Everyone’s a little bit racist. Including me.

Everyone’s a little bit racist –
All right!
Bigotry has never been
Exclusively white

Avenue Q

I’m a quasi-lefty from way back. Growing up economically challenged and spending two decades in the racial bouillabaisse of New York City inoculated me from the ravages of economic, racial or cultural insensitivity.

Or, so I thought.

Here’s a synopsis of “Smart People,” the new drama by Lydia Diamond about to open off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theater. I hope you’re sitting down.

“Four Harvard intellectuals, a medical intern angered at being underestimated by his white colleagues; a white Harvard professor whose neurological studies, he says, show that white people have a “predisposition to hate” people of other races; an African-American actress frustrated at her lack of opportunities…”

Stop right there. I’m a big supporter of the arts, especially theater (+/- 50 plays annually), but I’m not wasting a dime or my time on a play that puts forth the notion that white people are naturally predisposed to racial hatred. Additionally, all the conflicts are caused by white people. It’s a flat, one dimensional, ugly piece of bigotry. A shit premise and I reject it.

The playwright is a black female. Imagine if a white male wrote a play that concluded black men abandon their families because it’s coded in their DNA. I wouldn’t support crap like that, either. (Which is irrelevant because it’d never be produced.) This playwright isn’t some fringe crackpot. She has bona fides. She had a play produced on Broadway (which I saw and enjoyed) and the Second Stage is a major off-Broadway house.

You can argue that she’s trying to stimulate a dialogue on race but I don’t buy it. There’s nothing high-minded going on here. Setting the story in Harvard is just putting lipstick on a pig. She’s going for low-hanging fruit. Clearly, we need to have a discussion about race but I’m confident this isn’t the way to go about it. Wait until Fox News gets hold of this.

This story thread hardened my heart and blinded me to the legitimate grievances of the other characters. I couldn’t care less what their struggles were. I find this idea so odious that I give no weight to anything else she’s written.

Right on the heels of reading this, I heard Spike Lee announce that he’s boycotting the Oscars because he found the nominations too Caucasian for his liking. Jada Pinkett Smith quickly followed suit. Why would anyone care if those two clowns didn’t attend the Oscars? So stay home. I’ll take your seats. Jada named her son Jaden. Her husband Will named their daughter Willow. What a couple of narcissists. Those kids are condemned to spending the rest of their lives in a shadow.

See that? Just typing this out got me all riled up again. I’m a speeding locomotive without any brakes.

This is Jamie Dimon. He’s the CEO of firm that manages $1.7 trillion (not a typo) in assets. He came down off Wealth Mountain to share this piece of sage wisdom with the commoners at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:


Thank you, Capt. Obvious.

How is that breaking news? Breaking News: It May or May Not Rain Tomorrow. Talk about hedging your bets. This man’s salary was just raised 35% to $27 million annually. You’d think he’d have something with a little more gravitas to impart.

Goldman Sachs just paid a $5 billion dollar fine for bundling subprime mortgages that they knew were worthless and selling them to their clients as viable investments. They knew their clients were going to lose their money but they didn’t give a damn. No one was held accountable. If someone perpetuated a fraud on that scale outside of the asset management industry, there’d be some prison time involved.

Lost sleep at Goldman Sachs: 0.0 hours.

The Asset Management industry is peopled by amoral, thieving, windbags. If my daughters go into investment banking, I’ll consider myself a failure as a parent.

Oh, it snowed, alright. 21 inches worth. I never shoveled so much snow in such a short period of time. I was a ball of hurt.


78 thoughts on “Everyone’s a little bit racist. Including me.

  1. First thing – this story actually appeared in my reader! I think I heard a chorus of angels singing!
    I only know when my friends post stories through facebook. I know you’re not about to join Wastebook.

    That play. It’s the live action version of click bait. And off course it’s an African American woman author. Kind of the same premise as having a black woman attorney defend a white man who raped and murdered an African American woman. Some things are best not done by the same race of people who manage those trillion dollar hedge funds.

