • The need for blood increases during holidays and summer months. People are more apt to be traveling and active during these times and thus are at an increased risk for accidents.
  • Statistics show that 25 percent or more of us will require blood at least once in our lifetime.
  • The Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program has to buy nearly a quarter (25%) of its blood products from the American Red Cross to help meet the needs of our patients and to prevent postponing surgeries.

People Who Are Eligible to Give Blood Will Choose Not To, Adding to the Shortage

According to Mark Wainberg, who helped in the discovery of 3TC, one of the first drugs to control HIV, and an author, wrote of his concern of healthy able donors not donating due to their objection over the current policy.  He says: “”When a discriminatory policy isn’t justified by the science, it leads to controversy. We’ve seen protests and boycotts of blood drives on Canadian campuses, so I think the blood agencies would be better off if they agreed with us. I suspect, honestly, that many of them already do, in private.[22]

According to a Nov. 11, 2008 article by Chris Irvine for “The Telegraph”, a newspaper in the UK, the Student Unions of Newcastle and Sunderland universities banned together to stop The National Blood Service from advertising in their building because they discriminated against gay men.[23]

According to “US News” that same year San Jose State University banned blood drives on their campus because of the FDA’s current policy against gay men. The University President Don W. Kassing said, in an e-mail to staff, students, and alumni that “I recognize the importance of giving blood and we know that universities are a significant source of blood. Our hope is that the FDA will revisit its deferral policy in a timely manner, and we may soon be able to hold blood drives on this campus again.”[24]

The letter, written January 29, 2008, also states that “In an effort to resolve this issue, my staff and I consulted many experts and reviewed background material on the FDA Web site. We learned from the FDA that the deferral dates back to 1983, “when the risk of AIDS from transfusion was first recognized.” We also learned nucleic acid testing has since greatly reduced the risk HIV/AIDS once posed to blood supply safety. “In fact, our current risks are now so low that they cannot be measured directly and, hence, we rely on [mathematical] models,” Jay S. Epstein, M.D., said at a March 2006 FDA Workshop on Behavior-Based Donor Deferrals.”[25]

However, one other important point stated in the letter, and also stressed by Senator John Kerry in a letter written to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which will be discussed later in this policy proposal, is that “AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross — three organizations that stake their reputations on blood supply safety — have reviewed the same data and come out in favor of relaxing the deferral. In a joint statement, they said they “believe that the current lifetime deferral for men who have had sex with other men is medically and scientifically unwarranted and recommend that deferral criteria be modified and made comparable with criteria for other groups at increased risk for sexual transmission of transfusion-transmitted infections.” The FDA deferral for such groups is 12 months, according to the AABB Full-Length Donor History Questionnaire.”

President Kassing said that the blood centers offered to assist in any further research needed:

“AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross also offered their vast resources — a great many of the nation’s blood collection centers — to assist with any additional research required by the FDA. I am troubled the FDA has not, to our knowledge, made progress with additional research, nor disclosed if and/or when an FDA committee will vote again on the deferral for men who have sex with other men. Meanwhile, the lifetime deferral affecting gay males as a group remains in place when it may be safe and appropriate for these men to be treated individually, as is the case with people of other sexual orientations.”

The FDA never responded.

According to the article blood drives at SJSU bring in about 1,000 pints a year and high school and college campuses account for about 20 percent of all donated blood.

Annual Donation Trends for Brookhaven National Laboratory

Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) began in 1947 on Long Island, Upton, New York. It is a multi-program national laboratory operated by Brookhaven Science Associates for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). According to its website it has a staff of approximately 3,000 scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff and over 4,000 guest researchers annually.

Its role for the DOE is “to produce excellent science and advanced technology with the cooperation, support, and appropriate involvement of our scientific and local communities.”[26]

The work done in the laboratory has earned The Nobel Prize seven (7) times in the fields of Chemistry and Physics; the latest coming in 2009 which was in the field of Chemistry.

Pints Donated

[27]

Here is a graph which shows the annual donations to BNL. There has been a decline of donations over the years. In 1998 there were 766 pints donated; however in 2010 -2011 there were only 306 pints donated.

They have been conducting blood drives for thirty years. They have been partners with Long Island Blood Services (LIBS), a division of New York Blood Center.[28] According to their statistics these hospitals require approximately 800 units [pints] of blood each day to meet routine needs.

According to LIBS they service 50 Long Island hospitals. According to LIBS “[o]ur region suffers from a shortage of local blood donors, and less than ideal donor frequency (those who donate don’t do so often enough). Only 2% of our population donates blood each year, compared to the national average of 5%. Long Island Blood Services is forced to import 25% of our blood products from other blood centers in the United States, because we can’t independently meet the demand.”[29] If they need 800 pints of blood and they import 25% of those pints that is 200 pints.

