Some 2019 Emmy Nominations Reactions

Here are some shows I have seen, dislike, and got a lot of nominations:

Game of Thrones

GoT was always bad. Fight me. Hopefully people realize now that it ended terribly. Whatever.

Here are some shows I have checked out, don’t personally enjoy, but, like Mad Men, see why people love them and so, good for them for having good showings:

Killing Eve

Fleabag

Good Place

Here are some shows I am indifferent towards that did well but aren’t necessarily huge among people I speak to, so, you know, whatever:

This Is Us

Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Schitts Creek

Here are some shows I’ve seen several seasons of that I very much enjoy and again did well:

Veep

Better Call Saul

Barry

Some new shows that did very well:

Russian Doll

Succession

Here are some performers who I’ve long enjoyed and am happy for their continued support:

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (the biggest lock ever? Last season? Great performance? Literally about to win 7/7 times and set a record not to be broken for perfect winning percentage?)

Tony Hale

Jonathan Banks

Bob Odenkirk

Giancarlo Esposito

Bill Hader

Henry Winkler

Some first-nomination folks:

Joey King

Anthony Carrigan

Sarah Goldberg

Some snubs:

Aw, man, give the Good Fight some love, eh?

Why can’t they remember Kim Wexler ever?

And then there’s When They See Us.

When They See Us got a total of 16 nominations , and 8 of the performers were nominated. From the very opening sequence of this show I felt a deep internal unease and strain, in a good and compelling way. I enjoyed it greatly but even I was truly unable to watch more than one a day.

They obviously can’t all win, and knowing the Emmys they’ll give the Limited Series award to Chernobyl because prestige or something. But I hope at least one person from this show wins during the telecast to speak on everything it meant to so many people, and especially to men of color. No matter what happens, it will always exist and I am grateful for this.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Neptune Notes 7/5/19

I haven’t written one of these in a long time.

  1. So he’s about to be 9 months old. We cured the big issues from the early months, the constant barking, by giving him a new place for bad behavior. We had been placing him in his crate, but since he could still see us, he just barked. We lost many nights of sleep to this. But now he knows to self-correct most of the time.

  2. We have a routine for him in the morning, and from dinner on. But right after work he tends to be… “turned up” and unable to focus since he’s been alone for a while. This is the final frontier, the only challenging time. We’ll get there.

  3. For reasons, he’s becoming more my responsibility than Alissa’s, which I wasn’t prepared for when we got him. Now that he’s older and generally has a very sweet personality, I really enjoy spending time with him, and it’s a pure mutual affection I’ve never really had.

  4. I’m learning how to run short distances with him. I don’t think I can ever bring him on training runs because he doesn’t have the attention span. But I can absolutely take him out for a sprint here and there, and it’s good for both of us.

  5. He hates the heat. So do I. Honestly, he seems to take after a lot of my personality. Living with two of us is a lot of fun for Alissa. Haha.

  6. Things I still don’t enjoy:

    1. Dude, stop lunging for paper. Why do you want paper? Why?

    2. Why do you want every nasty chicken bone?

    3. Why do you want every piece of plastic? Stahp.

    4. He really hates being picked up, but I like picking him up so I need to get over this. He’s not a baby anymore. He’s more of a small child or even a pre-teen.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Blast From The Past

I wrote for a weekly paper in college. It was more of a magazine, really, styled after the New Yorker in a lot of ways, which means that, although it was pretty funny, it was exceptionally pretentious for people who were college-aged. I wrote for it for all four years, and it was the only extracurricular I did consistently through my entire fairly mediocre undergraduate academic career.

One other thing I did in college was play rugby, poorly. I joined the club team (ie no cuts) part of the way through freshman year when three friends decided to sign up. I was very much a follower at the time. But I liked rugby. It was unique, and it was fun, and I felt like I was part of something, the same way I feel like I’m part of something with my running team and the running community in general.

But I wasn’t very good, mostly because I was slow (funny to say that now) and I wasn’t very coordinated. I mostly stayed on the sidelines and I played when they needed a body.

