Racism: Why is this Still a Thing?

WARNING: This blogger has not done one of her classic rants in a while, so she figured you’re all due for one. If you can’t hang, here’s your out. If you can hang, enjoy!

It’s 2016. We’ve made many strides as a society. We have marriage equality, medical science is making people live longer, and we can even access quality writing on the internet for free with great sites like WordPress! So, why are people still racist? I can’t possibly be the only person who finds racism completely abhorrent, morally wrong, and downright stupid. In fact I know I’m not because the people I choose to associate with feel the same way I do. Being racist is stupid. There I said it.  Nobody freakin’ asks to be born white, black, Asian, Hispanic, etc. So if you hate someone because of their race, you basically hate someone for being born. If that’s not stupid I don’t know what is.

Now if I dislike someone, note I didn’t say hate because I make a conscious effort not to hate because hate is poisonous to the human soul and I like my soul intact; unlike Voldemort’s which was split into seven pieces to create Horcruxes. What you are inside reflects on your outside which is why Voldemort has no nose. I’d like to keep my nose deviated septum and all, thank you very much. Besides I really have no use for Horcruxes. I don’t hate, I appreciate. I’m about the hug life, not the thug life.

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If I truly feel a burning distaste for someone, I don’t feel that way because of their race, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic they were born with and thus can’t control. No, I feel that way because that person happens to be an asshole. Being an asshole transcends race, sexual orientation, and a great many other things. It doesn’t matter what type of asshole you are. An asshole is an asshole is an asshole and if you’re racist, you’re an asshole.

Nobody is born racist. It’s learned behavior. If you hear from childhood that you shouldn’t play with this kid or that kid because they’re (insert race here) and (insert race here) people are (insert ridiculous and insulting stereotype here), it becomes ingrained. Then don’t play with this kid becomes don’t socialize with this person or don’t work with or for that person when you reach adulthood. However, there’s hope because anything that can be learned can be unlearned.

Don’t believe me? Smoking is a learned behavior. Nobody has ever come out of the womb with a lit cigarette in their mouth. If someone did, it would surely be a viral video by now with several detractors either arguing that it’s a fake or spouting hate and vitriol. No, you learned your smoking behavior and reinforced it until it became a habit, yet people quit smoking every day. Sure, they might need some help doing it through patches, gum, hypnosis, etc., but they still do it. So, even though smoking is a learned behavior, it can be unlearned.

How can someone who has been taught to be racist unlearn that behavior?  Well first they have to want to unlearn it. They need to have a reason to make that change. Think of our smoker. Despite being addicted to cigarettes, at some point something drove them to quit. It could’ve been a doctor, nagging from a child, spouse, or significant other, or maybe even social pressure. Regardless they made a conscious decision to quit smoking. That’s what needs to happen for someone to unlearn racism: they need to make a conscious decision to do it.

What would drive someone to make a conscious decision to unlearn racist behavior? Let’s go back to our smoker. Maybe every time they lit up, they would hear from one of their friends how terrible smoking is for you. Maybe their friends stopped hanging out with them because they didn’t want to be exposed to the second-hand smoke and hearing that nobody wants to be around them drove them to quit smoking. Now let’s go back to our racist. Maybe if their peers called them out on their behavior or their friends stopped associating with them they’d want to stop being racist.

That’s where we come in, people. If you hear someone saying something racist, call them on it. I don’t care if it’s a friend, coworker, or a total stranger on the street. It’s 2016! We can’t tolerate this crap anymore! Don’t just sit or stand there looking uncomfortable. Open your mouth and tell the person that what they’re saying offends you. They might get on your case and you may even lose a friend or two, but do you really want to associate with people who are racist? If you sit idly by and allow this nonsense to continue, you’re just as guilty as they are. Don’t be a coward. Stand up and do the right thing.

If you’re a racist, STOP IT! YOU’RE MAKING THE REST OF HUMANITY LOOK BAD! Remember what I said before about how people who are racist are assholes? You don’t want to be an asshole do you? Of course you don’t! Nobody wants to be an asshole. The only people who want to hang out with you are other racists, so not only are you an asshole but you’re also surrounded by assholes. Who wants to be surrounded by assholes? Nobody, that’s who. Come on, that’s enough. Stop it already. No excuses! Just stop. Return to some semblance of sense, sanity, and reason with the rest of us, k? Thanks!

