There are some things in life we can't forget. The debris-filled streets of Moore, Oklahoma after last year's devastating tornado pop into my mind every once in a while. My friend Ally and I hopped in her car last year and drove up to Moore a couple days after the tragedy to help. We didn't know what we were going to do... but we had to help. We managed to show up at the exact time volunteers were being organized at a local community center. We were told we'd be going to clean up the cemetery... victims needed to be laid to rest. We walked a mile or so with hundreds of volunteers completely unprepared for what we were going to see.
Devastation. Complete and utter devastation. I remember walking towards the back of the cemetery at one point - I became overwhelmed with emotions and started crying. It was too much. Where do you even start to pick up the pieces. At that moment, a pastor was walking through the cemetery and he stopped and we prayed. That day changed my life.
I'm in Oklahoma today - we're doing a live shoot of The Broadcast from Winstar World Casino and Resort. I had some donations to take up to a special education facility in Norman, OK, right outside of Moore. I decided I'd make the trip yesterday before settling in at the hotel.
I wasn't going to drive up to Moore. It was raining. I was tired. It would take me an hour-and-a-half to get back down to Winstar. I finally decided that I couldn't have driven all that way without checking in on Moore.
That neighborhood you see in the picture above is being rebuilt. Lots of new, beautiful homes. There are still some empty lots. Lots of "For Sale" and "For Lease" signs - I wonder how many people decided to leave.
I ventured over the the cemetery to pay my respects. Again, tears flowed. The before-and-after pics speak for themselves.
So Moore... I will never forget. A constant reminder of how random (yet not-so-random) and precious life is.
Every morning before The Broadcast, we have a production meeting to go over the day's segments and trending hot topics for table talk. We all give input on the discussion topics (although I have admittedly scaled back my input for various reasons) that range from celebrity news to sports and even Kim Kardashian's backside (or front side depending on the week). Priorities, I know. But every once in a while, difficult and substantive topics come up because our social media timelines and feeds are saturated with them. They can't be ignored. And shouldn't be. Because they're important. Really, really important.
Michael Sam. Iraq. Trayvon Martin. Elections. Ray Rice. Obama. Ebola. Ferguson. #ICantBreathe.
And don't forget #AlexFromTarget.
Open carry. Governor-elect Greg Abbott said recently that he would sign any open carry legislation that made its way to his desk. In Texas, public display of rifles and shotguns is already legal, but handguns must be concealed. For now anyway. Folks want to be able to snatch those guns out of their waistband holsters when confronted by dangerous thugs. Easier access to a deadly weapon. For protection. Shoot first, ask questions later.
The article was tossed across the table. And I cringed.
John Crawford, age 22. Tamir Rice, age 12. Trayvon Martin, age 17. Mike Brown, age 18.
The names of the first four people I thought about after reading the headline. The first two were both holding air pellet guns when they were shot and killed by law enforcement. The latter two were unarmed. None were given the benefit of the doubt. But all were so inherently dangerous that their deaths were justified (the investigation into the officer's actions is currently ongoing in Tamir's case).
These four have something else in common... they were all black. Sigh. Breathe. I don't want to have this discussion. I'll be accused of bringing up race again. Of playing the race card. But how do I discuss gun control without discussing race, when the hashtags #ICantBreathe and #BlackLivesMatter are trending topics worldwide? Yes, we have to discuss open carry. Yes, it's important and necessary. And yes, it's not going to go well. And it didn't.
Me: You've got 12-year-old kids in parks with those soft pellet guns...
Co-host: (interrupts) Oh here we go again...
Me: (pause) I'm sorry?
Co-host: Oh go ahead.
Here we go again? With what? I continue to make my point that this 12-year-old kid is now dead because law enforcement had a split second to decide whether or not someone pointing what looked like a real gun was dangerous. Alas, it was a child. With a toy. Who wasn't dangerous. And now he's dead. And this is why open carry makes me cringe. Guns that are more easily accessible. Makes me shudder just thinking about it.
On to the viewer comments from Facebook... one viewer wrote: "If thugs can carry open and illegally, we should carry our guns open and legally."
My question... who are the thugs? Who are you referring to when you say the word thugs? These guys?!?
I asked the question - who are the thugs? Silence. I asked again. Who are these thugs? Someone said, "Criminals." Who are the criminals? I can't tell you how many times I heard the peaceful protesters in Ferguson, Dallas, New York, etc. referred to as "thugs." Use of the word "thug" in and of itself has racist undertones (and overtones I guess) - which is exactly why it needs to be discussed. We could've kept this game up for a while until someone actually acknowledged the truth - by thugs and criminals, they mean black men. The "thuggification" of young black men is a real thing - I didn't make it up - it's so eloquently described here.
Still not following me? Well, it's discussed here. And here. And here.
But hey, here we (I) go again...
I pray for the day when we no longer have to discuss race. We're just not there yet. If you're tired hearing about it, imagine what it must be like to live it. At least someone feels me...
For perspective's sake... our discussion about Ferguson a couple weeks ago. Click here.
After missing The Broadcast on Monday because of jury duty, the rest of the week ended up being pretty epic!
I can now check "pose-with-a-supermodel" off of my bucket list since Petra Nemcova joined us in studio to talk about her Happy Hearts Fund charity...
And our friends at Northpark Center always throw the best holiday parties! This year most of our producers were able to attend and we all won some pretty great raffle prizes!
We hosted our first movie screening Thursday night! We previewed "Wild" starring Reese Witherspoon. That movie is deep... and reminds me why I hate camping!
And then today.... O-M-G! Our show was broadcast live from Dr. Pepper Arena here in Frisco. I knew we were going to be chatting all things Texas Legends today but little did I know that would include an interview with a bona fide NBA legend. I looked through my rundown of today's show... Del Harris? OMG - DEL HARRIS! As a die-hard Lakers fan, being able to interview someone like Del was a true honor. It was pretty awesome. None of my co-hosts are really into sports - but I was in my happy place today!