Today was different, though. Today, my client cried.
He told me about the events of the past week — the ones involving black men just like him. He told me that he’s done being nice. He told me that he’s done always trying to avoid confrontation, always doing his best not to provoke negative feelings in the people around him, always wanting to not be a threat to friends and strangers alike. He told me that right now, he just wants to yell at ignorant white people. He told me that he’s angry and scared — recognizing that he’s been lucky, but scared that all it will take is one unfortunate encounter, and his name too could become a hashtag. He wondered how close has he come to such an encounter, how close will he come over the course of his life. I hope he never knows.
Yet, through it all, we were being totally fake, because at no point did Melissa or I ever broach the topic about my family situation. Nor did we have any desire to.
But here’s the thing. The fakeness totally …
We booked through a travel agent and reserved five nights in one of Bora Bora’s famous overwater bungalows. We paid for everything four months in advance, received our confirmations, and our itinerary seemed to be all set.
Then, two hours before we were to leave for the airport, our travel agent called me. She apologized profusely and told us …
Before I discuss the level of offensiveness of this dress, I’d like to pose a question. Take a look at these two Halloween costumes, both of which are currently available on Amazon …
Which of these costumes is racially offensive? Both? Neither? Only one?
I’m taking all these years as a teacher/professional speaker/interpersonal communications guru/dating and relationships writer/dating advice giver, and mashing them up into a new service called Social Savvy Sage.
On the surface, I’m putting myself up as a dating coach. Woot woot. Okay, yeah.
But … unlike so many other dating coaches out there …
It is terrifying to wonder if your own sexual interest was ever seen as too aggressive, if you missed the cues that she wasn’t interested, if it’s going to come back to haunt you years later. I myself have had a brush with this very situation.
It’s scary. It absolutely is.
Well, as real a fear as this might be, I realize now that it entirely misses one key detail — a detail that changes the entire way men should be responding to this …
To some random person who might have been observing us, we were one of “those” couples – people who had nothing to say to each other in real life, who only knew how to interact with others via text, or social media.
I could almost feel the condescending looks bathing down upon us.
Imagine a wall of soldiers lined up on a battlefield. If every soldier is properly armed, they will be able to hold their ground against an invading army. Now, imagine that a few soldiers slack off and leave their shields at home on battle day. It’s not hard to grasp that if enough soldiers are missing their shields, the army as a whole isn’t going to stand much of a chance defending itself.
This is exactly how vaccines work. Each individual person who gets vaccinated is a single shield against an invading horde of terrifying viruses lurking all over the world. If everyone is vaccinated, everyone’s shields will form one single impenetrable wall, and diseases won’t be able to spread.
You and me, we’re not all that different. We’re both acting on the same need for self-protection. We just have different solutions.
And frankly, I don’t think it’s an irreconcilable difference. We just have to start with our shared beliefs and accept that life is about compromise. It’s about you and I respecting each other’s needs and being willing to bend. And once we do, we can all sit down and have a beer together. (Or wine, or whiskey, or even Fireball. I can compromise on that, too.)
The chance that a Syrian refugee we let in turns out to be an ISIS agent is a negligible risk. This is what it actually looks like when Syrian refugees are accepted into a western nation. As such, not only is closing our borders ultimately ineffective in preventing terrorism from striking our nation, it’s also wholly unnecessary.
If you truly fear terrorist attacks on American soil, barring Muslims from entering the country is pretty much the most misguided solution you can go with.
To be clear, the rainbow does not appear anywhere on a user’s visible site. If you have a site at WordPress.com, no one viewing it will see anything different. The toolbar is visible only to you, and only when you are logged into a specific editing section. It’s a simple, subtle nod to Friday’s news.
Well, you would think that it’s a simple, subtle nod….
The amount of offense some people took at the rainbow was disheartening. We were accused of “cramming” our values down people’s throats, of being bigoted and intolerant. A few outspoken users even pointed out how there’s such a double-standard in that businesses aren’t allowed to deny service to gays, but WordPress.com can push its pro-gay agenda.
