Thursday, April 9, 2015

If I only had a penis, I'd be funnier

I'm listening to the PG Comedy channel on Pandora (kids in the room, got to limit their vocabulary to "aw, shucks!").

I'm on the tenth comedy track and I've heard some great bits, but not one of them by a woman.

I heard a man make a joke about never thinking he'd have to tell his kids not to bite the dog.

No woman could deliver that punchline. It's just somasculine.

I heard a man joke that his 15-year-old mentioned he'd be driving next year and the comic hasn't slept in two weeks worrying about that reality.

Too nuanced for a woman to have written, you know, because her vagina might get in the way of her brain function. It happens. Don't believe me? Look up the meaning of the totally legitimate mental disorder called "hysteria."

I've heard from favorites like Brian Regan and Jim Gaffigan. And I laughed because they are funny. And probably because they have penises, which, well, funniest genitals on the planet, am I right?
But I haven't heard a single female voice. Because, ladies, I guess it's time we face facts, WOMEN JUST CAN'T DO COMEDY.

Everyone knows the only things women *can* joke about are having periods and saggy boobs and menopause and why we don't like sex.

We can sometimes joke about parenting, too, but let's leave that to the men, shall we ladies? Because when a man talks about being a parent it's hilarious and when a woman does it's just "lady humor."
Because women's humor isn't relatable. Sure, women comprise half of humanity, but, unlike jokes about having penises and wanting to see breasts---which are funny to every single human---jokes about things exclusive to the female gender are inherently less funny because, um, I'm sure there's a good reason.

That reason must also be why, of the 24 comedy channels on Pandora radio, only 3 have pictures of women in the preview thumbnail. Those are: the "Women in Comedy" station, the "LGBT Comedy" station, and the "Ridiculous Relatives Comedy" station. No thumbnails of the ladies in the various comedy channels dedicated to particular decades or ethnocentric genres like the Latino or the Asian channel.

Women's humor lives in the "Women of Comedy" station, primarily, so decent humans can avoid hearing their shrill and depressing sets. Imagine if a woman comic popped up on a non-female channel! Would the world spontaneously ovulate? Would men grow breasts and storm the drug stores in search of Midol and an US Weekly? CHAOS.

I've been writing humor, almost exclusively, for the last 4 years. I write satirical humor, 140-character zingers for Twitter, professional humor columns for my local newspaper and---so far---humor essays for 4 humor anthologies.

I write humor columns for local magazines. I wrote a humorous marketing screenplay for a local company's annual meeting.

I've been on NickMom and Lifetime Moms and Mamalode and Bonbon Break writing humor. I've been on Scary Mommy and Mommy Shorts and The Huffington Post (Women, Parents, and Comedy).
I've read two humor pieces live on stage. Pieces I had to audition for before they'd let me tell jokes to an audience.

All of this is to say, thank you, Pandora radio! Without you, I'd have kept at it! Imagine me, a woman, creating jokes that are undoubtedly not funny in the least.

Why, I might have seen my friends laughing and thought they were laughing with me, when they have most certainly been laughing to mask their disdain and shame. Oh, how they must pity me!

I might have read favorable comments and reviews and thought that I'd made people literally experience the internet phenomenon known as LOLing. I see now that their "hahahahahahahahahas" were nothing more than a lie to protect my fragile, imagined persona: comedienne.

No humorist, I. Just a woman. A woman who may listen to the jokes men tell, but never make them herself.

Pandora, you've saved me. I'll go back to my rightful place, which is in the audience, laughing at men's jokes.


Books I'm in that you can buy 
that I mistakenly believed were funny, 
one of which is a 
New York Times Best Seller 
because we fooled thousands and thousands of consumers 
into thinking it would make them laugh

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Parent Bus

There's magic in that big yellow bus. The most powerful of which is that I don't have to drive the big yellow bus. When it pulls up to the curb, my kids stand in line until the doors whoosh open, and poof, like Cinderella off to the ball, they are whisked away, all while I wave, still wearing my PJs.

But there's magic on those big yellow buses, too. Kids chattering and laughing and picking spitballs out of their hair. (Is that still a thing or did it go out sometime in 1954?) They do all that bonding and social development and wishing they'd peed before getting on the bus.

