Jon Gruden and Why Racists Always Think They’re Not

180807-F-LI975-0231Why do the most racist people always think they’re the least racist people?

Jon Gruden stepped down from his job as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders Football team after reports that he used vulgar, sexist and racist language in his emails, including using racist terms to describe Black people, and saying that a Black NFL official had “lips the size of michellin [sic] tires.”

Before he was forced out, Gruden told reporters “I know I don’t have an ounce of racism in me.”

In a story about his resignation, the New York Times quoted Gruden as saying “I never had a blade of racism in me.”

The Washington Post quoted Gruden as saying “All I can say is I’m not a racist.”

Donald Trump is always talking about how he’s not at all a racist even though, by the evidence, he completely is.

“I am the least racist person in this room,” Trump said at an October 2020 presidential debate, with a straight face, to moderator Kristen Welker, a Black woman. And Trump told reporters in 2019: “I’m the least racist person you’ll find anywhere in the world.”

Everybody has flaws–I certainly do. People who think they’re flawless are the ones who are most susceptible to becoming bigots–because they’re the ones who have stopped critically examining their words, actions and feelings.

Socrates once famously said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” People with unexamined lives can also be pretty racist. Not being a racist isn’t something you just are, it’s something you have to do, and keep doing. It has to be a verb, not a noun.

The musical “Avenue Q” had it right with its song “Everybody’s a Little Bit Racist,” with its immortal lines:

Everyone’s a little bit racist

Sometimes.

Doesn’t mean we go

Around committing hate crimes.

Look around and you will find

No one’s really color blind.

Maybe it’s a fact

We all should face

Everyone makes judgments

Based on race.

Check out my new novel “Zero O’Clock.”

BTS Appears at the United Nations as ‘Zero O’Clock’ Hits Pix 11

BTSUN2I had an interesting split-screen morning today—just as I was discussing my new BTS-inspired novel “Zero O’Clock” on Pix 11 News, the South Korean group was appearing in front of the United Nations in New York City.

On Pix 11, I talked to hosts Dan Mannarino and Hazel Sanchez about how books can help kids process their feelings about the pandemic, and how the music and message of BTS helped inspired the title of my novel “Zero O’Clock” as well as some of the book’s themes.

Meanwhile, at the United Nations, all seven members of BTS addressed the 76th United Nations General Assembly, before breaking into a performance of their hit “Permission to Dance” which spilled out into the sunlight outside the U.N. building.

BTS had a lot of interesting and important things to say, including confirming to their fans and the world that all seven band members have been vaccinated. That’s a great message to send to all the people out there who are unvaccinated by choice. UN News tweeted out these excerpts from BTS’s speech:

You can check out my book “Zero O’Clock” on Amazon.

Watch BTS’s UN performance here:

BTS Visits NYC to Perform For the United Nations

BTSUNBTS is back in America.

The South Korean band is in New York City to visit the United Nations as presidential special envoys for South Korea.

NBC News reports that the group will be with South Korean President Moon Jae-in attending the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, which runs through September 27th. RM, the leader of BTS, famously delivered a speech at the UN in 2018, so this isn’t entirely new territory for the band.

While in New York, BTS is set to appear at SDG Moment 2021, a yearly meeting dedicated to the UN’s sustainable development goals. According to the Twitter account for UN News, the event will start on Monday, September 20, at 8 a.m. ET, and BTS will be performing. “Don’t miss their message to the world, and a very special musical performance at the UN headquarters in NY,” the account tweeted.

A headline on the UN News website asks “Will BTS break the internet? Again?” The article goes on to say “The I.T. team at the UN will doubtless be on tenterhooks as 20 September approaches, mindful of the huge internet traffic BTS attracted during their previous visit to the General Assembly in 2018, and when their video message was released at last year’s virtual GA – both of which left the system struggling to cope.”

Since 2017, BTS has worked with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the “Love Myself” campaign to stop bullying and promote self-esteem.