According to ABC News since 1996 “collecting, testing, transporting and delivering blood [for the Red Cross] has risen 27 percent. In that same time, officials said, prices for their products have risen 9.9 percent.” Now the Red Cross is selling their blood for $130- $150 a pint.[30] Using those figures as an example if the Red Cross was supplying LIBS with the blood they needed the cost would be great. On the low end ($130 x 200 pints) it is $26,000 a day. If we multiply that by 1 year (365 days) it would come out to $9,490,000! If you did it on the high end ($150 x 200 pints) it is $30,000 a day. For 1 year (365 days) it would come out to $10,950,000!

This Excluded Demographic Would Happily Donate to Help Others in Need

Despite the shortage that is evident in the United States, as outlined previously in this policy, healthy blood donors are being turned away with the only reason being that they answered ‘yes’ to the following question on the questionnaire given out to each potential donor: ‘Are you a male who’s had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977?’

Once that person answers ‘yes’ they will be given a slip of paper which informs them that they are ‘being chosen to be deferred.’ What the paper does not specify is that for homosexual males it is a lifetime deferral.

In a report by CNN’s Ben Tinker he details an incident where a perfectly healthy college junior, Dustin Weinstein from Montclair State University, was turned away because of his sexual orientation.[31] Weinstein had never given blood before and was exited at this opportunity. However, it was not until after they had let him know that he would be deferred that he became aware of the more than 20 year old policy of the FDA that barred homosexual men.

Weinstein says that the FDA should look at, and take account of, one’s sexual history and not at their sexual orientation. He says that “[t]he fact that HIV came in as the ‘gay disease, I think that stigma really sticks with people. They figure they can just block it all out that way.”

According to the report heterosexual HIV rates are on the rise, especially among African American women. However, according to the FDA, those groups are not banned for life from donating.

According to current CDC statistics in 2009, black women accounted for 30% of the estimated new HIV infections among all blacks. Most (85%) black women with HIV acquired HIV through heterosexual sex. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for black women was more than 15 times as high as the rate for white women, and more than three times as high as that of Latina women.[32]

Phil Wilson[33], an AIDS activist who is also quoted in said article calls the policy outdated and that the policy should be loosened. He goes on to say that “[w]e should educate people about their risk, and if you’re engaged in a risky behavior, then we should educate people to refrain from giving blood because they’re engaged in a risky behavior.”

Brad Baso, a 31 year old project manager for a nonprofit organization in St. Paul, who was interviewed by The New York Times, says that he finds it hard when he has to explain to his coworkers why he does not join them when they participate in blood drives held at work. He says “I work in the nonprofit sector, and it’s important for me to give back. But when you can’t participate in a workplace event, it makes you feel bad, I have to go into a teachable moment and explain that my government thinks my blood is tainted.”[34]

Dr. Steven Kleinman, senior medical adviser to the American Association of Blood Banks, an international association that opposes the ban, says that the controversy over homosexual men giving blood is in huge part because being homosexual in today’s society is a socially charged issue. He says “You wonder, if this wasn’t about gay men, would the rules be applied in the same way?”[35]

Other Countries That Are Considering or Have Changed Their Laws Concerning Donations by Homosexual Males

Spain: In the late 1990s Spain moved from excluding homosexual men to excluding people with promiscuous sexual behavior from donating blood. In Catalonia anyone who has had more than one sexual partner in the past six months is excluded.

Italy: The Italian ban on gay blood donation was repealed in January 2001, but “risky behavior” is still taken to include all men who have sex with men and lifelong deferral is applied.

New Zealand: Donations are not accepted from men who have had sex with men within the past 10 years. Last year the service’s advisory committee recommended a deferral period of five years with clear definitions of which sexual activities warrant deferral.

Australia: One year’s deferral for men who have sex with men plus specific questions about sexual history.[36]

United Kingdom: The permanent exclusion of men who have had sex with men (MSM) from donating blood has changed to a 12 month fixed period deferral from the latest relevant sexual contact following an evidence based review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).[37]

Professor Deirdre Kelly from the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs said: “The SaBTO review examined the best available scientific evidence for UK blood donor selection in relation to sexual behaviours.  Our recommendation takes account of new data that have become available since the last review in 2006, as well as scientific and technological advances in the testing of blood.”[38]

A Call for Change

In 2010 Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and 40 other members of Congress sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opposing the ban. In the letter he writes “We join with medical experts at the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, AABB, and the American Medical Association, among others, in calling for a change in policy that better reflects the science of high risk behavior for HIV.  The time has clearly come to review and modify this policy to strengthen the safety of the blood supply and remove any needless discriminatory rules from the process.”[39]

The letter goes on to say that “[i]n the wake of the major blood donor organizations stating that the lifetime ban on MSM blood donors is “medically and scientifically unwarranted, we urge you to utilize the most up to date and comprehensive medical and scientific data regarding high risk behaviors in your considerations.  In order to improve the integrity of the blood supply, we believe it is imperative that all high risk behaviors be appropriately targeted in the screening process and that similar deferral periods are established for similar risks.”

Is There a Double Standard?