    I scrolled back to read some of your other stuff. Last summer my kid and I saw the Yoko Ono exhibit at MOMA. Did you see that? It was a whole multi media extravaganza. They even had a listening room devoted to The Plastic Ono Band so you could put on headphones and listen to Yoko caterwauling.

    I should probably write about that day. It was a pivotal day in my son’s life. He saw famous paintings by artists he’d learned about, and was ENTHRALLED. Art finally “clicked” for him. It was one of those days you never forget.

    • Good morning! Nice to see you, fellow exile.

      It IS click bait! Nice call. I’ve read that the play is a comedy/drama. I usually don’t trash something unless I’ve seen it but it pushed my button for some reason. Probably exactly what she intended. Pretty clever.

      Sadly, I missed that Yoko exhibit at MoMA. I looked up and it was GONE. The reason I made sure to see the Picasso sculpture retrospective is because I missed the Yoko exhibit and I didn’t want to establish a habit of blowing those things off. It’s a slippery slope.

      Good on you for taking your son through those hallowed halls. You’re a good mom. If you live anywhere near Manhattan, how can you NOT take advantage?

  2. Your take on the play sounds about right to me — although I do know enough Harvard folks to think that there is a lot to her premise. But I absolutely agree with your title; everyone IS a little bit racist. It’s not perpetuating and spoon-feeding it to our offspring that we need to stop.

    Thoughtful post.

  3. I love Avenue Q. Haven’t seen it in person (although my husband has), but the soundtrack is wonderful. That song in particular just gets me. If we’re going to have a dialogue on race, let’s come at it from both sides.

    Oh, Jamie. That’s a line from a sports announcer right there. “Team X would really like to win today.” “This receiver really needs to catch the ball.” “One team just needs to score more points than the other.” Sounds like he’s getting paid so much it’s messing with his brain. I don’t know what kind of damage $27M a year would do to me and I’m not sure I’d like to find out.

    • Do you know what song is a scream? “The Internet is for Porn!” Because it is! Umm…I hear. That’s I’ve always heard.

      I work at J.P. Morgan for a bit and that man is revered like a God. People who have taken meetings with him have a quasi-celebrity status because they’ve been in the same room with The Great Man. It’s a cult of personality.

  4. Come on, it’s a play. You really think that character going in is going to be the same coming out? Still, looks like your typical box of bees. Shake it! Shake it! I’d be mad because it sounds unimaginative, not because of the racial positions.
    I thought maybe the lovely photo at the end was to help everyone unwind at the end of this blood-pressure post. Not so. I guess it’s up to me then.

    • Good heavens. A box of bees. That’s genius. Oh, how I love the internet. It does sound like a one-note plot. The old ‘oppression of the masses’ schtick.
      Thank you for the link. Very soothing. Your lips move but I can’t hear what you say.

  5. I feel agitated now by your agitation! I need to watch that calming video of the waves again…

    We won’t speak about my snow envy.

    But we will speak about stating the obvious – if you want a laugh, go onto Google images and search “Obvious headlines” I just did, and a few that caught my eye were “Homicide victims rarely talk to police.”, “Federal agents raid gun shop, find weapons.”, and “Bridges help people cross rivers.”

    • Agiration loves company. That’s why wrote this. I felt much better when I dotted my last full stop, but now you’re the ones who are going to suffer. So sorry.

      Are you really jealous of snow? Have you ever driven in it? Or had to shovel it? That’s how you know you’re an adult. Snow isn’t fun anymore.

      I love obvious headlines but I expected more out of that dude.

      • I love snow so much, and we haven’t had any where I live for the last two winters (this is the third, there’s still time). I have driven in it, and I definitely don’t like that, and I haven’t had to shovel it, and I’m sure I wouldn’t like that. But I’ve got lovely countryside around me and when it snows it just looks so beautiful, so as long as I don’t have to go anywhere, and can just look at it and walk in it, I’m very happy! I do understand that it can be annoying and dangerous, but that aside, yes I’m jealous and love it. I’ve written far too much about snow now haven’t I.

