West Springfield High School – Racial Injustice for Black History Month

Dear Mr. Mukai,

As a former graduate of West Springfield High School (WSHS), class of 2004, I was very disheartened to hear that the current administration does not find Black History Month to be educational or a valuable lesson for the current student body. Every year, as you know, WSHS has hosted a MANDATORY Black History Month Assembly. However vague and brief the assembly was it was an opportunity for the few black students at the school to highlight the struggles their ancestors have experienced throughout history.

I couldn’t have been more impressed to learn that the Black Student Union (BSU) at West Springfield was able to secure an individual who marched alongside Dr. King in Selma to come and speak about his experiences as a protester during the Civil Rights Movement with all of the students at your institution. Yet you sat in a room of black students at your school and said education was more important. How is this experience not educational and of the utmost importance?

When I was a student at West Springfield High School the administration valued cultural and racial differences. It embraced celebrating the diversity in which we all were being raised around. That is one of the things I loved about the annual Black History Month assembly and the high school I attended.

In a time when we watch people around the country scream racial slurs, we see racial unrest and even issues like xenophobia it seems that the Black History Month assembly would be ever more important at a predominantly white affluent school like West Springfield High School.

As J.H. Clarke said:

History tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are. Most important, history tells a people where they still must go and what they still must be.

 A school that allows students to wear the confederate flag as clothing because Virginia is the “capital of the South” is a school that should learn to educate students on all sides of the issues. It is a school that clearly has students that need to be educated on where we still must go and still must be as a people.

There is no doubt, as is said on countless sites about this issue and by the BSU that white students constantly use “words like Nigga, Nigger and Negro on a regular basis.” and ask questions to black students about their “hair, our black features, our backgrounds, that should NEVER even be thought to come out of their mouths. They have set stereotypes about us that make us seem much less than we are.”

If you wonder why Black History Month is important and a day to teach about race and the related struggles look right there.

When you have students taunting black students with shirts of the confederate flag or shirts that read “redneck lives matter” I almost wonder if the administration needs a sensitivity training seminar to realize the systemic issues going on within your school. In the past two years I have heard many alarming issues coming out of your halls that weren’t there when I was a student. From our former band director being sent off to prison for soliciting students for sex under your roof to disenfranchising black students, something has to be done!

I stand with the students and will loudly and proudly do so. I hope you will do the right thing and reinstate the mandatory assemblies.


Bobby Argabrite (formerly Whetsell as a student)

Fairfax County School District
Fairfax County Superintendent

Virginia, soon to be for ALL LOVERS, and not just the selected few!

When I woke up this morning I was struck with excitement.  It’s an excitement that I use to feel back when I was studying political science in undergrad at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).  It’s an excitement I get every time I realize how great of a country we live in.

We have our faults in America, but we also have a system of government, while frustrating, that is structured in a way that is intended to protect the basic civil and human rights of all citizens.  Our government, its officials and guiding principles are there to make sure no population, whether gay, straight, black, white, Muslim, Christian or otherwise are marginalized and treated as a lessor human-being than all other American Citizens.

Back in 2006 when I was finally old enough to vote in the United States I got to vote against the Marshall-Newman Amendment, a constitutional amendment that excludes same-sex couples from marriage and prohibits same-sex couples from attaining any other form of legal family status.  The amendment passed and I felt rejected by the very state I called my home.

Virginia, a state that has the slogan, Virginia is for Lovers decided to deny love between two people simply based on their sexual orientation.  Virginia was no longer for lovers no matter what the state wanted to project.

I moved away in 2007 and swore to never look back.  I wanted to live where I was accepted. I wanted my tax dollars to go to a state that valued my citizenship.  I wanted any revenue from a future wedding I may have to go to support local businesses in states that support same-sex couples and our basic civil right to marry the partner we love.

Now, years later, my heart is starting to race with excitement. The political process has played out.  While a majority in the state, back in 2006, were bullying the minority into accepting their religious views against same-sex marriage as our reality by using our voting system as a method of intimidation, the state is firing back by ruling against the ban.

This day, July 28th, will be a day I will never forget.  The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in my home of Richmond, VA ruled in favor of same-sex couples’ freedom to marry upholding the previous marriage ruling that came out of Virginia in February.  

Soon, LGBT individuals in the state of Virginia will see their civil rights realized, but even more importantly we will now be equal to the other citizens of our state. No longer will we be told we are not good enough to be recognized for our love. No longer will we be told that a straight couples love for one another is any more or less valid than ours.

What makes me more excited, if LGBT couples are allowed to marry in Virginia I will no longer have to worry about hospital visitation issues if I am ever sick and in Virginia.  Hospitals in the state currently have the right to deny same-sex partners from visiting loved ones in the hospital due to family only rules.

