The problems of living with coruscating racism

An article in the NY Times was titled The Power Brokers of Beverly Hills.  I’ve already forgotten the names of this couple, but the paragraph below struck me.

 “At the time, they were charged with selling $300,000 condominiums, and they still dabble in the middle-class market — whatever that means in Los Angeles. ‘I just found a $900,000 house in Van Nuys for my hairdresser,’ Mrs. Williams said. ‘Really beautiful. I never want to be so jaded that all of this takes away my moral compass.’” 

Yes, those pesky old moral compasses can really be a drag. Especially at 900K.

The day I write this, the Prez and the VP are headed to our southern border to see what can be done about the unaccompanied immigrant children who have been living for ten days and more in quarters that were supposed to house them for no more than three.  If only they had Mrs. Williams to secure them some pied a terres in Van Nuys, we could all sleep a bit better after having bad days during which we decided to go murder some Asian women.

At the end of his rope, was this 21-year-old, now on suicide watch in an Atlanta prison while the police try to decide whether this was a hate crime.  The Asian community is not at all undecided.  What else could it be, they cry. A fit of pique?  Maybe he was having a bad goatee day? Or, I got it. A love crime, because he’s addicted to sex. Aren’t we all? Let’s go kamikaze some geishas.  Arrigato!

I recall as a youngster going door-to-door in Chicago to solicit money for some school charity that had something to do with World War II. One man started screaming about the “dirty Japs” and slammed the door in my face. A kid does not forget these things, but I do recall there were no Asians in my ’hood of houses that went for about 9K.

I’ve read that Randy Andy Cuomo, the original cuomosexual, doesn’t have a house or an apartment in New York.  Just the Governor’s mansion, which don’t sound like bad digs to me.  If you can keep them.

Something about the end justifying the means is rising here.  If I had seen that bare back at that wedding, I might have been tempted to touch it. No “might have been.” Would have been. But I would have abstained for two  reasons, the first being a violation of the woman’s privacy.  The second, not as importantly, is that I would have been afraid that she would turn around and kolkock me. Or at least throw a drink in my face.  Then I’d have to go back to my mansion and change out of my silks. 

In fact, any woman I can think of would have done that. Kolkocked or thrown. Maybe I know the wrong, or right, women.

My friend and colleague, Lizzie Wong, has written a play called “Kimchee and Chitlins,” which I had a hand in getting produced in Chicago even before I knew that a main character was the Reverend Lonnie Carter, a Black preacher who brokers a ceasefire between Korean merchants and their Black neighbors.  It was based on a real event in Brooklyn in which Black citizens picketed a Korean deli that was accused of discriminating against Black customers. The large Korean family, of course,  live over the store. (We should recall that the Cuomo family when Father Mario was a little boy, lived over the store. Not a mansion in sight. Storekeeper. Could be Andrew’s next career.) 

I, it should be noted, claim no such brokerage power. In Beverly Hills or anywhere.

 My friend and colleague, Lori Tan Chin, who had a featured role in “Orange is the New Black” for several years, and who played Bloody Mary in a worldwide tour of “South Pacific,” tells me of the lingering, coruscating  racism in the “bidness” of film and television.

My friend and colleague, Randall Duk Kim, who played in my “Smoky Links,” a character named Ty Wun On, an alcoholic, rhetorically militant championship golfer in a sea of white plaid-trousered duffers (before the Cablinasian Eldrick Woods), tells me the same. 

I grieve with my Asian friends, not the least of which my Filipino/a “kaibigans”, more than brothers and sisters, that, and true friends. (Have you noticed that Pinoys/Pinays are some of the best caregivers before and during the pandemic? And will continue to be after.) Those who live over the stores and are not all “crazy and rich”, but make the best adobo, pancit and maya blanca mais and will share it with you anytime.

I am trying not to have a bad day and will resist violating anyone.  And murder? Can’t say ­— been there, done that. Nope. Won’t go there.


Lonnie Carter is a writer who lives in Falls Village. Email him at




Latest News

Thru hikers linked by life on the Appalachian Trail

Riley Moriarty


Of thousands who attempt to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, only one in four make it.

The AT, completed in 1937, runs over roughly 2,200 miles, from Springer Mountain in Georgia’s Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest to Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park of Maine.

Keep ReadingShow less
17th Annual New England Clambake: a community feast for a cause

The clambake returns to SWSA's Satre Hill July 27 to support the Jane Lloyd Fund.


The 17th Annual Traditional New England Clambake, sponsored by NBT Bank and benefiting the Jane Lloyd Fund, is set for Saturday, July 27, transforming the Salisbury Winter Sports Association’s Satre Hill into a cornucopia of mouthwatering food, live music, and community spirit.

The Jane Lloyd Fund, now in its 19th year, is administered by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and helps families battling cancer with day-to-day living expenses. Tanya Tedder, who serves on the fund’s small advisory board, was instrumental in the forming of the organization. After Jane Lloyd passed away in 2005 after an eight-year battle with cancer, the family asked Tedder to help start the foundation. “I was struggling myself with some loss,” said Tedder. “You know, you get in that spot, and you don’t know what to do with yourself. Someone once said to me, ‘Grief is just love with no place to go.’ I was absolutely thrilled to be asked and thrilled to jump into a mission that was so meaningful for the community.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Getting to know our green neighbors

Cover of "The Light Eaters" by Zoe Schlanger.


This installment of The Ungardener was to be about soil health but I will save that topic as I am compelled to tell you about a book I finished exactly three minutes before writing this sentence. It is called “The Light Eaters.” Written by Zoe Schlanger, a journalist by background, the book relays both the cutting edge of plant science and the outdated norms that surround this science. I promise that, in reading this book, you will be fascinated by what scientists are discovering about plants which extends far beyond the notions of plant communication and commerce — the wood wide web — that soaked into our consciousnesses several years ago. You might even find, as I did, some evidence for the empathetic, heart-expanding sentiment one feels in nature.

A staff writer for the Atlantic who left her full-time job to write this book, Schlanger has travelled around the world to bring us stories from scientists and researchers that evidence sophisticated plant behavior. These findings suggest a kind of plant ‘agency’ and perhaps even a consciousness; controversial notions that some in the scientific community have not been willing or able to distill into the prevailing human-centric conceptions of intelligence.

Keep ReadingShow less