      • The truth is that I was just being contrarian (because I’m annoying) and I really do love a good snowstorm. I lived in Phoenix for about 18 months and it’s the thing I missed the most. It’s quite beautiful, as you’ve said. It’s at its best when I can get to Central Park right after a proper blizzard and the snow is still clinging to the trees and paths and hasn’t been trod upon yet. Some of my favorite photos come from afternoons like that.

  6. I bet you were hurting after all that shoveling! You guys got hit by so much. Would you believe we saw none of that here near Cleveland? (Your old stomping grounds, right?) In fact, we still don’t have any snow. I look outside and see a green lawn. We had a little a couple weeks ago, but it’s gone now. Can’t remember a winter this nice around here. I’ve lived in enough blizzard states to feel I’ve earned it! (North Dakota, Iowa, Ohio.)

    • I was hurting for days after that storm. I shoveled three times in 24 hours and all three times it was a significant amount. Poor me! Where’s my sandy beach? Where is my place in the sun?!

      Yes, Cleveland is my old stomping grounds. So I’m no stranger to snow. I’d say when it comes to exposure to snow you traded up. North Dakota!? Why don’t you just moved to Pluto?

  7. Nobody does racism like we do in South Africa. It’s a finely distilled confusion of rhetoric and semantics and you certainly can’t call a digging implement an excavation tool without getting into a world of trouble.

  8. I don’t think I’m good at blogging because I feel like I should say something here but don’t know what, other than thanks, enjoyed this, liked hearing your voice shouting through my computer, sorry about your back. I especially enjoyed the It May Or May Not Happen clip. He sounds ready for politics!

    • This isn’t a post that’s conducive to a lot of discussion. I didn’t expect a lot of chit-chat when I wrote it but I had to get that off my mind. Once I commit an annoyance it to pixels, I can move on. I’ll get back to the regularly scheduled art installations and trips down bad memory lane soon.

  9. I agree with Mr Ross, most dramatic fiction is about transformation…but yeah, testing times indeed.
    Off topic, what happened to your work colleague who wouldn’t stop eating? Did I miss a post about him? Did he leave? I always think of him when you have a rant.

    • You guys are right. He might come to see the idiocy of his ways but I’m not taking any chances. The show ran in Boston so I’ll search for reviews and see what’s what.

      That dude’s 10-week contract ended and they didn’t renew it, thank god. I don’t whish him bad tidings but I am glad he’s gone. He was rude. Have some awareness of your surroundings.

  10. White people are too fond of getting suntans to have a predisposition to hate other races. Did you hear about Tom Jones wanting to have a DNA test to prove he has black blood?

  11. The play, I think, was probably meant to be controversial and perhaps the author is hoping for a movie. I would not go see that crap. We already have too much black and white stuff that has gone bad and this is more promotion about racism. It needs to stop somehow but these things such as the play fuel the fire for idiots who can’t stop feeling hate for another race.

    • Apparently, I’m in the minority (ha) when it comes to condemning this premise. It had a successful run in Boston and is about to open at a prominent venue here in the city. What gives!? Why are people afraid to say this is an unfair, destructive premise? Maybe it’s purely a cash grab. Controversy tends to put asses in the seats.

  12. I’m glad to hear you’re alive after that snow storm. 21 inches! Yikes! I would have a hard time sitting through that play. I suppose she is trying to make a point and make people uncomfortable. I want to check out the link. As for asset managers, income inequality is out of control and bad for everybody, including the wealthy. It can’t last forever, can it? Your daughters will be artists, famous writers or something like that. Don’t worry.

    • We had it bad but my in-laws down in the DC area had it worse. They had no snow and Washington isn’t a snow town. They don’t have the equipment to deal with so much snow. The kids missed several days of school and the neighborhood was immobilized. Nobody could get in or out. Pretty scary stuff. What if there’d been a medical emergency?

      Income inequality gets under my skin like few other subject. I have to admit to myself that it’s partly born from envy. I wish I had that kind of cash to lavish my family with a comfortable life. But beyond that, I think it’s wrecking society. It happened before.

      I want my daughters to be happy. I want them to rise above their father’s mediocrity.

