Dating In Texas: New York VS Houston.

Men in Texas are different from those in New York.

On Chivalry:

In Texas, chivalry is king.  Men open doors, pull out chairs, stand when you walk into the room,  wait for you to seat before sitting down et al.  So if you love all those, then Texas is where you need to be.

Race Relations:

Houston is a hodge podge of different races.  But, I have seen more mixes within the Spanish/Mexican community than really any other community here.  But in New York, every race has an equal opportunity of dating another race.   Of course, when you add religion to the mix, then it becomes interesting.

External factors:

If you are someone who is more interested in internal factors rather than the external, then you might find that New York men might be slightly better.  For example,  in Houston, you really should not consider taking anyone seriously, if you do not have a job. Working is very integral to the Houstonian – so it is not rare to find individuals with Masters degrees working as an agent (cashier) or truck driver  (these are jobs for those with a GED or a high school certificate.  I will discuss Texas/USA and its underemployment  culture at a different time). Having a job makes you more date/relationship worthy.  This holds true for men and women. In New York,  a person who is interested in you looks at your employment the least. Maybe,because in New York you are either “looking for a job, an apartment or a new boyfriend” a la Carrie Bradshaw.

Support:

New York men are more supportive of who you are at where you are. Now, do note that you cannot be ‘lazy’ in your process.  You have to actively seek, show proactiveness, and be moving.

Sex:

I think men in Houston are more willing to wait.  I really do not know if it is because this is part of the Bible belt but here, men take their time to get to know you.  In New York, sex is free.  ( For clarity, watch Sex and the City). Sex is something you get out of the way and then focus on getting to know a person.   Either way, wear a condom.

 

Role Playing:

I think New Yorkers are more open to women not being traditional or typical. New York women have no constraints on who they should be.  They are whoever they want to be that day and men are used to that.  Houston, women are kind of constrained.  They have to be ladylike aka meek, soft spoken, gentle, with knowledge of the womanly arts *roll eyes*.

So that’s it?  If given a choice who will I date?

Actually, I am looking to date a man from Pluto.  *cheeky grin*

In summary, these are the steps to take if you want to date in Houston:

a) Get a job.

b) Join a meetup or any organization that brings together like-minded people.

c) Leave your house and go out.

d) Let people know that you are interested in dating. Houston is like a village with everyone all up in your business.

d) Be open.

e) Enjoy yourself.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Using Social Marketing To Curtail Boko Haram.

 

General Overview

 

On April 14th 2014, more than 200 students from a school in Borno state, Nigeria were abducted by Boko Haram Islamist Militants. As of May 20th 2014, some of these girls are still with these militants, there has been a lot of social media fervor about the abductions with the #bringbackourgirls hashtag trending on social media sites, a lot of misinformation about the abduction and generally lack of clarity about the happenings. This post is to analyze this event and bring about a more preventative approach to forestall future happenings.

 

What is Social Marketing?

 

Social marketing, for the purpose of this post is about getting a population or a target audience to choose to implement a change in their behavior of their own volition. It borrows heavily from marketing. Interestingly, promotion (which is the blitz /shiny glitz that is seen) is just one aspect of marketing. Marketing involves understanding the needs of the community (end user needs), understanding why your idea /product is the best fit(positioning), choosing how to spread your message (channel selection) and of course, evaluating if what you posited or implemented actually worked (evaluation). Social marketing implements all four with the purpose of creating a behavioral change.

 

Social Marketing:

 

Intervention to curtail the growth of terrorist groups in the country by creating awareness, information promotion education and safety promotion. 

 

Behavioral changes expected:

  • Awareness of the dangers of Boko Haram to community health.
  • Collaboration with the government to arrest Boko Haram members.
  • Refusal to support, join, implement strategies of destruction of members of the community and citizens of the nation.
  • Reporting Boko Haram or suspected Boko Haram members.

These are behavioral changes because rather than cover up individuals who are bent on destruction, it pushes the community to uncover these individuals and curtail their growth. 

 

End Users:

Citizens of Northern states in Nigeria, Citizens of Nigeria and Border countries. These citizens want to feel safe. Boko Haram has shown a lack of respect for lives and this is their Achilles heel because it shows their agenda to be fear based rather than religious or against westernization based. Boko Haram is not about a philosophy.

 

Positioning:

An intervention to create awareness, educate and promote safety is the best strategy because it ensures that individuals are informed, and they know how to relay information about suspected terrorists.

 

Channel Selection:

The channels that will be used are social media, real media and influencers.

Social media will be used because a lot of younger members of society use social media tools; moreover, social media tools are used by Boko Haram members to spread fear. Additionally, social media is a very adaptive tool that can be used to spread any message using different formats. Social media tools are twitter, facebook, tumblr, google, youtube, instagram and the list goes on.

