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On "Children of the New World": An Interview with Alexander Weinstein

“Humor helps the heart to open. And heartfelt laughter leads us towards greater connection with those around us. If you can find a way to share humor with others, then there’s an openness towards greater listening and compassion. With the serious topics I write about […] there’s a way such stories can calcify the heart if one isn’t careful. I noticed this in my teaching—if I’m just giving my students the disturbing facts about humanity without humor, it can lead to depression, discouragement, and a deeper political/social apathy. So, humor seems to restore our humanity to us—it allows us to deal with suffering with a more open heart.”

Observing Black History Month

* A.L. Major *

So far 2014’s Black History Month has elicited the familiar feelings of dread and anticipation I often experience during this time of year. An all-girls school in Northern California created a Black History Month menu of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon. Nick Cannon protested a Harriet Tubman Google Doodle all by himself. George Zimmerman, a murderer who refuses to cower away into obscurity, claims that he fears for his life yet agreed to participate in a celebrity boxing match, goading on the only famous black men he could think of, rappers Kayne West and DMX. American cultural values are deeply confused when women become famous for making sex tapes (Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, etc.) and white men become famous for murdering black teenagers. Something is insidiously wrong if I’m expecting the worst during a time that’s supposed to be celebratory and contemplative.