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President Obama Signs Final Executive Orders for Black America

Last month I did a guest editorial spot during the run of 1812 Productions‘ political comedy show, This Is The Week That Is. I was very excited to break news about President Obama’s final Executive Orders. And I’m equally as delighted to share them with you today!

In case you don’t know, I’m the local chapter president of National Black Friends of America. We are the organization that represents your black friend.

And maybe you have more than one—that’s great; we love overachievers—but statistically…

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One of our most popular services is our hotline. You can call any time day or night for references. So, if someone accuses you of being a racist, just give us a call and we can get on the line and say “No. He has a black friend.” That usually settles it.

But I’m not here to talk about us; I’m here to talk about America’s black friend—President Barack Obama.

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As you’re aware, America’s black friend is leaving his job in one month. We’re very sad about that. And I think we all know that even though President Obama is great and we love being around him, America’s main interaction with him has been through work. And now that he’s leaving the company, it’s going to be harder to hang out. We want to make plans and we’ll probably grab a beer at Applebee’s once or twice, but you know, everyone is so busy these days.

Anyway, before he leaves, President Obama has been making tons of last-minute pardons, endorsements and executive orders. Just yesterday he pardoned more people in a single day than any president ever.

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But it’s his executive orders that are of particular interest to us, the National Black Friends of America. The president, as a parting gift to post-racial America, has made a list of decrees for things that Black people can now do (or now no longer have to do). Here are our ten favorites:

1. If you’re black, you don’t have to wait in line at the deli anymore. Just walk right up to the front. You can take a number if you want to but then just crumple it up and throw it on the floor.

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2.The president is really concerned about all this Russian hacking business. The DNC can’t order lunch from GrubHub without it getting leaked. To prevent any further internet impropriety, all American correspondence will now have to go over the only server we trust–the one from the dating site BlackPlanet. If you’re trying to reach me, you can e-mail MochaChocolata@BlackPlanet.com

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3. Speaking of Social Media, after these new executive orders, Black Twitter is now the only Twitter. Now you may say to yourself “Isn’t Black Twitter a part of Twitter? Is it a separate entity now? How do I find Black Twitter?” I’m not going to tell you.

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4. Free hoagies at Jimmy John’s on Wednesdays! Very exciting.

5. Obama also made some changes to the criminal justice system. For instance, all trials will now exclusively have all-black juries. We’re just going to see how it goes. Don’t be nervous.

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6. It’s also illegal, now, to perform routine traffic stops on black people. You can’t stop us anymore. It’s going to be like Mario Kart out there. Don’t worry; we’re very good drivers. It’s fine. The historically black driver’s ed schools are some of the best in the country. But, yeah, you can’t stop a black person in a car. We know our taillight is out. We know.

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7. Michelle Obama is going on Mount Rushmore. But we’re moving Mount Rushmore to Miami because it’s just easier to get to.

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8. Everything is church now. Tambourines. Ushers in orthopedic shoes. People doing cartwheels of praise down the aisle. Offering baskets. Everything. Church can happen anywhere at any time. Church is about to happen here. Venmo me your offering please. Hallelujah.

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9. Oh! This is a new order that just went into effect last month at the Country Music Awards. Starting now, Beyonce can perform any kind of music she wants, at any time, anywhere. Coming in 2017: Beyonce does Klezmer. You’ll love it!

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Me in the shower every morning, tbh.

And lastly:

10. Beginning next year, we can’t use the n-word anymore either.

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We’re very excited to be living in these post-post-racial times. Until then, as we now say in America, as allah malakim. And may Black Jesus bless us all!

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Movie Review #1

Every time I open my work email after a few days away I get so overwhelmed that I do a cost-benefit analysis on immediately turning off my computer, leaving the state, changing my name and spending the rest of my days wearing a wig.
I don’t know why the wig always figures into the plan; it’s not an essential part of changing my identity. But it should still be a nice wig, I think. A statement wig.
Something that says “Hey! Hello world! Here I am!” While also saying “Hey! Be cool about it, world. I’m in hiding. Keep it under your hat, LOL.”

It’s the wig that’s laughing out loud.

I always think of Renee Zellweger when I think of the wig. I know she doesn’t wear wigs; she’s the inspiration. I’d go into the town’s one wig store and I’d say “I’d like a wig from the Renee Zellweger Collection please.”

And the cashier would say “Running from something?”

And I’d say “Nothing but the past.”

And the cashier would say “The past is a helluva thing.”

And we’d nod. And then I’d leave because I have to get back to my shift at the diner.

Just kidding, I’d be an accountant.