 

Real Time Media: This is not really as adaptable as social media. But, its reach is generally older members of society. Real time media includes community newspapers, gazettes etc

 

Influencers: This involves collaboration with religious leaders and community influencers to spread information and educate.

 

Message selection:

 

  • To choose the right message/image and be culturally sensitive, there has to be collaboration between community leaders and those who will be working on creation and placement of the message. Community members have to be involved in message selection.
  • The message and image should impart the importance of curtailing and controlling the growth of this terrorist group for the purpose of community mental/emotional and physical health.
  • The message should also include an educational component because when people are informed, they often choose to make the right decision. This information should clearly state that Boko Haram is not for any religious group or any religious person or even about westernization but rather is a group of people who enjoy spreading fear and everyone is a target.
  • Ensure that the message contains an easily remembered number for those that might have information about Boko Haram and (or) suspected Boko Haram members.

 

 

Placement:

 

Create an access map to find out where young and older people gather and place informational products in those places and this could also be  virtual places as well. Informational products could be educational brochures created from information received from community leaders and community influencers.Informational products could also come in other forms. Virtual space could be websites or online meeting places that attracts younger citizens.

 

Beyond using technology, other media tools should be used like: radio, tv , community newspaper. Informational products should be placed in community centers like market places, hospitals, clinics, religious organizations etc.

 

Evaluation:

 

There are different ways to evaluate and they include:

  • charting how often messages are received before an attack occurs.
  • surveying to see how much information is known about Boko Haram and their message from the lay individual in the community.
  • Running focus groups
  • Comparing to see if there has been a reduction in attacks and abductions in the Northern area since the implementation of this intervention.

 

Special Note On #Bringbackourgirls campaign.

The #Bringbackourgirls campaign has been quite effective in creating awareness about the abduction of these young girls internationally. A lot of global celebrities have been seen with their placards and the words #bringbackourgirls. #Bringbackourgirls has created awareness and ensured that this atrocity remains in the fickle minds of the global populace. But Nigeria’s governmental media strategists/information center have to ensure that Nigerian citizens have information that is relevant, clear and on time. It is important that the federal government of Nigeria be seen to be physically doing something to get these girls home. This is not the time to shift responsibilities to the state government but rather a time to collaborate if need be. Some have argued that Boko Haram’s reason for operation is to destabilize the Nigerian government but if the Nigerian government does not take some strong actions. Boko Haram might win.

 

OPUSC

 

 

 

Mental Health – Public Health Perspective

General Overview:

Mental illness affects one in every four people. Surprised? Mental illness cuts across socioeconomic status, professions , countries and cultures. Of course, in certain countries, cultures, and socioeconomic levels, mental illness is accepted and resources are allocated for individuals who fall into the category of the mentally ill.

Unfortunately, the public perception of the mentally ill is often one tied to the unkempt individual that is out of touch with reality or society. Many are often so caught up in their idea of what the mentally ill looks like, that they refuse to acknowledge that mentally ill individuals might have ‘normal’ faces and be quite hidden within society. Because, mental health issues are not as in your face as physical disabilities, it has been a struggle getting attention on the issues of mental health  in terms of funding.

How is  mental illness defined?

There are several definitions out there for mental illness but the definition preferred on this blog is that mental illness is a chemical imbalance that causes an individual to produce behavioral changes (feels, acts, behaves, thinks) that might be considered as being outside the scope of normality for an extended duration of time.

Now, one will assume that with mental illness being a common occurrence in every society that there will be more acceptance ; unfortunately, because many societies are not fully equipped or ready to handle this issue, many of the mentally ill either fall through the cracks, hide in shadows (particularly if they can pass off as being ‘normal’ ) or are abandoned.

It is particularly saddening that in many developed countries those that seem to fall through the cracks tend to be those from lower socioeconomic levels. Often, because they cannot afford to pay for help, or therapy is not supported in their communities.

Who are the Mentally ill?

The mentally ill ranges from the professional who seems to have it all together to the homeless individual that you see having an interesting conversation with an invincible person. There is a broad spectrum for what could be termed mental illness and this ranges from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, OCD etc.

A Special Note on Substance Abuse:

In many cases substance abuse is grouped with mental illness because substance abuse can be the doorway into mental illness or could be the way that individuals cope with their mental illness. Substance abuse could be a coping strategy. For example, that person that is addicted to prescription pills might be dealing with depression. Another example, could be that person that abuses alcohol could be using alcohol to lessen the sound of voices talking to him/her.

