We do not like racist images. We do not like them here or there. We do not like them anywhere.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: When Black first emailed Red that six Dr. Seuss books would no longer be published because of racist and insensitive images, Red's reaction was quick and questioning,
I need to read those links, but my first reaction is … seriously? Is nothing sacred anymore?
Red's was concerned that the pendulum's swinging so far to one side of things and so fast, and wants to know that each case is truly being looked at on its own merits or, perhaps more accurately, faults.
Black, knowing her sister well, let her know that Dr. Seuss Enterprises proactively made the decision after working with a panel of experts, including educators. In fact, the decision was made last year, but they waited until Dr. Seuss's birthday to make the announcement. She also added, as the business half of Red & Black, that she didn't think these were any of their top-selling books, so would have minimal impact on their sales. However, she was confident any remaining copies would sell out fast and become collector's items.
Regardless, Red at that point understood the reasoning but still felt the same way that she feels about other similar decisions to "ban" things, such as the movie "Gone With The Wind" (they re-released it with a new introduction) or statues of Confederate leaders – you can't ignore history. And as a lover of history, she knows there's much to be learned, and on that we both agree.
To use one of Black's favorite words, we understand WHY these decisions are made, but think it's equally important that you consider using these things as teaching tools. You can't change how people saw things at the time, but you can change how you use them now. Acknowledging and discussing things, rather than just purging them, is the way to make lasting – and impactful – change.
Drug companies, typically competing against one another, are coming together in an amazing move to fight a common enemy … COVID.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: For those of you that might remember Monty Hall and the game show, "Let's Make A Deal," this latest news on the war against COVID may represent one of the best "deals" ever made – as it has the potential to vastly increase the availability of Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine.
And for those of you who love history, it's often during wartime that American ingenuity and determination are at their best. There's no question that the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were developed in record time. Now the challenge's getting the vaccines produced and into the arms of Americans. The idea of drugs companies, who are typically so competitive and secretive, working together is both a unique and historic approach, and had Black reflecting on her corporate experience,
When I worked in the oil and gas industry we, of course, were competing against other companies. But there also were times when we would partner on projects for an assortment of reasons (profits and reducing risk were the most common) – but never anything like this. This alliance between Merck and Johnson & Johnson shows the power of corporate collaboration when we're focused on the good of the American people.
As George Gershwin wrote, "You like potato and I like potahto … Potato, potahto … Let's call the whole thing off."
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It definitely confused Red as she couldn't imagine how the Potato Head brand, formerly known as Mr. Potato Head, could be the center of so much attention.
It's not that Red doesn't support gender-neutrality and the LGBTQ cause. In fact, both she and Black believe that how you see yourself is your business and that people shouldn't be discriminated against based on who they are or who they love. But what does any of that have to do with a beloved children's toy? (We're old enough to remember that originally you had to provide your own potato.)
And it became even more confusing as the name change was related to the brand, not the individual character as Mr. Potato Heads drops the mister, sort of. We always saw the toy as being gender-neutral (ok, let's be real, it's a potato, do potatoes even have genders?), but now recognize that today's kids might feel more comfortable with a Potato playset that's more inclusive and doesn't impose certain expectations on them and their creative freedom.
Of course, Black saw one more thing …
Not to make light of the LGBTQ considerations, but changing the brand to "Potato Head" instead of "Mr. Potato Head" means that "Mrs. Potato Head" is no longer a secondary character.