It is important to point out that although the ENTIRE purpose of this policy is NOT to overturn the FDA’s standing on MSM donating blood solely because it is unfair and can be argued that it is discrimination based on sexual orientation. Rather this policy goes to try and alleviate some of the shortage and/ or safety of the blood supply. However, I strongly feel that the issue of double standards should be discussed. In Senator Kerry’s letter discussed earlier he points out the apparent double standards saying “As the policy currently stands, a number of potential oversights and medically unjustifiable double standards seem apparent.  For instance, there is no prescribed consideration of safer sex practices, individuals who routinely practice unsafe heterosexual sex face no deferral period at all while monogamous and married homosexual partners who practice safe sex are banned for life.  In fact, a woman who has sexual relations with an HIV positive male is deferred for one year, while a man who has had sexual relations with another man, even a monogamous partner, is deferred for life.   Even individuals who have paid prostitutes for heterosexual sex face a deferral period of one year while gay men face a lifetime ban.  These do not strike us as scientifically sound conclusions.”

Final Thoughts

Earlier in this policy proposal I discussed the question, which if a man were to answer ‘yes’ to would lead to permanent deferral : ‘Are you a male who’s had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977?’ Some or most of the readers of this policy proposal may say to themselves ‘why do we need to look at changing the current policy to a twelve (12) month deferral policy because the men will lie anyway and say that they have not engaged in sexual contact for the twelve month period; men are lying now about not being homosexual just so they can donate blood, so how would it make much difference?’  They may also say ‘a man is not going to stop having sex for 12 months just to donate blood.’

What I say to that is that yes it is highly true that there are people who will not be honest when answering that question and that is not going to change. But if the 12 month deferral were adopted there are men in there that would fit the criteria.

The first group, to put it as delicate as I can, has to do with men who were raped as young boys or teens. Under the current policy they would be permanently banned since rape in it of itself involves sexual contact and in these cases by males. Even though there is not as much research concerning male on male sexual crimes, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) about 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. In 2003, 1 in every ten rape victims was male.   Also, according to RAINN 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.[40] How do we know that these sexual assaults occurred at the hands of other men? The truth is, as I stated before, there is not much data because many of these cases are not reported due to the embarrassment felt by the victims having to do with the stigma that that makes the victim a homosexual.

However, according to the Michigan Resource Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence “Contrary to the belief that homosexual men commit male-to-male sexual violence, research shows that men who identify as heterosexual are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of male sexual assault. Statistics show that heterosexual men commit 96-98% of all sexual violence against males and females.”[41]

Although it is not known exactly how many male sexual assaults are committed by a person of the same sex it is safe to say that it is a huge number.

Now because these men had sexual contact, be it unwanted, with another male it would bar them for life from ever donating under the current policy.

However, people may still say “they are going to lie about that experience.” Consider this next group of men that would be permanently deferred: Men who at some time in their lives had sexual contact with another male, at least once, then decided, whatever the reason, that it was not for them.

According to the National Health Statistics Report in their study called “Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United States: Data From the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth” it is reported that at least six (6) percent of men, 15-44 years old, reported to have had at least one sexual experience with a person in their lifetimes.[42]

Under the current policy those men would be permanently deferred even if they have ceased having sexual relations with other men.

After reading my policy it is my hope that the FDA takes into account all the data provided and reconsiders relaxing their ban on the permanent deferral of homosexual men and their ability to donate blood. As the evidence collected here suggests there has been new technology that makes it as safe as it’s ever been, both for the donor and the recipient, for blood transfusions. A look at this policy also showcases the severe blood shortage in America and how a relaxation or abolishment of the deferral period can have a great impact. To further illustrate the changes and the impact it can have to America’s blood supply there are examples of other countries, such as Australia and Europe, relaxing their positions on permanent deferrals.

With the new technology available and advancements being made every day the blood is as safe as it’s ever been. If the deferral is changed and homosexual men and/ or men who have had a sexual experience with another man at least once in their lives are able to donate, blood centers, such as the LIBS, will be able to save some of the money used to import blood, as mentioned previously, and apply some of those funds toward better technology in the future to ensure that the donation of blood can be safer for everyone. Even though, according to evidence, the blood supply and process of giving blood is as safe as it’s ever been there is always room for any improvements possible.

According to recent statistics, which are contained within these documents, the blood shortage will only get worse. Not only will it get worse, but due to the shortage the price of blood will increase making it more difficult for hospitals to get the blood they desperately need.

Once again once you have carefully read and reviewed my policy it is my hope that the FDA will relax their policy to a 12 month deferral period at the start and ultimately abolish it in the future.

Thank You Very Much,

Gladys Esquijarosa

 

H.R.1983
Life Saving Blood Supply for America Act

Introduced By:

Gladys Esquijarosa

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[6] “A Cluster of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis CariniiPneumonia among Homosexual Male Residents OfLos Angeles and Range Counties, California.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 18 June 1982. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001114.htm&gt;.