Sometimes the bus takes them to other exciting places like pumpkin patches and children's museums. Or it takes them to snooze-fest City Hall where someone drones on about the history of the town and, really, if you're going to have a stomach bug, City Hall field trip day is a good day for rotavirus.

City Hall and spitballs aside, I wouldn't mind a big yellow bus for parents.

It could take us to parent school, where we'd learn about how to ensure the kids will still visit once they've left the nest and when it's time to clean those pee-pee sheets and when it's better to burn them. I don't care how much detergent you use, there comes a time when the best cleaning measure is immolation.

We'd have field trips to coffee houses where we'd press our noses up against the glass and drool over butter croissants and ask to smell the espresso beans.

Instead of puppet shows, we'd be driven to movie matinees where we'd watch an R-rated movie and no one would ask to "go potty" during the most pivotal scene.

We'd get bused to Target. The kids would have packed our returns into our backpacks the night before and slipped a fiber bar into the little side pocket for a snack. They'd hand us an envelope with a few dollars in it so we could all get slushies and visit the Dollar Spot before leaving.

If parents got on the bus, we'd chatter about sports and piano lesson scheduling conflicts and the last time we had a date night. Someone would pick an errant fruit snack out of our hair for us.

The Parent Bus sounds wonderful, and full of exciting possibilities. But none so idyllic as the the bus ride home, during which we'd all nap.

This bus day dream has helped me to remember that kids and parents aren't so different. We want to go fun places, be with friends, learn cool stuff, and all of us wished we'd peed before getting on the bus.

Now available, the follow-up to the NYT Best Selling I  Just Want to Pee Alone, is the hilarious and heart-warming, and pore-cleansing I Still Just Want to Pee Alone. Not only is it a great read, it's also a book I'm in, so you can see why I'm keen for you to buy it. My essay, "Let's Piss Off the Babies," might very well be the funniest thing I've ever written. That's what my mom told me.

Here's where to buy I STILL Just Want to Pee Alone:

CLICK HERE for Kindle
CLICK HERE for Paperback via Amazon
CLICK HERE for iTunes/iBooks
CLICK HERE for Nook or Paperback via Barnes & Noble

Monday, March 9, 2015

The next book you won't be able to put down, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis

I'm reviewing the novel The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen. You should read the review, but if you don't, let me tell you in plain English. This book is probably the best novel I've read in years. Buy it. 


When I finally got around to watching Girls, the Lena Dunham vehicle on HBO that has masses of women glued to their screens, it was as engrossing as it was disturbing. It tells truths about being a young woman that I'm not always sure I want the world to know. The uncomfortable place I find myself in when watching Dunham’s show is a lot like worrying at the sore spot in your mouth where you’ve bitten your cheek. It hurts so good.

I got the same masochistic thrill reading Keija Parssinen's newest novel, The Unravelling of Mercy Louis. Except where the end of every Girls episode leaves me twisting in the wind, Mercy Louis let me fly at the finish.

Parssinen’s book is set in the fictional Texas town of Port Sabine, whose residents rely on the local oil refinery for employment and the girls’ high school basketball team for enjoyment. When an unsolved crime brings a wave of national media attention to Port Sabine, the town’s character and morality is hung on the reputation of its young women.

In the years since the accident at the oil refinery that injured the residents and the resident economy, the winning girls' varsity basketball team has buoyed the people of Port Sabine. At the center of the team is star player Mercy Louis. The history of Mercy Louis is crowded with bayou legend, religious fervor, repressive heat and repressive morality, scandal, voodoo, broken families, and a strange and unexplained affliction that fells the local girls one by one. Combines to make a mystery that nearly boils over with details that turn out not to be distractions from the plot, but the point of the story.

Mercy Louis, the titular character, is both pawn and queen. She’s manipulated by her evangelical grandmother, her self-interested basketball coach, and her needy, flawed friends. But Mercy also moves the town according to the accuracy of her shooting arm and purity of her character. The novel’s agency is in Mercy’s capable, but recently unreliable hands.

Mercy’s story is paralleled by Illa Stark—the anorexic, marginalized team manager for the girls' basketball team. Illa is a shadow and a sponge, a young woman who sets her worth by the inattentions of others, soaking up the fleeting notice of Mercy Louis. Illa is also the girl who cares for her ailing mother and reveals to Mercy truths about her estranged mother’s attempts to make contact. Illa, ultimately, directs Mercy’s steps as well as her own.