BTS’s visit is yet another sign of how the band has become a symbol of South Korean culture around the world. Much like how Bob Marley and reggae came to represent Jamaica (and his music was used in Jamaican tourism campaigns), the seven members of BTS have become cultural ambassadors for their home country.

BTS recently released a series of videos called “SEOUL X BTS: EoGiYeongCha Seoul” to help promote tourism to South Korea’s capital city. The phrase “EoGiYeongCha” is a kind of traditional chant meant to give people energy and encouragement.

Meanwhile, BTS’s global footprint continues to grow. The group is coming out with a collaborative song with Coldplay, titled “My Universe,” on September 24. BTS recently released their hit song “Butter” in a remixed version with Megan Thee Stallion.

You can check out my new novel “Zero O’Clock,” about a BTS superfan who uses the band’s music to help get through the pandemic, on Amazon.

 

‘Zero O’Clock’ Featured on NPR’s ‘Here and Now’

ZeroChartMy new young adult novel “Zero O’Clock” was the subject of a feature story on NPR’s show “Here and Now.” They even played two BTS songs–“00:00 (Zero O’Clock)” and “Life Goes On”–to open and close the segment!

The segment was hosted by Tonya Mosley, who later said on Twitter “Zero O’Clock is going to go down as one of the texts we will use in the future to make sense of this moment we’re in. Thank you @cjfarley for this timely book, and conversation.”

It’s great to see my book get this kind of coverage! There’s a real shortage of young adult novels that feature people of color that are written by authors of color, so “Zero O’Clock,” which features a Jamaican-American hero (I was born in Kingston, Jamaica), fills a real need in kids lit.

There are also many teens and parents out there who are looking for books to help them process the crazy events of the last year or so. That’s what my novel is all about.

After the NPR piece, my book shot up to No. 1 on the Amazon Best Sellers List for “Teen & Young Adult Literary Fiction.”

You can listen to the “Zero O’Clock” segment of “Here and Now” here and in the player below.

The Root Covers ‘Zero O’Clock’ as a ‘Page Turner’

ZeroOclockCoverThe website The Root just covered my new novel “Zero O’Clock” as a “Page Turner.”

The site gives a nice writeup to my book, summarizing the plot and the role of the protagonist, 16-year-old Geth Montego: “Geth’s small town becomes a hotspot for a rapidly spreading sickness and as things progress, she’s thrown into the center of Black Lives Matter protests where she’s forced to confront her beliefs but has to ask herself what she truly believes in.”

“Zero O’Clock” arrived in stores on Sept. 7, and it’s starting to get coverage lots of places. Stay tuned for more!

You can read the article about “Zero O’Clock” on the Root here.

You can pickup a copy of “Zero O’Clock” here.

Aretha Franklin, The New York Times and My New Novel Zero O’Clock

Aretha Franklin and C.J. Farley in New York City in 2014.
Aretha Franklin and C.J. Farley in New York City in 2014.

I have a new YA novel coming out on September 7, 2021 called “Zero O’Clock” and to help mark the occasion, I wrote an essay for the New York Times Sunday Review about the interviews I’ve had over the years with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

I interviewed Franklin a number of times, for Time Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  One of my interviews with her launched that “beautiful gowns” meme–and I talk about all the drama behind that in my New York Times essay.

Aretha also had an influence on my new book. There’s lots of musical references in the novel, to the Strokes, to Lauryn Hill, and others, especially the South Korean K-Pop band BTS. In one scene in the book, a character creates a  Black Wall of Fame with photos of Black icons like Thurgood Marshall, Bob Marley, Jean-Michel Basquiat–and Aretha.

You can check out my New York Time essay here.

You can buy a copy of my new YA novel “Zero O’Clock” on Amazon.

Zero O’Clock by CJ Farley: The Book Trailer

The new trailer for my upcoming YA novel “Zero O’Clock” just dropped!

