Art, Racism, and a Return to my Childhood

While traveling on the train across the USA, the standard questions people ask are:

  • Where are you going?
  • Why are you traveling?
  • What do you do?

The last one is the hardest to answer. What do I do? I’m a comic, a Bible scholar, a human rights activist concerned with LGBTQ rights and climate justice. Do I really want to say all that as we travel trapped in a rolling tin can for days together? Sometimes a seat mate will demand a joke or a debate or both.

Now thanks to WITF radio, a public station that serves much of Central Pennsylvania, I have a short interview I can reference fellow passengers. In fact, I should just save the interview on my phone, and when they ask, I can hit play while I waddle off to the loo.

The interview also reveals the roots to much of my activism, roots that run back to my earliest days around the dinner table at Grandma Toscanos’ home. I come from a very mixed extended family where people were treated differently because of their race, ethnicity, and class–and it wasn’t pretty. It did teach me early on how the world works–privilege and power, distrust and disenfranchisement. Through the years since, I keep discovering the same systems of discrimination in the Evangelical Church, the LGBTQ “community,” and most recently with climate change.

Joe Ulrich does an excellent job of distilling our 25 minute interview into 3.5 minutes and provides some great music to go along with it. In fact, I learned a thing or two about music and editing from listening to the episode. Enjoy!


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