What are the issues for many with mental illness?

a) Lack of awareness: Many do not know about mental illness or they are stuck on their perception of mental illness.

b)Lack of acceptance: Many have learned how to hide their struggles to fit in.

c)Lack of inclusion: Many are scared that they will lose their loved ones if they admit to struggling with mental illness and many have lost their loved ones because of mental illness.

d)Lack of facilities and trained mental health professionals: There is a dearth of professionals trained to work within this field and in some parts of the world, facilities are lacking to handle this population.  In addition, there are countries that prefer not to take care of this population for cultural reasons.

e)Isolation: The mentally ill is often isolated from the rest of society. Often, there are no programs in place to include them into society during and after treatment.

f)Lack of understanding: There are societies in which religion is often the way used on the mentally ill but it is imperative that there is a balance between religion and other initiatives. After the religious process, the individual will still need to see a therapist, will still need to be trained on how to behave in society/work in society, will still need to be supported through the inclusion process. It is very important that all those who played a supportive role in the healing process get some therapy. In developing countries, caregiver burden is seen as normative, but no one asks about support for the caregiver.   There is a need for supportive networks in developing countries for the mentally ill and their loved ones.

g) Lack of training: Those who educate and those who hire need to be trained in ways of creating special accommodations for these individuals. They also need to be trained on how to communicate with these individuals. In the United States, a lot of work is being done in this area by training those who work in the field of education.

What should the lay person do?

a) Provide support:  Many of those who struggle with mental illness beyond needing a therapist or professional that can provide psychological or psychiatric support,  also need a friend that will see them through the dark times.

b) Many need to be included. The idea of excluding individuals who struggle with mental illness in certain countries/cultures need to be abolished. Those who struggle with mental illness are still members of society and as such special accommodations should be created to include these individuals. Many of these individuals with mental illness are skilled workers or people who have the potential to be trained in special skills, so it becomes worrisome when one wonders, how many highly skilled individuals in high employment need based areas  have been abandoned  because of this special circumstance. Further more, it is interesting to note that many in our prison systems around the world, are individuals who struggle with mental illness. It makes one wonder, if the reason they got themselves into certain ‘situations/scenarios’ was because of this condition.

Fortunately, United States Of America provides for inmates who struggle with mental illness. It has been noted, that there are cases of family members /loved ones calling for the apprehension of their  mentally ill  because they cannot provide the kind of care needed and the prison system is set up to provide the best care.  But, this is in the United States, and is probably not the case in developing countries.

c)Support government and community led initiatives that will create programs that help these individuals. If you can vote – then vote the right individuals who show concern about the invincible in society and have a workable plan in place to help/support these individuals.  If you can not vote, get involved in outreach programs. Get involved in promoting mental health. Educate individuals on mental health and its impact on community health.

d)Encourage these individuals to get diagnosed. Get them to understand that getting diagnosed is the first step towards healing. Do not self-diagnose.

Why is this a Public Health Issue?

a) This is  a global health issue that affects individual, organizational and population health around the world.  Every country is affected.

b) It includes socioeconomic disparities and affects the powerless and the voiceless.

c)It has far-reaching impact.

d)It involves health care reforms.

e) It involves collaborating with different communities , religious institutions and health systems to take care of a particular population.

For those in the United States, please check out www.samhsa.gov.

 

FYI:  May is Mental Health Month in the United States.

 

 

 

Random Thoughts: Nigeria- A Case Of Criminalization And Misplaced Priorities

Last year, a ban on same sex relationships in Nigeria was passed in the Nigerian parliament, and then a couple of days ago, it was signed into Law by president Goodluck Jonathan. This law which is called the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition bill makes it a criminal act to enter into a same sex marriage contract or civil union, it bans gay clubs and will imprison gay people who display public displays of affection. Any same sex marriage contracted outside the country will be considered null and void in Nigeria. The sentence terms for these acts are between ten (10) to fourteen (14) years imprisonment. This law can be read to say, you can be gay but we do not need to know. Remain in the closet. I shook my head!  (1)

Nigeria is a deeply religious country which often vacillates between a deeply traditional mindset and modernity. My shock did not come from the president making this decision but the fact that he signed this into law without looking at the impact that this decision will have on several law abiding citizens in the country. He has also refused to acknowledge that with the high corruption Nigeria has, this law has opened up an avenue for rampant abuse and blackmail to occur. This bill is one that is negligent in nature because it criminalizes adults who are involved in a consensual act.

As I mentioned earlier, Nigeria is an ultra religious country and many of its citizens are either Christians, Muslims or traditional worshipers. For many Christians and Muslims, the act of homosexuality is an abhorrent one that is not allowed in their holy books. But, what about the others who do not fall into these religious classifications? Should their perspective be nullified because they aren’t one of the majority and majority rules the day? Is there no sense of the separation between religious institutions and states or are people being forced to follow a particular religious order because the president belongs to it?