Just kidding. I’d write movie reviews.

Bridget Jones’s Baby: 5 stars.

NAFTA, Can you handle this?

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Whoever took this photo deserves a GD Pulitzer Prize.

We may be two minutes from doomsday but thank the Lordt we still live in a universe where three world leaders can strut into a room like they’re the new interracial male cast of Sex and the City. Like I have ALREADY prepurchased tickets to this film.

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Like, this is LITERALLY what is happening right now.

YAS Barack, you better give me those Kim Catrall vibessss. WERQ BETCH.

Miranda Brexited out of this photo shoot.

Thoughts and prayers to David Cameron.

BUT THIS PHOTO THOUGH.

Justin Trudeau, Barack Obama and Enrique Pena Nieto! I didn’t even know who Nieto was before this moment. But best believe I know now.

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These three out here in these streets looking like Career Day Ken.

Looking like Destiny’s DILF.

Looking like the Alternate Universe version of our Current Political Universe.

Looking like Tom Ford presents The Avengers.

How you going to be one of the leaders of the “free” world and still stalk the runway, killing all our faves? The only thing that would make it better is if they were pounding through a pool of water like Bey-sus on the BET Awards. Why do any of us walk on land anymore, tbh?

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Me in the shower every morning, tbh.

YES YOU BETTA SALUTE YOU MOUNTIES! Pledge allegiance to this day drag! Based solely on this photo all three of them were just declared the first non-queen winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Happy Heterosexual Pride Day, y’all.

And look at Obama’s smile! Don’t try to tell me that man isn’t angling for the lead in a Rihanna’s next music video. Drake wishes he was this happy. And Drake is so happy.

Oh my God. I need to sit down. I’m getting light-headed.

[Originally posted on my Facebook page.]

Do We Still Need the Center? Or, the Makings of a Queer Space

This essay originally appeared in this month’s issue of The Little Blue, the William Way LGBT Community Center‘s quarterly newsletter. In my day drag I’m the Director of Programs at the  Center so I think a lot about responsible and generative curation of the space we have. The need for safe queer spaces is never far from my mind, but perhaps it looms even larger this week. I encourage you to stop into The Center (1315 Spruce Street, Phila.) and pick up a copy of The Little Blue or look at our Pride art exhibition or visit our Library. It’s a wonderful, developing space and I’m proud to play a hand in shaping its story.

“Do we still need LGBT community centers?” Whenever I speak to college classes on behalf of the Center I always start off with the same question. “I’m not being rhetorical,” I say. “I want you to really ask yourself. After all of this advancement, in a city with its own Gayborhood, have we really moved beyond LGBTQI+ community centers?” Most students are on to my game and rarely offer arguments against the Center. Nevertheless, after asking the question I always spend the next hour (or two) making the case for this building, this organization, and my job. I argue both points, not as a rhetorical exercise or a self-conscious defense, but as a way of creating. More often than not, the students I’m talking to haven’t ever asked themselves those questions. Why would they? I’ve found, however, that I learn the most about the Center—our past, our future—by justifying our existence. Do we still need LGBT community centers? Of course. But why?

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The front of the Center as illustrated by Linus Curci (linuscurci.com)

In January, I received an email from Aidan, a doctoral student, who wanted to spend a prolonged amount of time observing and taking notes on the Center and the ways that people interact with it. Originally, he was going to limit his observation to the Library, but after a conversation we decided that the lobby might be a more fruitful space. As his notes would be confidential, anonymous and not part of a larger study, I also felt that this wouldn’t be a violation of the implicit privacy Center constituents can enjoy. Over the last four months, I’ve really enjoyed checking in with Aidan, hearing about how he perceives our space and what goes on in it and finding new answers to the question “Do we still need centers?”

In March, he e-mailed to ask if we could have a formal interview, so that he could also record my thoughts and theories about the space. “I have been in total awe during my observations,” he wrote. “The sheer amount of programs, services, support offered by the WWCC is amazing.” He wanted to get a sense of the organizational priorities and the vision for the future. I am always interested in giving my opinion on anything, so naturally I said yes. We ended up spending over an hour in the Living Room on the first floor, talking about where I’d like to see the Center go, where we’ve come from and all the different ways that people experience the organization. More than anything, however, we talked about the environment. We both shared a fascination with the building itself, the position in the city ecosystem and the transformative nature of this space.

The Lean In Professional Women's Mixer brought over 75 LBT-identified women to the Center. (Photo by Scott Drake)
Center constituents mingle at a recent LBT Women’s Reception.