      • That is scary about no medical personnel getting in. You think it’s just a fun day to be at home until you have an emergency or no power.
        Income inequality is wrecking society. It’s down to 62 people who have the wealth of the bottom 3.5 billion people on the planet. I can’t even wrap my head around that!
        Oh, stop! I don’t read mediocrity…

      • I hate when I reread a day or two later and it looks like I’m fishing for compliments. I can assure you that’s not the case. I’m kind of a mess inside. It’s what I believe.

  13. We are all predisposed to hate people of other races, nations, tribes, and so on. It’s a part of our survival instinct, automatically putting everyone into “us” or “them” groups to speed up the decision on whom to protect and whom to fear.
    The real question is what we do with this instinct, whether we try to override it, or pretend it’s not there, or even celebrate it.
    Speaking of racism and color, I wonder what this playwright would make of the fact that snow is white.

    • That might be one of the most astute comments I’ve ever had. Way to boil it down to its clear-headed essence. Nice work.

      There was recently a big stink because Joseph Fines has been hired to play Michael Jackson. Last season, there was a successful all-female production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. This summer, there’ll be an all-female Shakespeare in the Park production of “The Taming of the Shrew.” “Hamilton,” a giant-mega hit if ever there was one has the founding fathers being played by blacks and Latinos. Nobody has said a damn thing about that. You can’t have it both ways.

      • I saw an article about Fiennes and Jackson. I mean, sure, Michael Jackson was technically black, but even Joseph Fiennes will probably need to bleach his face to play Jackson.

  14. Like the MOBO awards…what about the MOWO awards? Oh yeah, that’s probably not allowed. The whole thing is ridiculous.

    But everyone IN the asset management industry are sociopaths! They don’t have empathy.

    I’m a bit disappointed you didn’t build the worlds tallest snowman with all those (I thought you might have called it “WHITE” stuff instead of snow but I see what you were doing there, being PC…) inches.

    • I had no idea what the MOBO awards were so I Googled it. Imagine my surprise! There used to be a local newscast on Sunday nights called Black News. As you can surmise, it focused on events in the black community. Just imagine if right after Black News you could tune in to White News!

      Apparently, if you have enough money, you don’t need empathy.

      I shoveled them inches. I didn’t want to play in them, too.

  15. I love your prose when you get cranky. BTW, I had shovel a car space for my daughter home for a visit. I’m cranky, too, and I’m aiming at the idiotic politicians trying to convince us Iowans that they know what the hell they’re talking about.

    • I try not to write cranky too often because I think it’s dull. But sometimes I bubble over and I indulge myself.

      You are standing in idiot ground zero. I’ll bet you can’t wait until you can get your state back. Currently, it’s under occupation.

      • Just had to follow up. Exhibit number one that we in Iowa are in idiot ground zero: Every time the candidates open their mouths. Exhibit two: Eight percent of the electorate not wincing in pain as if, I quote, “millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” Drove back from Ames today in my daughter’s vehicle loaded with luggage and furniture (a bright one, she) and made the mistake of having the radio on. I’m lucky I didn’t break the knob off to silence the damn thing. And, it was public radio, to boot.
        ―Obi-Wan Kenobi

  16. I think your friend Ross up there has the right idea – why don’t you come to my blog and read a few wellness posts and then we’ll build a sandcastle, okay? Deep breath! 🙂

    • Wellness and serenity is all well and good. Sometimes, however, a little anger is appropriate. The trick is to find that tipping point where outrage turns into a lifestyle. Nobody wants to be around constant bitching and moaning. But sometimes, yeah, you gotta go there.

  17. Channeling a bit of Eduardo Galeano here i see, i’ve often said the white man is the worst thing to ever happen to the planet, the older i get the more that view is reinforced, Dimon? i’d call him a human turd but i’m not sure he’s human and i don’t want to insult turds, but how can you deny his genius with sound financial advice like that? and if you’d like to check out a real democracy check out what Iceland did, they forgave all personal debt i believe, if you were an average Joe that is, and the bankers involved in the meltdown were getting 20 years in prison, sounds like a rather sane place to live… albeit a little chilly.