[7] Francis, M.D., D.Sc., Donald P., Merle A. Sande, M.D., John L. Ziegler, M.D., Ph.D., James Chin, M.D., M.P.H., and Sally Smith Hughes, Ph.D. “The AIDS Epidemic in San Francisco: The Medical Response, 1981-1984.” Chap. 64; California Digital Library. University of California, 1997. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt729005cr&gt;.

[8] “Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/ucm108186.htm&gt;.

[9]“Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/ucm108186.htm&gt;.

[10] “Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/ucm108186.htm&gt;.

[11] “HIV among Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM)| Topics | CDC HIV/AIDS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/msm/index.htm&gt;.

[12] “HIV Incidence | Statistics and Surveillance | Topics | CDC HIV/AIDS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics

[13] “HIV Incidence | Statistics and Surveillance | Topics | CDC HIV/AIDS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics * IDU stands for Injection Drug Users

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[15]  “Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/BloodBloodProducts/QuestionsaboutBlood/ucm108186.htm&gt;.

[16]  “Give Blood – Deferral of Men Who Have Sex with Men from Blood Donation.” Give Blood – Do Something Amazing Give Blood. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.blood.co.uk/can-i-give-blood/exclusion/&gt;.

[17]  Gay, Nancy. “What Happens to My Blood? – YouTube.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Florida’s Blood Centers. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHaOo20tqgk&gt;.

[18] Moisse, Katie. “Are the Rules That Determine Who Can Donate Blood Outdated?: Scientific American.” Science News, Articles and Information | Scientific American. 26 May 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sex-rules-blood-donation-precautionary-or-discriminatory&gt;.

[19] “Knowing Your Options.” Welcome to America’s Blood Centers. It’s About Life. :: America’s Blood Centers. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.americasblood.org/go.cfm?do=Page.View&gt;.

[20] “Blood Facts and Statistics | American Red Cross.” American Red Cross – Give Blood. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-facts-and-statistics&gt;.

[21] “Did You Know?- Interesting Facts about Blood Donation.” Mayo Clinic. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/donate-blood-rst/know.html&gt;.

[22] Moisse, Katie. “Are the Rules That Determine Who Can Donate Blood Outdated?: Scientific American.” Science News, Articles and Information | Scientific American. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sex-rules-blood-donation-precautionary-or-discriminatory&gt;.

[23]Irvine, Chris. “Student Unions Ban Blood Donation Adverts for Discriminating against Homosexuals – Telegraph.” Telegraph.co.uk – Telegraph Online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph – Telegraph. 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/3440111/Student-unions-ban-blood-donation-adverts-for-discriminating-against-homosexuals.html&gt;.

[24] Go, Alison. “San Jose State Bans Blood Drives – The Paper Trail (usnews.com).” US News & World Report | News & Rankings | Best Colleges, Best Hospitals, and More. 4 Feb. 2008. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/paper-trail/2008/02/04/san-jose-state-bans-blood-drives&gt;.

[25] Kassing, Don W. “Office of the President | President’s Message: Campus Blood Drives | San Jose State University.” Powering Silicon Valley | San Jose State University. 29 Jan. 2008. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.sjsu.edu/president/communications/archives/kassing/blooddrives/letter.html&gt;.

[26] “About Brookhaven.” Brookhaven National Laboratory – A Passion for Discovery. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/about_BNL.asp&gt;.

[27] “BNL Blood Drives: Annual Statistics.” Brookhaven National Laboratory – A Passion for Discovery. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.bnl.gov/hr/blooddrive/stats/stats.asp&gt;.

[28] “Long Island Blood Services (LIBS) Is a Division of New York Blood Center.” Blood Facts. New York Blood Center. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.bnl.gov/hr/blooddrive/pdf/Blood_Fact_Sheet.pdf&gt;.

[29]“Long Island Blood Services (LIBS) Is a Division of New York Blood Center.” Blood Facts. New York Blood Center. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.bnl.gov/hr/blooddrive/pdf/Blood_Fact_Sheet.pdf&gt;.

[30] McQueen, Anjetta. “Red Cross to Charge More for Blood – ABC News.” ABCNews.com: Daily News, Breaking News and Video Broadcasts – ABC News. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=117431&gt;.

[31] Tinker, Ben. “Despite Shortage, Blood Donors Turned Away – American Morning – CNN.com Blogs.” American Morning – CNN.com Blogs. 14 June 2009. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://am.blogs.cnn.com/2009/06/14/blood-donation-discrimination/&gt;.

[32] “HIV/AIDS and African Americans | Topics | CDC HIV/AIDS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/aa/index.htm&gt;.

[33] Tinker, Ben. “Despite Shortage, Blood Donors Turned Away – American Morning – CNN.com Blogs.” American Morning – CNN.com Blogs. 14 June 2009. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://am.blogs.cnn.com/2009/06/14/blood-donation-discrimination/&gt;.

[34] Mroz, Jacqueline. “Rethinking Whether Gay Men May Donate Blood – NYTimes.com.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 02 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/health/03blood.html&gt;.