The author gives us a spectrum of experience, one woman at a time. There’s shame and privilege and first love and assault and expectation and revelation. There’s disappointment and rapture, both sexual and divine.

Throughout, Parssinen preaches a feminist’s lament, that the worth of our women is only as important as their public image, their perceived purity, and their willingness to be the sacrificial lambs for the public sins. Hers are women who must struggle, forced to fight their way through the needs and impositions of the people in their community and at home.

This dark and emotionally urgent novel is chockablock with metaphor. Often, the language Parssinen uses is more poetic than prosaic.

In the bathroom mirror, I notice that the skin around my mouth is pinkish from the friction of Travis’s stubble. I brush my teeth, gargle twice. The taste of his tongue persists. Here is what I feel: I’m walking close to cliff’s edge, a beckoning sea spread out to the west. I want badly to feel the weightless in the cool water. To experience that pleasure, I must dive off the edge, break something in the fall. And I know: this is temptation.

At the book’s onset, the figurative language feels heavy-handed and distracting, but as the pages turn, the layered meanings become vital to the telling. The layered metaphors keep time with the changing self-awareness of the characters and ultimately help to turn the comparisons back on the reader. I wasn’t drawn into the book so much as the book reflected my understanding of becoming an adult woman in a society that expects its ladies to shoulder social and moral responsibility.

The novel has a slow burn. It heats up at a steady pace that traps the reader in a satisfying, tense read. The raw and disturbing crime Parssinen sets up at the novel’s start has nothing on the fraught drama of Mercy Louis’s coming of age. This is a book I was riveted to in the most literal sense, carrying it from room to room so I could steal into the pages during odd moments. Its magnetism is in its realism and relatability and the smudged and dirty hope we get to polish into something precious at the novel’s close.

The Unravelling ofMercy Louis is the next novel you won’t be able to put down. 

Author Keija Parssinen's first novel is The Ruins of Us.

If my review didn't convince you to buy The Unraveling of Mercy Louis
see what these fine writers have to say.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In case of burrito emergency, you need a myCharge (a giveaway and some stern advice)

I'm running this post on behalf of myCharge because I like their products (I own one). I'm also doing it because it's in conjunction with Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva who I trust to share cool stuff. myCharge is sending me a RazorPlus for posting this. 

I'm getting a free portable phone charger for writing this. Sure, I wish it were a million dollars, but today is not the day I get paid a million dollars for a sponsored post. Tomorrow doesn't look good either. And I will tell you the truth, I'd probably run just about any post for a million dollars, short of something criminal or anything that promotes a Real Housewives vehicle.

I can't imagine what kind of super internet personality I would have to be to garner a million bucks for a blog post. At least on par with George Takei. But even George doesn't have that kind of juice. Maybe if George Takei and God got together they could command some serious compensation. But, me, well, I'm no Almighty (nor George Takei).

If we are talking seriously about the kind of compensation, the minimum kind of compensation I'd take, well, aside from free back-up phone chargers with an extra 13 hours of talk time, I'd probably blog for food.

I'd blog for food and maybe coupons if they were really stellar coupons. Like Target coupons. Coupons for anything at Target. Like free range coupons. So, basically, Target gift cards. I'd blog for Target gift cards.

I have standards, of course, so I wouldn't take Walmart gift cards. Or Taco Bell . . . okay, I'd take Taco Bell gifts cards. So what? So I like a Crunchwrap Supreme from time to time. You're better than me because you shun Taco Bell? Look, there are two kinds of people in the world, those who openly crave Taco Bell and those who pretend they are too good for a bean burrito that only cost 79 cents.

I tried to type "79 cents" just now with the little cents icon, you know, the lowercase c with the line transecting it vertically. It's not on my keyboard. I wonder when that happened? When did we no longer need to denote cents in our numerical calculations? "Meh, coins. Who needs them? We are a world that revolves around bills and revolving debt stored on plastic rectangles. Cents. We disdain you. Banished from the keyboard. You disgust us!"

We're done with cents symbols. We are a world that no longer needs these tiny units. We like dolla dolla bills, y'all. Dollar bills and portable tech and lattes and e-anything.

We prefer the new unit of currency, information. We have flooded our internets with it---some bits true, some false, some obsolete.