So, I say all that to say that I got a message today from a teammate from the class of 2004 who remembered an article I had written in said paper about a rugby tournament we had won. The team, apparently, remembers that Ivy League win very fondly, so he wanted to know if I had a copy he could share. I googled, and lo and behold, there it was, so I sent it to him, and he shared with the alumni email list, which I’m still on.

I wrote for that magazine for all four years, like I said, and I rose to manage one of the sections, and eventually to become Managing Editor, which sounds great, but that role made zero editorial decisions, and I’d really wanted to be Editor in Chief. They picked people whose writing they were more fond of, and I lost a lot of confidence in my writing ability. I had said, to anyone who would listen, that I wanted to be a writer after college, but since I didn’t really have a plan (I was no Elizabeth Warren), it never took off, and I banked on leading a prominent campus publication as a springboard, and when it didn’t happen I kind of gave up.

So now here I am, getting a doctorate, and realizing that I may well end up making my living from my writing in some fashion, all these years later. I placed far too much emphasis on the decision that didn’t go in my favor those years ago, and I should have found my way into writing long ago, but it’s useless to regret and useful to cherish reality, so I’m just glad I was reminded that a group of rugby guys - perhaps more representative of the general public than my colleagues at the paper - thought I had some skills when I was 17.

So here’s the article. It’s pretty good, very clearly written by a kid. I think at this point what’s clear is that I’m not all that great at writing from anything other than my own personal perspective, but I’m pretty damn good at that.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

On Code Switching

I used to code-switch all the time, long before I knew what it was that I was doing. When I was with my family, I spoke more the way I thought they wanted me to. When I was at school, I spoke more the way I thought they wanted me to. And when I was at parties (as I got older), I spoke the way I thought they wanted me to.

It doesn’t work, man.

I’m not saying code-switching doesn’t work. I’m saying attempting to gain acceptance through modifying speech doesn’t work. My family loves me regardless of how I talk, and at this point in my academic career, adopting a voice that isn’t my own just won’t work.

I’ve been encouraged that every single one of my professors in my doctoral program thus far has encouraged me to really find and use my voice. I haven’t been told - as I was in a previous program - to adopt jargon where other vocabulary will do, or to change the way I write aside from knowing and using the forms and conventions that will make publication likelier. I have never written more like myself and it’s been great.

Recently, however, I realized that I had stopped code-switching in my daily life a few years ago. I change the subjects I talk about depending on my audience, sure, and whether or not I include profanity varies, too. But when I teach, when I socialize, when I meet new people, I’m pretty much always using the same words, the same accent, the same speech patterns overall.

I won’t pretend there isn’t a class privilege involved here. My natural speech is relatively (although not entirely) acceptable in “elite” society so I don’t HAVE to hide it. It’s true. I might have to code switch if I spoke AAVE more naturally and comfortably. But the real goal isn’t to get us to learn how to speak Dominant American English more perfectly - although, in 2019, we probably still should know the conventions - it’s to kick in the door so, however we speak, they listen.

Maybe that’s something I can achieve, in some small way. To get them to value our speech as it is. It took me 30 years to value my own authentic voice. Excuse the jargon, but I have found my own idiolect, and just like all of yours, it is fantastic.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Student and Subject

Having really done a lot of work to achieve greater mental and emotional clarity over the past two years, I’m experiencing reactions to my schoolwork and readings that I must have had back in the day but just ignored because they were uncomfortable.

So, back in middle school and high school I had a really great English teacher, probably the person who made me want to write more than anyone else. The school forced us to read a Shakespeare play every year from 4th grade to 12th (and then I went ahead and read all the rest in college; I still have that giant book somewhere at my mom’s), but this teacher was very intentional in choosing books from different contexts, including many black authors I gather weren’t read in most schools, and especially not very white schools like mine. It was great, in retrospect, and I really enjoyed reading Morrison and Hurston, but doing some work for school now I am struck by how I feel while reading articles about African American Vernacular English (AAVE).

I’ve know about AAVE as such since the first time I went to grad school (sigh), but the author of the particular study I’m reading was clear to frame her positionality as a white researcher in the context of exploitative research performed on marginalized groups. In other words, she was sensitive and kind and acknowledged that others haven’t been. It’s a great article (though it’s super long). But that’s not my point.

