More Cities Should Have Color Schemes

I was in Pittsburgh recently, and more than the prevalence of Italian Americans, the palpable racial tension via gentrification, and the fact that their baseball team recently got no hit by Lucas Giolito, the most striking thing about the city was its commitment to its color scheme. Pittsburgh is all about the black and yellow, and I think that’s an admirable thing that more cities should strive for. 

All of Pittsburgh’s major sports teams’ color palettes prominently feature black and yellow: the Steelers, the Penguins, and the city’s AAA team, the Pirates. The city’s bridges (of which there are several!) are painted yellow. Even the college team (Pitt, not Carnegie Mellon, presumably because nobody from Pittsburgh made it through high school trig so they could get into Carnegie Mellon) has yellow golden hues, or straight-up yellow at its most glorious. And let’s not forget the national anthem of partying in early-Obama-era frat basements, which beats Coldplay by a yinzer mile for the title of the greatest ode to yellow.

What’s shocking to me is that there aren’t more cities who have committed to a color scheme. They’re great! They give a city a better sense of unity. They forge an aesthetic and cultural connection between the city, its residents, and its sports teams. And they help define the vibe of a city—Pittsburgh’s black and yellow is brawny and industrial, while Seattle’s wild collection of blue and neon green is pacific and alt. 

But besides Pittsburgh and Seattle, I can’t think of a team with anywhere close to a cohesive color scheme. D.C. comes the closest—it has a strong affinity for red and blue, but the Washington Professional Football Team’s burgundy and gold is nowhere close to the color schemes of the Nats, Capitals, Washington Professional Men’s Basketball Team, or Mystics. And, honestly, red and blue for the nation’s capital? A little uninspired if you ask me. 

L.A. has too diverse a sports scene to be anywhere close to unified, but I do appreciate the hues of gold, blue, and purple among teams like the Lakers, Rams, Chargers, Galaxy, Sparks, and UCLA Once-Relevants. Atlanta also does a good job with its red and black vibes (Braves, Falcons, Atlanta United, and the Hawks whenever their jerseys aren’t create-a-jerseys designed by a 4th grader). 

But come on. How have more cities not committed to this? How have Chicago’s sports teams not done more to incorporate the Chicago flag that half the city has tattooed on its calves? How come only the Coyotes and sometimes the Diamondbacks commit to Arizona’s desert hues? And why can’t Denver get its shit together and organize a cohesive take on its truly spectacular flag and/or Nuggets throwbacks

If a city like Pittsburgh is able to figure this out, then surely Houston can hire somebody to get the Rockets and Texans on the same page as the Astros and Dash (or just return the Rockets to either of these throwbacks, please). Or, for a very reasonable fee, I’m willing to consult with Las Vegas and encourage them to change their colors to “all reds.” 

Thank you for your time. 

Introducing: Google

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, huh? One day, you’re carelessly walking down the street singing Lana del Rey. The next day you find out that DESPITE Green Book winning Best Picture, racism is APPARENTLY still a thing??? It’s wild. At times like these, you instinctively want to turn to your friends who are knowledgeable about what’s going on to get support. However, after realizing your friends are pretty fucking white, you have decided to turn to an even better source of support: That one black person from your junior year English class that you’re pretty sure you worked with on a group project. You ask them everything, from where to donate, to how to protest, to how to define the word “systemic”. And UGH (!!!) they’re all like, “I’m sorry, but I do not have time to talk to you about this and also I wasn’t in your English class.”

Well, despite their selfishness, I have good news for you: I have discovered a new tool that will help answer all of your pressing questions. Introducing: Google.

For the uninformed, Google is an A-MAZ-ING thing on the internet that lets you discover relevant information. From “What is racism?” to “Are you sure I can still be a racist if I like the movie Barbershop?”, Google is a gateway to sorting out all of the questions that are driving you crazy, but you can’t seem to find a black distant acquaintance to answer. Best of all, Google will connect you with a bunch of other crazy new tools that can help fill in your knowledge gaps—like Reddit, for finding out whether you can be a furry and a racist at the same time (you can!), or Twitter, for discovering whether people will threaten a hate crime on a public forum (they will!).

During this uncertain time, we are all looking for answers. With Google, you have that knowledge at your fingertips. Now, go forth and educate yourself—then spend twelve times as much time repeating and iterating the small bit of knowledge you learned. We’re counting on you. 

We’ve Been Here Before

There’s a construction site a block over from my apartment. It’s a full gutting of one of those beautiful Chicago brownstones. You can see straight through; everything but the stairs has been torn seam from seam.

I know this because I stopped to look a few weeks ago. I don’t think it was on one of my quarantine jogs, but it might have been. It was definitely since the weather started to get nicer. I remember thinking how fragile the whole house looked, like you could knock it over with a toothpick. 

Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog. He apparently stopped at a construction site in the neighborhood too. Video shows a man who may be him entering the site. He looked around. 

Ahmaud Arbery was three years younger than me. I have to use the past tense because Ahmaud Arbery is dead. He was shot to death by Gregory and Travis McMichael, a father and son pair who were recently arrested in the killing. 

This is the part where I mention that I’m white, and Ahmaud Arbery was black, and that—in America, in 2020—is still enough to make the difference between life and death. But you already knew I was white. Not just because of the tone of this newsletter overall, but because you’ve read this piece before. 

You read it after Trayvon Martin was stalked and killed. You read it after Eric Garner died pleading for his life. You read it after Michael Brown was shot to death by a cop who claimed the child looked like a demon. You read it after Tamir Rice, age 12, was killed for playing in the park. You read it after Sandra Bland was hauled off to her death. You read it after Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times, many in the back, 15 minutes from my home. 

There’s a familiar rhythm now to these ungodly slayings. The initial outrage on social media, the chorus of activists and celebrities calling for an investigation at the very least. The authorities making some sort of gesture of goodwill—empaneling a grand jury, signing an arrest warrant, calling in a special prosecutor. Then the backlash, usually from the conservative media echo chamber, explaining what actions are newly capital offenses. 

Then come these columns. Fervent, outraged declarations from white people about these deadly double standards. We white people feel that these things must be said, that silence is complicity. And there’s undeniably some truth to that. 

But it’s what comes next that just destroys me. Trayvon Martin’s killer, acquitted by a jury given stand your ground reminders in their deliberation instructions. Eric Garner’s killer, fired but walking free while the primary witness to the killing is locked up. Laquan McDonald’s killer, given a prison sentence 16 times lower than the sentencing guidelines allowed for. Michael Brown’s killer, free to call the dead kid names to the media. 

So we’ll hope that this time, there will be true accountability. That the justice system will finally act as if all lives matter. But those of us who’ve read these columns before won’t be holding our breaths.