The Problem(s) With the Skittles Comparison

The Problem With the Skittles Comparison

In the recent immigration debate, I’ve seen/heard this argument:

skittles

Here’s three points against that argument. (Feel free to try these at home or on facebook!)

  1. People are not actually candy.

This fact alone should be enough to disprove the argument, but just in case, please proceed to number 2.

2. In this argument, you only risk your own life.

This argument proposes that you could make yourself seriously ill or die if you take the chance and reach into this bag of skittles. But again, since it’s a bag of candy, you are the only one taking a risk here. You can always buy another bag of skittles.

But for the 65 million refugees out there, the risk is real. Not taking a chance on the overwhelming majority who are seeking to escape prosecution and war is putting them all in danger. It’s not just your life.

3. Skittles Are Delicious.

Have you had some recently? I’ve tried all the flavors, wild berry, sour, tropical…they’re all different and all delicious. I’ve still many flavors to try and I hope to do so as soon as possible. The world is full of skittles all of all colors, shapes, and sizes. Each one I encounter expands my view of the world and makes it more beautiful. I think it might do so for everyone else.

In conclusion, the skittles metaphor attempts to reduce an extremely complex subject into a meme by removing humanity. If we truly want a better country for ourselves, we must lead off by thinking of what others can bring. We’ve had refugees that have contributed greatly to our culture like that little known Albert Einstein. Opening up the door to others can open up doors for ourselves as well.

So the next time someone uses this meme as a comparison, bring up these points, remind them of E=MC2  and tell them to enjoy a damn bag of skittles.

America’s Play 3/9-3/16

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Welcome to the America plays! A weekly play about the top story or stories in America last week. This week it’s all about trump!  Without further ado:

What  About Trump?

Characters

AMIR, 20’s, Black/Hispanic Male

RICO, 20’s, Caucasian Male

 

(Lights Up)

(AMIR is sitting on the couch in the living room, eating cereal in front of his laptop. He wears a “Make America Great Again” t-shirt. RICO enters, wearing a #FEELTHEBERN t-shirt)

 

RICO

Hey, Amir!

AMIR

Hey, Rico, did you get my text about Nancy Reagan?

RICO

I think so.

(Walks to his room offstage.)

 

AMIR

And?

 

RICO

(From offstage)

I got it.

 

AMIR

I meant…how’d you feel about it?

 

RICO

(From offstage)

Oh, it was, uh, a shame. She was a credit to our nation.

(Enters the living room)

Now, can we talk about tonight?

 

AMIR

I actually wanted to talk about Turkey…

 

RICO

Later, we have to hurry up if we’re going to make the rally in…

(Notices Amir’s shirt)

What are you wearing?

 

AMIR

(Looks down, smiles)

Oh, it’s a new Trump t-shirt. It just came in the mail today!

 

RICO

Why are you wearing it?

 

AMIR

Because I support Donald Trump. Duh.

RICO

Why would you support him???

 

AMIR

Lots of reasons. He’s charismatic, popular and has a strong message. Kind of like Obama back in ‘08.

 

RICO

This is a joke, right?

(Rico laughs as Amir stares at him)

You’re messing with me!

(Rico laughs harder as Amir stares)

There’s no way in hell you would even consider voting for that guy.

 

AMIR

(Puts down cereal. Calm.)

Rico. I don’t see why you are having so much trouble taking my choice seriously.

 

RICO

Because you can’t be a Trump supporter!

 

AMIR

Why not?

 

RICO
(Motions his arm up and down Amir’s body)

 

AMIR

Because of my height?

 

RICO

You are black and hispanic! Trump is racist!

 

AMIR

How so?

 

RICO

Remember that stuff he said about Mexicans being violent?

 

AMIR

When did he say that?

 

RICO

Like six months ago!

 

AMIR

That’s so long ago, man. I remember Beyonce’s choreography at the superbowl more clearly. And besides, I’m not Mexican.

 

RICO

He wanted to deport Muslims!

 

AMIR

I’m not Muslim, I’m Catholic.

 

RICO

He insulted a woman over her looks!

 

AMIR

That’s just sexist.

RICO

(Frustrated)

You can make all the excuses for Trump that you’d like, but you can’t deny his supporters are a problem. The other day a guy was elbowed—in the face—at a Trump rally.

 

AMIR

I saw that. Old guy has a mean arm.

 

RICO

See?

 

AMIR

What?

 

RICO

His fans are out of control.

 

AMIR

And that means I shouldn’t vote for Trump.

 

RICO

Yes!

 

AMIR

Rico…let me put it like this. Imagine if you go to a concert for your favorite band.