While reading, I was struck by the way AAVE is analyzed and picked apart. And then I thought about how my program, supportive though it may be, is still… a lot of white students. These are, by and large, very kind and sensitive white students. But the point I keep delaying because it’s uncomfortable to say is, I think for a long time I felt as though I was on display when we discussed black culture, students, and, now, language. I don’t really speak AAVE very often though I certainly understand it, which is another way of saying I’m pretty far from the stereotypes and tropes of black men. I’m not really saying that’s good or bad, but it’s true.

Ultimately, my teachers and professors have generally handled the issue well. Especially now, my classmates never say anything that makes me feel on display. But I think that my classmates, being very young and very privileged kids, did a lot of really unsettling things when these books were read in class, and I’m pretty sure it was pretty unpleasant. I can’t pinpoint moments, but there was a pervasive sense that these books mattered less than the standard classics, at least as far as my classmates were concerned.

My experience being one of the few black faces in my environments was valuable, but sometimes I think the thing I learned the very most about every day was just how different my life was from theirs.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Brooklyn 2019

My streak of “better than the previous year” race results has ended after 6 races (Team Champs, Bronx, Marathon, Corbitt, Gridiron, Wash Heights, Healthy Kidney).

That’s disappointing. But it was hot at the end of this race. I need to anticipate sunny spots and… well I haven’t really figured out what to DO about them yet. Maybe wear a hat. What part of me overheats? My face? Arms? This I will have to test.

Overall, though, good race. Faster 10k-15k than 5k-10k, so I picked the speed back up after the hills and ran strong until the sun got me. And I actually only slowed down to a 7:00/mile pace while throwing up, so that’s pretty fast.

Wish I’d hit my top goals but I am in good - but not my very best - shape. And after 2017 and early 2018 were rough, I have had a full year of consistent training and performance, and that’s good to feel.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Music

If you had asked me what my favorite song was, invariably the answer would have been some song with which I associated a really positive emotional memory. Whether it’s a bunch of Metric songs I got really into on a trip to Vietnam in 2009 when I was becoming more confident as an adult, or all the many songs I fell in love with in 2005 when I joined Terrace and felt accepted for the first time, or even all the angry Eminem songs from high school, it was hard to say what songs I liked as songs and not just songs that took me back to happy times.

Music has honestly been a difficult subject for me, and one of the ways that racism has manifested for me more noticeably. I’ve come to recognize the microaggressions I was experiencing every day, but at the time, dismissing black music was a really acceptable way to dismiss the value of blackness.

In eleventh grade, I had the “brilliant” idea to make a mix CD for a class assignment. I had put a bunch of current hip hop songs on it, and I thought it was very clever. Only problem was, a girl in my class had the same idea, and she went right before me, and her entire CD was 80s music. The class loved her presentation, and stared blankly at mine. This, I’m not saying was racist, however it was a stark contrast and one that surprised me. As remains the case in 2019, hip-hop was extremely popular in 2002, but, having not experienced different groups of kids, I had no idea the strangehold that 80s music (and older music) had on my peers.

What I should have done was stick up for what I liked. But I wanted to be welcomed.

That summer, I went to France on a study abroad program, and this was now a new group of high-achieving kids to get to know. One girl (I would say “woman” but we were all 15-17), who now writes for the Economist, told me two things, one of which was true and one of which wasn’t. She said that she didn’t like hip-hop because it was misogynistic (much of it was, and is), and because it didn’t take any talent to create it.

Leaving aside the fact that every genre is misogynistic and singling out black artists is not great (a lot of white critics pull this move), this second theory came up a lot on that trip. Several people on the trip, who were huge fans of jam bands and the Dead (I hate jam bands to this day because of these kids), frequently told me directly that the music I’d brought with me was worthless and lacking in value. (You will not be surprised to hear I was the only black kid.)

I should have stuck up for what I liked. But I wanted to be welcomed.

And then there was college, where this all went into overdrive. Everyone really loved 80s music or classic rock, and the people who liked contemporary music were into emo (it was 2003, I dunno man).

