Regarding the Mass Shootings in Orlando

Regarding the Mass Shootings in Orlando

Regarding the Mass Shootings in Orlando

By Ramon Diaz

I along with the rest of the country mourn for the victims of the mass shootings in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. As a resident of Central Florida, this incident strikes particularly close to home. To my many friends in the LGBT community, my thoughts and prayers are with you. It is hard to imagine anybody would carry so much hate and contempt in their heart as to kill and injure so many innocent people. It is incomprehensible why anyone would judge, shun, hate or kill someone because of their choice of whom they love.

When I started my business,, I made a conscious choice to be an advocate for LGBT rights. Even though I am not gay, as somebody who was bullied as a child, I can empathize with my brothers and sisters who have the courage to be who they are, despite persecution and discrimination. Although I come from a conservative family background, I realized very early on in my adulthood, that all the fear mongering about homosexuality had no basis in reality. I learned that sexual orientation had nothing to do with whether you’re a decent human being or not. To the chagrin of many in my family, I became a very public advocate through my website for everyone to have the freedom to be who they want to be, to love who they want to love and not have to hide in shame or fear.

I always knew, from very early in my childhood, whom I was sexually attracted to. In my teenage years, I struggled with religious guilt every time I masturbated. I know from experience that sexual attraction is something one is born with and is almost impossible to control. To realize that homosexuality, in its many forms, is something you are born with, seems like an obvious conclusion to anyone that has any empathy. Homosexuality is not a choice, and people should not be punished, made feel guilt, or shame, or be treated differently because of who they are. When it comes to guilt, shame and condemnation, it mostly stem from one main source: religion.

Religious text, whether the Bible or the Koran, had one very basic agenda: to make more converts and have control over them. What better way to control humans than to make them feel shame and guilt of their carnal desires? These text were written in a world in which the number of followers decided which religions or sects would rise to power. It is hard to gain followers by conversion. It is much easier to have your followers procreate and multiply to gain power in numbers. In this type of world, homosexuality is a direct threat to the power and influence of the religious leaders, since homosexual sexual relations do not lead to procreation and increasing the number of followers. That’s why the Catholic church is against both homosexuality and contraception. That’s why the church seems more concerned about human procreation issues than by poverty, human bondage, justice, greed, war and human suffering.

In this indictment, I do not want to promote intolerance towards any religion. I just want to shed a light on what I believe is the truth, and end the relentless religious intolerance towards the LGBT community. Ancient religious text have been quoted throughout history as an excuse to slavery, lynching, genocide, and many other crimes against humanity. I exhort all readers of this article not to give up personal judgement to adhere to ancient text. Take the wisdom, compassion and empathy that these text have to offer, but leave behind the bigotry and hate within these texts. Beware of the people who interpret these writings to promote their own prejudices.

For every purchase of our Orlando Strong t-shirts, will donate a portion of the profits to Orlando Youth Alliance, and LGBT 501(c)(3) charity.

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The Ethics of Selling T-Shirts

The Ethics of Selling T-Shirts

The Ethics of Selling T-Shirts
by Ramon Diaz

It all started with a simple question. Design and fit being equal, would your rather buy a heavier t-shirt for $15 or a softer lighter one for $17?

When I started, I intended, to not only to build a worthwhile business, but to make a positive difference in the world. It has always been my intent to build an ethical business and to create something I can be proud of.

I posted my market research question on Facebook to see where the market stood, and instead, I opened a can of worms. My friend Ralph Cudworth asked: Are the t-shirts made of organic cotton? Are they made in the USA? He forced me to look into manufacturing practices of t-shirt producers. What I found out was confusing and disheartening.

My choice of t-shirt for my shop was Hanes Nano t-shirts. They are soft, lightweight and although not bottom priced, it is still reasonably priced. So I researched Hanes business practices. I found the following press release from the company in Reuters:

“Ranked No. 530 on the Fortune 1000 list, Hanes has approximately 59,500 employees in more than 35 countries and takes pride in its strong reputation for ethical business practices. Hanes is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star 2014, 2013 and 2012 Sustained Excellence Award winner and 2011 and 2010 Partner of the Year award winner. The company has been ranked on Newsweek magazine’s list of Top 500 greenest U.S. companies.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. When creating a business based on ethical behavior, the worst thing I could find out is that you are selling sweatshop t-shirts. Not trusting their corporate word, I kept digging until I found There I found allegations of wage theft, safety violations and illegal firings as late as 2015.