We carry in our pockets the kind of devices that have replaced, harnessed, or rendered useless old modes of information relay. Watches, maps, music players, phone directories, stock tickers, encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, books, compasses and even the town gossip have been ousted by the touch-screen gadgets we have in our purses. AND YOU THINK YOU CAN GO AROUND WITH A PHONE ON 1% CHARGE? ARE YOU MAD?

That's why you need to register to win this sweet RazorPlus from myCharge.

Because what if you're on a street corner somewhere and you're hungry, but not, like, have a meal hungry and really, what you could go for?, it's a bean burrito from Taco Bell. And if you had enough charge on the phone, you'd be able to map that son of a bitch. You'd have a pocket copilot who could take you straight to that salty, gassy treat. But you don't have back-up power and now you're watching a screen with an empty battery symbol that silently mocks you. "How you gonna bean burrito now, baby? You haven't read a map since 2001 and there aren't pay phones any more and even if there were the cents symbols has been discarded because you don't have any cents. No one does! We are a people with pockets full only of lint and receipts for check card purchases. So how would you even use a payphone? You're not Adam Levine. You know what you should have had? You should have had a myCharge RazorPlus." That's what your dead phone would tell you if it could.

Don't be the person on the street corner with no burrito and a mocking phone. Enter the giveaway, dammit.

Now here's some stuff about stuff and then the giveaway at the bottom. Read it or don't. I think I've made a compelling case for getting yourself a myCharge product.


Did you know that the average smartphone users checks their phone 110 times per day and that 2.7 hours of that is just for fun?

Did you also know that without an available power source 77% of phone users will have a dead battery by 4pm?

Whether at work or play all of these things can be a huge strain on your phone's battery, and this is where myCharge comes in!

myCharge is a leader in portable charging solutions that's been first to offer the most advanced solutions for a multitude of needs. Their devices boast built–in charging cords that emphasize portability and versatility, and powerful lithium polymer batteries that allow you to quickly charge your smartphone, tablet, eReader and other devices so that they’re ready when you need them! Ditch your dependency on cables and wall outlets – and let myCharge make your life a bit easier!

For the month of February myCharge is offering the Limited Edition RazorPlus Bundle for $49.99 - in it you receive a RazorPlus with the imprint: We can charge right here right now. The RazorPlus is anultra-thin rechargeable 3000 mAh battery crafted from anodized aluminum that delivers an extra 13 hours talk time for your smartphone. You'll also receive a shirt and a 22 oz. reusable/dishwasher safe stadium cup that is color-changing! The frosted cups turn green when filled with your favorite (possibly adult) beverage. Green is the new red after all!

myCharge is also giving away 20 of these Bundles FREE, so enter for your chance to win below!
  Limited Edition RazorPlus Bundle Prize from myCharge

Good luck!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more fun contests, promotions and product info visit!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Poetry: How poets have been getting lucky since forever

There comes a time in every marriage, long-term living arrangement with a lover, and romantic written correspondence with a death row inmate, when epic professions of love no longer get your motor running. 

When you've been listening to the same man snore for a decade and the kids are clamoring to climb into your marriage bed, you might forgo the "I love you like a love song, baby" and cut to the chase. Because while pop music may have most of us conditioned to expect the carnal natures of love to be expressed through Barry White and Marvin Gaye songs, sexual healing has been the art of poets for ages. 

Before LMFAO was sexy—and they know it—John Donne was wooing ladies into bed with fleas. Keuroac was handling his manhood with metaphors. 

Maybe you're the proverbial virgin, about to be touched for the very first time by romance's sweaty cousin, smut. So brace yourself, some of literature's greats are about to ask you in for a romp. 

  • Shakespeare, the Bard who gave us the world's most famous hopeless romantics (Romeo and Juliet, duh) also brought the dirty line "making the beast with two backs" into popular usage. Villainous Iago uses this classy description of coitus in Shakespeare's Othello(Abridged version: Othello's a man, baby, not a board game.) Although Shakespeare made famous a phrase that was probably already popular in pubs across Europe, if your partner whispers this to you tonight, chances are the honeymoon's over.

