The Coloring Book

I’m reading The Coloring Book by Colin Quinn. The front cover lists this selling point: “A comedian solves race relations in America.”

He skewers stereotypes by daring to say what no one else is. He attacks the P.C. police–who he thinks actually live in suburbs and don’t know what they’re talking about.

I’m glad he makes fun of a topic like this–because Quinn has a gift to make us think as well as laugh.

Sarah Silverman–another great comedian– was quoted in TimeOut NY–“Humor can change people’s minds more than anger.” A truer comment wasn’t ever spoken. You don’t fight hate with hate. You cure it with love and laughter.

Colin Quinn trusses up Italians too–and as an Italian I find this one of the funniest sections of his book. He roasts people of all colors and ethnics equally.

As Quinn would see it–and these are my words–the world’s been bleached of color. His Antidote is The Coloring Book.

Now, I would like to see Quinn make fun of actual racists–which is a different topic for another book.

I stopped doing business with a gym membership director (in 1992) and a real estate agent who were racists. They were a whiter shade of pale. The agent was showing me apartments in 2011–yes you heard that right–50 years after the civil rights movement.

How could that be? I wondered. This person was so hateful that I stopped doing business with her. It would cheer me to hear or read a comedy routine about people like this. Nothing should be sacred in comedy.

For now we have The Coloring Book. Go out and buy it–or at least like I did–check it out of the library.

As someone with a sense of humor that runs in her family and her extended not-blood family, I cheer on anyone who can make fun of what goes on in society. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

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Love @ First Click

Love @ First Click I installed as an e-book and read in total on Monday.

The author gives great tips like not using the same screen name for your dating profile that you use for other social media and not using your real name.

One suggestion the author gives is to hug the person you meet in person for the first time after messaging on OKCupid or another website. Not confident I think this is the way to go except at the end of the meeting.

The first meeting is supposed to last 45 minutes to 90 minutes. You’re supposed to mingle with more than one guy or gal at the same time before deciding who to choose.

The iBook is only $11.99. It can be read quickly in a couple of days. You can put into practice some things right away.

My Own Antidote

I realize that some of what Republicans say makes sense. Yet they’re destructive on the issues that do matter to me.

My biggest screed I’ve written in here about is climate change–I’ve written about this in every incarnation of the blogs I’ve kept. Our elected officials voted to prohibit independent scientists from advising the EPA on climate change.

Yet you can’t tell me that in Brooklyn, NY when it’s 16 degrees with a wind chill at 0 on a Sunday and two days later it’s 54 degrees on a Tuesday–you can’t tell me that’s a natural and normal occurrence.

No–Monsanto–you can’t tell me that industrial agriculture is sustainable–it’s not sane either and it’s destroying our planet.

This is where I break away from believing that whole swaths of people buy what they hear and what other people and leaders and corporations are selling. I didn’t ever trust anyone else to have my best interests at heart. One of the antidotes is simple: don’t believe what you hear.

My prime beef is that books like The Antidote conflate political ideologies with actual racism. This is where I differ: I think actual racism does still exist. I learned this the hard way when I was attacked. Yet I’ll be the first one to tell you that stereotyping people is not the way to go.

A better antidote exists: think for yourself.

A clerk who gave me a makeover in The Body Shop in 1996 told me: “Everyone tells me to hate white people and have nothing to do with them. I refuse to go along with that.”

In this way it boggles my mind that The Reverend thinks any rational person would allow another person to tell them that living in poverty is perfectly acceptable. I lived in a dangerous apartment complex for a little over a year. Crack vials littered the hallways. One day I arrived home from work and saw a guy lying on the pavement in front of the lobby door–he’d been stabbed or else OD’d–I knew better than to go close enough to find out.

Is that something to aspire to? I kid you not: who would accept this as a way of life if an alternative existed? I got out of that mode of living as soon as I could.

Corcoran’s in Brooklyn was accused of steering. I kid you not about this too. I lived on Staten Island in the 1970s and 1980s. Back then all the African Americans lived in apartment buildings–buildings that were mostly housing projects. You can’t tell me this was by choice that they chose to live in impoverished areas.

Tell me again why preaching God as salvation and telling women not to have an abortion is the way to go. The authors of Freakonomics claim the good thing about legalizing abortion was that fewer kids were born into poverty–thus the crime rate went down. This actually makes sense as a theory.