Many people answered my Facebook post saying that their decision to shop for a t-shirt (design and fit not being a factor) is based mostly on price. The t-shirt business is very competitive. It is hard enough to find customers for a $17 t-shirt. Would a $15 dollar t-shirt be more competitive? The only choice to offer a cheaper t-shirt is the Gildan brand. Once again I went looking for answers. In their website they boast about their environmentally responsible business practices. Then I kept digging a little further. The Worker’s Rights Consortium reports allegations of mass firing and, even more shameful, wage theft to Haitian workers. The end of the report notes:

“In response to the WRC’s report, Genesis’ primary buyer, Gildan Activewear, has committed to bring their Haitian supplier factories into compliance with the minimum wage. In addition, Gildan Activewear has committed to negotiate directly with worker representatives in Haiti to remedy past non-compliance and make workers whole for past wage theft.“

Both Gildan and Hanes are aware of the reputation of the industry as a whole and are trying to remedy some of their issues. Unfortunately, they have taken action only after allegations became public and threatened their corporate reputation. Public pressure is the key to keeping these corporate giants in line. According to their own code of conduct:

“Gildan is committed to the highest standards of integrity and to acting responsibly and ethically in all countries in which it operates in compliance not only with this Code of Conduct, but also in accordance with internationally accepted labour principles, including the Fair Labor Association Workplace Code of Conduct.”

Should we take them at their word? We will trust them but verify they are doing the right thing. We are going to keep a close eye on their business practices to keep them accountable.

So what’s the final verdict? Is a cheaper, heavier, t-shirt the way to go? Is a nicer, softer, lightweight and more ethical (but more expensive) t-shirt the right choice? The answer: there is a market for both, and navigating the ethics of responsible consumerism is fraught with many pitfalls. I decided that a better value t-shirt is needed to attract business to the website, so I will offer $15 Gildan t-shirts, but will also offer a very soft, well made Canvas brand t-shirt that is made in the USA.

Ralph will no longer have an excuse for not buying a t-shirt from me.



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Peace is Patriotic

Peace is Patriotic

I never understood why those who advocate for war are considered patriotic and those who prefer to advocate for peace are not. One may think that keeping the troops safe at home, unless needed for self-defense, would be prudent and patriotic. One might even consider that diplomacy and negotiation would be more patriotic than rushing to war for the sake of the vested interests in the war machine. How can you demonstrate love for your country by creating misery, death and destruction abroad, just to benefit national corporate interests?
War is a very ugly thing. It is very seldom a solution. If war was indeed vital for national interests, why is it that mostly the poor get to fight it? Since the abolition of the draft, mostly the poor and those looking for opportunity are the ones signing up. It is easier to send someone else's son to die than it is to send your own. That is why many of the powerful elite do not have their sons or daughters serve in the armed forces.
If we would have used the money we spent on the war in Iraq in our own healthcare system instead, we would have enjoyed free healthcare for a decade. It is so ironic that many of our citizens would rather spend a trillion dollars killing people in other countries and showering corporations with the spoils of war, than using that money for healing themselves, their children and grandchildren.
As a former soldier, I do appreciate the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. I know what is like to serve in time of war. It is my opinion that the best support I can give the troops is to advocate for peace. Why put my fellow compatriots in harms way to line the pockets of oil corporations, weapon manufacturers and profiteers? I love my country. I love the men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect me. As far as I'm concerned, the words "thank you for your service" mean nothing if you are willing to send those same people into battle out of hate, prejudice or ill conceived revenge.
Humans are tribal by nature. It is easier to incite hate and fear than it is to create understanding and consensus. Let's evolve together as humans and work to create a just and peaceful world. [powr-comments id=cf749810_1463456290225]

Hippie University Values

This website and the things that I will sell will follow a set of values that were rediscovered and developed during the beat era and the hippie counter-culture. Here are a list of 10 values I hope to promote:
1. Peace is just, fair, desirable and patriotic.
2. We must coexist and learn to value people from other faiths and cultures. We can all learn to get along, love and appreciate one another.
3. We must recognize the damage we make to the earth by our boundless consumption, and try to live in harmony with nature.
5. We should always fight for justice and freedom, specially for those who can't fend for themselves.
6. The world is for all humans, wilderness and nature; not for corporations and some elite few.
7. Nobody should be judged or denied rights because of their sex, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
8. Humans should have the right to consume anything they want, as long as they don't harm anyone else by doing so.
9. Freedom of the press is essential to democracy. Satire should be encouraged, not punished.
10. Government should be for the people, by the people; not for corporations by corporations.
Yes, I do see the irony in having to create a corporation to fight corporatism and promote consumption and be anti-consumerism. I just hope I can grow this venture into a positive force for change in the world.

Ramon Diaz

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