Why so much hate? An “Op Ed”

This op ed contains links to several of my “controversial” blogs over the years … please do explore them.

As we get toward the end of the year when we celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s … all these days of “good will,” I want to stop and explore a most disturbing phenomenon. Why is there still so much hate when we live in one of the most prosperous nations in the world? And what is strange is the hate is most frequently not coming from those who have little and are oppressed, but from those who are blessed.

I will share some examples from my blogging and then one story from local high schools.

For the past nine years, I have published two or three blogs each month about my consulting areas of expertise of diversity, leadership and career development. I often write short summaries of the blogs to post on Facebook and spend a little money to push them out to people who have shown interest in these various topics. Most of the time, on my non-controversial items to do with career development and general leadership, I may get one or two comments. But when I write on certain diversity topics, my Facebook feed explodes with hate.

NC Council of Churches Governing Board and Staff are proud to stand with the banner showing us as united against racism and Islamophobia

For example:

My blog about Islamophobia in the United States. I received dozens of comments about how all Muslims are terrorists, how they have come to this country to take over the American way of life, etc. One guy even sent me a photo of a terrorist holding the severed head of a baby asserting that Muslims want to do this to all Euro-Anglo children.

Writing about treating LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people with respect and equality. One angry man wrote that faggots deserved to be fired from their jobs and that they are going to burn in hell. One woman wrote that this “crap” should stay out of the workplace and schools (as if people should hide and deny who they are in everyday life?) and accused gay people of seeking special rights. And when I tried to politely share some facts with her, she accused me of harassing her and reported me to Facebook!

NOTE: My next blog will be “LGBTQ Equality – It’s equal rights, not special rights!”

• And even when I write about ongoing systemic racism in our country. Yes, things have improved but we still have issues to address and healing that needs to happen. People wrote about Blacks getting all the privileges now in the world and that whites are the ones discriminated against (have these people experienced what it is like to be Black and maneuver daily in a world controlled by White people?) And of course they posted the stereotypes of Black criminals and welfare mothers.

Writing about respect for Muslims, LGBT people and about addressing racism did indeed raise a lot of ire, but then I was shocked when I wrote a blog titled, “Five Lessons for our Country from the World Champion Soccer Team and Megan Rapinoe.” I thought it was an upbeat blog with some positive messages that would resonate with everyone, but then people commented that Ms. Rapinoe hated America, had desecrated our flag (fake news), etc. Can’t people at least try to focus on the positive messages?

It is so sad that we even see racism rear its ugly head among school children.

And even more sad is that some of this hate is even permeating our youth. Last month in our local Raleigh, NC paper was an article, (which also made national news) “NC Students talk on racist chat about killing black babies.” It detailed how students at two local high schools engaged in online chat using racial slurs, and advocating bringing back slavery and shooting black babies. So sad and so sickening.

I am puzzled on why people engage in hate. What are they afraid of? Do they think that Muslims, Gays and Blacks are going to steal their pie and that there will be less for them to eat? Or do they have such low self worth that the only way they can validate themselves is by putting other people down?

Raising up others and being kind to all people will build a better society. We will all be more positive, productive and happy. My grandmother once said, “If you don’t have something good to say about someone, it is best to say nothing.”

Peace and love to all my readers. Let’s be civil and kind to each other and contribute to a better society where our diversity makes us all stronger. One final blog link: “Diversity and Inclusion – Does it divide us or unify us?”

Social Security Benefits for the LGBT Community

Laws around equal access and treatment of LGBTQ people, including same-gender couples, continues to evolve and change, some for the better, and some for the worse. The following information is a resource provided by Disability Benefits Help, an independent organization dedicated to helping people of all ages receive Social Security benefits. If you have any questions on your family’s eligibility for auxiliary benefits or how Social Security works in general, feel free to reach out to their team at [email protected]

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If you’re currently receiving Social Security disability or Social Security retirement benefits, your family may be eligible for additional financial resources. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly benefits for dependent family members of disability or retirement recipients. Obgerfell v. Hodges made gay marriage legal in all 50 states, meaning LGBT married couples are now eligible for additional financial planning options through the SSA.

What Benefits Are Available?

Benefits for your family members are known as auxiliary benefits. Spouses, children, and even parents can receive auxiliary benefits. Who can receive benefits will vary depending on the type of Social Security you’re drawing from yourself.

For Those on Retirement or Disability Benefits

If you’ve retired or disabled and started drawing Social Security, your spouse will qualify for auxiliary benefits under your account. Your spouse can receive up to 50% of your own retirement benefits on top of your monthly benefits as soon as your spouse turns 62. If you’re receiving retirement benefits, any minor children* will be eligible for 50% of your benefits until age 18. You will have a household maximum income limit of around 180% of your entitlement, meaning that even if your spouse and multiple children are eligible for 50% of your benefits, your monthly payment will be capped.
*Who counts as a “child” to the SSA? Biological, adopted, and step children will all qualify. You will not need to adopt your spouse’s child if he or she was adopted or is from another marriage, but you will need to wait one year after marriage before applying for auxiliary benefits on behalf of a stepchild.

Your child could be eligible for auxiliary benefits well beyond age 18 if he or she has a disability that began before age 22, such as autism or cerebral palsy.

Survivors’ Benefits

If you or your spouse were to pass away, additional benefits will be available to your family. Surviving spouses are eligible for between 75%-100% of a deceased spouse’s benefits starting at age 60. Minor children are also eligible for 75% of a parent’s benefits until age 18.

Your parents would also be eligible for survivors’ benefits if you were to pass away so long as your parents are over age 62 and were dependent on you for at least 50% for their daily living expenses.

What Benefits Can’t Be Claimed?

The only benefits that can’t be claimed by the LGBT community (yet) are auxiliary benefits from a disabled or retired spouse after divorce. Typically you can claim 50% of a spouse’s entitlement after a divorce once you’re over age 62, so long as you had been married for 10 years and did not remarry before age 60. Because the Supreme Court did not recognize gay marriage until 2015, it’s unlikely anyone in the LGBT community will be eligible for these resources until 2025 at the earliest.

Starting Your Application

If you need to add beneficiaries to your account, you’ll unfortunately only be able to do so at your closest Social Security office. To make an appointment to fill out the paperwork in person, simply call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213.

Helpful Resources

The SSA’s Website: https://www.ssa.gov/

Types of Beneficiaries: https://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/types.html

SSA Offices Across the Country: https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/social-security-disability-locations