I had literally never heard “Stairway to Heaven” before (it’s still bad and boring, fight me). I actually didn’t know the words to “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen is great, but the movie is bad). And hip-hop was still played at parties, but people only really got excited when it was time for Bon Jovi. I know we were in New Jersey, but literally none of us were old enough to have listened to that music when it was released.

It struck me that so much of what we listen to starts with our parents’ tastes. Based on what we play at home, any children we may have will be really into reggae. But the point is just that music has a deep connection to culture and to race, and it was clear to me, and clearer now, that black music was only valuable when people wanted to find a hook-up partner. The most common thing I heard about hip-hop was that it “wasn’t music,” not even just that it was bad, but that it didn’t rise to the level of art at all. Think about that.

At Terrace, people actually valued hip-hop and other black music. But there was an ugly strain of self-righteousness involved, like the time I was told that a song I wanted to play was “white boy hip-hop.” No one could just listen to black music, see, they had to be experts on it. They all “knew” which Wu-Tang Clan member was the best lyricist, see. My classmates either eschewed black culture or became so immersed as to try to take ownership of it. Part of this was the nature of college kids being the worst (still true, always), but there’s more to it than that.

In Korea, my first year we all found a few bars for expats. There was one bar, Old Skool, which was popular with the American soldiers stationed there (the imperalism involved is a topic for another day, so stop). And that bar and its talented DJ (who I’m still Facebook friends with; hi Jeff) really got the party going with whatever hits were popular in 2008. But Old Skool was kinda gross, and the soldiers got in a lot of fights. Which means that, yes, the one bar that actually had a lot of black people was considered the most dangerous one. So we eventually hung out at other places, and mostly listened to upbeat dance-rock (like TV on the Radio and Metric, which I still enjoy).

Since 2010 or so, I haven’t felt pressure to justify my musical choices or seen what I enjoy as less valuable, mostly because I started having my own parties. And a lot of this story here is just an extension of being a racially and culturally isolated person throughout my adolescence. But I wish I had the insight I have now, where I could have seen their dismissal as part of white supremacy and racial erasure. They know they can’t really have a good party without playing black music. This has been true for decades now. Their parents probably told them what to think about it and like all of us, they listened and learned. I hope only that the very accomplished people who told me that hip-hop didn’t require talent have grown up and grown out of these views.

But probably not.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

An Extra Ordinary Education

I have truly had an extraordinary education, but one that was, in many ways, ordinary.

It took me decades of schooling and other learning to recognize the true impact of white supremacy on my education, my psyche, and my life. I always knew that it existed, but so many of the confusing and upsetting things that I experienced I always blamed on myself and what I saw as my own flaws. This doesn’t mean I have no flaws or that I didn’t make many mistakes, both academically and socially, but my particular experience, regardless of how exclusive my schools were, was just like any other black male’s experience, in that my race was inescapable.

I have a lot, lot, lot more to say about this, and I plan to get to work writing about it over the summer and see what I come up with.

But the fact is, there is no true protection from white supremacy, and certainly not in our elite educational institutions. My future research will all flow from what I have learned, and I hope I can help other racialized students thrive in ways I wasn’t always able to for reasons I only just now fully understand.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Smart Running

Ran a strong 10k today. 37:49, three seconds off my PR. Third on my team, continuing a strong performance among our runners, so that’s cool.

I was really consistent, and we didn’t have any large swings. Almost entirely even 5k splits.

Most importantly, I’m running with a much clearer head. I’m using my whole brain for the running and not for any anxious worries. It would be nice if this meant I was at my absolute fastest and not merely “running very well and doing well in other aspects of life,” but maybe I had to be a little off kilter to do what I was doing from mid-2015 to mid-2016. I dunno.

I’m happy with how I’m running these days. I need to work on my endurance for Brooklyn (these next two saturday long runs are going to be crucial), but my speed is strong. Winter wasn’t a wash, and heading into spring/summer running feeling good.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality

Deserve's Got Nothing To Do With It

Another quote as a title. Oh well.

