Page 2 June 11, 2020
Your Neighborhood Therapist
Dear Neighborhood Therapist,
I am in my 30s and would like to buy a
home, but with my salary I can only save a
little bit, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able
to afford to buy. I also don’t make enough
to take someone on dates or vacations, and
while I know that’s not everything, it just
makes it that much harder to find a partner. I
was working for a promotion, or a new job,
but things just look bleaker than ever now. I
feel stuck and cannot shake this feeling that
I am a total failure and that nothing will ever
– Failing at Life, I Think
Dear Failing at Life,
I’m a music lover. And a father. And a son.
And a voter. A husband. Brother. Grandson.
Uncle. Cousin. Person. Citizen. Friend. Acquaintance.
Reader. Hiker. Camper. Tennis
player. Baseball player. Employee. Boss.
Writer. Sports fan. Student. Teacher. Coach.
Producer. Consumer. Therapist. Angeleno.
New Orleanian. Dreamer.
These are just some of my identities - some
of the many hats I wear and have worn. I will
certainly wear more in the future. No doubt you
wear just as many hats as I do. If you can, please
take a moment and write all of yours down.
I suspect you will notice that not all hats
are treated equally. Think of meeting someone
new. In the first minute you inevitably hear,
“So, what do you do?”
“What do you do?” is a question often
asked as small talk - but it is insidious. Specifically,
it is an invitation for us to identify
with how we make our living, and thus
offer ourselves up for evaluation based on
one aspect of a person’s life. Try answering
“What do you do?” with something like, “I
bleed Dodger blue” or “I take good care of
my friends” or “I am a wonderful uncle to
my nieces” and enjoy the look of confusion
on the questioner’s face.
Our culture equates “success” with “worthiness,”
and too often defines success in terms of
profession and wealth. Is the acquisition of material
things a greater achievement than lovingly
caring for a child every day? I don’t think it
is, and I don’t think I’m alone in this position.
Why did I mention all the hats I wear, and
ask you to note down all the hats you wear?
Because all of us - including you - are so much
more than traditional “success.” We are all
Walt Whitman: We are large. We contain
Look at your list. These are your multitudes.
Which of your multitudes are most
important to you, and why? This is what
matters. I humbly request that we all stop
asking “What do you do?” It’s the wrong
question. Instead let’s ask, “What’s important
to you?” I suspect, Failing at Life, that
if you had the chance to speak more about
what is important to you, you’d find you
measure up just fine.
Please write to tom@tomandrecounseling.
com or text to 310.776.5299 with questions about
handling what is affecting your life, your family,
the community or the world. Tom
Andre is a Licensed Marriage & Family
Therapist (LMFT119254). The
information in this column is for educational
purposes only and nothing herein
should be construed as professional advice or
the formation of a therapeutic relationship. •
for twenty words or less.
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Support Black Cinema:
Four Films To Watch
Morgan Rojas for cinemacy.com
Do films have the power to change the world?
While Ryan and I both believe so, it›s hard to
say that definitively when we continue to see
injustices against the black community. Since
Cinemacy is a film community designed to
champion independent filmmaking and voices,
we›d like to take this moment to highlight four
powerful films directed by black filmmakers
about the struggle of being black in America.
Watch their films. Learn their stories. Amplify
their voices. Change the current narrative so
that we can one day say, definitively, that films
had the power to change the world.
Fruitvale Station | dir. Ryan Coogler | Available
to rent on Amazon, iTunes, and other
Before Ryan Coogler made history with Black
Panther, he directed the indie film Fruitvale
Station. The film, also starring Michael B. Jordan,
L-R: If Beale Street Could Talk, Fruitvale Station, I Am Not Your Negro, 13th
is based on a true story about 22-year-old
Oscar Grant who tries to get his life together
after spending time in prison. He is a young
father who supports his girlfriend and daughter
and is determined to make up for lost time.
Set in Oakland, CA, flashbacks reveal the last
day in Oscar’s life, in which he became swept
up in an altercation with police that ended in
a senseless tragedy.
I Am Not Your Negro | dir. Raoul Peck |
Streaming on Amazon
Raoul Peck’s documentary uses the words
of late-author James Baldwin to tell the story
of race in modern America. In 1979, Baldwin
wrote a letter to his agent describing his next
book “Remember This House,” a personal account
of the lives and assassinations of three
of his close friends: Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X. When Baldwin
died in 1987, he had only written 30 pages of
this manuscript. In I Am Not Your Negro, filmmaker
Raoul Peck envisions the revolutionary
book James Baldwin never finished.
If Beale Street Could Talk | dir. Barry Jenkins
| Streaming on Hulu
Barry Jenkins’ follow up to his Academy
Award-winning film Moonlight tells a powerful
story of love, family, and the racial bias that
nearly destroyed it all. Based on the novel by
James Baldwin, young wife-to-be Tish (KiKi
Layne) is passionately in love with her artist
fiancé Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James).
Friends since childhood, the couple dream of a
future together, but chaos ensues when Fonny
is arrested for a crime he did not commit.
13th | dir. Ava DuVernay | Streaming on
Ava DuVernay’s 13th is one of the most
thought-provoking documentaries of recent
times. Interviews with various scholars,
activists and politicians shed light on the
history of racial inequality in the United
States, specifically incarceration. The nation’s
prisons are disproportionately filled with
African-Americans, and 13th offers an in-depth
look as to why that statistic continues to rise. •
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