  • John Donne: preacher, husband, philanderous poet. That's right, object of John "I'm Too Sexy for this Century" Donne's conquest, why the fuss over a forbidden dance between the bed sheets? "We are already married in this flea who sucked our blood and you might as well give up that maidenhead. I hear this blood sucking business is going to be a big hit in romantic teen novels of the 21st century. Won't you be my Bella?" Sure, he's a brilliant man with a big conceit (if you know what I mean) but does 17th century poetry get more suggestive than this bit from "The Flea"?
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.

  • Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Cassady, a beatnik collaboration that brought us "Pull My Daisy" a crazy little poem, man, that may be about illicit drug use or financial reform, but I think winning lines like "Call my worm to sup" make it a candidate for poetic Penthouse Letters. Call my worm to sup, Jackie? Gross. If my husband asks me for something like this, he'll be taking his worm to the guest room for Valentine's day.

  • Edgar Allan Poe was, if nothing else, a dogged lover of the macabre. Really ladies, is there anything sexier? Creepy death birds, deformed midget murderers, people walled up alive, I know that makes me think "Can't get enough of your love, baby." But the most blatantly necrotic love ode is his "Annabel Lee." Because nothing says Be My Valentine like a giant Hershey's Kiss and hints of necrophilia. Hey, hey, you, you, get outta my crypt.
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea. 

  • I'll end with a ray of poetic hope. A poem that only a woman could have realized would surely win lovers a ticket to naked town. Even the title is a hint, fellas. "Come Slowly," by Emily Dickinson is a quick read that reminds us that five minutes may not be enough time. This poem may be the original sexual healing. Ahem, is it hot in here?
Come slowly, Eden
Lips unused to thee.
Bashful, sip thy jasmines,
As the fainting bee,
Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums,
Counts his nectars -alights,
And is lost in balms! 

Poetry, the lost art of "takest thou off thy nightie because it's time to do the Humpty Dance." How better to commemorate Hallmark's greatest holiday than with a few of our favorite lines? Show me the poetry. Bonus points if it involves sex acts hiding behind metaphors.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Very Serious Discussion About Sex

Valentine's Day is Saturday. I have big plans to do absolutely nothing with my husband. We've been married for 13 years and we have 4 kids and 2 dogs and a mortgage. It's not as easy these days to thrown caution (and our undergarments) to the wind and speak the ancient language of love (chocolate, probably) to each other. Especially when there's Netflix instead. 

But it wouldn't be a bad thing if I dedicated this Valentine's to getting close with my husband in bed not watching Netflix. After all, I enjoy it, he enjoys it and there's all of that mutual respect (for some space afterward so that all parties can go right to sleep like God intended for middle-aged married people) that only happens in a longterm relationship. 

But since our carefree, youthful days of romance have passed, I'll need to plan a little if I want to get to the good stuff (again, sleeping afterward, please pay attention). 

That's where writer Erin MacPherson comes in. This Valentine's Day, invite a sassy blonde into the bedroom. Erin has a short ebook you can get now, and a new follow-up coming along soon, I'm lending her my blog so she can tell us all about S-E-X and her new book.


I know this is a funny blog.

And I know that as a guest poster, I should be getting in line with Nicole's tone and talking about something hilarious and light.  But I just can't.  Because I have something very serious to talk to you about ladies.

We need to talk about sex.

And how you should be having a whole lot more of it. 

Now before you open your mouth and start to dish out one of your excuses, let me be clear: I don't want to hear it.  I know you're tired.  I know you're cranky because you just stepped on a Lego for the seventeenth time today.  And I know that those yoga pants are so well worn-in that there is absolutely no way you would even consider taking them off unless it's to change into another pair of yoga pants.

But here's the thing:  I cannot sit idly by and let you wallow away in your granny panties when there is good old-fashioned sex to be had. 

So consider this an intervention of sorts. 

And we're going to have a little come-to-Jesus talk about all of the reasons that you should pick up your phone right now, text your man, and tell him to get ready.

Because tonight is the night that your inner hot mama is going to make her debut.

5 Reasons You Need to Be Having More Sex

1.     It's good for your kids.  When I was working on my sex book, I interviewed hundreds of women about sex.  And one of the most common things women told me is that they were raised to think sex was bad.  And then when they got married, they had a hard time switching those "sex is bad" voices off in their heads. One of the best things we can do for our kids is show them a thriving, happy example of what a marriage should look like.   And while you should definitely lock your door when you're actually having sex, letting your kids see that you love your man will help them shape healthy views about the birds and the bees.