If you could successfully hide a part of yourself — have a good life, employment, faith, and family — why would you change? What would make you risk it all? What price would you pay to be authentic?
This is the central question posed in Presenting Lisa, a film about the transformation of a man named Larry to a woman named Lisa.
I consider myself lucky. I live in a society where outright racism is generally not tolerated. Unlike my parents’ generation, I don’t worry about some stranger on the street calling me a “chink” or a “jap” or a “gook” (which, strictly speaking, I’m only one of those three).
Then again, that just means that racism is more insidious now. Instead of blatant insults, I’m sometimes left questioning what someone meant by a certain remark. Today’s prejudice has mostly been reduced to microaggressions — socially acceptable comments that are still subtly derogatory.
I am not taking a black-or-white stance (get it?) on this issue. Instead, I will wade into the muddy gray waters this topic inevitably swirls up. I will weigh the pros and cons as logically as I can. I will share the information my personal research has uncovered, as well as the insights I gained as an educator at SeaWorld. And yes, I will explain why I do ultimately support SeaWorld’s endeavors.
It’s easy to be inspired by a famous person who pursued their passions and found raging success. We read about how many times JK Rowling’s idea for a magical world of wizards was rejected, or how Tom Brady was a fourth-string quarterback in college. We see how they persevered despite the setbacks. And we think, “Wow, maybe if I just work hard enough at my passion, I can be successful like them, too.”
Well, we can’t all be JK Rowling or Tom Brady. Or Bill Watterson, or even Mike Rowe. Ultimately, these folks had talent. Tons of it. And some of us — actually, the vast majority of us — have to occupy the “sucking” end of the talent spectrum.
When you meet someone for the first time, you have everything in the world to talk about. Your relationship, whether professional, personal, or romantic, is essentially a blank state. You get a chance to fill that slate with all sorts of wondrous conversations.
And yeah, you rarely have to worry about hugging (assuming you’re an awkward hugger, like me). Handshakes are perfectly acceptable on the first meeting.
But when you meet someone for the second time?
Now, there are expectations (not the least of which is whether or not the other person has upgraded you to hugging level). Here’s a partial list of all the things that can take a turn for the disastrous when you meet someone for the second time:
Guy: Soooo… what kind of Asian are you?
Girl (visibly scowling): Uhhh… the American kind?
Obviously, this was not the way to try to start a conversation with a strange woman, let alone hit on her. Let’s face it, this guy’s biggest mistake was… well, everything. But the interesting thing is, she actually tolerated him until he asked about her ethnicity.
So why was that her cue to check out? She put up with everything else (barely) up to that point. Why did this particular question send her darting away?
Today, I breathe a sigh of relief that I managed to escape the teaching profession, that I managed to find a new career where I feel I can still make a difference in the world.
But then, I realize that in expressing myself this way, I’m doing a huge disservice to all the teachers out there.
You see, when I joke that I “escaped” the teaching profession, that implies that those who still teach are stuck, that they’re in a career they hate and can’t get out of.
Nothing could be further from the truth. My teacher friends devote their lives to education not because they’re incapable of doing anything else. They do it because it’s their passion.
On some level, we all spend our lives waiting for opportunity. “I’m just waiting for my big break.” “I can’t believe how lucky he got. That guy gets all the breaks.” It’s as though opportunity is this giant metal claw, and we’re toys at the bottom of the carnival machine of life, each of us hoping to be the next lucky one to get snatched up to a better life.
But, this isn’t how opportunity operates. Whether you believe that God, Darwin, or just random blind luck is responsible, opportunity doesn’t just fall onto our lap and whisk us away.
Doctors and modern medicine are the cornerbacks in the game of life. Their job is to play defense, to prevent you from getting sick. And in true cornerback form, when they do their job, you’ll only wonder if you even needed them in the first place. But the one in 100 times that something does goes wrong, boy, will you cry foul.
And that’s why disease prevention is such a tough sell for people. The problem of modern medicine is that people only take notice when it fails us. There’s even a psychological term associated with this state of thinking: negativity bias.
So what can we do about this?