Review of Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Recently I have been reading J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” Link on my Kindle, and I have to say that this is an important book. I heard about this book first on New York Times via Facebook. J.D. Vance article  I was compelled because in the last couple years especially I have been concerned with addressing racism. I’m doing this through Conversation with various people and projects with Justin “Neo” Shockley over at  Justin’s website 🙂 and our good friend Chantal at Follow Chantal 🙂 on twitter.

I won’t go on for to long about this book because I have massive amounts of school work to do and I need to make lunch. I will say this. I am committed to ending racism. How do I do that as one person? That’s a powerful and difficult question. One answer I have found is, going back into my childhood. By going back into my childhood I’m remembering all the challenges and struggles my family faced as poor white folks in upstate New York and the dysfunctions we experienced but also the glory and triumph.

I know that I wasn’t raised to be a racist but the culture was all around us. My grandpa who I love a great deal on my Mom’s side of the family used to tell me the most horrible things I could think of about black folks. Get this, we didn’t have any in the sticks of Montgomery, NY and until I moved to Albany and Schenectady with my dad, I didn’t know a single black person or person of color of any kind. Hell, I was so ignorant that I thought Asian folks were a different kind of white person. I’m sorry for how ignorant I was. I don’t speak for all of my community as I don’t believe they felt that way. It just kind of speaks to one me personally and how I developed and two the education system for students with learning disabilities. In Montgomery, NY the school and property taxes were some of the highest yet, I don’t remember anything I was taught except in my second time in 9th grade Mrs. Bonacic ( I could be wrong) English teacher, gave me a copy of The Giver in In-school suspension and it began a process of learning that started with S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.

But, anyway prior to that, that was what I picked up. I didn’t know that we had 7 continents. I don’t even know now, haha. See I’m in a MDIV program but I’m still that dirty poor kid from upstate NY who was more concerned with trucks, woods, and imagination than I was being accepted by society. I felt that society didn’t understand me anyway. Vance, felt the same way. He wanted to make it work, but his home life was so bad, that he couldn’t. He was forced to learn through massive mistakes, but the grace of God gave him new possibilities in time.

Anyway, what I was trying to get to is that. In going back into my past I found similarities with the Rust Belt of Ohio and other folks who are poor and white. I found that I understand their grievances but I don’t understand their racism. Now, I’m not saying all poor white folks are racist. I think that many of us are prejudiced and we hold onto that prejudice with like some kind spiritual belief that we are right and everyone is wrong.

I want to say that I love my family and I love the sides of my family that are questionable. I think part of ending racism and prejudice etc. Is understanding one another. I’m committed to looking outside of my comfort zone. Being the Woke white guy in a room full of black folks isn’t enough. I don’t want my internal, moral and ideological critique to end their. I did that (have black friends haha) and POC continue to be shot by police and stigma etc, continues to rise. No, I want to follow after my hero Malcolm X who encouraged my people (white activists) years ago to go to our families and our communities and tell them stop killing black folks. I know it sounds simplistic. But, this book Hillbilly Elegy has been an amazing and bright awakening for me.

I’m not going to back down but I am going to use wisdom to understand my audience and who I’m trying to reach. J.D. Vance spoke to me, his experiences resonated with mine. His heart was pure and he has seen a lot. I encourage you to read the book because I couldn’t stop once I started, I shed tears, and I found new hope. A hope that we all need in these times that seem uncertain.

Good luck and I’ll see you around.


Repression, Sexism, Homophobia and the Religious Right a Legacy of Exclusion: Responding to Evangelicals For Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a Bible during a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, last year.

In 1979 Jerry Falwell, started the Moral Majority ( of free market capitalist interest groups designed to help Ronald Reagan’s prominence from governor of Cali to President of the United States see ( Reagan’s rise to president was a strategy to help destroy the remainder of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and any bit of Black Power left afterward, including the Black Liberation Army, the instigating of the Watts Rebellion ( or more popularly known as the Watts Riots in California. Also the Watts Rebellion was for many a foreshadowing of the Rodney King riots in 1992. After several years of neglect and lack of governmental help to the most at risk communities including Compton, South Central, Oakland, Watts, there was an explosion against white supremacy and white racism, dating back to when 1967 the first year of the Ronald Reagan’s term as Governor of California. Reagan was connected to Nixon’s tough on crime initiatives. This was a way for the Right to return to political power. To use religion and social conservative propaganda disguised as Christianity to gain political power and fuel free market capitalism without any push back, from the majority of voters, who were soaked up in the Golden Age of post World War II.