[35] Mroz, Jacqueline. “Rethinking Whether Gay Men May Donate Blood – NYTimes.com.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 02 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/health/03blood.html&gt;.

[36] Hurley, Richard. “Student BMJ: Bad Blood: Gay Men and Blood Donation.” Student BMJ: The International Medical Journal for Students. 1 Apr. 2009. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://student.bmj.com/student/view-article.html?id=sbmj.b1054&gt;.

[37] “Give Blood – Deferral of Men Who Have Sex with Men from Blood Donation.” Give Blood – Do Something Amazing Give Blood- England and North Wales. Nov. 2011. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.blood.co.uk/can-i-give-blood/exclusion/&gt;.

[38] “Lifetime Blood Donation Ban Lifted for Men Who Have Had Sex with Men | Media Centre.” Media Centre | Press Releases, Statements and Speeches. 8 Sept. 2011. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://mediacentre.dh.gov.uk/2011/09/08/lifetime-blood-donation-ban-lifted-for-men-who-have-had-sex-with-men/&gt;.

[39] “Kerry Urges HHS to End Blood Ban – Current Policy Bars Gay Men from Donating Blood.” John Kerry – United States Senator for Massachusetts: Home. 9 June 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://kerry.senate.gov/press/release/?id=4e51ccb4-b8bf-48a8-81f2-5ac908149785&gt;.

[40] “Who Are the Victims?- Breakdown by Gender and Age | RAINN | Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.” RAINN | Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network | RAINN: The Nation’s Largest Anti-sexual Assault Organization.One of “America’s 100 Best Charities” —Worth Magazine. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims&gt;.

[41] “Male Survivors of Sexual Violence.” Michigan Resource Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Web. <http://www.michigan.gov/documents/datingviolence/DHS-DatingViolence-MaleSurvivors_198439_7.pdf&gt;.

[42] Chandra, Ph.D., Anjani, William D. Mosher, Ph.D.,, Casey Copen, Ph.D., and Catlainn Sionean, Ph.D. “National Health Statistics Report in Their Study Called “Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United States: Data From the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth”.” National Health Statistics Report. 3 Mar. 2011. Web. 21 Dec. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr036.pdf&gt;.

The Importance of Understanding: How the Elements of Communication, Diversity and Leadership Can Unite to Form the Molecule of a Successful Company

The importance of communication, diversity and leadership can only be truly appreciated when all three are utilized together. Using science in this next example will help illustrate this point. The molecule H2O is created by the elements Oxygen and 2 Hydrogen’s that bond together to form the life- sustaining resource water.  Water makes it possible for most of the living organisms on earth to survive. Without it most of the world’s ecosystem would not endure and most of the species, including humans would become extinct. In order to form water the 2 Hydrogen’s and Oxygen must come together just so. Any change in either element and there would not be water. However, because we are talking about science the elements almost always form together perfectly. This cannot always be said when it comes to interactions involving people.

What does the discussion of water have to do with the importance of communication, diversity and leadership? Just like the elements Hydrogen and Oxygen come together to create water which keeps almost every species on earth alive; communication, diversity and leadership must come together and be present so that a company/ organization can survive and thrive. Without these three core elements the company, sooner or later, will stagnate and most likely cease to exist.

Just as described in Leading Out Loud by Terry Pearce “[l]eaders see what is needed and inspire others to take action to effect change” (p. 4).  When it comes to leadership the person or people in charge must give those that choose to follow direction and be able to make them feel like the changes that should be made are not so because the company says that they are needed, but because the people, including their leader, deem it important for themselves. Instead those changes will be better and serve the company positively because their input was given and appreciated.

When it comes to creating that change communication must be present and it must be widely available and honest. Every member of the team must feel like their ideas are not just being heard, but that the rest of the team is actively listening to them. Open communication creates trust within the group and creates an environment devoid of fear and resentment. If everyone feels that they are being listened to then they will not think in single terms, such as “what can I do so that I may do better than team member B” instead they will think “what can I do on my part to make my entire team successful.”

Diversity is the element that makes the communication part, to which the fruits of the open communication, pay off. Not only in diversity of culture or race, but in diversity of thought. Using the openness and trust within their communication to one another, or to the group as a whole, the participants feel free to pull from their personal experiences, which form their differing point of views, and share openly. These different opinions and/ or ideas allow the company to change, evolve and adapt, which in turn ensures the company’s survival. To maintain it survival the company must sustain a use of communication, diversity and leadership or risk extinction. The way H2O forms together to create water communication, diversity and leadership must come together cohesively to form a successful organization/ company.

