Is How I Feel About Trump How You Feel About Obama?

The presidential candidacy of Donald Trump scares me.  Like more than just the usual disagreement with someone with opposing political beliefs. This isn’t just pro-life vs. pro-choice or tax policy or foreign policy. It’s his proud racist/misogynistic/xenophobic views and his ‘I’m Trump, you suck’ demeanor.

And I’m not the only one scared of Trump.

This will be the fifth presidential election I’ve followed, and while I’ve disagreed with and spoken out against candidates, I’ve never been afraid of the possibility of one winning.

Maybe the scariest thing is that people are voting for Trump.

So here’s my honest question for my Republican friends: Is this how you feel about Obama?

I get being passionately opposed to Obama, but except for the crazies (He’s a Muslim! He’s wasn’t born in the U.S.! … and who led that crowd? Oh yeah, Trump.), I would guess that opposition is mostly policy based. Or do you find Obama that odious?

Trump just feels like something different. I keep expecting his campaign to deflate as people come to their senses, but it just isn’t happening. (Yet. Lord, let it be ‘yet.’)

So are Republicans just as horrified by Trump? Even though we disagree on a lot of issues, is being anti-Trump something we can all agree on?

Or is Trump saying things that a lot of conservatives agree with and he’s just doing so with brashness and bluster that pisses off (and scares) someone like me?

I guess I’m asking if this is a fringe, splinter movement like George Wallace in 1968 (the pro-segregation campaign that captured 13% of the popular vote and carried five states for 46 electoral votes, possibly swinging the election—though I’m no political historian, so that last bit is uninformed speculation)? Or is this relatively mainstream GOP, just in a brassier packaging?

We’re a pretty polarized country right now. But one of those options means we have some hope. The other means it’s just going to get worse.

(FYI: I don’t like writing about politics. It usually starts Internet fights and I bristle when other people do it, so I hate doing it myself.  But sometimes you can’t sit there wondering about it anymore.)

Stuff I’m Enjoying Lately

A few months back I borrowed Addie Zierman’s post style and shared music I’ve been listening to lately. I keep meaning to do it again and put it off, so today I thought I’d share a smorgasbord of stuff I’m excited about lately: crowd-funded comic book projects, music, books, picture books, an event and a little self promotion about what I’ve been doing.

Comic Books to Support

The lack of diversity in, well, just about everything, is a common theme these days. That’s why I track the diversity in my reading and actively work to diversify my life (it’s slow going).

I think an important part of that is supporting diversity. Vote with your dollars. Today I came across two opportunities to do just that:

  • Black – What if only black people had super powers? That’s the premise of this comic book being funded on Kickstarter. The creators came to that question after thinking about the outsider nature of comic book super heroes vs. how people of color often feel like outsiders. The difference is most people of color can’t just take off the cape, as it were, and be “normal.” The project is nearly funded already (which is encouraging).
  • Tuskegee Heirs – The history of the Tuskegee Airman meets Voltron. This just sounds like a fun adventure story. Plus, it’s already blown passed the $10,000 goal, with over $45,000 so far.

Continue reading Stuff I’m Enjoying Lately

A Black NASCAR Driver in the 1960s?

This quick, animated history of Wendell Scott is pretty great. He was the first black driver to race and win at NASCAR’s highest level. And he did it the early 1960s facing incredible racism—this was the age of Freedom Summer, Birmingham and Selma.

The hatred even led to denying Wendell Scott his only win. Here’s the story:

They didn’t acknowledge the win until two years later. NASCAR awarded his family the trophy in 2010, 47 years after the race and 20 years after Scott’s death.

NASCAR is just now acknowledging this mark in its history. In 2013, Darrell Wallace Jr. became the first black driver in 50 years to win in a NASCAR national series race with his first career win at Martinsville. In 2014, Wallace repeated at Martinsville driving a truck with a special paint scheme honoring Wendell Scott. In 2015, NASCAR inducted Scott into its Hall of Fame.

There’s a great children’s book, Racing Against the Odds: The Story of Wendell Scott, Stock Car Racing’s African American Champion, that gives a good overview of his grit and determination.

Nekima Levy-Pounds on Racial Justice in Minnesota

I went to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at Luther Seminary today to hear Nekima Levy-Pounds speak. She preached.

Powerful words like hers are so needed today and every day.

  • We are part of the solution or we are part of the problem. Our silence makes us culpable.
  • We’re living off the legacy of Hubert Humphrey, but we haven’t done the work.
  • Instead of compassion we’re taught to look the other way and focus on self preservation.
  • We’re told to trust the law, to rely on the system. But the law gave us slavery. The system gave us Jim Crow. It gives us mass incarceration today.
  • Public policy changes incrementally or not at all. Sometimes you need direct action to disrupt and get attention.
  • People are not going to be Minnesota nice when their brother is killed.
  • We need to personalize these injustices.

So many thoughts.

I think our problem today, especially here in Minnesota, is that we fall back on a lot of excuses instead of engaging in the hard work of racial justice.

We talk about the importance of supporting our police officers instead of acknowledging the disparities in our criminal justice system.

We complain about the disruption of protests and plea for tactics that will bring people together, when those disruptive protests are the only effective way to bring attention to the issues. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” was a response to white pastors urging King to find less disruptive tactics.

The reality is that there is very real and justifiable rage in our communities of color. If you don’t know that or understand why that rage is happening, you need to listen and start understanding instead of constantly dismissing.

Many of these protests that some people bemoan and dismiss are the only reason Minneapolis isn’t burning to the ground. These protests are offering productive ways to channel that rage. The 4th Precinct Shutdown protest in Minneapolis after the police shooting of Jamar Clark is a perfect example.

