Daily Archives: August 6, 2019

America, 2019: Bullet-proof backpacks the hot new back-to-school item. PK Subban narrates a dog eating race among his pups. And remembering Toni Morrison, a literary giant

If you’re still in a bit of despair over the horrible shootings in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend, I don’t expect this story I’m about to share will make you feel that much better.

But I think it’s an important snapshot of life in America, 2019, and a sad reality to boot.

According to this New York Times story, bulletproof backpacks are in demand for back-to-school shopping this year.

Every paragraph of this story is eye-opening, including this: “In the past, some stores have reportedly sold out of the backpacks, which typically cost $100 to $200. Months before the Parkland shooting, a private Christian school in Miami sold protective panels that could be inserted into backpacks, charging $120 for the bulletproof shields.

This year, ArmorMe, a personal-defense company run by a former Israeli commando, Gabi Siboni, started selling a bulletproof backpack that can unfold into a larger covering.”

Another company, Guard Dog Security, has been selling bulletproof backpacks since shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting. The products are available at Office Max, Office Depot and Kmart, and the company recently released a model that costs less than $100.

“It could be the difference between life and death,” said Yasir Sheikh, who runs Guard Dog.

“We’re asking children to stand up to gunmen because lawmakers are too afraid to stand up to the gun lobby,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grass-roots gun-control organization. “There isn’t a parent in this country that isn’t terrified. These companies are capitalizing on that.”

Bullet. Proof. Backpacks.

We are living in a war zone, and our politicians are whistling past the graveyards.

Just unbelievable.

**Next up, I don’t mean to run a P.K. Subban clip again but the guy just keeps making great content that I enjoy. Here, the NHL star narrates an eating contest between three of his dogs.

Cracked me up all 11 times I watched it.

**Finally, a few words about the massive life and legacy of Toni Morrison, who died Monday at age 88.

There are very few books in my life where I can remember exactly where I was when I read it, and how I felt while reading it, and the exhilaration I felt when it was done.

My junior year in college I read a book I knew was famous, “Beloved,” by Toni Morrison. I knew nothing of the story except that it won the Pulitzer Prize for literature eight years earlier, in 1987. I wasn’t assigned to read “Beloved,” but picked it from a list my professor had suggested for a term paper on a book by a female, minority writer.

I read some of the book in my off-campus apartment at the University of Delaware, but mostly I read it at the library, absorbing page after page and just being kind of astonished at how good it was. I spent several late nights reading it way past the time I should’ve left the library, because it was so good and so absorbing.

I remember finishing it one night and closing the book and just kind of sitting there for about five minutes, not really sure what to do. I was sad it was done, I was exhausted from reading it, and I felt, as millions of us did, that I had just read something extraordinary, that I’d never forget.

Morrison was a titanic figure in American literature, having written so many stories extolling the African-American experience, especially the African-American female experience, that had just never reached a mass audience.

There were so many great Morrison quotes were flying around the Internet Tuesday as word of her passing spread. This quote may be my favorite of hers.

“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”

What a powerful lesson. What a powerful life she led. For writing “Beloved” and so many other classic books, thank you, Toni.