    • I didn’t get through your first sentence without consulting Google on who Galeano was. See that. I can still learn stuff. It’s exciting. As bad as he is, our boy Jamie isn’t even the worst of the lot. That would be the human foreskin running Goldman Sachs. Admittedly, it’s hard to quantify who’s worst.

      I remember reading about Iceland’s treatment of these guys and wondered why we can’t do the same here. Here in ‘Merica, they’re worshiped. And fuck Iowa. They don’t know shit. They picked Rick Santorum in 2008 and look how that worked out.

  18. Wow, came over from Mike Allegra’s blog and stepped right into it. I agree with you, that play is not about conscience awareness or starting a dialogue. It is pure crap and no one will say anything-PC. I wonder who “put asses in the seats” at that play? What races decided it was worht buying a ticket. Why would theaters allow this racist crap is beyond me.

    My younger self considered myself t “color-blind,” but with age I learned I was wrong. I’ve learned to keep something under check. I love your wording, “put asses in the seats,” thought it worth mentioning twice.

    Well, it looks like I have a new blog to keep up with. Bad for time, good for me.

    • Hey! Hi! Thanks for coming over and taking the time to read and comment. So sorry you have a new blog to keep up with. Ha. NOT. You caught me on a rant. Most of my posts aren’t like this but sometimes I get wound up and my wife doesn’t want to hear about it so I let it loose here.

      None of us are color bind. The song I referenced said, in a very funny way, we’d all be better off admitting our differences. As someone said in this comment string, it’s what you do with it that counts. I can’t wait until that show opens in a week or two. It’ll be interesting to see how the critics treat is, although they’ll probably be too afraid to say anything negative.

      Welcome, again.

  19. How’d I miss this post? I suck. I’m a bad blog-friend.

    Investment bankers, like lawyers, are douche-bags for the most part. What makes someone a good lawyer, anyway?

    I agree on the play – that sounds like dribble, and the start of a conversation that, even if it does start, means little or nothing. Do we have to talk about everything, even if it’s just dumb? It’s like being at a party and someone badly needs to tell you about their food allergies. It’s just not very fun or relevant.

    • You’re going to be a good blog-pal no matter what. There’s no reading requirement. Please don’t feel compelled to read every single post. That’s a trap. Only a frail egomaniac would require it of his readers.

      The author of that play is highly educated. She’s got a long list of productions and degrees. It doesn’t sound like she’s been held back at all. I guess she’s speaking for those without a voice and there’s something noble to that. But there are better ways to speak to the black experience. Ask August Wilson. I’m still waiting for the reviews to come in.

      • Yeah I know, but some people are worth reading all the time. I never require or expect people to read me, but I’m always amazed that they do. Good feeling.

  20. In the 1980s I spent a small amount of years on the periphery of the investment banking industry – I worked for 4 years total, 2 years for a supplier to banks and 2 years in a regulator of banks. That was more than enough for me – I still feel like that is almost as bad as admitting I was in the mob at some point in my life.
    About the only good thing I did out of that was raise thousands for charity. I used to do charity swims – now all that was needed was some good old mad banker competition. Go to dealer 1 “Hi I’m doing this charity swim”. “Put me down for £50”. Dealer 2 “Dealer 1 pledged £50.” “Put me down for £75”. Dealer 3 “£100″… back to Dealer one “Change mine to £150″…. truly it was that simple and that sick and sad too – I doubt they asked what I was really doing or what charity it was they were vying to donate more to in their pathetic show of machismo

    • It’s an election cycle here (Have you heard?) and one of the things people are so angry at is the fact that those guys drove the economy over a cliff but were never held responsible. There’s an inherent sense of fair play that we all think is at work in the universe but these guys seem to escape responsibility. But I can’t pray for the demise of investment banking. It’s what keeps New York on its feet more than any other industry. If only a few of these guys were brought to task we’d all feel a little bit better.

      • Sadly I wouldn’t hold your breath. I met a lady once who’d been on the board of one of the UKs largest companies at the time of it’s total collapse. Whilst she, in hindsight, saw the whole thing for the unbelievable greed and ineptitude it was she still didn’t see that losing peoples investment through worthless shares or people their livelihoods was anything other than “the collateral damage of the capitalist model” – phenomenal denial

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