 

RICO

Twenty-one pilots!

 

AMIR

Sure. Anyway, let’s say a fan at the concert stabs you in the stomach today.

 

RICO

Jesus!

 

AMIR

If that happened, what would you say?

 

RICO

That the guy was crazy!

 

AMIR

It could be a girl. Don’t be sexist!

 

RICO

What’s your point?

 

AMIR

When you get stabbed…

 

RICO

If!

 

AMIR

After the stabbing, would you stop listening to the band?

 

RICO

No.

 

AMIR

Exactly. So if a stabbing  by one person at a concert won’t stop you from listening to music, why should one angry fan end my support for Trump?

 

RICO

(stops, considers this point. Then shakes his head)

I’m not going to the rally with you while you’re wearing that shirt.

 

AMIR

Fine. If it makes you that uncomfortable, I’ll change.

(Amir removes his t-shirt and reveals a blacklivesmatter t-shirt)

 

RICO

What the hell?

AMIR

Huh?

 

RICO

You’re wearing a blacklivesmatter t-shirt!

 

AMIR

Yes. Cause I think blacklivesmatter, especially mine.

 

RICO

How can you be a Trump fan and support blacklivesmatter? They’re enemies.

 

AMIR

But they’re so similar.

 

RICO

In what universe is the trump campaign similar to the blacklivesmatter movement?!

 

AMIR

You just proved it!

RICO

HOW?!

 

AMIR

Anger. Blacklivesmatter supporters are angry. Trump supporters are angry. Aren’t you angry?

 

RICO

A little.

 

AMIR

We have two strong political movements that desire strong outcomes, massive change and have millions of passionate supporters. They both come at a critical time in our history. And their t-shirts are cool as hell! The goals are different in some places, I admit, but both groups are standing on the edge of a deep valley of values and reason. If they’re both so close to the edge, why do they have to stand on opposite sides?

(Beat.)

 

RICO

I need to lie down.

 

AMIR

What about the rally?

 

RICO

I’m not going with you!

 

AMIR

Cause of my shirt? I can just change to my Kanye West shirt if you’d like.

 

RICO

This isn’t just about a shirt. You can’t just wear Trump and take it off the moment you get tired of it.

 

AMIR

If I get tired of him.

 

RICO

Listen, Amir. I’m genuinely scared.

 

AMIR

Me too. But Trump is going to make America great again.

 

RICO

When’s the last time we were even great?

 

AMIR

I used to think that we were always great, but now I’m thinking it happened when Bush was in office…

 

RICO

I’m terrified for you, Amir. What if some people think Trump winning is a sign? To indulge in their worst viewpoints? To say whatever you want, no matter how negative it is? To stab me?

 

AMIR

Trump will take care of it. He has to.

 

RICO

He’ll just deny his involvement like he always does.

 

AMIR

It won’t matter. He’ll be blamed anyway. It’s always the President’s fault when something bad happens. Thanks to Obama.

 

RICO

Wait. Wait. Are you saying we’d blame Trump for everything that goes wrong?

 

AMIR

I also said, Thanks Obama.

 

RICO

(processing)

If Trump screws up, we’ll hate him. He’d be destroyed day by day….

 

AMIR

If he fails.

 

RICO

He will! Trump has no specifics, broad policies, simple rhetoric…he might be the worst President we’ve ever had! And then…oh my god…people will see that anger gets them nowhere. They’ll see the error of their ways! They’ll finally feel ready to feel the bern!

(grabs amir’s trump tshirt)

Can I borrow this?

(Amir nods)

I’m going to make sure Trump gets elected. Is there a Trump rally nearby tonight? I’ll text Constance and find out…

(Sends text)

 

AMIR

Rico?

 

RICO

Yeah?

 

AMIR

I was just messing with you.

 

RICO

What?

 

AMIR

This whole Trump thing was joke.

 

RICO

A joke that went on for that long?

 

AMIR

Yes.

 

RICO

You were very convincing.

 

AMIR

I took those improv classes.

 

RICO

Are you sure?

 

AMIR

Come on. I compared the blacklivesmatter movement to Trump’s campaign. That should have been a dead giveaway.

 

RICO

But why?

 

AMIR

You’ve haven’t been answering my texts about anything that doesn’t have to do with the election.I did this all to get you to pay attention.

 

RICO

What did I miss?

 

AMIR

Nancy Reagan was a blip on the radar to you. Migrants died leaving Syria. Ankara…

 

RICO

(distracted)

Oh, I get it. You come up with these crazy stories because you don’t want Trump to fail.

 

AMIR

What?