Coming from an individual who is not only a woman, but a Latina woman, add the fact that I am someone who happens to suffer a physical challenge that the whole world can see there is not much that I could say that I did not know, experience, or have at least an idea about when it comes to diversity, inclusion and leadership. However, I can say that I am able to expand on my knowledge based new information/ ideas I now have. The important thing I can take away is that diversity itself, if not handled properly, can create conflict when it comes to how different people see and express inclusion as well as expression of leadership. Different cultures/ races may define inclusion within a group on a wide spectrum. One group may see inclusion as being able to do anything within the group, even if it is not utilizing their strengths or asking for their opinions. Others may define inclusion as being able to be used according to their strengths as well as being able to freely express their ideas with the group.

In order to handle this effectively leadership, having to do with how each culture / race sees it should be discussed at length at the formation of the group. This process could sufficiently diminish any miscommunication that may occur, which could lead to someone unintentionally feeling excluded and creating tension within the group. Diversity can also be problematic because you may have members of a group or its leader(s) who are un-accepting of the others who may be diverse; which leads to them feeling excluded. As a person who is diverse in more ways than one being excluded is not fun.

Evaluating my    knowledge of diversity, inclusion and leadership as an individual learner is that it can be harder to accomplish things that must be done quickly if you are just one person. As an individual you can be missing out on the ideas of others that would probably make a project better or an experience more rewarding.

As a member of a team I have learned to speak up for myself if I feel that my ideas are not being heard or taken seriously. I have also learned to not be afraid to speak up for others if I feel that they are feeling/ being excluded. Asking a person what tasks in the group they would feel comfortable doing and what their strengths are is another thing I have learned over the years. Doing so makes that person feel included and more willing to share their ideas which ultimately leads to the group’s success. Deciding whether or not to leave the team is another thing I have learned. Depending on how far in we are in the process and weighing the risks of leaving versus staying help me make my choice. If we are far along in the process, the risk I would take for defecting would be high, and the group, even with all its dysfunction could get a decent grade I could choose to stay. If it were the opposite I could choose to leave, but nothing is ever set in stone and it depends on the particular group dynamic.

As an executive in the process of developing a strong, effective team I would examine all the elements that it would take to build such a team. These elements are diversity, inclusion, communication and leadership. When it comes to the diversity aspect I would follow the example of Zappos, the online shoe store. I would conduct two sets of interviews. One to check the qualifications of the individual and another to determine if they are open minded and willing to work with others of diverse backgrounds. Also being aware of asking them what is it in their personality that would make them a really good attribute to the group.

When came to communication I would encourage openness and honesty using trust as a factor. Hopefully if the group sees that I am willing to share my ideas and be honest with them they would be soon to follow. I would let the group know that belittling anyone’s ideas or dismissing it outright would not be tolerated. The ideas of every group member should be openly vetted and weighed, and if necessary, modified before a decision has been reached to accept all, some or none of the idea. And let the person know that their idea was greatly appreciated.

When it comes to inclusion my previous comments on communication would also fit this element. If the person and their ideas are being accepted within the group then there is a low risk of feeling/ being excluded. All these factors lead to being a great leader because if the group feels wanted and that their participation makes a difference that they will want you to lead them.

When it comes to inspiring others it is really hard to say with certainty what I would do. I would like to believe, as I have stated here before, that I would be willing to speak up for others if need be. I would be willing to speak my mind even if everyone else thought different. I am always willing to listen to all sides of an argument and admit when I am incorrect. I am a person who can take a position very passionately and truly believe it. I am willing to support others and give advice when asked.

Honestly I have never thought of myself as someone who inspired others although I believe I would love to be considered as a role model who can inspire others. I see myself as the female version of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, except that I am not at all religious. He is willing to hold strongly on to what he believes despite what others may say and he is willing to speak his mind (all the while being polite of course) and just tries the best person he can and trying to be a role model to others. If speaking my mind irrespective of what others may do is significant enough to inspire others to act or change then I guess I did something good.

New Rap City: A Conversation with Group Member Tech Chambers

Luck is said to be when preparation meets opportunity. That saying rings true for how Tech Chambers met C-Style to form New Rap City.

Tech Chambers From New Rap City

One day while hanging out with one of his friends at their house Tech Chambers heard music coming from a back room. Curious to find out who the rapper was he asked his friend. To his amazement he found out that the person on the track was sitting in that same room.

Two weeks after meeting each other they entered their first competition which they won.

Raised in Harlem the music of New Rap City reflects the desires, struggles and hopes for the future of both C-Style & Tech Chambers. Having both lived less than ideal childhoods listening to rap and hip-hop was a way they could both escape the hardships of life.

At an early age C-Style, who is now 26, new that being in the world of rap and hip-hop was exactly where he was supposed to be. At nine years old he began to record himself on his karaoke machine.  With the help of his karaoke machine he made his first mix tape which he titled “In the Time of Crisis.”

By the time he got to high school he was selling CD’s in the hallways. The title of the CD was “The Resume.”

Tech Chambers, who is now 25, grew up in a family where both of his parents were addicted to drugs and his father was truly never around. His brother dropped out of school to get a job and support the family.

The earliest memory he had surrounding music was his brother rapping “Children’s Story” from Slick Rick to him so that he could fall asleep.

