Margins #2: It’s Not Easy Being Green

XI.  It’s amazing to watch my friend Michelle sketch, but that’s not her only passion. Michelle is diving into food and community at Experience Institute this year. She’s currently working in Fargo with fellow classmate, Jake Jones, who follows his curiosity to make connections in nature (“like” his most recent posts on Instagram—he’s in a contest). I can’t wait to see how their dreams for the future will impact the world.

XII. I’m analyzing my dreams in a new way. From the great site Aeon, what if dreams are the brains attempts to create logical predictions out of our unpredictable lives? Perhaps, when patterns are not obvious, the brain flattens our knowledge and spits out 10-second, abstract predictions. Here’s an example: hearing that Zika might move the Olympics makes me have a dream that four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin might recruit me to swim for Team U.S.A. when they move the Olympics to Colorado in August; keep dreaming Kessinger.

XIII. I vividly remember Muhammad Ali’s shaky hand lighting the torch during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. It was my first impression of Ali, who fought Parkinson’s for the second half of his life. While boxing has never been my sport, I do love boxing stories and the Thrilla in Manila ranks above them all. It helped that Ali was the one first telling us the story.

XIV. Even at the time of his death, Ali was a complicated American figure. Tributes that simply referred to him as a boxer seemed like snide remarks. He was one of the most defining American figures of the 20th century. Ali showed the world the great power of being true to your ideals. Of all the tributes, I really loved Paul McCartney’s and President Obama’s the most.

XV. President Obama’s approval rating is at its highest point since April 2013. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the current presidential race… I recently listened to a great audio documentary about how Obama created space to talk about race in 2008 because of Reverend Wright. The moment became a catalyst for then Senator Obama to explore his own complicated relationship with race in America through his “More Perfect Union” speech.

XVI. As we come to the close of this presidency, we’re still looking for that unity. I stumbled across a clip of Jon Stewart after the Eric Garner footage was released two years ago. Stewart said on the Daily Show, “We are definitely not living in a post-racial society. And I bet there are a lot of people out there wondering how much of a society we are living in at all.” The statement resonates even more today with the prominence in our social conscience of injustice and hate speech.

XVII. The anti-Semitic parentheses were revealed. A group of white supremacists created an internet plugin that automatically puts Jewish people’s names in parentheses—reminiscent of Nazi Germany tactics. Some Jewish people like (((Jon Weisman))) started self-identifying with the parentheses to stand up to the bigots. Weisman then quit Twitter. We must not forget that prejudice constantly lurks within the margins of society. It might not always show up on the local news or in a white guy’s Twitter feed, but it’s around us.

XVIII. Here’s a great opening line for a local news anchor: It’s not easy being green, again. Last month, ABC canceled their reboot of the Muppets. The show failed because they treated the Muppets like a bunch of soloists instead of an orchestra. Except for Kermit the Frog, the Muppets lack depth. Magic happens when the characters collide in new environments. ABC tried to force drama in the ranks instead of implementing scenes of chaos. Let the Muppets break a plot line in earnest and then Kermit can put the pieces back together.

XIX. Did you know that Kermit the Frog began as a news reporter on Sesame Street? He had a hard time interviewing Elmo and was also visited by a terrible door-to-door salesman, Grover. I’m hoping someone lets Kermit cover the election this year. Imagine Kermit asking Donald Trump if his toupee was an old friend of Kermit’s from the swamp. Let’s have Kermit moderate a debate.

XX. The first presidential debate is Monday, September 26. The election is Tuesday, November 8. I wrote this final section before the tragedy in Orlando. I am heartbroken for this country that I love.


Each week, Margins follows a narrative through the twists and turns of culture, media and society. The author, Derek Kessinger, is a writer, journalist and student at Experience Institute.

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