“Zero O’Clock” is the story of Geth Montego, a 16 year-old Jamaican-American girl living in New Rochelle, N.Y. She’s a lot of things–she’s a runner, she’s a BTS fan, and she’s kind of a loner except for her friends Tovah and Diego. Then Covid-19 hits her town, and she gets swept up in the Black Lives Matter protests. Suddenly, she has to decide who and what she’s really about.

“Zero O’Clock” is available for pre-order on Amazon! You can watch the trailer here.

Bam Bam’s Tina Bell: The Forgotten Godmother of Grunge

Tina Bell was grunge before grunge was cool.

Bell was the lead singer of the Seattle alternative rock band Bam Bam. Founded in 1983, the band’s drummer, Matt Cameron, went on to play with Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Reportedly, Kurt Cobain served as a roadie for the group before he hit it big with Nirvana. Just last week, the Seattle Times ran a story headlined, in part, “Before Nirvana or Pearl Jam, there was Tina Bell, the godmother of grunge.”

Bell, who died in 2012, was a Black woman, and various reports argue that she didn’t get her just due when she was alive because her race and her gender didn’t fit the white narrative that critics had created for the Seattle scene.

But if you listen to her music, especially songs like “Ground Zero,” all the hallmarks of what would become the Seattle Sound are there–the angsty vocals, the sludgy guitars, the energetic mix of metal and punk wrapped around a melodic core. Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Hole and others all built on the sonic foundation that Bell helped create.

Too often, Black creators in music don’t get their due. They invent new forms, and are quickly replaced and their innovations repackaged by white artists doing similar things. Memphis Minnie, Big Mama Thornton and  Sister Rosetta Tharpe helped create guitar-based rock and roll, but few kids today know their names. When I wrote a cover story on alternative rock for Time magazine back in 1993, not a single person I talked to in Seattle even mentioned Tina Bell and Bam Bam.

Tina Bell deserves a place in the Seattle pantheon.

Check out my upcoming novel “Zero O’Clock“–a book about BTS, BLM, Covid-19, and a 16-year-old girl trying to cope with it all.

Golden Globes, Diversity and My Novel Zero O’Clock

I went on the MSNBC show “American Voices with Alicia Menendez” to talk about the diversity crisis at the Golden Globes awards show.

Award show ratings have been falling, but they’re still an important part of marketing and promoting a movie. Winning a Golden Globe can boost a movie’s box office by millions of dollars. So when shows like the Golden Globes fail to promote diversity among their member voters, or in the awards they hand out, it hits people in the pocketbook.

Interestingly, one of the award shows that’s on the upswing in terms of ratings is the NAACP Image Awards–a show that’s all about promoting diversity. My novel “Around Harvard Square” won an NAACP Image Award and it really helped raise awareness about the book.

Speaking of books, on “American Voices,” host Alicia Menendez put in a word for my upcoming YA novel “Zero O’Clock,” due out September 7, 2021 and available for preorder now.

You can watch my MSNBC segment below.

Emma Farley: Join Stomp Out Bullying’s Virtual Gala

Emma-Farley-2021My daughter Emma Farley is a youth leader for STOMP Out Bullying and she recently recorded an appeal for the public to join the group’s virtual gala.

The STOMP Out Bullying 15th Anniversary Virtual Gala will be held Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 7:00 PM ET.  It will be hosted by  Hoda Kotb, Co-Anchor of the Today Show and Co-Host of Today with Hoda and Jenna. The show will feature performances by Sting and Naturally 7; The New York Jets and actor Taye Diggs will be honorees.

STOMP Out Bullying is the leading national anti-bullying and cyberbullying organization for kids and teens. The group works to reduce and prevent bullying, cyberbullying, and other digital abuse, and seeks to educate people about stopping racism, hatred, LGBTQ+ discrimination, and violence in schools.

Please watch the video below and spread the word!