I suggested that the Center is a queer space. Even though we have a marked lack of disco balls and confetti cannons, this is a space where being LGBTQ or an active ally is the default, the norm. It’s a space where I can kiss my fiancé and not think twice, where when I hear someone talking about a date they went on the night before, I automatically assume that said date was not heteronormative. There’s very few spaces like that. Most spaces are actually straight spaces. Your average bar is demonstrably straight—not just in what goes on there but in the way the space functions in the world. Straight is the norm. “Do you think that a space like a supermarket is a neutral space or a straight space,” I asked Aidan, rhetorically. (Perhaps all my questions are rhetorical? What do you think?) We both agreed that we’d categorize most markets as straight spaces. Not, necessarily, because one assumes that Uncle Ben is married to an aunt but because our world defaults to straight. So unless the supermarket makes a concerted effort to queer the norm, it will always be straight, overtly or subtly, in large ways or small.

File_000Perhaps one day we will achieve a world where there are neutral spaces. Maybe you have access to some in your life. If you do, I’d love to hear about them. Send me an e-mail; I find this topic endlessly fascinating. But, until we escape the binary, we will have to continue to construct our own spaces that are objectively queer. And that’s the answer that I give to my own question when I speak to colleges. I ask them to look around their classroom, to be passive observers. “If you didn’t know anything about this room or the people in it, would you think it was straight or queer?” By that time they’ve wised up to my game. “Straight,” they answer. “Very good,” I reply. We spend a few minutes talking about why this classroom, with its whiteboard and nondescript desks could be considered straight. Sometimes they argue; I like that. In the end, I always invite them to do two things—and I invite you to do the same: I invite them to ask themselves to define the nature of the spaces they find themselves in, as an observational exercise, and then I invite them to come into the Center to find out what a queer space feels like. “I warn you,” I say. “It is not like the set of that Liberace movie. It’s an old building with a lot of old furniture. But it’s also a place where LGBTQ self-expression is not only accepted, but encouraged. It’s the norm. And that’s important. You may not feel it explicitly; it may not hit you over the head. But it’s in every wall, every floorboard, every minute of every program. We will always need that.”

Time is on Our Side-Simpatico

The most amazing thing about the truly astounding process of bringing this play to life has been the opportunity to engage with people in conversation about characters and circumstances that I care deeply about. I’m so grateful for all of the comments and positive reviews that Time Is On Our Side has gotten, but this conversation critique is especially moving. At the end of the day, I just want to make art that sparks conversations, that touches people, that resonates. I’m so very thankful to the people behind this blog for taking the time to engage with the play on an emotional, artistic and intellectual level. I’ve re-blogged their thoughts below but I encourage you to check out Bonaly’s site for other great conversations on local theatre.

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Sarah Grimke works in performance of all types in the Philadelphia region. They’ve been on stage, backstage, and in the office for years now.

Lawrence is a queer feminist playwright who only contains multitudes on Wednesdays.

Goldie is a dramaturg and director who loves socially conscious and feminist work.

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What show did you guys see? I saw a preview.

Lawrence

I did, too, but not the one you saw.

Sarah

I was there opening night.

Goldie

What was in your pockets?

Sarah

I know a number of people involved and have worked with some of them. I wanted to like this show going in.

Goldie

I was really nervous to see this, because I saw the reading and I really didn’t like it. And I want R. Eric Thomas to succeed because I’m a fan of his writing and storytelling. So I was expecting to be disappointed.

Lawrence

I…

View original post 3,520 more words

8 Historical Protest Photos of Bernie Sanders That You Need to See RIGHT NOW

We now know that Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has a long history of political protest and social justice work. But do you know how long? The unearthed pictures below may surprise you!

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Sanders was arrested in 1962 for protesting segregation!

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He was arrested again in 1963, protesting in Chicago!

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He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King!

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He participated in housing sit-ins as a member of the Congress for Racial Equality!

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This is probably not Sanders, but damn, what a hottie, right?!

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He protested outside of City Hall in the 70s!

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He was active in the anti-war movement!

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There he is. Probably.

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And here– Oh. Wait no. Not this one.

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Ah yes! Here he is! Driving out money changers at Occupy Wall Street!

ARE YOU FEELING THE BERN YET?!

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Am I Famous Yet?

On this, the last Thursday of the most lit Black History Month since George Washington Carver was like “Y’all will not believe what this little nut can do”, I present a special #TBT.

As you know, a few weeks back an open letter to Beyonce went viral. I was like, “Girl, I have arrived!”

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“I’m famous. No more UberX for me. Black cars only, please!”