According to Freedom to Marry’s website:

The decision is not effective immediately. Buzzfeed‘s Chris Geidner explains, “According to the court’s judgment in the case, the judgment will take effect after the mandate is issued in the case. The mandate, under the court’s rules, will be issued ‘7 days after expiration of the time to file a petition for rehearing expires, or 7 days after entry of an order denying a timely petition for panel rehearing, rehearing en banc, or motion for stay of mandate, whichever is later.’

Here are just a few of the social media photos that made my morning a bit brighter.


A photo compliments of Southerners for the Freedom to Marry
Photo credit: Freedom to Marry
Photo Credit: Equality NC
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Photo Credit: Human Rights Campaign #MarriageMomentum #Virginia


Flying to Virginia

Flying to Virginia

I apologize at the beginning for this dear diary moment, but I am totally out of my writing mode lately.  I some how have hit a case of writers block, so I figured I’d just write about my weekend and hope that it will get my mind moving for future topics.

This past weekend I rushed down to my parents home in Port Haywood, Virginia, a little town that’s an hour from civilization.  Okay, maybe that’s a bit mean, but it is pretty far removed from any real cities.  The post office is a box like one room building.  The closets grocery store is in the next town over of Mathews, VA.  If you want to go to a gym or pool you have to drive for what seems like an eternity to Gloucester, VA.  There is seriously nothing you can do in Port Haywood, VA itself.

My mom and I in her front yard

Well, nothing the town can offer, but my parents home is a different story.  When I visit my parents I feel my youth shining through in the best of ways.  On my most recent trip, a weekend run to Virginia, I thought I was going to be stressed to the fullest.  Having just taken two weeks off from work at the beginning of July, followed shortly afterwards with a long weekend that required more vacation time to be taken off I knew I couldn’t really take the Friday off that weekend.  I had no choice but to make the trip and to leave the city after work on Friday.  I arrived at my parents in the dark of night at 1:30 am after everyone had gone to bed.  So I followed that plan and tiptoed my way through the house, up the stairs and into the only guest bedroom that was empty.  I curled up with one thought in my head, “how am I going to make it through Saturday, my only full day in VA this trip with no sleep.”

Morning came and I popped out of bed right at 8:30 am.  I had the energy of a teenager.  I took a refreshing shower and emerged from the bedroom and made my first appearance to my family.  I have no clue where all the energy came from, but I knew I wanted to seize the day.  My first thought was to follow my sister, sister-in-law and mother in whatever they wanted to do to entertain themselves and my niece and nephews.  The first event was shopping in Mathews, Virginia.  It’s always a fun thing to do.  The town is full of consignment stores and antique shops.

Just like when I was a teen I could feel my energy bubbling at the surface around 11 am.  The sun was beaming and I was going in and out of stores.  It may have been comfortably air-conditioned, but I wanted to be sweating my brains out under the delicious rays of the Virginia sun.

After grabbing a bite to eat in town we hopped in the cars and traveled back to the house.  This is when everyone said they wanted to go for a swim.  I am pretty

My brother, me and my sister on our parents dock

sure I was the first person in swimwear.  Before my older nephew Paul and my niece Bonnie even had a chance to go into the guest house to change I was already in the water.  I was only in the shallows trying to find the dogs tug of war toy they accidentally tossed in, but I couldn’t wait to splash around, get a tan and play like a child.

Mom and dad blew up the monstrously large inner tubes for us and every single person in the family sooner or later decided they had to join us in the water.  My nephew Paul, who is in the fifth grade, showed us his best cannon ball jumps off the dock.  My niece Bonnie put on her goggles and showed us how long she could swim under water.  My 18 month old nephew Luke screamed bloody murder as we all tried to get him to enjoy the water.  My brother, sister and sister-in-law floated on the inner tubes.  My mom and I, per usual, decided to swim laps across the water to the far side of the inlet they live on and then back to the dock.

Everyone got a bit of what they wanted.  I got what I didn’t know I wanted, but in actuality learned I needed it.  I got my family.  After a few years of being a bit disconnected from my family and/or completely estranged form a couple of family members, I realized just how badly I needed that connectivity only family can give you.  I tried to remember the last Thanksgiving I spent with family or the last Christmas and I couldn’t place a single year.  That means it’s been too long.  Yes I like my independence, but there needs to be a balance.

My family (2 nephews, niece, sister-in-law, brother, sister and myself)

My family gave me something I don’t think I’ve had in a long time, undying support.  At one point we sat around the table.  The night sky flooded us with darkness as the citronella candles flickered around the sun-room.  Mojitos in our hands and music playing around us.  We talked.  We talked about the good, the bad and the ugly in the way only your family can.  They let me know that all’s that is important is living life in the way that makes you the happiest.  They hope I dance (and ironically I do mean that pretty literally since I gave up dance years ago, something that made me incredibly happy and free).