Like I said I think the Reverend author of The Antidote is right-on in the issue he tackles. I agree that we can’t whitewash the truth.

My point though is that we can’t–and shouldn’t–conflate a political ideology with actual racism.

My point is that every American should rise up to speak out about the issues that matter to them.

Even if our elected officials are mostly on the take from Big Business–I think the solution is to rise up and think and speak for ourselves.

Which is what I applaud the Reverend for doing. More of us should do it.

The antidote to hate is love. My mother and I crashed the wedding of a neighbor’s daughter (we weren’t invited.) I remember 20 years later what the priest told the new spouses: “When you fall out of love you can decide to love.”

It’s as simple as this folks: each of us can decide for ourselves to love our neighbors.

It comes down to choice. And I have a hard time believing that most people choose to hate or buy into hate as a way of life. I say this as a person who was attacked.

I say this as a person who doesn’t think other people need saving–either by God, a political party, or some kind of leader.

We just need to treat each other with dignity. It starts when we think for ourselves about how we want to act towards others.

And you’d better bet that if climate change continues unchecked it will hasten widespread poverty in the world. Something that no Republican will admit to.

The antidote to what ails us extends beyond our own zip code. We have to heal the planet at the same time we heal ourselves. If we don’t heal the planet, what will be left?

Season’s Readings

In three hours yesterday I read Linda Tirado’s book Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America.

She talks of how after a series of unfortunate events she and her husband nosedived into living in poverty with two daughters.

Tirado’s original essay on the Internet went viral and she got a book deal to write about the soul-sucking despair she wound up in when she was forced to live hand to mouth.

Bootstrapping implies you lifted yourself up and out of a hard time by your own efforts.

That’s a false subtitle because as Tirado makes clear people who bust their asses working who live in poverty rarely see the pot of gold after a proverbial rainbow. Their efforts don’t equal a better outcome.

In the last chapter Tirado writes a letter titled Dear Rich People that is the perfect cap to her stand-up straight narrative.

Tirado tells it like it is: on the rocks with no dilution. There’s no sunny-side up cheer to her broken-down story yet she does have a sense of humor (and a beautiful smile on the author photo on the inside back flap.)

It’s not right the eternal judgment that goes on society. People judging other people has to stop.

Shaming women who have abortions because they can’t afford to raise a child (or who have a mental illness and can’t carry a baby to term for a number of reasons)–and then deriding them for needing government benefits or denying them benefits if they do have a kid–

this is a run-on sentence and you know where I’m heading with this.

Tirado rightly makes the case that every person living in America is one car accident one medical crisis or one other unfortunate fateful event away from becoming a victim of a cycle of poverty they can’t get out of.

Read this book. Better yet: buy a copy of this book. Give it as a gift. Support Linda Tirado. Support other authors who unlike James Patterson aren’t making hundreds of thousands of dollars just rolling out of bed by writing formula fiction.

Season’s Greetings to You. Thank you for reading my humble blog.

Government Shenanigans – Part Two

The SAFE Act 2015 is our government’s attempt to reduce our jail population that is housed in jails for crimes committed because of selling and buying and using street drugs.

Yet reducing the number of people in jail via the methods outlined in the act is a bandage on the real problem. I maintain and so does a friend that we need to legalize street drug use. Non-violent drug offenders should not wind up in jail regardless of whether it’s the first time or the tenth time they’re caught with drugs.

Taking the moral high ground has not stopped people from dying of overdoses. Taking the moral high ground and continuing to keep street drug use illegal hasn’t stopped people from starting to do drugs and getting addicted.

Taking the moral high ground hasn’t rehabilitated the unregulated drug rehab industry that has more revolving doors than any hospital.

One of the European cities-Amsterdam was it-simply has the strategy of not going after drug users even though street drug use is illegal. The only thing wrong with their famed marijuana-menu cafes is that it causes heavy traffic into and out of the city from people coming in from other cities.

Get real. People are going to die from abusing drugs whether or not street drug use is legal.

The doomed war on drugs was a senseless futile campaign that had no prospect of being won.

It’s going on over 30 years since Nancy Reagan started her failed Just Say No campaign against drug use.

