Frequently Asked Questions About the Global Protests

Didn't you do a Q&A column last week? Did you run out of ideas?

What are you, my editor? This is an important topic, and this is the best way to talk about it.

I don't understand why everyone is so upset lately.

Wait, really? Don't you read the news?

Uhh. . . . does Kendall Jenner's Instagram account count?

I don't know what to say to you. Go read the news.

Whoa! Do you think it's a good idea to do a column on this?

I debated whether to even write one this week, and if so, should I write about this topic? Because my only other choices were to reprint a column from 2001, or write about a British woman who was amazed to learn that when she burned a candle, it "disappeared."

But what about all the angry — Wait, seriously? Like, she thought it went missing?

Yes. Charlotte Heckerman, gave her sister, Ami, 18, a candle. Ami burned the candle, and a few hours later was shocked to discover that it had disappeared. She texted her sister to ask where the candle had gone, so Charlotte explained this is how candles work. Ami said no one had ever told her this, and she was just floored.

It's just a shame that people are looting and rioting.

No, it's a shame that a man was murdered by a police officer. That should be the focus of your anger. People are tired of police brutality. They're tired of police officers killing unarmed and innocent black men and women without any consequences. This murder was just another in a long string of murders, and the black community is angry about all of it.

Why can't they just protest peacefully?

They tried that, and you said no. When Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players kneeled during the national anthem, people freaked out. When NBA and WNBA players wore "I can't breathe" t-shirts during warmups, people lost their damn minds. When the cast of "Hamilton" lectured Mike Pence from the stage, people said it was disrespectful. There have been annual Black Lives Matter marches for several years, and people say they're "tired of identity politics." When you're told over and over that your peaceful protests are wrong, anger will boil over and spill out.

But All Lives Matter.

Don't even talk to me. Just go away.

I'm serious.

I am too. Talk to me in December about whether #AllHolidaysMatter.

No, really, they do.

I'm sure you think that, but right now, you just sound ignorant and unwilling to listen. This is not the time for this nonsense.


Think of it like this: You come to my house for dinner. As you sit down, you see there's no plate set for you. We pass the food around, but you don't get any. So you speak up and say, "I'd like something to eat." And I say, "We all want something to eat."

You say, "But I'm hungry."

Then I say, "All hunger matters."

So in that example, I still don't get anything to eat?

Now you're getting it.

Well, that's terrible! Why would you have someone to dinner and not feed them?

I think you're about to have a breakthrough. So what would you do in that situation?

Well, I'd leave and get a hamburger on the way home.

Aww, you were so close!

Well, actually, these protests are unsafe because there's been a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases since they started.

Oh, come on! You were an infectious disease expert for the last 10 weeks, and now it's like you forgot everything you cherry-picked from the Internet.

Remember, the virus has an incubation period of up to two weeks, which means it needs time to develop in a person before they show symptoms. So the latest COVID-19 spike you're seeing is not from these protests, it's from about two weeks ago when everyone wanted to get out and resume life as usual.

You know, when you went to a restaurant during Memorial Day. Or the grocery store without a mask. Or got angry enough to protest that the lockdown was a violation of your rights.


Yeah, that's right, "Oh." There will absolutely be another spike of COVID-19 in another couple weeks, after the protests end. But this particular spike right now? That's from all the people who were griping about getting a haircut and a sammich.

So what can I do about this?

Watch the news from other countries, like the BBC, the CBC, the NHK (Japanese news). Watch your local news. Don't get your news from the networks, and especially don't get the news from your friends on Facebook.

But most importantly, listen. Listen to your black friends. Let them talk about what they're feeling. Read their social media posts. Read their blog posts and their articles in the media. Don't offer opinions. Don't tell them about your experiences. Don't say "All lives matter." (Seriously, don't.) And don't say, "But what about. . .?"

Just listen.

Photo credit: George Floyd protests in East Lansing, Michigan. Guettarda (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.