What I got was my family and a lesson that family loves you, they are forgiving for whatever issues may arise and will always be there on the other side of a phone, flight, or car ride.

Following this happy endeavor I had to travel home to New York leaving my family behind.  I was dropped at the airport and once again heading into the world with my head held high.  So I thought anyways!  I made it to the gate to learn that all flights to the northeast had been canceled that Sunday due to storms.  After having a partial mental breakdown realizing I’d have to fly out Monday mornings (waking up at 3:00 am) my mom came back to the airport and we did what we do best.  We grabbed dinner, downed a martini and headed back to the house.

I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack

Pictures from my short weekend trip:

Song of the Day – The Bitch is Back by Elton John

Song of the Day – The Bitch is Back by Elton John

Picture from 2010 but you still get the point!

After a late night followed by an early morning, in large part thanks to my little baby girl pug Evian using my bed as a jungle gym at 5 AM, I randomly woke up with an extremely liberated feeling.  Something about my night set me free.  Between therapy, friends, exercise, music and the fun I’ve had recently I felt like I took a metaphorical shower last night that washed away something that’s been holding me back.  I feel like all the good qualities about me from my teens have flooded back.  The bitch is back!

With that said I am actually turning today’s song of the day over to Virginia.  A week from today I will be jumping into a car with my mother and making the road trip down to Virginia.  The second I cross the border into the state you best believe we will be blasting this song in full glory.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, that lovely southern state does not know what is about to swish on into their realities full of color and sarcasm.   I’ll be flaming up in there with my dog in my purse and my credit card in hand I am about to have a blast with few limits (don’t worry I’ll be safe and responsible).

I anticipate having a place with the boys; Darrell, Thomas, Chris, Robbie and others.  I am pretty sure we will be tearing it up all sorts of college reunion style.  I strongly suggest you follow these boys on twitter incase there is any live tweeting or Instagram action going on.  Their twitter handles are:

  • Darrell – @DarrellCoffey
  • Robbie – @RobbieGVT
  • Thomas – @ThomasSaylor
  • Christ – @CameraChris

My sister-in-law and I will also have a bit of a reunion (which will also include my baby nephew).  She is “on” twitter but doesn’t really use it so you are stuck following me to get my bitch in action tweets.

Richmond, VA (also known as RVA) has a lot to offer a guy who is looking to get away from it all and have a lot of fun at the same time.  I can’t wait to dance in the dark all night long and prance in the light all day long.  Hope the good folks of Virginia like hot pink, because that’s about all I am packing!

In honor of my upcoming trip today’s song of the day is The Bitch is Back by Elton John!  In more ways than one, when it comes to me, the bitch truly is back!

Song of the Day – I Wanna Be Bad by Willa Ford

Song of the Day – I Wanna Be Bad by Willa Ford

I woke up today in a feisty mood.  Have you ever felt like your life had been boxed in?  Like you weren’t experiencing the world around you?  I am done living my life based off an iPhone calendar minute by minute.  It’s time to think outside the box.

That thought process is exactly what led me to finally plan my trip to Rehoboth Beach, DE.  Last night I spent an hour planning out this trip with a friend Dustin for a tweetup meetup with him and Twitter friends we have.  It got me thinking about how much I just need to let loose (in a safe and orderly way of course) and it definitely helped me get excited for my upcoming two week trip to Virginia.  I can’t decide which trip will be the most lively, but I know both will give me a wild ride.

I realized a few weeks ago, maybe a month ago, that sometimes you just have to have some fun.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself and let your hair down.   I just want to be bad.  I am sick of being a southern bell buttoned up with ridiculous posture.  That persona is exactly why some of my friends nicknamed me Pearl last year.  Pearl was a reference to a persona they joked I had. They described me as being an older southern WASP housewife.  The image was always of me sitting in the corner watching over them sipping my vodka martini and twirling my pearls.

Now that my life is changing I kind of just want to have a bit of fun for a while.  Watching my friends having picnics in the park, running in groups, going to the beach, dancing through the night just has me wanting to live a little.  I am twenty-six years old.  It’s about time I start to act like it.  Everything that I can be I am going to be.  Skyroom dancing on a Sunday?  Why not?  Trip to Rehoboth with friends on a whim… Don’t mind if I do!

Who knows what is in store for me but I think it’s going to involve marathons, hiking, scuba diving, dancing and trying out just about everything my mind can think of.

I Wanna Be Bad by Willa Ford