Look. One of the most insidious parts of marginalization of all sorts is that it makes you believe the marginalization is the fault of the marginalized. Narrowing to my own focus, white supremacy and racism make you feel like you deserve to be subjugated. If you’re guilty by virtue of your group membership, then those in power never have to renegotiate their own gleeful or, at best, complicit behavior. You can see this in every argument, particularly in the common refrain that blacks are lazy and would have erased the racial disparities if they had just worked harder like those Asians do. And so on.

But that’s the societal level. Thinking about my individual history, I spent all of my young life telling myself that the things I now recognize as subtle forms of racial discrimination and white supremacy were not untoward or targeted because, the story in my head went, I deserved the treatment.

It was especially easy to tell myself these lies because it wasn’t exactly having nooses drawn on my locker or anything. I knew well enough that That Kind Of Racism was bad. My white friends knew it too, even the ones who, in retrospect, said some pretty jacked-up stuff (I’ll tell you the stories if you ask). And my dad told me to tell him if I thought I or the few other black students were being treated differently because of our race. I was singled out a fair amount - not gravely, not suspended or anything - but any time it happened, my brain told me it was just because I’d earned the punishment. I deserved it, after all.

Even now, I can’t say all this without feeling guilty complaining. As I said the other time, we had enough money to send me to such schools and put me in such environments. The times I was the only black person were themselves examples of privilege. Yeah, I was almost always the only black guy, but I was the only black guy on a summer exchange in Paris! If anything my life was a testament to what achievements black people could have in this day and age. I may have been the one black kid, but I was the black kid that got to do things most white people never would. Racism, the story goes, was not a factor because my circumstances meant I was immune.

So to come to the present day, having done some real work at uncovering and disentangling a lot of nonsense in my head, it’s clear to me that this is really just a deliberate lie perpetuated upon us by those who aren’t ready to let their power go. And unfortunately, lying to myself and accepting this lie really did damage to me, as it does to most of us, whether or not we want to come to terms with it.

And when I wasn’t aware of this, when I still thought every example of racism was my own fault if there wasn’t a slur or a confederate flag involved, I was a pretty angry person. I was easily irritated and emotionally volatile to the point where a friend in Korea had a tactic for distracting me until I could arrest what, in retrospect, was a flare of anxiety. (He gave me two actors and told me to connect them via shared movies.)

I wanted so much to be part of the group. I wasn’t stupid; I knew I stood out. But I wanted to be part of it. In every single situation I was in, I tried so hard to get included, I failed, then I ran in the other direction and was demonstrably “weird” so I could at least claim I had some agency. But it all left me feeling isolated and upset. And there was no way out of it without acknowledging the reality of how I felt, something that took me a very long time to figure out, with the help of lots and lots and lots of miles and races, and the compassion of supporters.

All of this is why I have finally come around to focusing my life’s work on this issue. Yes, it’s within the scope of English Language Teaching, but that’s what I know how to do, and it’s a place where more needs to be said. As I said last week, the only way out is through: I thought I could achieve my way to acceptance and, as I now know, protection from white supremacy, but the only way I can fully cauterize the wounds is to work on having some small impact in tearing the institution down.

I don’t think anyone deserves anything other than compassion. No one, not even the people who have done the very worst things, deserves cruelty. I certainly wasn’t kind to everyone when I was in the throes of all of these things, and I regret it every day. And I just have to sit with that.

Unfortunately, in order to sell the lies that built this country, we had to be told we deserved our inferior status, and a lot of us believed it. In a way, I never believed I was worse because of my skin, but I certainly thought that the situations I encountered were just the price I deserved to pay for the privileges I had. I had been spared the stereotypical black life, so I deserved every bit I got.

I don’t know if I’ll succeed in my work. I mean, we know white supremacy isn’t going away, but ELT could well continue to grow and change, and I could be a part of that. And I think the only way I’ll be at peace, fully and truly, is to face the happy lies I told myself and admit the racism that has always been hiding in the couch cushions of my memories.

It’s a shame, to have your past reframed in ways that make it less fun to remember. But this reckoning is the only way forward.

Onward, then.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality