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Your Stress, My Stress

Stress, it’s unavoidable. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives! Just kidding, but it is ELECTION DAY, so kind of not kidding. We are only facing a worsening global pandemic, clashes over systemic racism, an economy in limbo, rising unemployment, and parts of the country have literally been burning for months. Oh, and don’t forget the questions about a peaceful transfer of power, judicial challenges, and when the results will be fully counted. Today, however, the last of the votes will be cast and more people will vote in this election than ever before. The early voting numbers this year were crazy, around 98 million. Many states hit up to 90% of their total 2016 numbers during early voting. And I for one, cannot wait for this to be over. Mainly, so these election related text messages can stop. I feel like they have been campaigning for years, but enough of that. As a friend of mine says, I’ll see you on the other side. 

Puerto Rico, State Or Nah?

Puerto Rico becoming a state is something that came up during the presidential election as a sort of weapon. So, does Puerto Rico even want to be the 51st state? Well, there have been 5 non-binding votes, with varying outcomes, and there’s another one today.  This will be the 3rd time in a decade Puerto Rico has voted on statehood. But, none of it really matters because it requires a vote from Congress.  The question on the ballot is “Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately into the Union as a State?” Yes/No.

As a U. S. territory, Puerto Ricans are natural-born U. S. citizens and can vote in presidential primary elections, but not in the general election, unless they live on “the mainland”, and they don’t have a vote in Congress. Definitely, has a black sheep vibe to it. 

Congressional Democrats have shown that they would support statehood, but Republicans oppose this, believing it will give Democrats four more seats in the Senate. Regardless, is that a reason not to make them a state? As Jennifer González-Colón, a Republican and the island’s sole, non-voting member of Congress said, “the catastrophe left behind by Hurricanes Irma and Maria unmasked the reality of the unequal treatment of the American living in Puerto Rico.

However, Puerto Ricans against statehood, are worried about losing their national identity, including being a Spanish speaking territory. Realistically, this debate will continue because this issue is not at the top of any list for either presidential candidate. 

#FREEGRACE Is Free

Remember Grace? The 15-year-old girl sent to juvie for not doing her homework during the pandemic. Here’s a quick update: Grace was released about 3 months ago. She was initially incarcerated for violating her probation (on assault and theft charges) by not completing coursework during the pandemic. After her release, she spoke publicly for the first time, at the annual conference for EveryBlackGirl, a nonprofit based in South Carolina that advocates for Black girls. She is also a political canvasser for Michigan Liberation, a nonprofit activist group that focuses on criminal justice reform. This is the same group that organized protests for Grace while she was detained.

She spent 78 days at Children’s Village in Oakland County. Her case was officially concluded in October. She says that she has been doing a lot of reflecting. To the girls at EveryBlackGirl, she teaches in her segment entitled, “Grace Speaks,” that your past does not define you. 

Overall, she’s a typical teenager, her days are filled with school, social media, and hanging out with friends, the global pandemic way. This year, Grace began her junior year in high school. Her first progress report showed all A’s and B’s, and she wants to study computer engineering in college. Gotta say, I’m glad to hear that she’s doing well. 

Grace’s case highlighted the racial disparities in the Michigan juvenile justice system. In Oakland County, from January 2016 through June 2020, about 42% of juvenile cases referred to the court involved Black youth even though 15% of the county’s youth are Black. And what is so dope, is that Grace, a victim of that system, is now working to change it. 

Run Me My Money

Can you believe we are waiting on a second stimulus and some people have not gotten their first one? ProPublica estimates that 12 million Americans did not get their stimulus checks

Why? “IRS missteps, technical snafus, and Treasury Department policy decisions that cut out large groups of people altogether.” 

Important: Those who fell through the cracks have until Nov. 21 to claim the money or risk losing out on any second round of stimulus payments.

“People who haven’t received payments fall into two basic groups: First, those who were entitled to the money but didn’t receive it automatically because their income was so low they didn’t file tax returns, and they either haven’t applied or tried to but failed. Second, those who were left out by intentional policy choices — namely, the spouses and children of undocumented immigrants and approximately 2 million inmates of prisons and jails.” 

So, if you didn’t get the first stimulus, tell the IRS to get you your money. 

I, Robot? Nope.

Walmart fired robots. Walmart recently ended a contract with Bossa Nova Robotics. The two had been working together for the last 5 years to add inventory robots to 1,000 stores. They ended that contract after their customers started doing more online and pickup shopping during the pandemic. This led to more associates gathering orders and walking the isle, making the job that robots would have done essentially obsolete. So, Walmart says it’s exploring ways to better utilize associates and have them track inventory. 

Don’t worry, Walmart continues to use other robots in stores, such as floor scrubbers that move through aisles alone. Bossa Nova, on the other hand, laid off around 50% of its staff after the contract ended. So, there’s that. 

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