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Another Day in the Comedy Life

Friday was just a shitty day for me. There, I said it. My morning at work wasn’t the greatest and my afternoon was no better when the US Women’s soccer team lost to Sweden in PKs due to what I honestly feel was God-awful officiating. If that overtime goal was offsides, then I’m the freakin’ Queen of England. I am a HUGE fan of US Women’s National Team and I was absolutely gutted for them. That game literally took years off my life. I said more Hail Marys in a single afternoon than I had in a lifetime raised in the Catholic Church. I’m grown enough to admit it: I cried. I’m not going to lie, my faith in the power of prayer is a bit shaken.

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What I’d look like if that OT goal were actually offsides

 

But in the great words of Freddie Mercury, “The show must go on.” With my comedy Mr. Miyagi away for the weekend it was down to me to haul in the equipment, wrangle the epic cable tangles, and put on a good comedy show. As it turned out though, the cable tangles were surprisingly not that bad. Seriously I’m kind of touched that Kurt remembered my cable OCD and neatened them up a bit. Four years as a theatre technician gave me a great appreciation for lovingly coiled cables. Well, that and having to re-coil a 20-foot cable because it wasn’t cabled to your boss’ stringent standards.

So Kurt and the other comics that were coming from far and wide, aka the greater Philly area all the way to Robbinsville were counting on me. I couldn’t let them down. I decided that the best way to honor the 18 women plus the alternates, coaches, and staff that had done so much to make me proud was to dedicate my performance at Take 5 Gourmet to them and bring the funny, so that’s what I did.

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What I actually look like. Offsides my ass, ref. Enjoy your bribes from Brazil and the IOC!

Before the show I had to stop at a friend’s house to feed their cats while they were away, but the key to their front door somehow didn’t work. After much sweating and even attempting to coach two felines on how to work the lock and let me in, I called my friend who got their niece to come over because they were reasonably certain her key worked. I was bummed out because I always like helping a friend and because I could hear the “I’m hungry! Move it, bipedal underling!,” meows of my friend’s cats through the door. I knew they were going to get taken care of, but I still felt bad for them.

So my not great morning was followed by a crappy afternoon which was then followed by a rough evening. Nevertheless, I pressed on just like I’m sure the USWNT will do. To Take 5 I went and with the help of my long-suffering and much-mocked on stage boyfriend, I hauled the equipment inside in the rain (Relax, Kurt! Nothing got wet), set up, and did a quick sound check just in time for the other comics to start arriving.

Heavy heart and all, I worked with a talent-stacked line-up that included Mike Sgroi, Tom Mongelli, Sami Stans, Jared Keith, Chris Sicoli, Paul Goldenberg, Chris Stenta, and our headliner the one, the only Natalie Levant. I hosted and warmed up the crowd, played with the sound system, and handled lighting everyone for time. The crowd was enjoying themselves, the other comics brought the funny, and as bummed out as I was, I still enjoyed myself. That’s the magic of comedy. There’s just something about laughing with a room full of people that lifts your spirits even in the toughest of times. That’s part of what keeps me coming back.

But folks, adversity wasn’t done with me just yet. When I went to view my footage, I found that my video blurred out and came back in focus at random intervals. I wasn’t able to post a video of my full set because I didn’t want to upload a video that I wasn’t going to be completely happy with. At the end of the day, I half-ass nothing. However I was fortunate enough to be able to upload all of my new material that made it’s debut Friday night and you can view it here.

My main takeaway from this experience is that you can still be funny in spite of adversity. In fact you could say that adverse circumstances fuel my comedy fire. It’s inspired me to write material and I’ve noticed that my punchiness increases with my level of frustration and trust me adversity can be damned frustrating. Another great thing about comedy is that it can give you the power to push past the heartbreak we all encounter in life and become something better and stronger than we were before.