C-Style was not available for an interview, but his partner Tech Chambers spoke about the path of the duo and their new album.

When asked about what makes their music different from the rap music that is out there today Tech Chambers said that it was their versatility and their ability to hit multiple different genres and markets. He said “we can use street music, we can do commercial music, we can do dance music, party music. It doesn’t matter it depends on how we feel when the beat is on.”

When it comes to their music they say that they are trying to show people that there are other ways to express oneself other than violence. “If you listen to it it’s not ‘I’ma shoot you in the head, I’ma rape your mother’ kind of music. We inspire people.”

Tech Chambers says that his biggest influence, when it comes to music, is Tupac:

“Because he elevated rap to what it is today. Without him, and unfortunately without Biggie [Smalls], rap music wouldn’t have had as strong of an impact as it has. He wasn’t afraid to be versatile. He could make a song like “Ambitious as a Ridah” where he’s talking about being a real dude and doing what he has to do to make it then he can make a song like “Brenda’s Got a Baby”, “Keep Ya Head Up”, “Bomb First” and “Dear Mama” where he’s talking to his mother. His versatility made him shine out through everything else.”

On the website ReverbNation the music of New Rap City is described as “a mix between 50 cent and Cassidy with the chemistry of Redman and Method Man.”

So far they have entered 39 competitions. They have won 37 of them. The biggest monetary award that they have received is 500 dollars. They worked with Paul Wall and DJ Jeevus in the production of their first album. The largest crowd they have performed in front of was 400 people.

ReverbNation goes on to say that for winning a showcase “their grand prize was a mix tape hosted by the Rap Champ Paul Wall, a slot of the highly acclaimed hip hop website www.allhiphop.com and an album release party in the heart of Manhattan.”

With a song like “Pick Up a Book” New Rap City rap about learning through education and striving to be someone good in life. Letting young people now that it is your intellect and not your “street swagga” that gets you places.

However those positive words get drowned out when in songs like “Goldfish” and “It Don’t Make You a MC” the ‘n’ word is used repeatably. I am not here to argue about the meaning of the ‘n’ word or if it has changed, what I am saying is that these guys have major talent and great beats and lyrics, but the overuse of the ‘n’ word makes it so that is all you hear when you listen.

I am aware that many rappers use that word the way the stereotypical person from the Vally uses “like”, however aren’t they trying to be different?

If that word wasn’t said so much their message would come through much clearer.

On their Facebook page they have 32 ‘Likes’, on Myspace they have 99 friends and on Twitter they have 120 followers.

They have performed at Club Element, Sultra Lounge and the Secret Lounge.

Tech Chambers wants many more things in the future. He wants to go into acting, producing, directing and writing: “anything where I can express myself in; that I can turn my talent outward for people to recognize.”

The duo is currently working on a new, as of yet untitled, album. Some of the issues that they touch on in the new album have to do with the status of the music industry.

One aspect is what they see as the radio being one-sided. “You could listen to the radio for five days straight and it will be the same ten artists all day and that’s not exciting” says Tech Chambers.

They also discuss the issue of how, in their opinion, when it comes to the music business it is not talent that gets you noticed, but who you know. If you are not lucky to know anyone in the business then you will be “sitting at home working at Home Depot.”

“The first album was just me letting you know I was here. This album is letting you know that I am serious about making an imprint. I don’t want to be one of those rappers that you see everyday that come out with a hit then two years later they don’t have no more music on the radio cause they just stopped their inspiration’s gone.”

When asked if there was anything else he wanted to say his final words were “watch me.”

A Journey Dreams Are Made Of: Pastor Shaw’s Journey to the First Union Church and Beyond

Joseph Isaiah Shaw is the 26 year old Youth Pastor at First Union Baptist Church in the South Bronx. Originally from Sumter, South Carolina he has been the Youth Pastor there since 2009.

Shaw’s journey to this point has not been one that he accepted at first. It could be said that his journey began at four years old.

At the age of four Pastor Shaw remembers going into his parents room crying. When his parents asked what was wrong he told them that the Lord had called on him to preach. His mother not sure what was happening, called his grandfather, Rev. Joseph McAllister Sr., who he refers to as ‘’Pa Pa’, who, at that moment, told her to believe her son.

Youth Pastor Joseph Isaiah Shaw of First Union Baptist Church in the Bronx

According to Pastor Shaw his grandfather, Rev. Joseph McAllister Sr., knew that his four year old grandson, who was named after him, was called by the Lord to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, because he had a similar experience; receiving his call from the Lord to preach at the early age of nine.

Shaw also recalls how his grandmother, the late Gladys Marks McAllister, taught him how to pray when he was four year old.

His grandparents, along with his parents, played a major role in helping him develop spiritually in his primitive years.

Seven years after that experience, at the age of eleven, while his father, Rev. H.B. Shaw, was teaching classes on salvation at the St. James United Methodist Church in South Carolina Shaw asked his father repeatedly: “how did you come to Christ?”