The president has argued that a poll was conducted and that about ninety percent of Nigerian citizens are pro this bill and they are anti homosexuality. I will love to see the questions in this poll to see if it was made up of questions with the questioners bias inherent in them? I will love to know where this poll was taken? The particular demographic details of those who responded?   Basically, how he came up with his numbers.

Many Nigerians will argue that the president is right about the numbers because homosexuality is a choice and that it is an imported Western culture. But, according to research, homosexuality might not be a choice  as many will think, there are those who are gay by choice because it gives them easier access into industries and money but then a majority of gay people believe they were just born that way. For many, they struggled with this difference for many years before they just chose to accept that’s who they are. Many gay people that I’ve spoken to, have argued that a thinking gay person will choose to be straight particularly with the kinds of persecution that exists for many of their kind. So, dear moralistic hypocritical Nigerians, could you be punishing people who were just born that way with this new law? (2)

The hypocritical part of this argument lies in the fact that there are many wealthy men and women who do not call themselves gay but they do sleep with young poor men and women. These poor menand women become the victims and if they are caught, highly likely these poor men and women will be the ones in prison. In addition, for many wealthy young people that are gay, they have no problems relocating to a place where they can be true to themselves. So, what happens to those who are too poor to relocate? This becomes an issue of economics.

Beyond the economical part of this issue, we have to look at the health impact. It is quite clear that this will have a psychological and possible mental health impact on many gay people in Nigeria, because now they will have to live in fear. Now, more will be depressed. I hate to say this, depression could lead to a more permanent ending. But beyond the psychological, there is another health impact which is the spread of STDs as more gay people will decide to hide in the closet to continue their acts. Now, some might argue that many are already in the closet in Nigeria but I will argue that it will become worse. Now, more gay people will need to prove their ‘normality’, many single men and women of the same sex loving persuasion will be forced to go into marriage and continue their now illicit relationships which might lead to the rampant spread of STDs to more innocent bystanders.

Another issue I have with this bill is one of the methodology of collecting information. Now, this bill leaves it open ended as to how people will prove that they aren’t gay. Will the courts of law just go by hearsay? Will the police just go with their gut instincts based on the superficial, i.e, how a person speaks, sits, the friends he/she has etc? What kinds of proof will be needed before one gets punished and will there be a standard way of collecting this proof?

My thoughts on this issue are quite simple. First, I do not believe that homosexuality is a western import. I believe that this has been in Africa as well as other parts of the world for centuries but that traditional Africans knew how to manage it. These people were given a place within society and in some parts of Africa were allowed to participate in society. For example, amongst the Igbos, women married women, I do not know if they had sex with these women that they married but the fact remains that traditional Igbo society of the past had a place for same sex marriage. (3)

Secondly, the misinformed fear that is being spread in Nigeria is that homosexuality is catching. That isn’t the case. If you are a person with strong values and you are heavily attracted to the opposite sex, then there is no way that you can get caught in homosexuality. It becomes ‘dangerous’ for those who have questions and are curious, then they might try and realize it isn’t for them or they might find out that is where they are most at peace. What of those with weak values? I will argue that those with weak values can be caught anyway either with aristos, sugar mummies, sugar daddies or same sex loving people. That homosexuality is catching argument isn’t a valid one.

Further more, I mentioned two years ago, that I was in Nigeria and I saw that Nigeria still needs a lot of work in terms of its infrastructure, corruption, education and the list goes on. I believe that will be a more worthwhile venture for the president to pursue with his bills than pursuing human rights violations against people who are participating in a consensual activity. There is a problem of misplaced priority and I wonder if this new bill is not being pushed by the 2015 election which is around the corner. Maybe the president is leveraging the verbally homophobic tendencies (because we know that many do other things in private) of the citizens to push this ploy of a God fearing president who would not allow his citizens to rot in eternal damnation. The problem is that he is forgetting that straight and gay are his citizens. He will be respected more and voted in without playing the homophobic card but by actually playing the card of the man who accomplishes what he set out to do. Obasanjo (that crazy ex-president who should seriously just be focused on his farm work) is tied to the mobile phone era and telecommunication in Nigeria, though some could argue that he was just at the right place at the right time. So dear president Goodluck Jonathan, what will be your legacy? Human rights violations?  Finally, If he is against same sex relationships and marriage because of his personal and religious beliefs, he could have left that bill pending and focused his energies on other things because that will be humane and will be protecting your citizens human rights. Same sex marriage isn’t an issue in Nigeria. Finding new cartegories of people to persecute will be an issue in Nigeria because of this bill.

 

1) http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/01/nigeria-passes-law-banning-gay-marriage-2014113151626685617.html

2) http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/12/11/scientists-may-have-finally-unlocked-puzzle-of-why-people-are-gay

3)http://blackagendareport.com/?q=content/tradition-same-gender-marriage-igboland-nigeria

 

 

opusc