 

RICO

Well, newsflash, Amir! I’ve got to pay more attention to him now. Prop him up as high as he can go, so we can knock him down.

 

AMIR

But while you’re setting up this game, what else are you gonna miss?

 

RICO

(Getting text)

Constance has a rally spot! You coming?

 

AMIR

No, man. I’m not.

 

RICO

(goes to exit)

Suit yourself! Here I come, Drumpf!

 

AMIR

Rico!

 

RICO

(stops, turns back to Amir)

Yes.

 

AMIR

Could you…at least check in on Ankara for me?

 

RICO

Who’s Ankara?

(Rico Exits. Amir stands there and sighs. He takes off his blacklivesmatter shirt to reveal a shirt with the Turkish flag on it.)

Blackout

End of Play.

 

You can’t sit with us! Thoughts on Rachel Dolezal

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In order to talk about the Rachel Dolezal story, I’m going to put a few things aside right at the beginning. I’m not going to make this an article about being “transracial” (whatever that is) or make any comparisons to Caitlin Jenner’s situation. I’m just going to get to the bottom of why this is such a big issue in the first place. because, in reality, despite expert analysis and feedback, it’s all very simple.

Let’s pretend that you formed a group with friends at school. The group started because you have this similarity: you each have heterochromia in your eyes, meaning that none of you have the same eye color for both eyes. For example, Jill has a blue eye and brown eye, and your friend James Bond (the name is quite common) has a green eye and a hazel eye. Not everyone with heterochromia sits with your group at lunch every day, but a lot of them stick together. You like a lot of the same movies, a lot of the same artists and hang out in a lot of the similar place. One day, one member of your group, who we will call, “Rach” is eating her pudding when something flies out of her eye.

CONTACTS!

This entire time she was eating with your group and advocating for its awareness, she was lying-both her eyes are baby blue. They are quite nice eyes now that you see them…but that’s beyond the point. Rach has been lying to you for months. She pretended to be something she wasn’t. Now we wonder, what else was “Rach” lying about?

Trust is what this whole national issue is about. That’s what we should be upset about most in this story. So why do most arguments center around Rachel’s “pretending to be black”? It comes down to appropriation vs. assimilation.

When you arrive in a new environment, work environment, school environment, etc., you are likely to pick up certain work habits. For example, if everyone starts using the word “ZANTHEPE” to refer to an unruly customer, you’ll probably start saying it or at least start thinking about it. As time goes on, you may consciously pick up certain work habits while consciously rejecting all others. This is the process of assimilation into the new culture. You do it actively and passively so that you can survive and thrive in the company. By contrast, let’s say your roommate that works at Burger King starts using your work lingo and slang. One day, they come to the company Kwanzaa party and talk and act as if they worked there and had their experiences. This is seen as appropriation, because this person is pretending to be a part of the culture without having a direct connection.

This is an important distinction that is often missed. Any person of color in America that has been accused of “acting/talking white” knows this. Because they have chosen to take aspects of other cultures in the diverse American melting pot into themselves, they are seen as outsiders in their own respective cultures. Yes, there are some people who take it a bit too far but the large majority are just living the way they want to. There is nothing wrong for a person who does not identify as black to wait for the newest Kendrick Lamar mixtape to drop. In fact, they just have a great taste in music.

Crossing cultural lines and divides is a beautiful thing that we get to do in America. Unfortunately, that decision is not always supported by culture you were born into. That’s why some people are willing to go to extremes to avoid the transition. If you just take on the new culture wholesale by putting in those contacts or changing your skin color, you get to skip all those questioning looks from your culture that say, “Why are going over to that lunch table? You already have us.” It doesn’t make it right. You should be who you want to be despite judgments and criticism. But we all know that the world is not that kind and accepting…yet.

Rachel, you went about this the wrong way. Instead of embracing your identity and black culture simultaneously, you sacrificed one for the other. That lie you held for so long is going to take a while for us to get over. You’re not a bad person…we think. You did all of this because of your love of black culture…we think. You didn’t mean to make light of the culture by appropriating a false identity…we think.
You know…it’s hard to say.

We’ve never met you, Rachel.

Stop Watching

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Over the past week, everyone’s given their opinion about Caitlin Jenner. I’ve heard every opinion under the sun, from informed to ignorant and everything in between. I’m willing to listen to any take on it, but there’s one viewpoint that kept coming up:

Why is this the top news story over everything else? The answer is simple. Keeping up with the Kardashians has an average of a million viewers at its height. A news outlet would miss a huge opportunity for ratings by not talking about Caitlin. Our news, movies and tv are all a product of what we watch and respond to. Even House of Cards exists from pulling together the most viewed shows on Netflix and putting them together. If you want to affect society, you have to be mindful of what you choose to watch.