I quit my job. I moved to Branson (“The Hollywood of the Midwest!”) I opened up a bed and brunch (ain’t nobody got time to get up and make breakfast)!

But. Then I posted another blog post and the Internet was like “Sorry, we’re really obsessed with Daniel’s shoes right now. Please leave a message.”

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However, I was Googling myself (as one does) and I came across this video from Yum’s The Word, Robin Gelfenbien’s fabulous storytelling show and ice cream cake party, and I remembered,  this was not my first brush with Internet fame!

Over a decade ago, I went hilariously, tragically and very controversially  viral with an ill-timed satire about Black History Month. And, because I am a whore for fame, I am bringing it up again! I’m Faye Resnick, y’all, and I’m ashamed of myself.

Give this story a listen. It’s a scream. You will have emojis about it.

And then!

Check out my wonderful fiance’s recent TEDx Talk on the intersection of sexual orientation and spiritual identity. It’s wonderful and heartfelt and revolutionary and I’m obsessed with him.

 

The Many Stages of Registering for Your Wedding (As Told by Presidential Candidates’ Faces)

Planning a wedding is like a presidential election cycle: it takes much longer than you thought it would, it costs much more than you think it should and some of your relatives have really strange opinions about it.

This past weekend my fiance, David, and I registered for the aforementioned event. An event which, like the election, is hundreds of days away. I don’t know why I insisted we register so early. I think I thought it would be fun. Like Supermarket Sweep or an All-You-Can-Eat buffet on a cruise ship! Girl. It was not. It was a scene!

It was literally two hours of existential crisis. How many place-settings should I get for the Thanksgiving dinner we’re going to one day have at the house that we’ll one day buy and who will be at that dinner and what playlist should I use? ECRU OR BONE COLORED TOWELS? THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

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By the end of it I was exhausted. At one point I thought “maybe we’re not enjoying this because we’re guys. Women like to shop.” Child who put these gender norms on my registry? Where is the gift receipt? Store credit please! I was so tired I got unwoke.

I’m still recovering so I’m going to let our future/could be/also ran fearless leaders illustrate the many phases of registering for wedding presents (cue the First World Problems National Orchestra):

When the salesperson notices you hemming and hawing over two different vases and says “Why don’t you get both?!” and you and your fiance look at each other like

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And then she says “Go on, register for that Wedgewood china. You deserve it!” And you’re allFile_008

But then you notice that included in the Wedgewood china is a $500 vegetable serving dishFile_005

And you’re like “Hold up, we don’t even like vegetables” And your fiance is all “You’re mumbling. I can’t hear you. Oh look! Napkin rings!”File_009

“Why would we put the napkin in a ring? It’s such a waste of effort. And where does the ring go when the napkin is on my lap? Wait, don’t answer that.”

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And your fiance is like “I am this close to losing it with you right now.”

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You: “Seriously. This is nuts. We don’t even have napkins at the house. We’ve been using paper towels for a week.”

Your fiance:

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You:donald-trump-flip-flopper-777x437File_002(2)

Then you spot the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer attachments!File_003

And wonder if you need a fondue set.

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“Okay next store!”

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When the very enthusiastic salesperson is like “We have 26 bedding patterns for you to choose between!”

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And you try to fade into the wallpaper at Pottery BarnBen Carson 2

And then consider hiring a body double to finish this tripFile_006

When, in the end, the salesperson is all “OMG this is my favorite pattern! I can’t believe you chose it! You all have superb taste! What are your colors?! What are your flowers? I’m obsessed with you.” and you’re just like, “Okay.”

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And both of you wander out into the dark parking lot, trying to figure out what just happened and whether it was like this when your brother went through it.File_000(3)

Yay! Things!

 

Wokeness Brokeness

Y’all haters corny with that living in poverty mess.

Okay, so last week I celebrated Black History Month by doing the blackest thing I could think of–going h.a.m. on the price of Beyonce concert tickets. We love to get incredulous about how much things cost. Doesn’t matter how much money we have; it’s the principle! You haven’t lived until you’ve been in a Safeway watching the 90 year-old head of the usher board telling the manager he ought to be ashamed of himself for how much he’s charging for these Nilla wafers.

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In response to my piece about her concert ticket prices, Beyonce also did the blackest thing she could think of: continuing to get her damn paper. She was so unbothered by me! And that’s a beautiful thing.

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We, as a people, have a complicated relationship with money. It’s not surprising. Our ancestors were treated as property. That can fuck a people up.

Sister Bertha is not fussing about Nilla Wafers; she’s talking about dignity. She’s asking for justice. And a raincheck.