I don’t want to see my loved ones nor other people’s loved ones nor anyone on earth get addicted to street drugs. And I don’t want to see individuals with mental illnesses incarcerated instead of getting treatment in hospitals or in the community.

I do hope the SAFE Act 2015 proves to be more than just a bandage on the problem.

We’ve waited too long in America for real solutions that will be effective.

I don’t want a Bozo the Clown becoming president and taking away any gains-however modest-Obama has created for Americans.

Just Say No to Stupidity.

Government Shenanigans – Part One

We plundered our Native Americans’ land and stole it from them. Now we’re plundering our own land and all our natural resources in the name of allowing big business conglomerates to make millions if not billions causing Americans ill health from their products.

Now the House of Representatives has passed a law mandating that states can’t force the labeling of GMO products.
I thought the “small government” Republicans wanted to allow states to do their own thing with no interference from Big Government. It’s not ironic; it’s hypocritical.

The big business elected officials said the FDA said GMO food is safe. That’s not the point. Polluting the groundwater with pesticides needed to grow GMO crops is not safe for the planet’s health nor for Americans health. Pesticides cause cancer. So not seeing the forest for the trees and only focusing on whether GMO food is safe is not the point.

Industrial agriculture is not sustainable. Most of the GMO corn crops grown go to feed cattle that are slaughtered for Big Macs.

We need to take matters into our own hands: if a product is not labeled USDA Organic we can understand it has GMOs. Eighty percent of processed food was made with GMOs years ago and that figure might be higher now.

It’s time to vote with our pocketbooks. After the House of Representatives voted to outlaw individual states from labeling GMO products I lost my last ounce of faith in elected officials.

The book Uncertain Peril talked about how executives from Monsanto and other big businesses routinely rotate in and out of heading the USDA. This is the truth.

I’ll report back soon on a well-intentioned yet ultimately misguided effort by the government as regards reducing the jail population.

People Are People

Way to go, SCOTUS.

In other news:

Some people are crackers. I’m embarrassed to share the same skin as the dude who shot nine people inside a church.

The New York Times claimed he wasn’t a lone aberrant individual that there was a “vicious movement” afoot. I don’t believe there’s a vicious movement yet the headline begs the question: “Why can’t people love and respect each other?”

Interesting tidbits:

I was racially attacked when I was in graduate school. Before then I had no idea a person could actually be a racist. This was in 1997. I was minding my own business in an Eddie Bauer store and this six feet tall guy verbally clocked me.

Another time I was minding my own business when a woman and her black girlfriend zoomed up to my face and said “You’re a racist.” Where did this dynamic duo come from? Five minutes earlier I hadn’t seen them.

Lest you think I’m singled out only for this, I was closing the door once and an orthodox Jewish guy in full black garb zoomed up to me and said: “You don’t like Jews.” Where did he come from? Five minutes ago I hadn’t ever seen the guy before either. All of a sudden, I’m told I dislike Jewish people.

What gives? Depeche Mode in the 1980s had a great song titled “People Are People..” Go on a song lyrics website to read the lyrics of this song.

The hate that exists in the world is unbelievable.

There’s a better way. In 1996 in the Body Shop the woman giving me a makeover blurted out: “Everyone tells me I should hate white people and have nothing to do with them. That’s ridiculous. I’m not going to be that way.”

With all this hate in the world, I’m glad President Obama has started to speak out. The truth is it’s too late in the history of the world for people to still hate each other.

C’mon, is it really so hard to love and respect other human beings?

I want to create a white tee shirt with black letters that proclaim: “God loves gay people.” If the Bible claims God doesn’t endorse same-sex marriage, that’s proof alone to chuck the Bible as a rational source of information.

Interestingly, the Bible Belt has the highest divorce rate from what I read recently.

People are people.

There’s no cause for the hate in the world. Take a stand against this stupidity.

I’ll end here by saying I stand in solidarity with the families of the people who got killed in the church. Forgiveness is not out of the question.

It reminds me that in Rwanda a lot of the killings took place inside churches. The priests let the people hide in the churches and then the genocidaires went into the churches to kill them. I am not making up this fact.

More people need to have the guts to stand up and say:

“We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it [the hate and violence] anymore.”

There’s a better way:

It’s called treating people with dignity.

The Supremes have got it right twice in one week.