Or better yet, take action.

Though a bit of a long intro, it all segues to an older poem of mine. Enjoy :).

The Watchman
Watch
Definition:
To act as a spectator
Or to Look on…
5 days.
I am sitting at the bar
A boy with glasses
And no idea how to flirt
Enters with a calzone and a hope
To attract the skinny girl
Bobbing her head to the music.
It doesn’t work.
Laughter ensues from the bar
Like a chorus of hyenas
Drunk hyenas
Who just can’t stop laughing
4 days.
I’m in a subway train car
With no AC
On an 100 degree day
A man
Who has not bathed
Since Obama was elected
Walks through the tight space
Begging for change.
In this sauna of city slickers slipping silently through the subway
Every hand remains frozen
No change today.
3 days.
A stoop in Brooklyn
Where brown paint cracks
On all the steps
A middle aged Spanish woman
Grips my young self lightly
As a gang of middle school students
Literally tear
Through the streets.
Bashing cars
Like they were piñatas
And their grand prize
Was destruction.
It’ll be another half hour
Before we can even go to the corner store.
2 days.
Smoke billows
In the sky
A neverending stream.
On an old grey couch
Made for 3
A family of five sits
Transfixed
On the day’s events
Rolling on the screen
A constant stream of fear
And Uncertainty
It is 2001
And I don’t believe
There’s anything else
On TV today.
1 day.
We were raised
To Watch
Not to see
When all that is needed
Is a warm word
Or a gentle touch.
Made to stare
But to never move.
Built to look past
Not to look at what’s present.
This world rewards watching
With a smile
And a lighter load on your back.
For you it is a simple life
Easygoing
And free
As a breeze on a spring day.
But I want to become a hurricane
Blowing gusts of change
And bearing loads heavier
Then wind was made to carry.
Because if there are no hurricanes
Then the smoke means nothing
But pain
A little boy stays stuck
On his grandmother’s stoop
A homeless man
Perpetually walks into
An uncaring hell
A boy with glasses
Knows no love
But laughter
And a countdown
Never reaches 0 days
Because 5 days
Was already too late.
The day
I become the hurricane
Is coming
I will embrace the storm
Instead of watching it go by.

Quitting Your Adult Job

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At the end of April, I left my old job to pursue a career in theater. Despite that being my driving factor, it was a lot less dramatic than you may think. (see what I did there? :D)

The fact of the matter is, I was fairly comfortable where I was. There was steady pay, room for advancement and the people I worked with were fantastic. Sure I worked long hours during certain times of the year, and there were a few angry phone calls from customers now and then, but nothing unbearable. And that got to me.

Not the phone calls. Once you get enough of those, they all turn into the adult voice from the old Peanuts cartoons. It was the comfort. I wasn’t really taking many risks in my old position. This was partly because of NY State mandates, but even in places where I could take chances, I…wasn’t. It became harder to believe that I was the same person who auditioned for Richard III in college with no “formal” acting experience. Or that I was the same person who staged a relatively new play with primarily feminist themes. Was I even the same person who dared to go out on Cinco De Mayo before starting on my final paper for COMP 200? (A great story for another time) It didn’t feel like it.

I’m not saying that you should leave a position solely because you’ve had to change something about yourself. Every job will expect you to give them your time at the minimum, and make you change some habits. For example, if you’re a teacher you can expect to put a few less pictures of your nights out on facebook. Most people have no problem making that adjustment. But if you feel like the world needs your Saturday night instagram, than you have to seriously consider if teaching is still for you. At the end of the day, you can have all the money and stability in the world. But if you feel like your passion, the very thing you were put on this earth to do is being put aside, then you may always feel like there is something missing in your 9 to 5.

One of my favorite quotes as of late has been from Howard Thurman. He wrote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I urge anyone reading this to follow that advice…with some reservations.

If your job is the only thing that can keep you financially afloat, then make a long-term plan. First off, chart out steps for saving money for a period where you might not be making anything. If you’re going back to school, consider part-time or online options while still at your current position. This gets you one step closer to doing what you want to do without having a lot of worry about employment. Of course, you can always take the risky option and leave without any prep, but know that you will have to spend some time getting stable before you do what left to do.

Quitting your position can be about job stress, a bad work environment or a bigger check. But I think the best reason to leave is do what truly makes you come alive. It’s not true what they say, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. You’re going to have to work at least one day in your life doing something you don’t love.

The question is: what will you do next?