Maybe it’s controversial–apparently it’s controversial–but lemme tell you: there’s nothing wrong with making money.

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I don’t know why this is controversial. I thought this was still a capitalist country (until the Bernie revolution next January or whatever is supposed to happen. Side note: should I buy my socialism starter kit now or will it be shipped directly to me? Is buying it wrong? Will it only be available for barter? What about bitcoin? Can I download it on Tidal? What. Is. Tidal?! So many questions.)

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Despite the economic principles this country was founded on people are coming for Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar like the IRS.

And just like Sally Field at the end of Steel Magnolias, I want to know why!

People keep saying that they reject “Formation” or the Super Bowl performance because it seems calculated. First of all, Beyoncé doesn’t care what you think. How many times does she have to tell you? Beyoncé is Regina George; stop trying to make your opinion happen. It’s not going to happen.

Like why are your trying to come for her and her money? She’s not here for you. She’s not even here. You’re at the wrong house. This is Solange’s house.

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Second of all, what kind of common core arithmetic are you doing where you think the most calculated thing the biggest pop star in the world can do is release a black Power anthem?

Beyoncé’s like “Hm. I’d like some more money. Should I release ‘Single Ladies II’? Nah, I’ll remind people that Black Lives Matter. [insert maniacal laugh].” She would have to be a worse business person than Donald Trump to think that the most money is in that banana stand.

Like, she knows how this is done. We all do. Rihanna was like “Gotta pay the weed man, so I guess I’ll release a song” and then came out with a song that was literally called Gimme your fucking money. Like, bitch just pulled her Hummer up to the ATM and ripped the whole thing out the wall. And Rihanna stans were just like “Yaaaaaas! Slay! My PIN is 2233! When is ANTI coming out?!”

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Four years ago Adele sold 8 million albums by adding music to the last text fight you and your ex had after breaking up. Then she came back this year and sold another 6 million albums by musicalizing a 3 am “Sup?” Snapcat. Yo, I love Adele because I have ears and eyes but that is calculated.

Making money requires calculation. If a person has money, they’ve done some calculating. Unless they’re Donald Trump in which case they fell backwards through a rip in the moral fabric of the universe, flailing and spitting all the way.

Truth is, your fave has money and they’ve put thought into how to get it. And that doesn’t make them less woke. Bernie is a rich person. Kendrick is a rich person. DeRay is running for mayor; that takes money. Your fave is a rich person. Unless your fave is Kanye. Kanye is poor.

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LOL Kanye is so poor.

At least I think you can make money and be woke. Girl, you know I don’t know.

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You know how the Social Security administration sends out your lifetime earnings and estimated SSI payments every couple of years? Well I got mine and it was just this GIF

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I have already put in my pre-emptive application to be a senior greeter at Walmart because this bitch is never retiring. Shady Pines doesn’t give a damn how many blog hits I got back in the day.

I work in non-profit and I write plays, two fields that also have a strange relationship with money. I’ll tell you this: I am really good at my job and I am really qualified for my job but I don’t make a lot of money. And that’s not a read on my job (although I did wait to post this until after my review; chile who you playing?) It’s just the way things work.

When you do “good” work or “do it because you love it” people think you don’t need to get paid for it. If I was this good at my job and also worked at Google, I’d have stacks on stacks on stacks. I’m not complaining; I’m just expressing my philosophy. People matter most, relationships matter, spiritual practice matters, but so does paying your rent. I got all kinds of things to pay for. I’m going to have a kid one day. You think that’s cheap? I’m gay as hell; I gotta buy a kid. You thought Nilla wafers were expensive. Child.

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I love what I do, which is why I do what I do. I used to work for banks foreclosing on mortgages held by young couples in over their heads and widows and divorcees. Like, you’ve seen The Big Short? I was the sequel. Bigger, shorter. There’s a dick joke there but I don’t want to reach for it.

Hold for applause.

I got paid doing that job but I didn’t love it. There’s nothing wrong with getting paid to do something you don’t love. But there’s also nothing wrong with making money doing something that you believe in. Dr. King paid his bills, too, okay?

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Maybe that’s a cynical thought but so is the idea that the only way artists should make money is by putting out facile, manufactured commercial hits.

You like the message but don’t want to pay for it? Cool. Do you. I’ll be over here with my big wide brimmed black hat and my empty bank account blasting TPAB and being reminded that I, too, might one day afford the American Dream.

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Coming in June 2016: TIME IS ON OUR SIDE, a world premiere play by R. Eric Thomas
Commissioned by Simpatico Theatre Project and directed by Jarrod Markman
Find tickets and information: http://bit.ly/TimeJune