2.     It boosts your confidence.  Even on my frumpiest days, nothing can make me feel better about myself than slipping on a pair of cute undies and, well…

3.     You won't have to go to the gym as often.  I hate the gym.  I want to like it.  In fact, my news year's resolution was to try to become a gym rat.  But you guys, it's just not fun to wear tight clothes around all of these skinny, in-shape women and pretend that I know what I'm doing on the treadmill.  I'd rather… have sex.  And the good news is that it's actually a pretty good substitute.  I read online (and Google never lies) that you can burn 150 calories having sex.  Take that times seven days and you've burned a good 1,000 calories. 

4.     Your marriage will be stronger.  Sex is a great connector.  One of the woman I interviewed in my book told me her best piece of marriage advice is to fight naked.  She said they never have a hard time making up when sex is involved.  And while I'll go ahead and go on a limb and say that there are some arguments that you should probably stay clothed for (um, let's just say we occasionally fight about my mother-in-law), there are some fights that could easily be solved with this one simple trick.

5.     It's the right thing to do.  There are very few areas in life where the right thing is the fun thing.  But sex is one of them.  Sex is good for your marriage, good for your confidence, good for your body… and it's fun.  (If only eating chocolate was the same.)  Seriously, ladies.  Do the right thing.  Do the fun thing.  Do your thing.

Need more inspiration?  My new sex book Hot Mama comes out this fall, but we're releasing a couple of short e-books to help get everyone in the mood.  The first e-book '10 Ideas to Inspire Red Hot Sex' is on sale for 99 cents this week and it's full of fun (I mean, very serious) sex ideas that will get things rocking at your house.

So tear off those granny panties and get going. 

Have I made myself clear?

Erin MacPherson is the author of more than ten books, including her new release, Hot Mama, a series about married sex.  She lives in Austin, Texas with her three kids and her hot husband.  She blogs at

Monday, January 19, 2015

If you're racist and you know it, clap your hands

Clap. Clap.

If you're reading this, even if you're a good and kind and loving person, chances are you're a racist. 

I am. 

I'm not a hooded member of the KKK. I'm not pouring poison into my children's ears about the nature of some people predicated on the color of their skin, the language they speak at home, or the name of the God that they worship. 

But when I'm out at night on city streets and I see a group of brown-skinned young men, I pay attention. I keep an eye out. I'm on alert. I may even move to the other side of the road. And, like it or not, that's racism. 

For the record, I don't like it. But, I take heart in the fact that recognizing my internalized racism is the only way to rid myself of it. 

So ask yourself, "Am I a racist?"

Ask only that. Don't ask yourself if you have black friends or work with Latinos or smile at the Muslim woman whose son is on your kid's basketball team. Don't ask yourself if you've donated to the Burmese aid center in your city or helped to pay for a mission trip to Haiti. 

And don't list reasons that you can't be a racist. Don't say things like "Mixed-raced children are so gorgeous!" Don't mistake making out with a black guy in college for proof of freedom from racism. Don't talk about "reverse-racism." Don't pride yourself on not laughing at racist jokes.

And don't be shocked if you find you are a racist. Racism is all around us. You may not run in circles with people throwing the "n-word" around or referring to immigrants by vulgar slang names, but you're absorbing it through our shared cultural influences. Racism didn't end with "I have a dream" any more than it did with the Emancipation Proclamation.

Do ask this: If we are absorbing it as grown-ups, what are our sponge-like children soaking up?

Anderson Cooper asked that very question in a study he commissioned through his show, Anderson Cooper 360. The study, conducted in 2012, found something heartbreaking. Children as young as six years old are already making inferences based on race. Children as young as my kindergartner. Children who we, especially as white parents, think are colorblind.

We like to say that, white parents, that our littlest loves can't "see" race. I do. I like the idea that my children are too young to make racist judgments, too naive to know to how to discriminate based on superficial characteristics. But these are the same children who recognize the McDonald's logo and the Nike swoosh before they can recite the alphabet. Children are sponges, not filters. They soak up the positive and negative. Little people perceive the implied traits of people with different skin tones as readily as they understand that golden arches equal Happy Meals. 

The toughest part about being a "good" white person, is admitting that good is a grey area. It's difficult to accept that righteousness is a work in progress. It's hard to admit, out loud, that you can want to end racism, but that you provide safe harbor for discrimination in your own thoughts. 