This work of racial justice is hard. It’s not going to be a simple conversation on social media or a blog post. It’s going to take personal investment instead of self preservation and defense.

My favorite story that Nekima Levy-Pounds shared is from the 4th Precinct protest when they were going to shutdown I-94. She was talking about it with her 10-year-old son.

“I might be arrested tonight, are you OK with that?” Nekima asked.

Her son responded, “Can I be arrested too?”

Getting Into Graphic Novels

I spent an hour talking books last week with Mykl Roventine for the Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis-St. Paul podcast. One of the topics that came up was trends in my 2015 reading and I think graphic novels were a huge trend.

I read a lot of graphic novels.

It’s an interesting medium that really takes some time to find your footing as a reader. I tend to read too fast because there are so few words. While graphic novels are quick reads, if you go too fast you tend to miss a lot.

So a few thoughts on the trend of graphic novels, at least within my reading from the last year:

Comic Books

It starts with comic books. Certainly not all graphic novels are comic books, but they get lumped together (for good reason), so deal with it.

I think comic books are a weird industry. They have an exceptionally high barrier to entry. It’s really hard for newbies to figure out how to get into comics.

But one approach I’ve discovered is to forget the weekly one-off comics and wait for the trade paperbacks. This is when they gather up half a dozen comics and print them in one book. You get the benefit of a longer story arc and don’t have to hunt down each individual comic. And many libraries will stock these.

In 2015 I really enjoyed Ms. Marvel, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind and Princeless.

Historic Graphic Novels

Lately there seems to be a mini-trend of historic graphic novels. I don’t know if this is some attempt to get those pesky kids interested in books again, as if graphic novels are some kind of gateway drug. I don’t think it works that way.

But graphic novels about history are pretty cool. It’s a gateway drug to history. See March Book One and Two by John Lewis, Harlem Hellfighters and the Boxers/Saints two-part set by Gene Luen Yang as examples.

Graphic Memoirs

Then there’s this oddly new trend of memoir in graphic novel form. I don’t know if it started with Blankets by Craig Thompson, but that’s certainly an early one that got a lot of attention. El Deafo and Honor Girl are more recent ones. All three are sort of coming of age stories, dealing with a fundamental faith, deafness and same sex attraction respectively.

I think the genre can be an engaging way to tell the deeply personal story that is memoir.

Straight Up Graphic Novels

Finally, there are a lot of just interesting stories told in a graphic format. It really frees up the narrative structure and allows for some interesting things, without being too literary and weird.

Gene Luen Yang is perhaps my favorite. His American-Born Chinese is just a mind-bending riff on race in America. It would definitely benefit from multiple readings.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is another favorite. It’s got a reluctant super-villain, quirky humor and an original story. Good stuff.

Top 5 Nonfiction of 2015

Another year of big reading and I’ve got some favorite nonfiction to share.

  1. Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome by Robby Novak and Brad Montague
    He’s good in videos and he’s good in book form.
  2. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
    I generally don’t like poetry, but this was great. An honest and challenging look at racism.
  3. Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Chuang
    This memoir has such a fresh voice and gives a great perspective.
  4. Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving & Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans
    So many echoes of my own journey here.
  5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    This book has been on a lot of lists this year and rightly so. It’s a challenging book and needs multiple reads. Perhaps if I’d done that it’d be higher on the list.

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

Top 10 Fiction of 2015

After another big year of reading I present my favorite fiction reads for 2015.

  1. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Garbrielle Zevin
    A story about a dad who runs a bookstore. What could be better?
  2. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
    I read this with my daughter and really enjoyed the unique perspective of the main character.
  3. How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
    This book confronts racism with a mutli-perspective approach that was just great. The audiobook with a huge cast was great.
  4. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
    A graphic novel FTW. I really like the unique and fun storytelling approach in this one.
  5. Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
    Another story with a really unique voice.
  6. Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick
    This YA novel hits so many of my buttons—a unique voice, homelessness, Jesus.
  7. A Gift Upon the Shore by M.K. Wren
    Here’s this year’s post-apocalyptic story.  I loved the emphasis on women and confrontation with religion.
  8. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
    The issues of Black Lives Matter in a book.
  9. The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
    What a fun time travel yarn.
  10. Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata
    I haven’t read many international adoption stories and this one really dove into the complexities with honesty.

I usually do a list of 15 nonfiction reads, but this year I had too many 4 out of 5 star reads—books that were good, but not amazing enough to add to the list. So we’ll stick with 10.

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

2015 Racial & Gender Diversity in My Reading

Last year I started tracking diversity in the books I read. It wasn’t exactly good news.

It became apparent that race and gender diversity only happen when you’re intentional about it.

I tracked both the gender and race this year. I base gender simply on the author, counting a book if any contributor is a woman. For race I count a book if a contributor or main character is a person of color.

Here are the results for 2015:

  • 54% POC books
  • 56% female authors.

Here’s how diverse my reading has been since 2001:

Diversity and gender in my 2015 reading

And here are the actual numbers:

Reading diversity since 2001

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

2015 Reading List

Lots of good reading this year. Another year of ridiculous numbers—149 this year.

One of the benefits of reading is an increased sense of empathy. You can understand someone different from you a lot better if you can see from their perspective. If there was one theme this year, it was understanding different perspectives.

Some of the various perspectives that could use some understanding this year cropped up again and again in my books this year. Themes such as racism, disability, transgender and Islam.

I also read a lot of graphic novels.

And I’m continuing to pursue diversity of race and gender in my reading. I’ll post about that separately. I’ll also post my best fiction and nonfiction lists for the year.

For a more visual look, you can check out my Year in Books from Goodreads.

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

You can also check out my previous reading lists: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001. Continue reading 2015 Reading List

A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.