Pastor Shaw remembers that after having the conversation with his father on “the second Sunday in April at 10:30pm at the age of eleven I got down on my knees in my bedroom and I prayed the ‘sinner’s prayer’ and when I got off my knees I felt the most powerful experience; the feeling that I felt is really hard to describe, tranquility. It was so peaceful.”

After he graduated high school he began having dreams again about preaching the word of God. He tried to avoid those dreams wanting instead to become a lawyer, like his aunt Peggy L. McAllister, or a politician.

However, one night at the age of 18, after speaking with his uncle, Rev. Donald McAllister, and asking him “how do you really know that you are called to preach?” he went home, got on his knees and accepted his call to preach.  After doing research Pastor Shaw discovered that in the bible the number seven signifies Perfection of Completion. This was important to him because having his first dream at four, asking questions and accepting Jesus Christ as his savior at eleven, and accepting his journey at eighteen all happened seven years apart.

After graduating from Morris College in Sumter, South Carolina he planned on going to Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. He had no of intentions coming to New York, but after doing Revival in 2007 in the summer while still at Morris College, and again in 2008 it led him to become a full time Youth Pastor in the church and he enrolled in the Masters program at New York Theological Seminary. He will be graduating in May of 2013.

When it comes to First Union Baptist Church, which just celebrated its 96th year anniversary on Palm Sunday with special guest speaker Dr. Dale T Irvin, President of New York Theological Seminary; Pastor Shaw believes that one day they will have a Christian Academy, a counseling center, a community center, a diverse ministry that includes African-Americans, Latinos and Whites, and that they will become international.

“I’m a visionary and sometimes when you’re visionary sometimes you can see things that other people can’t see. I see us really making an impact for the kingdom of God.”

Concerning the issue surrounding the youth population of his church he sees that it is increasing. This is because they are making their presence known within the community. They currently have 20-30 youth. The church has made “ministries to meet the needs of young people.” They have recently implemented an empowerment ministry which facilitates various programs designed to develop young people in terms of their spiritual development and they are also tutoring young people helping them get their G.E.D.

First Union Baptist Church will begin partnering with colleges and will help the young people get jobs through the

Dr. Dale T. Irvin; President of New York
Dr. Dale T. Irvin; President of New York Theological Seminary

church. Because it is still forming he does not feel appropriate to reveal the schools involved. Pastor Shaw sees this as quid pro quo: “The young people are coming to the church because they see that the church has something to offer them and now they’re bringing their gifts and their talents to be a blessing to the church.”

Being a part of the Bronx is a plus according to Pastor Shaw because there is such a diverse background such as African American, Latino, and Causation and so on. It gives them more of a community to reach out to.

More and more as the years go by less and less young people are identifying themselves as religious or stating that although they may have religious values they would not identify themselves as such.

Steady decline is not the only problem facing the world of religion. When it comes to knowing facts concerning different religions, including their own, followers and believers didn’t do so well according to research done by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Audio Podcast: Pastor Shaw Describes His Feelings On Homosexuality and Gay Marriage

Youth Pastor Joseph Isaiah Shaw

This website, started in 2001, conducts surveys and gathers other sources of information to gain a deeper understanding of where and how religion fits into everyday life.

The “U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey” launched on September 28, 2008, asked questions based on information of different religious teaches. The responders were asked to pick which one they thought was the correct answer.

The results indicated that both Atheists and Agnostics were tied for the group of people who received the highest amount of correct answers out of 32 questions with 20.9%.

Concerning Pew Form’s results, having to do with Christianity Pastor Shaw said that “many people who claim to be Christians are not biblically informed” and that even though people may say they are part of a religion they do not truly have an understanding so their responses will be “generic.”

According to Pastor Shaw if you “want to get the fullness of a response you would really have to go to people who are invested in Christianity.” He later said that “It’s not the people who attend [church]; it’s the people that are invested in that particular religion who have a broader understanding.”

The time in his life where Pastor Shaw really relied on his Christian faith happened after his father Rev. H.B. Shaw passed away; thus leaving him without his lifelong mentor and best friend.

On August 29, 2004 on the fifth Sunday in August after preaching at St. James United Methodist Church a sermon called “leave no one behind” Rev. Shaw fell backward and died.

According to Pastor Shaw his father’s last words, which were the last words of the sermon, were “it is well with my soul, thank God.” Pastor Shaw was just 20 years old.

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Although he asked God “why my father? Why now?”, he felt peace knowing that his father was with the Lord.

Pastor Shaw has served as a Community Organizer for the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and and he currently serves as the Founder and President of The Urban Initiative. He hopes to fight poverty not only in New York, but in this nation and the world.

“Poverty is ridiculous in this country. When you got men, women and children going to bed hungry in a wealthy rich nation, it’s a problem. So many people suffering; so many people hurting and I just cannot sit back and watch this. My conscience kills me.”

He went on to quote Albert Einstein: “”the world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who do evil, but because of the good people who sit and let it happen.”