It’s all connected and Trump’s religious supporters goal is reinstate these policies and go back to an economic system fueled by racism. Why? because they have no other idea on how to address society and they don’t really have an interest in helping society, their only goal is maintaining more profits, maintaining more land, and maintaining more white privilege.

Reagan rose to president with a hate speech campaign disguised as rugged individualistic economic policies and procedures that would crush the poor, demonize single mothers, and hell even in And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts see (, claimed that the Religious Right created AIDS to kill the LGBTQ populations, that’s why nothing was done for years and hundreds, thousands died. Incidentally the writer was a journalist in San Francisco, Ca the same state that a young Reagan was Governor of and was President at the time of the books publishing in 1987.

That’s why initiatives like ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) see ( had to start, that’s why in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, NY there is Callen-Lorde Medical Clinic. Callen-Lorde see (  was started as a political action and also a just moral, personal and passionate action to educate the LGBTQ and A community about their rights to health care, and prevention, to understand STD’s and other catastrophic, diseases that were being found more and more, that were literally killing their community. Not do to some sexual “sin” as Falwell or Robertson would have suggested and did suggest but out of sadly, ignorance. People just did not know, and access to proper health care was hindered to them, because according to these moral fascist’s they were not worthy. Because of actions by ACT UP and others we now have peoples needs being met (through health care, laws…I mean it still needs work), we have political power (some at least), that did not exist before, we have LGBTQ pastor’s, priests, and Reverends and probably Imam’s (although I’m not sure, forgive me). Who can offer hope for a change that seems to never come, we have people in power that can represent Queer folks, but the fight is not over. With supporters of Trump that he is reaching out to, all progress that has been made will be abolished I fear.

This was all funneled by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and many more, as time has continued the list has grown…Some of these same names listed in Trumps supporters are actually the children of these men of hateful valor. In other words these men these new men, on the Right and some women and like 2 black men..continuing their family business of private interest first.

In 2004 before his timely death Falwell, started the Moral Majority Coalition.  When words like family, culture, and values come from Religious Right televangelists its rhetoric for racism, sexism, free market capitalism. Bet it has nothing absolutely nothing to do with your interest unless your part of that club. These people are terrible. Trump is reinstating the Reign of Reagan again. These policies don’t work. It’s designed for major corporations and interest groups to grow in wealth while everyone is put against each other. They’ve done it for years starting with the introduction of white privilege in the south at a time when poor whites and newly freed slaves were getting hip to exploitation. W.E.B. Dubois introduced the knowledge of a “psychological wage” when he wrote Black Reconstruction in America, 1935 by saying,

It must be remembered that the white group of laborers, while they received a low wage, were compensated in part by a sort of public and psychological wage. They were given public deference and titles of courtesy because they were white. They were admitted freely with all classes of white people to public functions, public parks, and the best schools. The police were drawn from their ranks, and the courts, dependent on their votes, treated them with such leniency as to encourage lawlessness. Their vote selected public officials, and while this had small effect upon the economic situation, it had great effect upon their personal treatment and the deference shown them. White schoolhouses were the best in the community, and conspicuously placed, and they cost anywhere from twice to ten times as much per capita as the colored schools. The newspapers specialized on news that flattered the poor whites and almost utterly ignored the Negro except in crime and ridicule.

These people don’t give a shit about love, community, safety, acceptance, the poor. These people are Devils. 

That is why we have to rise up and fight for love! We have to say to this hate endorsed candidate we have #FaithOverFear and that #LoveTrumpsFear. I say this because, this is affecting all of us, there are privately owned prisons being built right now, and we have to fight back. There polices will no doubt be used to fill those prisons, to me that does not warrant an endorsement from a God of love, but an endorsement for future fascist’s of America. We are on the verge of total state sponsored fascism in America, no longer veiled behind a white sheet, or a smile…No people we are on the verge of the fourth Reich I pray that I am wrong. I just know that these people are not Christians, I don’t care. You can disagree with me, but there is no way in hell that Jesus would ever endorse this, he didn’t even have a home…remember, “foxes have holes and birds have nests but the son of man has no where to lay his head” (Luke 9:58).

Wise up! Speak Out! If you are of a sacred faith, and you know that your traditions militate against this madness, speak out, use your passages and texts, use your voice, lift up a banner of love, lets put our differences on faith, etc to the side and really, finally live for humanity, not commerce and commodity…

I love what Charlie Chaplin says here in his historic speech in the last scene of, The Great Dictator…”you are not machines”!!!