Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … Made In The U.S.A.

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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If we had published this month’s column before July 4th, we could’ve written about independence. Now, it’s too late.


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July 4th may be celebrated with barbeques, parades, and fireworks, but I doubt many people stop and think about what our country’s independence means to each of us.


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I hate to break the news to you, but it’s summer. Kids are out of school, people go on vacation, and July 4th is a holiday. Not a solemn occasion.


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My point exactly. People forget its significance.

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I agree, but you’ve never been one to walk around waving the American flag.

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True, but there are other ways to demonstrate your patriotism.

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That’s a word you don’t hear very often. I wonder why.

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Part of me wants to say it is because it sounds old-fashioned. But, then I think about how “patriot” can have very different connotations in today’s political arena.

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PLEASE … no politics. In fact, there are days I wish I had a sweatshirt that said that.

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That is funny. And, there needs to be another one with “WARNING: I talk politics.”

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Well, add those to the long list of T-shirt ideas we have.

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Will do. Which reminds me, I need to send you the recent New York Times article about how “American Made” T-shirts are having their best year yet. Apparently, people are willing to pay considerably more for an American made T-shirt. And, ones from American Giant that had “American Made” printed on the front, and sold for $60, sold out the first day.

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Really? I remember the first time I thought about the concept of “Made in the U.S.A.” It was when you decided to print our book in the U.S.A. Before that, it never dawned on me to check labels.

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I guess you do not remember that advertising jingle from the late 1970s, “Look For the Union Label,” that touted buying clothing made in America.


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Nope. But I’ll never forget you were willing to print our self-published book here even though it doubled the cost. And although I still laugh when you say, “Printed in the U.S.A. is the most expensive sentence you’ll ever publish,” to this day, your decision still amazes me.


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It amazes me that it ultimately became part of a lesson plan for high school students. For me, it was just a business decision. There was no way I was going to send my money to China.


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I thought it was a very expensive decision, but I figured you knew what you were doing. Plus, it was your money.


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Since you own almost half of the company, it was your money, too.


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I don’t see it that way. I’m only contributing sweat equity, whereas you’re paying for everything.


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But, that does not change the ownership percentages. Or, the fact that not everything of value can be calculated in terms of dollars, contrary to what accountants may think.


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That may be true, but us “mere mortals” make most purchasing decisions based on cost alone.


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Which is why our printing decision makes such a great example. If you just crunch the numbers, it is a no-brainer. Print in China. But, sometimes, you have to factor in non-financial considerations … like your values and priorities.


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I understand that now, although, at the time, I thought you were crazy. Especially when you made R.R. Donnelley (RRD) defend their pricing.


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I wanted to understand why it cost so much more to print here. As expected, part of it was related to labor costs (we have minimum wage and child labor laws) and regulations controlling workplace health and safety standards. Plus, there were already significant environmental laws.


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And until we printed our book, I never even knew about any of those things. But now I realize how important they are.


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Important … and expensive. There is a price, often hidden, for maintaining high standards. Someone has to pay for it.


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Good thing you could afford it.


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Agree, but even if I were on a strict budget, I would have found a way to print in the U.S.A. I could have downgraded the paper, used a single-color press instead of a two-color one, or printed using a less expensive process. In fact, part of my logic for printing 25,000 copies was to get the cost per book down.


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I wish you hadn’t reminded me of that. I try not to think about how many copies we still have left. Having said that, for a self-published book, where we’ve spent more time on philanthropic pursuits in the education and criminal justice worlds vs. marketing, having sold more than 14,000 copies is pretty impressive.


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I guess that makes us a “bestseller” since 90% of self-published books sell less than 100 copies. But, the point I am making is that it is important to me that we support U.S. businesses.


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Says the woman with Hermes handbags from France and European cars.


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Does it make you feel any better that when it came time to replace my washer and dryer, I bought American made? Just because I may not always buy American does not mean I do not make a conscious effort to do so whenever I can.


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Well, from now on, I’ll try to be better about it. The key will be remembering to stop and think about it.


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Maybe we need to do a T-shirt that instead of declaring it was “Made in the U.S.A.” turns it into a question … Made in the U.S.A.?

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Make it a long-sleeve shirt or a sweatshirt, and I’ll take two!

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by Nednappa for iStock

How you celebrate July 4th may change from year to year (Red will still enjoy a quiet holiday, but this year will be reading as it may take all summer to get through “War and Peace”), but what should never change is remembering WHY (one of Black’s favorite words) we celebrate as well as the sacrifices made to live in a free country …



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This is going to be a very unusual July 4 th for me, with neither girl being home. Natasha always hated the fireworks, but Sawyer would insist we do all the traditional things – barbequing, lots of watermelon, and then watching the fireworks in the Texas heat and humidity. So, this year, I plan to make it a really “cool” holiday … staying in the air-conditioned house, watching a movie or one of my TV series, and celebrating my day of independence from any “mom” responsibilities with a big bucket of freshly popped popcorn!


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Well, everyone celebrates differently. But, when I think of Independence Day, I think about the challenges our Founding Fathers faced when they drafted the Declaration of Independence , especially as they did not always agree on issues. Challenges our nation continues to face (it is a holiday, so I will not get into the increasingly divisive aspects of politics). And, I cannot help but wonder how many people realize the extent of the sacrifices made by those who signed it in exchange for our country’s freedom. Which is why, as we celebrate July 4th, we need to remember,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Photo by nycshooter on iStock
What do you get when you cross Flag Day (June 14) with June being Effective Communication Month? Well, if you include Black in the mix, you get one of Red’s favorite memories … and a unique way to think about the importance of communicating – whether in your personal or professional life. And especially if you’re in a racecar!


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This past weekend, I noticed a bunch of flags on my street and wondered why since July 4 th is still almost a month away. But this morning, I learned that today's Flag Day.


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Well, for someone who likes to decorate for the holidays, I would have thought you would have known all about it.


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I've heard of it, but I never really thought much about it, let alone when it is. I knew it had to do with the American flag, but it surprised me that it has nothing to do with Betsy Ross, which legend has made the first flag, although it seems there's no evidence to support that.


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If you want an interesting "story", read about why the American flag is called Old Glory . Regardless, the American flag, like all flags, communicates a message.


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I know you like to connect odd dots, but only you would see a connection between flags and communications.
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Photo by John Gomez on iStock

There’s much debate about the role America should play in world politics and standing by our allies, and we can’t help but wonder … how many people look at history before forming their opinions? Which is why we feel so strongly about remembering D-Day (and are rerunning the post below), which is about so much more than just a day …


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I still can’t believe you didn’t know what D-Day was.


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All I knew was it had to do with World War II and beaches. And, required lots of strategic planning. Remember, I am not a history buff like you.


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Or a movie buff. There has been an assortment of D-Day movies, and I wouldn’t expect you to have watched the older movies, like “ The Longest Day” with John Wayne, but I figured you’d have seen “ Saving Private Ryan .”


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The Tom Hanks movie? It was a great war movie, but from what I remember, it was about the search for a particular soldier during WWII. Although I remember the opening scene showed the horrors of war. Regardless, I do not get my “history” from movies that might take literary license for the sake of storytelling, even if Steven Spielberg’s movies are mostly accurate.


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That opening scene WAS D-Day.
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