But you don't have to say it out loud. You don't have to stand in a room of like-minded people and announce, "My name is Nicole and I'm a covert racist, someone who publicly advocates for equality, but crosses the street when I see a group of brown-skinned, urban youth." You only have to say it to yourself. 

What we do need to say out loud is that racism exists. We need our kids to know that our society does form opinions, dangerous ones, based on skin tone, based on religion, based on native tongues. Our kids don't need to be shielded from racism---you'd have as much luck shielding them from the existence of the sun and moon---they need to be taught to recognize it. They need to know how to reject it. 

But maybe you aren't a racist. Maybe you are one of the few who have escaped the inherent inequities that are predicated on a shared, sometimes silent and always insidious sense that "those people" are one way and "these people" are another. Even those of us who aren't racist, or even those of us, like me, who strive not to be, suffer under an immunity that prevents us from understanding the depth of the racial divide. It's an immunity to the experience of racism. 

If you're not sure if you're immune to the experience of racism, try this self-test. Think of a joke, an off-color, inappropriate, never-tell-it-in-mixed-company joke that makes you feel bitter, or scared, or marginalized, or threatened. If you can't think of a joke for which your race is the punchline, and for which the punchline is malicious, even dangerous, then you are very likely immune to racism. Jokes intended to remind a group of people that they are members of a powerless group, that they are weak and bad and less, only work if they hurt. And if it doesn't hurt you, if you can't find a joke that undermines your being, you're not part of the marginalized group. You're immune. 

Immunity to racism causes a true colorblindness. One that makes empathy, the necessary ingredient for positive change in race relations, impossible. If you can't understand it, if you can't conceptualize racism and accept its existence, you can't help eliminate it. 

I had an experience with this immunity recently when my friend and I compared similar stories (she's black)

When my oldest child was in pre-k she'd pocketed a pair of sunglasses from a children's clothing store. Oblivious, I paid for the clothes we'd picked out and left with my tiny shoplifter. A few stores down the line, I discovered her filched goods. I told her that taking things we haven't paid for is wrong, criminal even, and that the right thing to do is to return them to the store. We did. I was stern and serious; the clerk was accommodating and kind. A lesson was learned. I followed up by explaining that she should never do that again and we haven't talked about it since. In fact, I'd say I was glad for the opportunity for an object lesson. Don't steal because there are consequences. Today the consequence is having to give back the glasses, feel a bit embarrassed, and get scolded by mommy. Someday, as a big girl and certainly as a grown-up, you'd have the police to answer to. 

Maybe. Or maybe they'd just call us, mom and dad, and we'd take you home and be very disappointed. 

My friend, Keesha, a black woman with a brown-skinned boy, had an entirely different experience. When her son, at the same age my daughter was when she tried to steal those sunglasses, took candy from a store, her conversation was much more involved, her reaction much more panicked. Because someday, she explained, if her son were a young man stealing things, she needs him to know that there is a strong possibility that he won't be a maybe. The cops will come. He will pay. And, statistically speaking, he will pay more harshly than his white-skinned counterparts

I'd like to deny it. I'd like to say to Keesha, "No, surely you're overplaying this. Surely, so long as he's a good kid generally, even when he's older and looking more like a man, these kinds of adolescent infractions won't change the course of his life."

But, based on the fact that none of these same concerns crossed my mind, I'm compelled to admit that I have an immunity to racism. An ignorance of experience that can only be remedied by my desire to seek a better understanding of the world that Keesha is raising her son in. 

Is it so hard to admit this immunity? As a woman, in a world where rape whistles exist, I know that women are living in a different world than men do. As a woman, who was once told at an interview for a job at deli when I was seventeen, "I'm gonna put a 10 here on your application so that my boss knows you're a good looking girl" (this after being asked to stand up and twirl once), I know that I live in a different world than men do.

Is it so hard to believe that Keesha's world, as a black mother, is different as well?

You don't have to answer that last one aloud. It's only important that you answer it at all and honestly.

As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, 

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.**
If you're racist and you know it, clap your hands. Even if you're the only one who can hear you clapping.


*This post is inspired by an on-going conversation I've been having with Keesha, blogger at Mom's New Stage. Read Keesha's account of her son's candy theft here.

**Quote from