Expendablacks-Why is the black dude always the first to go?

(Spoilers for Walking Dead Season 5 to follow. You have been warned)

Walking Dead had a strong second half of the season, elevating season 5 of the zombie drama to one of its best. But despite my enjoyment of the characters, story direction and mounting tension, one thing still bothered me:

The black guys kept dying.

I’m not exaggerating. In the first half of the season, we lose Bob to cannibalism. Then we lose Tyreese to two silmulantaneous walker bites+blood loss from a severed arm (in an attempt to stop the infection). Lastly, we lose Noah, (a character that has been a part of the main group for less than half the season) to a horde of zombies devouring him in one of the most gruesome deaths of the series. That’s three in one season. As a point of comparison, the “Main group” has only lost one other member that was not a black male this entire season (if you don’t know by now, I’ll let you figure it out).

Even if you take into account that Chad Coleman (who plays Tyreese) may have been looking to get off the show for another one, that still doesn’t get the Walking Dead off the hook. In previous seasons, we’ve had multiple black men die, only to be quickly replaced by another one. It’s a joke among fans of the show, but it’s not an exaggeration. The writers seem to keep killing off the black male character as a sacrificial lamb and then adding a new lamb to join the flock…only be to slaughtered later.

Is it also a coincidence that their deaths have been some of the most disturbing in the series? While Tyreese’s is somewhat standard for a zombie show, Bob is not only bitten, but has his leg cut off and has to watch people eat it in front of him. We then watch Noah as he is literally torn apart by a crowd of zombies. To make sure that we catch every detail, they even use a puppet that makes it look more realistic. In comparison, the fourth character that dies this season got a gunshot to the head. Brutal, yes, but only a few moments’ pain at most. All the black male characters suffered this season before they died. Was the suffering really necessary?

I picked a lot of the Walking Dead because I believe they are a byproduct of a longer trend. Let’s be honest, when you watch a horror movie, do you expect any of the minorities to make it out alive? Isn’t it a surprise where the black characters make it to the end? Sure, I’ll say if the movie stars Will Smith or Denzel, you’re not expecting a funeral at the end. But short of being a prolific actor, your life is not guaranteed. Is Hollywood saying that you have to be so beloved that people would riot if you were killed in order to survive? That’s what I’m getting from all of this.

Art is often a reflection of the society in which it was created. And lately it’s felt like the “black dude dies first” trend is more prevalent than ever. I’ve written about them before, but again, Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin. Unarmed black teens shot by officers out of a combination of fear and rushed decisions. And both are only a couple examples in an unfortunately long history. In the news media, they are seen as victims, but often will be criticized for rumored gang involvements or “looking suspicious”. In the movies, the black characters are still often stereotypes and not always portrayed sympathetically. I will give the point to Walking Dead here: at least they depict their black males in a positive light (if you don’t count the black priest. Seriously, no one likes him). But there is still an overwhelming amount of stereotypes lingering out there for black community, Hispanic community, lbgt community and more.

I’ll close with one of my first points: The Walking Dead (and other media) is not completely ruined for me by watching the black males die constantly. But the fact of the matter is that the show, like all art, can help provide an escape from reality. Yes, the Walking Dead is a bleak drama where people die all the time. But do those people have to be the same people that we see dying on our news channels time and time again? I want to stop being surprised that the black male gets to live a good and lengthy life.

There’s enough of that in real life.

Unexpected Lunacy and Return

Hey, 2015! It’s good to see you!

So, first off, I’ll lead off with an apology. I had no intentions of taking another big hiatus without at least a heads up.

Not this.

                                     Not this.

But, as life does, unexpected things came up at work and I did not even have enough time to think about a blog post, or to give a frame of time for a return. So for that, I’m sorry.

I am now back in full force, and ready to get going again. With a new year comes a new announcement:

This blog will double as an advice column.

Yes, Dear Arete (Like Dear Abby! Get it? …Okay. The jokes have not improved) will be fueled by questions, serious and completely comedic. So you can ask Arete something like:
How do I help a friend who has been distant lately?

or

How do I help a friend who has been listening to dubstep lately?

I’ll answer a question each week on Thursday. Tuesdays will be more of the old stuff, opinion pieces and occasionally some more artsy things. If you would like to submit a question, comment under this article, or, if you would like to remain anonymous, send an email to: AreteAdvice@gmail.com

And that’s about it! I’m excited for this year, and what it may bring. Hopefully it brings/has already brought some good things for you! And if hasn’t, today’s a good day to start working your way to the goodness. And speaking of goodness:

Goodness, it’s good to be back.

P.S. So Good.